A sixteen year old kid living on the streets wasn't rare in Rembress. The city was in decline, the government was changing its policies, and people just couldn't take in stray kids anymore. Long as they didn't cause problems, nobody cared.
Course, without having any money, it's hard to get by without causing problems.
The first few weeks, I found myself in back alleys, scrounging through dumpsters for food. I don't even want to remember how many half-rotted things I ate. I had to, though. I was determined to never go back to that orphanage. A couple people would yell at me and chase me away. I learned quickly which diners had the people who actually cared about that.
I found myself sleeping mostly in any tree I could find. I tried to practice my abilities as much as I could, and I'd use them to lift myself into the branches. Helped keep the number of homeless guys trying to feel me up while I was sleeping down.
Course, I couldn't prevent it entirely...
About two months later, I was seeing just how bad of a decision I made. I could find food at least a couple times a day, but that was just enough for me to keep going. At least in the orphanage, I was fed regularly. I hadn't had a proper bath or shower since I left. I'd had to get in a couple fights to protect myself. And run when reinforcements showed up.
Simply put, I was a mess.
Now, by this point, I was desperate. I would do almost anything to gain some kind of normal life back. So, when a kind of sleezy guy came up to me one day in an alley and said he had a job for me, I listened. When he said it included housing, I jumped at it.
He took me to what looked like an abandoned warehouse towards the edge of the city. He brought me inside, took me to "my room". It was mostly bare, save for a bed, a couch, and a tub. I was kind of confused, kind of frightened. But, it was a bed. With a roof over it. I wasn't gonna say no. He told me to take a bath, and that I'd find some clothes in the little closet next to the couch. He said he'd come back in a while to discuss my job. So, soon as he left, I practically ripped my clothes off and jumped in the tub. It only had cold water, but that was fine. Better than relying on the rain.
When I was cleaned, I went to the closet, hoping to find a towel in there. I found a stack of them, as well as the clothes he mentioned. I started pulling out the clothes, and that's when my gut was finally being heard. There wasn't much to them. Tiny shorts and skirts, thongs, lacy bras, and shirts that could barely be called such. I tried to find the most conservative combo I could. I may have been a teen still, but I had started to develop before I even left the orphanage.
Not much later, the man came back. Slate was his name. He was a smooth-talker. The kind of guy that could talk you into giving him your pants, cleaned and ironed, without ever realizing it.
So, he sat me down on the couch and started his routine. In hindsight, what he said was probably a well rehearsed speech he gave to all the girls and young women he "employed" at that place. But, at that moment...it felt like he was doing this just for me. Like he was actually looking out for me. He reassured me that I would only have to sleep with maybe a guy a week, and that I wouldn't really be doing much beyond oral. He made it fell...well, like it was okay. Just a temporary thing. Maybe a couple weeks, and I'd have enough cash to be out on my own again.
By Eram, I hate youthful stupidity.
I'll give the man credit. He eased me into it. It was a little while before I started noticing that I was doing way more than what he promised. But, by then...I couldn't get out. Because...as horrible as the stuff I was doing was...I had a room. I had food. It was better than not knowing when or where my next meal would be. Or where I might be able to get at least a nap. And the dangers that were present were ones that I knew and expected. Not the unknown of the alleys in the city.
Plus, I was afraid of what Slate could and would do if I took off.
For the next two years, I slowly died inside. I wasn't your average eighteen year old woman. Not by a long shot.
Maybe that's what gave one of my regulars the idea to recruit me for some new military project that was happening...