"You look like a poster child for the 24th Imperial Crusade." He shook his head with a slight roll of his eyes. "You're in the Federation, you can't go prancing around in your militia uniform."
"You didn't say what to wear, and anyhow it's all I keep in my shuttles." She looked down at her pristine uniform, "It's not that obvious is it, not like I have on any medals."
"You're about as subtle as a Nyx in high sec." He took her by the arm, "C'mon, we need to get you changed." He led her into a nearby clothing store and took her straight into the dressing room. "Wait here."
Moments later a neon blue-haired sales girl passed her an outfit over the half-door, "He says he wants you to put this on."
"...uh, where is the rest of it?"
"Oh, right." She handed over a pair of strappy heels.
"I meant, wheres the rest of the clothes?" Shalee said as she checked her reflection in the dressing room mirror, frowning. The flimsy material barely covered her torso, "Are there pants? A skirt?"
The sales girl laughed, "Oh, you Amarrians. So precious!" She opened up the door and cast a critical eye over Shalee, "It's a dress." She moved behind her and wrapped a necklace around her throat. "There, perfect mademoiselle. Perfect! Your gentleman will adore it."
"He's not my 'gentleman'." Shalee wrinkled her nose.
"Mmm." the girl said with a knowing smile, as if she didn't believe her. "He says to meet him outside. I will have these clothes delivered to your shuttle." She said as she folded up the militia uniform. "Have fun!"
Apprehensively Shalee met up with Kathetel, "Okay what's going on? Why am I wearing this? Where are we going? And what in Jove's space are you wearing?" She drug her gaze down the length of him, giggling at the skin tight translucent shirt and tight-fitted pants. "They shine! Your pants glitter...."
He sighed, "You used to be so professional."
"Mmm. Sorry. Okay." She bit down on her lips to keep from laughing, her expression morphing into something serious.
"You wanted to know, remember?" He took her hand and pressed a metal device against her palm, injecting a nanochip. "Your new identity, for tonight anyhow. Lolita Arceli."
"Ah, undercover work. Sounds exciting."
"We'll see if you think so after it's over." He unclipped her hair and ran his fingers through it, mussing it up a bit. "Open your mouth."
"Just do it."
Skeptically she parted her lips and winced as he poured a vial of sweet liquid across her tongue. "You're drugging me...?"
"Mildly. Don't worry, it will only last a couple of hours. It's necessary."
"Because they'd never buy it otherwise. You're too uptight. You spent a couple of months working on this assignment, gaining their trust. And now it's paid off, you just got clearance to the Red Room and you can bring along a guest."
"What's the Red Room?"
By the time they arrived at their destination she felt as if she were floating in a sea of colors. "I feel funny."
"That's the point. You're high. They will think you're just high instead of...different."
"Oh." She laughed, "Getting high for the Empire!"
He tightened his grasp on her arm, "You must say very little from here on out, got it?"
The entrance to the pleasure hub was surprisingly ordinary. They were met by a professional looking Intaki who smiled and scanned their palms. After clearing them through security, they were lead into a long, dimly lit room. The walls were filled with monitors showing a variety of sexuals pleasures to be bought. Some screens showed scantily dressed girls posed provactively, others had young men. A stream of text scrolled beneath in neon red with prices for each encounter, both for neural and physical.
A bar stretched the length of the room with several patrons lounging around it, laughing and talking. A few holographic screens floated above the bar playing real time sessions with those who liked to be watched in the act.
Music played softly, mingling with the sounds of sex.
Shalee sideglanced, looking to Kathetel as the Intaki asked, "Do you need a moment to decide your pleasure?"
Kathetel shook his head, "Actually, you can take us to the Red Room. We should be on the list."
Her grin widened as she checked her datapad, "Ah, yes, of course. Do follow me." She lead them to the far end of the room and through another, well guarded door. Again they were processed through a security checkpoint. They walked down a long hallway, the artifical lights blurred as she glanced up and stumbled.
The Intaki pretended not to notice as Kathetel slid his arm around her back, steadying her, "Easy love."
They were shown into private room. As the door sealed behind them, Kathetel lead her to a sofa. In front of them a holographic display shimmered into view, the portal icon a half nude girl with her panties stretched across her thighs.
"Capsuleers," Kathetel said, queing up the menu.
Shalee squinted as she rubbed her face. "So this is it? This is the 'Red Room'?" she made air quotes with her fingers. "It's not even red!"
He laughed. "Look," he motioned to the holo. "That is the Red Room." A list of names scrolled through the air in red letters. Faces flashed behind the names.
"What the fuck," she muttered as she recognized a few names. "This is like outside? A menu? Like...no way. These people can't work here, they are capsuleers!"
"Bingo. They are capsuleers. Were, anyhow."
He selected a name then answered her. "We're not paying for the actual person, it's their corpse."
"Get the fuck out. What? People pay for...to do...things..."
"There's an underground market for it, yeah, but only the very rich can afford it. To sex a capsuleer corpse is the ultimate dream for some."
She made a wretching sound. "That is so gross...wait. What are we doing here?!"
"Ordering." He chose an unfamiliar name. The wall behind them chimed several times as a side panel opened. A fabric covered slab with the corpse of a man slid into the room.
Shalee gasped, "What are you doing! You ordered us a corpse! I'm going to be sick."
He chuckled, "He was an agent; he was carrying something very valuable when he was podded." Kathetel unclasped Shalee's necklace and took it over to the body, using the end of the jagged jewel to slice into the dead flesh. He dug around until he found what he was looking for, a small chip.
Shalee followed him over to watch, her nose wrinkled. "I can't believe people actually do this." She cast a hesitant glance down the length of the nude body. "He doesn't even look like a corpse, he looks like he's alive."
"That's part of the procedure. They 'reanimate' the body, filling in anything that might be missing. The rest is parlor tricks. Nano animation that will respond to human contact."
"So you brought me all the way out here just so you could retrieve that?"
He nodded, "Pretty much. And to show you what you've forgotten. To show you what really goes on within the Federation. It's a hive of sin and desecration."
She winced. "I understand."
"Do you really? Do you understand that this is the sort of thing we fight against. To keep the Empire pure of this kind of blasphemy." He nodded his head toward the corpse. "This would never happen in Empire."
"As long as you continue with your duty, as long as you follow orders, we turn a blind eye to your other activities."
She quirked a brow, "Oh...I think I get it. So I wasn't really didn't betray either agency... I just did both."
"Precisely. Now..." he said as pushed he grabbed her chin and tilted her head to kiss her mouth before she could even react. She pulled away and slapped his face.
"What the hell do you think you're doing!" she demanded.
"We are in a pleasure hub, you need to walk out of here looking...pleased." He smirked as he rubbed his jaw. "Just part of the cover."