Episode 4 - Truth, Justice, and the Federation Way
Location: Jeffries Tube Junction 165-K2, USS Arcadia
Timeline: 0942 Hours, MD 2 (March 4, 2393)
Georges was crawling along the tubes looking for some indication of why a computer readout was going haywire when the yellow alert klaxon sounded and the captain's voice came through the comm.
"This is Captain Lee to all hands. We have a developing situation in the secondary brig on deck 43. Per Emergency Protocols 23.5 we are now in a ship-wide lockdown. This is not a drill. I repeat, this is not a drill. The situation is being contained. Remain where you are and await further instructions."
"Well this sucks." Georges said aloud. "I wonder how long this will last."
"Hey Jessie, what's going on out there?"
Almost immediately the Arcadia's AI materialized in her holographic avatar before the ship's chief tactical officer.
"There is a breakout of the Klingon prisoners in the brig, Lieutenant." she said, "The Klingons have been isolated and Lieutenant Dash is currently trying to resolve the situation. Captain Lee has put the entire ship on lock down, as an additional precaution, I assume. Are you alright, Lieutenant?"
"Yeah I'm alright. Guess it just stinks to be stuck in the Tubes while the rest of the crew is busy taking care of the prisoners. Is there anything I can do down here besides think thoughts?"
"I don't believe so, Lieutenant." answered Jesse. A brief moment of awkward silence passed between them before the AI's casual conversation subroutine kicked in. "I heard the Big Belly Burger on deck 2 is having specials on cheese burgers and Toscili fries. Do you like burgers and fries, Lieutenant?"
"Do I ever! Back on Earth there was this place called big Tovaresh's 3/4 pound burgers. We called it three-fourths. Man, one of those would set you up food-wise for what felt like days. And don't even get me started on those fries; I'd have sworn Tovaresh was putting something illegal and addictive on those steak fries. Man, what I wouldn't give to be back in Twin Falls, chomping down on one of those with the boys."
Jesse found the tactical chief's visible enthusiasm rather amusing. Of course, she knew about the popularity of burgers, which, according to multiple surveys, were the second most popular food in the Federation - that was all in her database - but she couldn't quite understand why. For one, she had never eaten a burger, or any other food for that matter. She was, after all, just a computer program; even her holographic avatar was nothing more than a hollow shell of photons held together by force fields. She was not designed - or meant - to experience physical sensations, much less pleasures. Yet self-leaning protocols were an important part of her programming, and they were the closest thing she had to what her designers would call curiosity.
Tilting her head slightly to the side, she asked, "How do Tovaresh's 3/4 pound burgers taste like?"
"Oh man, it's so hard to describe to someone who's never had a burger before. Is there any sort of computer generated feeling that makes you feel warm and safe"
"I do not feel physical sensations as you do, Lieutenant." answered Jesse. "My personality matrix, however, is fully capable of detecting and appropriately responding to various emotional states in sentient organics." A brief pause. "But I'm an adaptive program, so it is technically possible to upgrade my programming to simulate sensations of 'warm and safe,' but I fail to see the purpose of such upgrades. I'm meant to be the Arcadia's AI, nothing more."
"Hmmm, well I am not sure how to describe it then. No matter, I'll try to suppress those thoughts unless there's a way to get food in here? Do you have any idea how long the lockdown will be in force? What is going on out there?"
There was a slight delay in Jesse's response as the AI monitored the situation outside the brig.
"Lieutenant Riley is currently engaged in single combat with Captain Korax inside the brig, and security reinforcement has just arrived on the scene." A few quiet moments passed before Jesse continued. "My attempt to override the door lock has been unsuccessful. The Klingons are blocking my access to . . . my own system." The AI felt a strange sensation as she spoke those words. So that's what irony felt like, she wondered to herself. Of course, she knew the definition of "irony" and its multitude of nuances across hundreds of cultures - it's all in her database - but it was the first time she had ever experienced it, and the experience was . . . fascinating.
"Lieutenant Riley is able to unlock the doors from within the brig." she continued her live updates of the unfolding situation on deck 43. "Security teams have engaged the Klingons inside the brig."
As the firefight continued about a dozen decks below them, Jesse took a break from her updates and asked, "Lieutenant, I have reconsidered what I said earlier about upgrading my programming. Perhaps it would not be entirely pointless to experience sensations of 'warm and safe.'" Another pause. "Any upgrades to my programing will require Captain Lee's approval, but if the captain authorizes them, I would like to try Tovaresh's 3/4 pound burgers. Perhaps you could join me, Lieutenant? Again, pending the captain's approval, of course."
"I think that would be fine. Assuming I ever get out of here. I might actually take a nap until we get set free."
Jesse nodded. "Very well, Lieutenant. We'll discuss this again after I talk to the captain." after a pause she added, "And thank you, Lieutenant." With that the AI dematerialized her own holographic avatar.
Artificial Intelligence "Jesse"
USS Arcadia NCC-89015
(NPC - Oliver)
Lieutenant Georges Ejim-Long
Chief Tactical Officer
USS Arcadia NCC-89015