30 Stories in 30 Days #5 – “Eyewitnesses to History”
Eyewitnesses to History
“We’re starting to lose some cameras.”
Roduit looked over at Preston and said, “I thought they were supposed to be nearly indestructible.”
“Emphasis on the nearly,” Preston replied with a smirk. “I don’t know how many tons of high explosives are going off down there, but it’s enough to knock some out.”
“Are we going to lose coverage?”
Preston shrugged. “The naval bombardment is about to start, so we might get a few thin areas.”
Roduit shook her head. “At least they’re cheap. Fire a couple pellets to make sure no gaps form.”
In response to commands from the Bridge, several grey pellets less than a centimeter in diameter were fed into the Activation Controller. Here the 1000 gnatcams within each pellet were turned on and given their commands. Once all the cams were online, the pellets were fed to the coil gun and fired.
One after the other the pellets flew into the near vacuum 150 kilometers above the Earth. If a camera had been on the outside of the pellet looking back, all it would have seen were stars. While the ship’s clocking field had come from a junkyard, it was still more than enough to deal with the primitive 20th century technology.
Travelling at over a kilometer per second, the pellets quickly reached the thicker layers of the atmosphere. As the pellets were slowed, they became bright meteors, unseen amongst the fireworks below. Fifteen kilometers above the smoke and dust obscured ground, each pellet’s shell disintegrated, unleashing the gnatcams. These drifted into a swarm in the shape of an inverted cone. A few remained up high to give a birds-eye-view, more took up position at the altitude the aircraft were flying through, but most were stationed a few meters above the ground. All joining the untold millions of cameras already deployed.
“The new cams are coming online,” Preston reported.
“Good.” After a moment, Roduit said, “Fire more pellets above the beaches before the first wave hits. It’s better to have too many than too few.”
“Now you’re being paranoid.”
“Oh sure, because after billions of credits, a decade of planning, and a mountain chain of bureaucratic red tape, if we return and there’s a gap in the coverage, the Board will understand and will be more than happy to send us back to fill it in.”
Preston rolled his eyes. “Relax. Take a deep breath.”
Before she could say anything, Preston again ordered, “Take a deep breath.”
Roduit locked eyes with Preston for a few heartbeats. She turned away, took a deep breath, held it for a moment, then let it out.”
“I hate you.”
Preston chuckled. “If you’re tense, we still have time before the first wave hits.”
Roduit glared at Preston for several seconds. Without a word, she stood and left the Bridge.
Preston typed in the commands to fire a few more pellets – just to make sure no gaps developed in the next ten minutes – then hurried after her.
Far below, in the predawn darkness, millions of gnatcams watched as thousands of men prepared for the assault on Normandy Beach.