Last Hope of Humanity... the UFP Exodus fleet
A fence, a fixer, and a con-artist, who just happens to now work for the Bureau of Intelligence.
4: Culture/Tech, Psychology
3: Languages, Brokerage, Bureaucracy
2: Contacts, Alertness, Stealth, Science (Geology), Pilot (bump)
1: Tactics, Agility, Resolve, Close Combat, Communication (space)
Black Marketeer (Special – acts as Military Grade brokerage with wider scope)
Military Grade Bureaucracy
Military Grade Pilot (Bump)
Phase 1: Childhood.
Natashali's homeworld of Kassara was settled by a colonyship of Islamic religious fundamentalists who descended mostly into atavism on the harsh desert planet. Although temperatures on Kassara were on the bare – edge of too cold to be livable, the lack of water on the planet left most of it as empty of anything but dunes of drifting sand (incidentally "kassara" is the Arabic word for "to be in pain"). A very small segment of the population was employed in mining operations for starship fuels – an even smaller segment enjoyed fantastic wealth from this labor. Small commercial centers of fabulous wealth were developed to cater to the very small ruling class and the planet eventually came to be governed by a rigid plutocracy. However, most of the population subsisted as wandering nomads in the chilly dunes, ekeing out a living searching for unfrozen water, driving meager flocks of cold – adapted food/fur animals, and venerating a radical, extremely fundamentalist version of Islam. Much of the mining became obsolete in the last 1,000 years or so due to technological advances but the ruling class was well – invested in the financial business as the fuel needs of the universe changed. At the start of the plague, Kassara was known as a place where anyone could invest (launder) fabulous sums of credits and the local religious strictures on financial privacy would protect the investments from curious competitors and legal authorities. Kassara was an ally of, though independent from, the United Federation of Planets and the Mercantile League of Planets. This independence allowed them to maintain the financial privacy of their banking clients.
(Think of the wealth of Abu Dhabi + the physical setting of the Rub' al Khali, the desert of southern Saudi Arabia, but cold + the banking policy of Switzerland + the religious fundamentalism of Iran.)
Natashali was born to a nomadic tribe, out of wedlock. Her mother should have been stoned to death, along with the babe, but talked her way out of it, and was sold in slavery to another tribe instead. Natashali and her mother lived in abject poverty and misery, prey equally to the tribe that owned them, the harsh environment, and the depredations of the savage nocturnal predators that roamed the area. Her mother died young and Natashali ran away to join a different tribe and kept drifting, using lies, graft, theft, and charm to make her way from the Empty Lands, to the capital city of Samarkand, where she became an expert in the local black market. She worked her way up in various kinds of organized crime as a face, a fence, and a fixer, aided by her considerable charm, grasp of human and alien nature, and skills as a linguist (not to mention a fair amount of sleeping her way to the top). She eventually made it to the point where she could leave Kassara for "business" and vowed never to return – rejecting everything about the culture she was raised in. She took the surname "Haddad" because it's the most common surname on Kassara.
Aspect "You've left me with nothing, but I've worked with less."
Invoke – Natashali (or Natalie, in the Anglicized form) is good at making something out of nothing. She is often the perpetrator of elaborate schemes that involve her selling "nothing" for "something". Her homeworld, Kassara made her very used to life's hardships and she expects the worst sorts of disasters and betrayals.
Compel – Natalie leads a somewhat cursed life. Everything she's ever cared for has been ripped away from her. She just can't seem to hang on to anything that's truly dear to her.
Aspect "I've already been through the desert."
Invoke – Natalie was raised in a very harsh planetary environment. She's physically resilient, used to privation, and can deal with near – frozen temperatures.
Compel – Natalie HATES living in any sort of "rough" environment. Her idea of camping out is staying in a hotel with inferior room service and a shoddy wine list. She is lazy and enjoys her comfort and will go to great lengths to avoid hard work and privation.
Phase 2: Starting Out
One she got to space as a young woman, Natalie worked for various crime syndicates and she specialized in working with non – human black – markets. She became very adept with alien cultures, customs, languages, and financial systems. She also gained renown among the Mercantile League of Planets working on legitimate trade deals as a consultant doing legal work. She met an unimaginable welter of persons who formed her own network of contacts and she moved expensive goods from one system to the next, taking a little skim off the top as a very – reasonable fee for both legal, semi – legal, quasi – illegal and completely illegal shipments. Eventually, she became a free agent, a consultant, a negotiator, and a troubleshooter – for – hire rather than working for any one criminal organization or government as a dedicated resource. Most of her dealings were relatively polite, but the Art of the Deal necessitates that some parties were very displeased with the results.
Aspect "I know a guy… and he knows me."
Invoke – Natalie did business with a lot of different folks as she was making her way up the food chain of organized crime and interstellar business. Her little black book of contacts is diverse and extensive. Many of these contacts have been neutralized by the plague.
