Susanna's Story: Ch4
Friday, September 24, 2004

Backstory for YoSaffBridge prior to OMR


A/N: This chapter is a belated birthday fic for CassieE---I kept promising to get back to YoSaff, but had to wait on her fickle muse first. Thanks to Neroli for the excellent beta work.

I'm using the timeline from with slight modifications.

Ch3: Just a Girl Making a Living

Chapter 4: Moving Up in the 'Verse (or Role of a Lifetime)

2513, Age 20 Susanna, or rather one Sandra Bridges as her current false identification papers named her, looked around Jiangyin's small dockyard. Having been unable to pull off a con large enough to establish a sizeable nest egg, she needed another score soon. However, she wasn't going to be rushed into any scheme or partnership without planning. Unless the right opportunity presented itself of course, she thought to herself as an older man approached her with a kind smile.

Carefully schooling her features to make the most of her rain-soaked condition and low-class attire, she turned her attention to the mark. Definitely older, she'd almost hazard a guess at beyond sixty if not seventy years old. His wrinkled face showed kindness, but Sandra could detect no glitter of senility in his bright blue eyes. His silver hair was still thick and his clothes…oh my, his clothes indicated that he had lots of money that he still hadn't bestowed on his heirs.

She curtsied when he approached to shield her with his umbrella from the gentle but constant rain that fell. "Excuse me miss, are you waiting for someone or do you need help finding a particular destination?" he queried kindly.

Sandra carefully tried to hide the tears she produced as her lips began to tremble. "No, no sir. Perhaps if you could direct me to a cheap boarding house?" She could tell by her mark's discomfort that she'd chosen just the right approach.

"There, there, don't cry," the older man said as he motioned for one of his footman to cover her with a coat. "Tell you what miss, why don't I buy you a warm drink while you dry off and then we can see to your housing?"

"Oh I couldn't," she protested.

Her mark chuckled. "No need to worry about your virtue with me young lady. You simply remind me of another young woman I once met in need of a friend. I didn't take advantage of her, and I doubt you have much to worry about from me nowadays. Now then, shall we Miss?" he asked as he offered his arm.

"Bridges, Sandra Bridges," she replied as they walked a short distance to a nearby saloon.

"A lovely name. Holden Mathers at your service. Now then, here we are. Pu, if you could get us some warm drinks," he instructed his servant as he directed Sandra towards a table. The tavern was just as dark and musty as most while being upscale enough that Mathers didn't look out of place.

Sandra smiled with relief when Pu returned with two cups of coffee. The distraction bought her time to think on the details of her story which would most appeal to her would-be savior. Some things might need to be changed depending on his reactions. Since the war, it had become even more important to quickly judge the sympathies of marks that weren't easily identified as pro-Alliance or Independent. For safety, she decided to balance her tale of woe.

"Now then, why don't you tell me what would drive an intelligent woman such as yourself to a barely civilized Rim-world, and without any luggage to speak of?" Mathers asked once their drinks had been properly settled.

Sandra's hands began to shake violently. Mathers rescued the cup of coffee before she burned her skin. "There, there. I didn't mean to upset you."

Sandra grabbed the napkin to dry her face. She had him eating out of her hand now. "I'm sorry, I'm not normally such a weepy. It's just thinking on it all now that I finally made it here, it hits me all over again."

Sandra struggled to compose herself somewhat. "You see, it had always been Earl's - my fiancé - and my dream to come to Jiangyin to homestead. My parents didn't approve, thought I was marrying below myself. So they sent me off to school in the Core hoping that time and distance would get us to reconsider." Sandra voice began to crack as she continued. "They didn't get to see if their plan worked though. We…They lived on Zeus."

"Oh, dear child!" Mathers responded sympathetically as he handed her a handkerchief.

"Earl tried to send me what money he'd saved before he joined up with the Independent's, but I'd already been moved to a camp by then since I didn't have any Core ident papers. I only found out a month before they released us that he'd died at Hera," she finished as she began to sob softly again. "Decided that since I had nothing and no-one left, I'd at least try to honor the memory of what we had planned to do."

Mathers remained silent for some time after she finished her tale. Sandra began to worry that she'd overdone it or that he'd been offended. To cover her nervousness, she sipped her coffee as she watched him.

After several spans of minutes had passed, the old man finally nodded to himself. "My late wife would haunt me till my last day if I let you go to a boarding house and attempt to eek out a living. If you like, there is a position open in my house. In a few months, if things work out, you could even begin to take some lessons or learn a trade at our local school. It would enable you to start saving money for a stake of your own while getting established in the community," he offered.

Sandra nodded as she considered how to accept the offer. Would it be more fitting for the role if she pretended to not want the charity of others? No, most likely this geezer would nod politely and leave her to make her own miserable way in the world. "That's so kind of you. I don't know how I could ever repay your generosity."

Mathers waved to his servant as he answered. "Nonsense child. There is nothing to repay. This Alliance will never survive if its citizens cannot let the past be the past. We've all suffered in it and I made it through without too much sacrifice. The least I can do is to give a leg up in the world to a young woman who has lost so much more than I."

