Prologue | Chapter 22.5 – The Media Machine
A Chinese woman flips through her manuscript as she sits behind a news anchor’s desk in a Chinese news set. A makeup artist besides her dabs some blush foundation on her cheeks while cautiously eyeing the countdown timer for the news segment to begin.
-Thmp Thmp Thmp-
Heavy footstep and a loud voice startle the makeup artist. She quickly sidesteps to give way to the approaching producer of the show whose face shows urgency and anxiety. The phone in his hand is on a call bearing an unknown caller.
Producer: “Feng Mei, there is a last minute edit for the terrorist story.”
Mei: “Oh. What are we changing?”
The woman hands the producer the manuscript. He points at a few lines and strikes out some words.
Producer: “Here. Here. Here. The city is no longer Lingang New City. They changed it to Nanhui New City. This need to be correct. Don’t mention Lingang. Just Nanhui. Nanhui New City.”
Mei: “Okay. Okay.”
Producer: “Do you need time to adjust? We can push back a few minutes.”
Mei: “No, no. I can do this.”
Producer: “Okay. Okay..”
The producer gestures the makeup artist to continue with her work before leaving. His back then hunches over to a more humble posture as he continues his conversation with his unknown caller.
The lights around the set flicker off and the giant spotlights turn on. All of them focus on the news anchor as she holds a bright smile. The news jingle plays and her smile stretches wider as the camera goes live.
Mei: “Good evening, and welcome to CNB News.”
The live feed switches to stock videos highlighting China’s economy.
Mei: “Tonight, China has officially ended the economic and travel blockade early this morning after seven days of chaos in the world economy. What has happened and the effect of economic blockade.”
The feed switches to video clips showing the ruins of city block and infrastructure.
Mei: “The main story tonight. An all-out war in one night in Nanhui New City. A simple police sting operation led to the involvement of the police attack force as well as the Chinese army.
The feed switches to a video of firefighters struggling putting out fires in a midst of black smoke.
Mei: “A mobster kingpin, Jesus Ming, is found to support a terrorist group that took over the city. The battle between the forces of justice and the terrorist that destroyed many parts of the city.”
Then again, to another video showing trucks loaded with soldiers driving past.
Mei: “Property damage of over four hundred million Yuan. All details will be revealed in this news segment.”
The feed returns to the newscaster as she reads the next topic. An image appears next to her showing an old woman with a gentle demeanor.
Mei: “And lastly, world famous medium Chun Xin Yi has passed away peacefully during early hours yesterday. Supporters from around the world have expressed their grief in her passing. News on all of this coming next.”
A video graphic of the news logo flashes before returning to the newscaster.
Mei: “After seven days separated from the world, China has removed the economic blockade and reopened its borders to the world. The blockade is a calculated move by the Chinese government, citing the need to respond to the rising number of international incidents that endangered the people of China.”
The feed cuts to a stock footage of veterinarians in cleanroom suits handling chickens in a chicken farm.
Mei: “The first incident sparked nationwide panic when a shipment of foreign chicken tested positive for a strain of bird flu virus. Following that incident, a slew of infected cases of the bird flu virus was reported from many populated cities including Shenzhen, Chengdu, Suzhou, Hangzhou and Hong Kong.”
A white box is superimposed on the stock footage and bullet points of information appear one by one.
Mei: “Current confirmed bird flu cases is over three thousand two hundred people. No mortality has been reported so far. Ninety percent of the cases are identified to be foreigners and natives that have recently arrived from foreign countries.”
A transition graphic plays and a muted video footage of a public announcement by a Chinese official starts.
Mei: “In response to the bird flu outbreak, the Chinese government executed a quick and effective solution in order to prevent more cases of bird flu entering China. All trade and travel in China were suspended last week on Monday, October third. Government official Cheng Huo in a public announcement on Friday, two weeks ago.”
The sound of the video starts as the middle-aged Chinese official begins his speech.
Huo: “As of nine a.m., Monday, October third, three days from today, China will officially close its border and cease all travel and trade from the outside world. This is an emergency response to stop the invasion of the bird flu virus into our country and allow the government to focus on handling the current bird flu outbreak in our country. It is advise to change any future plans that will be affected by this government action. That is all.”
