Limelight, Chapter 11: Final Performance
Chuck, the video director, sauntered into Ops. Jess looked up and smiled. "HI! I thought you were done with us and moved on to real rock stars."
Chuck chuckled. "You guys save people. Others may be stars, but you guys are like gods."
Jess giggled. "You're really good with praise."
Chuck laughed. "It comes in handy when I deal with those so-called stars." He sighed. "I'm really going to miss this place. Filming here was a one of a kind experience."
"He he he. I bet!" said Jess, giggling. She turned back to the ADD.
"Are you having a lot of activity with the flashy thingies?"
Jess giggled. "You have a way with words, too. No, not too much trouble so far. We haven't had a single anomaly today."
"Cool! So, what other things can you do from your station?" he asked, moving closer to her.
"Lots of stuff."
"Can you talk to the whole ARC at once?"
"Sure. This button broadcasts my voice over the intercom."
"Really?" Then, moving at lightning speed, he hit the button. "FYI: The ARC's final, brilliant video will air in the canteen in one hour. Cheers!"
"Chuck. You can't do that," she said, winking at him. That was what he said when she yelled "Cut!" on his video set.
He smirked. "Sorry. It won't happen again. This is my last performance, sort of a farewell to you fine people. Trust me, Jess. You want to check it out."
She raised an eyebrow. "Do I?"
"Oh, yeah. You do, I promise."
About an hour later, a skeleton crew had been assembled to run the ARC while the majority of staff gathered in the canteen.
"You realize if there are anomaly alerts or creature sightings we'll have to nip this performance in the bud?"
"Yes. Of course, Mr. Lester. It won't take long."
Chuck called for quiet. Then he hit play and the music began. Chuck appeared on screen. "It's been a blast ARC! In appreciation, I offer this little homage to you fine, heroic people…"
Words flashed on the screen. "The people of the ARC are selfless, professional, super-smart, capable, heroic, and damn fine-looking."
The canteen hollered and cheered.
Snapshots of the main team played to applause in the canteen. The team blushed.
On the screen Becker led his soldiers as they chased a group of raptors that were in turn chasing a panicked group of shoppers through the streets of downtown London. The soldiers defended the humans, taking down the raptors as "Save the World" by Swedish House Mafia played.
In the canteen wolf calls, whistles, and shouts of "Baby!" accompanied the ARC soldiers.
"You're so heroic," said Jess, resting her head on Becker's shoulder.
He blushed. "Just doing my job."
The song switched to "Hero," by Chad Kroeger. The line, "A hero can save us, I'm not going to stay here and wait," was sung as Connor ran toward an anomaly, a large Spinosaurus on his heels.
Shouts of "Temple!" filled the canteen.
Connor, watching the video, groaned. "That's the last time I listen to Becker. 'Lead it to the anomaly,' he said."
"Mate, it almost had me!"
"I had you covered."
The spinosaurus was at Connor's heels, snapping at his feet. Then an EMD blast hit it. It didn't fall unconscious, but it slowed so Connor could move away. He ran to the anomaly, skidding at the last moment, but the spinosaurus couldn't stop and it fell through the anomaly.
"See? Perfect plan," said Becker.
"Right," said Connor, unconvinced. "That whole scene looked awesome with the music, though."
"Thanks, Mate," said Chuck.
More scenes played: An ARC medic covered a wounded man with his own body as debris caused by pteranodons fell. Wounded people lay trapped inside crushed cars, screaming for help. A sea of rescuers, including ARC personnel, moved in to help, despite the raptors, smilodons and other creatures roaming free.
In another compilation of scenes, Lester aided a medic carrying wounded, Matt field dressed several bad wounds, and Becker comforted a dying soldier. He drew his last breath and Becker cried in Jess' arms. "Hero" continued to play and the canteen fell silent.
The music changed again. This time, Kerrie Roberts sang "Rescue Me."
"This is one my favorite parts," said Chuck. "I caution you, it's a bit…unsettling."
The line "This waking nightmare lingers," was sung as the camera focused on a school bus. Gray creatures crept up all around it. Screams and crying of children were heard over the music.
"Dire wolves," whispered Abby. "Oh my god."
"I heard about this," said Matt.
Becker nodded. "It happened while we were trapped inside the ARC."
The screams got louder as the wolves crept closer.
Jess dug her fingers into Becker's arm.
