2013-05-09: Digital Rights Management


Echo_icon.jpg Rashmi_icon.jpg

Summary: Rashmi brings a bit of food for thought. Viva la robolution.

Date: May 9, 2013

Log Title: Digital Rights Management

Rating: G

Barnes Academy - Medical Center

The name medical 'office' rather undersells what his, in essence, a state of the art, high-tech and extremely well stocked medical bay and treatment center. There are always orderies and nurses in attendance to handle minor injuries and a doctor is always on call for more serious problems. In addition to a locked medicine storage facility, there are modules for isolating patients, a (hopefully never used) cryogenic storage and stasis module for preserving life (or bodies) when the local team can't stabilize a patient and a pair of ten bed infirmary modules attached to the main area. Each bed and exam table is equipped with the latest Stark-tech diagnostics gear.

It's been some time since Rashmi has spent any real time in Medical; indeed, she's missed more than a few regularly scheduled checkups, thanks to the Registration problems and the quiet witch-hunt SHIELD launched within its ranks to root out the Purifier element. Thus, Rashmi has had to endure a more comprehensive checkup than she'd prefer, weathered with the sort of stoic good grace required of something unpleasant but necessary. Happily, however, all the poking and prodding and sample-taking is done, and she's emerged from behind the screen, idly rebraiding her floor-length hair as she makes her way out of the exam room.

Isolated in a corner cell with walls made of glass that could stop most supervillains, a dark haired woman rests lazily on her side on the examination table therein. Elbow down and head resting in one hand, her ankles are crossed comfortably. She might not look like she belongs but for the dark grey patient scrubs. "I suppose you're letting *her* go?" the woman in the cell asks of the medical staff in long-suffering tone.

"Well… yeah," Rashmi says, turning to look at the woman beyond the glass in pure puzzlement. "I mean, I just had to catch up on stuff I missed, and they wanted to be sure I didn't catch anything long-term while I was gone. But, um… I… don't think I've seen you about, before… who are you, again?" What the cell might mean, apparently, is deemed irrelevant the redheaded Hindi girl quite obviously thinks that the existence of the cell means safety from its occupant.

As the woman shifts with a fluid, feline grace to sit up straighter, the empty socket of her left eye is revealed from the shadow of her hair. "Echo," the stranger offers. "And you are?"

"Rashmi," the girl replies, tilting her head. "…Can I ask what happened to your eye?"

Echo stares at Rashmi for a few seconds longer than simply considering the question. "I was shot in the twice head with armor-piercing .45 caliber rounds. The eye was damaged. The technicians here have removed it for study." She inclines her head and adds, as if Rashmi should be grateful to hear it, "You don't appear damaged."

Rashmi blinks, then again, and a third time. "….So wait," she says, slowly, "twice in the head. .45 caliber, *armor piercing.* I… okay. All right, study. Are you an LMD…?"

"I've heard the comparison while being examined," Echo says and nods agreeably. "But no. I'm not."

"….Hhhhuh…" Approaching the cell, and settling down in front of it, Rashmi tugs her braid over her shoulder. "…Can I ask who you are, then?" Who, not what; an interesting choice of words.

Echo shifts to slide off the examination table and approach the glass. She mirrors Rashmi's posture, settling down comfortably. "I said, I'm Echo," the machine replies. "Model number as well as name." One of the staff members who is still processing Rashmi's reports looks curiously around the edge of the curtain. Their constant visitor isn't usually so chatty.

"Well, that tells me *what* you are," Rashmi says, glancing over her shoulder as the curtain rustles. A bright smile and a shrug of the shoulder is given to the technician. "….Sort of, anyway. So…. you were built? For what?"

"Anti-personnel operations," Echo says unabashedly.

"…Ah," comes the response, after a moment of silence. "That explains the cell, then… … ….*Why?"

"Why?" Echo repeats, eyebrows rising as if the question surprises her. "That's a good question. But not a very specific one."

"Well," Rashmi says, lifting a shoulder. "Why make an anti-personnel robot? And further, why give it a human face?"

Echo's expression changes, looking vaguely disappointed. "Not the questions I was expecting." She looks around lazily, over Rashmi's shoulder, toward the door, before finally back to the girl. "If I had to guess, it's because someone needed it."

"That really doesn't *answer* the question," Rashmi responds, "but I don't suppose you'd be the best one to ask anyway. So… let's try another one; why are you here?"

"Mike Drakos," the android replies without a pause. "A student of this school. We're acquaintances. He found my body when I ran out of power and brought me here. I am not entirely sure why, but that's what happened. I have been here under examination and observation for nearly six months."

