Ascension II: Penetration

Bates walked into what had once been Threetown’s most popular eatery. Now it served as the mess hall for the survivors of the Synod-spawned plague and the USNE ship Nineteen Eighty-four. He took a tray and stared at the menu. He wasn’t actually reading it; he was using its shiny frame as a mirror to case the room.

About 20 people were sitting at tables shoved together by the windows overlooking the park. The conversation here buzzed happily. In their midst he noticed a small man with jet-black hair; many faces were turned toward this man.

Half a dozen people sat apart near the door. They wore gray uniforms with the triple circle on the left chest pocket. They spoke little, and cast furtive glances at the group by the windows.

Bates selected the pshicken, pseudo-chicken cultured in a vat, and added the platter to his tray. “Well, hello, who are you?” asked the server.

She was in uniform, so Bates said, “Shamal Najjar. Ishikawa recruited me on Earthmoon. Is this food halal?” he demanded.

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