"Get your implant, today! Half price! Offer expires in a jiffy!" Barely audible over the ruckus of the marketplace, Ronnie waves a cybernetic eye, dangling it from its connectors. "Best manufacture on the station. Come on, how about an extra ear?"
None of the hurried denizens stop or even glance Ronnie's way. Her booth sits at the edge of the cluster of less savoury merchants, where shame runs rampant and people cover their faces. She sighs.
"No customers today, either," she tells the mechanical critter that serves as a mascot.
It beeps, almost as if it could understand, but it's nothing more than a toy. Ronnie pats its round body anyway.
"If we sold all the cyberlivers," Ronnie muses over the angry rumbling of her stomach, "we'd have food for months. Imagine that."
"Um, excuse me?"
Ronnie's twirl puts her almost nose to nose with—hng. "You smell wrong," she says without thinking, and quickly smacks a hand over her mouth.
The cloaked figure before her nods, twice, a sad little movement.
"That's why I came," they say. "I heard you… accept alternative payment?"
Ronnie raises an eyebrow. People usually have to be convinced to go the alternate routes, even though it costs them nothing. But hey, money is good, too, and Ronnie knows just where to spend it, hassle as it is. To be sought after specifically, though, that's new.
"I might," she admits. "Depends on what you have to trade."
The customer unzips their coat and gestures to their breasts. "These."
Ronnie licks her lips. "To be replaced with?"
And that one word is like being doused in ice water. Ronnie steps back. "Look here, I don't know what you think, but I'm not—"
"I know what you are. Don't bother denying, you smelled I was unhappy." They pull their coat closed, shoulders hunched, and when they speak again, it's in a whisper. "I can't afford a surgeon and you have the skills. I don't want anything in return. Won't tell anyone, either."
It's really tempting. Judging by the size of the offer, she could save enough to build at least a set of smaller bio-implants for those who want them.
"My client, my master," Ronnie says with a mock-salute. "But to be a client, you have to buy something."
They freeze, because that wasn't a no, and then quickly snatch the eye still hanging from Ronnie's lifted hand.
"Very well. Would you like that installed… sir? Ser? Zix?"
"Leo," they offer with a grin. "And no, thank you."
Ronnie bares all her pointed teeth in response. "What method of payment would you prefer?"
"This way, then."
As Leo makes their way through the door leading to the back of the shop, Ronnie stops to make a note in her sales register.
One cybernetic eye. Payment by barter: organic materials; meal ingredients.
She winks at her critter. "Looks like dinner will be special tonight."