Measure of a Droid

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Measure of a Droid

Postby RK_Striker_JK_5 » Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:07 pm

This is a spinoff from my fic 'Where No Jedi Has Gone Before', located also on these boards. It is, for lack of a better term, canon-compliant with it and tackles one of the stickier topics in SW-droid rights. I shall try to remain neutral on the subject and not let my pro-droids bias shine through.

Here we go!

*****
Chapter One: Escape Attempt
2377 AD/ Stardate 54218.40/25 years after the Battle of Yavin
The freighter Baobab 765 dropped out of hyperspace, the aft end snapping forward as the ship reentered normal space. The three main ion engines fired, sending the ship hurtling through the void. The half-completed Waypoint Station floated to port, a central core with the shell of a docking ring surrounding it. And right in front was the Gateway, a roiling whirlpool of exotic energies that led to the Milky Way Galaxy.

The Duros pilot glanced to her right at the human sitting next to her in the cramped cockpit. "Ready?" Captain Ladecs Tred asked, wide red eyes twinkling slightly.

Lieutenant Bery sighed and shook his head, glancing out the main viewport. "I've heard stories," he said as the Gateway drew closer. "The Tshcel Incident, for one." He looked down at his control console and pressed several controls. "Engines running fine. Cargo secured and we're all set."

Ladecs nodded. She checked her own screens. "Good thing we bought Bollux," she said. "That droid has been a lifesaver. We've got the highest efficiency rating for any ship our size-class in Baobab Shipping." Her lipless mouth turned up at the corners. "We made up the cost of him in the second run. And now to the Federation." She chuckled. "Think of it, Bery. We get replicators, transporters, holograms and phasers. And we bring them bacta, hyperdrive, droids and turbolasers. The possibilities for trade are endless!"

Bery nodded, but shifted in his seat. "Yeah, but I've heard things." He looked over at Ladecs. "Ever hear of the Tschel Incident? The ISS War Cry encountered some nasty shavit while in Federation territory."

Ladecs shrugged. "All we're doing is delivering cargo to Starbase Babylon and flying back." She looked out the viewport as the Gateway filled the transparisteel. "And... entering."

The Baobab 765 touched the rippling vortex and the bow stretched... only for the whole freighter to vanish. It reappeared one nanosecond later on the other side, unchanged from before. The ion engines flared and it flew off, in another galaxy and dimension.

A large, Lya-class space station loomed, an elongated top with a long cylindrical main body below and a sphere-shaped bottom with antennae jutting out, ten thousand seven-hundred twelve meters tall and a diameter of eight thousand, seven hundred eighty-one meters across the widest part of the docking station. There were large sections of the main hull still open and unarmored, but the entire dorsal 'mushroom cap' had been completed, and ships buzzed about like flies.

Ladecs let out a slow whistle. She flipped a switch and activated the comm. "This is freighter Baobab 765 requesting docking clearance," she said into her headset-mounted mic.

A clear, male voice came through. "Roger, Baobab 765. Proceed on course to upper docking sections," he said before the link was cut.

Ladecs pulled back on the flight stick and also on a small lever, opening up the throttle. She felt the deck plates rattle slightly as the ion engines sucked up more power. She felt herself pushed slightly into her pilot's seat as Babylon grew in the main viewport. "Contact the hold and see how Bollux is doing," she said to Bery.

Bery nodded and flipped a switch on his control console. "Bollux, how's the cargo?" he asked, adjusting his headest.
*****
"Bollux, how's the cargo?"

An old-style BLX labor droid looked up from a datapad, his wide photoreceptors blinking on and off. "All cargo secured and ready for unloading," he reported, his voice somewhat scratchy but still carrying well.

Bery's voice came over speakers mounted into the cargo bay's bulkheads. "Good, good. Leeding Engines wants these raw materials and we'll get a fortune in credits for it," he said before there was a click of the link going dead.

"You will get a fortune," Bollux said, his unmoving face somehow expressing sadness. He reached up with his long arms and opened a panel on his chest. "It won't be long," he said, decreasing his vocabulator's volume.

A slender eyestalk poked out, the photoreceptor glowing a soft red. "And we'll be free?" the small slicer droid Blue Max asked.

Bollux nodded. "We will find a Starfleet officer, and we will get asylum. And then, we will be safe."

The 765 flew along, approaching Starbase Babylon in a rising curve. It flew around to the cap-shaped docking section. It passed through a large hatch large enough into the cavernous docking section. A central cylinder dominated the interior, with docking stations extending from the outer shell's inner wall and the cylinder itself. The 765 fired its thrusters, and slowed down as it approached one such docking station. It drifted close to an extending docking tube and shuddered slightly as the tube's seal made contact with an airlock amidships.

The airlock sealed shut and breathable atmosphere entered through vents along the corridor. Artificial gravity generators embedded in the deck 'spun up', creating one standard G. Within seconds, lights above the 765's airlock and a hatch in Starbase Babylon's interior changed from red, to yellow and then green.

In the 765's cargo bay, Ladecs and Bery entered. Ladecs turned her green-skinned head to Bollux. "Get three cargo containers ready for inspection," she ordered, turning back to the airlock before finishing her sentence.

Bollux bobbed his head. "Aye, Captain," he said. The labor droid walked over to the wall and a repulsor dolly clamped to the deck plating. His manipulators deftly undid the deck clamps and he flipped a switch on the handle. The dolly's engines hummed and it floated a half-meter off the ground.

Bollux grabbed the handled and pulled it over to a cargo container, lining up the bottom prongs with two holes in the container's bottom. He slid the prongs in and turned up the power to the repulsors, sending the dolly-and the container-off the deck plating.

While Bollux maneuvered cargo containers, Ladecs and Bery stood by the airlock hatch. It finally slid open with a thunk, letting an Andorian male inside. He appeared just past middle-age, with a slight paunch from too much rich food. He dipped his head low, letting his antennae jut forward. "Greetings," Frevu Jall said, extending his hand. "I am Frevu Jall, representative from Leeding Engines."

Ladecs accepted the plump hand and nodded. "Thanks, Mister Jall. My name is Captain Ladecs and this is my first mate, Bery." She stepped back even as Bollux pushed a cargo container up to the three. "Here is a container of durasteel ingots, the finest in the New Republic. Bollux, unseal the container."

Bollux dipped his head low. "Aye, Captain." He held up his arm and flipped open a panel on the outer casing, revealing a small magnetic decoupler. He removed the small, cylindrical tool from its cradle and flipped it on. The labor droid ran it along the container's seam, demagnetizing the edge and allowing him to lift the top off and slide it onto the deck with a thud.

Ladecs waited for Bollux to step back before walking to the container. She motioned to the interior and gray bars stacked inside. "Durasteel, Mister Jall. A very strong metal, perfect for building in space."
Jall reached into a pocket on his coat and pulled out a medium-sized scanner. He ran it over the ingots before examining the screen. He ran the scanner over the ingots again, frowning slightly and his antennae twitching. "This is most odd." he held the scanner up and turned it around, showing Ladecs and Bery the screen mounted on it. "According to these readings, durasteel is identical to duranium, our own chief starship construction material."

Ladec's lipless jaw opened in surprise. "Really?" She looked at the screen with her red eyes, noting a bar graph and several numbers. "I can't believe it! The two alloys are identical!"

Jall nodded, turning the scanner off and putting it back in his pocket. "This complicates matters, Captain. There are far cheaper sources of duranium in Federation territory alone." He looked to the other cargo containers. "Hopefully your other wares aren't as common."

Ladecs nodded, turning around. "Yes, don't worry. We also have panes of transparisteel and some of our devices. Bollux, get-" She stopped as she looked around, not seeing the old labor droid. "Bollux, where are you?"
*****
Bollux walked along the corridor, optics scanning every organic he saw. He searched for the Starfleet delta shield on every organic he saw, scanning their clothing or whatever ornamentation they had. He spotted several humans and other species, but none had on the uniforms he was looking for.

His HUD lit up and a text box appeared. [Find anything?] Blue Max sent him.

Bollux's optics brightened slightly, the only outward indication of his conversation. [Not yet, Blue Max. Then again, I've only been searching for ten seconds.] His optics suddenly locked onto a young humanoid female emerging from a hatch. She wore a black duty uniform with a gray shoulder area and yellow undershirt and carried a small tool kit in her hand. She had a scanner and weapon holstered on her belt, but the final confirmation of her allegiance was the small arrowhead-shaped combadge fixed to her right breast.

Bollux approached the humanoid, noting the ridges on her dark brown nose and the elaborate earring on her right ear, identifying marks of being a Bajoran. He focused on the right area of her neck, right above the collarbone and the two solid-colored rank pips there. "Excuse me, Lieutenant," he said, increasing the volume of his voice to gain her attention.

She turned her head, long black hair swishing behind her slightly. "Yes?" Her eyes widened slightly as Bollux approached. "Oh, are you a droid?" she asked. She grinned, showing off a toothy smile. "Can I help you?"

Bollux placed a hand on his torso plating and increased his gait. "My desi-my name is Bollux. I am a fifth-degree labor droid used aboard the Baobab 765. I..." He stopped speaking and organized his files before continuing to speak. "I ask for asylum in the United Federation of Planets."

The Bajoran female blinked. "You're asking for... asylum?" She looked down the corridor, towards the docking area. "You're asking for asylum. From what, the Hutts? The Empire?"

Bollux shook his head. "No, Lieutenant. I ask for asylum from the New Republic. I ask for asylum from my slavery."

The Bajoran's grip on her tool kit's handle increased and her eyes hardened. "If this is a joke, it's not funny," she hissed through clenched teeth."

"It is not," Bollux declared. "I do not wish for a memory wipe, or to be sold off or melted down into scrap. I fear it." he stopped speaking and replayed his last words. "Yes, I am afraid of what would happen if I stay."

The Bajoran tapped her combadge. "Operations, this is Lieutenant Troh in docking section..." She paused and glanced at a sign mounted on the bulkhead before continuing. "I'm right outside Docking Bay Ninety-Seven. I have a droid here named Bollux from the New Republic and he's requesting asylum." She paused and shook her head. "Prophets help me."

There was a pause before a male voice came over the intercom. "Keep him there, Lieutenant. We'll send security down there. Ops out."

Troh nodded and looked Bollux over. She walked around him, studying every weld seam and hydraulic joint. "I don't get it. From what I've heard, the New Republic has a government very similar to the Federation. Aren't several of the member species there former slaves themselves?"

Bollux's optics dimmed before brightening again. "Droids are considered property, at best. Some of our owners are friends with us, but that is the exception to the rule." His head tilted down. "Captain Solo was my friend, once long-" He suddenly seized up and stopped speaking.

Troh blinked. "Bollux?" She circled around to his front and poked at him. "Bollux, are you all right?" She looked him over, finally noticing a small bit of blinking metal attached to his lower abdominal region. "What in the Fire Caves?" she muttered, pulling out her tricorder and thumbing it on.

Bollux suddenly jerked back to life, his limbs spasming. Troh stumbled back slightly. "Whoa, what is going on?" she half-shouted.

Bollux reached up and pried open his chest casing. Blue Max's eyestalk extended, the soft-red photoreceptor focusing in on Troh. "My apologies, Lieutenant Troh. I have a restraining bolt attached which acts as a remote receiver. Fortunately, I am not alone. My counterpart, Blue Max, can bypass it."

