Greetings to you my loyal readers and dedicated fans! I thought it was about time I gave you a brief update on my latest endeavors after a long period of silence.
Firstly, let me apologize profoundly for keeping you in the dark of late. As you all know, I strive for excellence in everything that I do, and it’s if not good enough for me, it’s most certainly not good enough for you. While many of my past reports have dazzled and amazed you both in the printed page and on television screens throughout the country, there have been occasional stories that lack that same pizzazz and zing.
I am sorry to say that over the last few months, my output has faltered and the quality of my reports have been somewhat lackluster. However, before we get to that, let me elaborate more fully on an earlier adventure in the Australian desert.
As you may recall, I was part of a group of reporters that had been sent to cover the unveiling of a brand new Atomic Irrigation plant in a particularly inhospitable region of the Australian outback.
What a sight it was, a huge gleaming reactor housing, several high tech buildings and barely a soul in the place. I was particularly looking forward to the in-depth tour that our security escort had promised (incidentally, he claimed to be my biggest fan, a claim I am sure many of you would be eager to dispute!).
Everything was going according to plan and my trusty cameraman, Joe, had taken a lot of great shots of the plant. Unfortunately there were several areas of high security that we were unable to record, but trust me, they were strange and fantastic in equal measure.
We were just leaving the maximum security area when there was a lot of commotion and what sounded like an explosion at one end of the complex. It turned out to be extremely serious and as you will no doubt recall from my full article at the time, we were all evacuated by transporter plane before the entire complex was destroyed in a huge atomic explosion. The subsequent cloud of atomic contamination hung in the air like some great deadly creature, poised to strike Melbourne at a moment’s notice. Thankfully, the winds struck up and dissipated the cloud at the last moment and the city was saved!
All exceptionally thrilling, I’m sure you’ll agree, but it was not destined to continue in this manner for very long. Oh yes, I had plenty of follow up articles, interviews and the quaint little speculative pieces here and there for a few months following the disaster, but my next big story seemed determined not to present itself until one day I had a chance meeting in a London Barber’s Shop and things looked as if they were about to change. Little did I know, it was going to be for the worse.
I used to like Eddie Kerr. I really did. He was a great pal of mine for almost 15 years, we moved in the same circles, always ended up talking at Press Club dinners and so forth, mostly with me buying the drinks I should add, but I always figured he was a stand up kinda guy. Until the aforementioned encounter in that London Barber’s Shop, that is.
I was in London covering a minor league Beauty Pageant for Miss United Europe 2065 and I stopped for a haircut at Jarvis & Sykes, my favorite gentleman’s hair parlor in the city, in order to look presentable for the interviewees. It was about that time that I had my luxurious hair immersed in a gold-plated sink that I happened to hear a familiar voice (that slimy rat, Kerr) “Ned Cook? That no talent shill, stick with me and I’ll get you on every channel from ITC to TV21”. The nerve! The audacity! I would have confronted him then and there, but for two things: My manicurist, Hans (an absolute darling), was buffing my nails and it’s what Kerr said next that really got my attention.
“Fireflash? Sure I’ve heard of it, who hasn’t. Maiden flight? You bet I’d like an invite! Uh-huh. Yeah. Sure. Okay, Friday at Noon it is, and hey thanks!”. It took less than five minutes to secure an invite for myself. After all, Commander Norman, controller of London Airport, is a personal friend of mine. Was I going to let that idiot, Kerr, show me up? Was I heck!
If you haven’t seen her up close, there are few words that can do justice to the sheer beauty of the Fireflash aircraft. The great lady of the skies, able to travel over six times the speed of sound and you want luxury? You’ve got it in spades. It didn’t take long to record what I personally felt was one of my better interviews with the pilot of the maiden flight, Captain Hansen, and after Joe got some impressive footage of the takeoff, I was sure we’d be front page news. I distinctly remember feeling very proud as we cruised along the strangely empty motorway back to the hotel.
