Scholar of Time-Thank you. It's something that's interested me in Star Wars-the droid population. How alive are they?

admiraljoshhar-He's... getting into it a bit, yeah. Astromechs are one thing, and even people who work with those types often dismiss their potential.

Wildcard Yes-man-It continues... sort of. This is the last chapter until 2012.

Okay, this fic shall be in hiatus until 2012 due to a bet from a friend of mine. Rest assured I shall continue it and even have part of the next chapter written.

Here we go!

Chapter Six: Telling Tales

A glossy black sphere hovered over the witness stand. A silvery sensor band bisected it, with a single red photoreceptor on the lower hemisphere. There were several hardpoints for mounting various tools and devices, each one empty save for a metal prong sticking out of the top. An ominous, low-pitched humming came from the repulsorlift unit keeping it afloat. Three Starfleet security officers stood around it, phaser pistols in their hands and trained on the floating obscenity.

Nawara stepped forward and cleared his throat. "Identify yourself," he ordered.

The sphere swung around so its photoreceptor gazed upon the Twi'lek. "IT-066F, imperial interrogation unit," it stated in a deep, male voice, devoid of inflection or any hints of emotion.

The Twi'lek paused and looked around at everyone in the room. "For the record," he began, "this is a model stripped of all components and all three officers have been instructed to shoot to disintegrate." He looked back at the droid. "What is your function?"

"Debriefing of subjects in imperial penal institutions for information retrieval," it replied, its voice still monotone. "If subject does not give up information willingly, then alternate methods are employed."

A snort came from the Twi'lek. "In other words, torture," he spat out, disgust plain on his voice. He paced back and forth a bit, looking to Picard, then to the members of the tribunal. "Are we all in agreement such methods do not need to be discussed?"

Picard clasped his hands together and leaned forward, lost in thought for a moment before shaking his head. "I experienced such 'alternate methods' during a session with a Cardassian. Believe me, Mister Ven. My sensibilities do not need to be spared."

Rieekan leaned forward. "I am inclined to agree." he looked to the interrogation droid, a look of disgust on his face. "What methods did you use?"

The interrogation droid's harsh voice sounded once more. "Stage one would include sleep deprivation and denial of nutrition. If subject continues to resist, then deep-immersion techniques using holography and psychotropic drugs would begin. Physical torture was saved for last as an 'incentive' to encourage cooperation."

Nawara waved his hand at the glossy black droid. "The acts this droid has committed are undoubtedly war crimes. Can anyone dispute that?" he called out, turning to face everyone in the room. After a beat, he faced the droid once more and continued. "Did you feel any emotions during these... sessions?"

The sphere bobbed slightly before it spoke. "Satisfaction," it said, inflections entering its speech pattern for the first time. "When a subject broke, I was glad to have done such a good job."

Nawara's lekku spasmed and his face twisted. He looked to the tribunal. "As I said, war crimes. So who do we punish, here?"

Louvois sat up straight at his question. She quirked an eyebrow and clasped her hands together. "What do you mean?" she asked.

Nawara smiled, showing off his fangs. "This droid was designed, programmed and built to be the ultimate torture device." He stepped back to his table and picked up a datapad, waving it around. "By these beings, actually." He pressed a taloned finger to the touch-sensitive screen and began scrolling through a list of names. "These are the ones who are responsible for this droid. So let us say this droid was declared sapient-"

Picard rose from his chair. "Objection, calls for speculation." He looked to the droid and his upper lip curled in disgust.

Louvois nodded. "Sustained." She looked to Nawara. "Rephrase, Counselor."

A small sigh escaped Nawara's lips. He paused for a moment and glanced to the deck plating before speaking. "Who is to blame for its actions, the droid itself or the ones who built it for such a purpose." he walked around to his desk and sat down. "No further questions."

Louvois looked to Picard. "Do you wish to cross-examine?"

Picard shook his head. "No, but I wish to retain the right to cross on a later time."

The Starfleet admiral nodded. While the security officers escorted the droid out of the courtroom, she picked up a PADD on the table and pressed the screen. She looked to Nawara. "Next witness?"

