Part of USS Denver: Mission 4: Can’t Come Home Again Part: 3 and USS Denver: Mission 4: Can’t Come Home Again

Turning Point

Somewhere North of Billings, MT
July 21, 2374
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Órlaith opened the door to Angelica Ryder’s cell.  The young woman was asleep or drugged. Órlaith was sure which. Closing the cell door behind her with a soft click Órlaith sat down at the single metal chair in the corner of the cell and waited.

She had come back from the betrayal and marooning at the hands of Jeter changed.  She had never questioned what her mother and father were doing until now.  Now nothing felt right. There had to be more out there than this dark lifestyle, and she was increasingly seeing her parents as evil having now seen the dicotomy.

Jeter had spoken of freedom. A concept she had only heard of in terms of derision by her parents,  but he had spoken of it fondly.  Like a long lost love. There was no cruelty in his actions.  It would have been better for him to just kill her and Ian, yet he didn’t. 

Then there was Seong and Vausees.  She could sense the same darkness in them as her mother and father, and yet they let her go.  That was a problem. She was certain there was an ulterior motive there, and yet as far as she could tell she wasn’t followed.   Was it in hope of gaining some sort of favor with her mother and father?  Possible,  but that seemed unlikely. She sighed bothered by her thoughts.

“What do you want?” A hoarse voice came from the bed. “Come to gawk at the animal in the zoo?”

“No,” Órlaith replied uncertain how to respond.  Her family had been torturing her for months, and made clones from her DNA to be used against the Federation and her family in this reality.

Angel rolled over looking like the hell she most certainly was in. “Then what is it that you want? I think you are the only one who hasn’t levied some form of abuse towards me.”

“I also have been avoiding you,” Órlaith observed. 

Angel rolled back on her back and stared up at the ceiling and let out a rueful chuckle.  “You got me there.”

“You are fantastically strong willed,” Órlaith observed.  “I don’t know if I could have endured what you have gone through.”

“You never know what you can endure until you have to experience it. A few months I probably would have felt the same as you.”

Órlaith considered Angel’s words. After a moment she spoke softly,  “I’m sorry as to what has happened to you.  I hate that you must experience this.”

“If you were truly sorry you would have let me go.”

Órlaith’s eyes went wide at that and she sucked in air like she had just been punched in the gut. That wasn’t the response she was expecting,  nor could she argue the point.  Angel was right. She was just as guilty of torture as her father, mother, and brother were despite never having laid a hand on her or spoken and unkind word.

“You’re right,” she said… “I… Well to be honest, defying my parents never even crossed my mind. I’m not sure it’s an option. They are family and family is everything.”

“Even if they are evil bastards?”

There was a long pause as Órlaith considered that last phrase. Yes they were evil.  Did that make her evil as well? She didn’t feel evil, but of course until recently she had never known anything different.  She had been bred for the purpose of evil and somehow something went wrong. She was different from the rest.  She’d known that for a while now, and she was pretty sure mother had noticed it as well.

“What is freedom?” Órlaith asked suddenly. 

Angel laughed softly at that question,  “It sure as hell isn’t this.”

“A loyal servant of my parents recently betrayed them.  He said he was looking for freedom.”

“It is the nature of humans,” Angel started, “to strive to have the freedom to choose their own path. There are always those that seek to limit that freedom to enhance their power over others.  I wouldn’t think that was freedom either. Except for being a prisoner of a tyrant they are prisoners of their own greed and lust for power. Instead of a slave to a master they are slaves to their ambition.  That isn’t very appealing either.”

“Like mama and my father?”

“I would think so. But yeah, those who have no freedom yearn for it the most and some will do anything to gain it.”

“Like a loyal servant who seemingly has little to gain, but much to lose?”

Angel shrugged,  “A gilded cage is still a cage.”

Órlaith sighed taking that in.  She had been questioning things for months now, and with Jeter and now this conversation with Angel those uncertain thoughts were starting to coalesce.

“Mama says it takes an iron fist to rule the galaxy. A ruthlessness that keeps the wolves at bay.”

“Who says someone has to rule the galaxy?  No government is perfect,  that much is certain,  but a democratic one by the people for the people offers the most freedom.”

“There’s no emperor or king?”

“Some societies do. There are even a few planets in the Federation that still use those archaic terms, but the Federation is represented by a president and council which are all elected by the people.”

Órlaith took that information in. Could this be possible?  Could a society like that actually work?  Obviously it could and does, but it was being tested right now. Nothing said it would survive the Dominion,  but deep down she hoped that would happen.

“Let me go,” Angel said suddenly. 

That drew Órlaith out of her reverie. “Hmm? Oh… uh… I can’t.  My father and mother do not wish it, and I cannot go against them.  They are all I have.”

Angel smirked,  “I see you haven’t changed talking to me.”

“Why should I?” Órlaith demanded,  not entirely certain why she lashed out.

“You ask questions but you do not listen.  Why would that associate leave to look for freedom? I’ll tell you why. It’s because people yearn to be free. No matter what reality they are from.”

“Angel Ryder, you are wise beyond your years,” Órlaith replied.  “I was recently held captive as well. No torture,  so it cannot compare to yourself,  but I think I have some understanding of what you are going through.   If it were up to me, I would let you go, but it isn’t up to me.  My mother and father are all I have.  I may not agree with them, but I cannot go against them.”

With that Órlaith started for the door.  She pulled it open. Pausing, she looked over her shoulder and simply said “sorry” before closing the door behind her and letting the lock fall into place.