This story is set in a fictional space opera universe which my sister and I have been developing for some time. We hoped to create a universe which is reminiscent of the 1950s - 1960s camp science fiction with all the silliness and comedy of such.
Roxy Thanyu marched through the top floor of the Adhara Security Headquarters returning the greetings of her senior staff with a nod as she made her way to her office. Commander Computant, her second in command had called her back to work just as her head had touched her pillow. Apparently a serious breach of Alliance Law had taken place on the space station which required the Captain’s personal involvement but none of the staff looked particularly worried.
As Roxy neared her office, the large and luxurious space which overlooked Adhara’s Electric Avenue from the towering security building, she saw that Computant was waiting for her with a perplexed look on her android face. Roxy quickened her pace a little, Computant had refused to tell her exactly what the issue was over the Com-D and from her expression Roxy knew that it must be a matter of life and death.
“What’s the issue?” Roxy asked as she quickly ushered the android officer into her office and closed the door behind them. Her office was soundproof so nothing that was said within would be overheard.
Computant rubbed her hands together and slowly exhaled. Like most of the artificial lifeforms in the Alliance she had a full range of emotions and mimicked the gestures of the organic species with almost perfect accuracy. “There has been a most grave and serious breach of Alliance law.” she said shaking her head, so that the artificial fibres which simulated hair flicked back and forth.
“That’s exactly what you said on the Com-D.” Roxy replied taking her seat behind her desk. “Tell me what that means.”
Uninvited Computant sat in the chair in front of the Captain’s desk and shook her head again before stating. “A royal has used a machine to reverse her age.”
Roxy’s eyes narrowed as she observed Computant, the commander had to be lying. When the Alliance had been formed millennia ago, the five founding planets had drawn up the original laws and regulations which still served as the basis for law throughout the Alliance to the present day. There were laws which applied to the entire civilisation and then a series of laws which were to be observed expressly by the ruling class, the monarchs and royals of every Alliance world. One such law, the rule of changes forbad any type of physical or genetic alteration for cosmetic purposes. The wording of the law as far as she remembered was thus:
A person of royal or noble birth may not change their appearance through cosmetic surgery unless for reconstructive purposes to return them to their original appearance after an injury or accident or for practical functionality. Cosmetic surgery purely for vanity will result in forfeit of rank and position effective immediately and permanently.
To breach this law meant at best to give up forever any right of accession and at worse it meant death because it opened the royalty up to fraudsters and much more. There was no such law in place for the average Alliance citizen, they were free to alter themselves as much as they chose so long as it did not endanger their lives, replicate another individual’s face or constitute a security risk. In fact the top cosmetic surgeon in the Alliance was a prince and a personal friend of Captain Thanyu. As a princess herself she took any breach of this rule extremely seriously and she knew that it would cause a scandal throughout the Alliance.
“Who was it?” Roxy asked evenly. She simply could not believe that this could be true and she had begun to suspect some time ago, due to several events that her time as an investigator had told her could not possibly be coincidences, that Computant’s loyalty lay elsewhere. Perhaps she would at last slip up and reveal herself.
Computant looked up, meeting Roxy’s eyes as if she had read the suspicion in the Captain’s mind. “It was Princess Adhela of Hapi.” she said with a sigh.
For a moment Roxy was shocked by the name given, Princess Adhela was the younger sister of the Hippo Lord of Hapi, the moon of Varuna, one of the founding planets in the Alliance. Adhela was a powerful and well respected woman in her own right with years of service as an Alliance scholar. Roxy couldn’t imagine what could convince such a woman to risk everything that she had worked for as well as every advantage of her birth by modification. “Where is she?”
“At The Tower.” Computant said with a shrug. The Tower was a luxurious white marble castle with a tall spire in the absolute centre. The castle, set in its own extensive grounds was the obvious location for a royal prisoner. It was where every noble who made the mistake of committing a crime on Adhara Space Station was imprisoned.
Roxy stood up from her desk and was about to step into her private transporter when she saw a shimmer of light disappearing into the wall. “Get back here Adhara.” Roxy demanded angrily. The space station’s AI had a habit of lurking in holographic form whilst she recorded anything of interest for “Welcome To Adhara” the top rated television show that she broadcast each week to Electrion, the AI homeworld.
