Kevin walked into Spellbook Slaves. The young man at the desk asked, “Can I help you?”

“Yes. I need a slave, for a special purpose, with one requirement. She needs to be as pretty as…” He trailed off, not having an objective measure of pretty. He looked at the slave holding cell in the lobby and saw two women in it, one quite pretty, and one adequately pretty. Kevin decided that the latter was as good a reference as he was going to get, and said, “as pretty as her, I suppose. The purpose for the slave is to swap for one that’s supposed to be in a whip-and-snuff show tonight. If you have one that’s not valuable for much else, that would be ideal.”

The young man pondered the requirements, then picked up a phone and called someone. When he got an answer, he spoke respectfully, as if to a boss. “Mike, do you remember that criminal-volunteer we got in last week? The one that knifed those people and volunteered for slavery to avoid prosecution? Yes, her. She’s uncooperative and mean, and swears like a sailor. Even the meat people didn’t want her. Do you think she’s as pretty as the latest one in the lobby holding cell?” A pause. “Yes, that’s a strange question, but it’s part of a customer’s requirements. He wants one as pretty as the latest one in the holding cell, as a comparison, but doesn’t have any other requirements other than low cost. I figured that our resident felon would fit the bill.” A few more moments and, “Yes, I think she’d do. I’ll show the customer. Is the price in the computer current?” A question from the boss, and the response, “A whip-and-snuff show, I’ve been told. The slave he’s buying will be the replacement for the current candidate. Oh, really? I’ll tell him.” The man put down the phone and said, “Look at this one.” He brought up an image of a slave in a cage on a screen in the lobby. The slave was pretty enough, thought Kevin, but looked nasty and dirty.

Kevin asked, “What’s up with her? She’s pretty enough to be treated better than that.”

“She’s a violent criminal that tried to get out of getting convicted and snuffed by volunteering here. She’s been a terrible slave ever since. She swears like a sailor all the time, won’t work, scares off customers, and is generally not worth having around. You can have her for $200 if the boss gets to see the show.”

“Sold! The show is at Sucker’s tonight. I need to have her there by 5. I don’t know when the show will be, but I expect that it will be later in the evening when there are more customers.” Kevin stopped, looking thoughtful, and said, “If she’s as bad as you say, I’m not sure I can get her there, and she’s looking pretty bad. They may not accept her.”

“I can take care of that. Some of the staff slaves here have taken all of her that they can take, and they’ll clean her up. With a stun wand and cold water, I expect. I’ll get her restrained and drive her over. I’d like to see it too. I think the staff slaves would like to see it too, but Sucker’s doesn’t let nude slaves in.”

Kevin let out a sigh of relief. He’d been afraid that he couldn’t afford a replacement, and he’d found one. These people were being helpful, not what he expected from slavers, and he thought that perhaps this slave might be worse than they’d said, for that low of a price and the cleaning up and the delivery. The desk man saw some of that go across Kevin’s face, and said, “Yes, she’s pretty bad, and we are throwing in some extra services just to get rid of her with some small profit, and perhaps some entertainment. When I deliver her, I’ll ask them when the show will be.”

Kevin gave him a credit card to finish the transaction. When that part was done, he said, “I also have to pay the fees to get the slave I’m swapping for transferred to me. Can you do that when you deliver this slave to Sucker’s?”

“Yes, if you are there. It will be about $100.”

“That will be fine. Can you deliver at about 4? That will give me a safety margin.”

“Sure. It’s a pleasure doing business with you.”