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For as many years as Olyen could remember, it had been easier to get her licenses through the black market than it had been to navigate the special sections of the licensing office. As a cripple, in the Empire's eyes, she was a second class citizen. Getting a work license was a special privilege; work was reserved for able-bodied citizens, not gifted to the disabled. Author's Notes
But almost everything could be worked around with enough Imperials, a little patience, and some inside knowledge about the mire of approvals that was required to get the correct exceptions.
Olyen had the first, and had reluctantly learned a copious amount of the second. The third... that was a problem. Everyone she knew skirted the edges of the law, worked for the underground, or was disabled like herself.
When her contact in the black market was finally arrested for the services he provided, she set herself to finding someone more legitimate. She thumbed through the Unguild records with a careful squint, thoughtfully putting aside the card of information for Lalya - recently licensed a woman, he was flirting with being a minor celebrity in certain circles - and pulled out a second card. Bai. There was an interesting idea - go right for the License Master himself. He had a disabled brother himself, a legally blind merchant that the Unguild had made several thwarted attempts to recruit.
But, no. That was too ambitious. Bai was too high in the ranks to be accessible to someone like her.
She put the card back, flipped through several others, and paused again. The Head of Files was an interesting subject, her card dense with notes. She had been the subject of a sordid drama early in the year, but that had died off over the last few tendays.
Olyen pulled the card out, cradling it in her deformed hand. Her birth defect was more horrifying than debilitating; the black mark it left on her license was more crippling than the abnormality that had left her with clawed hands and a twisted hip. The harelip that marred her face was of no physical consequence, but she knew too well the effect it had on others. The Empire had deemed it enough to qualify her as 'disruptive.' "Beautiful," the description of Ressa noted, crossed out and replaced with "Gorgeous!" in someone else's handwriting. "Tall!" a third person had added.
The more important parts of her card indicated that she didn't stratify by rank; she had friends at all levels, and she was considered generous and approachable. There were little notes in the margins: "Nice." "Helped me get up the stairs."
Olyen chuckled, and put the card back, already memorized. She closed the drawer and pulling the tapestry down to hide the bank of file drawers. It was a perfect piece of symmetry. The beautiful, beloved, upstanding citizen, the frightful matron of the Unguild, both mistresses of their respective files. This was a friendship she might have nurtured even if she hadn't had a need for it. The benefits made it a friendship she couldn't resist cultivating.
Written for Thimbleful Thursday - a weekly flash fiction challenge. This week, the theme was 'red tape,' and the target was 500 words (+/-50)