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Freedom's Reign

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"Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide." -- Napoleon Bonaparte

People like to make assumptions about Gaila. After all, she's an Orion and everyone knows that Orions are slave traders and that the women are practically controlled by their overactive hormones. (Except that the Orion Syndicate is not, in fact, what it appears to be to outsiders and, yes, female Orions secrete pheromones that keep most species of males comfortable in their presence but Gaila hardly needs sex all the time. She simply has sex when it suits her and if that's more frequent or with more partners than the average Terran women, well, that's her choice. Besides it isn't like she's forcing anyone to do it with her—pheromones or no, she wouldn't do that.)

Likewise, she receives strange glances from time to time that she comes to realize contain pity and other similarly unwelcome emotions. (Gaila learns this because she observes others receiving them as well. And, while they are infinitely preferable to the judgmental stares and glares of scorned women who perceive her to have wronged them in some way, she hardly appreciates them. She is not in want of sympathy; she simply is and that is fine with her.)

It's the odd roundabout questions about how she escaped from her old life that bothers her most, though. How can Terrans be so very misinformed? After explaining a handful of times that, yes there is a certain stigma for selecting a life away from the Syndicate, but all she'd done was ask her family unit for permission to attend Starfleet Academy after applying, she has her answer. Terrans are mostly inexplicably disappointed by her benign tale. (Why that is, she isn't certain, since she knows hers is not unlike the majority of Academy cadets.) Eventually, though, she grows tired of this and takes to indicating she does not wish to speak of it, so they remain misinformed.

Gaila is curious about where these misconceptions of her so-called slave society come from, so she studies up on ancient Earth history. Slavery, it seems, was common practice in various forms in many Terran societies for longer than it hasn't been. The really interesting stories, though, are those of the slaves. It's their tales of hiding and fighting, of inequality and relying on strangers helps her to understand what it is her fellow cadets expected to hear. They believe, as with Terran slaves of the past, it is physical freedom she came to Starfleet for.

That's their mistake, she thinks. The kind of freedom she sought is not unlike that which most children wish to have from their parents once they've reached full maturation. The only difference for Gaila is that, as an Orion, she had to leave her entire society behind to find it. (Because if she'd stayed—if she'd lived her life under Syndicate rule as good Orion girls are meant to—she would have little to no say in her future and expected to follow her superior's dictates without question. Here she has the freedom to choose her own path. Here she can be and do whatever she wishes and it's as frightening as it is exhilarating.) (She thinks it's not the stigma but the fear that keeps more Orions from doing the same.)

Still, if there's one thing she's learned from her study of slavery it's this: there is truly no greater power on any world than the need for freedom. None. It's what pushes children to leave home in the first place, what fuels things like revolution and rebellion, what gives hope when there shouldn't be any at all. No matter what kind of freedom a being is seeking, there is no power that will stop them—except, perhaps, death (and even then it's questionable). Gaila likes that. It makes her feel connected, just a little, to everyone everywhere. (And maybe, in the end, that's what freedom's really all about.)