Posted By: Steve Harlow<Kurtwylde1@hotmail.com>
Date: 9 September 2011, 7:54 am
Sam stood in the city centre, his trench coat swimming in the turbulent air around him as the people passing by parted like current before a rock, most pausing to listen to the stories on the screens in front of him.
Sam was there for a reason.
He wasn't sure it was the right one.
He dug his hands into his coat, his spry orange hair barely dancing in the winter air.
The news banner rolled, a mute reporter babbling on, the crowd drowning out the audio.
What was the point of these things if nobody could hear them?
He read the ticker tape.
Bombings kill 31 in the lower industrial districts.
He knew before the news.
He sighed, tossing the detonator around in his thin hands.
Another cold gust of wind tussled at his pale face, his thin beard shifting.
Yeah, he still wasn't sure.
The news reporter paused in the middle of a story nobody could hear.
She stopped, and nodded quietly.
The image stopped, every electronic ad in the square stopping as well, the emergency broadcast logo flashing a contrasted white logo over a flashing red background.
The entire night scene was painted in a red glow that danced over the snow, every shopper stopping and glancing up, every radio and music player stopping as well as the images started to roll the ticker text "please pay attention."
Sam dug his right hand deeper into his right pocket, twirling the black market combat knife he had in his pocket.
Every screen in the city, every screen on the planet shifted, every speaker playing the tune, every waking eye fixed in fear at the fading red screen, the familiar face of the global prime minister flashing over the screen.
But, his zeal was lost, the british lined and round face of the formerly spry and courageous man was now worn, torn, and radiating lament like a desease, the holographic avatar of the planet's advisor AI glowing next to him, her arms held in a motherlike stance.
The prime minister, Mr. Steven Woods, sighed, picking up a stack of paper, staring into the camera.
"bollocks to it all" he said. "it doesn't mater" he said, his western cockney accent betraying his greif.
"to the people of Charmidia" he said, sweeping his arms across the camera. "I had... I had a speech written by a comitte, to save the young from the anguish, to, I don't know, be politically correct, to spare us all the torture of the truth."
He sighed, hanging his head in his arms, picking up the stack of paper, throwing it behind him in a fit of rage, loose paper drifting slowly to the ground.
Sam breathed loosely, letting the detonator loose in his left pocket.
Not a sound eminated anywhere from the city, every car stopped, every pedestrian rooted in fear and trepidation.
Mr. Woods sighed again.
"In light of the recent sepritist attack." He said, staring straight into the camera, straight into sam.
"and in light of the recent news of the next planet over being taken by the covenant."
His voice cracked, and he slowly lifted his old style trilby off his head, his hand visibly shaking.
"I am not lying when I say we are doomed." He said quietly.
The AI turned to him, but he shook his head, the AI simply deflating in stature, not receiving a response from her minister.
"and I am not being... filtered by some damn board or senate, when I say this." He said, setting his hat on the table.
"To the sepritist groups that are bombing the towns, and factories, and whatever else you've destroyed. I'm not going to read off what you've done wrong. No, I'm going to just ask you one thing."
Sam was transfixed, his doubts straying his hand.
"I know your goals. Twenty damned years ago, you wanted freedom from governing from an aloof and unsympathetic earth, so far away you can't even see it on the most advanced telescope we have." He said, casting his arm to an unseen window.
"and I'm on this boat too, it's inefficient, its senseless, and worst of all it's clinging to an idea that nobody believes in, one that nobody's believed in for a thousand years."
Nobody in the square moved, several women dropping their bags. Elsewhere, a dog barked.
"And what did we strive for, what did you strive for?" he asked. "for freedom?"
Sam nodded, unaware of why.
"well, look what you blew up today." Woods spat. "a factory, manufacturing new equipment for the Navy, based on the Spartan project."
"and due to secrecy, and chance, and-" the AI seemed to wave, and argue with him, but he just glanced over to her, shaking his head. "jean, please. It means nothing now."
