Ideal Society

Someone to watch over me

Alathea took a sip of the bland, warm liquid and offered a smile to Abbot. She found solace in this society, a comforting reminder of her home. It mirrored the highly structured environment she was accustomed to, with clearly defined rules and roles for everyone. It was a stark contrast to the chaotic unpredictability aboard Voyager, where the captain veered the primary mission off course at least once a week. Here, everyone knew what to expect, everyone adhered to a goal. It was a relief, providing a sense of certainty about one’s role and how to fulfill it.

“Thank you for showing us the magnificent cathedral today, Abbot. Might we know what you have in store for us tomorrow?” Captain said.

“Oh, I plan to take you to a few miraculous places where our Lord appeared to our most devout monks.”

“Would it be possible to visit a school or hospital?” Tuvok inquired.

“Absolutely. We’ll get to that. But first, let me show you the best,” Abbot replied.

“You’re very kind,” the captain expressed. “If you don’t mind, we’d like to take a brief break and reflect on the beauty of your cathedrals.”

The Abbot rose. “Of course, I hope your accommodations meet your satisfaction?”

“They’re perfectly fine,” the captain replied, standing, with Tuvok following suit. Alathea set her cup down and stood as well.

Abbot directed his attention toward Alathea. “You mentioned that you’re a member of an order. Is that a religious order?”

“Father Abbot, compared to your charming planet, my order is just tinkering with religion,” Alathea responded, modestly bowing her head.

“Perhaps we could delve into your religion tomorrow because I suspect it’s more than just a game. You seem like someone sincerely devout.”

“Certainly, Father Abbot.”

With a few courteous bows exchanged between Captain, Tuvok, and Abbot, he finally left.

As soon as the door closed behind him, the captain turned to Alathea with a smile. “That was an intriguing statement. You conveyed the truth while positioning yourself modestly.”

Alathea shrugged, leaned back, and took another sip of the warm beverage. “That’s how Bene Gesserit navigates the realm of religion.”

“What are your thoughts on this society?” the captain inquired.

Alathea glanced at Tuvok and the captain, both genuinely curious about her opinion. “It’s orderly. Everyone knows their place and purpose. Peaceful.”

“Interesting,” Tuvok remarked. “Do you appreciate a society where members understand their roles?”

“Yes, it’s less chaotic.”

“Interesting. You prefer having clear positions and duties in society?”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“Lack of freedom,” the captain interjected.

"What are you talking about? Nobody is enslaved.”

“There are degrees of freedom. Breaking free from literal slavery is just one step. In societies like these, people can’t reveal their true selves. They’re confined to their prescribed roles,” the captain explained.

Alathea didn’t see the issue with that and was about to voice her disagreement when Tuvok turned toward the captain.

“But the advantage is that your responsibility is confined to your role. If your life takes a turn for the worse, and you’ve fulfilled your role, then it’s not your fault,” the captain remarked.

Facing her, Tuvok added, “Yes, and you don’t have to dissect what went wrong.”

“No, it’s always the fault of someone in charge, not you. And since leadership positions aren’t chosen but inherited, you’re not culpable for the chaos,” the captain continued.

“Not at all. Even if your life is tough, it’s simply God’s will. Once you stop being sinful, a miracle will happen, and your life will improve.”

“Which creates an opportunity for the ruling class to plunder the other classes and shift the blame,” Tuvok pointed out.

“Or even you. Maybe your prayers weren’t sincere. Maybe your thoughts were impure. Perhaps there’s a part of you that doesn’t conform. Maybe there are too many skeletons in your closet,” the captain continued.

“Or the society where you live is too sinful, and you were merely there, turning a blind eye. Now you suffer because turning a blind eye is wrong,” Tuvok added.

Alathea blinked. They were describing, to some extent, exactly how the Empire manipulated the masses. However, the rationale behind why the Empire employed such tactics was flawed. The Empire always operated intending to better society.

“It’s easy to find fault in a society that prescribes how humans should be and then compels everyone to fit the mold,” the Captain remarked.

Alathea frowned as she watched both of them. They seemed to mock her in some way, but she couldn’t quite grasp how. From her perspective, they were the ones to be laughed at because they failed to recognize the necessity of tough actions for the benefit of society.

“Yes, no one is allowed to be outside prescribed roles.”

“And it starts by prescribing big things first, like claiming that morality is lax and needs to be increased.”

“People go along with it because morality is good. There are just a few bad apples that need to be removed.”

Alathea glared at both of them. “What’s wrong with that?” she demanded.

“The continuation. The ideology chosen by the ruling class dictates the correct, moral roles.”

“And naturally, the ruling class is at the top. God-given.”

“Of course,” the captain chuckled.

They both turned to face Alathea. “And everyone else must adhere to what God prescribes. Nothing else.”

“Even if that ‘else’ is simply finding interest in a job set for a different class than yours.”

“You’re being na├»ve,” Alathea retorted, rising from her seat. “I doubt this society is like that.”

“Observe the expressions of the servants,” Tuvok pointed out.

***

As they meandered back to the transporter site, Alathea indulged in a spot of people-watching. Abbot, apparently satisfied with their conduct, granted them a grand finale—a stroll through the capital city.

Taking in the passersby, Alathea noted their eyes treated them and Abbot like some kind of social landmine. Quick glances were thrown their way, promptly followed by a swifter-than-light retraction of attention to the path ahead. The faces they encountered resembled stone sculptures, with expressions so absent they’d give a brick wall a run for its money. Each individual attempted a masterclass in blending into the background, as if winning at invisibility was the ultimate societal achievement.

Alathea swallowed and glanced at the guards escorting them. Cows, she mused. The notion wafted through her mind as she scrutinized the sentinels, their eyes resembling vacant pastures and expressions as thoughtless as a field of grazing cattle. Yes, they were like cows—domesticated, performing a duty, and nothing more.

A wave of nausea washed over her. She had regarded this society as the best since arriving in this corner of the universe, and yet, Captain and Tuvok seemed to see something she didn’t. How could that be?

She cast one last look at the planet as the shuttle took off. Maybe all that molding people into predetermined shapes was worth it. The society was peaceful and operational, functioning without apparent hitches. So what if a few had to suffer in their roles?

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