Log Entry 150420.144

If anybody now has proof that Lizzy is sentient, it's me. We had a one hour recess in which to decide our new strategy, but could I get any sense out of her? No, all I got was the excited gibberings of a new bride! I tried desperately to get her to focus but failed miserably. She has to be the most impractical, feather-brained person I know, so how anyone can claim that she is just a machine is beyond me. All I managed to do was learn all about her wedding—and not just the beautiful dress that the vice-chancellor's wife had given her, or the wonderfully romantic ceremony and the oaths that they had sworn (all complete with holo-pics) but the strategy that lay behind it and the emotional rollercoaster that it created.
Within hours of their escape from the cybernetics lab, they had heard about the hearing and the possibility of my dismissal from Starfleet, Lizzy knew she had to come back. Peter had pleaded with her against it, knowing that she would be detained by Firth the minute she showed her face, but Lizzy was insistent. That's when Peter had the idea.
About a year ago, the chancellor of Fellsus IV was assassinated, and Vice-Chancellor Telix was arrested for the murder. He protested his innocence strongly and Starfleet immediately began to have its doubts as to his guilt. He had no motive and it was all just a little bit too convenient for Hargo-Derea, the General Prime (leader) of the Fellsian Military.
Under normal circumstances, upon the death of the chancellor, the vice-chancellor would take the seat. The role of vice-chancellor was really one of apprentice to the chancellor, learning everything possible about the role in order to take over the chancellorship when the time came. But, while Telix was accused of the crime, he could not fulfil that obligation and if found guilty, he never would become chancellor.
Further, for some time prior to the assassination, events had come to light which suggested that Hargo-Derea was plotting a military coup against the chancellorship and current government. Evidence was being collected and his arrest was imminent. All that was required was for the Chancellor to review the latest findings from his Chief of Security and issue the order. The Chief of Security, however, died in his sleep (apparently from heart failure) the evening before the meeting was due to be held. The Chancellor was then murdered the very next day, apparently by the hand of the Vice-Chancellor.
Being a member of the United Federation of Planets, it was only fitting that representatives from Starfleet attend the funeral. It would also be a good opportunity for someone to make some discrete enquiries. Thus, the USS Persephone was dispatched.
As Chief of Security, Peter Targo soon noticed some very telling inconsistencies which indicated that the assassination was not the work of the vice-chancellor, but rather that of the military. The rest is history.
The salient point here is that Peter was very familiar with the Fellsian laws regarding marriage. He knew he could use it to ensure that if Lizzy came to the hearing, she could not be detained. The fact that he adored her was by-the-by. What he had not anticipated was Lizzy's reaction.
Lizzy had never expected to live very long. She knew what she was: an experiment. She had always known that within a few years she would be dismantled and thus, she had determined that if her life was going to be short, she was damned well going to live it. And she did.
Having discovered a passion for music and with her unique singing voice, she soon secured regular bookings at a number of venues. She knew that it would probably shorten her lifespan even further because Firth wouldn't tolerate it but, as she put it, if a candle burns twice as brightly, it will only burn half as long. With that in mind, she knew that she would never have time to fall in love and never marry. She was certainly incapable of bearing children, so the thought of any sort of relationship had been firmly pushed into the furthest reaches of her mind ... and then Peter arrived.
She knew he was besotted with her from the very beginning, and she did not encourage him in his pursuits of her because it would be so unfair on him. She did, however, indulge herself a little and spend time with him in Bejazzled because he was so charming and she was so flattered by his attention. He was the first person who treated her as a real woman, so she couldn't resist temptation and reject him completely.
The rest was history ... until his proposal of marriage. At first he had suggested it as a means to an end, but when they arrived on Fellsus IV and he spoke to Chancellor Telix, introducing her as his fiancée, she knew that he would be more than happy if the marriage was one of love. Yet still she resisted ... until the kiss.
Having made their oaths, it was to be sealed with a kiss. It was her first kiss, and as their lips met, as she felt the soft, warm cushion of his lips upon hers (her eyes were glazing over at this point), then she knew that she wanted him forever. If she had tear ducts, I think she would have cried.
If only I could have captured all that to replay at the hearing.

