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Cassandra's Story // Project Legacy

Foreword

Cassandra's Story along with other stories archived under Project Legacy scripts were originally for use in the Western Visual Novel, Project Legacy. Since the game's development was halted, the echoes of what might have been live on here.


Cassandra was born in the town of Wurzen in the Leipzig district of Saxony, in Germany. Her birth date is the 9th of April 2443. Her father was a research biologist for a pharmaceutical research company, although retiring shortly after she was born. Her mother however is somewhat younger, and left her career as a nurse to raise Cassandra. Due to her father having a somewhat prominent position in the research company he worked in, he was rather wealthy compared to many others in his field. This allowed Cassandra to have a unique upbringing compared to many she grew up in close proximity to. She attended a private boarding school when she became a teenager, lived in a relatively large home considering there were only three of them in the household – despite this they did have a chef living in with them.

The early years of her life are strangely the ones she remembers the most, likely due to her spending all of her time from age 11 onward separated entirely from her family. Her mother was extremely loving and passionate, and the two of them often spent their time on their acres playing with their dogs, and at night they would often hold family barbecues on the patio – just the three of them. She has little to no knowledge of her extended family, as she grew older she discovered the reason for this. The relationship between her mother and her father was never formalised with a marriage, mainly because of her father having a fear of commitment, and her mother never pressing the issue. The rest of Cassandra’s family on her father’s side took massive offense to this, being a traditional family with values to match. Her father’s position refused to change, and her mother went on without caring. Over time her father drifted away from his parents, and then his family. Considering his time was already split between his woman and his work, this bothered him little – there’d been an enmity between him and his parents for some time anyway. When Cassandra was finally born, it sealed the fate of her father’s relationship with his parents. They could not accept a child born out of wedlock with no intent of a shotgun wedding, and they essentially cut off contact.

Cassandra never really saw a real disagreement between her father and mother. Her father was the stricter more authoritarian, and her mother tended just to fall in line with whatever her father said. This isn’t to say they did not have different approaches to parenting, because they did. But punishment was dealt out by the father, and when Cassandra would come home from boarding school, she was often unruly at first. She would quickly remember the way things were however, and recognise that the new habits and behaviour she picked up from her friends at school were simply unwelcome in her home. This largely shaped Cassandra’s character, she made the connection that just because the majority do something doesn’t make it a positive thing to emulate, and as a result of the disconnect between her parents attitude and the behaviour exhibited by her friends, she developed her own mentality. She learned that just because you feel you can say something doesn’t mean it needs to be said – and went on to heavily implement this in her life, seeing the alternatives as being obnoxious or being two-faced. Naturally neither appealed to her.

Growing up she developed a strong taste for both classical music and jazz. The former coming from her father – he would often refer to it as ‘the great lost art form’, and jazz came from her early years dancing in the lounge with her mother. The synthetic-sounding tunes her friends would often listen to sounded repulsive to her, however she understood that she was one of the few people left in the world who actually owned a musical instrument. She had no idea how to play her violin, all she knew is it was worth significantly more than their house, and that was saying a lot. She would often pick it up and emulate the playing style that she had seen in films, but nothing more than a screech came out of it. There were no violin teachers due to the prohibitively expensive price just to own one, and finding material to learn from was as rare as gold dust.

Her boarding school experience is best explained by her. As she would put it – ‘I have never had as much respect and distaste for a people as I did for those who were responsible for teaching me.’ This isn’t to say she has a dislike for authority, the opposite is true actually. She rather means that although she highly respected those who instructed her, she could never understand why their methods were so harsh and illogical. An example of this is when Cass first confessed she would rather work alone than in a group, not because she didn’t have friends or didn’t like people – she just found it more efficient this way. Her tutor responded with ‘Cassandra, antisocial people never get anywhere in life.’ Cass found this to be one of the most ignorant and assuming responses to her requests, but that never stopped her requesting. Time and time again she would explain an alternative method of getting something done and the response was always to do with her character. She eventually came to the conclusion that free-thought is something to be punished and reprogrammed, which led to her nurturing her own world view even more. As a result, she refuses to read a newspaper with any form of bias, watch mainstream television news reports or open a history book written by someone she hasn’t looked into. Her father was extremely proud of her developing these habits, and to a degree even assimilated them himself.

