Waving her hand in front of the computer screen she sifts through the main menu. Twisting her wrist a little further she moves from movies and television down to communications. Pointing at the screen, Alicia clicks on system wide calling. A small holographic display of the local solar system appears on screen. The display highlights and zooms in on the details of one planet or moon at a time, starting with her current location of Valtrose. A forest planet relatively close to the white dwarf at the core of this system.
Waving her hand from her home planet, Alicia flips from location to location until she reaches close to the edge of the system. There she stops. On Tipota station. A small man made moon revolving around the gas giant Cassius. Connecting to the current system wide communication satellites. Alicia calls Tipota Station with personal extension Potter, George M.
The screen reads. “No current inter-system satellite connection from Valtrose to Tipota station...Next connection window in twelve minutes. Connection times vary.”
With a frustrated sigh, Alicia exits the communication system and flips back to movies and television. The holographic display brings a variety of adds, channels and personal favorites up; each split by category or genre. Sifting through group after group of channels, Alicia stops at her favorites. Idly mumbling to herself about what to watch, she switches between a space comedy and a historical family drama set in the year 2010.
Deciding neither to be appealing. Alicia flips back through the genre blocks to local and inter-system news. Ignoring most, Alicia sifts her way through the holographic display while key headlines are read aloud by the systems basic artificial intelligence.
First baby born off-planet without complications.
The return of small pox? What you need to know.
Tipota Station attacked. Have the bugs found our new home?
Citizenship and what it means to you. Earn yours today.
A headline catches Alicia's attention, enough so to say. “Stop. Read back one line.”
In a neutral robotic tone, the system reads the headline aloud again saying. “Tipota Station attacked. Have the bugs found our new home? Would you like to know more?”
Very serious. Alicia replies. “Yes. I'd like to know more.”
Switching from the ever scrolling holographic display of different news stories. The screen zooms in on the Tipota Station article. Loading the screen with a news article on the side, a video pops up to the left.
“Play attached video.”
Zooming in on the black screen of the paused video. A small circle spins then disappears as the video loads. Starting with a woman standing at the end of a crowd verging on becoming an angry mob at the port. Wiping the sweat from her brow the woman nods to the camera saying. “This is, Martina Martinez speaking to you directly from what might just be the beginning of the next war for humanity. That's ri...”
Cutting the video off. The screen switches to display the picture of Alicia with a cute boy. The two sit wrapped in each others arms standing at the very same port from Tipota Station. Displaying his name and location underneath.
The screen reads. Potter, George M. Tipota Station to Valtrose. Current connection window. Two minutes. Accept call. Yes. No.
Swiping her hand across the display for yes, it swaps over to a video connection between the two.
“Alicia...Alicia? Hello? Are you there?”
“I'm here bonehead. Can't you see me?”
“No. I just see a black screen. Can you fix it?”
“I don't think my system is the problem George.”
“It has to be. Why else can't I see you?”
“Connection issues. I mean we only get to talk what two minutes at a time anymore?”
“Hey. Sometimes it's like five.”
“Yeah, whenever you're on my side of the sun.”
Chuckling, George says. “I miss that wit.”
“It's all you get in these small windows honey. Oh. What's up with the news?”
“About the bugs?”
“What bugs? Bugs in the system?”
“Ugh. Stop it. Not computers honey.”
Laughing for a second, George gets serious and says. “They started evacuations a few hours ago.”
“Why aren't you with them?”
“It was so sudden. There weren't many ships to start with and so a lot of us men let the woman and children on board first, but...”
The screen goes black as the artificial intelligence declares. “Connection terminated. Current communication window expired. Time until next communication window is. Seven minutes.”
Leaning up from her lounge chair. Alicia shouts. “George!? Shit...Replay most recently viewed media.”
Starting the video a second time. It begins with a woman standing at the end of a crowd verging on becoming an angry mob at the port. Wiping the sweat from her brow the woman nods to the camera saying. “This is, Martina Martinez speaking to you directly from what might just be the beginning of the next war for humanity. That's right. I'm at Tipota Station where, as you can see behind me. Hard working citizens fight against each other to get aboard one of the few ships left...All this chaos caused from a single radio wave broadcast captured real time by Dr. William Scott. Welcome to the show Dr. Scott.”
Looking uncomfortable. Dr. Scott leans forward into her microphone saying. “Uh. Um. Yes. Thank you.”
“So. Dr. Scott. Tell us a little bit about the signal and why people are scared.”
“Right. I mean. They should be. I mean. We're going to die. Pretty soon too, if I'm correct.”
Laughing into the camera Martina calmly replies. “Ooh. So, scary. Sounds like we're doomed huh?”
“I. I. Don't why you're laughing. We're gonna die. Like. This isn't a joke lady, look at everyone.”
Shining a big white grin to the camera. Martina places a hand lightly against her hip striking a pose saying. “Well, joke or not. You heard it here first folks. Call your loved ones and say goodbye. It's probably the last thing they'll hear. This is Martina Martinez reporting to you from Tipota Station.”
Leaning further into the microphone Dr. Scott stares at Martina and says. “You're an awful reporter. I mean. I didn't even talk about the signal.”
“They need to know. I mean it. It could be minutes. Days? I don't know.”
“This is Martina Martinez, signing off.” Martina says beaming into the camera. The footage rolls on them for a second longer then cuts to black as the clip ends.
Flipping from the news to the communication panel on it's own. The screen reads. Potter, George M. Tipota Station to Valtrose. Current connection window. One minute. Accept call. Yes. No.
Waving her hand over yes. Alicia waits the second for it to fully connect. When only a black screen pops up she says. “Jesus, George. What's going on there?”
“I still can't see you. Alicia?”
“It's fine. I can't see you either.”
Fright filling his voice. George's voice cracks as he says. “Alicia? I. I think the station is under attack.”
“It's okay honey. I'm here.”
“I couldn't evacuate. I couldn't...”
Cutting George off. Tears well in her eyes and Alicia shushes him in a soothing tone saying. “Don't worry about that. It's going to be okay...George. I love you.”
The screen goes black as the artificial intelligence declares. “Connection terminated. Current communication window expired. Time until next communication window is. Unable to determine next communication window. Connection error with outer system satellites.