Written By Phillip MorrisOnce upon a time, when I was young, I thought there was a benefit to getting licensed, but that was before I learned the job. I left my place in the ranks of officially sanctioned PIs before someone hired me to scour the galaxy for their missing dog. People looking to get into the game as a private investigator should know: there’s a barrier to entry. Those who came before take such pride in themselves that they’ve made it a guilded operation, with all the classes, tests, and the hefty price tag that entails. You’ll work really hard for that paper no client is going to ask you for. If you make it through all that, you’ll become a part of the de facto police force of interplanetary space. There are too many planets and factions for any one authority to claim jurisdiction over any significant region. P.I.s function as the initial point of entry for the legal system when laws get broken between worlds. If they can’t resolve the issue on their own, they at least give their clients grounds to initiate official government proceedings. Most of what gets brought to the guild are petty grievances. People claiming their rights are being impinged by a corporation on this planet, or ex-wives misusing alimony payments on that planet. Things get a lot more interesting off the books, and, with the right connections, a lot more lucrative too.
…“Drain your vital energies here,” said the latex wrapped doll as she slid her arm through mine. She whispered her name, Eve, as she led me to the entrance of the pleasure club called Heaven. From a distance, you might think she was a bot, but up close there’s no mistaking the scent of a beautiful woman. The neon lights made her hair sparkle and glow with synthetic magic. I had been through the district enough times in the month since I’d landed to see her hair go through a dozen different shades. It would be nice if something of me stuck in the girls’ heads, but the wipes were quite thorough. Eve had an expensive implant in the base of her skull that contained the street-walker persona. I glimpsed it once when another patron pulled her onto his lap by a lock of hair. Whoever she really was, was divorced from what you got at night. I found that the right line could earn me a parting gift from Eve once she realized I wasn’t going to be her John.
Maybe next time, was good for a peck on the cheek.
Catch me later, was better for a sneaky squeeze.
This time I tried honesty. “I’ll need my vital energies tonight.”
That got me nothing worth mentioning.
…My longest haul is coming to an end tonight. The girl with golden eyes was dead before I got here. I stopped using her name as soon as I found out. These tricks make the job a bit easier. I assume she couldn’t handle the treatment. Her once bright eyes had gone dark in the medical examiners photos. The implants could trick the mind into playing the part of a charming seductress while her body wasted away. The doll outside Heaven was a willing participant, but this girl was cut from finer cloth. Her daddy was a politician of the rarest breed. One of character. Sure he was rich, and the girl probably spoiled rotten if he was willing to splurge on those eyes, but he got his money without needing to bend the rules. If I had to guess, that’s what got his little girl into so much trouble. Don’t vote the way you’re told and the next time a family member visits unprotected space, poof! They’re gone. I couldn’t leave it at that and expect my efforts to be compensated. The two ways I’d get paid were reunion or revenge.
…Broken noses and busted lips have their place, and their limits. A smart person talks when the law wants answers. Of course, if these guys were smart they would have looked into who they were hired to kidnap and string up. It took two broken thugs to guide me to Heaven, and weeks of sweet talking a particularly deviant guest named Tikki before I was sponsored to go to the back. “Ey, Chuck,” Tikki called out as it wrapped its appendages around me.
…The back was actually the bottom. I was led through a secret room, then down, down, down. The floor in the basement of Heaven was covered with acres of fluorescent dirt that helped with the cleanup. Ancient orders of the flesh governed the pantheon of desire on display. Time and technology don’t destroy the animalistic urges each species is endowed with. Instead, they warp into forms unintended by nature. The lax laws of this planet let the imagination of the proprietor run wild. There was no way to tell from the grungy exterior what awaited those granted entrance below. Every body semi-adapted for sexual reproduction was on display, in innumerable configurations of contraptions and partners. I recognized now that the ventilation system must have been prime, to keep the intermingled musks from being overwhelming. Thankfully the boss was weak for his own product, and I saw him slip into a private room with a few of the guests. I assured my sponsor I’d be back after a quick look around and followed them. The boss’ expansive imagination never fathomed someone bringing him pain he didn’t ask for.
…I got out of Heaven as soon as I verified the record of the execution, for the officials and my payment. I would feel bad if Tikki ends up connected to what I’d done. It had some peculiar tastes but was a good being nonetheless.