I_Arman t1_jabjlfv wrote

More like humans are Space Tourists. No special powers, no invincibility, just a willingness to travel and compare it to home.

Single biome planets are a staple of science fiction as it is, and it's easy for a species to stick with its comfort zone as long as there is no pressure to change. And "unified species" make it easy to play the segmentation game. I'm guessing that the Parliament was split four ways, with constantly shifting political allegiances. Earth's tourism was enough to show up the extremists, and bring together the lesser extremes.

...Not that I don't like a good Humans Are Space Orcs story, heh.


I_Arman t1_ja9sv3w wrote

The neat thing is, you can! Vacation somewhere new - even a cheap camping trip a day away or a day trip to a museum can introduction you to some wonderful new people. I highly recommend it!


I_Arman t1_ja9rr82 wrote

"Roasting heat, biting cold, constant wind, alternating dry and humid air, oh and don't forget the storms that rain down fist-sized hail and summon whirling winds strong enough to tear a house to splinters or drive straw into a tree!"

"What is this hellscape!? Have any of your people survived it?"

"What, Kansas? I grew up there, actually. Uh, are you ok?"


I_Arman t1_ja8l7nv wrote

The humans stared in surprise. "I'm sorry, perhaps we misunderstood - I thought that each sentient species got a single senator?"

The gelatinous alien wobbled. "Yesyes, quite right quite right. One senator one senator. Everyone gets one, everyone gets one."

The feathered, multi-eyed creature standing next to it nodded slowly. "As my colleague explained, you are correct. One senator per sentient/sapient species, regardless of planets settled or ruled over."

One of the humans - the one named George - whispered, "Do... do they mean whales and dolphins? Chimpanzees? Did we miss something?"

The leathery humanoid, Lange - incidentally the only creature with a human-pronounceable name - chuckled. "No, no. While you have an impressive number of creatures on your planet, none but the Humans are worthy of a seat on the council."

Ambassador Humphries cleared his throat. "May I ask... why are we being given this singular honor? Humanity is only a single species, and yet we get four senators?"

Lange burbled another chuckle, joined by the other two aliens. "You humans are so inclusive! It really warms my hearts. No, as I'm sure you understand, even though you see yourselves as a single species, you are of course four. Unless... well, there was some debate about Hot/Dry Humans and Hot/Wet Humans?"

Humphries blinked in surprise. "I'm... sorry? Are you calling humans different species based on... climate?"

Lange seemed confused by the question. "Well... yes? I suppose we should have clarified, but - here, look."

She pulled out a holographic projector, and pulled up an image of a young woman in a thick winter coat. "This is one species, the Cold Human. This one is from 'Michigan'. Er, we use the term Cold Human, your inclusivity must have eradicated the different terms generations ago. And this one" - the image changed to that of a middle-aged man in shorts and a t-shirt - "is a Hot/Dry human, from 'Marbella, Spain'. And this one... and this one. Cold, Hot/Dry, Hot/Wet, and Temperate. Ah! Maybe you call them Arctic, Desert, Tropical, and Plains? Though some of the plains undergo rapid temperature shifts..."

Lange trailed off. Humphries cleared his throat, twice, then eventually found his words. "That's... those are all just humans, though. We wear thick clothing in cold temperatures, thin clothing in hot weather, and while, yes, most of us prefer one climate or another, we do move around a bit. I was born in England, but moved to Florida, in the United States - temperate to hot, er, wet. We adapt to almost any temperature, but we're still all the same species - surely the blood tests and DNA matching would have shown that?"

The aliens gathered into a huddle, squawking and gesturing wildly. The blobby alien turned a sickly-looking shade of yellow-green, while the feathered one shed more than a few feathers. Lange, clearly the most level-headed of the group, still looked quite shaken. Finally, they turned back to the humans.

Lange cleared her throat with a delicate squeak. "We... you are correct, of course, about the blood tests and so forth. But there is quite a bit of... shall we say, climate hard-liners? Our planets, much like your own television shows, largely a single climate, or only populated in a single climate band. My planet is temperate." She made a short engine sound, followed by a loud cowbell noise, gesturing to the goo-creature - " comes from a planet that is mostly water, dotted with tropical islands. And" - a horrible static noise, this time gesturing at the bird-person - "is from a dry, dusty planet of intense heat. He wears a thermal regulator to visit your temperate facilities, here. But... you live all across this wild planet, with its intense heat and cold?"

