Tested in Fire

And now the news...

Television in Vancouver was still a sporadic thing. The cable lines had fallen into disrepair after the comet hit, people too busy with simple survival to maintain them. Radio broadcasts continued, as did ham radio, both used to keep far flung communities linked, but Television was much too resouce intensive. Only now, over a decade after the sun returned and the ash clouds eased, did anyone have the materials to try to bring it back.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation building beside the Vancouver library had been hit several times in the riots and chaos after the comet. Much of the front enterance had fancy glass walls, all of which were smashed. The place was stripped of small items and a lot of stuff was broken in riots, but a fair amount of equipment survived or was repairable.

Mayor Bannon had control of the building, though it sat on the edge of his territory and that belonging to the Shogun's. They had a gentleman's agreement that he could use the valuable facility, in exchange for the Shogun getting access too. Besides, fighting over the surviving technology might wreck the place, or at least wreck it more.

Maria Cortez had been a media student when everything went to hell, nearly graduating. Once the comet hit she had to concentrate on survival, but the black haired woman had held onto her chosen occupation too. Using a ham radio she issued reports on the city's status, along with reporters from the city's papers. While not a 'professional' she was known to both the city and surrounding region.

"All right everyone we go in two minutes," the assistant director Sam called, his heavy tred shaking the floor. His 'gift' let him manipulate technology, meaning he's played a key role in getting the studio running again. His curse was that he has 'absorbed' metal into his body, somehow, making him heavy and somewhat deformed.

Maria took a steadying breath as she straightened out the clean business suit she wore. Her long shimmering hair ran down her back, and her brown eyes were intent as she re-read the script once again. A make up girl patted some powder on her cheeks squinting in concentration.

Her co-host looked amused, his silvery hair giving him a distinguished look. Roy Thomas was a older man, in his forties, and despite his respectable look had written for the trashy press both in Vancouver and abroad. But he had some TV experience, plus good looks so he was tapped to be part of this program.

"Thirty seconds!" the AD yelled, Sam getting the somewhat battered looking camera in place.

"Calm down," Roy whispered as he pasted a professional smile on his face.

Maria sat up as she hissed, "Easy for you to say."

"Five! Four! Three! Two!" the staffer called out, then the camera light went on.

"Welcome to the new Vancouver Broadcasting Network's nightly news," Maria smiled engagingly, "coming to you from the old CBC building in Vancouver. I'm Maria Cortez."

"And I'm Roy Thomas," he introduced himself smoothly. "As you know, the CBC went off the air shortly after the comet strike. We had originally considered calling our new station CBC, but felt that would be a touch arrogant."

'And it wouldn't fit Mayor Bannon's plans,' Maria thought, but didn't say it aloud. She wasn't stupid. "Today is our first broadcast," she said cheerfully, "so please forgive any fumbles." She picked up her script and tapped it on the desk before continuing, "And now, local news."

Roy smiled charmingly, "Mayor Bannon, in cooperation with the Shogun, has announced a 'Open Door' police between their regions. Now people in both areas will be able to trade more freely and enjoy each other's entertainment facilities."

"The Edgewater Casino has notably opposed this plan," Maria noted, "but was overruled. The managers of the casino have not stated what they will do to prevent the Shogun's casinos from cutting into their market."

"Hopefully no armed gangs will be involved," Roy joked.

"Speaking of armed gangs, the Professor over on Granville island is continuing to be troublesome. He attacked our allies on Davies Street over the Granville Bridge, but was repulsed with few losses," Maria said. She smiled impishly, "I guess some men just don't know when to quit."

"Indeed," Roy agreed.

"Now, we'll cut to the roof and weather," Maria said.

The director signaled they were off, and both news readers relaxed. "Damn it's hard to keep those plastic smiles on," Roy complained.

"It's not that bad," Maria shrugged, distracted by a monitor nearby where they could see the weather segment playing. Up on the roof Constance was giving the report, explaining that bad weather was coming for the next few days.

"Think the commercial will run fine?" Roy asked curiously.

"Hopefully," Naria shrugged eloquently.

"Back on in five!" another staffer yelled, "Four! Three! Two!"

Roy had his game face back on as he nodded, "And that was the weather. As a side note, meterilogists now believe weather paterns are gradually returning to normal. However, after all the dust we had in the atmosphere, we can still expect more extreme weather than we previously experienced."

"Now, we'll be leaving you for our first advertizements. I hope you enjoy them," Maria said as they switched to the recorded ads.

"Hope you enjoy them?" the director asked, shaking his head.

"Hey, that was the script!" Maria said defensively. "You'd be pissed if I ad-libbed."

Roy ignored that, watching the first ad for a resturant chain, Joe's Burgers. It was actually kind of professional looking, though he guessed it had been filmed with just a hand-held camera. The second ad was for a motor cycle dealer, and he blinked at some of the footage they used.