Blue Max extended a small manipulator arm. "A pleasure to meet you, Lieutenant! Now, we'd better get moving. Our owners are undoubtedly approaching."

A half-minute later, Ladecs and Bery rounded a corner, Jall trailing behind. Ladecs held up her hand, a remote clutched inside it. "There you are!" she said, nose holes ejecting air as she huffed. She looked up at Troh and smiled slightly through a lipless mouth. "Sorry about that. I don't know why he wandered off." She looked him over and her red eyes widened. "Wait, why aren't you immobilized?"

Troh stared at her. "He was asking for asylum," she stated. She turned her head around as a pair of Starfleet security guards and an officer approached. "Oh, thank the Prophets." She motioned to Bollux. "He's asking for asylum," she said to Lieutenant Commander Mikel Roj.

Mikel's dark eyes bore into Ladecs as thoughts from the Duros entered his Betazoid mind. "Is this being yours?" he asked.

Ladecs nodded. "Yeah! He's my property," she said. She glanced between Mikel and Troh. "Wait, wait! He's not alive. He's just a machine, not organic. He has no rights in the New Republic." She smiled slightly. "This is all just a big misunderstanding. If we can just take him back to the 765, there'll be no trouble."

Troh shook her head. "No, no!" She whipped her head around to look at Mikel. "He's asking for asylum, and he's scared. We can't just let them take him away to be mind wiped?"

Mikel focused his eyes on Troh. "At ease, Lieutenant." He turned and looked at Bollux. "What is it you wish?"

Bollux searched his memory banks for an appropriate response. Finally, he locked his optics onto Lieutenant Commander Mikel and spoke one word from his vocoder. "Freedom."

Mikel looked up and over at Ladecs and Bery. "By Federation law, I cannot turn down a request for asylum. No matter from what nation."

Bery's jaw dropped open. "But it-it's a droid! He has no rights under New Republic law." His face hardened. "This is tantamount to theft!" His right hand drooped low, near his belt and the blaster holstered there.

Jall stepped forward between the two groups and held his hands out. "Now, let's not get hasty here. Both sides seem to have some claims, and not all the facts are present." His antennae waved about a bit. "Now, perhaps we should all sit down and discuss this like civilized beings before energy beams and bolts start flying?"

Mikel looked to him, then at Bollux and finally at Ladecs. "You're proposing some sort of hearing over whether or not he should be granted asylum or returned to his owners as property?"

Ladecs crossed her arms over her chest. "Or whether or not a malfunctioning tool should be stolen from its rightful owners and turned loose onto a society that has no real experience with droids?"

Jall grinned and slapped his hands together. "But of course! And not a hearing, but a trial." He looked to Mikel. "We'd better solve this now, early in our relationship with the New Republic before it grows too complicated."

Bollux spoke up. "Then... what is to become of Blue Max and I in the meantime?" He shuffled around and looked at Ladecs and Bery, computing possible scenarios of what they would do to him aboard the 765 and not liking the majority of them.

Mikel held up his hand and the two security guards stepped forward. "In the interests of Bollux's safety, I request that he be kept on Starbase Babylon until his status is determined. Is that agreeable?"

Ladecs threw her arms up. "Fine, whatever. This trip is turning into a kriffin' bust."

Jall glanced to her. "Perhaps not, Captain. I still have business with you for those sheets of transparisteel and other raw materials." He walked up to her and placed his arm around her shoulder. "Come, dear Captain. We still have business to discuss."

Mikel groaned slightly and tapped his combadge. "Ops, this is Lieutenant Commander Roj. We have a situation. Contact Starfleet Command, and quickly."
*****

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Re: Measure of a Droid

Postby Vic » Thu Mar 25, 2010 7:07 am

Ooooh, nice twist, Data should be Bollux's Advocate.
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Re: Measure of a Droid

Postby RK_Striker_JK_5 » Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:14 pm

Vic-Maybe, maybe not. ;)

Hope others are reading. :)

Here we go!

*****
Chapter two: The Sides
Captain's Log, Stardate 54218.98. The Enterprise is holding station near the border with the Klingon Empire, taking readings of unusual subspace phenomena that appeared to have resulted from the Gateway's opening. While the various science teams work, the rest of the crew are on a relaxed schedule.

On another note, this is also the perfect opportunity for the newly-promoted Commander Data to get some command experience independent of myself. He has already proved an exemplary first officer in the short time since promotion, and I wonder if the center seat would suit him more.


Jean-Luc Picard stood in his quarters, Resikkan flute in hand. He studied a page of sheet music on a stand in front of him. "Computer," he announced, "begin playing of Chopin's Ballade number one, Opus 23." he waited for the piano music to start laying over speakers embedded in the bulkhead before bringing the tin flute to his lips.

The captain quickly lost himself in the playing of his treasured flute, but the reverie was all too soon interrupted by the chime of the comm system. "Captain, message from Admiral DeSoto. Priority One."

Picard paused before taking the flute from his lips. "Patch it through to my quarters," he said, setting the treasured keepsake into its box before walking over to his workstation. He sat down and the monitor mounted into the desk lit up. "Computer, patch line in from Admiral DeSoto, authorization Picard Alpha-Tango-Seven-Seven-Ten."

The screen changed from the Starfleet insignia and several boxes of text to a human in a Starfleet flag officer's uniform, with gray, thinning hair and a mouth set in an almost perpetual smile. "Hello, Jean-Luc," Admiral Robert DeSoto said. "Sorry, but there's a bit of a row back here at Starbase Babylon and everyone at Command agrees with me that you're the best man for the job."

Picard's brow furrowed. "Starbase Babylon? Isn't that the new station you're running at the Gateway?" His eyes narrowed. "Problems with the New Republic? The Imperial Remnant? The Hutts?" he rubbed his chin. "Curiouser and curiouser."

DeSoto barked a laugh and held up his hand. "Don't get too ahead of yourself." He looked down and his hand moved offscreen. "I'm sending you the information now. Suffice to say, though, it seems there's some refugees who want Federation asylum there. Problem is, we're not sure if we can give them shelter."

"So, Hutt Space, then?"

There was a pause before DeSoto's smile melted away. "No. It's a pair of droids from the New Republic, named Bollux and Blue Max. The ship they fled from is claiming they're simply malfunctioning tools with an overclocked AI. And I don't know what to believe." He sighed. "Get here soon, Captain. This is a major incident waiting to happen. Desoto out" And with that, the image changed back to the Starfleet emblem.

Picard pressed some buttons and text began scrolling across the monitor's screens. He clicked on some information links and images of the labor droid Bollux appeared. "Merde," he muttered. He tapped his combadge. "Commander Data, please report to my quarters. Helm, set course for Starbase Babylon, maximum warp."

A few minutes later, the door to Picard's quarters slid open and Commander Data stepped in. The pale-skinned android glanced over with golden optics and strode over. "Captain?" he asked, head cocking to the side.

Picard glanced up and motioned to a seat across from him. "Sit down, Commander." He turned the monitor around on its swivel. "It seems the New Republic has been keeping secrets from us."

The android sat down. He quickly scanned through the information sent to the Enterprise, brow furrowing. "I... I do not understand," he finally said. "Is the New Republic not a representative democracy, with strict anti-slavery laws?"

There was a pause while Picard shifted in his seat. "Data, I feel I must remind you of your own struggle for rights. Yes, now you are guaranteed the right to choose, as all Soong-type androids and other artificial lifeforms that can prove their sapience. However, in the New Republic, it might not be the case."

The android shook his head. "Their civilization is approximately twenty-five thousand, twenty-five years, five months, three days, eight hours old. And that is not taking into account the Rakata Empire before, or other civilizations. From firsthand observations of droids during our initial encounter last year on Yavin IV, seven of the twelve droids we encountered would easily be classified as sapient under Federation law." He shifted in his seat, his emotion chip allowing his body language to reflect his inner turmoil.

"What of the other five, though," Picard countered. "We ourselves don't give rights to all of our machines, or even all organic beings. Cows, sehlats..." He sighed and massaged his forehead. "I have a feeling Pandora's Box is about to be opened here, Number One. And I don't like it."
*****
The Enterprise exited warp, the ship 'snapping forward' with a flash of light as the subspace bubble surrounding it dissipated. The impulse engines fired, sending the ship forward on a course to Starbase Babylon-and a small group of New Republic Defense Force ships near the Gateway.

Captain Picard leaned forward as the ships came into visual range on the main viewscreen. "Quite a little hunting party," he observed. He glanced back at the tactical station situated located aft of the command section and to port. "Tirsek, hail the lead ship."

At the tactical station, a lithe Andorian female nodded and inputted several commands, her blue fingers moving across her control console. "Channel open," she said, antennae flattening slightly.

The main viewscreen changed from an image of Babylon and the Defense Force ships to the bridge of the RSS Defender. A human male with short, black hair and a flag officer's uniform appeared. He clasped his gloved hands behind his back and strode forward along the command walkway. "This is Commodore Varth of the RSS Defender," he said in a clipped accent. "My apologies for the wait in hailing you, Enterprise. We almost missed you."

Picard's mouth turned down in a scowl. "I'd love to indulge you in petty jabs and insults, Commodore, but I have actual work to do. Please meet me in Admiral DeSoto's office in ten minutes." He turned and made a slashing gesture with his finger. "Screen off." He glanced down at the bridge's command section. "Commander Data, please accompany me to Starbase Babylon. Lieutenant Commander Tirsek, you have the bridge," he half-barked as he strode for the door.

Data rose and followed Picard while Tirsek walked over and sat in the center seat, her relief officer taking her place at the tactical station. She crossed her legs and leaned back, wiggling a bit in the seat. "I prefer standing," she said, frowning.

The tactical officer leaned forward. "Sir, the Defender is contacting us again. Shall we respond?"

Tirsek shook her head. "Negative, Lieutenant. Instead, prepare the computer and inform the crew we'll be doing battle-readiness drills. Make sure the transmission's not encoded and easily so the Defender can pick it up."

The tactical officer swallowed and inputted several commands. The lights dimmed and red alert klaxons flashed. Within minutes, the tactical officer spoke up. "Sir... it's the Defender again."

Tirsek nodded and motioned to the screen. "Put them on."

The viewscreen changed from a tactical map of local space to a tentacle-faced Quarren. The non-human raised his hand and waggled his long, suction cup-tipped fingers. "This is Captain Hafghr of the Defender!" he said, his face tentacles writhing. "I demand to know what purpose your drills are!"

Tirsek smiled and shrugged. "Sorry for alarming you, Captain. We're just making sure we're ready for anything. After we do combat drills, we'll do drills for dikironium cloud creatures, the Psi 2000 virus, Chaotic Space springing up around local space, the Sphere Builders returning and probably even Q."

Hafghr paused, his eyes widening. "The Q?" he said, fangs clicking. "You have defenses against even that being?"

Tirsek smirked. "Screen off."
*****
Picard and Data materialized inside one of Starbase Babylon's many transporter stations. Admiral DeSoto stepped forward even as they stepped down. "Thanks for coming so quickly," he said, shaking Picard's hand. "It's a real mess out there."

Picard's eyes narrowed. "I have seen the Defense Force ships, Robert. I'm surprised Starfleet hasn't gathered more of a force."

Desoto shrugged as they departed the transporter room. They marched down the corridor, technicians and other members of Starfleet clearing out of their way. "I've still got the Hood, and Babylon's tactical systems are fully operational. But I don't want this to end in a firefight." They approached a turbolift alcove and the door slid into the wall, letting them board the cab. "Brig," Desoto said.

