Author : Liz Lafferty

Memory swap was the addictive drug of the 23rd Century.

Swap was rather a misnomer; one had to be dead in order to be relieved of the memories locked inside the brain. No known process had been developed to remove the memories from a living person without killing them. Derelict users had become prone to kidnapping and killing many innocents. Each species seemed to be targeted evenly.

It was a predicament the United Galaxies had grappled with for the last twenty years, finally assigning me the jurisdictional task of regulating and punishing all offenders. No simple matter considering there were over two hundred and sixty habitable planets under my thumb.

The other predicament, one the UG hadn’t considered nor tested for, since I was widely held as the moral standard for all things lawful in my quadrant. I was one of the worst addicts in the galaxy.

Naturally, I got to see the list of ‘drugs’ before every raid. I got to say what got kept and what got destroyed.

My sanguine approach to the job allowed me to selectively indulge in my addiction. I usually kept the very best minds for myself; never anything vulgar or morally reprehensible. Not all users were able to control themselves like I could.

Suffice it to say, it was an explosive rush when the memories — the fantasies, the sexual conquests, the emotions, the secrets — poured into your own memory once you hooked in, but like all drugs, faded to something akin to a dream once you came off the high. Being an addict normally destroyed the user since they tended to go for the worst sort of retrievals: serial killers, rapists, warmongers.

I realized right away that I could contain only a small part of the trade, but certainly the deadliest.

I was able to immediately make a large impact on the criminal trade. Criminals were no longer allowed to live. Once a creature entered the galaxy penal system, they were put to death and cremated. Period.

Yes, yes. I’ve heard it before. A few innocents inevitably got swept up in the net.

Within a few years, my decision was widely hailed since it also cut back on the expense of housing galaxian riff-raff.

Once the worst of the trade was under control, I went for the scientific technology, developed by the Betelgeusens. The extractions were expensive and precise. The spine, stem cells and brain had to be kept in an incubator until usage, but users could plug in as many times as they wanted. Since my assignment began, the technology had gotten better. Faster. Cheaper. My team went after processing and storage centers. The memories couldn’t be stored electronically.

We’d gotten word of a huge shipment of illegal criminal minds being transferred to Alfa Centauri’s Black Moon. We were there to intercept the cargo ship.

Inside, we found ten optimum-grade platinum memory containers. When I saw the names on the outside of the container, I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. Someone had paid big bucks for the memory drugs inside and I wanted them.

It wasn’t my usual philosophical fare. It was an addict’s dream.

I hesitate to tell you whose memories they were for fear you’ll think I’m exaggerating. But I wanted to try them. Ang Pheron, the most celebrated whore of our generation. General Zod Doranda, leader of the Orion uprising and Patto Synestol, the famed mass-murderer. I frowned at the last name. He was supposed to be dead and cremated. Some employees weren’t to be trusted.

I sighed.

Just this once.

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