"Is that Jack Scott?" Roy had to ask a nearby camera man.

"Damn," she noted, the purple skinned woman blinking, "sure looked like her."

Maria had also caught a bit of the footage. "Do you think Jack actually bought her bike from his dealership?" she asked.

"If not he's sure implying it," Roy noted. He smiled unpleasantly, "Wonder how the infamous courier will react?"

"We might have a lead story for tomorrow," Maria noted thoughtfully as the third ad for a local grocery chain ran.

"Places, everyone!" the director called from his position beside the camera, "Five! Four!"

As he hit one the two reporters smiled professionally. "Welcome back," Roy smiled, "that wasn't so bad, was it?"

Maria chuckled dutifully. "Across the Province, there is a general move towards tighter connections between cites," she said, "and Vancouver is taking the lead. We have recently established trade routes with Fort Langley and Surrey, as well as Burnaby. Imports from the Fraser Valley have also improved with the establishment of the new highway patrol."

Neither mentioned that the Highway Patrol was being run by the Courier Guild, more or less. By implying Bannon was a part of it they made their boss happy, and they didn't actually lie too. It made both reporters a bit uncomfortable, but what could they do?

"Sadly, Mission City council, one of the most powerful cities in this region," Roy noted sternly, "has refused to acknowledge Mayor Bannon as this city's ruler. Such a delay only makes the situation in our city more unstable."

Maria smiled, "However, we are hopeful that they will make a decision soon."

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0

"That son of a bitch!" Wolf yelped as she and her followers watched the newscast in her headquarters. The broadcast had gone out all over the city using the broadcast tower errected on top of the CBC, and most older style TVs had picked it up.

"It's pretty much pro-Banon propaganda," Rose noted, the attractive woman sitting by Wolf. She had been pretty good since Wolf threatened her, but neither thought that was going to last.

"Well, yeah, that was pretty much what we expected," Wolf admitted. She scowled, "I suppose what really annoyed me was their compairing us and the Professor as armed gangs."

"What pissed me off was their calling us Bannon's allies," Frenchy noted, the handsome young man drinking a beer.

"Bastards," Rose scowled at that. Hell, she had done her damndest to start a war between Bannon and the Shogun. She';s happily see him go down in flames.

"We won't protest that," Wolf said after a moment, looking thoughtful. "I think I have a idea how we can use this TV station to our advantage."

"Oh?" another man asked, looking curious.

"They intend to run the station all day right?" Wolf smiled coldly, "They're going to need programming. I bet we can get some of our views and opinions on the air, too."

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0

"Bastards," the Professor hissed as the old man shut the TV off. The room was dark as he sat there, seething over his army being called a simple gang. He got up, stiffly, and walked to the window, pulling over the sheet that shielded him from view.

His 'kingdom' Granville Island sat before him. Much of it was run down buildings, but his people had refitted and repaired much of the facilities. Instead of theaters and tourist traps it had garrisons, baracks and most important... the docks. All the city saw was the wrecks, the shattered ruins of ships that they had dragged around the island.

What they couldn't see, because they were hidden by the wrecks, were all the small boats his people had gathered. Found and carefully rebuilt those speedboats would allow him to land forces anywhere along the Vancouver shoreline, in overwhelming numbers. It galled him to be so mocked, and part of him wanted to order his men to the boats for a lightning strike against the new broadcasters.

"no," he sighed, letting the curtain fall as he returned to his desk. Using the boats was a tactic he had to save until the time was right. He could take any part of the city he could land the boats on, but holding them was another question. He had to wait until the time was right.

But someday, he resolved he would make the reporters pay for slighting him. Pay painfully, in slow and careful detail. With that cheerful thought warming him, the Professor returned to his work.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0

"That son of a bitch!" Jack Scott yelped, much like the others. Unlike the others, it wasn't because of the news reports. No, in this case it was the advertizement.

Motoko looked amused, the redhead sitting beside Jack on her couch. Jack didn't have a television, so Motoko had invited her over to see the historic 'first' broadcast. She hadn't quite expected this to set her off though.

"I take it you didn't give them permission to film you?" Motoko asked.

Jack growled out, "Hell no. It looks like they just filmed me going through town..."

Motoko had to admit, Jack made a striking figure on her motorbike, and she could certainly see why someone might use her image like this. She wasn't going to tell her that, though. "I suppose you can ask the station to pull the ad," she offered.

"Or just kill the dealer," Jack scowled.

"Please don't," Motoko said dryly, "my father and the Shogun would feel honor bound to bail you out of jail. Or break you out, which would be incredibly messy."

Jack sighed, "Damn it, you're right." She brightened, "But at least I can beat that little weasel bloody for doing it."

To be continued...