Cassandra is a mathematical wizard, a talent she gained from her mother oddly, rather than her father. She remembers being very young and answering and endless series of increasingly difficult flash cards held up by her mother. It is quite evident that her mother desired to make Cass a genius, with varying degrees of success. Schoolwork based around the sciences and mathematics was not a problem for her in the slightest, and when her mother discovered that she was growing ‘bored’ with the work, the first thing her mother did was install university grade teaching software on Cass’s laptop. Because of this the level of her proficiency at maths skyrocketed. She had understood calculus, cryptology and differential equations by age 15. Her school had no idea what to do with someone like Cass on their hands, and rumours were spreading throughout the school that Cass was saying the teachers were incompetent and barely understood the work they were trying to hand out. Every rumour has some truth to it, and this was no exception. Cass and her parents were brought together and it was eventually decided that Cassandra had to leave the school. When you attend one of the wealthiest boarding schools in the country and they are told they are incapable, things like this tend to happen.

Her father did not understand. The child he had raised who seemed to be turning out like him in all the right ways had ruined her own career, in his eyes at least. Her mother attempted to calm him down and explain Cass had other options, such as early enrolment in university, and this is when Cass realised that she didn’t want to be funnelled into more education. She believes if you are capable of learning it on your own then you don’t need a teacher, and she voiced this opinion. The rest of that night was a long drawn out three way argument between her father, mother and Cass. Her father eventually said that he could not cope, and her mother was just lost in the shuffle so ended up siding with her father. They decided they were going to take a week away from Cass into the city and live in a hotel for a while to think Cass’s next move through. Hearing this, Cass just nodded her head and went to her room. It was at this time she first learned that hiding your true feelings to avoid confrontation is a formidable avoidance tactic, because truthfully Cass wanted to explode at their decision. After she had just spent hours explaining that she wanted to be in command of her own future, they decided they would plan it for her – and to add insult to injury, Cass wouldn’t even be present whilst they did. She swallowed her anger, curled up on her bed with her laptop and ended up staring at the screen. She couldn’t play classical music because all that would do is remind her of her father. She couldn’t play jazz music because that would remind her of her mother. It was a night of a series of realisations for Cass. First she’d figured out what she wanted to do, then she realised the easiest way to behave, and now she had realised how similar – yet different she was to her own parents. So she spent the rest of the night indulging in research, figuring out how she would spend the rest of her life.

It was after some time she happened upon piloting. She first considered pursuing mathematics or a science further but her fear of turning into a female version of her father prevented this. So she looked at career after career until she discovered aerospace engineering. It was too much theory and not enough practice for her, so the next logical step was piloting – and she was amazed. It was essentially applied mathematics, to her at least. It was still wartime, and although it hadn’t spread too deeply into her country yet, she knew that the air force would be begging for new recruits. So she had her plan, and all that was left to do was forward the motion to her parents.

The opportunity never really came. The ‘week’ her parents spent evaluating turned into a month, and that turned into three. The bi-weekly phone call making sure their daughter was okay was just that. They may as well have sent a courier with the money for the chef and a check box question ‘Are you alive, yes or no?’ Cass wasn’t exactly one for isolation however, so over this period of time she and the chef had the most interesting conversations. They talked about everything from music to politics and especially the war. It turned out the chef was an exile of North Korea. He’d refused to be forcibly drafted and luckily for him he knew several high ranking officers through family ties, so they had him exiled rather than executed. They saw eye to eye on a few things. Mainly the resolve to never allow anyone else to turn you into something you’re not.

When her parents finally returned after their 3 month hiatus from their daughter, Cass had already enlisted and had a date to begin her initial training. Her parents said hello and Cass was ready to make her goodbyes. Her parents began with sitting her down and informing her of how much they loved her, and told her that she would be moving to America to study at Harvard. All Cass could do was laugh, if only they knew. Her parents took it as a sign that she was pleased and the conversation ended on a peaceful note. The calm before the storm, she figured.

The feeling Cass had over the next couple of weeks was the same sense of dramatic irony one feels when you are watching a play, and you know something that the characters don’t. Her parents fully believed she was ready and willing to go to America and be the best mathematician she could be, whilst Cass was reviewing past military exams so she would be ready for them when they came. Eventually, the day did come when Cass could hold the truth no longer. It was a conversation she had rehearsed, and reactions she had anticipated. The discussion went to plan, as Cass was fairly adept at manipulating her parents – only when they were in the best of moods anyway. She told them she couldn’t go to Harvard, because it wasn’t where she envisioned herself. And she wanted to become a pilot, eventually becoming the captain pilot of a spaceship. Their response was in unison – ‘Well, if that’s what you really want to do darling, then go for it.’ What Cass didn’t know was that her parents were as good at hiding their feelings as she was. Her father disliked both the military and the concept of piloting, seeing it as a duty for irresponsible men who weren’t ready to make a commitment in their lives. The hypocrisy in his opinion is notable. Whereas Cass’s mother couldn’t stop thinking as to how a pilot starts a family and settles down if they are constantly away for months and even years at a time. Despite all this, they kept on wearing their smiling faces and Cass was elated with their response.

