"Welcome back to the Pan Galactic Network's studio headquarters on sunny, beautiful Quellzar, fourth planet of the delightful Denebian system. I'm Strarl Fabulon and you're watching The Galaxy Today.
"Next on the show I'm joined by the beautiful Lullna Zerpnuff, for the war report. Greetings Lullna, lovely to see you again. Tell me, who's kicking whose butt out in there in the galaxy's hot spots today?"
"Hello there, Strarl. I must say, you're looking particularly dashing. You're something of a hot-spot yourself."
"Oh Lullna, you charmer—you're too kind. I'm sure there must be many things hotter things than me out there in the cosmos. Well—one or two, anyway."
"Debatable Strarl, debatable."
"Yes, it does seem to be a relatively quiet period for the galaxy at the moment. We haven't had a really good old-fashioned dust-up since the Acruxian Ice Warriors finally extinguished the Gacruxian Flame Monks in the last of the Steam Wars. Those were the days. From what I can gather, the only skirmish of any note at the moment is the Rigellian invasion of the planet Dirt."
"I should hope not, this is a new suit."
"No Strarl, the planet the Rigellians are invading is called Earth."
"Is it? Strange name for a planet. Anyway, I assume it's business as usual for the Rigellians in their seemingly never-ending quest for more shoes and hats? Complete domination of the Earthians and only a matter of time until they're another notch on Rigel's bed post?"
"It was certainly looking that way, Strarl."
"That's right, Strarl. As it happens, our sources report that despite completely overwhelming the Earth's laughable defenses, the Rigellian campaign has hit a few minor speed bumps."
"You know Lullna, some might describe the Rigellians themselves as minor speed bumps, ha ha."
"They might Strarl. But they probably wouldn't if they valued their ratings in the Rigel system. And their ability to reproduce."
"Er, yes—quite. A very special hello to everyone out there in the Rigel system. Anyway Lullna, tell us about these speed bumps. The ones that aren't Rigellians."
"Well Strarl, as you know, the Pan Galactic Network has been granted the exclusive broadcast rites to Rigel's latest campaign, so we have a robo-correspondent on location, to keep us up to date."
"Hmm, a robo-correspondent, Lullna? Is that, er...wise?"
"Well Strarl, Rigellian campaigns have a tendency to get a little messy. The last few biological correspondents we sent out have come back either slightly deranged or a bit gooey, and in some cases both. So the studio decided on robotic coverage for the Earth campaign."
"But Lullna, I thought the robo-correspondents were all decommissioned following the incident at the Antaran ambassador's press conference."
"Oh Strarl, that's ancient history and apparently the lawsuit should be settled any day now. But our viewers can rest assured that the robo-correspondent team has been completely updated and the unit assigned to Earth is the pick of the crop. SCOOP7 is a cutting edge, state-of-the-art journo-bot, with enhanced personality and charisma modules. He even has the latest journalist personality patch."
"Relax, Strarl—I know you two haven't always seen eye to eye, but don't forget he's been totally updated. You'll love him. We have Scoop on hyper-sat now, live from the Rigellian battlestation orbiting Earth's moon. Scoop, can you hear me?"
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The Four Baristas of the ApocalypseScience Fiction
In the Earth's darkest hour, unexpected heroes are stirring. Stirring their coffee, that is. When aliens invade, four baristas on a camping trip hardly seem the most likely saviours of the world. But thanks to a hologram with no fashion sense, some...