Nonnie Jules is the founder and President of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB, as well as interviewer of RRBC authors in the famed, “Who’s On The Shelf With Nonnie?” interviews. Her interviewing skills are legendary and she decided to accompany Author, John Fioravanti, through space and time to another galaxy 700 years into the future. Nonnie’s goal is to meet the key personalities on planet Genesis featured in Fioravanti’s series, The Genesis Saga, and utilize her formidable skills to find out something more about these characters. This scene is the ninth of many, which will follow.
Setting: John has returned both of them to Nonnie’s office at Rave Reviews Book Club – their starting point before the trip to Genesis. Nonnie gasps as she takes in the familiar surroundings, then she narrows her eyes to confront her guest.
Nonnie: “John, how long have we been gone… has to be at least one day! My family will be so worried…”
John: (Gives his host an amused smile.) “It’s been but a moment, dear lady – check your watch. No one has missed us…”
Nonnie: (Nonnie checks her watch, rolls her chair over to the computer to double-check the time and date, and, astounded, returns to her guest.)
“I don’t believe it. (Her whisper is barely audible. She then regards her guest with awe.) How, John? We were in another place – you say, Genesis – and I talked to that Reverend Bingham, Liz Hastings, that Newton character, and then we spent most of an afternoon and evening with that nice Marco Rossini! I ate that man’s food, John! I know I did… don’t tell me otherwise!”
John: (Holds his hands up before him beseeching Nonnie to stop.) “Be calm, Nonnie, I wouldn’t dream of contradicting you. You are experiencing the magical power of the mind – actually, of my mind. I can’t explain it, and I won’t try. I discovered this power a few years ago, but only recently I came to know that I could share the experience with another – if I have physical contact.” (Nonnie is looking intently at her guest, but saying nothing.)
“Let me ask you this. Do you believe you have a better understanding of the society on Genesis after our visit there today?”
Nonnie: I think so. (She pauses to think a moment.) John, tell me about those Earther creatures… animals that can talk? How did that happen? We don’t have any animals that can talk…”
John: (Interrupting her.) “No we don’t. They will be created by that Omega Virus near the end of our present century. Omega will select some wolves, large cats, and bears and manipulate their genetics to transform them into humanoid beings. One of the after-effects is that they will possess considerable intelligence.”
Nonnie: “So these Earthers won’t evolve in the future.”
John: “Not at all. They will be humanoid just like us: arms, hands, legs, feet – no paws. They’ll stand and walk like humans, but their bodies will be covered in the fur or hair of the animals they spring from. As well, they will retain their natural heads as wolves, cats or bears, and the body sizes of their ancestors.”
Nonnie: “I’m not calling you a liar, John, but you have quite an imagination! How will the humans of Genesis react when they meet them?”
John: “Two of the characters in the story are Annie Pinto and Marie Brooklynn. They are top reporters of The Genesis Free Press, and they, because of a freak accident, get the opportunity to visit Earth and talk to some Earthers. They will even interview General Beckett Lupus, commander of the Earther Navy Marine Corps. Let me tell you about it…”
General Beckett Lupus has agreed to an interview with Marie Brooklynn and Annie Pinto of the Genesis Free Press. They are seated together on the grounds of Fengate Hospital in Sydney, Australia. Before the reporters can ask him a question, he begins with one of his own…
“I have a question, if that’s allowed.” The General looked back and forth between the two, looking for a response.
Lupus smiled at Marie as he began, “Please call me Beckett, Marie. I understand why Pat ended up here at Fengate with your Vice President, but why were you two evacuated aboard Flame with them?”
Both women went on the defensive at once.
“Setter asked us the same question.” Annie responded warily.
“Are you of the opinion we don’t belong here, Beckett?” Marie gave the General a withering look that prompted an apologetic response.
“No, no! You misunderstand… I didn’t mean to offend you. I’m a military man, not a diplomat. I clearly did not choose my words carefully. I’m just curious.”
“The ArcG made that decision…”
Looking decidedly perplexed, Beckett interrupted, “Excuse me, Annie… who is the ArcG?”
Marie chuckled, “Excuse Annie, but ‘ArcG’ is Pinto-speak for ArcGeneral.”
Beckett smiled in appreciation, “Please continue, Annie.”
A little flustered, Annie took up her narrative. “Despite his concussion, ArcGeneral Conroy remembered that Marie and Marco are dating. So he ordered ArcColonel Forbes to allow both of us to come with them.”
