They told her that to be a good announcer she had to believe in what she was saying. The words didn’t matter. Just her conviction.
It feels like a cop-out now.
“I don’t want to read it,” she says. She feels like she’s on the verge of tears — she feels the heat behind her eyes.
Odi at least has the decency to look sad for her. He doesn’t understand, though. He’s a native. “I know.”
“Why don’t you read it?”
His eyes stay locked on hers while he shakes his head.
“You’re the voice of the MSRI. You’re the voice of Mars.” He puts a hand on her knee. For the first time, it feels like an invasion of her space rather than a comfort. “If you don’t read it, people will talk. They know who you are.”
Who she is. Meaning from Earth.
Meaning, after she reads this announcement, the enemy.
She swallows. Her throat is dry, not tasting like hot, wet salt when she cried before. It feels like the universe is telling her that everything is different now.
“If we take any longer,” he says, “we’ll have to do it live.”
She nods. That would be the one way to make this whole thing worse.
Odi pats her knee and withdraws from the room. The lights dim and the screen in front of her lights up, the words seeming to hover in the air. She takes a moment to collect herself, then she resizes it so the whole thing is visible at once.
It’s not long. Really, as she reads it, she thinks it could be a simple sentence: Earth and Mars are now at war. The rest is rhetoric and posturing. She’s the one responsible for reading it because Earth trusts MSRI. They were once an Earth institute. That’s why she’s here.
After she’s done, she wants to go home. She wants to go back to her apartment and send a message to her family. She could put up with the exasperating three minute delay just for a chance to warn them. To apologize for being the voice of war. To hear their forgiveness.
Instead, Odi pulls her into the conference room. He looks desperate.
“There are two soldiers in the lobby,” he says.
She knows what’s coming next. She’s the enemy now. “They need to know you’re on our side, that’s all,” Odi says. “They just need to know you’re loyal.”
But the words don’t matter, she tells herself. Just her conviction.
She nods, closes her eyes to try and banish her tears. She can say whatever they want her to say; she’ll believe in it.
She’s a good announcer.
She’s the voice of Mars.
Related to the project which spawned last Friday’s post, but this story was never part of the larger narrative. It came out of some idle musing: who has to deliver the bad news when it comes to interplanetary war?