The first time Sally Silvestra walks into someone’s office is a memorable one. The archetypical spoiled brat stands in your doorway. She whips her platinum braid over her shoulder. “Ugh.” If that’s not the first word out of her mouth, you should take it as a compliment. Her violet (very expensive surgery) eyes roll back into her head. Her imported dress swishes against her dress with every haughty step. Sally refuses to wear anything that isn’t imported. If she’s visiting the current trendy country to buy clothes from, she has something else flown in from overseas. You can’t just fit in and have someone assume you’re a local, can you? What’s even the point of money if you can’t let everyone know how much better you are? Even the goggles she wears around her neck (she’d never wear them, because her hair) were wrought from Portugese iron, and they don’t even mine iron there.
Streaks of silver decorate her clothes. Every light source makes her wrists, her waist, and any number of her countless petticoats (the Infinite Petticoat Manifold is very hot in Cyberfrance right now.) shine with raw wealth. Her pale fingers refuse to touch the filthy real world unless they have to. In a future where most people don’t have to work for a living, Sally takes it to the next level. Her porcelain fingers are nearly unmarred by the slings and arrows of physical contact. The only exercise they get is pointing and braiding her luxurious white hair. The soles of her shiny black hoverheels- a miniature repulsor lift holds the heel aloft instead of a primitive spike- clack against the floor. They’re often the only part of her wardrobe that touches the real world. She wanted shoes that wouldn’t touch anything, but it turns out you need some friction to move around with any real speed. Those miniature lifts are great, but they don’t provide nearly enough thrust to replace walking. Yet. Sally was currently funnelling millions of dollars towards that very technology.
Sally doesn’t waste time with small talk. Well, she does, but not with people with smaller trust funds than hers. She comes into your office, scoffs at it, and immediately starts talking. Sometimes she’ll be doing it for a few minutes before she realizes you’re not actually there. She’d done that today, actually.
“-And I want it to make me invisible when I touch the heels together, unless it’s part of-“
Liz strolled out of her filing room. “Sally.” She thought she heard something. “If you’re going to start demanding things, the least you can do is make sure I’m here when you do.” She tosses a few manilla folders onto her already overcluttered desk. A swarm of nanobots carries it to the best place they can- the precarious pile that was Liz’s “look at it later” mound.
“It’s Ms. Silvestra to you.” Scoff. “Waiting is a luxury you have when your time is worthless. You’re lucky I’m paying for this at all.” Sally barely noticed Liz walking in. “Until you get longevity treatments worked out, I’m not interested in wasting time.”
“I can put your brain in a robot body whenever you want, Sally. Just say the word.”
“And waste what I, Ms. Silvestra, have been preserving my whole life? No thank you. Eternal youth or bust.”
“I thought you didn’t want bust enhancements, Ms. Silvestra.” The words refused to come out normally. Something about them always came out sarcastic.
“Do you remember what I said about wasting time? I’m on a tight schedule.” She was late for a peeled grape lunch, and darn if she was going to postpone again.
“You’re wasting more time reminding me than if you’d tell me what you want.” Liz kicked her heavy, rubber-soled boots onto her desk. She pushed a few wayward documents out of the way. Most of them were for show. Everything’s digital, but people expect their mad scientists for hire to have messy desks. Just like how you don’t trust a private eye who doesn’t wear a trench coat, isn’t named “Dick” or doesn’t mention dames with gams that don’t quit.
“Fine. There’s a dance this weekend. You’ve probably heard of the Bella Tolls Ball.”
“That philanthropic back-patting party?” Liz idly assembled a miniature helicopter to go buzz the heiress while she talked. Its tiny rotors sparked to life and promptly took off. It managed to blow a few sticky notes onto the floor en route.
“It’s the biggest charity event of the season, thank you very much. I had to build an orphanage just to get on the wait list. Then, they had the nerve to take me off after they told me it’s all about foster care now.” Sally swatted the copter out of the air. Liz was already hard at work on a new one. “It took digging wells for everyone in some village to get me my invitation.”
“Every time you complain, my hourly rate goes up another twenty dollars.” A mini crop duster took off from her grease-stained hands.
“First, I need a dress.” Sally said. “Constantly in motion. It should look like I’m a waterfall crashing onto the floor. There should be some kind of stealth technology so I can avoid boring conversations. I should be able to make the water into whatever I want so I don’t have to flag down a waiter for a drink. It can’t get my shoes wet. Your little volcano outfit had that problem all night. I have to be as pure and fresh as all those wells I dug.” She, so far, didn’t notice the dust being air dropped into her hair.
“You don’t know how to work a shovel.”
“Fine. As pure and fresh as the wells I paid for and posed for photos with. If I look good here, there’s a chance there’ll be more work for you.”
“Oh, good. I don’t know what I’d do without your company.”
“Consider how I never see anyone else in here, you’d be bankrupt. Which is why I have a second request.” She reached into her dress and extracted a glowing wad of bills. You almost never saw cash any more, let alone a fistful of five hundreds. She tossed it onto the desk. Liz sat up for the first time since Sally’s arrival. “I need a date.”
Liz rolled the wad towards her. She looked at the money, then Sally, then back to the money. She called the crop duster back and took it apart in a flash. She needed the parts for a little electronic probe.
“It’s real, Liz. Just got it from the bank.” She rolled her eyes. “Like it or not, being crazy gets you in the ‘in’ crowd these days.” She turned on her heel. “Besides. I need you there in case your work goes haywire again. I’ll pick you up at eight. Wear something nice, but don’t you dare upstage me.” That was the angriest Sally’s ever sounded.
Liz sighed, rolled the wad onto her desk, and got to work. The downside of only having one client is that you don’t get to say things like “no” very often. She grumbled and counted her ill-gotten gains. She’d taken abuse from Sally before, but she was kind enough to condense the unpleasantness into short office visits. A whole evening with her would be a different story. Could Sally keep up her usual level of abrasiveness all night? Or would she spread it out? Liz let the handful of bills fall on her desk. A heavy sigh left her lungs. Now she had to build an impossible dress, something for herself, and manage to spend a whole evening in high society with the most abrasive person in her life. At least she’d drum up some business.
“Well. Good thing I’m brilliant.”