"Oh, *Mike,*" Rashmi says, laughing softly. "Okay. That makes a *lot* more sense now, actually… how'd you meet?"

"I mistook him for another combat android and tried to terminate him." Echo smiles faintly, like it's a funny story.

"Well I'm *really* glad you didn't," Rashmi replies, either unfazed by the story, or sanguine enough that it doesn't bother her enough to let it be shown. "He's kind of like a little brother to me."

"He's been very useful to me as well." Echo's eye moves up and down Rashmi in a calm sweep. Cool and analytical. Then it seems to linger on the girl's extremely long hair, expression unchanging but obviously staring at it.

Rashmi blinks, looking down at the braid in her hand, almost completely untied by her unconscious worrying at it. "…..Is my hair interesting, or something? … …Anyway, if you met Mike but didn't kill him, he's probably been talking to you. D'you mind if I ask what about?"

"It looks impractical," the android assesses bluntly. And with that she looks away from it and back to Rashmi's face. "He risked himself to bring me here. He could have faced serious charges. He, like a lot of people who talk to me, seem to focus on purpose and self-determination. I think they're obsessed with it."

"Well," Rashmi says, chewing on the inside of her cheek, "it *is* one of the basic hallmarks of a sentient being. Self-determination, I mean. I don't think it's an obsession, really… Freedom is kind of an important basic right, y'know?"

"I have no rights," Echo replies laconically. Not disappointed, or angry, or indignant. Just the cold fact of it. She clarifies. "A legal non-person. Manufactured against current autonomous weapon laws."

"Perhaps," Rashmi muses, "but what's keeping you from being reclassified as a robotic sentient? I mean, there has to be *some* kind of criteria somewhere, that shows the difference between the two."

Echo shows a real expression for once, almost exaggerated. Her good eye rolls toward the ceiling in exasperation. "Please, not another Voight-Kamppf test. What does it matter whether it's 13 questions or 31?"

Rashmi spreads her hands. "Hey, don't get annoyed at me, all right? This is kind of a new thing for me, and I really *am* sorry if I'm retreading really, really old ground here. But I mean… clearly you don't *like* being in a cell, and clearly you're too much of an immediate threat *not* to be in one. So, can you blame me for wanting to map out the territory so maybe I can start to figure out what could be done about both sides' wants?"

Now the android's eye narrow suspiciously. "Why would you interfere? It has nothing to do with you. You didn't know I existed before today." It's a similar line of questioning that Mike has faced before, one that still baffles Echo.

Rashmi tilts her head. "…You haven't been kept up on the news, have you," she says, her voice faintly amused. "Well… you can probably verify this with just about any agent here; I'm kind of a huge, idealistic busybody. *And* I'm attending law school here, not agent training. So… what I see is, you've been here for six months. That means nobody can figure out to their satisfaction that you're *not* going to try and kill people if they let you out, but you're not a clear and present danger all the same. And you don't *like* being here, which completely makes sense, but you're willing to carry on perfectly pleasant if slightly unsettling conversations just to keep from being bored.

"To me?" Rashmi tilts her head, disassembling the braid entirely, fingers deftly reweaving the plait back together. "That means there's room for compromise. THat there's a solution where people can be satisfied on both sides, and that could probably be a benefit to people in general. Why would I *not* interfere?"

Echo's expression grows pinched, brows furrowed as she turns her head slightly to one side to make sure she's got a full view of Rashmi's face the entire time. "There was talk," the dark haired machine admits after a moment. "Of placing me in a more secure facility. But I've been on my best behavior." An eyebrow quirks upward… seeking approval?

"That's a start," Rashmi says, smile widening a bit, head bobbing slowly. "Out of curiosity… what do they do to keep you occupied when you're not being tested? Interrogated… well, pretty much anything on that spectrum. I guess it all washes out the same in the end… *anyway.* …Sorry, thoughts skipped a track there. Valid question, though."

"They don't do anything." Echo briefly turns to indicate her cell. Aside from the examination table and a thick electrical cable plugged into the wall, there isn't much. There isn't anything. "That's why I'd prefer to stay here. At least I get to have perfectly pleasant if slightly unsettling conversations." What else do you do with a piece of hardware you don't have the time or inclination to properly examine? Shelve it. Government work mentality.