Nawara stood up once more, shaking his head. He popped the latches on his valise and pulled out a small black ovoid lump of durasteel, circuits, speakers and four tiny microphone pickups on the dorsal surface. He walked over to the witness stand and placed it on the chair. He looked to the tribunal and half-smiled. "Please check the information under exhibit aurek-sorry, 'A' for those from the Federation." He motioned to the chair. "This is a CSM-22 stenographer droid, used for recording. Please note that technicians have confirmed that although I have wiped the speech files from time to time, I have not had the core memory wiped."

Jall picked up a PADD in front of him and tapped on it a few times. His antennae waggled as he rubbed his chin. "Proceed," he said.

Nawara pressed a slider control on a tiny control panel on the aft of the droid. It beeped and its treads spun as it went through spatial orientation procedures. Nawara turned around and walked to the back of the room. He held up his datapad and tapped it before clearing his throat and began reading.

"Why do we fight the Empire? Because it is not legal. As a government, it betrays the trust given it as successor to the Old Republic. It is unresponsive to the wishes of the beings it governs, It ignores their needs and oppresses them when they resist its tyranny..."

As he read, the little droid's control panel lit up. It rolled to the edge of the chair, dropping off the edge and hitting the deck plating fore first. It bounced slightly and rocked before rolling forward towards Nawara. It bumped into the edge of a table leg, but rolled forward again, hitting the sharp corner several more times.

Nawara suddenly turned to a door and walked out of the room. Before anyone could say anything, the loud beep of the intercom echoed through the room. Picard glanced at his chest and his combadge. He massaged his forehead briefly before tapping the arrowhead-shaped insignia. "Picard here," he muttered.

"As such, it invalidates the purpose of a galactic government as initially stated: to serve the sapient life of the galaxy." The tiny little stenographer droid suddenly backed up and began rolling to Picard, stopping just short of his leg. It remained there until the Twi'lek's voice ceased and he reentered the room. He stopped and slowly knelt down, grimacing slightly as he picked the droid up. "Nothing further," he said, placing it on the table.

Picard rubbed his chin. He suddenly leaned forward and whispered to Data. After a few moments, he stood up. "Your honors, may I be granted a few minutes for my first officer to retrieve a counterargument to this... evidence?"

Louvois' mouth twisted slightly. She looked to Jall and Rieekan. "Gentlemen, any objections?" When they both shook their heads, Louvois motioned to Picard. "Proceed, Captain."

Data stood up and tapped his combadge. "Enterprise, this is Commander Data. Please beam me directly to my quarters." He waited for acknowledgment from the ship before speaking once more. "Energize."

The android's body was surrounded by a swirling cylinder of silvery energy as it was deconstructed on the subatomic scale and transmitted over to the Sovereign-class vessel. A few moments later, another column of energy appeared. When it faded, Data stood there once more. Except now he held an orange tabby cat. The cat-Spot-shifted in Data's hands, its body squirming in almost seprentine manners until it wiggled free and jumped down.

Rieekan leaned over the table and stared down at the cat as it licked its paws and proceeded to preen. "What is that?" he asked, eyes squinting. "It's some sort of feline, but of a type I've never seen before!"

Louvois' head slowly turned to her left as she stared at Rieekan. "It's... a house cat," she stated. "It's a simple domestic pet." Her eyebrows rose. "Don't tell me your people don't have pets!"

The old man nodded, blue eyes still firmly fixed on Spot. The cat stood up and looked up at Rieekan, meowing. "We do. Just not... anything like this." He suddenly leaned back into his chair and looked to Picard. "This had better be good, Captain," he stated, crossing his arms.

Data held out his hand and a length of sting fell from it. "Spot, here," he called out. As the cat ran over, he jiggled the string a bit. The cat's claws extended and Spot batted at the string, catching it and tugging at it. Spot jumped about, continually attacking the piece of string with fervor. The android walked over to Picard, who stood up. He handed the string over to the Captain, who took it and began playing with the cat. Data looked to the tribunal. "Spot's brain size is approximately five centimeters in length and thirty grams. Or about the same size as the entire stenographer droid."

Picard handed the string back to Data, who knelt down and scooped Spot up with one arm. The pale-skinned android stood and tapped his combadge. "Enterprise, one to beam up." he waited for their acknowledgment before speaking once more. "Energize."

