Character Sketch from a False Start I Made

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The ideas for this character and another associated one have been in the back of my mind for a while. I thought I was going to do a viewpoint shift in my Work-in-Progress, but I've decided to do something different. Nonetheless, I'm probably going to do something with this character eventually


"We have an Empire-wide alert. The fractal demons have begun massive assaults on Imperial systems throughout the Empire. The Empire is now in a state of war. There are no protected areas in this war, and Earth is one of the most exposed planets. The demons have a major marshalling point only seventeen years distant. Be prepared, be alert. We will do our best, but our resources are limited and demonic nobles can appear anywhere and bring troops with them. Your best defense is yourself."

-Announcement made by Brigade Ensign HoshTeremas, commander of Sol system defenses


It caused an almost planetary panic.

Despite the Empire's brutally frank acknowledgements that war was coming, and that it was likely the Earth would be the target of an invasion force the limited numbers of troops in the system would be unable to contain for a century prior to the war, the actual start of hostilities caught almost everyone unprepared.
The hollowed-out brigade assigned to Earth was more than we should have had, by a strict accounting. Even a group - one fourth the troops - would have been generous. But that didn't mean people were ready for what happened.

I was better prepared than most. I'd spent thirty years in the Imperial military. When separated, I'd used part of my savings to purchase my combat suit from the Empire. I'd been strict about keeping it up to maintenance standards in the time since, too, and kept a full load of expendables on hand. When I'd settled near San Onofre, in the old Camp Pendleton Enterprise Zone, I'd even found a group of like-minded veterans and we'd practiced together in the simulators a few times per Imperial year. It was what we had time for.

I had good reason to keep myself in shape, too. I'd become a prostitute.

Pick your damned jaw up off the floor. For that matter, courtesan was probably more accurate. I was born on Earth, and I liked Earth, but I'd learned some of our attitudes were... provincial. By the time I'd been discharged, I had no qualms whatsoever about ignoring them. I wasn't going to be so careless I got pregnant, and a session with a healer could kill any disease known to the Empire - and Momma was a Guardian even if I wasn't, as well as my mentor in 'the business'. If anything had come up, she'd have been happy to heal me - not that it ever did. When first I returned to Earth, I'd had to keep physical side of my operations to the Pendleton Zone and the Channel Islands Military Reservation or south of the border in what used to be Mexico, but when the old United States finally voted to disband, I no longer had even those minimal concerns.

I was valued, too. My base rate was forty luc per Imperial hour, and it was a rare customer I probably wasn't going to see again that didn't volunteer more. I even enjoyed the 'work.' Since Earth was still dirt poor by the standards of the rest of the Empire, my clientele consisted mostly of off-worlders, I lived well on a couple hours 'work' per week - I had a ten prime ififths squared condo on the third-highest level of one of the San Onofre highrises, a four-seat Starbird of my own even though I was only an in-system pilot, and other investments totaling over forty fifths - perhaps nothing special in most of the Empire, but here on Earth I was the equivalent of a billionaire. Most of my customers were here because they were assigned or passing through for some reason either business or charitable. The native churches didn't care for us much, but Imperial Viceroys didn't answer to voters or elections, so those who would have made trouble had seen their power evaporate as thoroughly as all the other old splinter special interest groups who'd thrived off the threat of making fifty-one percent into forty-nine. Served them right. Momma named me Uhura, after a character on an old entertainment before contact. She told me it meant 'freedom,' and I was damned if I was going to fall short of that name. Great-Grandmama might have been an enslaved 'comfort woman' but I chose to do what I did. It suited me for now. Maybe someday it wouldn't - but I had plenty of other skills, and the Planetary Surface forces would be right glad of an experienced Squad Private anytime I wanted - especially now.

So despite over three prime of warnings from the Empire that war was probably going to hit Earth, most of the planet was still dreaming that nothing would ever happen. They said a good definition of humanity was 'an otherwise sentient species known for its unwillingness to plan ahead,' and the reaction proved them right. Near as I can tell, roughly three fifths - two billion plus by the old numbers - tried demanding free passage offworld on Earth's one commercial run that might have held a cube or even two - if they'd jammed 'em in with a shoehorn. Never mind that the destination systems would have been just as liable to get hit. Both the transport company and all the Viceroys laughed at them, of course.

Most of the rest of Earth's fourteen fifths - eleven billion - tried the old adage, 'when in danger or in doubt, run in circles scream and shout.' It was not a pleasant experience for those few of us more inclined to solving our own problems. But I suppose that's why they weren't all rich, and why Earth still absorbed way more charity than planets with four times the people. Close on two Earth centuries since Imperial contact, and the planet was still working through all the crap I remembered from my youth. Damn but we were crazy back then! Almost made the rotten bastards that had enslaved Great-Grandmama in Korea look sane! Least they were willing to work at what they wanted, instead of having it handed to them! Maybe it would've been better if the Empire had just let the old folks die off, instead of healing them all and giving them another life. But since that saved Momma and got her training as a Guardian, I'm just as glad they didn't

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on September 8, 2020 7:27 AM.

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