"I can't do it alone," sang Kerrie Roberts. "I'm reaching out. Rescue me…"
Then EMD blasts and fire from conventional weapons hit the wolves. Police and ARC forces descended on the wolves. They were able to drive them back, putting their own bodies between the school bus and the prehistoric killers.
"Thank the lord," said Lester, breathing out with relief. The whole canteen followed suit.
The battle raged: dire wolves getting the jump on some forces. A young policewoman was jumped and killed by a dire wolf.
"No!" screamed Jess, hiding her face in Becker's chest.
"Sorry, Jess. I wrestled with keeping that footage," said Chuck, "but the officer's family encouraged me to as a tribute to everyone who sacrificed and endangered their lives to help others."
Jess nodded. "I agree, but it's hard to watch."
"It is," said Lester. "Brave family."
Chuck nodded. "They are. They're proud of the young officer."
"As they should be," said Lester.
The song continued to play. The chorus "Rescue me," repeated as the kids were taken off the bus, clinging to their rescuers. They walked over the dead and unconscious dire wolves on the ground.
"That was intense," said Connor.
"It was," agreed Chuck. "It was Armageddon, after all."
The canteen grunted in agreement.
"Now comes the lighter touches," said Chuck.
"Pretty woman," was sung by Roy Orbison, as Jess marched down an ARC hall. The camera focused on of her red, sparkly heels then traveled up her legs.
"Watch the camera angles!" screamed her boyfriend. The canteen laughed.
The camera closed in on the ruffles of her bright orange skirt. Then other scenes rapidly played, all focusing on her short skirts.
"You're a dead man, Chuck," snarled Becker through clenched teeth.
"Me? She's the one that wears them!"
Becker glared at him.
"Please don't kill me. I just got hired to do a video with One Direction."
Jess laughed. "I won't let him."
"You're an angel, Jess," he said.
Now it was Abby's face on screen and "Talk to the Animals," was sung by Sammy Davis Jr.
The canteen laughed. Abby giggled with glee. "Perfect!"
Clips of Abby on the job played. She giggled as Syd and Nancy brushed affectionately against her legs. Rex flew overhead, landing on Abby's shoulder. Monte ate vegetation from her hands. A caged smilodon growled as Abby pointed defiantly at the glass. "Don't get temperamental with me!"
The canteen laughed.
"That's our Abby," said Connor, kissing her.
It was Emily's turn. She gracefully glided across the screen as Chris Young sang "She's Got this Thing About Her."
Matt smiled. "She does indeed." Emily smiled.
She was shown on screen, smiling pleasantly, blushing daintily, and conducting herself with elegance.
Then she shot four predators with an EMD, knifed a carnivorous beaver-like thing in the head, and even disarmed a looter. Then she looked at the screen and smiled graciously.
The canteen shook with applause and laughter.
"At least she's still elegant when she goes on a rampage," said Lester, dryly.
"OI! You got the ladies looking smooth, what about us guys?" asked Connor.
"Actually, Connor. It's the guys' turn now."
Matt walked across a dance floor to "Hot Mess" by Cobra Starship. The dancers were huddled to the sides, watching as a large flying creature circled above their heads. Matt confidentially strutted over, and brought the thing down with an EMD blast. The crowd cheered and Matt smirked at the camera.
The music died down as a big bouncer got in Matt's face. "You need to pay to be in the club."
"I'm here on a mission of public safety."
The bouncer said, "Sorry. Owner's orders" and he pointed to sleazy-looking guy.
The crowd booed, joined by the canteen audience.
The owner smiled smugly. "Thanks for taking care of the pest problem. Sorry, though. Everyone pays. What you gonna do about it?"
Matt looked at the camera and just as "Hot Mess" started playing again, he EMD'd the guy. The crowd cheered and canteen cheered wildly.
"So that is what that lawsuit was about then," said Lester.
"Sorry," said Matt.
"Don't apologize!" cried Becker. "Atta boy!"
The canteen laughed. On screen, the dance audience applauded, the bouncer shrugged and moved away, and the bartender offered Matt a drink on the house. Matt accepted the drink, and smiled to the camera.
"Drinking on the job is against ARC policy, Anderson," said Lester.
Matt laughed. "I'm Irish. We never turn down a drink."
The canteen laughed. "You are the man," said Chuck. "I had to include that bit. It was too cool."
"Yes, public brawling and drunkenness are often droll," said Lester.
"I was hardly drunk," said Matt.
"No more drinking or brawling, I promise," said Chuck.
The pictures and music changed.
