Hello, welcome, and thanks for reading my blog. I am Mark Ellis, the infamous Video Guy. I am a wartime correspondent who was embedded with the US delegation for the Tour and was honored to visit several alien worlds. And I am the guy who sent uncensored video copy of my trip back to Earth, you are so welcome. Sadly, or not so sadly, I am now a permanent or semi-permanent guest of the Cooperative since there is now a warrant out for my arrest in every US-aligned nation. I would like to see that cleared up. After all, I did not leak CIA secrets or anything, right?
Anyway, once a journalist, always a journalist. Since I am stuck here, I may as well exploit this opportunity. My current project is to interview the Earthling expats who now reside in the Cooperative. This is going to be fun.
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ME: Today I am talking to James Coventry, sitting in a lovely tree house on the exotic tropical planet called Endard. He is or was a computer analyst for the Anderson Labs firm in Washington.
ME: Was. Okay. I would say you’re in a much cooler place now. Do you miss it? Anderson Labs?
James: [shrugs] I liked the work. I did remote when I moved to England. Coming here kinda put an end to it.
ME: What brought you to England?
James: Castles. My best friend is a castle nut and I kinda became one too. We traveled Europe for a bit. My pilot’s license came in handy. Then I came here.
ME: But, no one just comes here, right?
James: [laughs] Well, I wasn’t one of Steven’s rescues, if that’s what you mean. I, um, I had something happen and I came here looking for Steven.
ME: The time trip.
James: You know about that? Man, I am still having trouble getting my mind around that. But it’s been eating at me. So… here I am.
ME: I think it’s a well-known secret by now. [chuckles] You gated to Tel’range like, a hundred THOUSAND years ago.
James: That’s what they tell me. I honestly don’t know how far back. But it turns out, I’m married. To an Elf. [pantomimes head exploding with hands]. I have been trying to scratch that itch ever since I got back.
ME: So, you used your position to sneak back here to Endard?
James: Really? You know about that too?”
ME: [chuckles] I’d like to say it’s because of my fact-digging prowess, but there are no secrets here, so…
James: [sighs] That’s why I got fired. But, I was going mad. Have you ever had an itch you just cannot reach, just digging into your skin and getting worse and worse until you just want to… I don’t know. Dig it out?
ME: [holds up hands] No. No, I have not. No judgment here, though.
James: I’m judging myself. I worked hard to build that career. Did you know they had the Crows on their payroll? Sally and Jonah. Back when it was Morrison Labs? That’s what… I found out and used their tricks to get access to the servers at the Endard embassy.
ME: I would say it was fortuitous you got caught.
James: By the guy I was looking for, no less. Yeah, fortuitous is an understatement.
ME: He’s everywhere, it seems. So, you’re here now. What have you been up to?
James: They sent me to Tel’range to help with the castle ruins there. I remember it when it looked brand new. Freaky.
ME: So they’re comparing your memories to what exists now?
James: Not much more than a pile of stone blocks now. Part of the cliff is gone so half of the castle is down on the beach below. It’s pretty sad. But yeah. They see what I saw… my memory of it… and used that to map the site.
ME: What an assignment.
James: Oh, they’re trying to teach me stuff too. History, cultures, worlds, technology, and that gating thing. I still haven’t mastered that.
ME: I have heard it takes years of training at their Temples to really master that teleportation stuff.
James: You heard right. And I am trying to master it in a few weeks. It is brutal.
ME: Why the hurry?
James: I don’t know if… when I go back. I don’t know when that will happen. I didn’t know the first time either. Just bam, I was there. This time I am trying to be halfway prepared. Core languages too. I feel like my brain is oozing out my ears.
ME: Cram session on steroids.
James: No kidding. But, I’m stuck here on Endard now. This damned conflict.
ME: They hit Tel’range?
James: No. But it’s less protected and me being who I am, they did not want to risk it.
ME: They restricted my travels too. Things are going nuts, man. War back home, and now the Venda raids here.
James: Makes me wish I was back playing on computers. [shrugs] But they’ll get it sorted, right? Have you seen a Keratian in action? Like machines. Literally.
ME: I have seen underdogs win, however. But, fingers crossed, right? Do you think you’ll go back to Tel’range?
James: No. Ashley said they’re rotating me back to Earth soon. Cory is surveying war damage to the castles in England, so, I’ll probably fly the camera around for him.
ME: You mean they don’t think Endard is safe enough?
James: Kinda the impression I got. Crazy, right? Earth is safer for me than this hundred-thousand-year-old civilization.
ME: Okay, so, what is the best thing you like about being here?
James: Everyone tries to take care of you. Seriously, I have not been hungry or thirsty once. And these clothes? Legracians know how to dress. You’re looking quite dapper yourself.