Adhara floated out of the wall and manifested herself more clearly. “Oh hey Roxy, what's up?” She asked nonchalantly with swish of her holographic hair.
Roxy glared, she didn't have time for Adhara's games. She had no idea why Princess Adhela had decided to commit her heinous crime on Adhara space station, bringing it under her jurisdiction but she wasn't going to be dragged any further into this scandal by allowing Adhara to let word of what had happened get out just for entertainment. No matter how profitable the show was. “Delete the recording.”
“What recording?” Adhara asked feigning surprise. “I don't know what you're talking about.”
Roxy felt herself becoming increasingly annoyed, she had worked a full shift the previous evening and hadn't gotten so much as one second of sleep. Now the space station was testing her patience. “Adhara I don't have time for this. Delete that recording. Now.” Roxy snapped.
“No.” Adhara laughed and then disappeared completely.
Roxy ground her teeth and slammed her fist down on her desk so hard that it broke in half. “Shall I go down to her palace and delete the file myself?” Computant asked leaping out of Roxy's reach.
“Don't bother, I'll do it myself later.” Roxy said stomping onto the transporter pad. She shouldn't have allowed herself to react to one of Adhara’s games. The AI was probably provoking her on purpose hoping to boost her ratings. Although
“Welcome To Adhara” was only broadcast on Electrion, Roxy had heard that it was dropping in the ratings ever since Cygni, Adhara's daughter station had begun broadcasting her new show, “Hanging Out With The Hongs”. Adhara was desperate to get her ratings back up. Vast amounts of revenue counted on it.
Realising that it was better not to say anything more to her boss, Computant joined Roxy on the teleporter pad and they teleported themselves to The Tower.
Roxy and Computant materialised on the transporter pad inside the warden’s office at The Tower where the warden, Commander Zircon was waiting for them. The tiny Gondorian saluted nervously to Roxy as she stepped off of the pad and strode towards him followed closely by Computant. “I can’t believe this Captain Thanyu, I simply can’t believe this.” he said shaking his head. “Never in a thousand years has a noble breached the law of change. Why now? Why in our time? Why on our station?”
Roxy looked down at Zircon, despite his diminutive stature he was a powerful fighter and there wasn’t usually much that frightened him but he was afraid now. She wasn’t surprised, many bizarre occurrences had been happened over the last few months and this latest incident was beyond believe. “I don’t know Zircon, I honestly don’t know.” Roxy sighed. “Has anyone spoken to the princess?”
“No Captain. I thought it would be best to wait for you and the Admiral before I questioned her.” Zircon assured Roxy, gesturing for her and Computant to take a seat. “The Admiral should be here any moment, she said that she would be here as soon as possible.” Admiral Hag was the commander of the space station and Captain Thanyu’s direct superior.
Roxy nodded her acknowledgement and adjusted herself on the plush sofa, she was so tired it was all that she could so not to sink into the seat’s softness and fall asleep. Computant sat next to her ramrod straight peering curiously around the room. “I think it was a mistake not to get the recording back from Adhara immediately.” she said turning back to Roxy. “By the time we finish here Adhara could have already broadcast this week’s programme.”
Roxy was just about to reply when the teleporter activated and Admiral Hag materialised on the pad, the scowl on her face clear from across the room as her eyes settled on Roxy “Where is that silly old fool?”
“I’ll take you to her.” Commander Zircon interrupted before Roxy had a chance to explain that she didn’t know where the Princess was being held. The Gondorian hurriedly opened the door and lead the group of women down a long corridor and then up a winding set of stairs to a room at the very top of the tower.
“Princess Adhela and I used to be best friends.” Admiral Hag whispered to Roxy as they made their way up the stairs.
“We attended Adhara Academy together. I can’t imagine why she would do something like this. She was always such a sensible girl when we were young.”
“I can’t imagine her motive myself.” Roxy agreed, as the door of the antechamber of the Princess’s cell suite opened and the small group entered the room. “There’s no inducement I can think of that’s worth a royal risking their position for.”
