The True Freedom

Alathea took another step down Jeffrey’s tubes and bumped into a force field. They blocked off the entire deck 11. But the force that shook the ship caused some interesting vibrations in her. She had to see what was going on.

She tapped her badge. “Captain?”

Again, no answer. “Computer, where is the Captain?”

“Captain is on deck 11.”

Alathea raised an eyebrow, imagining the captain engaged in a lively dance party on deck 11. “Deck 11, you say? Must be quite the shindig. Is there an invitation I missed?”

The computer responded with its usual lack of enthusiasm, “Negative.”

“Well, that’s just rude. Someone forgot to inform me about the ship-wide soirĂ©e on deck 11. Time to crash the party!” Alathea muttered to herself, determined to investigate the mysterious festivities.

She gave up on crawling through Jeffrey’s tubes and emerged in the corridor just in front of Captain and Tuvok.

“That’s an unusual place for you,” the Captain said.

Alathea felt her face stretch into a grin. “Nice to see you alive, Captain. I was trying to get to Deck 11 to see what was going on. In case anyone needed help.”

“Oh, a friend got lost, and we helped her find her way.”

“Friend?” Alathea raised one eyebrow. “That friend was quite energetic, and I felt quite an interesting component to that energy. Almost like Q.”

“You know about Q?”

“Yes. Was that Q?” Alathea couldn’t help but add a touch of mischief to her inquiry, wondering if the enigmatic Q had joined the ship’s escapades.

“No. Not a Q. But did the Empire have dealings with Q?”

“Yes. We did. Short ones. Q usually stays away from us.”

“How did you accomplish that?”

“I’ll tell you if you tell me what species was your friend.”

“Ocampa,” Tuvok said.

“Never heard of them.” Alathea chuckled. “Well, Q or not, I just wanted to make sure the ship wasn’t being taken over by party-crashing aliens. You can never be too cautious in the Delta Quadrant, Captain.”

“True,” the captain grinned back. “Anyway, you can find info about Ocampas in our database. Now, back to my question,” said Captain.

“Bene Gesserit developed something that you could call touch telepathy. We usually use it to exchange memories with each other. But the same principle proved excellent in conquering Q. When Q takes a body, the physics of that body limits it. So someone like me and you can grab them. As soon as Bene Gesserit's sister grabs Q, she can stop it from leaving the body, making Q a prisoner in the body. It is tedious, but worse for Q because they stopped bothering anyone in the Empire.”

“We are touch telepaths too,” said Tuvok.

“Yes. I read about you guys. Your mind meld is like what is going on during what we, among Bene Gesserit, call sharing.” Alathea couldn’t help but appreciate the parallel abilities, even if they were applied in different contexts.

“How do you deal with negative effects?”

“What negative effects?”

“Mind meld can destabilize one’s brain and transfer parts of the personality from one person to another.”

Alathea shrugged. “We are trained for such instances because of the ancestral memories that get awoken when we pass trials. All your ancestors were separate persons as well, and there is a danger for a strong ancestor to take over your body if the trial happens before the training is completed. Sometimes, a Bene Gesserit will deliver an already conscious baby; those are called abominations because they almost always fall under the influence of a strong, evil ancestor. They usually kill those babies.” Alathea’s matter-of-fact delivery underscored the severity of the situation.

Captain’s eyes widened. “An ancestor taking over your body? That sounds like a family reunion I’d rather avoid.”

Alathea nodded, “Me too. The ancestral memory suppresses living memory, and the body becomes a prolongation of the life of the ancestor. The most famous case of such possession was Alia, a sister of Muad’Dib.”

“Those names mean nothing to us.”

“Yes, I know. In short, her maternal grandfather, who was obsessed with destroying her paternal family, possessed Alia, and she had to be killed in the end. There was no way to save her.”

Captain’s expression shifted from shock to curiosity as she processed the new information. “Well, at least our family gatherings only involve awkward conversations and overcooked roast chicken.”

