November 15, 2004

Chapter 12

Heroic Effort Thwarts Rogues

Main news today, a group of soldiers under the Defence Directive successfully apprehended a group of the radical terrorist organisation known as the Rogues. The group had been known to be perpetrators of a variety of crimes against innocent civilians in the past, and when they were caught, they were planning their biggest attack yet. Apparently, they were attempting to destroy the Protective Wall at its point outside this city. Also captured were documents and videos showing their intentions – to unleash the outside, and bring about a holocaust which would, in their words, bring about 'mass carnage and death.' Scientific experts suggest this may have include the loss of all life that lies within the Wall's protection.

This victory against global terror would not have been achieved without the heroism of Frank Collins, a captain of the Wall patrol force. After an incident a few years ago, Captain Collins was recruited into work as an undercover operative of the Defence Directive, and he helped make plans and eventually volunteered himself to set up an elaborate sting operation. At great personal risk, he managed to infiltrate one of the leading rogue cells, and into involve himself in one of their nefarious operations, even to have his IH deactivated. But unbeknownst to the terrorists, the information he fed them led them to a pre-arranged location at a pre-arranged time. As a result, the counter-operation worked perfectly, and the soldiers succeed in their mission without a single loss.

The captured terrorists will now be brought in for questioning, which will be followed up with psychiatric evaluation into how they function without his, before appropriate measures are taken. The world, meanwhile, may at last rest safely for a while, its freedoms protected.

Collins himself was unavailable for comment. However, his close friends have revealed exclusively that he has taken a rest break. Technical experts have expressed an opinion that after a downtime of 48 hours, it may be now impossible for full IH operation to be restored.

More on this issue soon.

*

The newspaper shifted, the letters moving even as he read it, the smart material updating, renewing. Words disappeared were replaced. The look of concern that had clouded the others' faces vanished, subsumed by their general admiration. He glanced down again. The last lines now read.

"Collins himself was unavailable for comment. However, his close friends have revealed exclusively that he has taken a rest break, after an operation to restore his IH was 100% successful. It is expected that he would retire, and move on to a less dangerous job."

He smiled. They never said that to mean it. He could remember now. It mean he was to be promoted, raised up out of sight of the general masses. More good news too – no word on Kyra, though he did not expect them to mention that. Enemies do not have names. He composed his face into the requisite blissful ignorance, bid his retinue wait, and set off for the Wall.

The clean-up job they did was remarkable. Soon, the newspaper would become blank. News items were, after all, transient things, things of convenience which can always mysteriously vanish. In the long history he could remember, the past was dominated by one thing and one thing only.

Nothing ever happened.

But they can't make it nothing. And they can't make this nothing.

Closely, if he looked closely, he could see the crack, the thin crack, about a millimetre in width, a crack which reached up into the heavens and dug down into the ground, a crack that he read as though it were words. A crack that he felt with his fingers. A crack that spoke to them.

It told him, in a voice no one else could hear.

It told him it was real.


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