Relaxed and finally having shifted down the gears until she felt that she was almost herself again, Tamara Dumas slipped into the booth and across the cracked leather of the seat until she was sitting directly opposite the man in the suit. Her last dance had ended more than an hour before and now there was no need for a performance on her part. It was no matter to her that the attention of a well dressed individual this long after she was off stage always meant the offer of serious money, if the customer was that interested in the goods he could stand to see the person behind the body that went on show every night.
If not then he could go to hell for all she cared.
Tamara sized the man in the suit up as she lit a cigarette and took a long drag.
He was an odd one, not that it was immediately obvious. But when she studied him it became clear that he was perhaps the most nondescript individual that Tamara had seen in her lifetime. His age was hard to determine, as was his ethnic background beyond the fact that he was white and possessed a head of hair the colour of sand. His features were not unpleasant, just unremarkable and his clothes were expensive, but seemed to have been chosen to make the wearer blend into the background.
He smiled at Tamara, ignoring the cloud of smoke she blew across the table.
"Nice to meet you," Tamara cast out an opener in the hope he would respond.
"The feeling is mutual," the man's accent could have been anything from English to German for all she could tell.
"So," she went on, "let's cut to the chase and talk business."
"Oh yes?" the man raised his eyebrow as if her words has amused him slightly.
"Ground rules first," Tamara began her usual sales pitch, "quick proviso of what I will and won't do and then we can move on to talking money."
"Why would I be interested in any of that?"
"Because I don't work for free," Tamara laughed.
"Of course," the man shook his head, "you are under the misplaced belief that I am here in order to hire your services for some kind of erotic spectacle."
"That is not the case," the man shook his head again and Tamara felt a sudden, sharp pain in her leg under the table, "I am simply here to make an initial visual appraisal of you for my employer."
"What!" Tamara grabbed at her leg.
"Now that I am satisfied with you," the man slipped out of the booth and started to glance around the bar, "all that remains is to hand you over to more qualified colleagues."
She noticed a cane in his hand and a needle jutting from the tip; the whole thing was like a scene from a spy movie, seemingly so unbelievable.
Tamara wanted to get her hands on the man in the suit, shout for help or at least make a run for the exit. But her limbs were becoming heavier by the second and her thoughts more and more confused. She tried to clamber out of the booth, but as she did it occurred to her that they seemed to be alone in the bar. The fact that there were no other patrons at the tables or staff to be seen had passed her by when she walked in there, but now it was obvious that they were alone for a reason.
Over come by whatever had been delivered by the jab of the needle, Tamara collapsed out of the booth and was saved from hitting the floor by the man in the suit. He carefully laid her prone form on the floor of the bar and turned his attention from her for the last time.
Before she descended into unconsciousness, Tamara watched him straighten his clothes as if he were doing nothing more than innocently waiting for an elevator.
Then there was nothing.
The doors to the kitchen swung open noisily as two men wheeled a medical gurney into the deserted bar. Both were anonymous beneath white suits and masks that resembled hazmat gear and neither made any attempt to communicate with the man in the suit. Instead they focussed their attention on Tamara's immobile form, checking her vital signs and assessing her condition until they seemed satisfied that some unspoken condition had been satisfied.
One man slipped his hands under Tamara's arms while the other took hold of her legs and between them they lifted her quickly, but gently onto the gurney. Once she had been placed on their conveyance, the men strapped her at the wrists and ankles, making certain that she was as secure as they could make her.
With their charge in place, the men simply turned and wheeled Tamara back the way they had come, through the doors to the kitchen and out of the back entrance of the bar.
In all the time they were working in the same room as him, the man in the suit did not once make to communicate with them in any way. For all he seemed concerned they may as well have been invisible and once they had departed he did nothing more then slip his cane under his arm and walk calmly out of the front door and into the night.
At the rear of the building the men in hazmat suits wheeled Tamara across the small parking lot and towards a large van that was sitting with its engine idling. Like the men the vehicle itself was white in colour and bore no markings of any kind, it simply waited for their approach with whoever was tasked with driving it concealed behind a blacked out windscreen.
The men pushed the gurney around to the back of the van where the rear doors opened at their approach. No one was visible inside once the doors had opened and they did so almost silently, closing again once they had slid the gurney into the awaiting space and climbed in after it.
Harsh electric lighting came to life moments after the doors were closed and illuminated the interior of the van. One of the men was busy clamping the gurney to the floor while the other operated the valve on a cylinder of gas that was attached to the wall. The latter man's efforts were rewarded with a faint hiss as the contents of the cylinder were released, though there was no visible sign that anything had changed.
The gas was odourless and without colour and quite potent enough to ensure that the drug which had rendered Tamara unconscious would not need to be relied upon to keep her in that state.
Seemingly satisfied with the completion of their tasks, the men withdrew to a pair of seats attached to the wall of the van on the opposite side of the gurney to the cylinder. They fastened themselves in with seatbelts as the van pulled out of the parking lot and onto the road.
The van made its way through the outskirts of the city and towards the waterfront, where in more prosperous times the docks and shipyards had been alive with activity. But time and economic hardship had left them a virtual ghost town of deserted quays and warehouses.