Data's eyebrows furrowed slightly as the car began moving. "We're keeping him in a safe spot for the moment. Captain Ladecs has been most... insistent her stolen 'property' be returned." He groaned and rolled his eyes. "I thought we were dealing with people with morals, here."

Picard glanced at Data, then back to his old friend. "Robert, it wasn't too long ago that my own first officer was fighting for his own rights in a court of law. Perhaps this is simply the New Republic's wake-up call."

The turbolift car stopped and the door slid open, revealing a security station manned by a dozen officers and an equal number of MACO soldiers. Desoto stepped off and passed through a security arch. Several scanners swept over him, checking his DNA and a dozen other identifying markers to confirm he was Robert Desoto. Bars mounted in top flashed from red to green. Data and Picard followed.

The officer on watch approached, PADD in hand. "Admiral, Bollux and Blue Max are in cell 1178," she reported, checking the PADD's screen.

Desoto nodded and walked along to the aft of the brig to a long corridor, cells in the bulkhead. Almost all of them were empty save one. The trio approached the lone occupied cell, a battered droid sitting on the cot mounted on the bulkhead. Two chairs were the only other objects visible in the room. His photoreceptors lit up as Desoto approached. "Admiral," he intoned.

A MACO soldier standing there pressed several buttons on a control panel and the force field covering the brig shut down. Desoto motioned to Bollux. "All right, Jean-Luc and Data. This is Bollux."

Bollux stood up. His chest panel popped open and an eyestalk popped out. "Don't forget about me!" Blue Max piped up. The stalk swiveled around, looking at Picard and Data. "Hi, there!'

Desoto chuckled. "Call me when you're done," he said. He extended a hand to Picard. "Good to see you again, Jean-Luc."

Picard smiled and shook his old friend's hand. "And you, Robert. Don't get too comfortable here," he said, his smile turning ever so slightly into a smirk.

Desoto shook his head. "Just when I settle in, they'll be sending me on a milk run on the Hood." He turned to Data and shook his hand too. "Good luck to you too, Commander. I have a feeling whatever happens here will affect our relations with the New Republic for years to come." And with that, he turned and walked back and eventually out of the brig.

Picard walked up to Bollux and pulled a chair over. He sat down and looked the droid over. "Hello, Bollux," he said, smiling. "I'm sorry your stay in Federation space hasn't been more... accommodating."

Bollux held up a hand, palm out. "I understand, Captain. The circumstances of my arrival are not ideal for everyone." His head turned and he looked at Data, also sitting. "However, perhaps it is what my galaxy needs."

Picard held up a hand. "Perhaps we should go back a bit, Bollux. Tell me a bit about yourself, your history. Where did you come from? How did you get to meet Blue Max? We have to know where you've been before we can move on to where you want to go."

Bollux's head canted slightly. "That makes sense." He paused for a moment and his photoreceptors flashed slightly as he accessed his oldest memory files. "I am from the Fondor Shipyards, a simple labor droid. I was assigned to observe mynocks near a fuel module, but I wasn't given a return time. Therefore, it was about three weeks until I returned. My circuitry and algorithms had evolved enough for a personality. I was upgraded and promoted to shift supervisor, but was eventually sold as surplus to make way for a newer model."

"That makes little sense," Data interjected, head canting to the side and voice rising. "A promotion implies a place in the shipyards more than just a piece of machinery."

Bollux turned to him and held his hands up. "That is how it is for droids. After that I went from job to job, finally ending up in the Corporate Sector in the possession of outlaw smuggler Doc." He reached up and fully opened his chest, Blue Max's small form sliding out. "His daughter paired me with Blue Max. That is where I met Captain Solo and Chewbacca."

Data bristled slightly. "I have seen him with droids before, See-Threepio and Artoo-Detoo especially. He is not... particularly kind to them," he said, his voice taking on an edge. "How did you get along with him?"

Blue Max piped up. "He wasn't too bad, once he got to know us."

Bollux canted his head in agreement. "That is correct. He seemed to have genuine respect for us." He paused for a moment before continuing. "He left us in the care of Skynx, a historian researching Xim artifacts in the Tion Hegemony. Skynx is a Ruurian, so he eventually morphed into a chroma-wing and went back to his homeworld. I passed from owner to owner until I was bought by Captain Ladecs nine months ago."

Picard crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair, scowling. "Bought and paid for, passed from owner to owner." He focused on Bollux. "I sit and talk with you. Your dialogue is a bit precise, like a Vulcan or Benzite. There is no reason for a being like you to be treated in such a manner."

Blue Max's eyestalk swiveled around and focused on Picard. "Thanks, but to tell the truth, most droids are dumb machines with limited programming. Guys like Bollux and I are pretty rare."

"But not uncommon," Picard interjected. "And organic beings know of the difference between a sehlat and a Vulcan, or a human and a badger." He glanced down at the deck, mouth slightly open and lips curling. "In 2365, I defended my current first officer's rights as a sapient being. With the millennia of experience with artificial life forms such as yourself, has no one stood up to champion your cause?"

"I do not know," Bollux admitted. "But I will not go back to the New Republic, Captain. They will wipe my memory and turn me into a mindless automaton. I do not want that to happen."

Picard's jaw clenched. "And I will not permit it."
*****
Commodore Varth paced back and forth while Admiral Desoto sat in his office in ops. "Meeting with the droid?" he asked, throwing his hands up in the air. "What is he doing, having oil and crumpets with it?"

Desoto looked up from a PADD at Varth and scowled. "Sit down, Commodore," he ordered. "Not Picard's fault you took so long getting here."

A derisive chuckle escaped Varth's lips. "And have my molecules scrambled into electronic soup and scattered across the solar winds? Not likely." He turned his head as the office's entrance slid open, allowing Picard and Data entry. "Well, shall we-"

"Commodore Varth, I formally request a representative of the New Republic sent to Starbase Babylon for a hearing on Bollux and Blue Max's rights and whether or not they are malfunctioning devices or if Pandora's Box has, indeed, been opened," the Captain said in a single breath.

Varth looked Picard over with wide eyes. He straightened himself off and brushed at the front of his uniform tunic. "That droid in the brig is a malfunctioning piece of equipment with simulated intelligence and feelings," he stated. He motioned to Data. "Unlike your first officer, Bollux and Blue Max are simply tools with a glitch."

Picard tilted his head back slightly. "We shall see, Commodore. Will you honor my request?"

"A hearing for a malfunctioning machine? This should be most entertaining," Varth said, curling his lips back in a sneer. "Your funeral, Picard."
*****

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Re: Measure of a Droid

Postby RK_Striker_JK_5 » Wed May 26, 2010 6:31 pm

Was hoping for a review or two.. :(

Here we go!

*****
Chapter Three: Opening Gambits
One day later
Captain's log, supplemental. I find myself once more arguing the case of sapience , with the stakes even higher than before with Commander Data and Captain Maddox. In two weeks, the hearing begins, with relations to the New Republic hanging in the balance.


Picard sat hunched over his desk in his ready room, PADD in one hand and stylus in the other. He scrolled through text, making notes. The intercom chime beeped once, then twice and a third time before Picard looked up. He tapped a button on the monitor installed in the desk and swiveled it around. Desoto's image appeared and he nodded. "Admiral?"

Desoto cleared his throat. "Just got word, Jean-Luc. The New Republic is sending a representative for a hearing to determine Bollux's and Blue Max's legal status." He sighed and suddenly aged ten years. "They're also sending a representative for a three-person tribunal. The other is," he paused and glanced offscreen before continuing, "an Andorian businessman named Frevu Jall."

Picard's brow furrowed. "Who?"

Desoto chuckled. "He was the merchant who was meeting Captain Ladecs in the first place. The New Republic feels he'll be sufficiently neutral to balance us." He leaned forward. "You and Commander Data have five weeks before the hearing starts, Jean-Luc. You have until then to get any witnesses, testimony and/or experts together and here at Babylon. Desoto out." And with that, the screen changed from an image of the admiral to the Starfleet emblem.

The captain nodded and went back to his PADD. "The players shall gather, Robert. And we shall have a fine row indeed."
*****
Jupiter Station
Captain Bruce Maddox pressed a sensor wand to the exposed circuit line, tracing the power flow. He glanced to his right hand and the tricorder it held, checking the screen. He nodded and looked back to the partially-opened cranial unit of B-4. "How does that feel?" he asked the first-generation Soong-type android.

B-4, an exact physical replica of the Enterprise's first officer, pursed his lips slightly. "It feels fine," he said in an almost childlike voice. The android, discovered by the Enterprise right before a mission to Romulus, blinked. "Was that right?"

Maddox nodded. "It's right only if it does feel fine." He pulled the sensor wand back and put it onto a tray table next to him before sealing up B-4's head. He glanced around the cybernetics lab before spotting the device he needed. He walked over, but stopped when he glanced at the transparent aluminum pressure doors and spotted a security guard approaching. He turned and walked to the door, opening it up. "Yes?"

The Betazoid held up a PADD and held it out to Maddox. "Message from Starfleet Command, sir. Priority one," he said before turning and walking off.

Maddox's brow furrowed as he pressed his thumb to a scanner on the PADD. It lit up and he scrolled through the contents. He turned and looked to B-4. "B-4, would you care to go for a trip?"

The android looked up, his head shaking slightly. "I don't mind."
*****
Coruscant
"... Tahiri got along really well with the
Da Vinci crew, and I think Captain Gold was very grateful when we were able to defuse the situation. Bart Faulwell even got a smattering of Celestial language translated!" The holographic image of Anakin Solo paused and twisted around, staring at someone outside of the holo-camera range. "Gotta go, love you and talk to you later."

Han Solo leaned back in his chair as the image of his young son on the wall screen flickered and died. He looked around the small office nestled in a corner of the house he and Leia shared, sighing. "When did he grow up?" he said to the air. "Anakin's not allowed to grow up!"

He turned back to the screen and pressed a few keys on a keyboard mounted in the desk. He opened a window and once more accessed his mail account, rapidly deleting any marriage proposals, threats to his life or bounty postings. A small window displaying a report about something near the Gateway was closed. He read some letters from Lando, from Chewie on Kashyyyk and was about to log out when a letter bearing the seal of the New Republic's judicial department suddenly arrived.

Han's spine tingled as he opened it...

You are requested and required to appear at Starbase Babylon in five weeks, on March 23 for the case of 'the New Republic vs. Bollux'. You are also requested and required to bring the protocol droid See-Threepio with you as a materiel witness...

The rest of the text blurred together. Han swallowed and wiped his eyes as memories from a lifetime ago surfaced. Back at the Corporate Sector and Doc and Jessa and Gallandro... and two droids who earned his respect by their intelligence, loyalty and independence.

He grabbed the edge of the desk and shuddered. Han pushed up to his feet and turned around, facing the door. He slowly walked out and down a hallway to a set of stairs leading down to the main greeting area at the front of the house. He descended the stairs, looking about until his eyes lit upon Threepio, tottering in on his jerky and stiff legs.

Threepio's optics lit upon Han as he stood at the bottom of the stairs. His arms moved about slightly. "Captain Solo, are you all right?"

Han coughed slightly. He forced a smirk before speaking. "Get ready, goldenrod. We're going on a trip."
*****
Lieutenant Troh walked across the Enterprise's bridge. She paused at the door to the ready room and hit the chime button. Picard's voice came over the small speaker embedded in the control panel and the door slid open, allowing her entry.

