Friday, February 7, 2014

The Adjustment Spa

Fiction Friday! Escape pod here.

The Adjustment Spa

Brarel looked at the datapad one last time before he entered his office. He quickly scanned the details of the potential client, committing them to memory and then entered the room. The man was sat in front of his desk flicking through his own datapad.

"Game face on!" thought Brarel and walked over to the man with a smile. They shook hands and Brarel took his place at the other side of the desk.

"So sir, you were inquiring about a special package here?"

"Yes, for my wife." the man replied.

Brarel could see the money. The man wore a suit that must have cost thousands. His discrete jewellery may have looked simple, but Brarel knew expense when he saw it. Brarel also knew the make and model of the watch, it was hugely expensive. This man was a high roller and did not appear to be faking it. Obviously the man could still be a cop. The suit hired, the jewellery and watch fakes.

"Well I'm sure one of our sales executives could have taken care of you. We here at Heavenly Spa provide the best body treatments and...." the Client cut him off.

"Its not her body I want adjusting. Its her mind."

"Ah I see. Well our relaxation and therapy packages..."

The Client held up is hand.

"Mr Brarel, I am a busy man and I understand your need for discretion. Given the line of business you are really in I am more than certain you have done a full background check on me. Let us save time and cut to the chase. I know a Mr Kokseri and his wife very well."

Brarel steepled his fingers under his chin. "Sorry, I don't know a Mr Kokseri." Brarel replied giving nothing away.

"I'm sure. Just as if anyone comes to you tomorrow and asks about me, you'll not know me either will you?"

Brarel nodded slightly with a smile. Still he had to be careful. The man across from him checked out as a banker from New Caldari but records can be forged.

"Mr Brarel, I want a similar package for my wife. I understand we are talking 30 million local."

Brarel weighed the risk in his head. Continuing the conversation put him at danger of arrest and incarceration from a few decades. However, the background check on this man showed he was a likely candidate. He also possibly knew Mr Kokseri as he claimed, a recent previous customer. They were from the same station and were both finance high-rollers. He needed one last check.

"Could I see your watch please?"

The Client raised an eyebrow at the strange request but unclipped the watch and passed it to Brarel. He gave it a quick look, thats all he needed to see it wasn't a fake but the genuine article, and passed it back to the Client.

"Well sir, I am sure we can meet your needs. What do you know about the process?"

"Nothing much. Mr Kokseri, who you don't know, said it was similar to the process capsuleers use to survive destruction of their ships. Then you use some sort of system similar how they learn new skills so quickly to alter the brain? All Empyrean technology apparently and very effective."

Brarel smiled and nodded.

"A very simple explanation, but essentially correct. Basically during the initial treatment we take DNA from your wife and take an extremely detailed body scan. We then grow her a clone. This clone is a perfect copy of her in every way. Then during a massage on the last day we use oils containing a powerful sleep agent. She will then be transferred to a secure facility where we will scan her brain. Before implanting her conscience back into the clone we can adjust some aspects of her personality, for example her likes and dislikes. Then we burn the altered consciousness into the clones brain and return here to the treatment room. She wakes from her massage none the wiser. The only real issue is the skin. Ageing and weathering of the skin cannot be replicated. Doing the transfer at the end of a two weeks stay allows us time not only to grow the clone, but also to give her lots of skin treatments so when she leaves the soft skin is explainable."

"So I can do anything I like to her personality?"

"Oh no sir. We can only make adjustments in certain areas. Generally this is tweaking likes and dislikes. For example if she spends too much on handbags we can 'dial that down' for you or if she is too jealous and needy, that we can decrease that too."

"Really? They are your most common examples?" the Client asked sceptically.

"Well no sir. Our usual requests are, well of a more intimate nature."

"Like getting your wife to share your own fantasies."

"Well sir that is certainly possible. With our technique it is possible for us to change her views from something that she would never do to something she really enjoys."

"Like turning pain into pleasure?" the Client asked with a smile.

Brarel returned the smile and nodded slightly. This man obviously knew Mr Kokseri. Two months ago Mr Kokseri had brought his wife in for adjustment. He recalled that the man was a sadist who wanted his wife to be more receptive to his requests. A fairly simple procedure. The pleasure and pain centres of the brain were closely connected and a little bit of rewiring in that area was easy.

"Sir, we can do that yes. In fact its one of the more simple processes."

The Client reached into his pocket jacket pocket. "Here comes the money" Brarel thought. Suddenly he was staring down the barrel of a gun.

"How did you get that in here?" Brarel stammered in fear. "We have weapon scanners!"

The Client tilted the gun to one side as if appraising it.

"Gallente Federation Security Services Prototype. The material is a carbon-plastic compound. Next-generation molecular engineering. Your scanners didn't detect a gun. The rounds are again a special polymer and are discharged uses graviton acceleration to fire the projectile at sub-sonic speeds. Your scanners didn't detect any ammunition or explosives. It is a good little weapon. Gets through even the most sophisticated scanners. Obviously it has draw backs. To remain silent the projectiles are rather slow compared to normal rounds so even the most basic body armour will stop them. The graviton forces exerted during firing mean the structural integrity of the gun only lasts one clip. Then you have to throw it away. See, no magazine, no way to reload. The 12 rounds are sealed inside when it is built. But even with all these drawbacks, and the huge expense for a 12-shot disposable gun. It is effective."

Brarel opened his mouth but it was too late. There were six quiet pops and he collapsed back in his chair. He was still alive when the Client walk around the desk and looked at him.

"Why?" Brarel croaked, his torso covered in blood.

