Trees adapted to the red soil brimmed with fresh purple needles of the sort that would disintegrate rather than fall. As quickly as they were gone, so were they replaced by fresh buds. Outside the windows of the gondola, the needles danced like waves on water and put her in mind of the artificial beaches of Loma Bay. She had tickets to visit again in two months and was counting the days. It would be two weeks this time—she had finally negotiated those extra two days of paid leave—and she would spend every hour of it on the sand.
She rubbed her hands together, a subtle reminder of the balmy conditions of Loma Bay. It was cold at these altitudes, and no manner of heater could keep the gondola above freezing. This was, ironically, an improvement on the situation. Ten years ago she would have been required to wear an environmental suit, but now she could wear regular cold-weather attire. The atmosphere was absolutely warming up—it was happening faster than anyone had expected…
Even in the darkest moments of the human condition, the desire for freedom and self-determination has never been extinguished. Even in societies which generation after generation kept others in bondage, time has preserved for us the aspirations of slaves seeking liberty and greater control over their fate. Roman society was particularly generous, granting the children of freedmen the full rights of citizenship, an especially coveted status that would enable the numerous descendants of freedmen to enter public life and eventually rise to positions of influence among the highest authorities in the Empire.
Individuals who today state that many slaves were “better off” in their servitude and even that they preferred bondage are sadly deluded, ignoring the evidence of history — and of their own eyes. Human trafficking in the present is simply the latest way of referring to the ongoing slave trade, one which may at times mirror low-wage employment. But any form of compulsive, imposed dependence is itself a form of oppression, and one which unwillingly restricts self-determination is nothing less than slavery. Indentured servitude is another such polite way of expressing the same basic idea, though in this case the promise of freedom is held out as motivation, like a carrot on a stick, but much like the cartoon analogy, the prize is all too often an illusion. Some see this reality, others do not or choose to ignore it, but all work towards a single common goal. Unlike most common goals, however, this particular goal is shared in name only, for despite the fact they all seek the same end-state, they work towards it individually rather than collectively.
At least the sun was out for this particular little charade. How many times now had he done this? Just in the past week he had done at least two of these a day. It was weird, but it made a certain amount of sense. It simply cost too damn much to hold so many of these people in detention centers on the taxpayer’s dime!
Not everyone thought that way, which was why they had started this program—at least, that was his understanding. They kept the vast, at times overwhelming majority of those people they caught, but it wasn’t technically ‘catch-and-release.’