matrix location: High Programmer > Alan De Smet > Games > Role-Playing Games > Shadowrun > Histories > Current Events >

Email - 2004-03-01

Mid-morning you are enjoying the chance to sleep in a little bit and wake up slowly. Derek has the newsfeed on (as usual) and you're having breakfast. Jane is curled up in a corner, alternating between staring off into space and reading a book entitled "Existentialism & Phenomenology", the bags under her eyes making it apparent that she didn't get much sleep last night. Ref is sitting on the bed, toying with a letter opener that was left behind in the room when you arrived, twirling it over his hand and under quicker than your eye can follow. He and Derek are glued to the newsfeed, a high class setup from Yamatetsu called MetaMatrix. Bianca is finishing her breakfast at the table in the room, her second helping of sausages rapidly disappearing under her ministrations. Bert is, if possible, paying even less attention to the room than Jane. He is slumped in an armchair facing generally out the window. The glassy nature of his stare and the fact that every now and again he jerks suddenly clues you in to the fact that he's interfacing with his gadgets in a likely unspeakable manner.

Derek looks ready to kill the news so he can have access to the 'Trix feed when the normal newscast make way for a "Special MetaMatrix exclusive!". Announcers clue viewers in to the fact that the Gagarin probe, Yamatetsu's entry into the probe race, is mere moments away from rendezvous with Halley's Comet. After a few minutes of meaningless chatter, the image cuts to a view from the probe itself. The depth of the blackness that space has when not near a planet is almost total. Ref has to close the blinds to cut the glare so you can see, and nudges Bert and Jane as he does so. Derek, meanwhile, plugs his pocket secretary into the trid, and after a moment of chicanery mentions that the broadcast is being recorded. The team quiets their fidgeting as the view dramatically shifts (no doubt some programmer's decision from many months ago) and brings the comet into view. The probe is still a few hundred kilometers away, but already the astral body looms large in the trid's display. The announcer chimes in with facts and figures, coma 100 miles long, nucleus 15 miles across, composition...probably ice, but the 1986 probes never actually landed so we don't know.

The probe gets closer and closer, and eventually the talking heads shut up, with nothing left to say. The comet is quiet beautiful, a long tail of vapour pouring away from the nucleus as the ball of ice hurtles towards the sun. It's a dark blue with small patches of bright white, and the vapour is a scintillating silvery colour. At the rate the probe is moving, you guess you're only a few more moments from contact. The probe draws ever closer, the comet filling the screen more and more, until *flash*.

The view from the trid fills with a bright white light, there is a moment of static, and then the feed goes dead. Quickly and professionally the view snaps back to the talking heads, who immediately begin to babble about technical problems and the difficulties of space flight. The rest of the morning passes as you chat about the future and your circumstances, with the trid running in the background and Derek on his pocket secretary. At one point he stops the conversation to announce that Yamatetsu is offering discounted rates to all MetaMatrix subscribers as a result of the failed transmission. Yamatetsu announces that "they remain hopeful that the communication break is temporary and that contact will be re-established". Most of the wags on the other feeds are making cheap cracks.

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