I stir myself awake, and look around for a clock. They pulled the chip with my watch in it, so there are no little numbers on my wrist. I check anyway, like I’ve been doing for months.
There’s one on a table. I’ve been asleep for almost ten hours. Good for you, Eleven. A third of the day, just like they recommend. I sleep too much on the ship.
I lounge in the sheets for awhile. They’re very good quality. I think this is because this bed used to belong downstairs, and who wants to stay in a whorehouse with cheap sheets?
Then after a bit I swing my legs out of bed, and look down at my body for a bit. Still a woman’s body. Still breasts. Still vagina. Still sucked a dick in it. Legs look pretty good though. The balls of my feet ache from the boots still.
But I look great in the boots, so that’s not going to change until it gets unbearable. And when it does I’ll get some Dr. Sholles.
Speaking of. I need to get breakfast, I think about it for a second, then decide that for what I need to do, the sun dress is most appropriate.
Selling. Yeah, that’s it.
I decide to breakfast on the z-level, and once I get up into the gloom, I find a cart selling some kind of meat pastry thing. I think it’s supposed to be for lunch eating, I can’t really understand the guy selling it (again, that’s how you know it’s a good meat cart).
On a station, no one really keeps a day schedule. Ships are arriving all the time with their own shift schedule and local time, and their passengers get off and don’t want to wait for the shops to open. So the shops just never close. There’s money to be made keeping staff on for thirty hours a day, so that’s what they do.
The pastry is small, and I try to ask the guy where I can get a cup of coffee. I have to mime drinking from a cup, and he nods, and points me down the promenade.
I don’t know what they sell in this shop, but it sure as hell, ain’t coffee. It reeks of something I’ve never smelled before, and don’t like, and I end up on level 4.
In a Waffle House.
Oh, sure. It’s called “House of Waffles,” which is different. On a sign in the Waffle House colors, in the Waffle House font. They have Waffle House menus, with all the dishes in the same places, and the same names. The same in every way, except on paper, where Waffle House would have to answer a whole lot of questions from the feds.
No, this is just some private establishment, owned by a freelancer. A freelancer who somehow comes up with Waffle House signature batter.
But they have coffee as well as waffles, and while the meat pie was good, it was small.
There are a bunch more camo guys in here, sitting and smoking cheap paper cigarettes. They stink like Beardy, and this stench is familiar, but I can’t place it at all.
A waitress drops off my plate, while some weird gang members wait for a table to open up. I eat quick, and when the waitress drops off the check I throw her tip on the table and go off to find a gun store.
I ride the elevator down to the hangers with some burly biker chicks. All four of them have Gen-B bodies, and very strange tattoos. They also stink. Leather and sour.
They strap on a bunch of Ex-V gear, and I wish them a great ride. I don’t know what there is to ride around out here, we’re in deep space. They’re probably negotiating a drug drop with someone. There’s some things you can’t even move on a dark station.
Mitch has made a mess inside my ship, but I don’t see him in the hanger. He probably has things to do, and once he knows what I need to filter, printing the equipment doesn’t take constant supervision.
I unlock the hold, and crack the show crate. Inside is ordinance, cases, and ammo. Everything I need to show people what I’ve got. The other crates just have a ton of weapons in them. I stock a briefcase, lock the hold again, and put on a bra.
On the way out of the hanger, I run into Mitch. He’s sitting in his office doing some kind of account things, and smoking a cigar.
I lean on the doorway, in a way that I can distantly think of as sexual in a woman, but would have felt natural as a guy. “So what was it?”
“Carbonized poly-sytrylene particles, mostly. Just some industrial gunk.” He turns away from his computer, looks at me, and runs a hand through his hair.
Huh. Guys do that too. I never noticed.
“It probably wouldn’t have even made you sick, but you know the system will shut you down ‘just in case.’”
I shrug my standard [Government. Whatchoo gonna do?] shrug.
“I got the part printing, you’re looking at six or seven thousand, after labor.”
I like the way he doesn’t give me an exact answer, in case he wants to see how high he can bill me. I just give him a little nod, say thank you, and give a little finger wave as I leave again.
I head off to the gun store that’s largest and closest, on level 3.
Wanna know how you sell some guns? You go into a gun store, and you ask them if they want to buy any guns. Yeah, it’s that simple.
Not at first of course. At first you have to talk to them, about guns, for one or two hours. You look at their guns for awhile, you tell them about other guns you’ve used, they tell you about the guns that they sell, you tell them about the guns you want to buy, they tell you about the stuff they’ve heard about how the government is gonna take away all their guns, you tell them you know, they tell you how the government is hiding mind control chemicals in your shampoo, and about the poison the corporations are hiding in your food, they tell you to watch a documentary, you change the subject back to guns, etc.
