The curve of her hips reminded him of a bruised pear as she walked toward the bar, not quite limping. She wore a dark, thin dress that clung to her milk white skin. She ordered a Golden Apple and the bartender, a simple automata, produced the thick, amber liquid before she sat down.
Mik learned long ago how to size up a client. He eyed her with a mechanical look, taking in all that she was before he made his way over and ordered a shot of amber himself. Not that he needed it, but he liked to keep the tank full just in case. She gave him a glance then focused on her drink. He knew he wasn’t attractive. In fact, he designed himself to blend into a crowd.
“Trouble with the RL-36?” he said.
She turned to him with a look of disgust, a look that would have been appropriate to such a question, but she remembered where she was and understanding flickered across her features. Mik liked seeing emotions play across his clients’ faces. They revealed many things. He had installed a dampener that only allowed himself a sly smile. He didn’t like others knowing what he was thinking.
“35 actually,” she said, relaxing a bit, “I haven’t had time to get it properly looked at.”
He nodded. He didn’t ask why she came here. It was both impolite and none of his business. She had her reasons.
“Come with me,” he said. He placed his glass upside down on the bar then led her to a back room and gestured her to the table in the center. She laid down without a word. He sat in a chair on her right side, eye level. He slid her dress up, professionally, only enough to reveal the soft, smooth skin of her right hip. Her eyes locked with the ceiling.
“You might want to turn your receptors down for this.”
“I can take the pain,” she said.
He shrugged then cut and pulled back a small section of skin, just enough to reveal the servo underneath. It was in fact the RL-35. He was impressed. She kept herself in good condition. He quelled the many questions rising within him and returned to his work. He left no trace of any incision and pulled her dress back into place. Her eyes finally left the ceiling.
“That’s it?” she asked.
She sat up. “And your price?”
He looked away pretending to think, then returned with his signature smile.
“For you, an answer.”
“What would the daughter of an emperor pay for a simple fix?”
A smirk crept onto her lips. “That is an observant question.”