Humphries nodded. "We do, yes; as I said, we humans are adaptable. While we thrive in temperatures from -40 degrees Celsius to over +40 degrees Celsius, we can survive much more extreme - I'm sorry, is your friend all right?"

The blobby creature had gone fully green, and was shaking so hard its rolls of goo were making tiny clapping sounds. Lange glanced in its direction, then shook her head. "No, it will be fine. We are just... shaken. Are you telling us that you refuse four senators, and choose only one? And that your choice of senator will come from... any climate?"

Humphries nodded, somewhat mystified at the odd reaction. "Of course. We may have our differences, but outside of preference, we don't argue over climate. Much, anyway. As far as I know, we've never gone to war over climate! Ha ha!"

His joke fell flat. Lange, her face unreadable, replied only, "We have."

The coming months were eye-opening, to both the varied aliens and to the humans that visited them. Icy worlds were met with, "Gee, it's a bit chilly! Almost as bad as winters in Alaska, but you've got a lot more daylight," and desert planets were greeted with, "Oh, no worries, it's a dry heat, just stay hydrated. And you don't have any scorpions!" The alien worlds were unprepared for the constant downplaying of the climate - no world humans visited was as hot, as cold, or as inhospitable as the climates of Earth. The hardliners scoffed that their world was much more extreme, but soon found that the more harsh they claimed their world was, the more humans flocked to it. "You call this cold? At least the atmosphere is breathable, at the top of Mount Everest you have to were oxygen tanks!" or "This is hot, yes, but one summer my family visited Death Valley and cooked hamburgers without lighting a fire, this is nothing!"

Lange smiled to herself as she read through the morning's reports. The climate extremists - hot and cold, for the first time in history on the same side - were calling for a ban on human travelers, though their reason why was mostly angry grumbling about "showoffs." The vote to remove a number of extreme temperature planets from Parliament was called off, because humans had somehow managed to take up permanent residence on almost all of them, calling them "not that hot" or "only kinda cold." There was even the beginnings of a tourist trade among the somewhat less extreme planets; a Khorthian, known galaxy-wide as a hater of "warms", became the first of his kind to visit Noomoobooloo, one of the colder planets, albeit on the middle of a heatwave. And the human clothing! It had taken the galaxy by storm; parkas and Hawaiian shirts sold like coldcakes. Even their food was extreme! Ice cream and hot coffee! Eaten together, at times! They even had "frozen hot chocolate", an oxymoron that nonetheless was becoming popular with many cultures.

Lange unlocked the bottom drawer of her desk, and pulled out a report: "Earth: X7 rating. Death planet. Extreme climates, dangerous lifeforms, long-term toxic to most life forms. Natives invented atomic energy and immediately used it as a weapon on themselves. Avoid at all costs."

She flipped the page to the other report, the one she had submitted to Parliament. "Earth: M5 rating. Four distinct climates, each with its own lifeforms. No sign of inter-species war. Some extremist views."

A scrap fell out from between the pages; written on it was a quote from a famous Earth author, Mark Twain: "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."

Lange carefully tucked the scrap back into the folder, and locked it away again. Travel, indeed.


I_Arman t1_iyfcq3y wrote

People don't realize. When you make soup, everything goes in. There's no "extra tomatoes" or "leftover ham" or "excess of garlic," it's all just soup. It boils down, and in the end, nobody really cares if it's potato or rutabaga that make those squishy lumps.

The other heroes don't understand. There's a patience to soup. They want results now! They want to be in the news, given awards, get famous. It's not worth it though. They make fun of me, but I don't mind. I like my soup. It's an art.