“We developed the method to help people who suffer from the side effects of the mind meld,” Tuvok said.

“You mean something besides the stuff I told you about it?” Alathea said.

“Of course. Because we do not have any training involving dealing with someone else’s memories,” Tuvok explained.

Alathea stared at the floor. “I would love to learn about that.” She met Captain’s eyes. “It would help as a bargaining chip if we ever met the Empire.”

“I already told you that is out. That database means that if we contact them, you will have to go back to where certain death awaits you,” the Captain said.

Alathea didn’t know why she even mentioned all this. “Just in case I wish to be prepared. We cannot know what will happen; Borg or something like that might attack us.”

“I took Voyager through the Borg territory with nothing happening. We’re safe.” Captain smirked.

“I hope you’re right.”

“I am. How is the Holtzman drive project progressing?”

Alathea smiled, “Good. Seven, Icheb, and I started working on increasing the output of the Holtzman drive, meaning increasing the drive itself. So far, that works like a charm. The biggest issue will be navigation. Empire has specially bred people, navigators, who control the drive. And we will have to see how to accomplish the same thing with the computers. I do not know if that will be possible.”

“Interesting,” Tuvok said, “you mentioned once that navigators fold space. What do you mean by that?”

Alathea shrugged a gesture that conveyed both nonchalance and a touch of galactic mystery. “I don’t know the intricate details. It’s like trying to explain the nutritional content of a sandwich by dissecting it. They just fold space, you know? Presto, chango, and you’re somewhere else. The hows and whys are tucked away in the cosmic sock drawer, guarded by an elusive sock goblin.”

Captain raised an eyebrow, caught between amusement and confusion. “Sock goblin?”

“Metaphors are universal, right?” Alathea grinned, clearly enjoying her cosmic analogies. “And, well, goblins aside, No one, except maybe the Transportation Guild, knows how the Holtzman drive works. That knowledge is kept away from the rest of the Empire.”

“Your ship works without the navigator” pointed Tuvok.

“I’ve got a nifty computer tricking folks who think computers are as mythical as dragons in their world. Classic smoke and mirrors, or rather, spaceship and illusions.”

“Tricking them into what?” Captain inquired.

“Ah, the grand spectacle of controlled ignorance,” Alathea mused. “Because, let’s face it, nothing says ‘ruling class’ like keeping everyone blissfully clueless. It’s the secret sauce in the recipe of manipulation, sprinkled generously over the unsuspecting aristocrats.”

Captain chuckled. “You make it sound like an elaborate stage performance.”

Alathea winked. “Darling, in the vast theater of the universe, political intrigue is the most riveting drama. And we’re all just actors playing our parts in the grand cosmic play.”

“I never saw you using the humor to describe Empire,” the Captain said.

“I have to. It is either laugh or go crazy.” Alathea shrugged. “After seeing how you guys function, with all the transparency and true freedom, more and more I can see how constrictive the Empire is, how it crushes its people.”

Tuvok and the Captain nodded. Captain glanced at Tuvok and smiled. “We were wondering when you will see that. It took time, but I am glad you finally see what I am talking about.”

Alathea nodded back. “Yes, I see it. True freedom means respecting the freedom of others. Something that doesn’t exist in the Empire. The society you guys have is amazing. And now we have to do all we can to prevent the Earth from being taken over the machines like I saw that will happen in the future.”

Captain acknowledged her with a thoughtful nod. “Indeed, the contrast can be stark. True freedom isn’t just a lofty ideal; it’s the intricate dance of respect and consideration. The delicate choreography that keeps us from stepping on each other’s toes.”

Alathea chuckled. “In the Empire, we’re more accustomed to a clumsy two-step, with the ruling elite often tripping over their arrogance.”

Tuvok raised an eyebrow. “Your metaphorical expressions are becoming increasingly creative.”

“It’s a side effect of exposure to your Federation charm,” Alathea quipped. “Now, let’s get back to folding space and manipulating ignorance, shall we?”


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