Cold Cosmos Book Two
Idiom Lee is a man alone, millions of miles from home. A chance encounter with an alien shapeshifter sent him into a Cold Cosmos devoid of humanity. After the events of book one, he's established himself in the lowest bar on the moving asteroid Panadaras, gambling and serving as a bouncer. Until a sloth-cat creature he calls Slowhand appears, and tells him Ginn is in trouble.
- 1 To Be Read list
Tropes: FTL, Galactic Civilization, Humanity is Good, Reluctant Hero
Word Count: 56000
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
Dozens of distinct conversations spoken by alien tongues filled the air in the bar, while a smell like sulfur mixed with peppermint tickled my nose. I carefully laid my cards facedown and sipped my ionic blaster. The alcoholic warmth of the liquid burned my mouth and throat as I studied the Helodermian sitting directly across the table from me. His yellow and black neck scales flexed slowly as he breathed, and four of his eight eyes focused on the cards in his hand, while his two left-most eyes tried to get a glimpse of the cards held by the flatworm next to him. His remaining two eyes stared at me as if he were deciding if I was to become his next meal, or if I would be tough to chew with his pointed, cat-like teeth.READ MORE
If you’ve never seen a Helodermian, it’s something you might get if you grew a Gila Monster to the size of a person, added six eyes, taught him how to walk upright, then dressed him in a glossy ceramic space suit that fit a touch too tight. At least that’s why I figured he was always in a foul mood; his suit was too small and crushing his knots. This fella’s name was Waukoon, and it was his turn to call or fold. His tell was his breathing: When it was slow, like it was now, that meant he had a good hand.
“Call,” Waukoon said, flicking his thin and long black tongue in the air as if he were tasting something. I figured he could smell fear or lies, but I couldn’t say for sure.
The Skettan to my left had already folded, leaning its fat face into a feathered hand as it sipped its own drink through a long straw. That one I called Bill, because I couldn’t come close to pronouncing his long, trilling name, and well, he had a bill like a duck. Opposite Bill sat a green flatworm as large as a herding dog. I didn’t catch his name, probably because he didn’t speak. He wore a device above the thickest part of his body that displayed in words his intentions. The screen read “Call.”
The bet came to me, and I was looking at a nice pot of credits. Enough to set me up for several months of rent and grub, if I were careful with it, and assuming, of course, I won it. “I call.”
Waukoon played his cards one at a time, as if displaying each one would crush the spirits of the remaining players. He laid out the King of Darkness, the King of Light, the King of Blood, the King of Transparency, and the Lord of Light. The flatworm’s color paled and his display read “Damn.”
“Well, that’s a fine hand you got there,” I said as I lowered my hand just low enough it was out of sight of the table. “Dang, son, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a hand that good in Vekolb!”
Waukoon reached two sharp claws out toward the pile of credits and began raking them in.
I continued, “Why, if my understanding of this game is correct and proper, I can only think of one hand that would beat that. Help me out here, Waukoon, what would that hand have to be?”
Waukoon hissed. “You’d need all four usurping Knaves and the Lord of Darkness.”
“Any chance that might look something like this?” I tossed my cards on the table as if I hadn’t a care in the cosmos. The hand looked exactly as described, thanks to just a little finesse on my part and the hidden pocket up my sleeve.
“That’s impossible!” Waukoon shouted and reached a claw back toward his blaster strapped to his side.
Before he could reach his weapon, I had both Colts drawn and pointed at his ugly, lizard face. “Don’t make me shoot you. Bartender Froggy over there charges me for every patron I shoot. But, considering he also gives me a commission for every fight I stop, this entire transaction could become complicated.”
“It’s true,” the frog-faced bartender croaked.
“It wouldn’t be the first time,” Bill added.COLLAPSE