The sound fades away as the official is swarmed by camera flashes and microphones from reporters. The newscaster who is silent the since the official’s speech chimes in.
Mei: “Many countries condemn the action, labeling it as 'zealous and overbearing' and warned that China will risk eroding diplomatic and economic ties to many countries.”
The video transitions away to a black background with pictures of various country leaders and politicians.
Mei: “Keep in mind that the Chinese government executed the lockdown to protect the health and safety of the Chinese people. The opposing countries have benefited in trading and travel with China and they condemned the action with their own economic interests in mind.”
The feed transitions to the newscaster, now sporting a bright smile.
Mei: “Fortunately, the bird flu outbreak was successfully contained and no new infected cases have been reported since the lockdown. Therefore, on the seventh day of the lockdown, the Chinese government declared it lifted. Government official Cheng Huo in a public announcement this morning.”
Another video of the government official plays.
Huo: “The bird flu outbreak has been successfully contained and proper countermeasures are in place for any bird flu infections coming into the country. The government has already declared end of the travel and trade lockdown early this morning. A public broadcast has been carried out immediately after declaration through all channels of media and communication. Our government are currently conversing with foreign experts in regards to the future.”
Huo steps away from the podium to face a barrage of cameras and microphones from the reporters. The feed then cuts away to the newscaster who is finishes the segment with another statement.
Mei: “Trading and travel has resumed operation as early as three a.m. this morning. Economic analysts are currently calculating lost revenue caused by the seven-day lockdown.”
She looks down and places her script of the completed segment aside. She takes a deep breath as a graphic showing a burning city block appears next to her.
Mei: “On Monday night, one of China’s cities under development, Nanhui New City, was transformed into a battlefield as the police and the military join forces to conduct a siege on a hidden base for terrorists.”
The picture of the burning city block is replaced with a mug shot of a man in his thirties. The man has a round faced, mean look and sports a greyish blue prison uniform.
Mei: “Around two months ago, mob boss, Ming Chun, also known as Jesus Ming, has been successfully convicted and will face life in prison for many charges, including murder, blackmail, and organized crime. However, further investigation into Ming's assets have revealed a shocking development.”
A video plays, showing the police team proudly standing in a storm of camera flashes. Laid out on tables before them are large piles of money and smuggled drugs as well as various weapons and firearms arranged neatly arranged in the front.
Mei: “Ming's monetary assets were found to fund a terrorist group based in Nanhui New City. The identity of the terrorist group has been withheld at this time due to security concerns. Lin Da Shared Holdings, the company that constructed the city under a contract by the Chinese government, has no affiliation with the terrorist group. The terrorist group hid inside the city illegally and conducted their crimes in secret.”
A graphic shows a map of Nanhui New City as well as markers showing locations of extensive building damage. A video plays in a smaller display window. It shows footage taken from a phone of a civilian. Five soldiers sitting on top of a tank as it drives past, leaving the city.
Mei: “Due to the large number of terrorists hiding in the city, Special Forces and the Chinese military have worked together in a giant sting operation to take down the terrorist. The amount of firepower they brought is astounding and it shows how serious the Chinese military and police are in taking down these terrorists. News reports have confirmed that high-powered equipment like machine guns, armored trucks, and even tanks are deployed in the operation.”
Then, it cuts to more civilian footage, now showing the city at night with audible distant gunshots and explosions.
Mei: “During the operation, they engaged the terrorists, starting the battle that tears through the entire city. During the battle the terrorists have deployed many evil attacks against them.”
A more clearer albeit shaky footage plays, showing the cameraman running to film a police officer screaming and thrashing as he is being carried into an ambulance.
Mei: “The officers that were raiding the building were suddenly assaulted by what they described as angry spirits. Further investigation after the operation revealed that over eighty officers were afflicted with vivid hallucinations and incapacitated during the operations.”
The video switch to another shaky camera footage. A scene in the hospital where several officers are lying on the beds with IV drips.
Mei: “An investigation after the operation revealed that the terrorist have released a hallucinogenic gas. Chemical analysis show that the gas is in fact the illegal drug LSD that is likely destined to be s old at the illegal drug market. The officers affected suffered mental trauma from the hallucination and is expected to recover after some rehabilitation and counseling.”
A large ruined building is shown. The building looks to be a large, multi-storied complex but it has turn into a melted frame charred black.
