Friday, April 19, 2013

The Damsel in Distress

Fiction Friday! This is the last one for a few weeks. Next Friday I'll be posting a report about the first day of Fanfest including the official Charity Dinner. If fiction isn't your thing then your escape pod is here to Ways of the Mew where the QCats look at Poetic's latest post of top 100 corps in terms of PvP activity!

This particular story came to me a few weeks ago. The wife and I was watching some trashy sci-fi movies during a sandstorm that had trapped us inside for the weekend. I think we were watching the pretty terribad Barb Wire. Not the greatest movie ever, but the opening sideline story in the movie made me think how it could be set in the Eve-O universe. Then I remembered something from back when I was a carebear in my first year of playing Eve before I went all "KILL ALL THE PLAYERS"........


The Damsel in Distress

Kron walked through the bar area. His light suit was crisply pressed and his black shoes were polished to an impeccable shine. His jet-black hair was slicked back and in his right hand he held his datapad which never left his side. He scanned the room, everything looked good. The VIP's appeared to be enjoying themselves in their private roped-off area. Two burly bouncers ensured nobody entered the area unless they were allowed. The 'mids' weren't having any problems sat around in the various booths and at the bar, and that was how he liked it. The lows, well they weren't his concern. He ran the top floor club of the pleasure gardens and didn't have to bother with the scum. They weren't even allowed in here. A strict door policy ensured that those without the required levels of money were directed to the lower level clubs. The lows would be safely partying away in the bottom levels and forever may they stay there. Here it was the rich and upper-middle classes they entertained.

A man in the VIP area waved at him. Kron knew him as a director of a local corporation. He made it his job to know the likes and vices of all his best clients. This one was easy, Amarrian red wine from planet 2 in the Hama system and Matari girls, especially the darker skinned ones. Kron nodded to acknowledge the wave and started to walk over. The VIP already had a bottle of wine and the young ebony-skinned Matari woman, clad only in the skimpiest of lingerie, was all over him. He fingered his pocked and checked the vials were still there. He was expecting the director now wanted some chemical enhancement as usual and the exile and mindflood in his pocket would net him a tidy profit.

-o0o-

"Unidentified craft. Please note we have you on scan and our defence fleet is tracking you. Please state your business."

On the pleasure yacht the pilot turned in his chair and called back to the passenger cabin.

"Sir, we've been challenged."

A voice called back. "Good. You know the drill. Respond as agreed and I'll get ready."

"Tower, this is pleasure yacht SV Blue Horizon seeking docking permission at the Pleasure Gardens. My employer asks if Mr Kron could be on hand to greet him and if he could arrange for a private suite on arrival."

The comm channel went quiet.

"Pleasure yacht SV Blue Horizon. Acknowledged. You are cleared for landing in docking bay 94. Enjoy your stay."

The pilot breathed a sigh of relief as the ship dropped out of warp in front of the defence fleet. The Machariel class battleships guarding the remote facility would have blown them away in a single volley if they thought there was something dodgy going on.


-o0o-

Kron was stood in the reception room for docking bay 94. He was reviewing the records of both the ship and the owner he was waiting to meet. As normal protocol the control tower had sent him the registration details of the ship. He had then used that information to query several databases, some illegally hacked, to create a quick file on the ship and owner. The ship itself was a standard pleasure yacht. A common ship in the Federation for the rich and the famous. The owner appeared to be an inventor of some kind. His tax details were sketchy but it appeared he received regular huge sums of money for some patents he owned from various corporations. It was all confidential but Krom had seen these sorts of finances before. Generally the file looked legitimate but dull, this guy appeared to be a geek, a very rich geek. These were his favourite Clients. They usually would spend far too much on every vice he offered, and Kron offered them all.

The door opened and three men walked through. Kron immediately sized them up. The guy in the centre was clearly the VIP. A nondescript man who would be the police's worst nightmare if they ever wanted to catch him. Gallente, average height, average build, average colouring, average everything. He could blend into any crowd and nobody would notice him. However, his clothing was old fashioned and very smart and he walked with a black cane with a silver pommel. The two men flanking him were obviously professional bodyguards. The geek stepped forward extending his hand.

"Mr Krom I presume." he enquired.

Kron shook his hand with his usual smarmy smile.

"I am indeed Mr Krom, welcome to Kruul's Pleasure gardens. I'm afraid you have me at the disadvantage, Mr.......?"

The other man smile.

"Oh, I'm sure I don't Mr Krom. My friend, who suggested I visit, knows this establishment very well and he did tell me you'd know more about me than my mother does before I'd even stepped off the ship."