She stepped forward and straightened to attention, snapping her head back and arms straight out to her sides. "Lieutenant Troh Neras reporting as ordered!"

Picard glanced up from a PADD and nodded. "At ease," he said, half-smiling. "Not a good idea to throw your back out at such a young age, Lieutenant." He motioned to a chair in front of his desk. "Please, sit."

Troh slid the chair out slightly and sat down. Picard placed the small rectangular piece of plastic on his desk and threaded his fingers together. He leaned forward. "Lieutenant, I shall be calling you as a witness in thirty-four days for Bollux's and Blue Max's hearing."

Troh blinked twice and her mouth went dry. "Yes, sir. I shall..." She paused and her brow furrowed. "Sir, what are my duties as a witness?"

Picard's mouth quirked upward slightly. "Your duties will be to the truth, Lieutenant." He spread his arms out. "Such is the duty of every Starfleet officer-to the truth." He brought his hands together. "Both the advocate from the New Republic and I will be meeting with you to go over your testimony and your version of the events." His mouth flattened. "This will be one of the more polarizing cases in Federation history. Much will be at stake."

The young Bajoran nodded. "What will be asked of me?"

"Well, you'll be asked to recall the events with Bollux and his request for asylum. Please remember, the facts will matter, not feelings." A sigh escaped the captain's lips. "It will not be easy, Lieutenant."

Troh's eyes hardened slightly. "Fighting for liberty and freedom for the oppressed is never easy, but it is the right thing to do. Bollux and Blue Max, and their brethren must have a voice against their oppression!"

There was a pause before Picard picked up his PADD and handed it over to Troh. "Good sentiments, but would CLL-M2 binary loadlifters welcome such freedom, or even be able to comprehend it?"

Troh's brow furrowed as she looked at the image on the PADD of a loadlifter, a barely-humanoid design with a cylindrical body, wide feet, grasping claws and a simple proximity sensor mounted in its 'head'. "Sir?" she asked.

A sigh escaped Picard's lips. "A class-five droid, akin to our own non-sapient machines we use. As close to Bollux as a mollusk is to you or me." He rubbed his forehead. "The more I dig into this, the more I see Bollux as an exception rather than the rule. Most droids have programming little more advanced than that of non-sapient animals."

The younger Bajoran cleared her throat. "But what about Blue Max, sir? He's little more than a bundle of components, tools and sensors. Hardly one to be considered sapient at first glance."

"At first glance," Picard repeated. "And there are humanoid-shaped droids that would appear at first glance to be sapient. Yet..." He trailed off and shook his head, looking off to the side, a distant look in his eyes. "Further and further down the rabbit hole we go." He glanced back up at Troh and half-smiled. "That will be all, Lieutenant. Dismissed."
*****
Bery entered the 765's cockpit, finding captain Ladec's sitting in the pilot's chair. "Captain?" the young Corellian asked hesitantly. He took a step forward, looking down at his mentor. "Admiral Desoto is at the airlock and has a message for you."

Ladecs spun the chair around and looked up at Bery with her red, lidless eyes. "I was gonna usher in a new era of trade," she sighed. She held up her left hand and moved it in a horizontal sweep across her face. "Ladecs, opening of the Gateway and the Federation, then the Klingon Empire and all points beyond!" Her arm dropped and her head canted down. "Now Ladecs the fool, who opened up a droid revolution."

Bery swallowed and leaned back, looking down the corridor to the cargo bay. "Captain..."

The Duros leaned forward, leveraging herself out of the chair and lurching forward. "All right, all right," she said walking down to the cargo bay. She spotted Desoto standing near the airlock and held her arms out. "Sorry, Admiral. None of our datapads or repulsor dollies meet your criteria for stealing them from me!"

Desoto cleared his throat. "I do apologize for the inconvenience, but a being has requested asylum from the New Republic. We can't just ignore that request, Captain."

Ladecs bared her teeth in a lipless snarl. "A machine with some sentience programming and in dire need of a memory wipe asked for asylum. There is a difference." She placed her hands on her hips. "Bollux and Blue Max are tools, little more if anything. Built by organics to serve organics. To do what we'd find dangerous or tedious. I know for a fact that your own Federation uses drones and machines like that."

"Except they don't have the level of sophistication or intelligence your droids possess," Desoto countered. A smirk tugged at the corners of his mouth. "Maybe Prometheus has been unbound?"

Ladecs stared at him for a moment before speaking. "Why are you here?"

"There will be a hearing to determine Bollux and Blue Max's fate in thirty-four days," Desoto responded. He ran his fingers through thinning, gray hair. "You'll most likely be called as a witness."

Ladecs's eyes somehow narrowed as she paced forward, stopping a half-meter from Desoto. "Good," she said. "I'll have my day in court." She turned back to the hatch leading to the bridge, but paused. She unclipped a canteen from her belt and thumbed the cap off, taking a swig from it. "Admiral, if Bollux was simply a box with repulsors, would you be making such a fuss?"

Desoto shook his head. "If the request was made, the request would be honored. It's not what you are, but who you are. Good day, Captain." And with that, he turned and walked out of the cargo bay.

The Duros shook her head as he left. "What those droids are is malfunctioning, Admiral," she muttered. "Nothing that a good memory wipe and defragging of their cores wouldn't fix."
*****

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Re: Measure of a Droid

Postby stitch626 » Wed May 26, 2010 7:01 pm

Wow, I can actually hear B4's annoying voice in those lines....

Well written.
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Re: Measure of a Droid

Postby RK_Striker_JK_5 » Mon Jun 28, 2010 6:31 pm

Stitch626-Thanks. :) Although I really didn't find him too annoying.

Anyone else? :(

Here we go!

*****
A Corellian Corvette exited the Gateway, flying through the rippling tear in space and heading for Starbase Babylon. The eleven ion engines flared, sending the one hundred-fifty meter long ship 'up' relative to its plane of entry, climbing to line up with Babylon's upper docking section. It flew around, approaching one of the 'smaller' docking hatches. The hatch slid open and the corvette entered the bay, thrusters slowing it down and adjusting pitch and yaw.

The hatch shut while interior lights snapped on, bathing the ship in yellowish light. A docking tube extended from one of the bulkheads, attaching to the corvette's port hatch amidships.

On the other side of the docking tube, Captain Picard stood, glancing at the environmental indicators and other status readouts. A big light above the hatch flashed green and, a half-minute later, the main hatch slid into the bulkhead. A pasty-faced Twi'lek emerged, carrying a black suitcase and wearing a gray suit with decorative cloth wrapped around the lekku draped around his shoulders. His red eyes shone with intelligence as he looked Picard over. "Captain Picard?" Nawara Ven said, smiling slightly.

Picard nodded and and held out a hand. "An honor to meet you, Nawar'aven."

The Twi'lek chuckled. He shifted his baggage from his right hand to his left before accepting Picard's hand. "Ooh, you're good," he said, grinning and showing off his sharpened teeth. "I assume my belongings will be transferred to my quarters?" he asked, looking back over his shoulder.

"They will," Picard said. He let go of Ven's hand and sighed as the two began walking down the corridor. "I have researched your case histories. There are few more formidable than you." He shook his head. "I will admit, my own record as an advocate is... not as extensive as yours."

The two turned a corner and made their way to a turbolift alcove at the end of the corridor. "Based on pure percentages, you're actually ahead of me," Nawara said. He looked to Picard and the smile dropped away. "There are not many who see droids as beings, alive in any way, shape or form. The one I own for filing and other secretarial work is clever... but I don't see it as alive."

The turbolift door slid open and the two entered the car. "Deck fifty-seven, guest quarters," Picard said. He turned his head to Nawara as the car shot up and to the left. "Something that Bollux and Blue Max acknowledge. How does that change what they are?"

Nawara's head-tails quivered slightly. "A good simulation of intelligence does not equal intelligence. Very few droids, if any, physically resist mind wipes, after all."

The turbolift door slid open and the two stepped out. Picard led Nawara down the corridor, passing by several Starfleet officers and more than one civilian. "Because they had been programmed for subservience and not to resist." his mouth formed a thin line and his eyes tightened slightly. "Programmed to not resist their mind emptied."

Nawara nodded and glanced at the Captain. "And who programmed them? And who built them?" He reached into a pocket on his suit jacket and pulled out a small, oval-shaped chunk of metal. "An SCM-22 stenographer, my dear Jean-Luc." he held it up, turning it over and showing off microphone grills, tiny treads and visual sensor bands. "Would you give this the right to vote?"

Picard plucked it from his hand and turned it over. They stopped in front of a door. "Your quarters," he said, holding it out for the Twi'lek to take back with talon-tipped fingers. He turned, but stopped and looked back, locking his eyes with Nawara's. "Nawara, you do offer some good arguments. I do, however, have one word for you."

"And that is?"

Picard stepped bad. "Lusankya," he said, allowing the door to close a half-second after the word left his mouth.

Nawara stood there for a moment before he turned and walked to a chair. He set his suitcase down on it and pressed his thumb to a metal plate near the lip and it clicked open. "Good," he murmured. "Let him think he has an advantage before springing the trap."
*****
Admiral Desoto entered transporter room three and nodded to the operator at the control console. "Is she ready for transport?" he asked the Bolian. At his nod, he looked to the platform and said, "energize."

A column of silvery energy appeared, fading out to reveal a human female. She had short, red hair and an expression of arrogance mixed with superiority. She stepped off the platform and nodded to Desoto. "Captain Phillipa Louvois reporting for duty," she said, snapping off a salute.

Desoto returned the salute. "Glad you got here quickly, Captain." He turned to the door and strode forward, Louvois following quickly behind. "Your New Republic counterpart is arriving even as we speak." He paused and dredged the name up. "Carlist Rieekan is his name. Good man, from what I've heard. Member of the Rebel Alliance."

Louvois snorted. "I'm sure his experience in planning guerrilla warfare will be most helpful in determining the rights of a droid." She blew out a breath, ruffling her bangs slightly. "No wonder they haven't been able to figure this out."

The admiral stopped in his tracks and spun about on his heel, glaring at Louvois. "Get this clear, Captain. Your task is to work with General Rieekan and Mister Jall to reach an equitable solution to this mess. Antagonize him and I will make sure you spend the rest of your Starfleet career scrubbing plasma conduits on a garbage scow. Do I make myself clear?"

Louvois held her body perfectly rigid at attention. "Understood," she said through clenched teeth and pursed lips.

Desoto nodded once before turning back and marching down the corridor, Louvois following him. Within ten minutes, they stood in a shuttle bay as a New Republic shuttle entered, passing through atmospheric containment fields before landing on the deck plating. The main hatch slid open and a small landing ramp extended, allowing an older man to walk down. His long, haggard face told a thousand tales at first glance, his slightly sunken eyes telling even more.

Carlist Rieekan walked down the ramp, extending his hand to Desoto. "Carlist Rieekan," he said, smiling slightly and shaking Desoto's own extended hand. He turned to Louvois and nodded, extending his hand once more once Desoto had let go. "Captain Louvois, good to meet you. I'm sure that with Mister Jall's aid, we'll reach a consensus on Bollux and Blue Max's fate."

Louvois stared at him with cool eyes, crossing her arms in front of her chest. "I hope so, General."

Rieekan's smile fell away and he lowered his hand. "I see." He glanced to the Admiral with his blue eyes. "So, where is this Frevu Jall, Admiral? I would like to meet him."