Mei: “Ming is also involved in various illegal operations, some of which handles volatile and flammable chemicals. The dangerous chemicals were stored in a building complex. When the joint forces raided the building, the terrorists ignited the chemicals to destroy the incriminating evidence. The explosion caused a fire that burned the entire building down. The fire is so intense that the light that it gives off can be seen for kilometers. Witness reports from nearby areas state that the light shone a brightly as the sun.”
More civilian footage is shown. Nanhui New City is seen in the distance and a large flare can be seen licking the top of buildings. It then switches to footage taken from a helicopter circling the burning building. It zooms in to focus on the streams of molten concrete pooling into the exposed basement.
Mei: “The building is supposed to be a new shopping complex. The fire completely destroyed it. Reporters that flew in helicopters testified that the concrete has melted into molten lava. The area is evacuated as a precaution in the case that toxic chemicals may be found or another fire can start from any remaining flammable chemicals.”
The video ends with a transition graphic and switches back to the newscaster.
Mei: “The fight carried on for an hour and ended with the joint forces emerging victorious. The terrorist group suffered heavy casualties and those who surrendered were taken into custody. General Zhang Xu Hung has made a public announcement on behalf of the joint forces”
Another transition graphic plays and reveals the Chinese general, an elderly man standing at the podium.
Xu Hung: “China is grateful and proud of the achievement of these brave men in defeating the terrorists. While we celebrate this victory, we must always be vigilant and watchful of our surroundings. China is a great country and its strength will always be challenged by enemies everywhere. Praise the People’s Republic of China.”
Mei: “However, the damage the terrorists did to the city is unforgivable. Lin Da Shared Holdings has publicly announced that they city has suffered over four hundred million Yuan. Head CEO of Lin Da Shared Holdings Lin Chen Yi.”
The video transitions to another elderly man wearing an expensive suit. He stands next to a wall bearing a large logo of the Lin Da Shared Holdings company.
Chen Yi: “We deeply regret that the city that we built for the country has been defiled by immoral and dangerous terrorists. We applaud the Chinese police and military for carrying out swift justice on the terrorists. It is sad that the city has suffered greatly at the hands of these terrorists. However, we are glad our country is safe from them and are committed to rebuild Nanhui New City once more.”
The video ends and cuts back to Mei, who closes the segment with the last statement from her script.
Mei: “As for Ming Chun, the Chinese government will be preparing a list of new crimes he has committed by supporting the terrorist group. Special intelligence will be utilized to find and arrest all of Ming’s associates and supporters of the terrorists. Ming Chun will stand trial on a date that will be decided by the end of the year.”
Having done with the segment, the newscaster quickly puts her used script aside and picks up another from under her desk. With a few seconds of dead air, she starts the next news segment with an image of the old woman superimposed next to her.
Mei: “Our last story for the evening, world famous medium Chun Xin Yi has passed away at two thirty five this morning. She was eighty-seven years old. Her son and daughter had posted on social media, calling for peace and respect during their time of mourning.”
The feed transitions to a white background and a paragraph in quotes emerges.
Mei: “The post read as follows: ‘We are thankful for all the thoughts and prayers in the memory of our great mother. She has blessed a lot of people from all over the world and has become a savior to many. Our mother left this world peacefully and in the company of all her friends and family. We would ask everyone, supporter or not, to be kind and respectful during our time of mourning.’”
The feed transitions again to show various clips of Chun Xin Yi giving speeches, consoling grief stricken mourners and paying respects to temples and churches.
Mei: “Chun Xin Yi made her debut as a medium over fifty years ago. Her feats as a medium is said to be supernatural and true. She became world famous and had garnered supporters from all over the world. Since her passing, many people, ranging from celebrities to politicians have aired their condolences. As of now, tributes to her legacy are still coming in, earning worldwide attention.”
The video finally transitions to the medium Chun Xin Yi happily waving at the crowd of supporters before her.
Mei: “Chun Xin Yi is survived by her sister, her son and her daughter, as well as seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.”
Mei: “This concludes this evening news. Stay tuned for our sponsors and our next segment where experts in finance analyze the economy's outlook as it emerge from China's seven day lockdown. This is Feng Mei from CNB News.”
The news jingle and studio logo flashes across the screen, ending the news program.
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