This job was boring her out of her mind she decided. There was no way that she could steal enough to buy her way off planet though. And there was no way that Sandra could stay on Jiangyin after betraying the old man - over half the planet thought that the sun and moon rose and set on his will alone. Which, given the politics of the planet, was the truth. Mathers controlled most of the industry on Jiangyin and not out of Alliance given control. No, he'd used his own money to start up Jiangyin's ore processing facilities as well as several of its manufacturing plants. From what Sandra had gathered, he'd invested all of his small inheritance in his holdings when he was younger. As a result, the citizens of the planet felt that he was one of them rather than the rich fob that he was.

Genius really, the old fool would make a great con artist. He certainly had the locals happy enough at the chance to work for him in any capacity available. Sandra ended her train of thought abruptly when she nearly dumped her tray of drinks on a well dressed man standing directly behind her. He smirked at her as he helped to steady the tray. "So sorry sir," Sandra apologized. "I didn't see you."

"And I could not help but to see you from across the room," the stranger complimented. "It is a breath of fresh air on this backwater planet."

Sandra stood dumb for a moment. Amazed that the guest had taken notice of her, she was surprised by Mathers approach which saved her from forming a response. "Atherton, I told you to mingle, not to interfere with the servants. Svetlana is waiting to hear about your travels since your graduation," the old man instructed.

The youth, Atherton, rolled his eyes. Sandra suppressed a giggle at his antics. "Yes, of course Uncle." Giving Sandra a small bow, he quickly left the two alone.

"I apologize if Atherton was a boor to you little one. My nephew unfortunately thinks very highly of himself and believes his rank entitles him to any woman he sees fit to choose."

Sandra nodded. She had been surprised that the well dressed man had spoken to her, let alone complimented her. That was one characteristic of the rich and noble that was true the 'Verse over – they rarely, if ever, noticed the servants beneath them. "He didn't get the chance to be boorish, sir."

Mathers sighed. "Good. I'll see to it that he stays out of your way during his visit. I'd be beside myself if he drove you out of the house."

Sandra grumbled moodily to herself as she answered Pu's summons. One problem with being a servant for this con was having to act like one. This meant that if the majordomo summoned her early in the morning on her day off, she had to answer. It was definitely time to find an angle and get gone. A large payout just didn't seem very important when she was bored to tears every day. Not to mention, the payout would have to be incredible to justify the fact that her hands now had calluses!

"Ahh, Miss Sandra, so sorry to wake you so early," Pu greeted with just the hint of an accent. "Mathers told me that you met the esteemed Mr. Atherton Wing last night?"

"Briefly, nothing of note happened. Mr. Mathers seemed very concerned though."

Pu nodded. "Mr. Mathers' nephew has caused a bit of trouble for some of the girls in the past. Our employer wishes to ensure that nothing of the kind happens for you. So should Wing approach you again, please inform me at once."

Sandra nodded. "Of course."

Pu sighed. "Unfortunately, I am sure it will happen again. The boor is scheduled to stay with us for an entire month." Pu waved the matter away with his hand. "Be that as it may, that's not the principle reason I called you here. Mathers' wishes for you to take on more responsibility in the household as well as to begin some studies if you wish." Sitting he gestured for Sandra to do the same. "I understand you have some familiarity with finance so you'll be assisting Mathers' attorneys. Is there any type of class in particular that you wish to take?"

Sandra had no trouble in expressing the appropriate emotions of surprise and happiness at this news. After two months of menial labor, she was finally being given a job in which she might be able to engineer an appropriate payoff. Pulling her thoughts from the distractions of money, she focused on Pu's last question. "Actually, I've decided that I don't want to ranch like I'd originally planned when I came to Jiangyin. Are there any classes in engine repair available?"

Pu nodded. "The local technical school offers several I believe. I'll ask for brochures to be delivered."

Sandra left the room smiling. She could ignore the calluses for a while longer.

"You understand that everything you see and hear will be confidential?" asked F.C. Sylvester, one of Mathers' lawyers.

Doing her best to stay calm in the face of the man's condescending manner, Sandra opted to curtsy as she answered so that she could hide her expression. "Of course, Mr. Sylvester.

"Hmmph…I still think this is a poor idea, but then Mr. Mathers is not known to listening to those who disagree with him."

Sandra rolled her eyes discreetly. All she had heard from the pretentious Sylvester was how her new position was a bad idea. Sylvester was still annoyed that Mathers had refused to accept one of Sylvester's many bastards for the position. Her boss might be old, but he wasn't dumb enough to allow one man or family to have too much control over his assets.

Sylvester's face assumed a more respectable expression as Mathers breezed into the room. "Pu mentioned that you needed to see me during your visit F.C. What has your britches in a twist now?" Sandra nearly choked on her water; apparently Mathers shared her low opinion of his own lawyer.

"Yes sir. Your will still needs to be updated in light of.."

