This is a spin off from 'Where No Jedi Has Gone Before'.
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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