War Correspondent

Taking a belt of single malt  Johnny Walker Aquamarine Label, "Mad Dick" Manly-Sydney looked at the man sitting across the table. There was something about him the veteran war correspondent didn't like, but he couldn't nail it down as yet. It could have been his comb-over, newly back in fashion after a century of being banished from polite society, or maybe the drink he was sipping. Mad Dick initially thought it vodka but, on finding out the man was from the local council, decided it was more likely Bacardi. And low-alcohol Bacardi at that.

He harrumped to himself and eyed the fellow with his piercing gaze. "So, tell me about this Inter-SoLaR Chariot ..."

"The what?" the man squeaked. "Oh, the  Mk3 Tele-Krono Transportator. I can't tell you anything Mr Manly-Sydney, they'll kill me."

"I'll kill you if you don't you little bugger!", he growled. "Where is it? Who knows about it? And where can I see it? Tell me now or it'll be the worse for you."

The man was now frightened. He knew Mad Dick's reputation. It was said he had led the defence of Forks Rift after  the officers commanding the small outpost were killed by  the Wahlis halotonic assegais. The remaining 20 soldiers asked Mad Dick to take command, which he agreed to after he'd made his deadline for the Gondwanaland Gazette. No sooner had he hit the send button than the Wahlis attacked in force. Their bloodcurdling screams chilling all but the well-fortified correspondent, who grabbed a sword and raced to the walls.

"Come on boys, there's only 400 of 'em," he shouted. "Remember Custer!!!," he yelled.

"That's Cyril Custer, victor of the Battle of a Mossy Place Under Some Trees," he quickly added. "Huzzah," his men roared and followed him into battle. Council man knew the story, everyone did. Mad Dick's men hacked and slashed their way through the enemy,  saved the outpost, ended the war and earned official recognition from Murdoch's Press Corps. It was said he killed 20 men with his sword and a further 60 with his half-empty bottle of Aquamarine label. But Mad Dick spurned the hero worship.

"I'm just a humble genius with a brilliant tactical mind," he said, "Anyone could have done it if they had my abilities."
Council man looked at the correspondent again. "OK, Mr Manly-Sydney, I will tell you where it is."

He leaned forward to whisper when the window next to them was shattered and a halotonic assegai caught him in the back, killing him instantly. Mad Dick leaped out of the window and looked around. There was no one. His quest for the Inter-SoLaR Chariot was no closer to being solved ...

Richard Moore, for Lightwave Gallery 2013