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A short story by

James Waugh

The UNN reports were horrific to watch, but he couldn't stop. He had been up since sunrise, glued to the vidscreen and sipping burnt coffee. He'd almost drunk an entire pot by the time Rufi came into the kitchen.

"Why are you watchin' that, Virgil?"

"Don't you wanna know what's going on out there? Gotta make sure we can still even get ourselves a planet-hopper. There's a war on, baby."

On the screen was footage of that war. The carnage of a battlecruiser crashing down into a skyscraper as mutalisks dove, swarming it in midair, spitting projectiles into the flaming, smoking hull. Ribbons of text scraped the bottom half of the monitor. None of the words were positive; they all spoke of mind-numbing body counts, worlds under siege, casualties. A war was certainly on.

"My lord." Rufi covered her mouth with both hands. Even in the morning, hair astray, mascara smeared, she was a creature of petite and caring beauty. "It's horrible."

"That's for sure, darling."

"I'm calling Daddy now. He said the forged identification docs will clear by afternoon."

"Your father's taking a big risk. Plush government jobs like his don't come around every day."

"Don't you think his daughter and future son-in-law are worth a risk like that?"

He nodded, turning back to the screen. A screaming reporter being filmed by a cambot was running down an alley.

"Shooot." Virgil saw them rounding the corner and storming down, down toward the reporter and cambot. The zerglings were countless: long claws slicing outward, carapaces clattering against the narrow walls, those dead, unfeeling eyes. Closer. CLOSER.

The scene was quickly interrupted as Donny Vermillion, UNN's most celebrated news anchor, appeared in the station's broadcast room, cutting in right before the zerglings filled the cambot's entire frame. He was ghost white and not doing a good job at covering his revulsion at the brutal death that his colleague was facing.

"Is he…?"

"Yes." Virgil was matter of fact, stopping her before she could ask the obvious. "You calling Dad?"

"Y-y-yes," she answered, leaving the kitchen.

Virgil took a sip of coffee, his mind flashing to the image of zerglings tightly compacted, forcing their way into the alley. It reminded him of those trenches long ago. He exhaled long and hard, letting every ounce of air seep out of his lungs before he closed his eyes. A war was on.

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