Al looked blankly at Hitomi. Hitomi sighed.
“Let me guess,” Hitomi said. “You are from an advanced civilization with a rigidly strict caste system. You were relatively high up in the hierarchy – a position of leadership, where you frequently decided the fates of other people. But the direction of your own life was always in the hands of your own superiors. Now that you’ve been cast out you feel an overwhelming need to do something, but you have no idea what, and you need to find someone who can tell you. But even though you know you have the need to do something, you haven’t been able to put it into terms of needing someone to tell you what to do, because you don’t have the socio-emotional perspective to examine yourself in terms of your needs and desires since that has always been someone else’s responsibility. As a result, you’ve been bumbling along with Hito both because he seems to have taken you into custody and because he, himself, is obviously taking orders from someone – both of which are things you find appealing to an extent you have been unable to fully acknowledge; again, due to your upbringing having crippled your ability for self-examination.
Al gaped at her. “How… how did you know?” she asked. As far as she could tell, Hitomi was the most perceptive Terran she had physically met.
“I am very good at what I do,” Hitomi said dryly. “Plus earth has only had contact with one interstellar empire, so I thought I’d play the odds and go with what I know about that one.”
“What do I do?” Al asked her.
Hitomi sighed. “You’ll have to do what people have been doing for ages: when something comes up you ask yourself what you want, and what’s right, and you act accordingly. And when you don’t know the answer, you find yourself a role model – someone with more experience than you, whose judgment you trust – and you ask yourself what they would do in your place, and then you do that.”
Al tried. She really did. But… “I can’t,” she said at last. And then, because the problem had been spelled out for her and she did know how to delegate, and the concept of ‘role models’ seemed very similar: “My ability for self-examination was crippled by the society I grew up in. What would you do in my place?”
“For now?” Hitomi tossed some clothes to Terra. “Get changed so you can fit in a little better, then settle in to observe until you know enough to make decisions on your own. Don’t do anything that would hurt anyone, and when you’re in doubt – ask me.” She grinned. “See? You’re already on the right track. Oh, and you should have a name. Not a designation. You should probably start thinking about what you want that to be.”
Al blinked. “How about Al?” she suggested.