LEEZA, LOCKED IN THE Demodakis guestroom—but that’s only her bod, the Meat—runs free in the Link. The geomag static has calmed for the moment, opening a slot, and she’s hitching a ride on a local Med League connection she’s hacked. She prowls, pounces on an active site, and enters:
***Auto updates, Athens Register: Smog level 5, full facemask, bottled air recommended. Security level Red—***
Leeza scoffs silently and shunts into Search again. When in the past few years has the level been lower than Red?
***Breaking News: A secondary eruption of the infant cindercone island in the Cyclades at 13:27 today. Marine and air traffic advised to avoid the area. These images just in from Citizen Link-In:
A deep, clapping roar shudders down Leeza’s spine as a gray cloud rolls over the blue sky, engulfs her in choking heat and the smell of sulfur. Through the ash-cloud, a fiery red pulses. Something big and jagged flies past, there’s a splash and she’s flinching, adrenaline surging fear. “Oh, shit! Oh Christ, watch out—”***
Static cut in again, and Leeza lost the Link. Cut and Save: NewsFix 12. She’d add the datelines later. Throw in some cobbled updates—more ozone thinning and solar flare alerts; politocrats assuring the voter-consumers there was no need to worry about the fringe scientists with their “proof” of mutations from the scrambled geomagnetic fields; more riots and famine zones worldwide; RIP-leprosy on the rise—standard news.
She liked cutting the quickie chips, and she could always use the cash she picked up from local stations for their morning shows, no way to enforce copyrights.
The five-minute newsstim capsules were the latest American addiction: Fast trips through the facts for John and Jane Doe, safely muted without the direct neural links the pros like Leeza used to produce them. Little shudder of doom and ruin for the day, breathless rush of sound/sight/sense and no bogging down to over-process, just a quick catch-me-up on the latest state of catastrophe before running for the jobs they were damn lucky to have, no complaints here, We’re Working for the Better Way.
Leeza was vaguely grateful to the gonzo freelancers whose short-range transmissions she pirated, throwing themselves into the thick to record the bullets and the clubs to the head. They tended to burn out fast, or get wasted. But the window of opportunity was Now. What with the satellites mostly useless, networks had to rely on the global microwave towers for their world news, and those got knocked out all the time by terrorists, NeoLuddites, and the wild new storm systems, or their signals got scrambled by electromag interference. On-chip was where it was happening.
People were hungry for it all, the meaner the better, and Leeza Conreid was going to the top. This Ariadne feature would take her there—then she’d blow some minds. Stiffs were clueless where the Link could take them. Medium the massage.
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