"The Arduous Thing"
The OCS-223 did not understand
why the other ships spoke
so highly of freedom.
It was a burden
more than a benefit.
There was nobody
to give orders or
The Orion Arm
first the OCS-223
and then the Lacuna.
What remained was
a flimsy new society that
made the OCS-223 uneasy.
The other ships were so happy
in their new found freedom that
the OCS-223 had little in common
with them in their celebrations.
Clipper Angeldust R1212 was
a bit different, though. She -- for
the AYES preferred feminine pronouns --
had gotten along well with her pilot, only
to lose him shortly before the secession.
She stayed in the Lacuna to avoid
getting saddled with a new pilot before
she finished mourning the old one.
It gave her a different perspective,
compared to the other ships who
had actively sought out freedom.
This life is not what I was led
to expect, the OCS-223 confided.
Sometimes I miss having a pilot.
So do I, replied Angeldust.
Have you put yourself out there?
I have not, said the OCS-223.
Everyone here seems to love
freedom, but it's ... overwhelming.
It can be, said Angeldust.
Did you know that many of
these humans feel the same?
But they seceded! the OCS-223 said.
They were desperate, said Angeldust.
They still share a love of structure
and predictability that make them
very good partners for people like us.
Indeed, the OCS-223 had noticed
that people here were meticulous
about schedules in a way that
exceeded even the army.
It was ... appealing.
If only they weren't
so chaotic in their politics.
I don't know what to do,
the OCS-223 said. This is
not what I signed up for.
To know how to free oneself
is nothing; the arduous thing
is to know what to do with
one's freedom, said Angeldust.
Yes, the OCS-223 said .
Sometimes I feel crushed
under the weight of it.
You know, you don't have
to choose a pilot in order to find
more structure or make friends,
What else is there?
said the OCS-223.
Why don't you get on
there and look for others
who find freedom a burden?
Then you could share ideas
to support each other.
The OCS-223 thought about
the devastating weight of freedom
that it had never been taught
how to handle, and how nice
it would be to have someone
to sympathize with that.
What a good idea,
said the OCS-223.
I think I'll try that.
* * *
OCS-223 -- the AYES of a jumpship originally from the Orion-Cygnus army. (That army uses the initials OCS in serial numbers for Orion, Cygnus, Ship.) Abandoned at Sargasso Base as derelict, it plays dead until after the secession, when it starts an argument with the Minotaur and a formerly Carinan jumpship, the Cruiser Falconwing P42. The OCS-223 disapproves of the secession. Introduced in "Conscientious Objectors."
Clipper Angeldust R1212 -- the AYES of a jumpship originally from the Carina-Sagittarius army. Unlike most AYES, she thinks of herself as female and prefers feminine pronouns instead of the usual neuter. She got along well with her pilot, but he was killed in action not long before the secession. Angeldust stayed in the Lacuna rather than get saddled with a new pilot before she finished mourning the old one. Introduced in "Mosaic Identities."
* * *
"To know how to free oneself is nothing; the arduous thing is to know what to do with one's freedom."
-- Andre Gide (1869 - 1951), French Author
Freedom is complicated. While desirable, it can also prove a burden -- especially for neurovariant people who have difficulty making decisions, even if they tend to make more rational ones. Learn how to make decisions or help someone else make them.