What few vessels were tied at anchor on that particular night were mostly rusting hulks left to their fates, but there was one that stood out only due to the fact that it had signs of life about it.
As the van came to a stop close to its mooring, there was nothing about the vessel that made it worthy of note. It could have been a tired cargo ship from any corner of the civilised world doing nothing more than sitting and awaiting its next load.
A single lookout straightened himself from where he was leaning on the ships rail at the sight of the vans arrival and disappeared into the depths of the hull.
By the time the men in their hazmat suits had removed the gurney from the back of the van, a hatch in the side of the vessel had opened. A metal ramp emerged from the darkness of the portal and clattered onto the quayside and they wasted no time in wheeling Tamara aboard.
Once all three were aboard, the ramp was drawn back into the belly of the vessel and the hatch swung closed again.
The van started its engine and drove away from the quayside and into the night.
The corridors within the hull of the vessel looked as though they had never been anything but cramped and the lack of space was made worse by the elements which seemed to have no relation whatsoever to the normal life of such a ship. Cabling and exposed wires stretched across the bulkheads and hung in thick bunches from the ceilings. Lockers set into every available nook and cranny stores equipment the purpose of which was a mystery.
Despite the claustrophobic nature of the vessels interior, the men in hazmat suits met no obstacles as they wheeled Tamara through the corridors. Any figure they met on their journey, all wearing identical garments to themselves, stepped aside neatly at their approach and allowed them to pass without incident.
Soon they passed through a door and into a large room that had been created by the removal of several bulkheads. The contents and décor, medical equipment and uniform white, identified the chamber as a medical theatre of some kind and the gurney came to a halt by the operating table that sat in its centre.
The men freed Tamara from the restraints on the gurney only to transfer her to the table and secure her once more when she was in place.
One wheeled the gurney out of the room and returned shortly afterwards, shutting the heavy door behind him. While his colleague had been absent, the other man had dispassionately begun the task of stripping Tamara of her clothes.
Though she wore almost nothing when working the pole and the podium, Tamara was still wearing far less than most even when she was officially off duty and the task of removing her clothing was not a long one. Her outfit comprised of denim cut-offs that barely reached the bottom of her buttocks, a vest beneath a fitted leather jacket and a pair of calf-length boots despite the late month of the year and the chill weather. Part of the intention of her dress was to provoke and another was to infer that no matter how cold it might have been outside, there was no way that she was going anywhere in anything that was not well-heated. In her line of business, Tamara knew all too well that she needed to project her own opinion of her worth if she wanted to have any hope of others believing it.
Whatever impression she may have made on the man in the hazmat suit was hidden behind his mask as he pulled off her boots and dropped them into a clear plastic sack by the side of the table. Next into the sack was Tamara's leather jacket and vest top, the latter slipped over her head to leave her naked from the waist up save for her bra. They were joined by her shorts after the man pulled them down her long legs and off her feet in one motion.
All that remained of Tamara's clothing was her neatly matching bra and panties, scant in size and simple black in colour. She had never felt the need to gild the lilly with elaborate underwear, and stripped down to her last layer of clothing, it was clear to see why. Tamara possessed a tall frame and a build that contained almost perfect curves in the places that one expected to see them. Her figure tended towards large, but she was ruthless in the regime that maintained her shape without loosing her feminine nature.
She was also blessed with breasts that were larger enough to be considered worthy of notice, but had never threatened to break her back. Tamara had fought more than one battle with her employers in the past to keep these free from silicone and natural in shape, convinced that no one really wanted to see something that resembled a pair of space hoppers dangling from her chest.
Most men were likely to stop and stare at Tamara when they saw her fully clothed and those that saw her at work were happy to pay for the privilege. But the sight meant nothing to the man engaged in the task of stripping her as he removed her underwear in the same manner as he had the rest of her clothing.
His task complete, the man scooped up the bag containing her clothes and retreated from the edge of the table as his colleague returned. The second man held a metal tray in one hand and a pair of sturdy clippers in the other, which he used to snip off the piercings that transfixed Tamara's nipples. He dropped the pieces onto the tray and they were joined by the jewellery that he removed from her fingers and ears. Before he left the table once more he inspected her body for anything he may have missed, white-gloved hands probing her mouth and exploring her thick, black hair. Satisfied with his efforts, he disappeared with his trophies and was replaced by his partner again.
The man returning to the table carried with him a metal bowl filled with water and a simple safety razor. He used the latter to remove any trace of hair from Tamara's groin and beneath her arms before scrutinising every inch of her naked skin for stray hairs.
He was disturbed in his studies by the sound of the doors to the room swinging open as a group of four men entered the room. Distinct from the first men in their bearing, these wore white as well, but their garments resembled theatre robes mated with the hazmat suits of the first. Their faces were still masked and the men they had walked in on needed no other cue than their arrival to hastily complete the tasks they were engaged in and leave the room.
As if aware of Tamara's presence upon the table without seeing it for themselves, the men began to attend to various unfathomable tasks in the theatre all at once.
