Finally out of the starting blocks…

Well there have been several days of novel virtual innactivity due to a horrendously full calendar and a birthday party for my Gran’s eightieth birthday, which was great fun. Luckily today we’ve had our first Glasgow Write-in and I’ve leapt forward by 3000 words which brings me up to the point I should have been at on about Wednesday! 4297 words down, 45,703 to go!

Another excerpt from today’s work…

The feed abruptly cut back to a studio where a man in a trim suit turned excitedly to the camera and raised a perfectly trimmed eyebrow, scrolling text at the bottom of the screen informed the feed subscribers that they were consuming content from ISBBCN and Harry Pentaro was introducing Live and Exciting coverage of the Inter Stellar Jump Mission. “Sorry to cut into the report there,” said Harry, his voice almost quivering with excitement, “but we are going straight back to our correspondent Suzie Carter on the ground at Antarctica Space Lift Station where Captain Daryl Baxter, Lieutenant Mica SecondName and Flight Officer Grant SecondName are about to land! Suzie:”
The view cuts to a shot across the landing strips out to the barren snow-speckled wastes of Antarctica where a black dot in the sky was slowly growing. “Thank’s Harry.” Suzie’s cheerful and excited voice began commentating over the shot “Well we can just see the skiff approaching now, The Beribelli, making her final approach down to the landing strip here at Antarctica Space Lift Station. Jake, can you zoom in more?” The shot wobbled and jerked forward and the sleek little craft jerked around the centre of the shot a little more clearly. Somewhere in Geneva an executive started yelling with his head cradled in his hands. “Goddammit! Al-R have a sky drone with a beautiful steady shot! Who was in charge of setting up this section!?” A timid looking woman paused from waving her fingers in front of her face and raised a trembling hand. “You’re fired.” Her hand dropped and tears welled in her eyes as she turned and walked from the room. None of the rest of the gaggle even watched her go, redoubling their strange hand movements. “You!” the executive snapped at another one of the scrum “Buy the Al-R camera feed and get it steamed now.” His eyes turned back up to the bank of screens, watching the shaky footage. “I said ‘now’!” A second later and the picture changed to a beautifully steady shot of the glistening ship streaking through the skies, the executive glanced at the feed subscription figures and did a quick calculation in his head, switching feeds looked like it was an in-profit decision and had stemmed a fresh slump.
In Antarctica, Suzie was continuing her commentary. “And we can see the ship, bearing the mission Captain, first officer and ship’s engineer gliding in towards us now. The other crew members are all already assembled in the International Space Station Six, ‘Pace’ where these crew members will be proceeding later.” As she mentioned the positions, small inset holos of Daryl, Mica and Grant smiling or waving (in Grant’s case) at the camera appeared on the feeds with options for reading further biographical information, past stories and feeds related to them.
The ship completed a careful landing arc and set down perfectly at the end of the red carpet, the ISBBCN feed cut back to Suzie, wrapped in her expensive looking fake fur coat brandishing a microphone. Of course the microphone was not strictly necessary as acoustic technology allowed the camera to pick up every pin drop in a two hundred yard radius and filter out unwanted background noises but Suzie, like many other field reporters, felt that it added a certain chic and thrusting one under the nose of a potential interviewee was a great way to get their attention. Her personal secret trick was to have a pheromone emitter fitted to the mike, one whiff and any man, and a fair percentage of women, would be completely engrossed.
The battery of media people scrambled for position at the edge of the carpet. Suzie ungraciously elbowed her way to the front of the crowd a complaint of “Hey! Lady!” from a shoved cameraman was met with a winning smile and a swift but deadly kick to the shin. At the barrier she looked across and smiled, Jake the cameraman had made it to the front on the opposite side and was looking straight at her, the oldfashioned looking spectacles glowing blue from one corner indicating he was filming. She glanced behind her and was gratified to see her other cameraman had clambered up to the top of a portable step ladder and would have a magnificent shot of the crew disembarking which he could follow until they reached her. She suppressed a giggle as someone getting too close to him discovered that the ladder was electrified. Sometimes you had to be a little cruel to get ahead in this game and media was the only game in town.
A moment of hush descended as the skiff settled on it’s landing struts and a descending whine indicated the anti-gravity drive was powering down. All the cameras zoomed in on the door way and waited. “Any moment now we should see the crew disembarking from the Beribelli and hopefully we can grab a quick interview with one of them!” The silver door remained closed for a few seconds more. Suzie wasn’t panicking, she’d interviewed Daryl Baxter before, he was a master of media manipulation, probably the main reason he’d been picked for the mission, and timing was everything.
Finally the door slid open and a long ramp slid quietly down to the ground, the wood lined cabin inside was empty from any angle the cameramen could shoot, two seconds later Lieutenant Mica SecondName stepped into view and media-feeds across the planet added synthetic applause to augment the smattering from the assembled media crews. “And there’s Mica, the stunningly attractive and extremely intelligent First Officer for the mission who’s exemplary record on the spectacular Phobos mining prospecting missions made her Daryl Baxter’s first and only choice for this mission.” Suzie’s commentary continued as insets on feeds around the planet let you select further information on Mica’s bio, the Phobos missions, her exploration record and the tasteful photo-shoots done for a men’s magazine some years before. Mica smiled round at the cameras and waved, blew a kiss from her ruby lips and glided down the ramp. A different reporter from a rival agency managed to catch her eye once she was off of the bottom and Suzie could hear snatches of interview involving the words “excited”, “anxious” and “ground-breaking” followed by a lame “space-breaking” come-back joke.
“Here’s Grant SecondName his lovely wife, Grace, and gorgeous little daughter Ceilidh!” Sure enough Grant had appeared at the top of the ramp with the two women in his life on either side of him, Ceilidh clutching his hand tightly and staring wide eyed at the crowd below her. She tugged at her father’s hand and whispered something up at him. The private question was picked up by every camera and relayed to all the feeds: “Are we on the televisor, daddy?” Grant nodded at his daughter and wrapped his other arm around his wife who had clearly spent the entirety of the trip perfectly coiffing her hair which had artistic bangs dangling in springs on one side of her dusty Mediterranean features.
“Aw, isn’t little Ceilidh sweet?” gushed Suzie “And Grace is looking wonderful too in that Visace coat, fresh from their latest collection.”
The SecondName family made it’s way down the ramp, little Ceilidh even summoning the courage to wave at the crowds with glowing blue spectacles. At the bottom of the ramp, Grace broke away from her husband and made straight for the gaggle of fashion press, some of which were using classic high definition three dimensional digital cameras. She unhooked the fastenings of her coat and in a hail of flashes showed off her immaculately-cut dress and matching shoes. Grant and Ceilidh continued on a few paces and drew level with Suzie who beemed at them. “Grant! Ceilidh! Suzie Carter, ISBBCN, are you excited about the mission?” She thrust the microphone under Grant’s nose and he stopped mid-stride to face her. “Well, of course, Suzie. The Bright Endeavour is an incredible piece of engineering and I am proud to be allowed the opportunity to serve on her. In fact I am really looking forward to…”
“Fantastic!” she cut him off and bent down. “And are you excited about your daddy’s mission, Ceilidh?” Ceilidh extracted a finger from her nose and smiled up at Suzie.
“I saw some pengy-wins!”
“That’s great Ceilidh! Are you going to miss your daddy?”
“They was swimming and everything!”
Grant hoisted the little girl up and sat her onto his hip. “Of course she’s going to miss me, aren’t you pumpkin?” And pecked her on the cheek making her giggle and shy away from Suzie.

Obviously SecondName is TBA. Suggestions for Grant or Mica’s second names greatfully received…

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