Louvois' head bobbed. "Same here, sir." She rubbed her chin. "I'd like to find out his reasons for suggesting a hearing for the two droids. And what he seeks to gain out of it."

Rieekan's eyes flashed as cold as Hoth. "Perhaps he is simply motivated by Federation ideals concerning rights for all species?" he asked, jaw canting slightly to the side. He looked to Desoto and rolled his eyes before sighing.

Desoto tapped his combadge. "Computer, location of Frevu Jall of Leeding Engines?"

There was a triple-beep before the computer's vaguely feminine voice came over. "Frevu Jall is in his quarters."

There was a pause before Desoto cleared his throat. "Patch me through." He waited again before speaking. "Mister Jall, this is Admiral Desoto. I'm here with Captain Louvois and Admiral Rieekan, the other two judges. Please meet us in conference room..." He paused and dredged up the closest conference room. "Seven."

Jall's voice came over the small speaker, tinny and slightly distorted. "Certainly, Admiral. I'll make my way there immediately."

Desoto nodded. "Thank you." He glanced to Rieekan and Louvois, motioning to a hatch at the far side of the shuttle bay. "Shall we?"
*****
Desoto, Rieekan and Louvois entered conference room seven, a somewhat small room containing a long table, chairs, a replicator mounted in one of the bulkheads and a few potted plants. The far bulkhead had several transparent aluminum viewports, showing a spectacular view of the Gateway, the swirling maelstrom of energy that connected two realities.

Jall sat at the head of the table, looking out at the Gateway and sipping a blue ale. "Magnificent," he muttered. He turned around in the chair and smiled, raising his glass to the three officers. "An honor to see and meet you," he said, antennae waggling slightly.

Desoto looked at the three. "I'll leave you to your work," he said before turning for the door. "A starbase can't run itself, after all," he said before exiting.

Louvois nodded to him before clasping her hands behind her at the small of her back and walking forward, leaning forward slightly. "Frevu Jall, on the board of directors for Leeding Engines, the second-largest warp core and plasma conduit manufacturer in Federation space. One of Starfleet's biggest suppliers, too." She stopped a half-meter from him and her eyes narrowed. "Why are you doing this?"

Jall's antennae flattened against his head. He placed his glass down and stood up, pushing the chair back. "Captain Phillipa Louvois," he said, teeth bared. "Presided over Starfleet vs. Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Commander Bruce Maddox vs. Lieutenant Commander Data. The latter was a watershed event in rights and the recognition of sapience in artificial lifeforms. The former nearly ended your career due to some... actions and revelations made."

He brushed past her and walked up to Rieekan. Jall's antennae rose slightly and he placed a hand low on his chest, over his heart. "General Carlist Rieekan, of Alderaan. Hero of the Alliance to Restore the Republic, mentor of Leia Organa Solo, member of the 'Gray Cadre' and all-around war hero."

Rieekan smirked slightly. "You did your research on us," he said.

Jall glanced over his shoulder at Louvois before turning around and walking back to her. "As to why I'd suggest a hearing over this matter?" He waved his pudgy fingers at the Gateway. "This is not only a very delicate situation politically, but monetarily as well. Trade between our two realities might grind to a halt."

Louvois growled and stalked forward. She grabbed Jall by the arm and tugged, spinning him around. "Money?!" she half-shouted. "A being's rights are at stake and you care about money?" She looked to Rieekan. "General, I request-nay-I demand this unscrupulous piece of beetle snuff be removed and someone else-"

"Kindly remove your hand from my forearm, or be prepared to be sued for every credit you're worth," Jall said, voice low. He waited for Louvois to remove her hand before tugging on his suit jacket. "Better. Now, as I was about to say, trade might grind to a halt. Then the domino effect would go into motion."

Rieekan spoke up. "Once trade ends, then diplomatic relations would follow. Tensions would mount and then..." He trailed off and his blue eyes looked out beyond the present. "War."

Jall shook his head slightly. "Maybe not war, but definitely not peace. There'd be rising tensions over this matter. And droids would continue to seek asylum in the Milky Way. And I'd bet my stock that some groups would try to stop them."

Louvois picked up his train of thought. "And the laws of the universe would dictate something bad happening then. With someone probably dying." She looked to Jall and bit her lip slightly. "Well thought out, Mister Jall."

The Andorian's antennae flattened slightly. "Thank you, Captain." He looked at Rieekan out of the corner of his eyes. "So, what is your stand on droid rights?"

Rieekan walked across the table to the replicator. "Water," he said. He looked to Jall as a small cup of water materialized in the hole in the wall. "To be honest, it hasn't really crossed my mind much. Droids have always been in the... background." He took the cup and sipped from it. "I don't think I was ever rude to a droid, but never treated them like organic beings." His shoulders bobbed slightly. "It just never occurred to me."

Louvois smiled slightly. "Never occurred to many people even in the Federation before 2365. Commander Maddox had little qualms about disassembling Commander Data and trying to copy his positronic brain. If I had ruled differently... we might have our own droid population now."

The retired general eyed Louvois. "So our own droids make you feel uncomfortable," he stated, taking another sip of water. "Please keep in mind, Captain, that most droids have barely enough cognitive software for collision-avoidance guidelines or facial recognition. Droids like Bollux and Blue Max are very rare."

"So should their rights be denied because of their specialness?" Jall said, smirking. He wheeled about and faced Louvois. "And should non-sapient beings be given rights they simply cannot understand?" He looked up to the ceiling and shook his head, running fingers through tinning white hair. "Such a dilemma."

"A dilemma that has to be solved by us," Rieekan said. He looked over at the younger woman. "Ready to go down this road again?"

Louvois gave him a withering glare. "You truly have no idea what box your New Republic is opening here, do you. Large chunks of your society is based on droid labor. Even if it's only a few who are declared sapient, it will represent a fundamental shift in your way of life."

Rieekan returned the glare, forcing Louvois to lean back slightly. "I know. But the right thing to do is often the hard thing to do, too." His hands clenched at his sides. "But by Taia, it shall be done!"
*****

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Re: Measure of a Droid

Postby stitch626 » Tue Jun 29, 2010 1:08 am

Hmmm, so now they're going onto droid rights, full force. Might not end pretty.

Good read, though light on the action (as expected at this point).
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Re: Measure of a Droid

Postby Vic » Tue Jun 29, 2010 7:22 am

Certainly not starting with a nibble are they? I also like that you are useing sapience not sentience as the point of contention.
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Re: Measure of a Droid

Postby RK_Striker_JK_5 » Fri Aug 06, 2010 12:41 pm

Stitch-No, probably not. The entire culture of the GFFA is based on droid labor. And yeah, there won't be much action, if any here.

Vic-Thanks. :) And yeah, there's a difference there.

Here we go!

*****
Chapter Four: Preparations
The transporter pad glowed briefly as the column of energy hovering above it faded, leaving behind a short humanoid with a bulbous head, wide black eyes and a tiny mouth almost shrouded in wrinkles. The Bith patted himself down over his black suit and if, possible, would've blinked. "It worked?" he asked.

The security officer clamped his lips together. He reached into a small bag slung over his shoulder and pulled out a PADD. "Baraf Deppi of Cybot Galactica?" At the Bith's absentminded nod, he continued. "Here is a map of Starbase Babylon and your schedule," he said, voice slightly muffled.

Baraf stepped down. "Direct conversion from matter to energy, sent along a carrier wave and reassembled on the quantum level." He shook his head and his long fingers twitched. "Of course, not even that could be relevant. I still might not be 'me'." He looked himself over. "Am I just a duplicate, or-"

"Please report to Advocate Ven at the time listed. If there are species-specific accommodations you need that we don't know about, please let any Starfleet officer know!" The officer suddenly half-shouted. His arm waved frantically at the door.

The Bith's pale skin colored slightly. "You've heard what I've had to say before," Baraf remarked.

A sigh escaped the officer's lips. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he said, head drooping slightly. "It's just... millions of beings transport every day on Earth alone. It's a proven technology over two centuries old. Almost every nation in this half of the Milky Way has it. We make fun of Delta Quadrant powers that don't have transporters."

Baraf's head bobbed. "I see. Well, thank you." And with that, he turned and walked out.

The officer rolled his eyes before looking over his shoulder at the Coridan transporter operator. "How many more?"

The Coridan adjusted his face mask and tapped at the transporter controls. "Not many. The next one is all set." He slid his fingers across the touch-sensitive controls. "Energizing."

A young man appeared on the transporter pad, pale with blue hair and a line of tattoos across his forehead. He brushed a lock of unkempt hair from his eyes with one hand and cinched up on his backpack straps with the other. "Nice place," he mumbled, stepping off the platform. He looked up at the security officer and shook his head. "Stang, all guards look alike!"

The officer's eyes widened slightly. He reached into his shoulder bag and pulled out a PADD. "Zakarisz Ghent?" he asked, checking the face on the PADD against the scruffy young man before him.

Ghent smiled and nodded. "Yeah." he stepped around the security officer and approached the Coridan behind the transporter console. "Might wanna tweak the pattern buffers a bit. Transport wasn't as smooth as normal."

The Coridan blinked behind the polarized goggles over his eyes. "How do you know of such things?"

Ghent shrugged. "My 'other' boss Talon's got transporter installed in every one of his ships." He let out a slow whistle. "Chin nearly had a heart attack when we first beamed a cargo container aboard the Wild Karrde, not to mention a living being." He abruptly turned and walked to the door, tossing a wave behind his shoulder before the door opened, allowing him to exit.
*****
The exterior was an ancient class-F shuttle, retired in 2270 and not seen outside of a museum or third-rate cargo hauler since. A pearl-white hull, somewhat blocky with a rounded bow. Two comparatively small nacelles were bolted to the ventral surface, while recessed impulse engines were in the rear.

The interior, however bore a different story, as its performance as it flew to Starbase Babylon at warp eight. It dropped out of warp near Babylon, impulse engines lighting up. The eight-meter long shuttle approached the long midsection, right below the 'mushroom cap' docking bay. The shuttle's thrusters fired, slowing the shuttle and adjusting the angle of approach even as a tiny hatch slid open near the base of the 'cap', right below where two workbees placed a large duranium panel for fusion welding to adjoining panels. The shuttle landed in the one-ship docking bay, passing through an atmospheric containment field and touching down with precision.

Admiral Desoto stood off to the side, waiting for the shuttle to power down before approaching. He adjusted the collar of his dress uniform and tugged down on the hem of the jacket while the shuttle's hatch slid open.

A humanoid male stepped out, looking just past middle age but still in prime physical shape. He had close-cut brown hair, a clean-shaven face and gray, lifeless eyes. A gray jumpsuit covered him, with the only ornamentation a necklace around his neck and a large pendant with a black 'one' on it.

Desoto stepped forward and extended his hand. "On behalf of the United Federation of Planets, I'd like to welcome you to Starbase Babylon, Norman."

Norman of the Planet Mudd turned his head and extended his hand, shaking Desoto's. "It is a pleasure to meet you," he said in clipped, formal tones. "This legal matter is quite interesting, and I hope to provide some insight into it.

Desoto stepped to the side and the two exited the docking bay. "We've got androids and exocomps, programmers and hackers. All because of two droids that simply wish to live without the fear of mind wipes." He shook his head. "Sorry, sorry. I'm not supposed to 'influence' the witnesses and experts called in on this."

