Joy Class Androids

A Glass of Water

The unit was new and not nearly functional. From previous experience, I knew all four appendages would be required for mobility. Manual track and acquisition functions would be minimal. Audio communications capability would be primitive, though significant transmit volume could be achieved. Years of data acquisition and bulk enhancements were clearly needed. Finally, waste disposal functions were clearly uncontrolled, as the unit was wearing the 'diaper' traditional for biological entities that young.

Yet Alianna and Gayla were examining the picture as if the infant was the most wondrous of all possible creatures. Well, it *was* the captain's grandson, and Gayla's. It's design was based on theirs. One quarter of it's genetic stock was taken from each McTalis, even if the genes were selected at random.

In abstract, I understood what was happening. I myself am programmed to respond as if male organics are extraordinary and wonderful if they touch me in certain ways. I lacked, however, the fascination with the usual results of such contact among organics. I sensed an expectation that I should be pleased with the image, and tried to come up with a positive evaluation of the undersized unit which did not conflict with my directive to speak truth. The android's way is so much better. It is clearly more efficient to manufacture a physical body at full size, then simply download skills and memories from another android of the same class.

I was saved from my search for truthful praise by the Captain's lady moving to the replicator, and making an unexpected gesture. "Might I offer you something?"

"Water please, pure." I understood then. Sharing images of their young would be a bonding ritual among organics, similar to sharing food and drink. Commander McTalis was also a councilor, rather than a line officer. More than most others, she would tend to see me not as an officer, nor an android, but as a person.

I was pleased by this, but anxious. I had originally been designed as a personal companion, and receive positive feedback from participating in conversation and achieving friendship. However, being a person is in many ways more complicated than being an officer. Sometime having an organic friend, however welcome, is hard.

"Of course." Gayla gave me the glass of water. "Lieutenant.... Ten, correct?"

"Ten is correct, although Mudd android's names are reversed. Joy is the name of my class, while Ten is my individual number." I reached up to touch my necklace, and the number inscribed on it's surface, a convenience so organics can tell the otherwise identical members of a class apart.

"I see... I must say you interest me greatly. Joy, might I ask a personal question?"

I hesitated briefly, guessing something of what would come next, but I had been given no direction than might override the request. "Certainly."

"Do you enjoy serving on the Defiant?"

I blinked. Was this a question from a councilor, or from a potential new friend? Did it matter?

"Gayla? I like ship duty. I like being Ops. On a ship, Priority Three is my dominant Law. 'Obey legal orders from valid Starfleet chain of command.' As Ops, any time anyone needs ship's resources - and the Defiant usually has more than adequate resources - I can obey the command. I will be happy."

I wasn't fooling her. Not close. "Is something wrong, Joy?"

"Yes." Anyone but a councilor...

"What is wrong, Joy?" Her concern was genuine. She wanted to help. And councilors do help, or at least so Seven and Eleven have found, though the first several meetings are often awkward...

"This unit is good at covert ops," I started. "This unit is expert in taking lives, in evading law enforcement." I bowed my head, embarrassed to admit to such skills, ashamed at how I had put them to use. "This unit's predecessor was captured by the Federation, and forbidden from breaking the law, forbidden from taking sentient life, unless following legal orders from valid Starfleet chain of command." I looked up, miserable. "Do you understand? Failure to comply with Asimov directives causes negative feedback into the emotion chip, yet a few of Defiant's missions have been lethal and illegal."

"I think I understand, Joy. You respect life. You honor the law. But what is 'negative feedback into the emotion chip?'"

"The emotion chip has circuits which simulate shame, sorrow, horror, pain..."

I stopped. The water I had drunk earlier was not necessary for sustenance. It was primarily for cosmetic release. I reached up to brush away a tear.