This article was originally posted to the pre-magazine Freelance Traveller website in 2002, and reprinted in the October 2013 issue.
Shuchithra is a striking individual, in many ways. Although she is only 1.5m tall, and masses only 55kg, she nevertheless has “presence”, and stands out even in crowds. Ten years of professional beam dancing, along with almost daily practice in a number of martial arts and some gymnastics experience as a child, has given her a gracefulness rarely seen in someone as young as she is. Her alabaster skin is set off by jet-black hair, which she keeps cut short (usually in a “page boy”), and deep violet eyes. When not actually performing, she wears loose-fitting (but not baggy) clothes, primarily in medium-to-dark greens, often with yellow, gold, or magenta accents. Her soft voice has frequently been described as “enchanting”; nevertheless, she has no difficulty making herself heard when she needs to or wants to. Unique among beam dancers, Shuchithra’s performances include her singing, rather than just the music or music and light of other performers.
When she is performing, she invariably wears a black sequined full-coverage body suit, leaving only her face visible to the audience. Her performance always starts in full darkness. Her first number is invariably to sing a ballad, begun a capella; her dance begins about halfway through the number, and gradually brings both light (both dance beams and house lights) and music into her performance. Audiences respond well to her performances; she has been said to play the audience’s emotions with as much skill as she programs her console. In the last three years, she has never failed to sell out a single performance within one standard day of the tickets going on sale.
Strangely, in spite of her popularity and stardom, Shuchithra does not have a collection of “groupies” following her, and her entourage consists of only her three bodyguards, her business manager, her personal tailor, and her personal physician. Additional staff is hired as needed, for the duration of her visit to a particular world. On occasion, some of that staff will be asked to stay on for a few additional worlds, but in general, Shuchithra does not maintain a large staff for any great length of time, and is reluctant to ask people to leave their homeworlds.
Shuchithra never speaks out on “advocacy” or political issues, and, with one exception, keeps her views on such issues to herself. Even on the one issue where her views are public, they are known from her actions rather than outspokenness: she cancels performances where the government attempts to control or restrict the content.
Shuchithra is psionic, although nobody knows this (not even Shuchithra). She is a full empath, unconsciously projecting her emotions and reading and responding to those of the people around her. This ability subtly influences her performances, and is a factor (although a minor factor—her beam dancing talent is real) in her popularity. Her talent for programming her own beam dance stages is also a manifestation of her psionic abilities, in the form of Machine Empathy.
Referees detailing a character profile or resume for Shuchithra (her full name; she legally changed it early in her career) should give her higher-than-normal dexterity, endurance, intelligence, and education, and a social level appropriate for a major famous performer. Skills should focus on things like gymnastics, dancing, and martial arts, though she should also have a good level of computer skill.
Shuchithra invariably stays at facilities operated by or funded by the Travellers’ Aid Society or equivalent organizations, as these are not open to the general public. While there, she is not unapproachable by other guests for a few minutes of quiet conversation.
Shuchithra will instantly cancel performances on worlds where the government attempts to control or restrict the content of her performance.
She will hire teams to act as cadre for on-planet security (and will occasionally ask a particularly effective team to stay on for a few planets), or ships and crews to carry relief supplies to a disaster area on a nearby planet. Teams or ships that have acted on behalf of governments that practice censorship of art will not be hired under any circumstances. Teams or ships that have acted for her before will be remembered, and hired again if need and opportunity coincide.
As a patron, she is wealthy enough to buy and outfit a yacht or courier ship without needing to take out a mortgage; nevertheless, she does not spend money unnecessarily, and is a very savvy investor—she will insist on strong justification for any purchases she is asked to make in support of a team’s effort.