GNN International News Service
: In other news, an accident last night near Velvetgrass Point claimed the lives of three employees of the Gaian Military High Command. The men, identified by aliases 'WildMango', 'GetWellGamers', and 'Glazius', were returning from an executive meeting when their vehicle lost control and crashed.
A spokesman said, "these men were good men, and despite disagreements in the past, we in the ministry are saddened by their loss."
And now, the sports...
Unknown source - Lady Skye (???)
Alpha Sector will probably be the last base built on the Planet.
Few these days even plan to have children, and a spate of suicides plague many large cities. The prime positions for new settlements have almost run out.
Sea levels will not stabilise as we had hoped. It grows ever more tempting to believe in the accusations of 'hoax' put out by the Morganites, for if our models are correct, even colonies far from the shore will face massive flooding.
Fungus growth continues to accelerate. There is still little sign that Zakharov's final hypothesis will function as desired.
If any more evidence was needed for the malaise afflicting humanity, even creativity for city names is running low.
The small group of settlers, those last dregs of colonial optimism, had requested that Lady Skye herself go and host the inauguration ceremony. There was no way I could refuse.
Night was just falling as my hover car began to leave Memory of Earth, the home of my Voice of Alpha Centauri project. With the darkness came a light rain, pattering against the window. Together with the windscreen wipers squeaking to and fro, I barely heard the tap on the reinforced and shielded glass.
We were stopped just at the perimeter of the city, waiting for the main gates on the defence screen to open. The figure in the raincoat pressed his hands against the barrier, his mouth moving as though to shout something. I clicked on the external mic.
"...have to show you something, please. Lady Skye! Open up! It's very important!"
Against the advice of the driver, I opened the door, and he got inside, drenching the seat beside me. I eyed the flash of the little green LED on the door beside me, indicating the invisible temporal shield barrier that activated, wrapping around me.
"Well?" I asked.
"You are looking for the missiles, right? The singularity missiles? You must know they exist from the production manifests. I've got info on it for you."
"There's no need," I said. "The transcends have already tracked them down. They've been disabled electronically, so all that remains is to destroy them physically."
"No, no." He pushed a stack of papers (people still use paper in this day and age?) at me. "All the electronic data is a ruse. A decoy. Even the Kraken sub you are tracking is a fake, filled with ballast. That's why it is surfaced. The other two are underwater and radio-silent. The real missiles don't use electronic guidance triggers. They don't use triggers at all."
"I don't see..."
"They are crewed."
"Crewed? But that's..."
"If you are going to cause some megadeaths, one more doesn't matter. Inertial dampening has improved a lot in recent years, and good old fashioned fanaticism is as strong and dependable as ever."
"You say it as though Joacquim is actually planning to use the missiles. My advisers suggest that he's just using it as a tool of last resort, or as something to threaten us with..."
"You don't understand Joacquim. He isn't like that. He isn't like that at all. But I don't have time to argue. My superiors will know I am missing. One final thing. Joacquim's men are making these. Many, many of these. Find out what they are for."
"You do realise that you've given me no reason to believe you."
He stepped out again into the darkness, without saying so much as a goodbye. I turned to my driver.
"Who was that?"
He frowned. "Nobody on file. Not on the military's, or any other department's personnel files, anyways. Man, makes you wish for a Hive-style general population database, doesn't it?"
The rain fell harder as we continued, seemingly hanging in thick sheets, obscuring our view. The noise of the water hitting the ground, a thick hiss like white noise, clouded our thoughts. We didn't notice the hulking great shadow sitting astride the road until we were almost up to it.
"Shit, they've totally blocked the road," my driver said. To our left, I saw another shadow, and beneath each blob of blackness was a faint patch of light. Hovertanks.
"Stop here, then," I said. "What are those?"
He projected the green HUD of the nightvision system across the windscreen, and punched a few buttons until the magnifier came up.
"Couple of our tanks. Check out the green paint on the gun? That marks them out as armed with singularity lasers. The only designs like that are the Behemoth type. They have advanced ECM capabilities, AA tracking good enough to shoot a razorwing out of the sky from 10 miles away, and strong enough stasis shields to shrug off anything less than a nuke. I guess these are to replace the mindworm garrison that had to be pulled out for the invasion. Seems a bit of an overkill, though."
"Lasers? I thought we were using gravy guns now."
Gravy gun was soldier's lingo for graviton gun. I recalled the demonstration - the tossing of cars about as though they were mere toys was particularly impressive.
"Nah. Turns out, once they sorted out the power transmission issues to stop it burning up into a cinder, good old fashioned laser tech is the most efficient form of energy transmission after all. These babies can instantaneously heat a surface to several million C. The thermal shock alone is like that of a miniature atomic. I'll drive us closer, so you can get a good look."
The tanks sat, totally immobile, framed by the faintest of light from the background sky. I strained my ears, and heard, incredibly faintly, the patter of water on metal. I shivered.
"Radio for help. Radio for help, now!"
The driver hesitated, and then pushed a few buttons on his console.
"Weird, no radio reception."
The shapes were dark and unmoving.
"Move," I shouted. "Move now."
"But they are blocking the road... I can't get past, and there's no way to go around."
The blackness shifted almost imperceptibly. The whirl of motors filled the air. And beneath it, the sound of a hum, building...
"Ram that tank now!" I half shouted, half screamed. "Ram it! The thing is frictionless, we might bump it out of the way if there's enough momentum. Its shields are off!"
"Ram it! It's the only chance we've got!"
I was wrong, as it turned out.
We never had any chance at all.
GNN International News Service
: Mourning continued into a second day today over the 'Memory of Earth Incident'.
: The final scale of the tragedy is only now coming into focus. Around 160,000 citizens working or living around the city are now thought to have been killed, and it is known that Lady Deirdre, the figurehead and spiritual leader of the Gaian state, is among the missing. Devotees held candlelit vigils last night.
Responsibility for the massive explosion, which occurred at 9pm Wednesday, is still unclear, though military police investigating the incident have come to a number of theories. The most likely, according to a spokesman, was that the explosion was due to a catastrophic overload at the so called 'Voice of Planet' project.
: It has emerged that executive orders had been given to hurry up the project, known to be a favourite cause of Lady Deirdre. According to an anonymous, high level source, safety and security measures were cut as a result - including, most tragically, around the project's experimental singularity power generators. According to the source, there is strong evidence that terrorist elements - in particular, the apocalyptic Cult of Planet - were able to use these lapses to create the single most lethal act of terrorism since Planetfall.
The emergency military command council has named retired General Joacquim to take charge in the interim, before elections are held. In a live televised speech this afternoon, Joacquim spoke in praise of Lady Skye's 'extraordinary sacrifices for the Gaian people'.
"We must remain strong in this time of troubles, where the wise fall so easily," he said before a large audience in Landing Square. "Any retreat from our values, such as a withdrawal of troops from Surrey, would be in effect a surrender. But still, I swear before you, the people of Gaia, that I will not rest before I bring the people responsible for this monstrous atrocity to justice, by any means necessary!"
: His speech was met with thunderous applause.
NO MORE CHOICES