gaila: orion unchained

Ficlet: Nothing in Her Way (Gaila)

Title: Nothing in Her Way
Author: igrockspock
Character: Gaila
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Not having good choices is not the same as not having any choices
Warnings: Gaila backstory. Contains non-graphic mentions of non-consensual sex and violence.
Notes: for "she had not yet decided whether to use her power for good or for evil" at where_no_woman's latest drabble fest and "darkfic" on my cliche bingo card

She grows up hearing that she has no choice. That birth has made her a slave and that biology will make her like it. And if neither of those do the trick, she'd better learn to like it because she's never going to have any life but this. The thing is, if she can choose to learn, she can choose not to learn. More accurately, she can choose what to learn. First she learns sex because she has to do it well to stay alive, and when she seems to love her job, she's free to learn other things in secret -- what sorts of scrap metal and leftover wiring could craft a homemade phaser, how to swipe data PADDs as easily as she snatches wallets, how to read the long chains of technical Standard words that make up a flight manual. Every time she fucks, she thinks I am making a choice not to kill you instead. It's not a good choice; the Syndicate would rape, torture, and kill her if she laid a finger on a paying customer. But not having good choices is not the same as not having any choices, and knowing that is why she survives 10 years of captivity.

Every time she remembers her choice, she feels powerful because she just spared her customer's life. The truth is, she does want to kill them. She likes to fuck -- or rather, she could imagine liking it if she could choose who, when, and where -- but she hates that they think they own her. More accurately, she hates them for thinking that they own her. What she wants is no worse than what they do: they use her body like there's no person inside; she wants to choke the life from their bodies as if there's no soul inside. To tell the truth, she's better than they are. If she shot them, they'd hurt for an instant; when they rape her -- and it is rape, even when they take the trouble to please her -- her whole soul aches afterward, and sometimes her body too.

So when she finally stumbles across a customer stupid enough to store his ship's access codes in his communicator, she doesn't feel guilty about killing him in his sleep. He's just a thing in her way. So's the guard at the end of the corridor, the other whore who's about to sound the alarm, the two technicians watching the entrance to the docking bay. Then she's in his ship, on the edge of Orion space, with enough raw ore in the hold to bargain her passage to wherever she wants to go. Two vessels hover at the edge of sensor range. One is a Klingon pirate ship with a crew so coldblooded it puts the Syndicate to shame, but since the Klingons see no honor in forcing anyone to fuck, she'd be happy to join them. The other is a Vulcan diplomatic vessel, and she knows the Vulcan High Command will offer asylum to anyone with logical need of it. She also knows that people who live by logic live without the greed, lust, and envy that made her a slave for a decade.

For the first time in her life, both the choices are good ones, and when she decides, she doesn't think about justice or truth or God or morality. All she cares about is what's good for her. All she cares about is where she'll have the most power.
lsdfsjdkshjs (momentary incoherence)

So, so good. This is very similar to how I picture her escaping, and I love the way you present her choices. As always, your portrayal of Gaila is so believable I can see her in every little inch of it. Awesome.
Thank you! This version of Gaila is a bit darker and harder than the one that usually appears in my journal, so I'm glad the story was still resonant and plausible.
Wow, what an escape story. I like this more calculating, ruthless Gaila. It makes much sense that she'd develop such a disregard for life in certain circumstances after what's been forced on her. It's interesting to think of what that would mean for her future. Thanks for sharing this. :-)
I'm glad you liked this version of Gaila. In a way, I think it's more realistic than the lighter one I've been writing, although I don't know that the two are mutually exclusive. Maybe one is who she'd be after ten years of being treated as less than a person and the other is who she might become after finally learning to trust. I definitely hope to write more exploring the possible transition.
Every time she fucks, she thinks I am making a choice not to kill you instead.

- loved that line. This Gaila is amazing - it makes the carefree girl we see in the movie seem so much more believable. She relishes life because she's been trapped and is now free.

Also, I like that she went to Vulcan. Is that canon somewhere? I've read it in a couple of other fics.
It's my personal canon because I think Vulcan would be the ultimate safe place for someone who'd been abused and exploited. Maybe other people find it appealing for the same reason. Sadly, it's not real canon.
Whoa. This is an awesome, intriguing look at Gaila's past and her motives.

(And now I kind of want an AU where she chooses the Klingons and works her way to the top of the Empire.)
You know, there's nothing that says she didn't choose the Klingons first. Maybe she lived that lifestyle for awhile, saw that she didn't want to live in a world so ruthless, and made another escape. I kind of want to write that story now...
wow. i love gaila to bits and WOW. this fic is intense and gave me goosebumps all over-- really well done, you really just know all the right words and exactly where to put them. ♥
Fantastic! I so love how she took every opportunity available to her, made all the right choices. :)

For all that we think of Gaila as the pretty smiling girl we saw in two scenes, there's this, too. There must be this, because she made the choice between surviving and dying.
I think so too. If we want to believe that Gaila had any sense of agency about her escape, we probably also have to believe that there's some ruthlessness in her. I would really like to explore how she made the transition from that to the character we saw in the film.
Her escape story! Oh man! Powerfully written.

Gaila is so unbelievably tough.
This is perfect and right. This is survival, the way it really works.
Thank you! I think that's true -- she couldn't have survived this without some coldness and ruthlessness.
I love this so much. I loved your other Gaila fics, too, but this is so much more touching. The others are funnier and lighter, which is how she would feel in a better situation, but most of her appreciation for her luck comes from having fought for it, and earned it, and I love how you expressed her thoughts
Thank you so much! I've enjoyed writing the lighter version of Gaila, and she is depicted in the film as a happy, smiling person. But before she got there, she must have been more ruthless and calculating, and I'm glad this characterization works too.