Picard looked to the members of the tribunal even as his first officer vanished once more. "Bollux's cognitive software is located in his cranium, and is comparable to that of the average humanoid brain. Blue Max shares similar capacity, despite his small size. To compare them to a CSM-22 stenographer droid is like comparing a humanoid to a cat." He walked around and tugged on his uniform jacket before sitting down. "We are not cats. Bollux and Blue Max are not glorified recorders."

"Please state your name and position in Starfleet for the record.

Bruce Maddox looked up at Picard from the witness stand, his expression somehow making his long face seem even longer. ""I'm Captain Bruce Maddox, head of the artificial intelligence research division of Starfleet out of Jupiter Station." He gestured with his hands. "I research how to complete Soong's work and make more Soong-type androids. Not for-"

"Yes, thank you," Picard interrupted. He looked to B4, standing to the side and head tilted slightly down. "Please explain your relationship to Commander Data and B4."

Maddox cleared his throat and shifted position in his chair. He took a sip of water from a glass on the stand in front of him and began speaking. "Data first came to my attention in 2338, when he attempted to apply to Starfleet Academy. I was the... only one on his evaluation committee to reject his application. Eventually, he was accepted in 2341. I didn't see him again until 2365, when I attempted to have him... transferred for my studies in replicating a positronic brain."

Picard paced around a bit. "If the procedure had been a success and carried out how it was intended, there would be a Data on every starship, in every starbase." A shadow fell across his face. "A slave race."

Nawara shot to his feet. "Objection! Councel is being theatrical and drawing massively biased comparisons here."

Jall's antennae flattened. "I agree with Ven." He cast his eyes on Picard. "We'll be ignoring that last comment."

Picard sighed and looked back to Maddox. "In the end, you failed."

Maddox smiled rather shakily. "Yes. I was forced to recognize Data's sapient rights and his right to refuse the procedure."

Picard nodded. He held up a PADD and waved it around. "The technical journals of Doctors Noonian and Juliana Soong have been collected, detailing Data's social and technological development along with his career in Starfleet." He pressed a thumb to the screen and scrolled through it, clicking his tongue. "Rather interesting, wouldn't you say?"

Nawara raised his hand. "Objection, leading the witness."

Louvois nodded. "Sustained. Rephrase, Captain."

Picard hesitated and gathered his thoughts before continuing. "What was Data's progression like?"

Maddox picked up a PADD in front of him and began scrolling through the text. "Well, it took him a while to gain full control of his motor skills and sensory input." He cleared his throat and his cheeks blushed slightly. "Data also had... problems with modesty and social niceties." He glanced around and slumped a bit in his chair. "He wouldn't wear clothes and had problems with 'please' and 'thank you'." He looked to Data and mouthed 'I'm sorry' before sighing.

There was a mild wave of laughter throughout the courtroom before Louvois tapped her gavel lightly on the desk. Picard nodded his thanks to her before continuing. "How was this resolved?"

Maddox checked his PADD again. "Well, the Soong's helped him by teaching him the differences, practice and sometimes even writing in new subroutines."

Picard nodded and paced back and forth. "Bollux was sent out to investigate mynock infestations at a fuel module at Fondor. He stayed, observing their social habits and even made detailed recordings of their familial units. When he went back, he was eventually promoted to a shift supervisor. Over the years he and Blue Max have evolved in a manner similar to that of the current first officer of the Enterprise."

Nawara rolled his blood-red eyes. "Objection. Council is drawing conclusions."

Louvois spoke up again. "Overruled, but just barely." She locked a piercing gaze onto Picard. "Keep it within the realm of fact, Captain, not speculation."

Picard held his hands up. "The fact is that Data and all Soong-type androids are sapient beings under Federation law. Data has evolved from child to the first officer of Starfleet's flagship." He pointed at B4. "And we have an example of an earlier stage of development. A BLX labor droid would be an apt comparison, there." He walked over to B4. "Tell me, B4. How are you?"

B4's head twitched slightly. "I am fine, bald man. How are you?"

Maddox looked up at him, an expression of disapproval on his face. "B4, what did we talk about before saying things like that?"