At least that’s the plan. It runs into a snag when I walk into the store and am immediately ignored by everyone around me. I can’t make eye contact with the man behind the counter, I can’t get the attention of any of the yahoos standing in circles and talking about ammo. No one will look at the pretty girl in the dress, with ordinance they would line up to suck my dick to own.
I go to the counter, and the clerk glances my way for a second, before turning back to his console. He thinks he has better things to do than talk to “som lil’ womin, thinks she know sommthin ‘bout guns.”
Does he think he’s the only gun seller on this can?
So I walk to the door, pivot in the entryway, and make sure he can see me give him both fingers. He makes a gesture that would get him shot in any other situation, and I turn on my heel and storm away.
Bob’s Gun’s is on level five. Bob’s Gun’s might normally be run by Bob, but right now it’s being run by Carolyn.
Bob made the sign to Bob’s Gun’s. Bob does not see a problem with the grammar of Bob’s Gun’s. Carolyn laughs as she tells me this, and I decide I like Carolyn.
She makes eye contact with me as soon as I enter the store, dismisses some guys in camo, and leans over to rest her breasts on the counter. She’s matronly, rather than fat, has poorly died red hair, and a bandanna. Now that I’m noticing makeup, her makeup is really bad. She wears a leather vest and I can see the pockets are worn from carrying magazines.
We talk guns for a bit. I look as some high wattage hand guns, and ask her about IR laser sights. She opens a case, and we find one in a band that shows up to my naked eye. That’s really cool, a laser pip that no one else can see. We talk a little bit about the butterflies. I buy the sight.
The second thing I need more, but the sight was a good opener. The way I look, girl in a sun dress? Better to convince the proprietor I already know what I’m doing.
But I still get a little trembly when I ask, “Do you have something… discrete? Something that will go with…” I gesture to my—everything.”
Carolyn waggles her eyebrows at me, “I have just the thing.” We scoot down the counter to where the pieces get smaller. I don’t usually frequent this end of the counter in a gun shop, so I’m a little surprised at what I find.
Lady guns. For ladies.
She opens the case with an old fashioned key, and pulls out a little tray. On it there are dainty like 20–30 kW hand guns. Some of them have been coated with pink lacquer. Some of them have little swirls on them. One has little butterflies for irons.
Then Carolyn pulls out another tray, and these are heavier, 35–40, and they are sexy. Purple, with lacy fringes. If you could make lingerie that could kill someone at 20 yards, it would look like this.
The gun seller watches my face, while I peruse. I want to like the sexy ones, but…
There’s a little 24 snub on the left. Curved, fitted grip. Pearl inlay.
I pick it up and check the chamber before I sight it. Carolyn’s eyes give a little approval, and I know she knows I know my shit.
It fits in my small hand like it was made for it. I know it’s not, but it feels warm. It feels right. God help me, I let out a little squeal in delight, and change it to a cough as fast as I can.
“It’s called “The Mrs. Regan,” Carolyn tells me.
“I’m gonna need to try it out.” Don’t get giddy Eleven.
So Carolyn calls Bob down on a shop phone, and Bob is grumpy, and maybe a little stupid about things that aren’t guns, and Carolyn and I go to the test range while Bob watches the counter.
Carolyn is probably some gun loving freak job, but she’s responsible. We get eyes and ears, and I buy a couple of plastic targets and blast them. My hands still shake the barrel, and my triangle is six inches larger than normal. But Mrs. Regan fires like a dream. Soft kick, light weight, good machining. The magazine slides in and out like it was greased, and doesn’t make a sound when you tap it in. Even her spin up time make a more feminine buzz than I’m used to. I’m sold, the seller knows it, and we go back upstairs. Bob is grumpy at the other end of the counter, trying to explain to some bearded taint that, no, he will not mail them ammo. There’s a shouting match, the camo man storms out, and Bob pulls out an ashtray, sets it on the counter with a clink of glass on glass, and lights up a camel.
I lay my new toy on the glass and try not to do it trepidatious. I have to go even farther into this cave. I have a standard to uphold here, “I like it. But I need it custom.”
This gets an actual look of respect from her, “We’ve got a lot of equipment in the back.”
I smile. Carolyn pulls out a folding tablet, unfolds it, and I start going through all the modifications.
Needs night irons. Needs a new guard. That guard has a rose on it. Not practical Eleven. It’ll catch on shit. But my eyes stay on it.
