Short Story: Ar-Mur of Ganymede

Arthur “Ar-Mur” Martin was the angriest-looking Chimpanzee the Evolved had yet to produce. Like most species, Contact had forever altered Ar-Mur’s people. Mostly for the primates, it just pissed them off– after mutating them into super agile, ultra-intelligent murder-machine adrenaline junkies.

They weren’t all that way, of course. Ever were the outliers– though even they were afflicted, however carefully restrained or reserved in their demeanors otherwise. The plight of the Evolved was really that most were still coming to grips with their own existences. To say nothing of the chaos of finding places in Solsian society.

Still, few were forced to come to terms with what their own cousins had done to them.

Humans had exacted the most terrible, irreconcilable and awful horrors imaginable on every species in their environment– and the environment itself at times. Everything from cannibalism to enslavement, with no modicum of depravity missed en-route. Their only saving grace was that they’d done all these same horrible things to themselves.

There was comfort in that for some, if not all. None would have entertained it in Ar-Mur’s presence. Even the most blithe, belligerent idiot would’ve gone silent with respect.

Ar-Mur was a chimp not to be fucked with.

Like similar-minded Evolved, Ar-Mur dwelt with a subset of dregs in one of Sol’s least orderly communities; Ganymede. His hard-won respect, wealth, and power there, stemmed from extensive mercenary and smuggler work. Highly skilled in martial combat, he’d procured every luxury one could desire– to say nothing of the vast necessities stockpiled for health and occupational-hazards.

Ar-Mur’s little corner of the Ganymeden skid-row was a compound disguised by foggy, sweat-lined streets and the general obscurity of poor infrastructure. It was anything but, and prepared for war by any whom might try take it. Whether the Cougar-fuck Saffron’s anti-wank goons or Emperor-Asshole himself, Lord Snow; he’d fight for what was wrongfully his.

Yet presently, a punk-kid stood before him. And wasn’t going away. Worse, a Human.

His tattered leathers said he knew all about the darker-side of Sol’s social necessities. And, Ar-Mur postulated correctly, knew all of the rumors about himself and likely many truths, too. The smug fuck was just standing there, grinning smugly.

A scarlet and teal mohawk stabbed the air with short, lethal-looking spikes. Ar-Mur’d hated the disproportionate state of the human-head already, never knew he could hate it more. Plus, the punk’s black-mirrored lenses hid his eyes, meaning– Ar-Mur guessed, he was technically blind.

The elective kind.

He’d have had his optic nerves re-geared for neo-vision. For punks and hackers, it was like seeing the world through a 3D matrix-space. The punk would see as a bot-might; digitally. Ar-Mur didn’t like it, but cared only that the punk had breached security. He’d made it in undetected.

That was bad. Catastrophically so.

Ar-Mur refocused; the punk’s hands were bound pointlessly behind his back. Ar-Mur’d already caught the gleaming chrome beneath the leather overcoat. More electives. The scent of new, illegitimate money was the only reason Ar-Mur hadn’t immediately killed him. He was up for hire.

Hiring was always better than murder, if only because it decreased turn-over.

“You gonna’ say sumfing?” The punk asked.

Ar-Mur’s head tilted sardonically, a corner of his mouth rose to bared a few disgruntled teeth. Enough to shut the kid up again.

He waited a few more minutes to say anything, allowing himself to indulge in a drink in the meeting room. It was a throne room, really; though Ar-Mur never called it that. Everyone else did. Probably, because it contained a single chair embedded with countless screen projectors, function switches, and plain ‘ol comfort.

It wasn’t a throne, Ar-Mur knew. Nor was Snow or his rivals’. They were simply the command-chairs for their armies’ compounds. From there a Commander was scanned, their genetic markers verified, and access granted or authorized. The actual workings were technical, and unimportant to the Chimp or Wolf commanding them.

The less he knew needlessly, the more he could devote to important matters. Chief among them, how the fuck this pip-squeak pissant creature’d found his way in completely undetected. He knew he had, too; that he’d only been caught from dumb-luck. Shianni would still be howling if a medic, hadn’t drugged her to sleep.

Lucky bitch.

Simple curiosity might have been enough to indulge in an interrogation– advanced or not. Curiosity came second to security though. He found his in. He’d get the truth out of the kid one way or the other.

“Perimeter sensors encircle our entire block, from sewer-to-sky. If an ant sneezes a thousand feet above me I know it.”

He rose from the throne on lean-muscled limbs, their speed and agility obvious even through the layered clothing, armor, and cloak he wore.

He stopped just before the punk, “I will ask only once or I will kill you; how the fuck did you get in here?”

He grinned from ear-to-ear, “Li’ kis.”

In a blink he was gone. Ar-Mur stiffened up, listening. No sounds. Only a vague, mammalian scent. Foreign. Nearby. Ar-Mur closed his eyes. A not-quite light enough step. Ar-Mur spun, grabbed the punk by his throat and threw him against the floor. Still invisible, the kid’s astonishment was mired beneath a choking fit and groaning pain.