Krom smiled again and gave subtle nod. He was curious who his 'friend' was but he knew better than to enquire. With the services and vices he provided, his clients valued anonymity above all else.

"Well, yes. In my business it pays to be informed. Shall we?" Kron extended his arm towards the door and the four men left the room.

-o0o-

The director was pacing the office looking extremely agitated.

"Sir you should sit down and have some tea."

"I'm OK. Stop fussing. Dammit, I should have used an egger."

His assistant, a stern looking lady in her 40's shook her head.

"Sir, you made the right choice. You have always been against the use of violence as a solution, and have been particularly vocal against the capsuleers in the past. You know what the agent said when you enquired. His solution was a Raven class battleship piloted by an empyrean fitted with cruise missile batteries. Sir, you would have signed off on several thousand deaths just from the ships defending the facility. And as to the suggestion that the capsuleer would destroy the station forcing everyone into lifeboats. It would go against everything you've ever stood for."

The director finally slumped in a big leather chair and placed his head in his hands.

"Yes, yes. I know you're right. Just, this has somewhat changed my views on a few things."

"I know sir. I'll go and try and get an update. The tracking beacon is scheduled to pulse in 6 minutes."

With that the aide left the room leaving the director alone. With nobody there he finally broke down and sobbed quietly to himself.

-o0o-

Kron led the man into the room. The two bodyguards stopped outside in the corridor and took position either side of the door letting the two other men enter together.

"This suite is modeled on a capsuleer captains quarters from the Federation. We've obviously made some changes, the beds the empyrean use are generally not suitable for two, or three, or more." Krom said with his fixed smile. The other man just nodded as he looked around the room.

"The comms panel is here. From this you can order refreshments from our well stocked kitchens and wine store. We have something for everyone tastes."

"And the girls?" the man asked.

Krom smile. He was sure his commission from this Client would be healthy. Krom was well paid by the owner, but he did receive additional commission if he could make the Clients spend big. The commission on the room, food and drink wasn't as good as the commission on the girls. If this man was already asking about them, he was desperate for some action. That meant more money for Krom.

"I've taken the liberty and picked out a selection for you already sir. As I said previously, we aim to have something for everyone's taste."

With that Krom opened a side door and the girls filed in and lined up facing the Client. Krom went over and stood next to his Client.

"As you can see sir, we have some of the finest women in the cluster. We have Caldari, Gallente, Matari and even, as you can see, some Amarrian. All are guaranteed disease and infection free. They are given medical scans every morning so you can be sure our girls are the cleanest in the cluster. They are all highly trained and will make your every fantasy come true."

The Client stood there looking along the line for a while.


"I quite like that one and that one." he nodded towards two girls who doubled their posing and pouting when they saw his slight nod. "It's just they are....." he whispered and paused.

"Please sir" Krom whispered "We pride ourselves on the utmost discretion  You can tell me exactly what you want, I will get it for you, and then when you leave I will forget it. That is until you return of course." Kron said with a smile.

"Well......" the Client replied in a hushed tone ".... it's just they are a bit.... old for my tastes."

Krom nodded and paused to think. He was getting into dangerous waters here. Most of these girls who worked for him were in their early 20's. By the time they hit their late twenties they were moved to the lower level clubs where the Clients tended to spend less, and therefore expected less. Those ones he had addicted to drugs like mindflood would be wrecked by 25 and sent to the lowest clubs for everyone's use.

"Sir, these girls are just out of their teens by a year or so, I can assure you....."

"As I said, they are a bit old for my tastes." the Client repeated in a low tone. Krom nodded and turned to the girls.

"Thank you ladies, you have give our guest plenty to think about, but if you will excuse us, he would like some time to think."

The girls smiled and waved, blew kisses and one even pulled her top down to flash the Client. All trying to leave their impression on him. After the last girl left and the door closed the two men sat down.

"Well sir, we have a couple of girls that are just over 18 but they are very popular and very expensive." Krom started.

"First off forget the money. I have 100,000 ready to transfer." the Client held out a datapad. Krom took it but didn't even look at it, he was seeing his expected bonus disappearing before his eyes. 100,000 credits wasn't a large sum. In fact some of his best Clients spent that on a weekends drinks bill.

"I'm sorry sir. But 100,000 Gallente Credits is not going to be sufficient....."

"Its ISK." the Client cut in.