Compel – There are an unspecified number of people, organizations, and even governments who'd like to even some scores with Natalie.
Aspect "¡Yo hablo!"
Invoke – Natalie has made a concentrated study of as many languages as she can. She can often couch terms in people's native languages, and help them understand and trust her.
Compel – Because Natalie knows so many languages, and because so many people know she knows obscure languages, people are all the time coming to her with documents that they want translated, or other translational duties.
Phase 3: Moment of Crisis
Very few illustrious criminal careers are not subject to the occasional legal entanglement. She'd been brokering a deal for some very – illegal weapons to be delivered to freedom – fighters on an Azuriach Imperium world (Lago Majore). She'd hired a crew of semi – legal mercenaries led by "Aleks" (whom she thought was merely a well trained muscleman and infiltrator) to penetrate a GSSR orbital factory (Niska Station) to steal a large cargo of guns. The run was fraught with problems, including some sort of malfunction that caused Niska Station to undergo catastrophic depressurization after the mercs left. Ostensibly, the guns would be traded to the freedom fighters in return for a valuable cargo of "biologicals", the fur – bearing novomink that were one of the famed luxury exports from Lago Majore. Due to a translational difficulty on the part of one of her groundside subordinates, Natalie Haddad found herself in possession of a very large cargo of human slaves instead.
After a series of misadventures, near – misses, and raw deals, Natalie was faced with a choice. Her first option was that she could use the one escape pod to land on Lago Majore and leave by alternate means while allowing her damaged spacecraft to burn up in the atmosphere killing everyone aboard. Her other option was that she could be taken into custody by combined police forces from the Azuriach Imperium and GSSR who would return the slaves to Lago Majore. In an inspired piece of diplomatic treachery, she managed to get the GSSR and Azuriach Imperium to give her to the UFP in a prisoner exchange and get the slaves asylum in The Mercantile League. However, the GSSR had connected her to the explosion of Niska Station and reneged on the deal, and decided to have her "forcibly debriefed" to extract her knowledge of trade and culture and then summarily executed for Destruction of Public Property and Crimes Against the Mother State. She was "rescued" into custody of the UFP by "Aleks" only to discover that he was a well – placed black ops specialist for the UFP who had used her to get into the GSSR station so he could destroy it! She appreciated that she'd been played, and took it with good humor, as Aleks had rescued her from great unpleasantness at the hands of the GSSR.
The UFP had her dead – to – rights on a human trafficking charge, but she figured that she would have an easier time dealing with the UFP rather than the GSSR or Azuriach Imperium. She was stunned when Ale'kxan Ekelo showed up as one of the UFP operatives assigned to take her in to custody.
As a prisoner of the UFP she was given a simple choice: join the service or rot in prison for the rest of her natural life for human trafficking. She didn't have to think about it for long.
Aspect "Hard choices"
Invoke – In every crisis, there are choices. Sometimes, even horrible disaster can be mitigated by taking an alternate choice.
Compel – Sometimes, that alternate choice isn't much better than the original disaster. Somehow, she ends up having to make horrible decisions where both alternatives are still pretty bad (a la BSG).
Phase Four: In the Service
In the UFP, Natalie was assigned, theoretically, to work in the Contact Services & Diplomatic Corps though given her extrajudicial background, she actually reports to the Bureau of Intelligence (and they have never particularly trusted her, but have found her to be quite useful). Her job description didn't really change from her life of crime. She made deals, some of them are way under the table, but they all somehow benefited the Bureau and the UFP. She also ran a pretty extensive black – market operation which made her extremely wealthy.
In the Contact Corps, Natalie was competing with both low – grade psychers and empaths. She was given a low rank in comparison to the gifted members of the corps. She resented them because she felt they didn't have to work as hard as she did and they didn't like her because she was still reporting to the Bureau of Intelligence (as well as a native of an extremely backward non – UFP world). Intelligence had Natalie set up black markets in several war zones, to broker deals to gain supplies for critical missions when the operations and quartermaster divisions would not supply them, and to also disrupt enemy economics. In more than one case, she was set up to fail by both the Contact Corps and BRINT (Bureau of Intelligence). However, Natalie had worked for far worse masters than BRINT before, and she was adept at finding ways to either get out of trouble, to push the blame onto someone else, or to leave absolutely no trail.