The AI continued to argue, but he ignored her, the newsfeed not picking up on the AI's rants. "-and because of a certain military arm's need for secrecy, the plans for a ship based shield systems, and their prototypes, as well as some of the greatest minds our species has to offer, were destroyed, killed, murdered, and begotten." He said.
Sam deflated, his voice squeaking.
He was there, the factory was chosen at random.
"Oh yes, the news says thirty someodd, but the truth is, you killed eighty four scientists an- Jean, please, I respect you, but I don't care, this has to be known."
He glanced down, punching the AI's holopad with a vicious zeal, a crack was heard, and the AI disappeared.
"eighty four people were killed, as well as their work on a shield that would protect our navy and put us on equal footing with the covanent." He rifled.
"oh yes, eighty four, what a number." He said, his well meaning posh exterior and accent turning grim and angry. "but what about the reprocussions, what about by Shroedinger's standards?"
He stopped, his voice cracking as he let out a low wimper.
"tonight, you killed billions. Maybe even our entire race." He said, a single tear running down from his miserable eyes.
"was that really worth sending the message that you don't like being governed by someone? The extermination of our entire race?"
Sam let out a slow animal tone of pure guilt.
"I'm not asking for much." He said, now more talking to the table then the camera.
"but what I am asking for, is that you repay what you've taken from us. And that every citizen will help the war effort."
About half of the shoppers in the square, of all sexes, bodies and race scoffed, and started on their way, the noise of the snow crunching underfoot shattering the trance.
"Stop." Woods said.
"This... is not a war of old." He said, regaining his streingth.
"this isn't over religion. Oil, territory, might. This isn't a fucking crusade of old." He said, the camera shaking at the vulgar language.
"this isn't a war based on ideas. That one bloody group, one sexual preference, that one dusty jewish or Hebrew man, trundling about the desert five thousand bloody years ago is better then yours."
He sighed, biting his lip.
"I'm not asking you to die for my ideas. I'm not asking you to die in vain."
He glanced back up at the camera, his eyes determined, resolute, and strong.
"This is a war with an unfallable enemy. The only common language we have is death. So, I ask you, the man blending in with the crowds, the crowds themselves. Every man, woman, and goddamned child on this forsaken planet." He said, not a soul moving.
"I ask you to join me, and give them a message in their language."
"this is unabridged, this isn't a senate's message." He said, nearly punching a random paper on his desk.
"That! Is a senate statement, and it told me to say everything's fine and bullshit dandy. That we can win the war if we all brush our teeth and pick up after our pets."
He inhaled deeply, his face clouded and flushed with oxygenated blood, a vein swelling on his left temple.
"what I'm asking you to do, is stand. And kill. Them. All."
Sam glanced from side to side, nodding, everyone else doing the same.
"yeah." He said, drawing his knife, everyone else glancing at him.
"I'm in!" he belted. The crowd around him cheering.
Steve Woods sat back in his chair, staring at the camera, kicking the plug out from the studio lights, an assistant handing him a cloth for his sweaty face.
"think it worked Leah?" he asked her.
She nodded quietly. "I think so."
He opened his desk, pouring a glass of brandy.
A full glass.
"Brandy?" he asked her, holding up an empty glass.
"a little please."
"you know too then, do ya." He said flatly, pouring her a glass of the warm liquor.
"they say two weeks."
He shook his head. "one."
Her face went white, a muffled shriek escaping between her hands.
He nodded, nearly crying himself, taking back a thick swig of brandy.
"are you going to try to-"
He nodded. "Aye" he said, slipping into cockney as he usually did when nearly drunk. "We're tryin' all we can. As many surface and air to space nuclear warheads as we can muster." He said.
"as soon as everyone enlists, I'll break the news. Get every shipping company and their ships armed to the teeth. Protocol be damned."
"isn't the senate going to stop that?" Leah asked.
"fuckoff the senate." He spat. "I've declared a governmental sate of emergency this morning. I'm in complete control."
"fuckin' bastards" he cursed.
"and do you think it'll work?"
He sighed, his energy done as his glass of brandy.
"whatever you've always wanted to do with your life" he said quietly. "I'd hurry"
"you've only got a week to do it."