Krom almost choked. He finally looked at the pad in shock. In New Eden there were thousands of currencies in use on the thousands of different planets in the thousands of different star systems. Many systems had multiple habitable planets and some of these planets even had several currencies just for themselves. However, off-world, the main forms of currency were the credits issued by the four main Empires, also known as 'local credits'. Then there was a fifth major currency, InterStellar Kredits. ISK was much more valuable and generally used by capsuleers. ISK was difficult to covert from local credits but was seen as many, many times more valuable. The commission Krom would make from 100,000 ISK would be more than what he made in a year total in local credits.

"Well Sir. I'm sure there must be something we can do for that."

"I'm not sure, if 18 is the lowest you have then I think I might be in the wrong place."

"No, no Sir." Krom was worried that the Client might leave "I'm sure I can arrange something for you. Do you have a specific, ahem, number in mind?"

"16."

"16? I'm sure that is possible. Anything else?"

"Untouched."

Krom suppressed making a face. He knew that things now would be difficult.

"Ah Sir. That may be problematic."

"Well lets see if we can overcome the problems. I'll go to 150k ISK. And if she isn't particularly willing..... well I won't have a problem with that as long as discretion is assured and nothing comes back on me."

The money was making Krom's head spin. He repeated the sum in his mind "One hundred...... and fifty thousand...... ISK".

"I have a potential sir. May I suggest that I send up some Gallente champagne and some Amarrian caviar and request your two favourite girls from the line-up to join you for an hour to keep you entertained. I am sure I can have things arranged by then."

The Client smiled leaded back on the sofa and nodded.

-o0o-

Krom sat in his office waiting for the comm link to activate. 150,000 ISK. The number just kept spinning in his head. He could buy his own club with the commission from that sort of money! It might even be enough to buy a small club in Dodixie where he could be his own boss. The console bleeped indicating the connection had been made to the cruiser captained by Krom's boss. The holographic head of Kruul appeared.


"Yes Krom, what is it? Trouble?"

Krom hated that. Every time he spoke to his boss, he expected bad news. What did he expect? He ran a pleasure garden dealing in every illegal vice you can mention. There was always some sort of trouble going on.

"No sir. We have a new Client visiting. I've looked into him and he has checked out OK. He has 150,000 ISK...."

"150 large? In egger credits? You sure?"

"Indeed sir. Obviously for that sort of money his tastes are not run-of-the-mill,"

"I assumed that. What does he want?"

"Something fresh. Very, very fresh."

The holographic projection of Kroms bosses head nodded at the coded message. Even on secure encrypted channels it was best not to directly talk about committing felonies. Kruul knew exactly what the Client was after the first 'very' indicated under-age and the second referred to their 'experience'.

"There is that new one we got at the weekend. The med-scan indicated that she meets both requirements. Right vintage and shall we say, inexperienced."

Krom nodded as he was thinking the same thing. Some under-age rich kid, probably mad with daddy, turned up at the club with a stack of cash and some friends two days ago. She got wasted and they took the opportunity to grab her. They had a bouncer tell her friends she had left with a capsuleer and no they didn't have any names.

"My intention was to put her in the program. Doing this today will probably ruin her, she'll only be good for the lower level clubs afterwards. Then again even if she completed the program successfully and worked hard for me, she'd not make that kind of cash before we would ship her down anyway. Only problem is she will not co-operate." Kroms boss stated.

The 'program' was where they coerced the women into the 'business'. Some came willingly, others were kidnapped, sometimes to order. The willing ones were assessed  given some training and put to work in the same week. The later usually needed some form of encouragement and that was where the 'program' came in. Sometimes it was threats of violence against them or their family, some were given hollow promises of if they worked for a few months they'd be released. In other cases it was simply getting them addicted to drugs. It usually took a few months of persuasion and/or drugs to get them conditioned sufficiently to mix with the Clients but they always got there in the end.

"The Client said that any 'unwillingness' would not be a problem. In fact I get the impression that it would be an added bonus in his eyes."

Kroms boss smiled.

"OK agreed. Throw our new arrival to your sick-ass wolf for a ton of money. Well done Krom, you've just made a tidy profit for both of us."

Krom smiled and nodded, already spending his commission in his head.

-o0o-

Vikki was crying on the small bed. The room was small and dingy and smelt of damp. In line with many of the rooms in the complex, it was modelled on a capsuleers captains quarters. However the station owners soon realised that very few clients wanted to hire Matari looking quarters, so most of them had become store rooms over time. Vikki still wore the dress she had put on to come to the club. Her over-the-top make-up she had plastered on to try and make herself look older was streaked from her tears. She remembered getting ready, stealing a stack of credit chips from her dads office safe and meeting her friends in the stations hanger. She would teach her dad. All she wanted was a horse for her 16th birthday the previous month. But no, some crap about living on a station. They had parks and grass on the station so a small paddock should have been easy! One of her friends had met an older boy. He was 22 and had his own ship. It was only a small rust-bucket shuttle but they'd be able to travel. He'd offered to take them to some pleasure gardens a couple of systems over to go clubbing. She was sure her dad would eventually find out and go ballistic, and that was her plan.