“I did it for love!” the beautiful young woman standing in the middle of the room said as she twirled around to give her visitors a full view of the effects of her transformation. Roxy marvelled at the proficiency of the machine. The years had slipped away and Princess Adhela looked as young as Roxy herself, exactly like her portraits from years long passed.
“For love?” Admiral Hag asked incredulously, glaring at her childhood friend with undisguised contempt. “Are you insane?”
Princess Adhela came to a stop and returned her former friend’s glare. “Is it insane to want to be loved and accepted?” She demanded angrily. “I thought you of all people would understand. Your people excel at the way of love.”
Admiral Hag, a succubus from the planet Lilit shrugged, “Sorry, I’m afraid I don’t.”
Princess Adhela threw back her head and began to cackle insanely, causing Roxy, Computant and Zircon to look at each other, an unspoken confirmation of the Admiral’s accusation of insanity passing between them. “Where did you get the device you used?” Roxy cut in, deciding that it was time to get down to the interrogation, she wanted to get this over and done with and get to sleep as soon as possible.
“I was stupid to think that someone like you could never truly understand!” Princess Adhela snapped, ignoring the Captain’s question and continuing her conversation with the Admiral. “How many men have you had over the years with your glamorous career in the Alliance Service?” she asked. “How many have you had simply because you wanted to? Now you dare to judge me, when after a lifetime alone I chose to do something for the man I love?”
Enraged, Roxy interrupted before Admiral Hag had a chance to respond, “I don’t have time for this. The Admiral did what any good Captain would do in her position, she lay back and thought of the Alliance. As for any other men she’s “had”, she’s a Lilitian, her people must procreate as much as possibly by their genetic design. What does that have to do with not understanding a silly old woman who is in love for a man who obviously doesn’t love her if he expects her risk everything in order to change herself for him?”
Princess Adhela drew in a deep breath and puffed out her chest, “How dare you! Do you know who I am?”
Roxy pulled her wary shoulders up to their full height and stared straight into the other Princess’s eyes. “Yes. You’re a nobody.” She said coldly, “From the time you altered yourself you gave up any privilege of birth or rank. Your presence in this castle is a mere courtesy to your brother, otherwise you would be in The Inferno amongst your equals. Now tell me where the device you used is located.”
The former Princess Adhela turned away and stepped towards the open window of her cell. “No, I won’t say anything until I’ve seen my beloved.”
This time it was Admiral Hag’s turn to interrupt. “You’re in no position to make threats.” she said angrily. “Tell us where the device is at once!” It seemed that it wasn’t only Adhela’s physical age which had been reversed, her minded seemed to have deteriorated as well. It was the only explanation for her brattish behaviour.
“Not until you bring my love to me.” Adhela insisted, though this time her voice was a little less haughty and demanding. At last the repercussions of what she had done seemed to be sinking in. The habits of a lifetime would have to give way now that she had given everything up for love.
Roxy rolled her eyes, an uncharacteristic gesture which showed just how tired and annoyed she really was. “Fine, tell me who he is and I’ll have your lover brought here at once.” She said crossing her arms.
A faint red blush spread over Adhela’s purple cheeks as she mumbled the name: “Prince Prince of Gondor.”
“WHAT!” Commander Zircon exclaimed breaking his silence for the first time since he had entered Adhela’s cell. Prince Amber or simply Prince as he was popularly known, thanks to the stupid habit his human mother had of nicknaming her children with titles instead of names, was the oldest son of King Shabani Jong, ruler of Zircon’s homeworld and a relative of his.
Zircon trembled in his calf high uniform boots, all eyes were on him and he felt the overwhelming dread of being tainted by association to the heinous crime. Prince, a fashion designer, was a selfish and narcissistic man who had little interest outside of himself and his designs and Zircon couldn’t imagine how he had managed to talk Adhela into the stupid action she had taken. Looking up, the short man’s gaze met the Captain’s. Roxy was glaring at him but she looked more tired than annoyed “Bring your cousin here immediately.” She ordered and Zircon scurried off to find Prince.