"Mr Kokseri, he's my brother-in-law."

Brarel made the connection.

"That's right. My sister is his wife. Was his wife. She died during one of their 'games' two weeks ago. The Police investigated but the scum-bag had recorded their sessions. The cops were shown a holo-recording of her begging for it harder and more extreme. Case closed, death by misadventure. Everything was consensual. No charges were brought as she was the one encouraging him to do those awful things to her. I knew that wasn't her in the video. I knew something had changed. So I hired a very expensive investigation team to dig deep. To be honest I was expecting the holo to be faked and that pervert had forced her. But they investigated deeply and followed the money. The money never lies. Thirty million to a spa seemed a bit excessive. So then they looked into your outfit. Clone reanimation units, neural scanners and burners, external learning accelerators. Not the usual massage tables and treadmills spas usually purchase. Finally they led me to you."

"Please...." Brarel begged "I didn't mean to do any harm! Please I am in so much pain!"

"Don't worry, those six shots will kill you shortly. I'd offer to finish you off but I won't for two reasons. Firstly I aimed purposely to ensure you had a slow and painful death, just like my sister. Tied to that bed as that sadist whipped her until she bled. I've never been shot in the stomach even once, never mind six times. However I was told it would be the best place if I wanted the target to die slowly and in pain. Secondly I wasn't 100% sure of the investigator's report until about 5 minutes ago. You confirmed everything. So these last six bullets are for my dearest brother-in-law. However, I will be aiming slightly lower than his stomach for that monster."

Brarel continued to beg for his life as the man made for the door. As the Client adjusted his collar Brarel saw a glimpse of metal on the back of his neck. An implant socket. The man was a capsuleer. Brarel fell silent. He knew then begging an Empyrean to spare his would be pointless.


One week later....

"Detective, what can I do for you." Captain Annins was sat as his desk as the detective knocked and entered.

"Sorry to bother you cap, but we got a strange one. You know the new law enforcement sharing protocols, well we have got our first hit."

The captain gestured for the detective to sit. In the cluster of stars known as New Eden there were countless law enforcement agencies. And in a place you could travel light-years in seconds or jump instantaneously from one solar system to the next it was almost impossible to fully work together. A new system had been put in place where agencies could highlight crimes on a map and the system would highlight if there there was more than one agency investigating the area.

"What highlighted the flag?"

"The murder last week of the owner at the orbital spa at planet 7."

"Oh yeah, I remember that one. The forensic boys had never seen slugs like them. Some sort of 'secret agent shit' is how they described it right?"

"Thats right Cap. No motive, no suspect, no evidence. Complete dead-end. Anyway, 3 hours ago an Egger in a Raven class battleship turns up and blasts the place to pieces! CONCORD flagged it as a capsuleer crime but the sharing system still flagged it to us given our active investigation."

The Captain looked puzzled.

"A professional hit on the owner followed by a Capsuleer turning up to destroy the place a week later? That is.... strange. Any casualties?"

"None sir. The staff abandoned the orbital as soon as the torpedoes started flying. And there is more. A third crime was also highlighted."

The detective slid the datapad across the desk and the Captain picked it up and read it. The Captain pulled a pained expression.

"A banker, killed in his apartment, body wasn't found for 3 days, recently lost his wife... He was shot six times below the belt! Ouch! Someone wanted to depart painfully." the Captain exclaimed.

"Yeah. And you'll never guess the type of slugs."

"Secret agent shit?"

"Secret agent shit!"

"This is getting heavy Detective. Advanced weapons, Capsuleers, destroyed orbitals. We might need some support on this..."

At that moment another man stuck his head around the door. It was the Detective's partner.

"You guys need to see this! We just received an anonymous data package sent to our servers. The first file was a schematic of one of those slugs. No details, I think he just wants us to know this is from 'him'. The rest, well its, evidence against that spa. Cap, you'll never believe what was going on there!"

The detective passed the datapad to the Captain. He flicked through the files.

"OK, check this out. If its genuine, close the case. If that spa was doing what this suggests then I don't want to pursue it. The owner is dead so the only case to answer is the destruction of the spa. I'm not going there! Unless, either of you fancy trying to bring charges against a Capsuleer?"

The two detectives shook their heads.


  1. Replies
    1. Two other observations:

      (1) That line, "capsuleer in a raven class battleship" (or close variations) keeps cropping up (damsel in distress, your novella, and now here). I think you like it.

      (2) I re-read it and thought "Torpedoes on a Raven? That's personal." I don't know if you intended it like that, but given that normal Raven load-out in Empire is a full rack of cruises, it made it sound like he wanted to get in nice and close and make a statement.

    2. I like the Raven model. Out of all the battleships the Raven is my favourite by far. I guess I tend to keep coming back to the things I like!

      Also if you had to bash a structure that was undefended and you wanted max DPS, wouldn't you fit torps?

      Raven base DPS (fit only launchers using Draks skills) with torps is 646 (675 all lvl V's), with cruise it is 486 (507).

    3. "Also if you had to bash a structure that was undefended and you wanted max DPS, wouldn't you fit torps?"

      No, I would fit blasters. :-) It's a lot more stylish also.

  2. Wow. Your last two stories really spun me out and you have the Capsuleer's and New Eden lifestyle captured perfectly.
    You sir have gain two more avid readers ( my wife reads your blog and especially your fiction too ).

    1. Thank you. Interesting as you mention your wife as the fiction has been accused not being female friendly in the past. Too many smoking hot super women that can annoy a ladies feminist side :/