ME: I don’t think my original clothing even exists anymore here. But, yeah. They never measured me but these fit perfectly. Food? Mine’s Syagrian cuisine.
James: Blegh. Too many insects. Frankly, I’m surprised they don’t have some sort of instant food machine. Just tell it what you want and beep, it’s there.
ME: That would get boring really quick. I like that they’ve held onto traditional food. And frankly, those insects are yummy. Kinda like miniature lobsters or something.
James: Yeah. Still grosses me a bit. Hmm, I like the food here on Endard. Have always been partial to seafood. And the way they love to spice things up.
ME: [laughs] Crying at every meal. Reminds me of India. Or Thailand. Spicy as hell. But delicious.
James: Yep. I never was a spicy person, but the way they balance things out is just perfect. I think, though, I think these people, the Selkies, I think they probably know. They help me choose and I’m never overwhelmed, yeah? A few tears maybe, but never too hot.
ME: I’ve noticed that. Syagria too. I’m a bit more adventurous, but then I’ve had to rough it with locals in war zones, so… can’t be too picky. But it’s like they have this sense as to what I like and dislike. Have never had a dish I haven’t liked. Just amazing. Sharon loves it.
James: I may have to try Syagria. Just don’t know about the insects.
ME: They’re more like, think land crabs. Or think mussels or oysters for their grubs and worms. Cooked to perfection. And delicious. But it’s more of a slight accent to the overall meal. If you weren’t looking for it, you probably wouldn’t notice it.
James: Sir, sir, there’s a grub in my soup.
ME: [laughing] Yeah, probably not as obvious as that. No shock value there. Just practical dishes.
James: Okay, have you… the Keratians. Have you tried their Rodan blood drinks? Sally let me try some she prepared for Lohet and, it was really good. And it’s white, so you don’t think blood.
ME: Seriously? You have a thing about Syagria cuisine but blood-in-a-mug is fine? Okay, yeah, I’ve thought about it. Just never had the guts.
James: Try it. You might be surprised. I was. Really surprised. I didn’t know what it was until I told Sally how delicious it was. She couldn’t stop laughing at my expression when she told me.
ME: Okay, the elephant in the room is insisting. Father of the Cooperative?
James: Can we just talk about alien food and the weather? [laughs] Okay, I have never been a chosen one sort of guy. I think stories like that are lazy and corny. And now, I end up being one? I just cannot wrap my head around that. I just… [sighs] I need to get back to Aris. That’s all. That’s my only motivation.
ME: I get it. Sharon and I are tying the knot here in the Cooperative. I would go crazy knowing she is beyond my reach.
James: It’s worse even. I really do not know Aris. We have no relationship of any kind. But we are married? It is like a piece of me is being twisted and ripped apart. I threw away a satisfying career to find her, to find some sort of… to stop hurting. And in all this, I’m supposed to be the creator of the Cooperative? I just want peace again. That’s all.
ME: I am sure people we now venerate today did not set out to become, you know, heroes or something. They were just faced with a problem and set about solving it. And suddenly, the rest of the world thinks they’re all that. So, don’t think of it as being The One. Just be. Find that peace you’re looking for.
James: You’re the first voice of reason I’ve heard since I got here. Everyone else is treating me like I’m special. I haven’t done anything. This all started because I was looking for a painting back when Cory moved to England.
ME: Well, Dr. Ellis is in. You’ve been such a good patient, I think I have a lollipop around here too.
James: [laughing] I get a lolly for my boo-boo. Love it. I think, you know, Steven has been cool too. Treating me like a regular person. He is not what I expected. Fur?
ME: That fella scares me a little. You know he caused the Great Earthquake on Earth, right? By accident. But, just being able to. And yet, he is the gentlest person I have ever met. Polite to a fault.
James: Can you imagine the burden he shoulders? And they’re calling me special? Sheesh.
ME: But you are special. Any day now you’re going to go back a hundred thousand years, hook up with your wife and just have a dandy time of it.
James: Dandy. Sure. I don’t even know if I have any children. What, great great great great grandkids? How many generations removed? I’ve been afraid to look in the Archives.
ME: Great. Now I‘m going to be looking at people to see if they look like you.
James: [laughs] I hope they don’t get my nose. I’m like a walking wind-vane.
ME: Well, you always know what direction the wind is blowing.
James: Pfft. And then some. I’m hungry. Want to get something?
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Believe it or not, he actually went to Syagria with me and ate bugs. Well, it’s not like it’s obvious. Almost no complaining. James is a character. I will miss him when he leaves, but it was nice to sit with him and shoot the breeze for a bit. Now I am off to find my next victim. Oh, and thanks to Sharon for transcribing this.