Sylvester was cut off by a gesture from Mathers. "I am well aware of recent circumstances F.C. and am not senile enough to need to be reminded of them," Mathers stated icily.

"Still sir, it would be a grievous mess should anything happen to you without making the appropriate changes. You know the Wings would delay all bequeathments to your servants if the will is not airtight which…,"

"Which means picking a new heir for the majority of my estate as dictated by Alliance law," Mathers cut in.

"Yes sir," the lawyer replied.

Mathers sighed heavily as he stared into space. These developments were news to Sandra. Surprisingly she had not overheard any gossip about a lack of an heir for the estate. "I will inform you when I am ready to make the changes F.C. Until then, I expect that I will not be summoned to discuss this matter again. Dong ma?"

F.C. frowned, but nodded wearily. "Of course."

Slowly, a plan began to form in Sandra's mind. A few well placed questions had informed her of the nature of the demise of Mathers' former heir. Mathers and his wife had been childless and neither were close to their families. In fact, Mathers' dislike of the Wings, the family which his wife's sister had married into, was legendary. As a result, none of the estate had been designated to go to a blood relative. Instead, a number of current and former employees were to receive small gifts.

Apparently his heir had been the son of his first majordomo. Unfortunately, the poor boy had gone and gotten mixed up with the Independents during the war. The notification of the boy's death arrived a year before Sandra. Mathers' continual delay in specifying a replacement caused his lawyers no end of fret. Of course, it presented Sandra with a golden opportunity. All she needed was the perfect plan…

Atherton Wing smiled wolfishly at the young red-head in front of him. Normally his uncle had atrocious taste in women, preferring that his servants be loyal rather than pleasant on the eye. This time though he had outdone himself. Atherton rather thought that the young girl might be able to compete with some Companions. Her legs, her skin all were beautiful, but there was something else about her as well.

He'd been surprised to receive a message asking him to meet her after the performance his uncle had put on. He'd decided that the girl was probably some poor orphan from one of his uncle's less fortunate friends. Or knowing the old coot, even the bastard child of some dead Independent who had been a faithful servant. Either way it didn't matter, she definitely had the potential to distract him during his little vacation on this backwater moon.

"So, you wished to see me?" Atherton asked as he circled her waist with his arms and nuzzled her neck. His excitement quickly turned to pain and anger as her heel came down on his instep and he found himself pushed roughly backward. "You little bitch," he yelled as he landed hard on the ground.

"Oh Atherton, you shouldn't be so forward," the servant replied as she quickly straddled him. Atherton found himself struck dumb in amazement. How dare this little tramp think she could push him around!

"After all, you wouldn't want your uncle to hear about how you've mistreated me," she threatened as she leaned forward. "It certainly wouldn't help your chances to become his heir," she purred.

Her words finally pierced the fog of his anger. His uncle's heir? "Indeed," Atherton replied. "And exactly how would this miracle happen?"

The servant, Sandra he managed to recall, smiled flirtatiously at him. "Simple honey, we'll become engaged," she whispered in his ear.

"Engaged?" he protested as he pushed her off of him. "My dear, I think you've gotten sun-sickness. I can't think of anything that would induce me to lower myself to.."

"Watch yourself Ath. Every time you insult me, my share of your uncle's estate gets bigger," Sandra warned darkly. The young lordling's pride was bigger than she'd imagined. When she conceived her idea, it seemed an easy task to appeal to the young man's greed. Atherton's attitude quickly enlightened her as to the origin of his uncle's bad opinion of the sod though.

Speaking of which, the poor boy did look a tad endearing as his mouth gave its best impression of a fish. "Shut your trap Ath, you'll catch flies." Laughing at his added indignation, she continued. "Oh please, get over yourself already. I've heard it all you know. How dear old Uncky Holden and his wife made every attempt to save his sister-in-law's children from the horrid Wing manners. And then, when they perceived that they had failed, they wrote all of you out of the will." Sandra smiled coldly at him. "Know what I've discovered Ath? Being a servant has its appeal. After all, as it stands now, I'll get more money than you will when the old coffin dodger finally kicks it."

Sandra crawled over the wet grass towards him. She needed to finish this quickly before the sun rose and her shift started. "Just think Ath, go along with this plan and you can succeed where your family has failed."

His face lost a bit of the disgusted look it had assumed when she had started her proposal. "Yes, but I'll still have a low born wife."

"I said we had to get engaged Ath, I never said anything about getting married."

TBC in Chapter 5: Courtship


Sunday, September 26, 2004 10:33 PM


Good story! And quite well written. I like the twining of settings and characters already established.

So... if I were to say my birthday was coming up, could I get a new chapter of "Camouflage"? Two chapters, maybe??

Monday, September 27, 2004 4:09 AM


Interesting idea for how Saffron got to know so much about ships, since I'm certain that sort of thing is not in the curriculum at Whore Academy.

Glad you restarted on this series, as I was starting to wonder if this would be yet another Terminally Incomplete Fanfic.


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