Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer
“Okay, this is some of the best footage of the conflict we have seen. We spent a lot of money to have Johnson’s eyes and optic nerves replaced with the latest equipment including superconducting neural jacks, which can operate at higher temperatures. The liqO2 containment and the rest of the apparatus housing, except for the interface of course, is totally contained within Johnson’s body.
“Brilliant, that should bring our costs down. What did Johnson think about this?”
“Well Sir, it wasn’t a hard choice. He had signed a fifty year contract of indenture with the company as a labourer in the helium mines on Pluto. He soon saw that a minor cosmetic change and a ten year assignment as a war correspondent in the Belt was far better than languishing for fifty years in a mine to retire to a pleasure colony to live out his remaining, what, maybe ten years, twenty if he’s lucky?”
“So we’re in the clear?”
“Asses covered, Sir.”
“Do any of the other news services have this technology?”
“No, it is only available within the Imperium, even then, only to certain levels, Sir.”
“Fine,” Avery Winston, Vice Minister of News and Information, breathed a sigh of relief, “Let’s see this wonderful footage of yours.”
“Patrick Johnson was trained for three months with the Royal Marines before being dispatched as a correspondent to Europa. We thought this would be a routine assignment to test equipment, but, well, see for yourself Sir.”
Charles Lufkin dimmed the lights in the expansive office and a kaleidoscope of colour appeared on the TriD screen before them. Slowly the prismatic maelstrom coalesced into an image of Marines in various stages of undress. It was a scene from an infantry barracks. Suddenly the world spun and came to focus on a door. Green plasma blasts burst through it followed by thick belches of white smoke.
“Hold it there, we’ll have to cut that, it will disorient the viewers. We’ll have people puking from motion sickness. The sponsors will ream us.”
“Yes Sir, this is the raw unedited footage.” Lufkin resumed the shot.
No sooner had the green bursts punched holes in the hatch, when something obscured the bottom half of the scene.
“The targeting sights of Johnson’s weapon. We wanted him to be totally one with the Marine unit he was embedded in. Now look there Sir, let me back it up for you,” Lufkin waved a hand at the screen and the image reversed. “See there? You can actually see, if I slow the feed, a bolt of plasma bore a nifty little hole through the gooks head as he peeks in past the broken hatch. If you look closer, you can actually see the plasma discharge of the rifle itself as Johnson fires the fatal shot.”
“Now watch this, your gonna love this.” Lufkin waved his hand at the screen again and the scenes of intense close combat blurred into a single image. “There.” He slowed the image until a green dot appeared on the screen. It grew slowly until it engulfed the entire screen. With a jerk the scene tilted crazily coming to a rest with the floor at a 45 degree angle. Slowly the scene irised to a narrow tunnel. Just before the screen went black an elderly woman appeared, arms outstretched.”
“As near as we can tell, that’s Johnson’s grandmother.”
“What’s she doing there? How did she get onto a Marine base?”
“That’s the thing Sir; she’s been dead fifteen years.”
“You don’t mean…?”
“Yes Sir.” Lufkin smiled.