Mark “Coop” Cooper
Location: Stewart-Benning Training Center, Earth, United Commonwealth of Colonies
Coop was one hundred percent positive he had fever dreams that first night. The barracks they were staying in was old, and there were a hundred warm bodies stuffed into it. For some reason, beyond common sense, the military had successfully dialed back basic standards of living over a hundred years. Even the PHA had more amenities than this barracks. The first, and most obvious, was temperature control. Coop felt like he was sleeping in a bog. He had sweat coating his entire body, all the way deep down into his ass crack. He now knew why people called it swamp ass.
<This is insane,> Coop thought as he rolled over. His face literally clung to the cheap plastic cot, painfully pulling at his skin.
That was the next item on the “how the fuck are we supposed to live here” list. Back in the PHA nanites cleaned everything off every surface: sweat, blood, tears, all other types of bodily fluids, dust, dead skin, you name it and nanites disposed of it. Here, in this god forsaken place, Coop hadn’t seen any of the microscopic robots. There weren’t panels on the bed to set a cleaning schedule or vials in the wall to be used at a person’s discretion.
<This is barbaric.> With this many people in this weather they’d be living in filth within a few days.
Coop tossed and turned. He’d wake up, move to a slightly cooler position, fall asleep, and then wake up thirty minutes later covered in sweat. Eve had been right. It was too fucking hot in here to deal with bedding. Even in the dark Coop could tell most of the other squads had tossed the bedding onto the floor in less than an hour. Even the light-weight woobies were too much.
Then there were the dreams.
Coop dreamed of people screaming at him. Their words blurred together in his dehydrated dream-haze. First it was Corporal Collins, then SSG Cunningham, then PO3 Janney, and finally Eve. That was probably the best part. Even though she was right in his face, screaming for him to move his ass he couldn’t help but smile at her.
Then she slapped him in the face.
“Cooper! Get the fuck out of the bed right now!” Eve screamed at him.
Everyone around him was moving, scrambling, tripping, and falling over themselves to get up.
As it turned out, the last part wasn’t really a dream after all.
“Stow your woobie in your locker and stand at the end of your bed.” Eve ordered, and then she was gone; she’d moved on to yelling at someone else in the squad.
“TEN…NINE…EIGHT…” A voice boomed, making Eve’s sound small.
Coop tried to ignore the voice as he staggered to his locker, but every time a new number was called he felt his chest tightening with anxiety. He didn’t want to be in the wrong place when it reached zero.
“…SEVEN…SIX…” Coop’s vision was blurred from the sudden wake-up, and he missed the locker the first time.
“…FIVE…” He found the panel, allowed it to read his GIC, and then shoved the thin woobie into the space when it popped open.
Coop scrambled into place at the end of the bunk. “…ONE…” Eve joined him a second later.
The last word was yelled with such intensity that Coop’s body froze up whether he liked it or not.
Not everyone did as instructed.
SSG Cunningham picked off people who were moving like a trained sniper; for all Coop knew she probably was one. “Zimmerman,” she finished rattling off about half the room’s occupants. “Front leaning rest position move!”
Coop had learned the hard way that the front leaning rest position was military talk for, “get on your face and get ready to do fucking pushups”. He did not envy the men and women getting up close and personal with the floor.
“On my command, DOWN…” A few people went down and then started to push back up. A quick look around and they all went back down. No one wanted to get on the SSG’s bad-side now.
“Listen up and listen closely, Recruits.” There was fire in the SSG’s eyes. “When I yell freeze you will fucking freeze. A freeze is a command given for the safety of you, your squad, and myself. I don’t care if you are sitting on top of an anthill when myself or Petty Officer Janney yells freeze. You will suck it up and let those ants chew off your dick before you move. Do you understand me?”
“Yes, Staff Sergeant!” The group on the ground huffed out their response.
The SSG inspected them for another ten seconds, her eyes making sure that everyone understood the seriousness of the command. “Up!” The half of the room on the floor labored to get into the push-up starting position. “Recover.”
People hopped to their feet out of breath. Coop never imagined that a single push-up could be so exhausting.
“Recruits, the time in now 0300.” Coop’s mouth dropped open, but he snapped it shut when Eve glared at him. “Over the next three hours you will complete your mandatory urinalysis testing.”
Coop didn’t have any idea what that meant, but he didn’t ask. He was too tired to ask. <0300,> he groaned. He’d maybe gotten two hours of sleep, and something told him he wasn’t going to be getting anymore any time soon.
“Males form up on the right and females on the left.” Coop walked away from Eve and got in line between Nate and Mike. Both guys looked just as tired as Coop. “Males will follow Petty Officer Janney. Females will come with me. As you exit the barracks you will accept a canteen before you fall in.”
Coop thought about not taking a canteen. If he showed he couldn’t follow basic instructions then maybe he’d be able to get out of this shit-show. At least in prison he’d be able to get some sleep in a climate controlled environment.
