SIM:Ayiana Sevo - A Difficult Choice

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Crew of the USS Gorkon


Lt. Commander Ayiana Sevo

(( OOC: Kind of an unofficial prequel to "Red" ))

(( Ayiana’s Quarters - USS Gorkon ))

Commander William T. Riker (Recording): “The Commander is a physical representation of a dream - an idea, conceived of by the mind of a man. Its purpose: to serve human needs and interests. It's a collection of neural nets and heuristic algorithms; its responses dictated by an elaborate software written by a man, its hardware built by a man. And now... and now a man will shut it off.”

::Ayiana quietly gasped as she watched then-Commander Riker turn off Commander Data as easily as one turns off a tricorder.::

Commander William T. Riker (Recording): “Pinocchio is broken. Its strings have been cut.”

::The Gorkon’s recent mission to Starbase 173 caused Ayiana to think about the history of the place. It was the site where Commander Data’s sentience hearing took place. It was a watershed moment for artificial intelligence’s rights. Now that she had free time, Ayiana was watching a recording of the hearing. She was seated at her desk, dressed in a black tank top and plaid undershorts.::

Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Recording): "Commander Riker has dramatically demonstrated to this court that Lieutenant Commander Data is a machine. Do we deny that? No, because it is not relevant: we, too, are machines, just machines of a different type. Commander Riker has also reminded us that Lieutenant Commander Data was created by a man; do we deny that? No. Again, it is not relevant. Children are created from the 'building blocks' of their parents' DNA. Are they property?"

::Amazing. Simply amazing. The man was eloquent in the face of defeat, yet remained stoic. Captain Picard also drilled down past Commander Riker’s prosecution to the crux of the matter: that Data was artificially constructed was not the issue. It was whether he was considered “alive” and independent, or property; a “thing.” It was something Ayiana thought Commander Riker failed to adequately address. She kept watching the recording.::

Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Recording): "Your honor, the courtroom is a crucible; in it, we burn away irrelevancies until we are left with a purer product: the truth, for all time. Now sooner or later, this man – or others like him – will succeed in replicating Commander Data. The decision you reach here today will determine how we will regard this creation of our genius. It will reveal the kind of people we are; what he is destined to be. It will reach far beyond this courtroom and this one android. It could significantly redefine the boundaries of personal liberty and freedom: expanding them for some, savagely curtailing them for others. Are you prepared to condemn him – and all who will come after him – to servitude and slavery?”

::She was so enthralled by Picard’s closing statement that Ayiana barely heard the door chime.::

Sevo: Come in.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Recording): “Your honor, Starfleet was founded to seek out new life: well. There. It. Sits! Waiting."

::That one line caused shivers down Ayiana’s spine. She had seen and studied this case at the Academy, of course, but it was always different when one actually visited a historic site.::

Captain Phillipa Louvois (Recording): "It sits there looking at me, and I don't know what it is. This case has dealt with metaphysics, with questions best left to saints and philosophers. I am neither competent, nor qualified, to answer those. I've got to make a ruling – to try to speak to the future. Is Data a machine? Yes. Is he the property of Starfleet? No. We've all been dancing around the basic issue: does Data have a soul? I don't know that he has. I don't know that I have! But I have got to give him the freedom to explore that question himself. It is the ruling of this court that Lieutenant Commander Data has the freedom to choose."

::As the recording ended, Ayiana closed the viewer and swiveled to see Admiral Reynolds standing in Ayiana’s new living room. She was dressed casually, in a cream wrap-around tunic and slacks, her fine, mousy hair tied back in a loose ponytail. It was strange for Ayiana. She had rarely ever seen the Admiral out of uniform.::

Sevo: Sir! Sorry, I didn’t know it was you.

::Ayiana’s fenza bird, Tana, screeched “hello” from her perch in the corner of the living room, earning a bemused look from the Admiral in the process.::

Reynolds: That's alright. ::She smiled a little, gesturing toward the screen.:: Indulging in a little history lesson?

Sevo: Sort of. Being in a historical place tends to make one read up on it a bit. Of course, we studied this case extensively at the Academy.

Reynolds: Yes, it was a defining moment. Strange to see it all playing out again over holograms.

Sevo: Artificial intelligence rights are in the public eye more-and-more, especially now that some starships have full-fledged AIs. They effectively consider the ships they are installed on as being themselves.

::It was a casual mention, but it noticeably soured Reynolds' expression. She frowned, shaking her head.::

Reynolds: That's an experiment that needs to end, in my opinion. Creating a self-aware being and then shackling it to serve... ::Her frown deepened.:: Picard was right to call it slavery.

