Tonight we played The Case that will make the Headlines by Nicolas ‘Gulix’ Ronvel. Our characters are a group of newspaper reporters covering a high-profile meeting with alien ambassadors. We are Justin Case, who runs a paranormal blog on the side; Carol, obsessed with access to government officials; Odin, cursed with bad luck ever since entering the newspaper business; Fabrone Carbury, chenille suit enthusiast who’s wanted to be a reporter since childhood; Sam Smith, a paranoid columnist; and Sidra, passionate about journalistic ethics.
One year ago, Sidra got her first front-page story, covering a robbery and attempted heist. Odin was the first to congratulate her, musing that he’s never made it to the front page because the editors only give him unimportant stories to work on. Things were fine when he worked on the college newspaper with Fabrone, but his luck went bad when he became a professional reporter, and his envy of Fabrone’s assignments has soured their friendship. Sidra hasn’t been back on the front page since, but she’s hoping this case will get her there. Odin understands that if he messes up this story, he’s likely out of a job.
Fabrone and Carol often cover the same stories as part of the government press pool. Carol, who never goes back to the small town she grew up in now that she lives in the city, is not above making campaign donations as a bribe to get information out of politicians. Fabrone, inspired by her time covering U.N. meetings, is hoping to frame the alien summit story in a way that will bring people together, without turning people against the aliens. When Fabrone got this newspaper job in the city, she left behind her (now ex) girlfriend and their dog, but now she has a new girlfriend, a fashion designer who designs her suits.
Coworkers Sam and Carol used to regularly go out for drinks, but they’ve had a falling out over Sam’s latest story. He’s cast suspicions on the aliens and their motives; Carol thinks he’s ridiculous and finds his fear-mongering abhorrent. Furthermore, her government sources won’t talk to her anymore now that Sam has given their newspaper a reputation for criticizing their plans.
Justin needs his newspaper job to pay the bills, but his real passion is the blog he runs about paranormal and extraterrestrial activity. He spends his spare time watching paranormal documentaries and trawling YouTube for evidence, so he can share his stories with the world. Sidra doesn’t trust Justin not to fabricate stories in order to bring in more readers.
The alien meeting case brings back a painful memory for Fabrone: As a child, she made up a story about aliens for her handmade newspaper, complete with painted “alien rocks” and a dog dressed up as an alien, but her peers mocked her for being weird. Sam’s childhood also inspired his journalism, when he helped clear his neighbor/babysitter’s name after the neighborhood targeted her with false reports to Child Protective Services. His absent father wanted him to become a professional oboe player, but his heart belonged to journalism.
Odin’s contact meets him in a dark alley and gives him a strange package. The package contains a piece of alien technology that reveals the details of the aliens’ schedule… but Odin can’t read the information, because it’s written in an alien language.
Sam already has beef with Fabrone over her coverage of the U.N., and this story continues the trend. He dislikes her positive approach to the story, because he wants to alarm the masses. He used to envy Sidra, but now thinks she’s delusional like everyone else, because she doesn’t see the danger of the aliens.
When Justin invites Carol to dinner to discuss the case, Sidra is incensed. She doesn’t trust the pushy blogger not to pry into Carol’s personal life. Between this and his dubious blogging, Justin has gone too far. Sidra follows Justin to a bar and punches him in the face. Surprisingly, this is the wakeup call Justin needs to realize that he needs to tone down his obsessions, because they’re interfering with his newspaper job, and blogging doesn’t pay the bills.
At the last minute, the venue of the meeting is changed, because the original meeting place is near a paper mill, and paper pulp fumes are toxic to the aliens. Fabrone gets the scoop on this story, and is the first in line for the new venue.
Two weeks later, the meeting is over, and the world has moved on. Sidra never got a story submitted because she was poking into everyone else’s business, and her job is in jeopardy. Justin published conspiratorial rumors to his column and blog, and has been hired for a TV show about aliens. Carol published a dry story about government policy, which everyone ignored. Fabrone’s upbeat story got more attention from young reporters and the blogosphere than newspaper subscribers, but her photos of alien fabrics elevated her girlfriend’s fashion career. Odin’s newspaper went under the day after he published his story, due to a scandal in the publishing department; Odin moved to Connecticut, got married, opened a candle shop, and lived happily ever after. Sam broke into Odin’s home to steal the alien schedule and then disappeared, leaving a legacy of conspiracy theories around his disappearance.