When the moment came, he took a canteen like everyone else and got into the male formation in front of the barracks. He just couldn’t trade hot, sweaty Georgia nights for hot, sweaty nights with Big Bubba.
“Good mornin’, Recruits.” PO3 Janney bellowed like a wild boar. “What we have this mornin’ is called a hydration formation.” There was an evil grin on the naval NCO’s face. “When I tell ya ta, y’all will open yuh canteens and drink up everythin’. Understood?”
“Yes, Petty Officer!” Coop was thirsty enough he could drink Lake Erie. Hydration formations didn’t sound like such a bad thing.
Coop unscrewed the cap and started to chug the water. There was a slight chemical taste to it, but it was nothing compared to what he’d drank back in the PHA. He was halfway done with the canteen before he came up for air.
“Coopa!” The PO3 zeroed in on him like a guided missile. “Did I tell ya ta stop?”
“Um is not a response, Coopa? I asked ya a question and I expect an answer.”
“No…no, Petty Officer.”
If anyone else was going to come up for air they didn’t. Coop had taken the bullet for the entire company. Even though he was dehydrated, Coop struggled to drink the entire two liters provided in the canteen. When he finally finished he felt like he was going to burst.
“Put ya canteens next to yuh left foot.” The PO3 ordered.
Everyone did what they were told and then they just stood there. For five, ten, fifteen minutes they all just stood in formation.
<This is so stupid.> Coop shifted his weight from foot to foot even though he knew he was supposed to remain motionless at the position of attention. <At least its cooler.> It was cooler, but that didn’t cool a lot of the company’s simmering resentment.
<Making us get up at three in the morning, drink until we’re about to explode, and then have us just stand here. This is so fucking stupid.> Multiple people were thinking the same thing.
At the twenty-minute mark Coop was going to say something. His own anger was beginning to boil over and the pain in his bladder was to the point he just wanted to take a piss all over the PO3’s bunk.
“Males, fall out and reassemble in the barracks bathroom. Females, do the same but in the barracks behind us. Fall out.”
Coop did as he was instructed, pushing and shoving his way to the front of the group. <I’ve really got to piss.> That was all that mattered. He didn’t really give two shits if everyone else was feeling the same way.
“First ten of y’all in the bathroom. Everyone else form a line outside” There were about sixty total men in the company, and Coop was the second to last one in the first group into the bathroom. “Stand here.” PO3 Janney pointed to the middle of the room and had them all line up shoulder to shoulder facing away from the urinals.
The PO3 held up a cup, and gave them all a scowl. “Y’all will take a cup in yuh left hand. Y’all will pull out ya dicks with yuh right. You will piss in this cup and then hold it out in front of yuh until it changes colors. Understand?”
“What?” Coop wasn’t the only one surprised at the instruction.
“This is really gay Petty Officer.” Of course it was Andrew Davenport that opened his big stupid mouth.
“Stow that shit, Recruit.” The PO3 advanced into Andrew’s personal space. “Or the Staff Sergeant is gonna break yuh arm…again.” He looked down at the gelatinous cast Andrew was wearing, and grinned.
The PO3 stared down second squad’s token idiot for a few more seconds before moving back to the front of the group.
“I didn’ wake up this mornin’ lookin’ forward to starin’ at y’alls little dicks, Recruits. But I gotta make sure none of yuh are cheatin’. So grab a cup and execute.” The PO3 crossed his arms and scanned back and forth at everyone’s waists.
Thankfully, Coop’s bladder had never been shy, and he wasn’t ashamed of his dick. He followed the PO3’s instruction; held the cup with his left, grabbed his dick with his right, and pissed in the cup until it was full.
The bad part was that he still had to go once he’d filled the cup.
“Hold yuh piss, Coopa,” the PO3 barked. “And hold out yuh cup.”
Coop pinched off the flow, which was about as bad a stopping a blowjob mid-suck, and held up his cup. After ten seconds the cup turned green.
“Good job, Coopa. Yuh aren’t a fuck up. Go ta the pisser, empty the cup, and finish pissin’.”
Coop didn’t have to be told twice.
Glorious relief followed as the PO3 cleared the rest of the ten-man group.
Until someone’s cup turned red.
“And we have our first winner, Recruit Killsby.” Coop didn’t recognize the guy; he was from another squad.
“And what have yuh pissed hot from…ah… good ol’ fashion synthetic Mary Jane.” The PO3 grinned at the sweating recruit. “Good news for yuh is that Mary Jane isn’t a Schedule One narcotic, so yuh aren’t goin’ to jail. Bad news is that we don’t allow yuh kind into the Navy or the Infantry. Pack yuh things, Killsby, yuh goin’ home.”
And just like that the company went from one hundred recruits to ninety-nine. And Recruit Killsby wouldn’t be the only person to get kicked out a basic from drug use.