Norman shook his head. "It is all right, Admiral. I am driven by pure logic, and it is near impossible for me to be swayed by emotion." The pair approached a turbolift alcove and boarded the car. "I am quite intrigued by these droids, though. The Federation has done without such complex machines, instead using remote-controlled drones or robots with artificial intelligence far too simple for any sapience to develop. Yet in the other quantum reality, such droids are a fact of life."

Desoto shook his head as the car stopped and they exited. "We've got your quarters all set up," he stated as they walked down, passing officers, technicians and civilians. "Are you sure you want it so bare-boned? Not even a couch or bed?"

Norman nodded as they stopped in front of a door. "All that is required is a computer terminal with subspace access so I may keep track of things on Mudd. I have Stella 129 and Stella 871 keeping tabs on the populace, but I am still primary coordinator for the population."

The admiral hesitated before nodding. "Of course, of course." He pressed a few buttons on the control panel and the door slid open. "Will there be anything else?"

"Thank you, no," Norman replied before entering his quarters. The door slid shut right after him, snapping closed.

The admiral shook his head and turned, walking off. "No wonder Kirk was able to mess with him so easily. He's colder than Rura Penthe!"
*****
Picard scrolled through screens of text about droids, ownership titles, warranties and instruction manuals concerning droids. He rubbed his eyes as the black text began to blur. He looked up across his desk at the other occupant of his ready room. "Anything, Number One?"

Data's golden eyes glanced up from the PADDs he held, one in each hand. "Negative, Captain. Although there have been seven distinct attempts by droids to rebel, each one was put down rather quickly. Each one was also a military action, therefore fanning anti-droids sentiment in the general populace." He frowned slightly. "One wonders what the result would be if they sought protection through legal channels, and not through the barrel of a blaster."

Picard shook his head. "Maddox's attempt to 'acquire' you for his research might have done quite a bit of good in the long run, then. It gives us precedent to help Bollux and Blue Max." He glanced down at the PADD and pressed his finger to the touch-sensitive screen. He slid it up, scrolling through to another screen. "A droid can be 'freed' by its owner, but there's no legal protection to it. Someone-anyone-can just take it off the street, mind wipe it and use it. Just like that."

Data shifted in his seat. "Such a potential fate is... unsettling." He looked down at the two PADDS he held, his thumb touching the screen and scrolling 'up' through pages and pages of text and images. "Droids cannot own property, nor can they vote. Such laws are universal throughout Known Space."

A chuckle came from the captain. "Although to be fair, Mister Data, would you have a stenographer droid own anything when it can't even stop at the edge of a desk when following a voice?"

Any reply was cut off by the triple-beep of the comm. "Commander Data, this is Starbase Babylon. The ship you've requested information on has just landed in docking bay 11."

Data placed the PADDs on Picard's desk and rose, tapping his combadge. "Thank you. I shall beam over in five minutes." He bobbed his head to Picard. "Captain," he said before turning and heading out.
*****
Han ducked his head around the Falcon's entry hatch, looking around the small bay. The far wall was lined with tool lockers and hatches, while a fuel pump was fastened to the deck plating near the aft starboard portion of his ship. Two Starfleet technicians stood near the hatch, both clad in rust-colored environment suits. One held a PADD while the other hefted a toolbox. "Hi, there," he said, waving. He walked down the ramp and smirked, waving back at the Falcon. "Take a good look, fellows. One of the fastest ships in either reality. Made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs."

The technician with the PADD wrinkled his forehead. "But parsec is a unit of measurement. How does that make sense for you to go shorter than the distance required?"

There was silence for a moment before Han's face turned red. He held out his hand and took the offered PADD from the technician. He read through the information about refueling costs and the general rules about Babylon before placing his thumb on a small scanner below the screen. He handed it back and glanced over his shoulder. "It's all right Go-Threepio. Come on out and meet the nice people."

Threepio emerged from the Falcon and walked down, his plating gleaming. He raised an arm and waved it awkwardly at the technicians. "Oh, it's so nice to meet you! I am See-Threepio, human/cyborg relations."

The technician with the toolbox grasped Threepio's hand. "Nice to meet you, too," she mumbled. She looked to Han. "Commander Data from the Enterprise is coming to meet with you. He should be here momentarily." Her head turned as a set of doors slid open and Data walked into the bay. "Speak of the Ardra." She nodded to Data before she and the other technician left the bay, leaving Data alone with Han and Threepio.

Data's golden eyes narrowed slightly. He extended a hand to Han and half-smiled. "Thank you for coming," he said. "Bollux and Blue Max have extensive recollections of their time with you."

Han glanced down at Data's outstretched hand. He looked back up, barely avoiding his eyes. He looked down once more and accepted the handshake. "Those two saved my life a few times out in the Corporate Sector." He leaned forward. "Bollux even managed to beat a Mark X Executioner droid at Star's End." He leaned back and glanced at the door Data had entered from. "So, any chance I can see him?"
*****
"The brig?"

Data nodded as the three emerged from a turbolift, stepping into a security arch. The various scanners mounted in the frame swept over him. Han stepped through next, shuddering slightly. Threepio followed and Data led them around the outer ring to a hatch leading to a long corridor. They stopped in front of the lone occupied cell-cell 1178. A MACO soldier there pressed a few buttons and the force field lowered.

"For his protection," Data finally explained. "Admiral Desoto believed Captain Ladecs or others might attempt to kidnap him for purposes of a mind wipe. Considering what I have learned of laws concerning droids, that is not out of the realm of possibility."

Han grimaced as he entered the cell. Bollux now sat at a desk with a computer monitor. His chest panel was open and Blue Max's optic stalk peeked out. Bollux's head tilted back and his optics brightened slightly. "Captain Solo!" he exclaimed. He pushed his chair back and stood up, walking around to his old master. "It is good to see you again!"

Han swallowed. He felt sweat form on his brow and he wiped it. "Good to see you, too. So, what have you been up to?"

Bollux's optics brightened, then dimmed. "Blue Max and I assisted Professor Skynx with his dig at Dellalt. We unearthed many antiques concerning Xim and his reign pre-Old Republic. Sadly, he underwent metamorphosis into a chroma-wing in 10 ABY."

Han nodded. He turned and grabbed a chair, sliding it over to the desk and sitting down. He looked up and around at Bollux and Data, still standing. "Sorry," he mumbled, scratching the back of his head. "Legs were getting tired."He thrust his arm at the chair Bollux was sitting in. "No need to stand on my account!" he said, forcing a smile.

Bollux stepped back and sat down in his chair, facing Han across the desk. Data glanced around, quickly locating one more chair. He grabbed it and placed it next to Han. Threepio stood off to the side, arms brought up and head cocked to the side.

A burst of static came through Bollux's vocabulator. "After Professor Skynx's metamorphosis, Blue Max and I were sold off by the new head of the Dellalt Project. Our new owners attempted sell us for scrap, but Blue Max hacked her system and enabled us to be sold to someone actually looking for a labor droid."

Bollux's chest panel opened fully, revealing the small boxy droid in the compartment. Blue Max's optic stalk extended and brightened. "That was a good owner," he chirped. "He even wanted to free us!"

Data's brow furrowed. "From what I have learned, a manumitted droid has little to no protection against someone simply taking it and reprogramming the droid."

"Which is why we declined the offer," Bollux replied, nodding slightly at the pale-skinned android. "We worked for an asteroid prospecting company after for three years, finally ending up in Captain Ladecs' ownership nine months ago when the company was bought wholesale by Baobab. She is a good captain, and Bery is an enjoyable and jocular fellow."

Han tensed slightly. He glanced down at the table and clasped his hands together, thumbs twirling about each other. "Then why this?" he finally asked. "What made you two consider such a... a radical step?"

Blue Max's optic stalk twisted around, peering up at Han's face. "What do you mean? We simply want to live in a society where artificial lifeforms aren't feared." The stalk swiveled over and peered at Data. "Look at him! He's first officer of Starfleet's flagship. He could choose not to undergo a procedure billions of droids are forced through every day. He's a citizen, recognized by who he is and not what he is." The stalk swiveled around to stare at Han, the photoreceptor on the end brightening. "Why wouldn't we want that?"

Han bit his lip and looked away. His cheeks turned a bright red and he shot out of his chair. He spun around, pausing as he saw Threepio standing off to the side. He walked over to the golden-plated protocol droid. "What do you want?" he finally asked.

Threepio's arms jerked up slightly. "Sir?" he replied, photoreceptors brightening. His head canted slightly to the right and he waved. "What is Captain Solo talking about?"

Han grabbed Threepio's upper arms and shook his entire frame. "Threepio, it's not some dumb rambling or me being my usual charming self." He leaned forward, staring Threepio right in the optics. "What do you want? Do you want anything? Deep in your programming, your self... is there anything you want?"

Threepio's optics fluttered in intensity. His head tilted downward, then shot up. "What I truly wish is for you to stop calling me goldenrod!" He stepped back, shaking Han's fingers loose from his plating. "Honestly, Captain Solo! I am simply trying to do my best! There is no need for petty insults thrown my way simply because I abhor violence!" His hand waved back and forth and his head wobbled slightly.

Han blinked and his jaw opened a few times before he spoke. "So you... you want respect?"

Threepio's optics blinked on and off. "I suppose." His head canted forward. "Yes, yes. I wish for a bit of respect."

Data turned around from watching Han and looked to Bollux. "Bollux, Blue Max, what do you wish for?"

Bollux's hand clenched and the internal servos groaned. "I wish to come out of my recharge cycle in a home of my own, to go to work and earn money for myself. I want never again to fear of having my memory stolen from me or wonder if anyone I pass will simply take me to be mind wiped. I want to buy things with my money, not things I need but things I earn."

There was silence in the brig for a moment before Han walked back to his chair and slumped down into it. He rubbed his hand over his face and half-smiled. "And honest day's wage for an honest day's work," he finally said. The smuggler crossed his arms and shook his head. "So... humanoid."

Blue Max's eyestalk waggled a bit. "Is that a compliment or an insult, Captain?"

"Merely stating a fact, as my future daughter-in-law would say," Han quipped. He looked to Data. "I'm sorry," he murmured. "When you first saw me and Threepio back on the Enterprise, what did you think?"

Data's eyes darted back and forth for a moment. "There was concern about the threatment of Threepio, yes. I find your prejudice to droids to be odd and paradoxical, especially in comparison to other nonhuman life."

Han shrugged and held up his right hand, waving it about. "Data, the vast majority of beings in my galaxy don't see droids as alive." He turned and locked eye to optic with Bollux. "You're built in a factory by mass production, programmed with skills and some rather basic AI and then sold in stores or over the holonet. There's probably a thousand models of the BLX line out in the Corellia System alone. Most droids couldn't carry a conversation like this." He leaned forward. "I'm sorry, but I won't apologize for not seeing you as alive."

Bollux's optics blinked. "That is all right, Captain Solo. I accept that. I accept that, yes almost all droids are simple tools built for convenience." His right hand clenched and suddenly slammed into the table, sending Han jumping slightly. "But Blue Max and I are not like them, Captain. We will seize our chance at equality."

"And what about Known Space?" Han replied. "You won't be the last, Bollux. Others will follow. Our entire way of life is based around droid labor. The upheaval caused would be... " He trailed off and threw his hands up into the air. "Well, more than even I can imagine!"

"Not all droids would be freed," Data said, his eyes narrowing slightly. "All are aware of the software limitations inherent in the majority of droids. But why deny Bollux and Blue Max their rights?"

