Two Worlds – Chapter 235

Mark “Coop” Cooper

Location: The Golden City of Luck, Happiness, Prosperity, and Servitude, Hegemony of Peace and Tranquility of Sapient Beings

<We’re not in Kansas anymore,> Coop thought with a smile.

He was even prouder that he understood the reference when Eve muttered it for the first time back in basic. Well…he understood most of it. He didn’t understand the literary reference, but he knew what Kansas was, and where it was. Kansas was a district in the North American Sector of Earth. Apparently, it had been an agricultural breadbasket back in the day, but had been transformed into a large concentration of PHAs in the last two hundred years. Space was a premium on Earth, and they could get food from any of the orbital farms, Mars, or any of the other moons that the Commonwealth had colonized in the first wave of the Expansion.

Coop and the rest of Alpha Team, SRRT Two, were a long way from Kansas right now. They were walking down what he assumed was Main Street of The Golden City of Luck, Happiness, Prosperity, and Servitude in the latest combat armor. The LACS looked out of place anywhere except a military base or a war zone, but surprisingly, no one here gave them a second look. Coop didn’t know if that was a good thing. No one really knew the technological level of the primary species of the Hegemony, but to see the latest and greatest of humanity’s war machines and not bat an eye was telling.

<Hell…we don’t even know what the hell these things are?> Coop’s armor was recording the sight and he was sure the xenobiologists would be going over it for years.

Coop had made out nearly a dozen unique species so far. Most were as strange as the Twigs and Stormbreakers, who only had a passing resemblance to something on Earth, but there were a few more recognizable ETs. Including the Pups that Mike had described earlier. They were the most interesting because they watched the humans pass with their pointed ears lying flat on their heads. Coop had seen enough holo shows to know that’s what dogs did when they were pissed. Did it mean the same thing for the Pups, and if so, why were they so pissed?

<That’s for the diplomats to figure out,> Coop reminded himself and focused his attention back on the surroundings.

Main Street was expansive. It was equivalent to a ten lane highway back on any of the Commonwealth’s major planets, but no cars drove down it. Some hovered over it, just within the grav-field of the city, but the city’s officials seemed to purposefully keep them away. It ruined the view.

The second Coop had stepped out of their hotel and onto the expansive boulevard, he was glad he kept his IOR of its lowest setting. It was like someone turned on a holo channel in his head to sell things he didn’t want or need. When his eyes made contact with a shopkeeper, their stall, or their products’ information flowed across his vision. It was nearly overwhelming. The only comparison Coop could think of was multitasking in combat. They had to shoot, move and communicate. Here he had to process, walk, and maintain situational awareness. After a few minutes, Coop would rather be shot than deal with the information overload.

The worst was the propositions. Apparently the world’s oldest profession wasn’t constrained to just Earth. Aliens prowled the streets looking for interested customers, but the worst part was that when Coop’s eyes passed over them, and their info was processed through his IOR, he basically got a promo vid of alien porn. Ninety percent of it he just didn’t understand, but the ten percent he did was going to give him a soft off for life. One was just the creature spewing a green slimy substance the whole video.

{What the fuck!} Coop wasn’t able to uphold his military discipline and Eve rushed to his side. She took one look at what he was seeing and shuddered as well.

{Just set your IOR to inbound audio only,} she suggested.  

Coop was a little embarrassed he hadn’t thought about it, and toggled to his preferences. The IORs would be great once humanity had the hardware and software commercially available, especially on the entertainment planets like Disney’s World or Vegas. Now that Coop thought about it, this place seemed like an alien Vegas.

Buildings lined Main Street on either side. They seemed to be a mix of lodging, restaurants, and entertainment; which meant that whatever their differences, aliens and humans still needed to sleep, eat, and have a little fun. Coop suggested they duck into one of the larger entertainment venues, but the SGM shot him down. You weren’t going to find any decent intel in one of those big joints. They would make you see what you wanted them to see, and the mainstream entertainment venues undoubtedly worked hand-in-hand with the city’s officials to keep everything on the up and up. The SGM wanted some real intel, and Coop knew they’d have to go someplace a little shadier for that. So, he took a side alley once the tourist levels started to drop off and they got into blue collar territory.

{The best thing we can do is find the local watering hole and start buying people drinks. Everyone talks once you get a few drinks in them.} Thankfully, the SGM had been given some Hegemonic credits by the diplomats, so they had something to work with. Unfortunately, no one had any idea how far two hundred credits would get them.

{This place looks as good as any,} Coop gestured to a place off the beaten path that looked a little worse for wear.

{Buddy teams the whole time. If shit hits the fan we egress back to the rendezvous point. Do not fire unless fired upon. We don’t need some diplomatic incident. The Minister doesn’t strike me as someone who’d approve of gunboat diplomacy.}  Everyone acknowledged the SGM’s orders, and Coop slid over to Eve’s side.

He held out his arm like a proper gentleman, but all that got him was a dull clang when she elbowed him in the ribs and led the way. Coop followed her in. The place was half full, and immaculately clean. Coop’s sensors picked up a dozen small robots moving around the establishment and cleaning up after its patrons.

