This is Planets Magazine Action News, coming to you live with a special report: The Capricorn War — Conflict in Echo Cluster!
Hello, I’m Jim Chancellite. Today we’re checking in with some of the correspondents we have in the field for their take on the truly remarkable aspects of today’s war reports. We go now to ace reporter Pat Patterson, who is– [aside] Is this right? [to the camera] –who is standing on an airless moon in the middle of contested space. Pat, can you hear me?
PP: [shouting, but voice muffled] Yes, I can hear you, Jim.
JC: I can barely hear you, Pat.
PP: It’s this space suit I’m wearing, Jim. The audio pickup in the helmet isn’t working properly, so we’re using an alternate transmission method.
PP: We’ve got a standard microphone duct-taped to the side of the helmet. It seems to be working for the moment, but I’m told we’ve only got about twelve minutes before the volatiles in the glue evaporate into the vacuum.
JC: So can you tell me– Pat, what are you doing out there on that rock in the first place?
PP: Well, Jim, this airless rock is a chunk of planetoid left over after construction of the sector. From here we have an excellent view of the Noaad Sector.
JC: The “Noaad Sector”?
PP: That’s right, Jim. We had it on good authority that three of the great powers, the Lizard Alliance, the Privateers and the Bird Men, were going to meet here in open battle after weeks of guerilla warfare. Here to my right [gestures into space] is where the Privateer defensive line would have formed up, while over here on my left [gestures at an identical piece of space] is where the Lizard advance would have come from. Directly above me [gestures up] is the designated starting position of the Bird Man flagship. Three battleships, twelve cruisers, fifteen destroyers and innumerable support vessels were planning to unleash terrible energies of destruction upon one another in total war. It could have been anyone’s battle.
JC: Ah. I’m almost afraid to ask, but… what happened?
PP: Well, we’re not entirely sure. A few minutes ago, an automated messenger drone stopped by and dropped off a note for the Privateer admiral, but thus far nobody’s come to collect it.
JC: A note, Pat?
PP: Yes, Jim; we can see it’s on letterhead, but we can’t make out the words from here.
JC: Can you tell who the note is from?
PP: It appears to be from the Lizard Alliance, Jim.
JC: You’re telling me that a Lizard messenger drone left a note in deep space for the Privateer admiral to pick up, and it’s not even in an envelope?
PP: That does seem to be the case, Jim; I guess he figured the Birds could read it anyway, and there was no need– uh, wait a sec… One of the techs is telling me that they’ve managed to train a remote-zoom camera on the note. Just a moment and we’ll patch it over.
[more time passes]
[Cut to note, slowly rotating in deep space. It is indeed on official Lizard Alliance letterhead. The text reads, “Siberian Snake is unable to attend today’s event on orders from his personal physician. We apologize for the inconvenience.”]
PP: Well… that seems to be it.
JC: It would appear so.
PP: I guess my coming out here was a complete waste of time.
JC: Not so, Pat — the absence of a battle here is definitely newsworthy.
PP: All I can say to that, Jim, is that you’re the one sitting in a nice warm studio.
JC: Heh. Well, keep in touch, Pat; let us know if anything else happens.
PP: Will do, Jim.
Now, we’re staying on top of this apparent non-event, and we’re trying to get confirmation of the chain of events that led up to nothing happening here today. We go now to our correspondent Torbjorn Greitenkamp, embedded with the Bird Men fleet. Torbjorn?
Torbjorn, are you there?
Sorry, folks; we can’t seem to contact Torbjorn Greitenkamp. We’ll keep trying, but…
[is handed a note from off-screen]
Uhm. This just in, ladies and gentlemen: An official press release from the Empire of the Bird Men announcing that they are… in total and uncontested possession of the Noaad Sector. They’re declaring victory, folks. Pat — Pat, did you hear that?
PP: Ah… yes, Jim, yes I did.
JC: And have you seen anything at all that would suggest a Bird Man presence anywhere in the sector?
PP: No, Jim; no, we haven’t. But we’ll keep looking.
JC: All right.
And… we’ve just this moment received another press release, this one from Privateer Headquarters. Their statement reads, “We knew our cowardly foes would be too afraid to face the might of our navy! Since they don’t dare to risk their ships, we do hereby claim the Noaad Sector in the name of the Privateer Bands! YAAARRRRR!”
Well – this IS an unexpected twist! Here with us in the studio, we have retired Colonel Tolliver South to provide an expert’s insight on this development. What do you make of it, Tollie?
TS: It’s a bit of a mystery, Jim. We knew the Privateers and the Birds have been working together, at least locally. Apparently, their communications aren’t what they could be.
JC: Could this signal something, perhaps a cooling of their relationship?
TS: It’s hard to say. Of course, both statements were released within minutes of one another. It’s quite possible that neither headquarters has had a chance to react to the other’s claims. The speed of interstellar communi–
JC: Just a moment, Tollie — I hate to interrupt, but I’ve been handed a third press release–
TS: From the Lizards?
JC: –from the Lizard Alliance, yes. They–
TS: Don’t tell me. They say they’re the only ones that showed up?
JC: Yes. They also claim the note was a fabrication, a trick of some kind, and that their leader, the Siberian Snake himself, is present on his new flagship, a Lizard Class Cruiser. The squadron of cloak-capable cruisers is… Oh.
JC: Ah. Oh my. Oh my indeed.
TS: Um… should we tell someone?
JC: Well, Tollie, I can’t speak for the producers here, but I’ve always thought that our job was to report the news, not be the news.
TS: I wonder if… I wonder if they’re watching us right now.
JC: As I understand things, even the newest Advanced Cloaking devices interfere with subspace broadcast signals.
JC: Very well put as usual, Tollie.
…and, as some of us expected, we now have ANOTHER press release, this from the Evil Emperor. It reads, “My distraction worked; the Lizard fleet is now unopposed! HaHa! You fools! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders — the most famous is ‘Never get involved in a land war in Asia’…” and he goes on at some length.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, that’s the way it is, today, the 37th of Grune in the fourth year of Mentar, long may he reign. We now return you to your regularly scheduled debate on Priority Build Points, already in progress.
I should have posted a contest for the first one that gets the joke.