They had a great time dancing and drinking. She must have passed out and when she woke up she'd been locked in this room. Meals and drinks had been pushed through the hatch but she'd had no human contact in two days. Things hadn't gone the way she'd hoped. She gently fingered the oversized broach that her father had given her and always insisted she wore all the time.


The door opened and she blink at the light. In the doorway she saw a man. He looked like one of those smarmy maĆ®tre d' at the posh restaurant that her daddy took her to often. Just behind him was a woman with a bag.

"Hello Nikki. Your father is coming to collect you."

"Daddy is coming?" she cried with hope in her voice.

Krom nodded.

"Yes and we cannot have him seeing you in that state. This is Mary and she had some fresh clothes as well as make-up and hair products. She'll take you to get showered and cleaned up. I'll leave you two ladies to get ready."

-o0o-

Krom was waiting outside the Clients door after pressing the call button, the light still glowed red. The two bodyguards stood there still. The indicator light went green and Krom entered. He found his client on the sofa between the two women. They still wore their scant outfits which surprised Krom, he'd have expected the Client to at least sample some of the goods. But no, they were still as he'd left them. The trio were laughing and clearly having a good time.

"Sir. Your special order is here." Krom said.

The Client rose from his seat with the aid of his cane.

"Thank you ladies for keeping me company." He pulled two large denomination credit chips from his pocket and passed them to the girls. "Now if you would excuse us."

The girls accepted the chips greedily with big smiles and left via the side door.

Krom cleared his throat.

"Sir. As requested we have found a girl that should be to your tastes. Here is her ID which shows her date of birth and photo. We've taken the liberty of removing other personal identification as we assume you wouldn't want to know."

The Client took the card which was mostly blacked out. "Ah yes. She looks lovely, and excellent, you got my favourite year. Well done! And what about my other requirement?"

"Yes sir, medical scans indicate she is innocent. Also as we previously discussed I need to point out, she may not be a willing companion sir." Krom was terrified that the Client would back out now and he would lose his commission. "However these quarters have walls fitted with the latest sound suppression equipment plus as I've already said, discretion is one of our most important aspects here at the Pleasure Gardens. We also have a number of types of specialist pharmaceuticals that may help her relax. But I have a feeling you won't want them? I have a feeling you want her, ahem, lively?"

The Client smiled and nodded his head. Krom went back out into the corridor. As well as the two body guards stood by the door, there was Mary holding the girls hand. Mary had done an excellent job scrubbing up the girl Krom thought. 45 minutes ago she looked a pitiful mess, now she looked fresh and pretty. The heavy make-up was gone, replaced with make-up that was very light and discreet. The hair had been coloured blonde and tied in bunches. Her new dress was summery and made her look young. She was the exact opposite of the girl that had entered the club two days before. He took her hand and led her into the room. The Clients face beamed when he saw her.

"Who.... who are you? Where's my father?" asked the young girl clearly scared out of her wits.

Krom went over to the Client.

"Sir, I'm afraid we'll need payment in advance for such special orders. I'm sure you understand." he whispered in his Client's ear.

The Client nodded. Krom thought he'd have a better chance of payment in advance if the Client was staring at the goods when he asked for the cash.

"Don't worry Nikki" the Client said "Everything is going to be OK."

Krom smiled at the young girl and nodded too, mirroring the Clients actions, wanting to reassure the girl as well. Suddenly his face dropped to one of horror.

"How do you know her name? That was blacked out on the ID!"

"Does it matter? I thought you wanted your just payment. I am here to give it to you!"

Krom was utterly confused and didn't even have chance to react as the Client tossed his cane in the air, caught it by the bottom end and swung it an Krom's head. There was a blinding blue flash as the cane's silver pommel made contact with the side of his temple and the electrical discharge triggered. Krom's world went black.

-o0o-

In New Eden, as well as many different currencies  there are also many different languages and dialects. That also means there are many, many different curses and swear words. Kruul, the owner of the Pleasure Gardens was using many of these as he attempted to manually dock his cruiser. The hanger control room had not been responding and he couldn't raise Krom. Another five different swear words left Kruul's lips as a screech of metal on metal resonated through the cruiser indicating he had touched the docking pier again. With no technicians in the hanger control room he was having to try and dock without the help of the station's computer guidance and tractor beams.

