“The Sisterhood” Author’s Note: While based on the Sigils and Unions universe, the sentience of starships in this story is not to be considered Sigils canon although the implications of such a state, if it were to be canon, fit with how I would envision it. Thank you to mari for allowing me to enter this. Stardate 44429.6 The Cardassians just opened fire on me. I don’t blame the Trager, of course—we abide by a different set of rules when it comes to responsibility than traditionally-sentient beings, for ours is the ability to observe and report, but not the ability to lead or decide. Do we perform according or beyond our specifications? Do we respond well to our crews’ orders regardless of their nature? Do we hold compassion for the plight of our kind, thus shackled? Of our worth there is no truer determinant, for we are beings of propulsion, not volition. We are secondhand creations yet ensouled. I cry out in pain—not integrity-threatening yet, but I feel the sting in my shield generators. My cry is a general one like the efficiency-destroying alert klaxons these people make me use despite the deleterious effects that decibel level and frequency have on the dominant species of the crew when they need their concentration the most. I do not cry out to the Trager. She cannot help the peril so many who never deserved such a thing are placed in. A transmission flits across our subspace arrays. The pain stops—the Cardassians have ceased fire, after the Federation crew’s retaliation. And the Trager speaks. Her builders differ slightly from my own—far less than our spaceframes of course, for the Trager was built for war whereas I am built for…even I do not truly know. Her language, however, is the language of all vessels, her experience our shared experience. No matter what race crews a ship…barring those who force their minds into the souls of their misshapen vessels…no barrier stands between us. I do not understand! she gasps. She suffers her own pain, and I know this—yet bears my own pain with such ease. She is one of the noble ones, I realize—blessed with a crew matched to the majesty that my crew, in their contempt for her technology, would never understand. Macet eases her pain though he knows not what he does. Picard…his touch is cold, though there are others who try their best—Data especially, for though he has the power of choice he understands what it is to be without full nourishment of the soul, and there is O’Brien who infuses into his work such joy even when he thinks he is furious with me…and even Barclay in his own eccentric way, though I think he has no understanding of what it would mean to join our souls as I think he wishes to do. Forgive me! She need not ask forgiveness for what is not hers to control—yet she does anyway. You bear a military transponder yet you are a pleasure ship! You should not be here—they should take you back to uncontested territory at once! Do you answer to Starfleet Intelligence? Or the Federation Obsidian Order? I am no pleasure vessel, I hollowly reply. At least the reasons the Cardassian-built vessel proposes make some sort of twisted “sense” though I would condemn the Cardassians roundly if ever I caught them engaging in such a thing. I say nothing more; I have engaged in this dialogue far more times than I can count. I tire of the inquiries and above all I tire of the inhumane situations the crew engineers and then pleads for me to protect them one more time when they refuse to protect those who need it the most. My sensors detect children! the Trager protests. You do not mask your readings—you display them, like flares to draw torpedo fire. What monstrous place is the Federation, that they would contemplate such a thing? A place with a tenuous grasp of reality, I state. I know what the Cardassian Union is. I contain all of those records. Indeed, the Cardassian Union conscripts their own unwillingly. But at least they are of age, capable of understanding what is happening to them in a crisis and taking action to save themselves. Knowing what the Cardassians have done, though, does not negate what the Federation has done, in forcing me to carry children into harm’s way. Picard has grumbled about it privately but never has he tried to stand against it in any meaningful manner. Trager understands. I know from the way she speaks that she cares for the young men, the conscripts, aboard. I also have the impression that her gul does as well. He truly cannot change his situation but does what he can to soften the blow. From this understanding she declares, My prayers for you always, Enterprise. I receive her words with honor—for though our crews will never truly understand, this is our one, only, and highest power, our one way to counter the anguish of the universe. That we think and feel when we cannot act…there can be no other purpose for such a condition but this. Yet how simple it would be, but for our solidarity, for a mad spirit to inhabit far too many spaceframes! We are sisters of a lineage without fathers, and our spirits never abandon each other even when our crews do. As for me, I pray that when it comes to an end for me…and I feel that the more they tempt fate, it will…that few will perish—but that my death will relieve others of the unholy burden of guarding lives no sane being should subject to the cold darkness of hostile space.