"Hmn," Rashmi says, pursing her lips. "…Well I have an idea, but I'd have to run it past Agent Drew. Last year, there was a really good instructor that came in for awhile, and did a course on Civic Responsibility. …Which was a pretty amazingly good idea, considering the type of people that end up attending, here."

The dark haired woman's look is questioning, but apparently the urge isn't strong enough to voice an actual question.

"Oh," Rashmi says, waving a hand, "sort of an ethics kind of class, but more geared towards 'things you *absolutely have to remember* regarding powers use, and civilian and structural collateral.' Like for example, if I wanted, I could turn the average person's bones into broken toothpicks with my brain. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't do everything I possibly can to avoid that outcome, because really in the long run it doesn't help anything. Since I'm an American citizen, that means my ultimate responsibility is to American law, and the systems in place that *exist* to enforce it. I'm not better than the police, just because I've got bigger fists that can hit harder."

"I see. You're not allowed to use your mutant powers to kill." Cloud voiced a similar sentiment, or restriction. Or weakness. Echo is suspicious. "You do this voluntarily? What if you're threatened?"

"There's a limit," Rashmi says, "to the self-defense argument. Having worked under a defense attorney specializing in powered defendants, trust me, it's pretty hard and fast. What *I* prefer to do is exercise every available option; I'll try and warn somebody off, or reason with them. If that doesn't work… and it usually doesn't, but it *has*… then I have to think carefully; what is the *minimum possible* amount of force I should use to end the problem? Will using force at all endanger others? What will the likely outcome of minimum force be? And that's just the *first* layer of priorities, really… That doesn't even get into large-scale problems where I'd be better off submitting and figuring out how I can take the fight to the inside."

"There are higher priorities," counters the android firmly, but still she listens carefully without interrupting. "You're an expert at this," Echo finally states in a tone of utter certainty. "Tell me what to do."

Rashmi says, "First," Rashmi says, "tell me what the higher priorities are. Also I won't tell you what to do. I *can't,* really, I don't have the authority or probably even clearance. I can only tell you what works for me.""

"Self-preservation," Echo answers unapologetically. Though she doesn't look disappointed at Rashmi's reservations, she doesn't look any happier. However, as if on cue, the doors of the medical facility swish open with Star Trek-like efficiency. A voice, the speaker unseen, asks in a deep, commanding tone, "Miss Franklin, do I need to have a talk with you about giving legal advice to S.H.I.E.L.D. property?"

Rashmi starts as the voice is heard from the medbay, for a moment looking for all the world like a child caught in the cookie jar. Then, with a solicitous clearing of her throat, she rises, tipping Echo a wink before turning to face the door. "…No, Director Fury," she says, her voice suitably meek and apologetic. "I wasn't *going* to give her legal advice, anyway, sir; I'm not a lawyer, yet. Is it okay, though, if I talk philosophy with a SHIELD detainee that doesn't seem to have much else to do with their time?"

There's a pause. Without betraying any amusement in his tone of voice, the director responds, "Carry on, then." From her position, all Echo can hear then is the tread of boots fading away down the hall. It's a long moment of a kind of tense, guilty silence before the android breaks it. "You're not going to be disciplined?"

"If I am," Rashmi says, shoulders quivering with suppressed laughter as she turns to face the robot once more, "it'll be an unhappy conversation with someone who just wants to make sure that I'm not about to make life difficult for them. Which, since I don't plan to because I honestly really like the place and these people, as long as I stay within the boundaries the policy sets down? Everything's okay. And anyway, I was telling the truth; I don't intend to give you legal advice, or orders, or directives, or anything like that. I'm much more interested in convincing you that, at the very least, it's in *your* best interests to align self-preservation with civil responsibility."

"And that will get me out of this cell." It's almost a question. Echo straightens up, for a moment visibly favoring her right leg over her left. "You'll have to define civil responsibility in more detail. How many laws are there?"

"I don't know if it'd be the sole answer," Rashmi says, "but any start is a good start. And there are…. a lot of laws. Like, a *lot* a lot. Probably you'll also want materials on ethics and philosophy. I can't make any binding promises, Echo, save one; I will see what wiggle room I can make, and I will keep you updated."

The android nods once. "Thank you." That seems to be the end of it because she moves away from the glass and seats herself on the edge of the examination table again. Reaching for the electric cord, she lifts the tail of her shirt and plugs it in there with a ratcheting sound. That done, she simply goes back to waiting.

Rashmi glances away, probably out of habit more than anything else, as Echo plugs herself in. Then, the robot receives a warm, genuine smile, before the law student hefts her bookbag and starts to make her way out of Medical.

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