Finally he manoeuvred the cruiser into position and felt the docking clamps engage. He left the ship running, heading straight for the hanger control room to dish out some pain to those useless tech's. He crashed into the control room in a rage to find the two technicians unconscious on the floor.

His first thought was Krom. The guy had just accepted 150 thousand ISK. That sort of money was enough turn anyone. Kruul accessed his own datapad and checked for Krom's location. His bio-tracker showed he was still on the station. Kruul took off running again with clenched fists and a clenched jaw. Five minutes later he burst into the suite to find Krom in the same state as the two technicians.

Kruul grabbed the ice bucket from the table and dumped the contents, including the half-full bottle of champagne over Krom's head.

Krom woke spluttering from a combination of freezing water, ice cubes and a glass bottle clunking against his head. He took a few seconds to realise where he was. He looked up and saw Kruul with a face of thunder.

"I..... I...... I....." Krom stammered terrified. He knew he must have lost the girl and Kruul was obviously upset. In fact looking at his face, Kruul was ready to explode.

Kruul grabbed him by his lapels and heaved him to his feet.

"We need to have a little talk. Because it is looking like you just let some posh nob walk out of my station along with some of my property. A certain very valuable young girl that was going to earn me a great deal of money over the next few years. We need to discuss how you are going to pay me back." he growled with barely suppressed rage.

-o0o-

The 'Client' was sat in the co-pilots chair in the cockpit of the pleasure yatch. Out of the window the stars hurdled past in a blur as the ship sped through the warp tunnel. He glanced over his shoulder and could see the young girl in the ships lounge area speaking to her father on the holo-unit through the half closed door. She was crying, but from a mix of relief and happiness.

"So all go OK?" asked the pilot.

"Yeah. I'm sure they are out looking for us but those guys won't search far from the deadspace pocket they are set up in. We're pretty safe. That slimeball who arranged the girl for me should be getting a bit of a grilling though. I did a quick medscan of the girl, she seems OK. I've sent an EveMail to the director saying it looks like we got there in time before she was put to work. May be he'll give us a bonus for saving his daughters innocence."

"Yeah right, if you say so boss. These rich types don't get rich by giving their hard earnt money away. So we good to head back to station?"

"Yeah, just let me check we've ticked all the boxes. You know what these mission agents are like!"

The Client leant towards a small keyboard and brought up the orders.

It has come to my attention that one of our Director's daughters has gone missing. She was last spotted in a disreputable nightclub in Vittenye, and we're afraid she's been forced into slave labor, or even prostitution. We request that you find her immediately and bring her safe and sound back to her family. I will give you the coordinates of this nightclub, I believe it is inside a pleasure complex, and I expect you to take care of the rest. Good luck.


"Yeah we're good. That tracker in her broach certainly made this an easier job than most. Anyway, all parts of the mission contract are met. Lets head back to base and lets collect payment and drop off that woman we had to bring with us. We'll hand her over to the authorities and they can decide if she was a victim forced to prepare the girl or a willing participant."

-o0o-

Krom whimpered face-down into the filthy mattress  His wrists and ankles were sore from where the chains chaffed his skin. However, the soreness in his extremities was nothing compared to other areas. He shivered as the cool stale air flowed from the vents high up on the wall over his naked damp skin. The room was suddenly bathed in light and loud dance music flooded in from the club floor as the door opened. Two men stood there. A huge Minmatar Brutor entered. The man behind him stayed back and was in shadow. Krom could hear him speaking. He recognised the voice. He worked for Kruul too running one of the bottom-end clubs in the bowels of the station.

".....and its 30 credits for half an hour or 50 for the full hour. He aint checked for disease so use protection. You break him, you bought him. As he's doing 20 clients a day. Thats 600 creds a day and we think he'll last a couple more months so that's 36 large if he's unusable after you. You damage him, either you pay or you take his place! We don't care. There is a hose in the corner to wash him down after you've finished."


"Fine. I'll take 30. Don't worry I'm sure he can take what I have in mind." With that the huge Matari man handed over some credit chips and closed the door. The room went black again. The only sound was the metallic clink of a belt dropping to the floor and the soft murmurs of Krom repeating "No, no, no." over and over again.

-o0o-

3 comments:

  1. I had to smile at the line "His solution was a Raven class battleship fitted with cruise missile batteries". So true.

    PS: "brooch" is jewellery, "broach" is to open (sorta like what said Raven would do to the station hull).

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  2. Torp raven. My cup of tea.

    I feel sorry for Krom, just a little. Not really.

    Neatly executed operation, I like the concept. Completely clean extractions never happen in capsuleer-run operations, it's nice to see "professionals" at work.

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