B4's head dipped. "I'm sorry," he muttered. "But it is a nice head."

Rieekan cleared his throat. "Captain, rein it in a bit, please."

Picard nodded to him. "My apologies. The point here is this-Bollux has experienced growth, and to dismiss this growth is to do a disservice to him and to us as well." He waved his hand at B4. "Here we have proof of how these... beings can evolve over time." He looked down at Maddox. "And how it can be twisted." He walked back to his seat and sat down. "No further questions at this time."

Louvois looked to Nawara. "Counselor?"

The Twi'lek stood up and walked over to the witness stand. "Captain Maddox, how many prototypes were built?"

Maddox blinked. "I'm sorry?"

Nawara smiled, baring his fangs. He pointed at B4. "This, along with one named Lore were prototypes for Data, correct? According to this information, Noonien Soong made at least six prototypes before Data was finally constructed." He turned to the tribunal. "What happened to them? Were they put into storage... or simply scrapped?"

Picard rose from his chair. "Objection, calls for speculation!"

Rieekan shook his head. "Overruled, Captain." He looked to Nawara. "Continue, but keep on the right side of your arguments."

The Twi'lek bowed his head slightly. "Thank you." He looked to Maddox, then B4, sweeping the entirety of the courtroom with his gaze. "The much-vaunted Soong-type androids, 'evolved' through prototypes and programming tweaking. Quite similar to that of Bollux and Blue Max," he said, raising his hands and twitching his fingers at the word 'evolved'. "The 'rights' being defended here are not applied equally, not even among the same type of android." He made a sweeping gesture. "Why, even after Bruce Maddox vs. Data, Lal, the 'daughter' Data built was to be taken away from him to-"

Data shot to his feet, fury etched on his pale skin. "Objection!" he shouted. "Lal's situation was simply an overprotective admiral who was-"

Louvois rose to her own feet, staring daggers at Data. "Sit. Down, Commander! Behave yourself in this courtroom or I shall find you in contempt!" She grabbed her gavel and banged it on the table as the crowd began murmuring. "Order! ORDER!"

The crowd quickly quieted down and Data sat. "My apologies," he said. "I was... overzealous in my defense. My daughter is a... touchy subject."

Rieekan stood up and held his hands up. "Perhaps we should adjourn for the day and continue tomorrow." He glanced at his wrist chrono and whistled softly. "Yes, a very good idea," he said, stifling a yawn."

Jall nodded in agreement, his antennae straightening up. "It's a good idea, yes." He stretched his arms back behind his head. "Tempers are shorter than Andoria's growing season. We all need a fresh perspective and some rest."

Louvois tapped the gavel once more. "Then I adjourn the court until 0900 hours local time tomorrow." She rose and walked off to a door. "If anyone needs me, I'll be in my chambers," she said as she exited the courtroom. A half-minute later, she came back in, cheeks blushing slightly. "And if I had actual chambers here instead of simply my quarters, that would be pertinent." She tapped her combadge. "Admiral Desoto, may I speak with you for a moment?"

Data let out a sigh and looked to Picard. "I am sorry for my outburst, Captain. Nawara Ven's use of Lal in his argument was unexpected."

Picard shook his head. "You would be a poor man if it didn't." He looked to Bollux as the latter opened his chest compartment. "I feel we have made some progress, but there's still much to do."

Blue Max's eyestalk poked out and swiveled up, peering at Picard. "Thanks," the boxy little droid said. "Even if we lost, we both know you two did your best."

The Captain held his hand up. "One battle is over, but the war has begun." The hand clenched into a fist. "And we shall not stop struggling until the final verdict."

Bollux's optics brightened and he placed a hand on Picard's shoulder. "With you two at our side, the odds of success are so great even Captain Solo would pay attention to them." He glanced to the side as a pair of Starfleet security officers approached. "And I see my escort to the brig is here. I shall see you tomorrow." And with that, he walked off, the security officers flanking him.

Picard looked to Data. "Might be a good idea to check up on Lieutenant Commander Tirsek and make sure she hasn't incited war out there with Commodore Varth," he said, a smile melting away to a frown. "And now I'm wondering how she's doing." He tapped his combadge. "Enterprise, two to beam up as soon as possible."

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