Cassandra’s career in the air force was short lived. By the time she had completed her training and then her specialised training, the war was over. However, during her time there she absolutely obliterated every single test and challenge they could throw at her. She had clocked up more hours on the flight simulator than every other academy member by at least a factor of 3. And when she did get those rare opportunities to actually fly, she shone. Her formations were flawless; her manoeuvring was executed on time – every time. And when they finally set her up in a war game with the computer controlled aircraft, she blew them out of the water with her improvised technique. What I haven’t described to you is her height. Cassandra is 5ft 4in tall. Especially by German standards, she is a very small girl. And to say that her peers were jealous of her abilities is to put it very lightly. At every chance they could she was mocked and derided for being short – likely because you couldn’t touch her personality, or her ability. By the time her air force career was at an end she had heard every slur, every height joke and every illogical use of alliteration you can think of. Some of her superiors also would join in on these, and despite how much this angered her inside, she wore a smile on the out. She did have one real friend during her time spent at the academy though, an older girl by the name of Lili – one i. Lili was Cass’s biggest fan, as well as sometimes taking the role of her mother. They had something of a symbiotic relationship; when Lili needed academic help Cass was always there to spend hours teaching her, and when the derisive circles that often grew around Cass became too large Lili was on hand to disperse them with a fiery remark about each and every one of them. Lili was also the editor in chief of the newspaper in the academy, and so Cass’s latest achievement would usually be somewhere on the front page. With Cass’s teaching, and Lili’s steady guidance the pair quickly became to be known as the rising stars of the academy by the higher ups. And so when the opportunity came for Cass to be taken into the American space program due to her obvious talent, she seized the chance. Lili and Cass reluctantly had to say their goodbyes, but they still keep in touch through every medium that allows them to do so. Cass quickly took to America. She considered her time in Houston at NASA as the true beginning of her life, the nature of those in Southern America was not dissimilar to those she knew back home, although she quickly understood that drawing a comparison between them in conversation was not welcome. Cass was never a slouch when it came to preparation, so when she first had been accepted into NASA, she filled her nights with revision of every book she could find about piloting in space and navigation. It is an understatement to say when the time finally came for her to step into spacecraft she was ready. On her first excursion into the solar system Cass served as a co-pilot with one of the most experienced pilots NASA had to offer. Usually the first mission of a rookie would be with someone trained in instructing, but after he had heard of Cass he had decided he had to see the girl in action. He was not disappointed. She handled every task given to her with ease, and her analytical skills were impeccable. For the first time in the history of NASA, for a period on the journey home, the rookie was given the captain’s chair. When the decision was made and allowed, all Cass could hear over the intercom was applause. Her reactionary smile was so wide you could almost hear it expanding, and for the first time in her life she shed a tear out of happiness.

Her and the same pilot who took her out on the first mission quickly became friends soon after. As his pupil, she excelled at NASA. Within three years she was able to fly the highest class of ships available, and was responsible for delivering a team to build a new warp gate. Just as it seemed space had little left to challenge her with, she was informed of the Japanese-American collaboration project. The two countries had been developing a new warp drive for a while; it could cover the distance of the class of warp drive beneath it in less than half the time. So when Cass was offered the opportunity to be the first to test it, all she could do was accept. The ship outfitted with this new technology was very unique. It required four pilots to fly, for redundancy and safety issues. Cassandra and her mentor were the representatives of NASA, and an old bearded man accompanied by a young girl named Nomura were the representatives of the Japanese space program. Cass had no reservations about the older man, but to her the young girl appeared somewhat incapable for a mission of this status. Naturally, she kept these reservations to herself and would let her abilities demonstrate whether her reservations were well founded.

The mission began without a problem, and when the time came for them to activate the warp drive, everyone braced themselves. They arrived at their destination without a hitch and in a faster time than expected, the team were greeted with that same applause Cass had heard on her first mission. The celebration was cut short by the ship seeming to power down first its engines, then its computers and lastly its communication. The result could only be described as professional panic; with the team and the crew all debating as to what was the problem. Between the hypothetical situations the scientists threw at each other, Cass heard a voice repeatedly calling for attention. Cass felt the girl had something to say.

‘Everyone! Please, let her speak.’

The room hushed, and Nomura delivered a concise explanation of the likely problem. She drew the conclusion that the warp drives had essentially caused an EMP from the evidence that the journey was over too quickly. The crew got to work with Nomura’s instructions and none too soon; the ship was restored to its full capabilities. It was then that Cass realised Nomura did have something special, remarkably few people have strong analytical ability under pressure.