"I would walk 500 miles," sang the Proclaimers from their song "I'm Gonna Be" as Connor appeared, anomaly device in hand. "I see the readings, but where's the anomaly?"
He walked around as a furless monkey-ish thing jumped down behind him. He didn't turn. He hadn't heard the creature. Connor walked around, the monkey thing following.
The canteen giggled.
"It's cute," said Jess.
"Yeah. I hated to send them back actually."
"Them?" asked Matt.
Connor chuckled. "Keep watching. I'm sure the camera will show you why…yep," he said as on the screen another monkey dropped down. Now Connor had two shadows.
Abby chuckled, "And you still have no clue!" she cried.
Connor shook his head. "They were quiet."
"Must have been," said Becker, laughing along with the rest of the canteen as more monkey things dropped down. Connor soon was striding along with eight of the things following behind him.
"Connor, you're as alert as a rock!" cried Becker, laughing.
Then there was an abrupt change of music. Adam Lambert's Strut played.
Becker and six of his men suddenly strutted in sync, all wearing sunglasses.
"Ooh, dashing," said Jess. "When the fan girls see this we'll be hiding for months."
"No Jess, this is a private video for ARC staff. It isn't going public," said Chuck.
"That's a relief," said Becker.
"Really. Maybe I'll have you all to myself soon," she said.
Back in the video, Becker and the men moved as one entity, striding with a certain macho air. They headed across an alley, straight for an anomaly. Then a bunch of shady-looking blokes stepped in front of it. They stared the ARC men down, but Becker and the men kept strutting forward. One guy stepped out in front of the captain and they had a few words.
Then Becker belted the guy.
"Baby, you should be friendlier."
"Jess, he was a vigilante."
The decked guy's friends moved in on the Captain, but his men intercepted. They each took a bloke, and within seconds all the vigilantes were on the ground.
Becker moved in on the anomaly and closed it. He then turned around, and led his men back across the alley. All of them were once more in sync, and strutting with machismo.
More hoots and whistles and shouts of "Baby!" filled the canteen.
Becker smiled, as Jess giggled in his arms. "I love it. I want a copy!" she cried.
"I'll fix you up," said Chuck. "Finally, we end our time at the ARC with…"
Lester's face filled the screen.
"Oh, quite right," said Lester.
Then ZZ top began to play. As Lester strode across the ARC in the video, the group sang, "Clean shirt, new shoes…" and the canteen began laughing.
"What? I look brilliant," said Lester.
ZZ top kept singing, "silk suit, black tie…"
"I am always properly attired."
The group reached the famous line, "Every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man."
The canteen cheered. Several ladies blew Lester kisses.
"It's true, you know," he said smugly.
Lester now appeared on screen in a compilation of scenes, as Connor provided an impromptu play by play. "Here's Lester delegating to his minions. Now, he's ranting into his phone. Here he's yelling at Jess to do menial labor she didn't sign up for."
Jess giggled hysterically, still collapsed across Becker's lap.
Connor went on: "Lester is now quoting some obscure government policy. He's on the phone again, probably trying to get that knighthood…."
"And…" interrupted Lester. "Looking fabulous."
The crowd canteen erupted with cheers.
Chuck laughed. "Seriously, we have one last bit."
The screen went black and then ARC personnel pictures flew across the screen one after another. Followed by the words, "A grateful nation…world thanks you."
Once more the canteen was cheering and clapping widely.
Chuck gave a bow, and turned off the DVD. "That concludes my video workings at this…unusual facility."
They kept cheering. They were so loud Chuck could only make out what the main team, ARC director and chief coordinator yelled.
"We'll miss you!"
"No, we won't, at all. You're lucky you can still walk under your own power."
"Call me, if you do more sci-fi vids."
"It is fascinating that one can spend an entire lifetime making 'videos."
"Indeed. Moreover, it's amazing some people sit an entire lifetime on a couch, watching this drivel on telly."
"Can I have a copy of my scenes? What, Emily? I'm amazing! Seriously, I missed my calling!"
"Good job. You know, Lester, Rex is still waiting for his sauna."
Author's Note: End of the Limelight stories. Thanks to the following youtube posters for the song selections used in any of the limelight stories: xsillymarelillyx, asyouxlikeit, Xtoo10, Icefireheart, littlebluebox1. These authors own videos that I know I heard the songs from first. I feel compelled to list them for that reason. You may have a video to one of the songs I used but I probably was already familiar with the song, so you are not listed.