I stared up at the sky. I couldn't see it yet, but I could feel it. It was a big meteor, so it took some thought, but that's just prep time. Every soup takes prep time. If it took no time at all, everyone would make soup. I concentrated... I could feel it, moving fast, careening towards this little blue marble, a one in a billion shot. It wasn't big enough to wipe out all life, of course. People would survive. Maybe not a lot of people, but people. The other heroes... Well. At least some of them tried. Ultimate Mask died trying, which is a lot more than most of them managed. No imagination... Most of them left, or hid in the other side of the planet.

I began making my soup. Boiling it down, melting the fat and breaking bonds. It wasn't fast work. Increase the temperature... Transmute the base properties of nickel and adjust the bonds on all that carbon. Boil off the extra liquid. I pulled in some atmosphere as the newscasters started making their overly-calm end-of-the-world claims, just for flavor. And then I held out my bowl, and...

Bloop. There it was. Steaming perfection: Italian Wedding Soup. I chose it because it was meatier. Ha! Food humor. I glanced around. There were a few heroes who gallantly stuck around to try to stop the full extent of the damage, but not many. Most looked confused, but one older fellow caught my eye and gave me a bit of a nod. I could see the fear in his eyes. He understood. Not many did, but he did.

Young heroes love to make fun of me. They think my name is stupid. It's not as stupid as "The Whizzer" though. It's just my name: Stu. They say I don't have a nemesis because I'm so "lame." It's not true, of course. I used to have a nemesis, years ago - the Sandwich Artist. Killed a family and made them into sandwiches. Nobody heard of him again, he just vanished one night.

Soup night.

I really do love soup...


I_Arman t1_iwcseza wrote

"Why are you just standing there and where is your uniform?! You are here to serve the demon king and we can't have someone incompetent like you, get moving!"

I must admit, I froze. Could he truly not recognize me? I, the great Demon King? The Scourge of the Darklands? The Terror of the Forty Lakes? The - well, now that I think of it, I really haven't been getting out much. Running a kingdom is hard work, but building a world-spanning empire is straight up brutal. I may have missed a meeting or two when they introduced some of the lower-ranked generals...

The general was staring at me in growing... panic? Maybe he did recognize me. After all, I do have quite the striking physique, and-

"YOUR UNIFORM! Egads, soldier, do you not understand our lives are on the line? Go! Run! Get in uniform! The Great Demon King's Right Hand Man May His Footsteps Never Tread On Soil will be here in less than an hour! And we don't even have the right bunting for... WHY AREN'T YOU RUNNING!?!"

Out of confusion and habit, I quickly turned and dashed towards the main barracks. I had started there, you know, just a basic soldier. Dragged myself up through the ranks. Huh, I hadn't thought about those days for... well, it's been a while. I should visit more often.

I reached the barracks, where three others were queued up in front of the armory. A harried looking Lieutenant was measuring the first man. "Here, this should fit. Move!"

He handed the fellow a shining pile of armor, and turned to the next man. "Missing corsage? Here! Oh, both of you? Fine, here, move! Less than an hour!"

He turned to look at me, and his eyes nearly bugged out of his head. "You... where is your armor? Where are - are those even regulation boots!? I - I can't - here! Take this, and those, and put this on-"

The man started throwing handfuls of clothing, armor, and apparently flowers at me; a moment later, I was clad head to toe in shiny, heavy, and entirely useless decorative armor, with, unbelievably, a corsage bolted to the front. Bolted! To armor! I was then whisked out with a handful of others to stand in formation with a number of other faceless troops, all wearing the same stupid armor. I really needed to get out more. Which, now that I think about it... this is. I was supposed to go to a number of other meetings, but I think at this point, I may stick around. Standing in the sun was more enjoyable than sitting through that nasty accountant Smarm Lord Deppinger's awful meetings, anyway.

As they waited, the men around me complained about the food, the boots, and the stupid armor. Standing in the boots and wearing the armor, I could only agree. This was terrible. The style was all wrong. All it did was hamper motion, reduce vision, and look absolutely wretched. "How could anyone be expected to fight in these silly things?"

There was laughter that rippled through the soldiers around me. "Fight? Son, how green are you? We ain't seen a battle in a year and a half."