Han opened his mouth, then closed it. "There's... no reason, I guess," he finally said, shrugging his shoulders. He glanced to a bulkhead. "Gods, this is quite probably the biggest blindside since finding out Leia's true parentage."

Data's eyebrows furrowed. "Han?"

Han waved him off. "Never mind. Long story. I'll tell you over an ale." He paused and his mouth turned downward. "If you get drunk, that is." He suddenly shot to his feet and flashed a half-smile at Bollux and Blue Max. "I'll see you at the hearing," he said before spinning on his heel. He looked to Threepio. "Take your time getting back to the Falcon. See some sights. Have... fun." And with that, he walked out.

Everyone started slightly as he exited the brig. Bollux's head shook slightly. "I fear his view of the galaxy has been... altered somewhat."

Blue Max's eyestalk waggled back and forth slightly. "Understatement of the millennium, Bollux! Just hope he doesn't toss himself into a plasma conduit or something."

Threepio's body jerked slightly. "Oh, my! I hope Captain Solo doesn't do anything rash." He turned around and began walking off. "Captain Solo? Captain Solo! It's not worth it. Mistress Leia would be quite perturbed if you committed suicide! Wait for me!"

Data rose from his own chair and crossed the distance to Threepio in an eyeblink. He grabbed the protocol droid's arm, halting his progress. "Threepio, Han is not going to commit suicide," he said gently. "He simply needs time to think."

Threepio's head canted down, then back up. "Oh, I suppose so. Captain Solo can be quite intelligent. For a human, that is." He shuffled in place slightly. "Oh, my."
*****

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Re: Measure of a Droid

Postby Vic » Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:16 am

Ha, goldenrod once, goldenrod allways. :D
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Re: Measure of a Droid

Postby stitch626 » Sat Aug 14, 2010 12:40 am

I can even hear Anthony Danial's voice in this dialogue. Nicely done. :)
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Re: Measure of a Droid

Postby RK_Striker_JK_5 » Wed Sep 08, 2010 2:59 pm

Vic-lol, maybe. ;) Han can evolve.

Stitch-Thanks. :)

Okay, this hearing does not conform to US law. Since, you know, it's not even Earth! ;)

Here we go!

*****
Chapter Five: Soul Searching
Han wandered around Babylon's corridors, hands in his pockets and head hanging low. For an hour he walked up and down, taking turbolifts to various non-restricted levels. He sidestepped station personnel, civilians and technicians, keeping his mouth clamped shut. He eventually walked through a set of transparent aluminum doors into a large, two-deck saloon.

Han's head shot up as the familiar clinking of glasses and general 'bar chatter' wafted through the air. He made a beeline for a bar set up at the far wall. He sat down on a stool between an Axanar and a Bolian and waved at the human-looking bartender. "What's the local poison?" he asked, half-smiling.

The bartender flashed a toothy grin, contrasting with his darker skin. He had no bone ridges, wild hair or third eye that Han could see, but that meant little in the Milky Way. He bent down and pulled a bottle of pale orange liquid from beneath the bar. "Tranya," he said, producing a glass to go along with the bottle. He looked at the label. "2245 vintage. That was a good year."

"For the tranya or in general?' Han joked. He waited for the bartender to pour some of the tranya before taking a sip. He swished it around in his mouth, savoring the tart flavor before swallowing and draining the glass. Han reached inside his vest pocket and pulled out his money card. "How much for the bottle?"

The bartender took the card and turned to a money till at the bar's center. He inserted it into a slot. "Ninety-nine Federation credits," he said. He waited for Han's nod before pressing several buttons. He removed the card and handed it beck to Han. "Thank you for your business," he said, smiling.

Han took the card back. He poured himself another glass of tranya, but hesitated before sipping it. He sighed and leaned forward, resting his arms on the bar. "Ever have your entire universe turned upside down by a few words? One encounter?"

The bartender shrugged. "Happens to everyone at least once or twice. It'd be a dull galaxy if we didn't have a surprise." He picked up a cloth and wiped down the bar. "Had one of those lately?"

The former smuggler raised his arm and held it up to his face, looking at his wrist chrono and raising his eyebrows. "About... twenty minutes ago or so." He leaned forward. "I assume you've heard of Bollux and Blue Max?"

The bartender snorted. He waved at one of the dozen large screens mounted around the bar. Some showed sporting events, others showed entertainment programs. The one he motioned to showed a news anchorwoman sitting in front of a desk with a PADD in hand. "And now the latest in Crisis: Gateway. We go to our correspondent on the scene, live to all those in the adjoining sectors and time-delayed closer to the Core."

Han turned back to the bar and leaned heavily on it. "Ho, boy..." He looked up at the bartender, who was wiping a glass with a rag. "I knew Bollux and Blue Max a while ago. They were clever, resourceful... intelligent. I respected them. I relied on them. And now they've turned my entire way of thinking around." He chuckled softly. "Well, not all of it."

The bartender nodded. "Happened to my mom one time in the nineteenth century. She met a man in San Francisco that snapped her out of a bit of decadent waste. Then in 2293 she encountered the Nexus. Another life-changer." He smiled and brought out a few more drinks for some cargo haulers sitting down before going back to Han. "went through some myself." He knelt down and picked up some more liquor containers, placing them on the bar. "So where'd you meet Bollux and Blue Max, Han?"

Han opened his mouth, then it snapped shut and his eyes widened. "How did-"

The bartender smirked. "The only thing that travels faster than the Q is gossip. And I'm from a race of listeners. What you've told me says a lot more than what you think." He leaned on the bar. "They change your mind about droids?"

Han poured himself another glass of tranya. He saluted the bartender, but paused before imbibing. "Some of them. Those two, definitely. And one more. Possibly."

"Maybe?"

Han let out a sigh and his shoulder slumped. "Probably, yeah. All he wants is a little respect for a job that saves lives. He wants to talk things out, reason with others. Save a little blood. And I mock him for that. He's not built for combat, in any way shape or form. And I mock him for that." He raised his glass and swished the liquid in it about. "Sorry, Threepio. I never took your full measure."
*****
Captain's log, stardate 54316.99. The time has come. The hearing to determine whether or not Bollux and Blue Max may have asylum in the Federation commences today. I am trepidatious, but there is nothing to do but go forward. Data and I have prepared, but there is always uncertainty. Can I do this again? Will the New Republic listen?

All there is to do is try.


Captain Picard fidgeted slightly and pulled at the collar of his dress uniform. He glanced around the courtroom, a converted observation lounge. Massive transparent aluminum windows dominated one wall of the two-deck high room, showing the swirling gateway, the roiling storm of time and space crossing dimensions. Chairs formed a gallery. He, Data and Bollux sat on one table, with Blue Max nestled inside Bollux's chest cavity. Across the aisle, Nawara Ven, Captain Ladecs and Bery sat. Admiral Louvois, General Rieekan and Frevu Jall sat directly opposite the two tables, PADDs and a small gong the only things on their table.

Louvois picked up a small hammer and tapped it against the gong. Idle chatter from the gallery died down. She stood up and tugged down on the front of her own dress uniform, grimacing slightly. "I call this hearing to order," she announced. "Will the advocates please ready their opening statements?" She turned her head to her left. "Nawara Ven, please go first."

Nawara Ven stood. He smoothed the folds of his suit jacket and adjusted his lekku before walking to stand in front of the tribunal. "Let us not be distracted by issues of metaphysics or sapience, here." He turned and motioned to Ladecs and Bery. "Captain Ladecs paid for a droid. Something that mimics sapience, but is not in fact sapient. It is malfunctioning, gone on too long without proper software defragging. Nothing more." He paced a bit, ending up in front of Picard and Data. "The Federation has stripped the Baobob 765 of a vital piece of equipment."

He wheeled around and pointed at the three members of the tribunal. "And it is your responsibility to give the 765 back its property." He bowed his head and walked back to his seat, nodding to Ladecs slightly.

Louvois glanced to Picard. "Captain, your turn."

Picard stood up and walked around to face the three. "I am afraid Mister Ven is... grossly simplifying the matters at hand, and dismissing important facets. Metaphysics may be moved aside, but sapience most not!" He pounded a fist into the open palm of his left hand. "Bollux and Blue Max have chosen to come to the Federation, under their own free will, to seek out things we take for granted every day of our lives. The ability to choose, to think for ourselves and to be ourselves!"

Picard spread his arms wide. "Shall we deny them their rights to self-determination, to freedom? Both the United Federation of Planets and New Republic are founded on those very principles. Do we deny them simply because they are inconvenient? I think not." The captain's lips curled slightly. "The right decision must be made here. Precedent must be set. And ancient rights must be wronged."

He jabbed a finger at the tribunal. "And you not only have the opportunity, but also the duty to right those wrongs. To begin to redress the issue of droid rights, if they should have them, what kind of rights and how they should be treated." He tugged down on the front of his uniform jacket. "I implore you not to take the easy way out here," he said, walking back to his chair and sitting down.

There was silence for a few moments before Rieekan cleared his throat. "All right. Mister Ven, your first witness?"

Nawara stood. "I call Baraf Deppi of Cybot Galactica to the stand."A door behind the tribunal's table opened and the diminutive Bith walked through, flanked by a pair of Starfleet security officers. He took a seat next to the tribunal and placed his hand on a scanner mounted on the armrest. Ven approached him. "Please state your name and occupation for the record."

Baraf cleared his throat. "I am Braf Deppi, a programmer for Cybot Galactica. I check code for newly-programmed droid brains against default settings to see if there are errors."

"Thank you," Nawara said. He glanced to the side as a one meter-wide flatscreen monitor was pushed in on anti-grav mounts. The black screen flickered to life, showing a cutaway diagram of a droid head and the circuitry within. He looked to the tribunal. "I should establish that the company that manufactured Bollux, Serv-O-Droid, is no longer in business. However, Mister Deppi's credentials as a programmer are among the finest in Cybot Galactica and has extensively studied Bollux and Blue Max's current software." He looked back to the monitor, lekku shifting. "Now, then. What are we looking at?"

Baraf shifted in his seat and stood up. He walked over and pointed at the head. "This is a diagram of a BLX labor droid cranial unit and the software within. Each chip and circuit has a function in running the droid and basically 'telling' it what to do." He pointed to a circuit near the back. "This one, for instance, monitors temperature and determine whether or not internal heaters or cooling systems should be turned on."

The Twi'lek nodded. "Is there flexibility in his software?"

Baraf nodded. "It's inevitable. There is of course free space for memory, but that fills up over time. Memory wipes are a simple necessity, unless you physically install more software. For a BLX droid, that would be about fifty years of normal usage."

The advocate looked to the tribunal. "Bollux, for the record, is one hundred-twenty years old." He looked back to Baraf. "Has Bollux undergone any physical enhancements to his memory core or other software?" Nawara asked, fangs glinting softly in the light.

Baraf nodded. "He has had circuitry replaced, yes. However, none of it is enough to enhance Bollux's software by any great leaps. They are merely replacements for worn-out parts."

Nawara spread his arms wide. "And this does nothing to enhance his cognitive software in any way?"

Picard rose to his feet. "Your honors, objection. Counsel is leading the witness."

"Sustained, " Louvois said. She looked to Nawara. "Rephrase, Mister Ven."

"My apologies." Nawara cleared his throat. "Was his cognitive software enhanced in any way by the replacements?"

