Skin Deep

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The holographic sign faded as the uniformed man flicked off the GPS display in his contact lenses. He thumbed the buzzer on the Skin Deep intercom and waited for the receptionist to respond, leaning forward a little to address the microphone.

"Good morning, my name is Detective Stanley and I am here to meet with the establishment manager."

The outer doors opened with engineered precision, and he walked into the minimalist reception area. A well-tended eyebrow lifted in anticipation as he walked in, and the perfectly manicured young man behind the reception desk directed the detective's view to the smartly dressed woman striding towards them. The faint smile on her lips as she approached reduced the severity of her businesslike appearance and Stanley instantly responded with a smile of his own.

"Good morning ma'am, I'm Detective Stanley. You reported a burglary?"

"Thank you for coming so quickly detective. Yes, we've had a piece of equipment stolen from one of our treatment rooms. My employer isn't too worried about it being used, as it is inoperable outside the lab, but he would quite like it retrieved as it is full of valuable components some of his industry competitors would love to get their hands on."

Stanley flipped open his auto recorder, activated it, and hung it from the front of his uniform. He checked the red lights were blinking steadily so people could see he was recording audio and visual, and continued.

"And what exactly was stolen Miss...?"

"Ms. Hines, officer. It was a piece of experimental equipment to do with the dermatological work we do here at Skin Deep. I think I'd better let the Doctor explain it to you more fully though. Er..."

Stanley paused as the smartly dressed woman appeared momentarily flustered, and looked her in the eye.

"Is there something I should know Ms. Hines?"

She sighed. "He's a good man detective, but he's a bit... um... odd."

"Odd?"

"Yes, he's... odd." She blew out her cheeks in frustration. "He's incredibly bright and sometimes gets a little lost in his own mind, which is sometimes brilliant, sometimes a bit like the inside of my grandmother's handbag. I'm afraid you'll probably have to put up with him meandering off on a few tangents before you manage to get what you want out of him."

Stanley chuckled quietly. "So you're saying he's a bit of a mad scientist, but a decent fella, always carries a tissue and occasionally offers you a sweet from a tin?"

"Yes, yes, that's it. Well, sort of..."

"Okay ma'am, any particular tack I should try to get him talking?"

"Perhaps just ask him about his work. He gets very talkative when he's in science mode, then you could maybe steer him round to the equipment and the robbery. That might work, but I warn you, he remembers things very differently to anyone else, and quite often remembers things no-one else would think are important."

"Thank you ma'am, I'll remember that. Now, as I understand it the crime scene techbots have swept the place and didn't come up with any DNA traces or fingerprints or any other tell tales?

"No, our thief obviously knew what he was doing. He bypassed the security here with ease before getting what he came for."

"Ah, that's a shame, so it's all down to the good Doctor then. Through here?"

He pointed at a nearby door with 'Laboratory - Doctor Romanov' stenciled neatly on the glass and she led the way, knocking quietly prior to ushering him through the door and into a spotless laboratory.

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