Ana waved at the barperson with rainbow hair and forced herself to speak louder than usual to order a Cosmic Sunrise with a Twist. The drink was slapped in front of her as she waved her anonymous credit key over the payment scanner built into the bar top. She cringed as she took her first gulp of bitter fire, then cringed again as she saw her reflection in the mirror in front of her. The enhancement was good – no one would ever be able to tell she hadn’t been born with ubiquitous brown eyes and unremarkable brown hair. Her nose and chin had also been altered, just enough to change her profile. She laughed – she didn’t feel any more comfortable with her new face than she had with the old one, bearing her father’s glacial blue eyes. But she wasn’t Ana anymore; she was Elisa now.
The vid feed was replaying highlights from the funeral yet again. Valda’s eulogy could just be heard over the hum of the early evening crowd – Yuri Maslov, President of the Galactic Federal Union, the perfect public and private man, tragically cut down in his prime. Elisa snorted. Yep, the perfect husband who couldn’t keep it in his pants and who, rumour had it, was assassinated because he had not taken one of his liaisons seriously enough – the favourite granddaughter of his main financial backer. The paid assassin had broken through the finest security system in the universe.
Elisa had not been there. Daddy dearest had allowed her to spend the night working with a fellow student. A carefully vetted student – God forbid that her father not control every single waking moment of her privileged but sterile existence. And of course, she had had the usual security detail with her. Jay had been in charge so it had been easy to disappear. She wondered if Jay had had anything to do with the security breach. She would never ask though; it didn’t matter. The President who thought it was ok to visit his nine-year-old daughter at night did not merit another second thought. His third wife, Valda, had put a stop to it, not out of any concern for her welfare but because it might tarnish his image. Valda had encouraged him to visit sex workers instead, enhanced to look much younger.
Jay, who had slowly gone from being one of her guardian shadows to being her whole world. Jay, who really saw her, who taught her that touch could be warm and safe, who confided in her that he had been legally born a woman but had had translation enhancement as soon as he could afford it. Jay had organised their enhancement sessions and the new IDs which contained a bug that erased all other IDs in the system linked to your DNA at the first scan, but she had used her expensive interstellar financial studies to syphon off a sizeable chunk of her father’s personal fortune.
As she raised her glass to the vid screen for the last swallow and whispered “Bye daddy”, she felt a gentle hand on her shoulder. She turned and the sun rose in her eyes as she smiled – had she been facing the mirror then, she might for once have believed she could be beautiful, her face transformed by joy. Jay smiled quietly back, his enhancement also subtle but enough to change the planes of his face. The hair colour was different but he had kept his grey eyes at her request. He stroked her cheek softly and she felt… treasured.
“Yes,” she said simply.