‘Thank you. I suspected it had to be for personal reasons. Please continue the interview.”
Marie then launched into an explanation about the anti-Earther sentiments on Genesis being disseminated by conservative Churchers. She further detailed how Will Rust hoped that positive and factual reports concerning the hybrid warship would be an effective counter argument.
“But a trip to Earth was not part of the itinerary. Annie and I decided that getting pictures and interviews here was a golden opportunity we couldn’t pass up. We hope that what we can gather here will be effective enough to blunt the new anti-Earther propaganda triggered by the explosion that sent us here.”
Beckett Lupus thought for a moment, nodded his head in the affirmative, and addressed both women. “I understand. Allow me to commend you both on your initiative, your ability to deal positively with the trauma aboard your ship, and your loyalty to the Vice President. Now, how may I be of service?”
“Thank you, Beckett,” Marie responded softly. She fought back tears at the reference to Marco, as her apprehension about him resurfaced. “I think our ability to deal with the trauma, as you put it, is due mainly to Setter and the other wonderful Earthers on staff here.”
“I agree three hundred percent, Marie!” Annie interrupted enthusiastically.
Lupus looked at Annie and then back to Marie, without smiling. “I suppose that’s stronger than one hundred percent.”
Marie looked stunned for a moment, then, she chuckled. “My, you do have a dry sense of humor!” Beckett just smiled as he sensed both humans relaxing. He waited for the next question.
“Beckett, if you don’t mind,” Marie began intently, “I want to get to the heart of the matter with regard to humans and Earthers.” Beckett nodded his assent, so Marie continued in a stronger voice.
“Annie and I had never met any Earthers until this trip, so everything we know about you came from film footage that Will Rust shot during the war, from his stories and the stories we’ve heard from Navy folks like Pat, and the Manchesters. I know humans have characterized Earthers as ‘too good to be true’, and I understand that you have little regard for that expression; but, I have to ask, why are Earthers so good and wholesome – just wonderful friends?”
The General considered her words for a moment, and then looked at each woman in turn. “Are you saying that humans are not?”
“Sometimes,” Annie suggested. “But Earthers appear to live such virtuous lives all the time! How do you do that?”
Becket chuckled at Annie’s emphasis on ‘all the time’, “I’m not entirely sure that we do, Annie. I am sure that we try to live with a positive outlook on life. That effort is rooted in a deep-seated hope that each day will be better than the last. We are determined to do everything in our power to reach a positive outcome in every circumstance.”
Their expressions told him that more explanation was necessary. He sat up straighter in his chair, and his gaze rested on a nearby stand of trees as he searched for the right words.
“You need to understand that we Earthers value life above all else. Because of this we do not butcher other forms of life for food – for example, we make synthetic fish so that the natural species can flourish. In war, we take lives, only, as a last resort, to save our own.”
Marie interrupted him with a question. “Is that why the Earther marines stunned the human Crusaders on the battlefield instead of killing them outright?”
“They did?” Annie asked in surprise.
“Exactly!” Lupus responded. “The stun setting on our energy rifles will put a human into a coma for a week. Now, getting back to my point, we not only value every form of life, but we have enormous respect for each other that precludes jealousy, distrust, or conflict. We work together, each contributing his or her abilities, to solve whatever problem faces us.”
Marie released a low whistle of wonderment. “What a wonderful way to live!”
“Beckett, I still don’t understand how this works.” Annie paused to sort out her thoughts. “I mean, how can a person be positive in the face of hard times, illness, tragedy and death?”
“Good question, Annie. I’ll try to explain. Earthers take pleasure in all things great and small. We take nothing for granted and try to live each moment of our lives to the fullest. Our positive outlook comes from the contentment we derive from our actions and decisions, even when we experience failure. Disappointment and sadness never defeat us. We always cling to hope and doggedly work to rise above them.”
Annie nodded in understanding. “So the key to your way of living can be expressed in one word. Hope. Do you agree?”
Beckett grinned in agreement and rose to his feet. “I couldn’t agree more, Annie, but I must ask you to excuse me. Pressing business calls me back to London, not the least of which, is the final planning for my wedding. I am so pleased to have met you, and I will forever count you among my friends.”
John: (John paused and looked expectantly at his host.) “What do you think, Nonnie?”
Nonnie: (Shaking her head slightly) “Those Earthers are too good to be true!”