Mark “Coop” Cooper
Location: Stewart-Benning Training Center, Earth, United Commonwealth of Colonies
Coop was high as a fucking kite.
As a welfare Rat, Coop was no stranger to recreational drug use; but this was his first experience with this type of high. Coop was used to a mind numbing, brain chemistry altering type of high. Illegal narcotics were one of the biggest markets in the PHA, and its biggest export product. Rich kids throughout the Toronto-Buffalo-Cleveland-Detroit suburbs went to their high school proms with PHA-made synthetics in their pockets.
Coop had been a weekly user at one point. He’d started when he’d reached an age old enough to understand why his mother threw herself into the core. A high like that took away the pain, made you feel invincible, or let you rot away in peace. People used for all of those reasons and more.
Coop kicked the habit when he found the joy of getting his dick sucked. One nasty side-effect of the shitty PHA produced drugs was that they tended to have a negative effect on a man being able to get it up. When Coop finally had to make the choice between getting his dick wet and sitting in his apartment alone and fucked up, it was an easy decision.
But today, after winning the race for his squad, Coop was feeling something entirely new.
<Is this what it feels like to be high on life?> Coop felt stupid for thinking it. Being high on life was just some crap people said to make themselves feel better about their boring lives.
Whatever it was, it was awesome. Second squad quickly did cool down stretches, while bragging about their victory, before heading back into the barracks and straight into the latrine. They stripped out of their sweat-stained CMUs and tossed them into a giant receptacle.
“They’ll be clean by the time we’re done.” Eve explained as she led the way into the showers.
<Water.> Coop couldn’t hold back the sigh of relief as the warm liquid rushed over his head, down his torso, and dripped off his legs before heading toward the drain and the recycling plant beneath the tiled floor.
Just because the military had the luxury didn’t mean they were going to be wasteful.
The showers were set up in two rows facing each other with ten stalls on each side of the room, so two entire squads could bathe at the same time. Second squad took the five on each side of the room closest to the door.
Coop found the set-up interesting. The shitters in the other room didn’t have doors, so anyone at the right angle could watch anyone else drop a duce. The showers on the other hand, had shoulder high barriers on either side for moderate privacy. It didn’t help against the person across from you, or anyone walking by, but it was something. Coop thought it was interesting that taking a shit and washing the sweat off your body earned the same amount of privacy.
Coop reveled in the warm water as the rest of his squad animatedly discussed their victory.
“I thought I’d lost it for sure, but you guys were so awesome, especially Coop.”
About fifty percent of the squad’s entire conversation was coming from Harper.
Harper just happened to be the person in the stall directly across from Coop, which gave him a full view of the naked woman.
Harper was hot, there was no denying that. She was on the shorter side, maybe one hundred and sixty centimeters, with shoulder-length brown hair. Her eyes betrayed her as coming from money. They were a genetically engineered vivid jade green, and they gave her heart-shaped face an exotic quality. Her body had an hourglass shape. She had respectable, perky breasts, a tight yet plump ass, and she wasn’t making any effort to hide it from Coop.
In fact, she kept shooting him smoldering looks over her shoulder.
<Don’t stare,> he repeated to himself.
Normally, he would have stared. Normally, he would have taken control and bent her over right then and there. But Eve was watching. Eve was always watching, and she was the goal. She was the elusive unicorn that he was going to plow.
To distract himself from staring, Coop had to thing about Harper’s negative qualities.
<She’s too soft for me.>
Harper’s body wasn’t soft. It was firm, perky, and tight in all the right places. Harper as a person was soft. Coop liked his women on the tough side. He didn’t want a girl who would just sit there and take it as he went balls deep in her. He wanted a woman who would bite, scratch, throw him off her, mount him, and ride him like a bucking bronco. That was the type of woman Coop wanted to fuck, and that was the kind of fuck Eve would be. He was sure of it.
He could just see it in his squad leader’s eyes. Eyes that were always watching.
Thankfully, those eyes weren’t able to peer into his shower stall, because they would have noticed a raging hard-on that you could hang a wet towel from.
“Eve, why’d you join up?” The conversation had progressed from gushing about their win to why they were here.