We weren’t front page. We weren’t even in the first 20 pages of that paper. That honor went to Eddie Bloomin’ Kerr for his article “Trapped In The Sky” and the subsequent interviews with several passengers of the Fireflash after the dramatic sabotage and crash landing drama. If it weren’t for the efforts of the then-unknown International Rescue (more on them later, oh boy you bet there is!), 600 people would be dead and Eddie Kerr would probably be among them, having remained in the airport press enclosure during the drama.
Undeterred, I proceeded to research what I was sure would be another sensational story, the grand opening of the newly completed Thompson Tower, a building so gigantic it was classed as a self-contained city. Believe it or not I had actually dated the building’s architect several years earlier and after a quick catch-up breakfast, she agreed to produce a series of highly detailed cross-section diagrams for my report. I still have them as a matter of fact, got some of them framed.
How was I supposed to know that those drawings would be all that was left of the building by the time that I arrived? I ask you, what is the point of having the most advanced building in the world situated in an area with some of the worst mass transportation systems in the world?! I was delayed by four hours and arrived to witness nothing more than a smoldering heap of scrap. No one had been seriously hurt and International Rescue had once again saved the day. I made a mental note to research them for a future article. I also discovered that Eddie Kerr had got an exclusive report from his personal Helijet first thing that morning. I hate him. Yes that sounds unprofessional folks, but I have a duty to uphold the truth.
With two complete failures under my belt, I proceeded at frantic pace searching for anything remotely resembling an interesting lead. All I got were ridiculous tips about ships mysteriously disappearing in fog, giant alligators and a man with glowing eyes. And people say I’m crazy…
Then came Sun Probe. Oh beautiful, sweet, wonderful Sun Probe, that mightiest of mighty rockets, that most spacious of space craft, that big shinning pinnacle of science that could be the story of my career! I could barely contain my excitement as I was allowed exclusive access to the solar control launch center. And even better, not a sign of Eddie Kerr anywhere!! Things were definitely on the up!!
Or they were until I suddenly realized two things. Sun Probe was 12 seconds from launch and Joe had taken a bathroom break. I scrambled to the camera platform and just managed to capture a slightly skewed shot of the launch sequence, feeling that I had just about saved my career with a little good fortune and a smile-and-a-wink from Lady Luck.
Lady Luck despises me. Sun Probe was caught up in the greatest news drama since the Fireflash incident! Oh and the reason that Eddie Kerr wasn’t at the control center was because he was too busy with his brand new Tele-Radio 450 satellite camera getting actual shots of the Probe in flight!!! Of course once more, like a modern-day Sir Lancelot, International Rescue had swung into action, saving both the Sun Probe and her crew. There is definitely something about these guys, a story that needs to be told. Little did I know that I’d be getting up close and personal to them sooner than I realized.
So there we were, several weeks later, Joe and I in our news truck in the middle of an inferno in an oil field in the desert. No one for miles, drama every second, perfect! Great material! And then, almost as if on cue, International Rescue arrive on the scene and extinguish the fire. Breathtaking!
I couldn’t help myself, I drove us into a perfect position and called for Joe to cover the Thunderbird craft lifting off. Unfortunately, the pilot, heroic as he was, didn’t take kindly to my attempt to immortalize his craft on film. Ever the diplomat, I suggested he land and discuss it with me. We had a rather amicable interview, off the record of course, and I agreed to wipe our recording to preserve the security of his organisation.
And so loyal readers, it is fresh from that thrilling encounter that I write now, feeling confident that I’m moving back in the right direction. Things are certainly improving. I genuinely believe I’ll be headlining newspapers the world over in next to no time at all.
You see, I can exclusively reveal that my next story is both exceptionally special and historically significant. I will personally be present when the Empire State Building in New York City is moved, yes moved from its present location to allow re-development of the old area.
More on that as it develops, keep your eyes on your screens, intrepid fans!
– Ned Cook, NTBS Correspondent.