Normally, I would be resigned to my fate of being exiled from Earth. Terra. For you guys, Earth. Hey, I was naughty. I admit it. I believed the government was censuring what I reported, and what I saw simply should not have been censored. Hopefully, you agree. Perhaps one day you can convince our government to lift the arrest warrants and drop the charges. But until then, I am stuck. Here.
Okay, who am I kidding? I really don’t care. Seriously. I feel like some minimum wage laborer from rural Texas suddenly landing an open-ended high-paying gig in… Hawaii or some other exotic locale. I hear Tahiti is a magical place. Staying at some high-dollar resort. Treated with respect and well-fed. Why the hell would I want to throw this away and go back to grunt work as a war-time correspondent?
Of course, getting my gigs as a war-time correspondent was kinda like that too. Fresh out of college, barely able to make ends meet, and suddenly, bam. I’m in the middle of a war zone covering the action. And not sleeping. Often being sent out of the warzone when things got too hot. Roughing it with hopefully friendly locals while bombs were being dropped a few miles away. But still, at the time it was a dream come true.
I lived my life in a small rural town and dreamed of faraway places while subsisting off minimum wage jobs. I would have enlisted, but I actually do have a foot problem. Or did. Got that fixed recently. I love Cooperative medicine. But, I was too poor to just drop everything and go. Nor did I have the guts to… you know, just drop everything and go. I know some people who did that and it worked out great for them. But not me. A journalism degree ended up being my ticket.
I had hoped to maybe work through the ranks at some minor network and just maybe get assigned overseas, covering culture or economics or anything. But instead, I was honored to be an expendable journalist’s aid and later an actual journalist in the nations the US deemed fit to send their troops for a little bomb-hockey and target practice. Okay, that wasn’t fair. I was assigned to some spectacular young men and women who really held up their own under extreme pressure and nearly no sleep.
I did a great job. Always looking to my future. Not ruffling any feathers. I didn’t agree with a single conflict I was embedded in, but I managed to swallow that and do the job. I apparently got noticed. I was a stand-up guy who towed the company line and did not deviate left or right. And I was still expendable. So, I ended up with a gig I would never have dreamed of. One that would take me off-world. Off. World. As in, aliens.
They’re not aliens anymore. Not to me. Just people. Even my fiancée finally accepted them. Sharon was terrified that first night we pulled up to the Crow homestead. But a sweet furry alien named Aileen took her under her wing and now Sharon is jet-setting across the Cooperative on her own journalism projects. Maybe she’ll get a blog here too. His and Hers.
My assignment was to specifically document the industrial capabilities of the Cooperative, as well as the military if I got access. The powers that be wanted to see just what economic leveraging they could use to get the Cooperative to agree to a trade agreement and I was their tool. And frankly, the obedient Boy Scout that I am, that is exactly what I would have done. Except for Sharon.
She had never questioned my work before. Or the motives of those who hired me. It was wartime. We understood that some things would not get reported and some things would. But this time was different. She wasn’t even supposed to come. But, amazingly, the commander of the Cooperative defense forces invited her after meeting her. Aradia. Keratian lady. Gorgeous but terrifying at the same time. I digress. It would seem that Aradia knew exactly what our governments were up to, and was impressed with Sharon’s sensitivity to people rather than economics or military agendas. Aradia is a brilliant, savvy alien, I give her that.
And naturally, Sharon has been a huge influence on me. She taught me that sometimes you need to step out of your tight little shell and bust out of the box. In this case, we went far beyond the mandates of our boss. Oh, they got what they wanted. The footage of the gunships probably gave them a military-gasm. But then they already had extensive footage from the F22 jets the Cooperative “recovered.” They also got footage of the farms, and manufacturing capabilities, the stunning resources of the Cooperative. Like riverbanks littered with gold nuggets. That was hilarious. The delegates came back with bulging pockets, begging for more bags. If not from us, the video documentation would have come from the other delegations.
But they got a lot more. We set about introducing Earth to the actual people of the Cooperative. Uncensored. The Tour took us on a wide circuit of worlds, and while the dignitaries were trying to play their partisan games, we were encouraged to slink off and rub shoulders with the locals. It was absolutely transcendent. The aliens quickly stopped being aliens to us, and I hope to you if you have watched our footage.
I have to admit, I have never done this before. I kinda like being a little rebellious now. Naughty. The end result is you get exposed to this fantastic and diverse universe unfettered by censors and secrets. I knew I was marrying up when Sharon said yes. She has opened a whole new mentality to journalism for me. Of course, part of that new mentality means I am now a longtime guest of the Cooperative. While I miss my family back home, I am starting to see this universe as home more and more.
In the spirit of becoming a true expat, I am going to embark on a journey of interviews. Digging a little into the lives of our fellow expats here in the Cooperative. My fiancée has set herself to digging into the lives of the actual people of the Cooperative proper. Between the two of us, hopefully, you’ll get a neat little window into life here on the worlds of the Cooperative.