The first to approach her unconscious form carried a long garment of a dull, black material over his arm. After a cursory gaze to confirm that Tamara was naked, he signalled to one of his colleagues to assist him as he moved to the end of the table that held her feet. Together they fed Tamara's feet into the twin holes at the top of the garment that were now visible and began the laborious task of pulling the entire thing over her lower body.
As the garment inched its way along Tamara's legs, more and more of its shape became apparent. Though made to accommodate her lower limbs, there was no way the garment would ever allow her to move them in a normal manner. Where the shape of Tamara's legs were still visible beneath the material it was clear that the garment fitted her as tightly as a hobble skirt. But in the space that would normally have remained between her limbs, this garment was filled with some kind of firm, but at the same time yielding material of a similar consistency to her own flesh. The effect was such that the spaces filled in this manner seemed to meld with the shape of Tamara's legs, creating the illusion that her lower body consisted of one long, smooth limb rather than two.
Soon the men had reached her waist and gone beyond with the edge of the garment so that it ended perhaps two inches beneath Tamara's breasts. They retraced their steps, flattening and perfecting the fit of the garment as they went until they reached her feet.
Rather than protruding from the end of the garment, Tamara's feet were covered by the same material and the gaps between them hidden in the same manner. But rather than simply cover the spaces between her feet, the end of the garment was made of stiffer stuff and actually forced them to point downwards in line with her legs. Here also the material was shaped to almost totally conceal the outline of Tamara's feet so that they could not be easily picked out from the line of her legs or move more than a small degree in any direction.
Tamara was then rolled onto her stomach and a pair of white-gloved hands made a clinical inspection of her buttocks until they located a well-hidden opening towards the point where they met the tops of her legs. Once this had been found, the hands returned with two of the fingers on the right hand lubricated and slipped inside the opening. The fingers probed inside the cavity beyond the hole, making certain that the components hidden inside the garment and within the material in the centre were present and in working order. Their job done, the fingers withdrew and Tamara was once more turned onto her back.
By the time she had been placed on her back again, the molecular adhesive that lined the inside of the garment had bonded with Tamara's skin so that there was literally nothing between her own flesh and the material that covered her legs.
Now the men attended to separate tasks that took them to different parts of her body at the same time.
One placed a metal frame into Tamara's mouth that held her jaw open as he slid a complicated object into her throat. Once he was done, he removed the frame and watched her closely until it was clear that her breathing had returned to normal.
Another man was busy pulling a pair of long gloves onto her arms. They were of a shiny, black material and reached up above her elbows. Once in place they resembled the kind of elegant gloves that might have been a part of formal evening wear save for the fact that they were made of such odd material and the space between the fingers was filled with a webbing that stretched from one digit to the next. Just like the larger garment, these were lined with the same adhesive, which bonded with Tamara's arms mere moments after they were in place.
When there was room to attend to Tamara's chest, one of the men applied a small blob of cellular adhesive to her nipples and carefully placed a rubber cap on top of them. The caps were shaped to resemble clamshells and not much larger than the nipples they covered. The adhesive bonded them quickly so that no amount of force would remove them without taking the flesh beneath with it.
Two of the men left the table and opened a locker on the wall of the room, they removed a second garment and carried it back towards Tamara. Unlike the first, this was made of the same shiny material as the gloves she now wore and the nature of the garment was plain to see.
Shorter than the first, it was decorated with a pattern of silver scales picked out against the black and ended in a wide mono-fin the same colour as the scales. The new garment could only have been a mermaids tail and the men wasted no time in making a final check as to Tamara's readiness before they aligned it with the end of the first garment which held her feet and began to pull it over the top.
Soon the tail had been pulled over Tamara's feet, calves and then her hips before it was finally tugged up around her waist. One of the men sealed the edge of the tail with a small device held in the palm of his hand before a hose was attached to a concealed valve hidden near the point where the fin began and the air quickly pumped out of the entire length.
Deprived of air, the shiny material was pulled tight against Tamara's already concealed legs, hugging the shape that the undergarment had created and making the impression of her sporting a scaled tail below the waist. The same adhesive now sandwiched between the two layers of the tail bonded them together as closely as it had the inner layer to her skin.
Her feet, forced into alignment with her legs were now in a position to form the base of the tails fin and the broad, silver flukes seemed to extend from the concealed tips of her toes. Indeed there was no outward indication of her feet at all, only the two feet of tail-fin that spread out from the base of the tail.
The final touch for the tail was completed when one of the men slipped a ribbed, black corset of a material similar but slightly duller than the tail around Tamara's waist. Beginning an inch below the point where the tail began and an inch above where the undergarment ended, it sat neatly beneath her breasts and was bonded in place with cellular adhesive to disguise the joins in the costume in which Tamara had been encased.
Finally one of the men painted Tamara's lips and eyelids with a thick substance in a colour that matched the silver detail of the tail. Far more durable than any form of cosmetics, the rubbery substance would serve the same purpose and resist any wear and tear that might await in the future.
Their tasks completed, the men tidied their tools away and left the room.
For a time, Tamara lay alone and unconscious in the operating theatre. Her chest rose and fell in time with her breathing and the rubber shells that had been attached to her nipples rose and fell at the same time.