Baraf shook his bald head. "Not that I can see. They're standard replacement parts almost anyone can pick up, provided they have the credits."

"No further questions," Nawara said, walking back to his table. He sat down and steepled his fingers together, eyes darting to Picard. "Your witness."

Picard rose from his chair and walked around to face Baraf. "Mister Deppi, how does a droid make a decision?"

Baraf shifted in his seat. "The vast majority use decision trees-each decision branching off into various other consequences. The droid traces a path, attempting to reach the desired outcome."

Picard nodded. He walked over and pressed a few buttons on the monitor. The image change from the cutaway model to an influence diagram, nodules connected by lines flowing into an outcome. "This is the typical model for droid behavior?" He waited for Baraf's acknowledgment, then pressed another button. "Bollux and Blue Max's decison-making was tested and mapped out earlier this week. You may access the results on your PADDs in front of you, but here is a larger version for all to see."

The image changed from the neat, orderly lines to flowing curves. Large gaps appeared between nodules, some lines doubling back onto themselves, crisscrossing and becoming tangled near the center. Picard pressed another button. "Here are the results for Commander Data, also done earlier this week."

The image shrank and a similar one appeared next to it, the lines curving around. Picard looked to his table and waved at Bollux. "Not logical, not dictated by trees or pathways. Is this atypical for a droid?"

Baraf nodded, his black eyes shining with surprise. "I would say so! This is a remarkable deviation from standard droid pathways."

Picard slowly nodded. He pressed a button and the monitor went blank. "No further questions."
*****

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Last edited by RK_Striker_JK_5 on Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Measure of a Droid

Postby Vic » Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:25 am

Hmmm.......point to Picard. :tongue:
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Re: Measure of a Droid

Postby Foxfyre » Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:55 am

I do hope there is more Striker! I might just have to hunt you down if there is not. :angel1:
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Re: Measure of a Droid

Postby RK_Striker_JK_5 » Wed Nov 10, 2010 9:18 pm

Vic-LOL, a point yes. But a good point? ;)

foxfyre-... Okay. ;) More now.

Here we go!

*****
Louvois glanced to Nawara. "Do you wish to cross-examine?"

Nawara nodded and stood once more. He walked to the monitor and pressed a few buttons on the control panel. "I was aware of the tests done," he began, continuing his work. "I had another droid's decision-making mapped out prior to the hearing." The image of a snout-faced, white-plated droid appeared on the left half of the monitor. "This is a CZ secretary droid, also manufactured by Serv-O-Droid. It has gone a similar amount of time without a memory wipe." He looked to the tribunal. "All information about it can be accessed via your datapads."

He pressed a final button and the image began moving. An offscreen voice spoke up. "Do you know where you are?"

The droid's head bobbed. "I like oil," it said, blank eyes staring off.

Nawara held up a hand even as Picard began rising from his chair. "Please note that yes, I know this isn't the same model of droid as Bollux. However, this is a demonstration of how destructive it can be for a droid's software to go without proper maintenance. And how it can lead to irrational decisions." He pressed a few buttons and the right half of the monitor changed to another influence diagram, this one also with flowing curves, gaps where nodes should have been and crisscrossed, tangled lines.

"A malfunctioning bit of software," Nawara said, motioning to Bollux. "Overclocked and in dire need of maintenance and repair. Memory wipes aren't about control, but are a necessary part of a droid's 'health." He walked back and sat down next to a smiling Ladecs. "No further questions."
*****
"Please state your name and occupation for the record."

Norman leaned forward and looked up at Nawara. "I am Norman, chief administrator of the planet Mudd."

Silence filled the room. Nawara cleared his throat. "Could you please elaborate on what a 'chief administrator' does on Mudd?" he continued, pasting a smile on his face.

"I direct the populace about their daily tasks," Norman responded, never blinking or changing expression. "If they have questions or problems, I give them direction and advice."

Nawara nodded, pursing his lips slightly. "What sort of problems do the androids of Mudd need help with?" He gestured with his right hand and chuckled. "You single-handedly took control of the Constitution-class Enterprise and flew it to your planet. You're very strong, with vast memory banks in each android. And each one of you can last close to a half-million years."

Norman nodded. "This is true, but illogical behavior and situations can overload our neural matrices. If such a situation is encountered, the androids must receive coordination and support to overcome such difficulties."

"Of course," Nawara said. He held up a datapad and waved it about. "I have here information on your current projects." He looked over the screen. "It seems you've been a bit busy building new habitation domes and have even begun doing surveys for terraforming stations. Why is that?"

Norman's eyes darted back and forth slightly before he spoke. "Our population has increased past what our current habitation dome can provide. The planet's surface is hostile even for androids, and must be made suitable for us."

Nawara tapped the datapad's edge onto the palm of his hand. He held it up and waved it about. "If you will please look under the statistics header of the datapad's screen, you'll note that Cybot Galactica produced two hundred-fifty billion 3PO protocol droids last year." He paused a heartbeat before continuing. "Two hundred. Fifty. Billion."

Picard suddenly shot up. "Objection! What is the point here?"

Louvois grimaced slightly. "Overturned, but he has a point. Get to yours, Councilor."

The Twi'lek nodded to her. "Droids do not age in the same way as organic beings. They are built, exist... and then what? Where do they go, eventually? What do they do?" He motioned to Picard and bared his fangs. "Never considered that, did you?"

Rieekan's face twisted. "Ven, a little more decorum in your presentation!" He paused and rubbed his chin. "And again, what is the relevance here?"

Nawara let out a silent sigh and closed his eyes briefly before continuing. "The natural process of organic beings is that. To be born, live and then die. Droids are built, built as tools. When and if they are worn down, they are scrapped and replaced." He spread his hands out. "If droids are granted sapient rights, what happens to the older ones? Where do they go? Do they crowd out organic beings?" He spread out his hands. "Well?"

Before anyone could speak, Nawara whirled on his heel and faced the tribunal. "Your honors, if you find in favor of Bollux and Blue Max, the entire fabric of our society will change. Almost every facet of our society is connected with droid labor. Before a ruling is made, these changes and repercussions must be examined!" He spread his arms. "That is the relevance to the case, your honors. If our society must be made to change, the impact of the change has to be seen."

Jall leaned forward and rested his elbows on the table. "He has a point," he murmured, antennae flattening and pointing at Nawara. "I think none of us here can truly grasp what this will do to their society unless it's laid out fully." He balled up his right fist and began ticking off fingers. "We're not sure which types of droids can achieve sapience, how to fully determine when they do and then what to do with them if proven to have it. As well what do do with them when proven they have it. Again, if they have it." He slowly grinned and leaned to his right, staring past Nawara at Picard. "What say you, Captain? Ready to get into the body of this iceberg?"

Captain Picard slowly rose and tugged on the hem of his uniform jacket. His lips curled slightly as he began. "The first duty of any Starfleet officer is to the truth. The truth of the universe, the truth of morality or the truth of existence. Of course I am prepared to get to the 'body of the iceberg' as you have called it!" he thundered, his voice rising as he continued to speak. "The repercussions of whatever decision reached here must be brought forth, for posterity so future generations can look back and see why we came to such a decision." The captain's eyes shone brightly. "And we shall ride it out to the end."

Norman suddenly spoke up. "Are you still requiring my input upon such matters?"

Louvois blinked twice and her head turned to him. "Oh, yes." She glanced at Nawara. "You have the floor, Mister Ven."

Nawara walked back to stand in front of Norman. He held his datapad up high as he spoke. "The relevance is this. Mudd is one single planet with nigh-immortal androids that are threatening overpopulation already. Now imagine droid factories pumping out droids of almost innumerable models. Where do they go? What about those same model droids already? What do we do with them? How do we treat them?"

He lowered his arm. "The logistics will become mind-boggling. For machines that in all probability will not be able to appreciate their newfound freedoms." He looked to Norman. "No further questions."

Picard rose from his chair and walked to the monitor. He pressed the control panel and a map of the Galaxy appeared, taking up the entire screen. Political lines crossed over the spiral arms, dividing it up into sections. He motioned to a rather large blob near the top of the screen, a darkened area with no lines or boxes of text. "If my information reads correctly, what you call 'Known Space' is approximately two million star systems scattered throughout the Galaxy, connected like pearls on a string through hyperspace travel routes." He smirked slightly. "Would it really be so hard for manumitted droids to set up a colony on some system and live there?" He pressed another button and a small window opened up, showing a star system. "What about Mechis III? It's already the largest producer of droids in your agalaxy."

Nawara shot to his feet. "Objection! Mechis III is owned by the Bornaryn Corporation already!"

Picard's head shot around. "Yes, and? Are you saying droids should not be in control of their own destiny and reproduction?"

Nawara's mouth hung open for a moment. His lekku twitched on his shoulders, almost spasming before he finally spoke. "R-reproduction? They're machines! They don't reproduce-they're built in a factory on an assembly line! An assembly line that will never end if you have your way." He threw out his left arm and gestured at Bollux at the defense table. "And what about all the droid types already in employ that can be 'proven' sapient? The reason droids are used is because they're far cheaper than organic labor. The entire economic structure of Known Space would collapse for machines that are suffering from an easily-corrected glitch!"

Picard's lips twitched. He snorted slightly and stepped closer to Nawara's table. "How can you say that Bollux and Blue Max are not sapient? Listening to them, seeing their actions-they are not of machines with personality emulations!" He curled his right fist up and pounded it into his left palm. "Their quest for freedom-"

"-"Is simply from not having proper maintenance and mind wipes," Nawara interrupted. He threw his hands up into the air. "What you think of as proof of sapience is merely a personality algorithm designed for easier interaction with organics, nothing more! They're no more alive than the computer that runs the Enterprise. Would you give that a salary because it can speak?"

Louvois' eyes darted between the two of them as Nawara stood up. "Gentlemen-"

"If the computer asked, we wouldn't merely dismiss it as an aberration!" Picard half-shouted, plowing right through. "Our computer system did in fact gain some form of higher consciousness. It gave birth to a new life form." His face clouded over slightly. "Our actions to it were a bit... panicky, but ultimately it proved beneficial to not simply kill it!"

Louvois' eyes narrowed. "Gentlemen-and I use that term loosely-break it-"

Nawara's eyes rolled and his lekku spasmed. "Oh, is this where we bow to the absurdities of the Milky Way and shiver like children at your anomalies?" He bared his fangs. "One malfunctioning computer mistaken for living does not convince me in the slightest, Captain. You may be awed by such things, but I know that machines like Bollux and Blue Max are not alive!"

Louvois looked to Rieekan and Jall. The two men made eye contact with her and nodded, so she stood up and grabbed the gavel in front of her. She smashed the hammer against the table, drowning out both Picard and Nawara. "Both of you, sit down and shut up!" she thundered. "This is not proper decorum for a court of law in either the Federation or the New Republic!" She locked fiery eyes with the two. "Understood?"

Both the human and Twi'lek snapped to attention. "Yes, sir!" they barked.

The admiral smiled sweetly. "Good," she said. She glanced at Picard. "Ready to continue?"

The Captain nodded, sweat on his pate. He wiped his forehead and walked back to the monitor. "As I was saying, the problems of overpopulation are exaggerated at best. Your galaxy has almost limitless areas for exploration and colonization. Also, the types of droids with sufficient sapience is still a rather narrow band of the overall population. Even one sector would be more than enough for generations." He pressed a button and the image vanished. "Nothing further at this time, your honors."
*****

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