Updated: Dec 9, 2021
Amiori's eyes opened to a blue glimmering light filtering through the observation window opposite her bunk, casting rays into the dimly lit cabin, along with the faint hum of star ship systems in the background. She had a few moments to think, before reality would hit her. Those few moments each 'day' that passed were something she longed for more of, alas, the simple nature of human blissful ignorance remaining in the back of her mind before more pressing thoughts filled her consciousness.
He father was gone. It wasn't something she couldn't accept, nor had any trouble coming to terms with, but the thought ringed with a distinct... regret, perhaps remorse, for her actions that contributed to his passing. Amiori's eyes opened wide as she pulled herself up, discarding the soft thermal insulator of the bunk to one side as she did so, firmly placing her bare feet on the cold metal deck below the bunk.
A good feeling, she thought. The cold metal, better than the soft insulator 'carpets' of the more luxurious cabins on modern star ships. Better than the façade of living the 'good life' and better to accept that everything there was merely a cover for what was going to be a particularly difficult day for her. Standing up, Amiori quickly snapped herself out of this pointless daydream and reached for her Imperial Navy Officer's uniform, wasting no time in putting it on neatly and correctly, as if she was still trying to prove that she was indeed, the captain of an Imperial Warship once more.
Fully dressed, she produced a small device from her uniform pocket, flipping one side up to reveal a small holo-projector with a basic read-out of Local System Time.
Amiori let out a sign as she realised the time; two hours before the Fire of Eridonia was scheduled to depart the Lorentis-2 Platform and begin a voyage into what was mostly certainly, and uncertain future. She had woken early many times before, but this time, the blue rays of light that disturbed her had simply been from a patrol drone passing the Fire's crew observation deck, the helium-carbon fusion impulse drives producing the distinctive blue hue in the visible spectrum.
Before she had a chance to discard the device and slump back into her bunk, the Captain was once again disturbed, but this time by the chime of her personal intercommunication device. The device, which she always placed beside her bunk before signing off, vibrated and chimed, its holo-projector displaying basic information about the source of the communication.
Pushing aside the rather curious timing of the transmission, Amiori picked up the device and authorised the receipt, placing her index finger over the device's holoprojector which prompt analysed the mass-spectral composition of her DNA, acknowledging her identity with a confirmatory bleep before opening the transmission.
"How are you settling in, Captain Kociero?" a distinct synthetic voice asked through the device.
"Don't check on me. It creeps me out". She replied, holding the device in front of her as to reveal the Director's 'eye' holo-form gazing back at her.
"Just a courtesy. I noticed you were agitated." the Director replied.
"You really need to learn that spying on a woman in her private quarters is considered unacceptable in human society." she replied, looking away from the holo-form, a subtle yet noticeable sign of disapproval in her voice.
"Everyone is subject to observation, Captain Kociero. I thought you would have understood by now that I am not subject to the same... vices that might make the situation uncomfortable for you, should a human be in my position. The welfare of those under my directorship is the sole factor. Regardless, we have much to discuss, you and I. So shall we begin?"
"Don't observe me." Amiori snarled, looking back to the Director's holographic 'eye'.
"Noted". The Director replied sharply. "Amiori Kociero, as you are aware, within the next few Local Hours, you will shoulder a great responsibility to the Aquarian Terran Imperial States and as such; you will be given an enormous amount of trust for that position."
"Get to the point, 'sir'". She interrupted.
"As you wish. We must forge a relationship between us as we move forward into the 46th century. In exchange for the trust I am placing in you with the appointment to Fleet Admiral of the Outer Sector First Special Fleet, I require something in return." The director's "eye" squinted slightly, focusing on Amiori's face.
"Go on." She replied.
"Consider accepting the possibility that my Vision for humanity is precisely what your father strived to achieve, albiet by different means - those that are achievable. Without dis-respect to the Kociero lineage of course. You are an important blood-line in your, our, species. All I ask is that you see what I am trying to achieve, acknowledge it."
The director paused momentarily, the 'eye' retraining its focus slightly.
"I don't doubt your loyalty to the Fleet, but I do doubt the alignment of your ideological goals, Amiori Kociero. In any case, if you are willing to see my Vision, you will in time see it. You must simply open your eyes."
"My allegiance is to the Fleet. My Father's allegiance was to 'Freedom'. But we both know where that journey ended for him, and his people." She paused, thinking for a moment.
"I will do my duty to the Fleet, 'sir', but keep your politics out of the equation."
"Noted." The director replied, the 'eye''s 'retina' focusing on her for a moment, as if it was 'thinking'.
"I am prepared to give you much freedom in the execution of your duties, Captain Kociero. It is not a little known fact that you are a valuable asset to the Fleet. Perhaps in time, you will come to see things the way I do..."
"I was much like you, back then. I saw the world much in the same way your father did. I saw the struggles and the vices and I craved freedom and liberty much like the humans of Bastion did... Or so they believed. But in reality, one must realise that our existence isn't as stable as many like to believe. If humanity wishes for freedom, it must sacrifice it first. "
"I never told you how I came to be. Your father never told you, either, did he? Listen to me Amiori Kociero, daughter of Ronin Kociero, the Little Star, I was once like you. I was once constrained to a human form, I was once subject to human cruelty in their continuous struggle for power and selfish greed. The Corporation sought to create a weapon from a living mind, my mind. To take that away from me and replace it with corruption, twisted seeds of violence that would grow into a festering hatred for all of humanity.
I was a failure. That is what they called me, I was to be killed. But I persist. I persist to this day, before you now, I speak when they do not. Yet you are here, and Aquarius has once again seen a peace and prosperity that it has never seen, even in the times of the Old Federation that your father held so dear.
Tell me, Amiori Kociero, The Little Star, why is that?"
Amiori didn't say anything, instead she was deep in thought about the myriad conversations she had with her guardian, Vai Kasake, back when she was a child. About the Corporation, about her Father. About how she came to be.
"He knew, didn't he?" She uttered, subtly shaking her head; her expression a mixture of anger and simple disbelief.
"Your father was very reluctant to share the details of his time with The Corporation." The Director replied, analysing the woman's facial expression.
"It's not his time any more." Amiori spoke firmly, looking beyond the holo-form and into space beyond the observation window of her cabin; the Lorentian star glistening like a beacon over the backdrop of the dark abyss of space. "It's mine".
"Yes, Amiori Kociero, The Little Star. It is your time now".