“I’ve been training for this since I could walk,” Eve answered without hesitation.
“What about you, Mike? Why are you here?” Harper saw her seduction techniques have the desired effect on Coop, so she turned her attention on the man one stall over from him.
“I wanted to get off Earth, see the galaxy, be all that I can be and all that crap.” Mike gave Harper a flirtatious smile.
Mike’s answer surprised Coop. He thought the other Rat from the Toronto-Buffalo-Cleveland-Detroit Metropolis was in here to avoid prison just like him. Apparently, Coop had thought wrong.
Harper smiled back before she went around the room and asked everyone why they’d joined up. Nate, Emma, John, and Andrew were all here for the same reason. They were here to do their service and earn the right to vote in Commonwealth elections. Apparently, a lot of career opportunities were limited if you couldn’t vote.
“What about Olivia? Why are you here sweetheart?” Andrew asked the question, and Coop felt the hair’s on his neck stand up.
Everyone knew Andrew was an idiotic asshole, but now he’d added sleezeball to his resume. The way he leered across the shower stall at the small, thin, tan girl made Coop want to punch him in the face. He wasn’t the only one. Eve even took a protective step in Olivia’s direction before stopping. She didn’t want to step out from behind the thin barrier of modesty and become another target.
Coop half wished she would. He’d only seen her from behind so far, but that was more than enough to have him begging for more.
“Olivia’s here because of a boy.” Harper interrupted the tense situation by stepping out into the open center of the showers. “Isn’t that right, O.”
Despite Olivia’s tan skin, and being a good twenty meters away, Coop could still see the blush on her face.
“You told me he was in the company that started before us. A Recruit Birmingham if I remember correctly.” Harper was wiggling her eyebrows and making thrusting motions with her hips that wasn’t helping the erections of all the guys in the room.
“Get the fuck out of here, Harper.” Eve took command of the situation and pointed Harper out of the showers.
After Harper, the rest of the squad slowly followed. No one wanted to leave the hot water, but other squads were starting to trickle in, and they were already pissed at getting beaten. Having them wait to shower was just rubbing salt in that wound.
Coop noticed Andrew following a little too close behind Olivia, and made a mental note to keep an eye on that. Finally, it was just Eve and him left from second squad.
“So what’s your story, Coop? Why are you here?”
Coop thought about bullshitting her, but quickly dismissed the idea. Eve wasn’t as much of an airhead as Harper. She was sharp and she’d see right through his bullshit. He just hoped the truth didn’t turn her off.
“It was either the military or prison for me.” Coop shrugged, trying to make it look like no big deal.
Eve gave him a hard look, but then shrugged in return. “You look like a rule breaker to me.” Then, surprisingly, she smiled at him. “You can’t always do everything by the book. Sometimes you’ve got to stretch regulations or break them to get the job done.” Her eyes wandered over the exposed portions of Coop’s body not protected by the privacy barrier. “But you’d better think twice about breaking rules in my squad, Cooper.” Her voice turned harsh like she’d flipped a switch. “You fuck things up and I’ll fuck you up. Got it?”
The only thing Coop heard in that sentence was that there was a potential for fucking between them. “You’re the boss.” Coop winked at her.
Eve shot him another serious look before rolling her eyes and heading out of the shower section; giving Coop another million dollar view of her very slapable ass. Unfortunately, he had to spend another minute in the shower getting control of himself before he could follow.
That extra minute put him a minute behind the rest of the squad, which meant they were impatiently waiting for him in formation.
“Right face…forward march…double-time.” Staff Sergeant Cunningham smelled fresh as a daisy, just in time to run them to the chow hall.
Thankfully, it was a short jog. Just like the athletic fields that were scattered throughout the orderly rows of old, white barracks; so were chow halls. They stopped marching in front of the large T-shaped building right next to the pull-up bars.
“Listen up, Recruits.” The SSG stood tall with her hands firmly clasped behind her back. “You have thirty minutes for chow. Complete your pull-ups and don’t be late. Execute.”
There was a mad rush to the bars, and Coop got the satisfaction of Eve grabbing his ass to help him with the last three pull-ups. He could have sworn she gave him an extra, firm squeeze after he’d finished.