Ar-Mur drew his plaz-pistol, leveled it on center-mass, “Shut it down.”

The phantom coughed and choked, but reappeared in a blink– as he’d left.

Ar-Mur began to circle, examining the kid as if seeing him in a new-light. He knew the kid was a hacker, had gotten past security by hacking it digitally or physically. All of it, and there was a lot, layered like clothing one atop the other, atop more, and so on. Each layer scanned for specific parameters; body heat, odor analysis, power, motion– so many in fact, Ar-Mur had lost track.

That had been his mistake. He knew it now.

“You’ve come all this way and survived. So, speak.”

“E’re comin’. Alluv’em. The Zelphod, the Anti-Humanists. Lackeys.”

“To Ganymede,” he surmised, circling back to his throne to stop before it.

The punk nodded, “Comin’ to take it. Know it’s a clutch. That Sol relies on its mines. That it may not soon, but this’ the best time to weaken it.”

“So these… intruders,” Ar-Mur crossed his arms. “Want it for themselves. They’ll have to go through me first.”

“They will,” the kid said, recollecting himself and rising once more. “Already got agents on-site. Been workin’ for months.”

Ar-Mur’s brow lifted, “On?”

“Puttin’ ‘emselves next to power-centers– you, Snow, gangers, HAA and ISC. Everyone.”

“And this intel, it is credible?”

At that he produced a small disk from beneath a sleeve, offered it to Ar-Mur. He took it, slotted it in his chair, and an encrypted communique opened to play to the almost-empty room. The holo-image immediately strained the Chimp’s self-control. His fury visible enough that even the punk cringed, stepping backward.

“Snow, Emperor-Asshole in the fur.”

“Ar-Mur, as my emissary has informed you, we have a problem.”

“I’m talking to it.”

Snow sneered, “We’ve never seen eye-to-eye on anything, save that maintaining Ganymede’s sovereign anarchy is best for us–”

“You’re about to propose an alliance,” he anticipated.

“I am,” Snow replied without missing a beat. Ar-Mur laughed aloud. “No matter what trickery you may think I’m playing at, bear in mind I am known as brutally and bluntly honest, even in murder.”

Ar-Mur said nothing, his silence agreeing and allowing Snow to continue.

“Ganymede is being infiltrated. Contact may have ended, but the war wages on where we cannot see it. Until recently, it was a pot warming over fire. Now, its contents are rising to a violent boil. If we’re to have any hope for Ganymede or Sol, Evolved or not, we must join together and prepare ourselves for what is to come. Only afterward can we return to civil matters, else there’ll be no home to fight over.”

Ar-Mur bared his teeth again, but remained silent.

“I bear no ill-will for your presence on Ganymede. Else we would war. Thus, this presents us an option; the enemy of my enemy is my ally, if not friend.”

“Or the one to put the knife in second,” he remarked.

Snow tacitly agreed, “Consider my offer, if only for your people’s sake. The Zelphod would see us all exterminated to take what is rightful ours. The same is true for all of Sol. I ask you humbly, consider my offer. I will return to Ganymede within the day to begin preparations. I hope you can put differences aside and aid me. If not, we may never survive what’s to come. Any of us.

Snow winked from existence. The Human watched Ar-Mur carefully, expecting an outburst. Instead he found a tired, Evolved Chimp running on less steam than even it realized. He needed a top-up.

“Why send you?” Ar-Mur asked finally.

“Knew a ‘uman would stay your hand long ‘nuff to lis’en. You torture, not murder ‘em.”

His upper lip curled satisfaction, “Very well. But I require your assistance and name.”

“Suus,” he replied.

“First, Suus, reply affirmative to Emperor-Asshole.” Suus nodded. “Then, show me everything you did to bypass my protocols.”

The hacker’s jaw clenched, “I can’–”

“Your only choice in this matter is whether you wish to be hired as a consultant, or murdered and burned to dust like a lame horse’s carcass.”

Suus swallowed hard, but he liked the sound of payment. Especially against death.

Ar-Mur closed his eyes, resigned to cleaning yet another bullshit-pile dumped on Evolved by Humanity. If it came to it though, Ar-Mur of Ganymede would die defending his home, his people. Obligated or not, his duty to his world and people was too central to his being to walk away.

So, they started off to retrace Suus’ actions… at least they wouldn’t be bored.

Short Story: The Bovine Folk

Nobody ever asks about the Cows, the Bovine folk. Chickens, turkeys, sure; deer, yes. Bears and Tigers and Lions– well, the last ones speak for themselves. Literally.

Point is, nobody ever asks. Prob’ly, because those that know them know the truth already. Those that don’t, aren’t prepared for The Bovine Reality. All the same, where are they? What happened to them? Why? What the bloody hell could occur to an entire species that it was seemingly, however shoddily, scrubbed from reality?

