This article appeared in the January 2012 issue of the magazine
Alma Sunguptra 9A88A6 Age 40 (Other) 6 Terms
Handgun-0, Grav Vehicle-0, Brawling-0, Zero-G-1, Naval Architect-1, Computer-2, Construction-4, Vacc Suit-1, Artisan-2 (Glass blowing), Streetwise-1, Carousing-2, Heavy Equipment-1, Mechanical-2, Electronics-2, Linguistics-1 (Punjabi), Ullamaliztli-3, Follow Vanguard Reaches Storyline-4, Meditate-2
Alma grew up in an old industrial neighborhood, with blocks of non-descript housing hemmed in by warehouses, truck yards, and freight yards, all within a few kilometers of the towering black mass of the Amazonas Surface-to-Orbit Elevator; its shadow falling across the sprawl as if it and the surrounding metroplex were a colossal sundial. The huge column going up, up, past any clouds, forever, until lost from sight, terminated in orbit not tethered to an asteroid as the Borneo Elevator, but instead at gigantic, labyrinthine, Boone Station.
The need for using such elevators to get to orbit had vanished some hundreds of years previous with the introduction of the gravity-defying drive. The monoliths, on the other hand, remained, historic oddities; their role diminished, but 300 years later, still not dead.
Gigantic structures, not surprisingly, require maintenance, and that’s what Mr. Sunguptra did. What the Sunguptra family had done for several generations, in fact. Sometimes the old man would take the kids up, seeing the Elevator from a different perspective, as well as providing an extra set (or three) of hands when tools were required—and on such an ancient structure, tools were always required.
Eventually going-to-work-with-Papa-for-fun on the night shift lost the other kids’ interest, but not Alma’s. She had always been handy, and loved the feeling of satisfaction that came with working with machines.
When young Miss Sunguptra got her first job, instead of working at some touristy restaurant selling t-shirts and novelty drink mugs with overly-long black straws, a Galaxy Pizza, or serving up drinks to Elevator workers at some local place, Alma went to work with her dad. While there were enough spare tools in the house to easily outfit Alma for her first day (or night, rather), her father bought her her first hardhat.
Alma still carries a picture of the two of them ready for that first night’s work, all these years later.
After her dad died, 15 years ago, Alma moved on from the Elevator, and knocked around Old Earth for a while, doing various construction and maintenance jobs. Eventually going offworld, over the last eight years she has worked at a plethora of different jobs and places, having been a shipfitter, an electronics tech, and even a glass blower. She has no “Engineering” skill per se, but could easily make a good maintenance crewmember aboard a ship.
Alma is short, with jet hair braided, medium brown skin, a large nose, and striking hazel eyes. She speaks Punjabi (as does her whole family) in addition to the standard Anglic.
Alma’s interests include unwinding with very cold drinks after a hard shift. If drinking around the time of her dad’s death, she’ll inevitably get blotto, but ordinarily she'll have just a few.
She loves the court ball game Ullamaliztli, (or Ulli, as it is also known) both watching it (she’ll sometimes wear her #14 Jersey—Letti Singh’s number on the Centauri Headhunters), and playing it as well (after which she is inevitably sore and bruised). She carries one of the 3 kilo hard rubber balls in her traveling gear for the chance pick-up game. Her small library of books is held together by a set of bookends resembling a pair of the carved stone rings used as goals in ancient Ullamaliztli games.
Like a lot of people, she is addicted to the Tri-V. In addition to Ulli, she watches “Vanguard Reaches” religiously, and could, if encouraged, share the plot and characters of the show from the time she was about 12 all the way to the present.
Alma may be encountered anywhere.