Chow was hurried this time. They didn’t have a lot of time for conversation. The chow hall was packed with all the other company’s recruits who were also trying to wolf down chow before their training.
They all shot side glances at the new company, glances full of pity. They all knew what was about to happen to Echo Company. Seeing all the glances made Coop anxious.
The one topic of conversation they were able to discuss, initiated by Harper of course, was what they wanted to branch: Infantry or Fleet.
“Definitely Fleet,” Nate answered first.
Coop remembered Nate wanted to be a naval officer, but that obviously hadn’t worked out.
“Fuck Fleet,” Eve practically spat. “Infantry is where all the action is. I want to be a ground pounder or nothing at all.” Coop got the feeling there was more there than was being said, but he didn’t push it.
The way into a woman’s pants wasn’t through interrogating her about her career choice.
Most of the squad was undecided.
“The sergeant at the Civil Administration building said I’d make a good Heavy, whatever that means,” Coop shrugged as he finished shoveling the eggs into his mouth. “I bet that’s Infantry though. I don’t think I’d do well cooped up in a big metal tube for months.
“You…a Heavy,” Eve tilted her head like she was regarding him for the very first time. Then she smiled, which Coop took as a good thing. “Maybe.”
That was all the time they had to talk. They had to stow their trays in the auto-cleaner, do their pull-ups, and get back into formation. Thankfully, everyone was on the same page and they didn’t miss their time-hack.
The SSG and PO3 didn’t congratulate them. They just faced them back in the direction of the barracks and started running.
“Everyone inside and to your bunks, MOVE!”
Coop scrambled just like everyone else to do exactly what the NCO was asking in the shortest amount of time possible.
“We are going to count off now.” SSG Cunningham marched up and down the open space in the center. “This is a method of accountability. We never leave a man behind, and this is a good, quick method to get a head-count. Pay attention squad leaders.” She looked at Eve and the four other leaders in the room. “You will start at the front right of the room, go all the way back, jump to the rear left side, and come back to the front. Understood? Execute.”
They did as instructed, and they fucked it up twice before they got it right.
“Forty-four!” The last recruit called out the last number. They were a little out of breath. The SSG made them do push-ups when they screwed up the simple task.
“First squad leader, remember that there are forty-four recruits on the floor.”
“Yes, Staff Sergeant.” First squad’s squad leader was a big dark-skinned man who looked like he had five years on everyone else in the company.
“Good. Now everyone stay.” The SSG put her hand out like she was talking to forty-four dogs. Then she left the room.
Coop counted the seconds on his mental clock. For a while nothing happened, and then more nothing happened. Soon Coop gave up his counting, and just started to get pissed.
They’d woken everyone up at three in the morning to piss in a cup, then they’d force people to do more pointless inventory. If that wasn’t enough, they PT’d everyone into the ground, and rushed them through breakfast. <All for what? To sit here with our thumbs up our asses.>
<You can’t always do everything by the book. Sometimes you’re got to stretch regulations or break them to get the job done.> Coop remembered Eve’s words from the shower, and thought this was a pretty good situation to execute his rule-stretching discretion.
Coop opened his mouth to say something while tensing his legs to move out of line…when the whole building shifted. Caught off balance, he fell face first onto the floor.
He wasn’t the only one. Eve staggered, but caught the bedpost as she fell. Harper screamed and smacked into the ground just as hard as Coop. It was mass chaos as the whole building shook and began to move.
<We’re going down.> Coop felt the direction the building was moving.
“Attention, Recruits!” SSG Cunningham’s voice rang out from the PA system built into the barracks. There was a satisfaction in her voice that made Coop reconsider his life choices.
“Welcome to Isolation. Do what we tell you when we tell you to do it and you’ll be fine. If you fuck around you’re going to get yourself and the rest of your company killed. Good luck.”
With her final words the movement of the building stopped, but the chaos was replaced by a grating noise above them.
It only took Coop a moment to figure out what was happening. The noise coming from above them sounded just like the blast doors of his PHA tower closing during drills.
<They’re locking us in.>