At one point, she was assigned to use economic warfare to break up a large organized crime syndicate (the Nelimari) that was operating virtually unchecked in UFP space. She set up a UFP officer as a patsy to take a large amount of cash from the Nelimari Syndicate in a high – stakes gambling event. She bribed and blackmailed enough people to cheat so that the officer would win, but by only just enough to be plausible. She knew the Nelimari would be forced to make some hard financial choices afterwards and she planned to use that to her great advantage. What she didn't count on was that the officer, a distinguished hero of the service known as "Peace", has also arranged a pretty serious cheat of his own, involving using viral techniques to alter some of the probability targeting software of the attendant robots that handled the cash transactions and that were running the game. Between the two cheats, Peace cleaned out the Nelimari and even somehow convinced them to pay up, completely depleting their financial resources in the sector! The result was far beyond Natalie's wildest projections – she would be able to complete this assignment for BRINT as a crushing success. She quickly realized that the Nelimari would be after Peace's hide and set up a personal extraction for him, spiriting him off the station on a deluxe luxury corvette packed with champagne and roses, as a gesture of her very personal thanks. She was given a promotion as soon as her report was filed, winning her a pay upgrade, and the respect of her peers. Natalie still feels some obligation to Peace, and he's turned out to be quite charming as well as fun and resourceful. She keeps in contact with him frequently.
Aspect BRINT's Bitch
Invoke – Natalie works in the contact corps, but it's an open secret that BRINT holds her leash, via that little matter of human trafficking over Lago Majore. Because she works for BRINT, she has access to a lot of really good dirt on nearly everyone.
Compel – Did I mention that BRINT is holding her leash? They have a choke collar on the end of it! While she's given a lot of latitude, particularly in the chaos of the plague, when BRINT tells her to do something, her options are to comply, or to rot in jail, or worse, be extradited to the GSSR.
Phase Five – Dealing with the Plague
Once the plague hit, most of Natalie's co – workers were infected, culled, or removed because of the threat they posed to all of humanity. Those with any sort of psychic aptitude were the first infected and the greatest danger of infection for others. She moved up the ranks of the Contact Corps extremely quickly, in part because most of her superiors became infected or were quarantined and killed. She is one of the few Contact Corps staff that did it all by wits and charm, and that combination, combined with greasing a lot of hands and manufacturing a few personnel moves, put her on the Exodus fleet. She had to use a great deal of her personal assets to do so – though that wasn't a major loss since most of her wealth was approximately useless given the lack of planetary markets.
Since the plague broke, Natalie has seen what has happened to human society. The weak and fearful are ruled by the knowledgeable and well – armed. She knows what side of that equation she wants to be on! She pulled strings to get assigned to the colonization fleet. Even despite her maneuvering, she's a good choice. She knows the other governments and has dealt with them extensively (the price on her head from GSSR notwithstanding, she has a lot of non – governmental contacts there and with the freedom – fighters among the Azurach Imperium). She knows the alien cultures out there. She's used to getting people to do what she wants them to do and she is more than capable of doing horrible things to achieve her goals… she's got the makings of an effective leader.
Natalie is perceptive enough to know that she's a parasite – and she can't live that lifestyle if there's no humanity to live off of! Her goal is to get as much of humanity and human culture settled on the reservation systems as she can and renormalize life so she can reach a point of security and luxury.
Within the fleet she's got excellent contacts within the civilian and military organizations and she's popular with influential people. The plague destroyed most of her assets, but she's developing a new black market to get people what they need. She's running it more as a break – even operation rather than a wealth – generating machine. Whether that's a business decision that she's made to grow her web of contacts or a personal decision not to extort the fleet is hard to discern, even within her own soul.
Within the Fleet, she's made a request to be stationed aboard the Hiskos, an Oliphant – class luxury liner. Her conversation with the Billeting Officer went something like this:
"By which I mean, sir, it's the only logical place for me to set up shop."
"I'm one of the few licensed professional psychologists in the entire fleet. I'm a scarce resource. I am vitally needed to tend to the fragile hearts and minds of the crews of the Exodus fleet. Post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, anxiety, depression, do you know how much humanity has discovered about psychological first aid (PFA)? Often if someone… if I can be there with the right word, the right compassion, at the right time, then that can avert even more critical problems down the road and that keeps your marines, and your pilots, and your hydroponics engineers on duty and out of the brig and/or out of the padded cells in the Curie. The Hiskos is the only environment in the fleet where PFA can be effectively administered, given that it is specifically not a military ship and one that is commonly viewed as a refuge for the weary."
"Additionally, I'm one of the very, very few xenolinguists in the fleet. The Hiskos is a perfect place to set up a xenolinguistics school on the Hiskos for "immersion study." That way I can teach an immersion class (once I get some subordinate staff) over a week or weekend while the students are on leave from their regular duties."
Aspect – Silver Tongued Devil
Invoke – Natalie has really figured out the military bureaucracy, and she already knew how the criminal and civil bureaucracy worked. She knows just the right word to say at just the right time to get what she wants.
Compel – However, she has a justifiably deserved reputation of someone who is always looking out for herself, so some folks who've heard about her reputation treat her with a measure of distrust.