Firstly, it’s not so much no-one knows as no-one wants to talk about it. The situation is yet another delicate, fractal-relic of the post human-dominance era. People– human people, don’t really know what to say. They’re just as perplexed by the whole thing as the rest of people– Evolved or not

Problem is, the only people that really might’ve ever understood some decisions are long dead and dust. Prob’ly less, now.

Digressions aside, Bovines had every reason, right, and allowance to leave, hate us, or war with us. For what little we know, they did, will. All of them. At least, if any stayed, they’ve kept hidden; prob’ly just to enjoy the peace, graze at-will.

But who were they, what did they look like? Like cows crossed with humanoid genetics. Like all Evolved.

They had more or less human features, save for the cases of all hoofed creatures– with mallets on the ends of their arms rather than dexterous digits. All of them adapted. Not a single Solsian creature living would begrudge another an opened door these days. Even less so for Bovines.

Not a single Bovine would ask.

Why should they? They were an entire species existing for no purpose but to serve another, superior one’s appetite. Once, anyway. Not so much anymore. People didn’t eat meat anymore. Meat was a luxury. Eating was utilitarian. Long gone were the days of meat and mead.

But that was okay. Because Sol, its peoples, had more than enough otherwise. If food was ever requested or desired, it was available. As for meats and their origins, in all but the seediest places it was the luxury it had become; expensive, complexly vat-grown, engineered for taste and satisfaction. It wasn’t meat. It was meat.

It was the connoisseur mindset for an aficionado niche. It was no more or less complicated than necessary. Food need only be guaranteed, not enjoyable– though preferably enough to hold off revolt. Anything more in the turbulent unrest after Contact was asking too much. Nobody denied that.

Contact and everything during, after– even a little before, was chaos incarnate. Its immediate echoes would continue resonating for generations, forever-after altering countless species and their futures.

Species aside, people needed some guarantees now; water and shelter were guaranteed by the simple immensity of the cos mos. Food wasn’t. Thus food was it. It was easiest conceit for all involved. Free food for all. Caches. Dumps. Drop-ins. Stamps. Every world, outpost, and settlement, no matter how big or small, played host to at least a few choices as to how and where to eat.

It was an imperative now, socially, that no-one starve. Food; guaranteed enough not to die between meals, was the conceit that united Sol.

Humans could never have done it on their own. They were too set in their ways. They needed a massive external lever, something to turn them away from being wholly-evil assholes their entire existence.

Contact threw a tens of billions of levers at-once.

While Contact did more good than the bad it could ever do, ultimately what mattered was, the good was in the universe was here to stay. At least for now. Sol, its one dwindling puddle of life, had surged, exploding like a geyser onto its surroundings. Earth-life took a foothold it wasn’t going to give up without one helluva fight.

Free food ensured it.

Then, the war ended. People were displaced. Society was upheaved. Food was guaranteed. Food! But food wasn’t all that should be guaranteed. Work. Want. Those were next. They came side-by-side with Earth-life’s expansion and transition into Sol-life.

Sol wasn’t like Earth. It was bigger. It stood for something. The flag of a Republic. Eight planets. A few dozen moons. Countless hunks of floating debris between to be mined– and well, mined– for resources and defense. When things came into order again, it seemed as close as people could get to utopia.

That was one thing even narrower-minded Evolved knew, if refused to admit: everyone owed Humanity for trail-blazing as the first, sentient, Sol-life. So far as it was known… or could be called such.

Chalking their failures up to an attribute of sentience than an Earth or Sol thing was likely for the best. If reality didn’t reconcile, so what?

People did go otherwise, though. Mostly, in the form of Anti-Humanists. Ironically though, so far as it’s known, not a single B’ohs risen in anger with these dregs. Arguably, they have the greatest motive, but absolutely zero capacity for contempt.

People– evolved and non-alike, believed them stupid; at that, they were likely of less-average intellect overall, but what people aren’t? It is always the outliers that dictate true capacity. As an old shuttle surpassing life expectancy by decades without a scratch or malfunction shows no signs of slowing.

B’ohs, like all Sentients, had their thinkers and their morons. Difference being, unlike most species, each had every right to be blood-rage furious. For no particular reason at all, if they felt it–

Yet none were.

Their species existed for the sake of Human sustenance. Thus, when no longer needed, they had no place in the worlds they’d suddenly been thrust into. Even if idolized and hoisted upward– that was worst of all for a species wishing for the peace of grazing verdant fields all day.

B’oh evolution had been so guided they’d no choice but to live as slaves or die on some butcher’s rack. Not exactly inspiring of poetical thought for a species newly granted it. So, what it came down to was need. A need to make their own way in the universe; their own story and path.

Sol would never have been capable of denying them that. It wasn’t Earth. It was bigger. Newer. Different. And undeniably better.

So, in herds, droves, pairs, and singles, the B’ohs set off for the unknown to settle and create their own future. No-one could begrudge them their one desire; to graze upon the universe’s endless verdant hills for eternity. After all, who wouldn’t want to?