First Draft Excerpt from Measure of Adulthood

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"Starting tomorrow morning, we're going to have you on the same course of study I underwent when I got here. You will spend six hours per day in four instruction blocks. Once you can pass the automated adulthood tests, we'll start training your operant abilities so you can learn how to really use what you've got."

"Why should I do that? I thought you were rich?"

"By the standards of Earth, I am. But that doesn't mean I intend to support you in an eternal childhood. That'd be a waste and a failure on my part as well. Part of being a responsible adult is bringing your children up to be productive adults themselves. It doesn't have to be anything in particular. If you're happy in a menial position for the rest of your life, that's on you. But you will become self-supporting. You'll be fed, you'll be housed, you'll have access to education and anything else you need to become self-supporting, but once that happens, you'll be expected to furnish your own support. Anything else would be a failure by both of us."

I could almost see his dreams of an easy life crashing before his eyes. "But you're rich!"

"You're expecting the Earth culture of the wealthy coddling and protecting their children. We don't do that here, as a result of which family wealth in the Empire generally accumulates. While on Earth, most wealth dissipated in the second generation, most Imperial families continue to build wealth, which contrary to the evil lies still common on Earth today, makes it easier for others to build wealth too. I've only been here fifty Imperial years, but the mean, median, and mode levels of wealth have all at least doubled in that time, and that's with a currency which has remained essentially constant." The Empire was feeling the strain of the war with the fractal demons, but the lot of the average person was still significantly above what it had been when I arrived from Earth.

"Why'd you tell me you're rich if I don't get any of it?"

"Because it's opportunity for you, if only you'll work. You don't have to worry about being charged for room and board, you don't have to worry about how you're going to pay for the education you need, you don't have to worry about paying for adulthood exams to be reinstated, and you'll have opportunities others won't simply because of exposure to wealthy people. If something comes up where you'll do as well as anyone else, why shouldn't they choose you? You want to live life on the edges, or do you want an opportunity to have whatever you want? The fact you're operant gives you easy steps up any ladder you want - if only you'll learn control and self-discipline. The difference in the effort isn't much. Do you want to be the poor schlub who's always worried about next month's rent, or do you want to be able to get into a position where your money earns enough to pay for everything you need and earning more is something you do because you want to, not because you have to?" What he wanted was obvious to me by now - to be paid for existing. But I didn't expect him to admit it out loud.

"I liked that monthly check I used to get."

"For what? I don't see any incurable defects that mean you can't support yourself. The Empire doesn't subsidize sloth or wastrels - that's a shortcut to self-destruction and we know it. There are any number of charities that'll help folks get on their feet, get training for something that lets them support themselves and more, but none of them just hands over money. Nor will I or the family - definitely not the Scimtars and not even my Earth family." I saw the outrage bubbling in his surface thoughts and continued, "It's not about having the money to do it. It's about wasting your life. You may want to be a nothing, but we know you're capable of more. If you had a physical or mental defect, I'd heal you myself - or my husband would, or any number of charities - but the only defect I can see is moral. Which would be fine with us, so long as you didn't hurt others. However, you committed mindrape as well as fraud."

"I didn't do anything wrong."

"I read your file when I signed the Guardianship agreement. It was solidly documented by evidence and your own memory. I'm blue-gold rated, would you like me to check your mind to see if it's been altered? If true, you'd be helping us clean up corruption, and you'd be compensated for what happened to you. Of course, once I was in your mind I could see if you need mind surgery and see that it happened."

"NO!" he shouted, "I'm fine. He stepped in close, looked down, tried to be physically intimidating, "You just leave me alone and get me what I need."

I laughed, "That's what I'm doing. What you want may be to drift through life being supported by others, but what you need is someone who loves you enough to straighten you out." As he tried to loom over me even more, "Trying to intimidate a Fourth Order Guardian with physical size is pitiful. If you push it to violence, you'll never touch me, so there's no element of fear possible. If you learn what I want you to, someday you'll be able to look back and laugh at how pathetic you are. You'll also thank me. The alternative is I turn you back over to Adulthood Services now and off you go to exile for the rest of your life. Good luck as a peasant slave farmer."

"I thought you loved me!"

"I do, but if you're going to act like an entitled child and refuse to learn, I'm wasting my time and I might as well get the pain over with. So what's it going to be?"

"Maybe I'll try."

"Try what?"

"Learning what you want me to."

I popped the hatch, "We're here. Climb down and let's get you a place to stay. Dinner is at eleven thirty - you will be expected to attend daily, to interact with the rest of the family. We'll introduce you to them tonight, but right now let's get you to Ferugio." Speaking of which, I sent Ferugio a message I was incoming with a new resident who needed a new datalink and a training schedule; he told me to come to his office.

Copyright 2023 Dan Melson. All Rights Reserved.

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on August 14, 2023 7:00 AM.

Excerpt from Moving The Pieces was the previous entry in this blog.

Preparations For War Series Overview is the next entry in this blog.

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