::Ayiana turned off her console screen, then stood up from the chair. It was strange being back in her old quarters. She had spent over six months bunking with an Ensign as punishment. Long story short, the Ensign pushed all of Ayiana’s wrong buttons on a mission, and Ayiana lashed out. She had recently had anger issues over the past couple of years. It was a minor attack, more of a pin maneuver, but it was enough to hold an inquiry. Admiral Reynolds ordered the pair to room together. It had been...difficult.::

::She didn’t have much time to unpack and redecorate before their mission to Starbase 173. Yet somehow, it didn’t take any time for Ayiana to clutter up her work desk with PADDs, isochips, and other items. Heaven forbid Reynolds peered into Ayiana’s bedroom. The well-known neatnik would probably have a heart attack.::

Sevo: Can I get you something to drink?

Reynolds: A genmaicha tea would be lovely, thank you.

::Ayiana tiptoed across a messy living room to the replicator on the other side of the room, ordering the tea and a glass of water for herself. There were still boxes and crates lying around, and the walls were bare. Ayiana had immediately found and set out a medium-sized stone statue on her coffee table. It was her statue of Lessia, an ancient Trill goddess of knowledge and wisdom. While Ayiana wasn’t religious, she was always fascinated by mythology. And the statue was a reminder of her calling as a scientist, and her never-ending pursuit of knowledge.::

::While at the replicator, Tana flew off her nearby perch, landing gently on Ayiana’s shoulder. She nipped at her cheek, with Ayiana returning the gesture with a gentle pet on Tana’s head. Returning, Ayiana handed Reynolds her tea, then sat down on her couch, taking a sip of water.::

Sevo: What can I do for you, sir?

::Reynolds’ footsteps were almost silent as she crossed the carpeted floor, to take a seat in a chair nearby Ayiana. It was barely there, but from the mild stiffness in her posture, and the way her hands perched around her mug, it seemed as though she was uncomfortable encroaching into the Trill's personal quarters. Interestingly, Tana flew off Ayiana’s shoulder, landing on the armrest of Reynolds’ chair. She gave the Admiral a brief chirp, and earned herself a faint smile in reply.::

::It did not escape Ayiana's notice that the Admiral carried herself stiffly; as if she always acted formally. Or did it have something to do with whatever she was here for? Come to think of it, Ayiana couldn’t recall a time Reynolds had ever visited Ayiana’s quarters. Of course, she was always welcome to stop by, but how do you nonchalantly invite your commanding officer, a Rear Admiral no less, for tea?::

Reynolds: I want to follow up on what I said to you in my quarters.

Sevo: ::Blinking,:: I swear, I haven’t told a soul about you and Captain Brunsig...

::Oddly, Reynolds smiled at that, shaking her head to dismiss Ayiana's concerns.::

Reynolds: I know. I'm talking about the fact that the Gorkon needs a first officer. I'm offering you the position.

::While the Admiral coolly took a sip of her tea, Ayiana choked on the sip of water she just took, coughing as she tried to respond.::

Sevo: ::*hack* *cough*:: You *can’t* be serious!

Reynolds: ::Wryly,:: I'm not exactly known for my practical jokes.

Sevo: B-but...after what just happened...the inquiry; bunking with Freeman. I thought my bridges were burned.

Reynolds: I'm an engineer, Ayiana. Of all people, I know full well that bridges can be rebuilt.

::Ayiana paused. She didn’t know what to say.::

Sevo: I...I don’t know. Are you sure you can trust me? ::Reynolds didn't answer, instead lifting her eyebrows in a silent question, as if asking "do I have a reason not to?".:: *I’m* not sure I can trust me.

::There was the issue of her temper. While Ayiana had been seeing counselors as part of her punishment, she was still concerned something in the wrong place at the wrong time might set her off. Reynolds took another sip of her tea, and then a slow breath, before she replied.::

Reynolds: You're a department chief and a lieutenant commander, Ayiana. You already manage people, make critical decisions, and take responsibility for the safety and well-being of those under your command.

::The Admiral had a good point. When Captain Nugra first promoted a young jay-gee Ayiana to head of the science department on the Victory, Ayiana was terrified. She didn’t think she could handle it. After some time, she managed to slip into the role nicely, and had been CSO ever since. But that brought up another point.::

Sevo: You do have a point, sir. But, what *about* my CSO duties? Being an XO is pretty much a full-time job already.

