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.
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.