Dark Markets: Bio-Modification

Body modification surgeries have become all the rage in the core planets in the last year or two. Wealthy citizens are outfitting themselves with implanted personal assist chips, payment nodes, and even encrypted data safes, all connected straight into the nervous system.

The industry is highly regulated by the Senate, and all implants must be registered with the government, but as with any profitable, restricted industry, there is always someone looking to make money on the outside. This week, I interview an underground bio-implant tech who will outfit anyone with anything.

Join me this week on “Dark Markets” as we dive into a world at the intersection of surgery and engineering with “Moi”; the most influential man in the industry.

For the safety of Moi and his clients, any and all names have been changed.

So, not all of our readers live on planets where bio-implants are available yet, could you describe what exactly it is you do?

Sure. So imagine something that you can’t do. Not just you, but just something out of the realm of traditional biology. Maybe you want the ability to interface directly with your home’s AI? Cut out the terminal middle-man and just speak face to face. I can make that happen with a surgery that lasts just 45 minutes.

So you are basically installing new hardware into people?

Exactly. Think of it like upgrading your old system. A lot of the time it’ll be simple. Ocular implants for people losing their sight. Most people looking for something like that will go through the proper channels if they can, just to avoid the risk involved with coming to me, but sometimes time is of the essence and they cannot wait for the request to travel up and down the pipeline. That’s probably the biggest reason most whitelisters come to me. Everyone else usually wants something that the government won’t allow.

Like what?

Like data safes for storing information that you don’t want to be indexed in your brain. The new ones are invisible up until they open you up for your autopsy. A lot of people get these new ocular lenses that let you log and track people by their heat signature. I had someone come in a few months ago who wanted claws.

Wow. That sounds conspicuous.

A little, but when they retract below the fingernails you’d have to be giving her a manicure to notice.

Who needs claws?

Some people want them for self-defense, but some just like to see the look of surprise on people’s faces.

Yikes.

Yeah, but I have to make a living. What people do once they leave my operating room is none of my business.

I understand the line of thought, but don’t you feel some sort of responsibility for the crimes committed with your assistance? Clearly, you understand the illegality of what you do?

Oh sure, I understand that I’m may be helping to facilitate criminal acts, but you have to understand, these people were going to do these things with or without the tools I offer. The way I see it, I’m helping keep underprepared people alive.

You see this as a public service?

In a way, yes. People come to me for help getting a job done and I’m setting them up to succeed. Without me, they could get arrested, killed, or worse, they could be caught and reveal information about me. I’m protecting them and myself.

Let’s move on, shall we?

Sure.

How did you first get into this line of work?

I actually grew up fixing autos. A lot of similar tech used to be used by taxi drivers before the biological processes involved were streamlined. They would get banking interfaces or data vaults. Some had shock systems installed in the backseat just in case a customer decided to try anything funny. It wasn’t until I was 30 that the first bio-mods started being used in a government work.

So you had to learn the biological aspect of things? I’d imagine that was much more complex.

Yes and no. Yes, a living body is much more complex than a P16x Cruiser, but a lot of the same systems are there. You’ve got fuel, brain, and limbs, so the abstract is surprisingly similar. I took a few classes in wartime surgery back when it looked like the belt was going to revolt, and besides, most of the hardware is so plug and play now, it really comes down to how well you sterilize and how steady your hands are.

Have you had any close calls with law enforcement?

A couple. The worst was this time I sent a guy to pick up a hardware dead drop. He got nabbed coming back and I had to remote wipe his brain. It used to be that you could just wipe specific parts, but the neural forensics has gotten so good that to be safe, I had to format the guy.  

Format?

I had to clean out his whole setup. Basically turned him into a vegetable.

Holy shit.

Yeah, he was a good dude. Plus I had to eat the loss on the hardware too.

Do you face much competition from within the industry?

A bit. You occasionally get some pushback from someone trying to make a name for himself, but I’ve learned to nip that in the bud. Better to take out some wet behind the ears nobody than have to deal with him once he’s got enforcers.

I definitely try not to resort to violence, though. Reason and intimidation are more my speed. You know, most people who try their hand at this are doctors or scientists. They don’t have the necessary street smarts to thrive in an unregulated world, so most of them take the hint when I approach them.

What do you think is the most important lesson that you’ve learned over the course of your career?

Honestly, ignore people’s petty distinctions of right and wrong. The Cluster is too big for anyone one definition to apply. Is it right for someone not to steal and let his family starve when the government overextends on their food spending? Is it wrong for the people to work within a twisted law and become richer than they would ever need to be? I feed my family and that’s the ultimate good in my book. I think other people should feel justified in doing the same.

 

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