The pilots and the crew returned home to a relatively large welcome party, considering how few people actually knew of the mission’s existence. It was Cassandra’s mentor that decided to slip out from the party unseen and celebrate with their Japanese counterparts. They all gathered together into a quiet 24/7 bar, and amused each other with their own recounting of the story and their feelings at the time. Rather than sending the Japanese pilots back to meagre accommodation, the male pilots went to Cass’s mentor’s home, and Cass took Nomura back to her place. They spent the night enthused in conversation and the following morning they promised to keep in touch.

Over the next few months, news spread of the mission. All four of the pilots involved received offer after offer from everyone with a space program – and even some without. Nomura eventually called Cass to talk about her options, interested in what Cass was planning on doing. Truthfully, Cass didn’t really know what she was going to do, when she planned ahead she did it for years at a time, and her next planning stage hadn’t happened yet. Over the course of that phone call it became evident to Cass that although piloting was definitely both her passion and her future, she was only pursuing half her dream. Applied intelligence, but lack of freedom. Nomura asked Cass what her parents thought about these recent developments, and it was only then that she realised she had not heard from her parents in at least half a year. The thought ended up stifling her, and she couldn’t continue the conversation.

She took a leave of absence for the first time in her life, to visit home and talk to her parents. The weeks of planning her trip as well as the journey itself left her exhausted, but excited to finally go home. When she arrived, knocking on the door revealed an altogether different family than she was expecting. She was told the house had been sold on a year ago, the door was closed, and that was that. The walk down the drive was a whirlwind of emotion. Rage turned to depression turned to rage. She opened the door to her rented car, sunk her face into the steering wheel and cried. The last time she saw her parents they were wishing her the best of successes in her career, and the last time she spoke to her parents they sounded genuinely interested as to what she was doing. It became apparent to her for the first time that he ability to hide her feelings was just another trait she had inherited from her parents.

She spent a month in Germany collecting herself, and thinking over her next move. She came to the decision to leave her formal career at NASA and accept her first private offer. However, she also wanted more time to herself, she certainly had the money to kill time – what with the large sums of money her parents had transferred to her the last time they spoke, as well as the healthy paycheques she had been saving. She could probably afford to keep her house, feed herself and entertain herself for the next 5 years. A month or two was all she needed. Before she left Germany she caught up with Lili, and confided in her with what had transpired. Ever supportive, Lili reassured her and told her she’d never be alone because Lili was here for her. Cass figured Lili understood, considering Lili was an orphan.

When she got home, her mailbox was almost overflowing with letters promising money in exchange for skilled piloting. Her answering machine was much the same, as well as her email inbox. She went through what she received and sorted it into piles of people she’d tell to wait, and people she’d outright refuse. All that was left to do was head into work and inform them of her resignation. So the next day, she did just that. Her peers and her superiors were upset, but accepting. The only person whose opinion she wanted to hear was that of her mentor.

He took her aside and told her he was proud of her ability to see things so clearly. He himself would have liked to be able to do the same thing, if it was not earlier in his career and he did not have a family to provide for. They then parted ways, and Cass has not seen him since.

After she spent her time recuperating, she decided to take a fresh look at the offers she had received. Among the first of these was Nolan’s request. She’d heard his name mentioned a few times during the war, although she was somewhat dubious about his nature – considering no-one seemed to have a negative word to say about him, his offer was the one that interested her the most. So she contacted him. A couple of weeks later, Nolan arrived at her home. They discussed the details of the mission, who had been decided upon and who still needed to be assigned. It seemed most of the crew were already filled out, likely because it had taken her over a month to respond. The three crew spots left to be filled were an engineer and both pilots. After discussion, lunch and more discussion, Cass accepted the position. Nolan’s other pilot he had planned for the mission fell through, so he asked Cass for a recommendation. Cass immediately thought of Nomura and called her on the spot, putting her on speakerphone. Nomura didn’t need as much convincing as Cass and a verbal agreement was soon formed with Nolan promising to send Nomura a contract as soon as possible. Shortly afterward, Cass signed her contract and the deed was done.

On the ship, Cass and Nomura get along like a house on fire. Cass is to Nomura as Lili is to Cass, albeit in a slightly different manner. And Nomura is one of the few people that can actually make Cass laugh. As for Cass’s relationships with the rest of the people on the ship, she tends to keep them at arm’s length. She didn’t join the crew to make friends, but her attitude is somewhat coloured by her experience in the Air Force. Although, her and Danielle do get along rather well as she reminds her of Lili somewhat.

Project Legacy

- Written by Ruben Fisher, Mid 2012.


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