I realize that I’m leaning on the counter, and my right leg is on it’s toe behind me, and it’s rocking around. I care less about that than I would have when I came into this shop. Something is slowly getting chipped away.
I come to a page that stops me dead. Enamel for that pearl grip. And there are roses. And my gun can match my dress. And for no earthly reason, that’s suddenly important to me.
Carolyn sees me stay on the page for a minute, and then helpfully taps the “like this” link on the summary. More pretty roses to go on my gun. After a few moments I put my finger on the one I want.
“That one?” She asks.
I bite my lip and smile while I nod at her.
She takes the gun, and then says, “I gotta go into the back, then I’ll come back with something for ya.”
Then she goes into the back, and comes back with something for me. It’s nailbox. She hooks it up to the tablet, then hides the screen from me as she goes through the options. “Okay, this is perfect. Give me your hand. Don’t look.”
I put my hand in hers.
“I said don’t look!”
I roll me eyes and turn my head, and feel her slip the little box over each nail.
And I look at my nails, done in pearl with little roses on them. Now my nails match my dress, match my gun! I have no idea why this makes me so happy, but I hug her across the counter, and shake away the tears before she can see.
We’re prepared to settle down and wait for a bit. Carolyn turns to her husband, “Waddya think?” Then to me, “show him your nails, honey.”
I hold them up, and Bob give a grumpy little nod, like he has no idea why this would be important. An hour ago I was right there with you, Bob.
His wife pulls the ashtray over, lights up herself, and starts a fight, “She’s a pretty girl, Bob. She wants to blow someone’s fucking head off while she looks like a lady.”
Bob does not engage, “Sure she does. Makes sense.”
“Pay no attention to him hon,” She tells me. “The only class he had was before he dropped out of school.”
Alright. We have a report. Time to do what I came here to do. “What I really want is one of the Sector’s LM–5 Feather Dusters. Do you have those.”
Carolyn, who knows a pitch when she hears one, narrows her eyes. Then she walks over, locks the door of the shop, and puts up the lunch break sign. “Haven’t heard of it. Sector makes good stuff.”
I lean on the counter, “It’s small, only 30 kilowatts. But it folds up to the thickness of a phone, and wraps like a piece of cloth.”
“You mean you can wrap it up in a piece of cloth,” Carolyn leans back and puts her cigarette arm over the back of the chair. Bob leans in close but doesn’t say anything.
“No” I lean forward, “I mean the thing bends, like cloth.”
Carolyn drags on her cigarette and looks at the briefcase I’ve been carting around. She moves her teeth around her tongue, “What’s it fire?”
“Semi-auto only, at three per second.”
“Not a lot.”
Bob taps his finger on the counter, “Duddn’t have to be. Not if you can hide it inside your panties.”
Carolyn stands straight and goes into the back, and Bob waits for me to follow.
At the range, eyes on, and a pair of cans around each of our necks, I open the briefcase, and pull out what could honestly be a really thick wash rag. “Binds to any other piece of cloth, here,” I show them the bind strips. “Changes to any flat color you want,” I change it to the cream of my dress.
“Folds up in less than a second, if you practice.” I put my finger through the little ring in the corner, give it a shake, and it waves around like one of those plastic toy snakes, and ends up a little pop gun in my hand. I check the chamber and then it gets passed around.
Carolyn and Bob are very impressed. They spend some time folding it and unfolding it. Finally Bob says, “You can’t really do it wrong. It folds up every time. Like a butterfly knife, ya’ don’t need to practice with.”
He’s the easy sell. Carolyn’s a bit harder.
She holds out a hand, and I give her a magazine. Cans on, she fires twelve into the target, and then brings it in to check the spread. She sniffs, “Not that accurate.”
Bob says, “Duddn’t have to be. You can hide it in your bra.”
And Carolyn nods really slow, and I know I’ve got her.
“Sector sells them for twelve k, but with the permits it’s more like eighteen.” She’s about to ask how many I’m selling, “Fifty,” I say, before she asks, “thirty k each.”
Bob guffaws, but it’s a show, “Honey, I can’t move these for less than fifteen.”
“They don’t show up under x-ray, or spec scan. Only the newest sniffers can smell them.”
That changes all of his mind. “Twenty thousand, let me sell them for thirty.”
“Twenty two.” Eight thousand dollar profit for Bob, let him have it.
Bob just spits into his hand and sticks it out to me. I spit into my palm and smack it in to his.
Carolyn unfolds her gun and wraps it around the sleeve of her shirt. Deal struck, I don’t even ask for the piece back. She gets the show piece for free. That’s manners.
She doesn’t offer it back either. She’s made gun deals before.
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