Reynolds: Yes, it is. We'll have to find a new science chief.

::There were a few people Ayiana thought might be able to handle the job. Ensign Sienelis was doing great, but she *was* still an Ensign.::

Sevo: I can put forward a few recommendations.

Reynolds: More than that, you'll be helping me decide -- if you accept the position.

::Ayiana set her glass of water down on the coffee table. She got up and casually strode over to her desk. Tana remained on Reynolds’ chair, cocking her head at Ayiana quizzically. While she had not yet had a chance to hang them, Ayiana did manage to unpack official Starfleet portraits of Lt. Commander Jadzia Dax, and her successor, now-Captain Ezri Dax. She picked up the portrait of Jadzia, staring at it as she thought. Ayiana often wondered what Dax would do in a certain situation. Dax was an inspiration to Ayiana; a fellow scientist and Trill. Captain Ezri Dax often spoke at the Academy campus on Trill, encouraging young people to enlist.::

::As Ayiana stared at the portrait of Jadzia, she imagined what Jadzia would have said if Captain Sisko had offered her the role of First Officer, if Colonel Kira had ever left, for example. Of course, it was pretty well-known that the pair were close friends, and Jadzia would probably have accepted without a second thought.::

::However, Ayiana *was* having second thoughts. Could she handle the job of running the logistics and day-to-day operations of a starship of over 600 people? She would essentially be running the ship, save for Admiral Reynolds. Every single problem would be brought to Ayiana’s attention, from a loose bolt to a warp core breach. Every department would send regular reports to Ayiana, which she would then have to collate and summarize for Reynolds. Conflicts would have to be settled, ranging from bickering crew to interdepartmental feuds. Ship resources had to be allocated and shared. It seemed impossibly daunting.::

::But she had been through so much already; Ayiana had served on two ships, serving as Chief Science Officer for much of her career. She had fought Romulans, Orions, and even the Dominion. She had encountered a dangerous parallel universe and survived to tell the tale. She had proven to others that she could handle almost anything. So why was she still having doubts?::

::Ayiana could debate the pros and cons in her head for hours, but it seemed like Reynolds wanted an answer *now*.::

Sevo: Then… ::Ayiana glanced at the portrait of Jadzia in her hand once more.:: ...I accept.

Tana: SQUAAK!!

Reynolds: Good. ::She nodded, offering the woman a faint smile.:: It's often not an easy job, but it is a rewarding one.

Sevo: I’ll...I’ll take your word for it, sir.

::Ayiana set Dax’s portrait down and walked back to the couch, carefully sitting down, as if the weight of the world was now on her shoulders. In essence, it was.::

Sevo: I guess this means no shore leave for me then, huh?

::Ayiana smirked, but she wasn’t sure if it was a joke or not. Once her XO duties started, she’d be up to her neck in work all day, every day. Or so she thought, because Reynolds was soon shaking her head.::

Reynolds: It means shore leave's even more important for you. Ayiana, the responsibility is greater, but the workload shouldn't be. Part of learning the job is learning what to delegate; I can help you with that, and so can Alucard. ::She smiled slightly.:: Don't be afraid to pick his brains. He's not just been an XO, but he's been *my* XO. He'll be able to fill you in on all my annoying quirks that I'm oblivious to.

::The Admiral smiled at that, as if enjoying some kind of personal joke.::

Sevo: I...see. Thank you, sir. ::She paused.:: I think. ::She took a sip of water.:: there anything else, sir?

Reynolds: Unless there's anything pressing on your mind, no. That was all.

Sevo: the moment. My mind is blank right now. I...I think I will avail myself of the Cloud Skipper while I still have some free time.

Reynolds: Well, then. ::She smiled and stood, putting her half-empty cup of tea down on a nearby table.:: I'll let you organise yourself for leave.

Sevo: I hope to see you down there too, sir.

Reynolds: I certainly hope to get over there. ::She nodded, absently straightening her top, then offered Ayiana a quick smile.:: If nothing else, I thought we might be able to borrow some part of it for an awards ceremony.

Sevo: I look forward to it.

Reynolds: Good. Then enjoy your day, Ayiana.

Sevo: You too, sir.

:: After Reynolds left, Ayiana returned to her couch and stared at her glass of water. Tana flew over to the couch and landed next to Ayiana, gently nuzzling her in the arm. ::

oO I think I’m going to need a better drink. Oo

Lt. Commander Ayiana Sevo
First Officer
U.S.S. Gorkon


Rear Admiral Quinn Reynolds
Commanding Officer
USS Gorkon