What passed for alien tables dominated the majority of the space. One wall was completely taken up by four large machines. Lines were formed at the machines which customers seemed to be ordering from. One guy stood watching them from what could only be described as a bar. The guy in question looked like a walrus fucked a pterodactyl, and then an HI trooper came over and repeatedly punched the thing in the face, which made it more of an amorphous blob with a barely discernable skeletal structure than anything else. The majority of the customers looked to be more of a collection of tentacles. The “tables” looked more like rock formations that the things stuck to and sucked on purple blobs they got from the machines.

{Ok, let’s get to work.} Coop had stopped when he went through the door, and it took Eve’s comment to get him moving.

He couldn’t tell if their entrance turned any heads, because the tentacle things didn’t have heads. Coop checked to see if his IOR was getting pinged by these creatures, and something was coming in. A closer look showed a written language that approximated a drunken Buffalo PHA rat with Tourette Syndrome trying to write his name in the snow with his piss.

Coop’s IOR still needed an upgrade because it didn’t have a translator for the tentacle people. So, he just waved. It must have been the right thing to do because the ETs went back to sucking on their purple blobs. Coop got behind Eve in line and waited his turn at the machine.

When he got to it, the machine spoke directly into his IOR. {Please classify Species.}

{Uh…human…} Coop replied.

{Unable to identify. Please classify species.} Five cubes appeared in Coop’s vision with information on them. Coop started to read them and identified that the Hegemony had segregated all its members’ species into five separate classifications. It had a lot to do with a species base make up. For instance, Coop knew he breathed oxygen and expelled carbon dioxide, not the other way around. He was also a carbon-based-lifeform not silicone-based. Coop knew enough for that to mean there were living robots out there somewhere. He just hadn’t seen them yet.

In the end, Coop was pretty sure humanity was a Class Five species by Hegemony standards. With that figured out, he browsed the menu. The dive bar they were in, or at least that’s how Coop thought about it, obviously hadn’t been briefed on humans yet because Coop didn’t understand anything on the menu. He opted for something that looked like meatloaf, which cost three credits. He paid the machine, if gave a small rumble, a ding, and the loaf of quasi-meat popped out.

{Don’t eat it,} Eve advised. She’d ordered some sort of soup, but whatever was in it was still alive.

Coop used his LACS scanners to get a good look at the hunk of meat and it turned out there was a high dose of arsenic in it. He didn’t think the machine had intentionally tried to kill him, but he was obviously going to have to wait until they got back to their palatial accommodation before he could grab something to eat. He considered offering it to one of the tentacle people, but for all he knew it was poisonous to them as well, and they could accuse him of attempted murder. Instead, he went over to the table Eve was leaning against. There weren’t any seats, so all they could do was lean against the weird rock formations.

{So, is this the most awkward date you’ve ever been on, or is it just me?} Coop tried to break the tension, and got a chuckle from Eve.

{No. I had a date with a guy from Basic once. Worst kisser ever,} she replied.

{Ouch…that’s cold, Sergeant.} Coop put his hand over his heart and was about to ask how the aforementioned guy was in bed when the SGM cut in.

{We’re being recalled.} The man was already heading to the door while the GYSGT watched his back.

{What? Why? I was just about to enjoy my loaf of poison.} Coop complained. Not because of the food, but because he was just starting to get into a good rhythm with Eve. It was almost like old times.

{The diplomats decided to engage in their own fact-finding mission. Apparently, one hit his panic button. Argo is triangulating his position, but he isn’t on this floating city anymore. Whoever grabbed him took him down to the planet.}

<Idiot.> Coop was out the door and moving with the rest of the team.

{It’s our job to go and get him. We’ll brief when we get back. Argo is getting scans of the area, we’ll develop a plan and then go get our man. We don’t leave humans behind.}  

Coop knew the SGM believed it, but he also knew the diplomats would leave one of the SRRT soldiers behind if it suited their political needs. Still, it wasn’t his job to give them a healthy dose of common sense. He just needed to go save this asshole.

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3 thoughts on “Two Worlds – Chapter 235

  1. If you haven’t yet, I highly encourage you to check out my published works. They’re easily viewed from my AMAZON AUTHOR’S PAGE. What I earn from those helps to go into editing and artwork costs for future books. So please pick them up, and just as importantly, leave a short review and let everyone know what you think. Every review is greatly appreciated! It’s the best form of advertising for an indie author like me, and i like to hear what people think. 🙂

    Once i get the hospital bill from the birth of my kid, i’ll be looking at getting my next book edited and published. Always open for suggestions on what you want to see next

    Also, vote for Two Worlds on topwebfiction here and help bring attention to the series

    This is the only Two Worlds post this week due to Halloween. Next post goes up on 11/5/2018 unless you get advanced chapters as a patreon or hit the bonus chapter amount.

    You can also donate to my indie writing career either by becoming a monthly patreon or donating for bonus Two Worlds chapters. Both links are on the right side of my Home Page.


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