These must be the reserves, then. That makes more sense, the armor is all wrong, but maybe they-

"Not since we beat the Alltrussions, anyway. Nobody left to fight. Though High Lord Death-Bringer says we may need to put down an insurrection near the capital before long. Hope so, this is boring as hell..."

Since... wait. We won that war? Wasn't... in the last meeting, I was sure High Lord Deppinger said the war continued, and asked for more... money. Deppinger. Dep... ing... er. Death Bringer. Surely that pipsqueak wasn't... oh boy. Some heads were going to roll. I could feel my Practiced Booming Voice getting warmed up already.

A commotion near the road drew my attention. Sure enough, a carriage carrying High Lord Gonna Get Court-Martialed pulled up, and His Utter Bullcrap stepped out. That weaselly little...

"Friends, compatriots, I bring you news from the capital. The Demon King has grown ill, and a usurper has all but taken the throne! Even now, he poisons our dear leader's mind! We must travel at once, and destroy the monster before he can lay our good kingdom to waste!"

There was a murmur of disbelief. My own voice was among them. I didn't feel ill! What was the sniveling little worm going on about?

"For the sake of us all, we must retake the city! I shall rescue our beloved King, and - temporarily, of course, until our lord has regained his senses - take control of the throne. The heavy burden of that will fall upon my shoulders, of course."

Ah. Now it all makes sense. High Lord Idiot-Face had always thought he should have more power, more troops, and had always fought the worst of the enemies. Judging by what the men here had said, he was probably just stocking up to take over. Poor fool. It was a really bad day for a coup to begin with, and now my feet hurt, too.

Now, the whole "Demon King" thing is mostly a title, but there's a bit of magic I found along the way that really helped the whole mystique. Mostly lights and sound, but then there was one spell... Hold on, this shouldn't take long.

High Lord Death-Bringer (He Of Many Names, Of Which Few Are Actually Compliments) saw, from the corner of his eye, one of the soldiers brandish a sword. "Breaking rank!? I should-"

And then the lightning struck. From a cloudless sky, a bolt of lightning slammed down into the raised sword, but instead of a boom, there was more of a... sentence.


The lightning crackled through the crowd. Armor melted and transformed; decorative banners became spears; and all those truly loyal to the Demon King suddenly found themselves clothed in burned, black armor, the function of which was obviously considered first. The helms sported smoke instead of crests; the swords glowed deep red; but importantly, the joints could move freely, the weight was reduced by half, and the crested helmets used a 180-degree mesh instead of a tiny slit. Seriously, it's like no one that designs armor has to actually wear it. It can inspire fear AND be useable! Do both!

It was immediately apparent who was fighting on the side of the Demon King, and who was not. All those on my side were wearing the fashionable yet comfortable armor of a Demon Warrior; all those who decided they would follow High Lord Damp Shoes were still clad in their fancy decorations. High Lord Needs New Pants screamed in terror, and shoved his High Guard towards the nearest Demon Warrior; all across the square, swords were drawn and battle begun. It ended quickly enough; apart from a handful of minor injuries, functional armor won the day over the gaudy stuff the High Lord Screams Like A Baby had outfitted his troops in. Though, in fairness, the shiny armor hid the fact that nearly a third of the soldiers there were Alltrussion.

I casually walked over to the High Lord, who had managed to scream himself hoarse, soil himself, slip in it, and fall out of his own carriage, neatly hooking the back of his high-waisted pants. He squeaked and kicked his stubby legs, trying to get free of what was to be the last wedgie he ever will get. I pointed my sword at his throat.

"Congratulations, High Lord Deppinger! I am hereby promoting you to corpse!"

That dealt with, I turned to my soldiers, who had gathered in awe around the carriage. "As for you... you fought bravely. I apologize for not visiting sooner; I may have a few loose ends to tidy up back in the capital, but I intend to make a habit of visiting more often. Now, you there - yes, you, the fellow that called the Demon King 'green'. You're promoted to General. Get these men rounded up, clean the place up, burn Corpse Deppinger, my sword, and his carriage, because nothing will get THAT smell out, and let's go finish squashing a coup, shall we?"

I definitely needed to get out more. I forgot how much fun being a Demon King could be!