The Cost Of Freedom
by Karen

Perhaps the idea that is one is capable of distancing oneself from everything he has ever been is not as farfetched as it appears. In the late watches of the night while the other members of Able Squad are asleep Marsala wrestles with a few inner demons of his own.

He has spent enough time among humans to knew that the majority of them are not comfortable with the idea of a Neo-Sapian fighting alongside of them as one of their own.

But he is notworried about having to convince anyone of his worth, or his ability as a warrior. No, his worries rest on issues of a more fundamental level. A great man from Old Earth's history is often quote as saying: the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

Marsala reflects on this while he runs routine diagnostics on his e- frame, installing the latest equipment and control mechanisms that have delivered by the army's research and development department. Now, having run out of useful task, he has too much time to think. After all, per their specific genetic encoding, perhaps those they fight against.

Neo-Sapians had been created for a singular purpose, genetically engineered to be tougher, smarter, and above all obedient to their masters: in essence the perfect slave race.

It is unfortunate that the Human's comfortable belief had been shattered by a charismatic and completely insane Neo-Sapian.

Led by Phaeton, a handful and then an ever growing number of those Neo-Sapians rose up in rebellion, and now he is fighting a war against his people

Standing on the other side of a growing chasm of fear and hatred, Marsala realizes that the time for a peaceful reconciliation to the growing conflict is long behind them.

Sometimes he wonders if his commanding officer, J T. Marsh is ever tired of the constant battles, the growing rare moments in the lull of battle, and the growing list of casualties.

After all this time it would never occur to him to switch his allegiance, and it's not his programming that guides his decision to stay and fight on his chosen side in this war, despite more than is strictly comfortable with, or is healthy perhaps. There is freedom of a varying level of distinction; and the one that he find the most valuable is the freedom he has found as an individual, and as a valued member of Able Squad.

He knows that he will never fully understand humans, or be able to fully integrate within human society, it goes back to the debate of whether nature vs. nature fosters one's individual behavior and our responses to situations accordingly. Marsala has come to accept that part of his existence, and deal with it.

It is just a feeling that he has discovered a kindred spirit in his commanding officer. Lieutenant J. T. Marsh is a tough, officer, an efficient and reliable soldier, and more importantly, a good friend. Marsh gets whatever the assigned task is done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Marsh also cares about the men and women who serve under him.

Although, Marsala realizes, that Marsh also possesses a odd wry, sense of humor, which means that often the other members of his squad will give him grief about less than quick on the uptake when it comes to inside jokes. Well, so be it. Marsala thinks, pushing the troubling thoughts to a back corner of his mind, unlatching the restraint belt of his e-frame cockpit and vacating the vehicle.

The digital readout on the timepiece on his e-frame is flashing 00700 hours and it is time for a shift change. He exchanges a greeting with one of his squad mates, "Wolf Bronski, his sheaf of frost-brown hair is as

Another member of Able Squad, Alec Deleon, once made an offhand remark that Bronski's unshaven appearance is the universe's way of maintaining order. After all should the day arrive that Bronski appear ready for duty in the morning, or at another time during the day clean shaven and neatly turned out, the world as they knew it might come to an end. So an unshaven Bronski was a reliable constant. Marsala believes he understood that reference.

The big, gruff man staggers into the launch bay of the Resolute, and exchanges a few words with him, then Marsala leaves the bay by the same door Bronski has come in through on his way to his quarters.

"Hey, big guy, how you doing? What are you up to?" Bronski is rough around the edges, prone to sudden anger, but over all an excellent soldier, his outward appearance belies his rock-hard steadiness. Marsala is also painfully aware that at their very first meeting the human fought against allowing a Neo as a member of his squad. That initial hostility evaporated very slowly but now it is a thing of the past..

Most of that was due to no merit of his own, but the hard work of J. T Marsh and his other squad members.

There was something definitely fortunate about serving in the same unit with each, having to learn to trust the other to watch your back, and save each other lives. He wouldn't exactly he was friends with the other man, but could trust him with his life, so that was a definite plus.

"Just over two meters."

Bronski blinked and stared at the floor for a few seconds, trying to find a comfortable place to rest his eyes then said: "You know, I think I liked you better when you didn't have a sense of humor."

"Indeed." Marsala gives Bronski a solemn nod of his head, before he turns around and leaves the launch bay thinking: 'Here is to trying, rhymes with dying.'.

Freedom: He likes what he has here as a member of Able Squad, and he would very much like to hang on to it. He is more than willing to fight for it, and in the long run that should count for something more than just one odd Neo-Sapian, right? He is just one more individual fighting for what he believes in, and a cause that he believes in.


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