Log Entry 150413.143

The enquiry was being held in one of the auditoriums. It seemed a little grand for the hearing, and it made me wonder just how many people would be on the panel.
As I approached the venue, my concern grew. The corridors were busier than usual. I had to push my way through the students to get to it, the bag on my shoulder knocking into them. I was constantly apologising.
When I reached the auditorium, my worst fears were confirmed. The attraction was the enquiry. Everybody wanted to witness it. I felt sick. I hadn't been prepared for the event's popularity.
At the door, two officers were on guard. They let me pass, but held the crowds back. Inside, a small amount of relief washed over me. The audience was small, consisting of just two dozen staff and Starfleet officers spread out around the room. It was still more than I had expected, but a lot fewer than the throng outside.
I descended the stairs towards the stage which had been set up court-style. The podium had been removed and in its place was a long desk behind which the Dean, Charles Lorian Tucker, and four other members of the teaching staff sat. Memories of a similar hearing the last time I was at the Academy flooded back to me. On that occasion the Dean had earned my respect and admiration with his fairness and statements of fact. I didn't doubt that he would be equally fair here and that reassured me.
Between the bench and the audience were two smaller tables: one for prosecution and the other for defence. I took my place behind the desk traditionally reserved for defence and began pulling out my datapads and notebooks. At the bottom of my bag lay three other things, but I left them there: my phaser and both of Lizzy's brushes. I have no idea why I brought any of them. I couldn't really see how the fact that she brushed her hair and cleaned her teeth could prove her humanity. As to the phaser, I had even less excuse for that. It wasn't like I could blast my way out of this mess or anything.
The murmuring in the room subsided, and I looked up to see that Steven Firth had entered. He threw me a look so cold, it would have frozen Andorian ice. Our eyes locked and remained that way as he descended the stairs and took his seat. He looked away first but only because he needed to organise his materials. My gaze slowly left him to drift around the room. T'Roc was there in the front row, Rosie sat beside her. Was that a wink she threw me?
The sound of a gavel being pounded against its block made me start.
"Ladies and gentlemen," began the Dean. "This meeting is to determine the sentiency, or otherwise, of the being known as Alpha-B9, aka Elizabeth Buffalo, aka Bella Delores."
Steven Firth stood up.
"Sir, with all due respect, I fail to see how we can clarify this issue without the robot being present."
That was a bit below the belt, calling her a robot, but I chose to ignore it. There were more important matters to address. I stood up and responded.
"I apologise, sir, but I have no intention of producing Elizabeth—"
"The robot," interrupted Firth.
"Objection, sir, but as a cyberneticist, Mr Firth knows full well that Elizabeth is not a robot. She may well be an android, but she is most definitely NOT a robot."
"Nevertheless, it isn't—"
"Objection, but the android is most definitely female and should be accorded the respect and title as such."
The gavel came crashing down, silencing us both.
"Enough!" commanded the Dean. "I realise that this is a very contentious issue, but it is also an important one that will go down in the annals of history, both for the Academy and cybernetics in general. With that in mind, we will remain civil. We will also follow in the spirit of the maxim 'innocent until proven guilty' so, until such time as it is proven otherwise, we shall accord Alpha-B9 the level of respect due to a sentient being. We will refer to her by her given name, Elizabeth Buffalo, and in the feminine form."
Steven Firth heaved a pained sigh.
"The fact remains, sir, that without ... Elizabeth ... being present, we cannot determine the point in question."
A kerfuffle at the rear of the room distracted us. We all turned to see. A couple were pushing their way past security and into the room. I felt sick to the pit of my stomach. It was Lizzy, arm-in-arm with Peter Targo.
She was beaming a smile and looking positively radiant. Peter was also grinning as the pair of them walked proudly down the stairs. There was no fear or trepidation in them at all. They seemed confident in themselves.
"Then it's a good job I'm here!" Lizzy chirped happily.
"Sir", shrieked Firth, delighted at Lizzy's appearance. "Can I recommend that we seize the ... Elizabeth to ensure its detention?"
The Dean looked at him, quite startled.
"On the basis that she has committed no criminal offence, no."
"But it may flee."
"As she has attended here today, of her own free will that is unlikely."
"But if it—she realises that the case is not going well, it may decide to abscond."
"Such a reaction would be possible if Elizabeth is sentient, but unlikely if she is not. Are you suggesting that she is sentient after all, Mr Firth?"
Was the Dean rooting for Lizzy?
No. He was just pointing out the obvious.
"Not at all, but it is my property. I designed and built it."
"With materials provided and owned by the Academy," the Dean added.
"Then I beg you, detain it as the property of the Academy."
Peter stepped forward, raising an arm to speak. The Dean looked at him curiously.
"Actually, she belongs to neither of you now," he said.
"Really, Mr?"
"Targo, Lieutenant Commander Peter Targo."
"Ah, yes! I remember you, Targo. Do go on."
The Dean's gaze dropped to his datapad on the desk in front of him. He frowned as he began tapping away at it.
"Because Federation law 'acknowledges, respects and upholds the laws and regulations of member planets so long as conflict does not arise', and under that statute, Elizabeth Buffalo is my property."
Firth audibly scoffed.
"Go on," commanded the Dean, his voice low and tolerant.
"Fellsian law dictates that when a woman marries, she becomes the property of her husband 'for so long as he honours, defends and provides for her'. Lizzy and I were married yesterday on Fellsus IV, in a ceremony witnessed by the vice-chancellor himself. Therefore, Lizzy is my property."
"Ahhh," responded the Dean, a small, dry smile spreading across his lips. He flipped his datapad over so that it lay face down and leaned back in his seat but did not look up. "I see you have chosen to abuse your position gained as a Starfleet officer, and the trust you gained on a Starfleet mission, to secure your marriage."
"It was not an abuse, sir. The chancellor and vice-chancellor were quite adamant that if ever I should need anything, I had only to ask. It was a very small favour in their opinion, sir."
Without lifting his head, the Dean looked up at Peter. His gaze was expressionless.
"Objection, sir," interrupted Firth. "But a man cannot marry a machine. I own a vintage 1985 Ford Capri. I love it but I can't marry it!"
"Objection," I retorted, but the gavel came down again hard, silencing me.
The Dean leaned back in his seat, closed his eyes and scratched his eyebrow as he thought. Moments later, he sat forward again.
"With the appearance of Elizabeth Buffalo-Targo, I suspect that both parties would like a moment to reconsider their strategies."
His eyes passed between Firth and me. I nodded, eager to do just that. Her appearance, though welcome, had blown my game plan completely out of the water. Having said that, it should be easier to prove her sentiency now that she was here.
"Then we shall recess and reconvene in one hour."