It was late when Lily came in to check on Miri one last time before turning in. She was off shift, so it wasn't something she had to do. In fact, she almost snuck in so that the night shift nurses wouldn't think she was checking up on them. She was please to see that the young woman was fast asleep.
Byrin, as she could see by the dim light of a computer screen, was still at it. She made some rustling noises as she moved this time so as not to startle him. "You're still here," she said by way of greeting.
He glanced up at her, his head resting on a crooked arm. "Yes, and I see you're visiting late."
"Just checking on a friend." She pulled a chair nearby closer and sat down. "The threat is over, Byrin. You've found the anti-dote. Why the late night?"
He pointed at the screen. "Do you see that?"
Lily looked at the readout presented. "I do. It's a virus loaded sample."
"Would you like to know what it is from?"
"That is a sample of our standard vaccine. Routine procedure when someone is born. Out here, the first thing we do when we find one of the exiled communities is vaccinate them. I don't know if it's in all our stock, Conglomerate wide, or it it's just localized to these posts. I also don't know if it's sanctioned or not; either way I don't know who I can trust with this when I go back with Levi."
"Is that going to stop you from backing him up?" the nurse asked quietly.
"Hardly. This is going to shake our foundations more than just a little." Byrin let out a sigh.
"Maybe they need to be shaken," replied Lily.
"Maybe. I just...I don't understand why they are such a hated people."
"No one does anymore. You grew up after the War, remember. A lot of stuff had been shoved under the rug by the time we were born. I remember being told the evil King hated us because God loved us more than the rest. When I was able to leave my outpost for school, I learned the approved message - that Hitler had hated everyone who was different from him and spread that hatred like a disease because he was insane. Like he was the only one who was behind it. They gloss over the fact that it continued years after he died."
"Like they gloss over how long it took for the Regime to be overthrown after the rebellion started. I know."
Lily took a deep breath. "God has almost been wiped out of the public vocabulary, Byrin. Even though you're a superior officer, there is a lot I cannot say to you. Because you never actually asked me why Jews are such hated people, you could very well put me on report for trying to explain. We come from very different backgrounds Byrin. You grew up on the Core World, I grew up on an outpost. Our view of that time of history is going to be different. My family was exiled because they were Christians. Your family, from what I've gathered, managed to stay under radar so long that they forgot. Not enough to rebel when the time was ripe, but enough to forget why they were rebelling beyond the basic human rights."
"Why do you do it then? You could easily leave the Fleet and be a nurse in any hospital."
"Because I enjoy traveling, something I didn't get to do on Beta Talisman. We were planet locked, remember. All the Exile Colonies were. And the regulations that bind us are just as present outside the Fleet as in, they're just less verbalized. The Unified Government that took over after Hitler strove for the freedom of religion that your America used to have, and did it so well that it made it impossible for ANY religion to proselytize. We can be any religion we want, practice it, we just can't share."
There was no bitterness in her voice, just the bland acceptance of the way things were. "It must have been a shock," he commented. "Coming out of Beta Talisman into the Conglomerate Core Worlds."
"Yes, it was," Lily said quietly. "In fact, there were a few years that it messed with my head, and my faith. But my faith held out."
The two sat in comfortable silence as a natural lull fell into the conversation. It was a moment pregnant with possibilities.