Roland Naber


Roland Naber is not exactly an expat, but he spent a lot of time here not long ago, and I bumped into him at the embassy. Sharon and I were there getting clearance to travel off-world for our respective projects. Roland showed up on his own quest. Then that Keratian dude and Elf lady showed up, and I had my own little entourage consisting of Eve and Ma’ya. It kinda turned into a shindig.

I really didn’t intend to interview him, but he had a few minutes and apparently likes to talk to people. And listen. For some reason, I really got chatty with him. But it was interesting, nevertheless.

~ ~ ~

ME: Today’s interview is on Endard at the Apartment Embassy with the notable Roland Naber, attaché to the White House and friend of Steven Crow. If I remember correctly, they were college buddies. You know, my fiancee and I were college buddies. We would sneak out of our dorms at night and swim in a neighboring apartment complex pool. It was fantastic. But I digress. Or maybe not. I mean, it’s really neat keeping up with your college buddies after you graduate, right?

Roland: [shrugs] This is new. Steven moved this here?

ME: The whole building, man. It’s absolutely crazy. This used to be just a grassy bluff overlooking the coast and bam, an apartment building from Terra. I am still trying to get the details about it though. Steven’s a bit shy. Doesn’t want to brag. But he moved the house of the ambassador’s mother to Legracia, and I think an entire naval fleet out into the bay there, so what’s a little apartment building? And by little I mean huge. What, fifteen stories? Plus underground garage?

Roland: They have an underground garage?

ME: Well, it’s sealed off now. From what I understand, Steven excavated a hole for the apartment to settle down into. Excavated, what, thirty feet of granite. I saw it too. You can go down there and put your hands on it where the ramp used to be. No more ramp, though. There are no roads here anyway. But it’s just mind-blowing. This part is new. Where we’re sitting used to be apartments, but they wanted a lobby, so…

Roland: I knew Steven had some skills, but wow. And a coffee bar?

ME: And tea. Oh, you got some already. All grown here. The Elves have a way to accelerate things. I watched one take a seedling to a full-sized tree in just minutes. Magic, man. Pure sorcery. The coffee is sublime. I think Jonah brought over his plants and they just went crazy with it here. The orchards are up in the mountains a bit further inland. We could go on a tour there if you want. The tea, I think that’s growing in Fahele on Syagria. But I’m sure they’re putting in new orchards on other worlds. But then, they have their own coffee and tea too. So, who knows, right?

Roland: Yeah, I thought Jonah was helping with the farm at Fahele. I didn’t know he had orchards here too.

ME: [shrugs] He is. But the coffee grows better here. Up in the mountains where it’s cooler. And it is, it gets chilly at night. Not frosty, but we enjoyed a campfire out in the mountains not too long ago. With the Williams. They’ve started growing grapes here too. I think they started harvesting this season. The coffee. Try some [points to the coffee bar].

Roland: Thanks. I’m more of a tea guy, myself. [holds up mug] So, what are you doing here?

ME: I’m kinda stuck here. I was selected to embed with the US delegation for the Tour, but got kinda naughty when the government insisted on restricting my work. So, I’m doing my journalist thing. Trying to get into the minds of the expats for starters. It’s what I do, you know. Kinda hard to just shut it off. I mean, I’m not on any payroll anymore but we don’t need money here anyway. I really like getting to know you guys, though.

Roland: So. The video thing, huh?

ME: Yeah. The video thing. Like, none of this would have reached the people back home. Can you imagine that? These wonderful worlds, and peoples, and cultures. The common people on Earth would not have seen a thing. They gave me a special camera. Like a cerebral camera thingie on my temples. The people here. But trying to convert that to something I could send back home was a bear. Steven helped, though. Fella is a genius. Like a super-nerd. Still, I’m sort of exiled here. Not that it really bothers me, but it is a little inconvenient when I want to visit with my family back on Earth. Hey, you work in the White House. Perhaps you can put in a good word for me?”

Roland: Yeah, I don’t have much influence over the DoJ. And by not much, I mean none at all.

ME: Bummer. My parents have visited us here. And Sharon’s. Her sister too. But we cannot go there, so it’s Christmas here on Endard. Oh, we could have Christmas on Niqua – their winters are phenomenal. You know, the world of the Camdyn? Wolfmen? [points to one in discussion with a Keratian guard] I don’t know why it bothers me, the arrest warrants. It’s just… oh, thanks, Sharon. Coffee. Yum.

Sharon: Anything for my favorite Public Enemy Number 1.

ME: See? That’s why. I think she likes it though. Me being naughty. She helped, anyway. But it still sort of grates on me that they would lock us up for releasing the video. It’s not like we released state secrets or anything.

Roland: I’m sorry. You definitely stomped on some big toes with that video. I never heard Secretary Stern cuss so much. It was like, my second day there too.

ME: Really? [laughs] Oh, that makes it worth it then. Damn, I’m so naughty. Hey Sharon, I made Wayne cuss. Wanna make out?

Sharon: [rolls eyes, sips coffee]

ME: [points] There’re my chaperones. I would have never thought I needed one but for this conflict. They’re supposed to make me legitimate so I don’t have my brains scrambled every time I travel to another world. That was… well, it didn’t exactly hurt, but man, my toenails felt it. You getting one? A chaperone?

Roland: [looking] She’s over there.

ME: Her? Oh crap, that’s the Elf who scrambled my nugget. Scared the crap outa me. Like literally almost. And that Keratian dude. Have you ever been gripped by one? Felt like a piece of industrial equipment. But her? Are you really hanging with her?

Roland: Lorei probably had good reason to scramble your nugget.

ME: Crap, she noticed me. Thanks a lot. I feel like I need a foil hat or something.

Ma’ya: She is my great-niece.

ME: Great-niece? Her? Can you say small universe? You may want to let her know I am just now not hearing colors. Seriously, I think she enjoyed it. He sure did. Making me squirm like that.

Roland: [grinning] So, when does the interview start?

Lorei: You ready? Steven’s on Syagria.

Roland: Yeah. Where do I put my tea?

Lorei: [points to the coffee bar]

ME: Wait, I had some questions. You just sat down. I haven’t had a chance to ask you hardly anything.

Roland: Dude, I think I was interviewing you.

Lorei: How’s your head?

ME: Backwards and inverted, thank you. Just, no. Don’t touch me.

Lorei: Don’t worry. Next time I will not have to look as deep.

ME: Huh?

Lorei: I just look for the memory of the first time I scanned you, or when you were previously scanned by someone else. Venda cannot do that, so it makes it easier. You, however, had never been scanned.

ME: Aileen sorta did.

Sharon: Are we still on?

Lorei: It’ll be a few days, Sharon. Have you interviewed Aileen yet?

Sharon: She was my first interview. I’d really like to interview a Troll though.

Lorei: Let me finish with Roland and I’ll help.

ME: Trolls? Now I’m double jealous. Roland, just a few more minutes?

Roland: Sorry, Mark. My ride is here.

Lorei: Steven will be there for a little while.

ME: Great. Steven told me you were one of his best friends in college.

Roland: More like his only friend. He kinda kept to himself.

ME: Really? He seems fairly gregarious now. It’s almost impossible to nail him down for a few minutes. He was like a social butterfly back when I was producing the video. I guess being his friend paid off, right?

Roland: Our relationship is not transactional, if that’s what you mean.

ME: No. No, bad choice of words. Knowing him was fortunate, however, right?

Roland: If you can say being sent to an alien world without warning fortunate, sure. I did get to come back and spend a few months here, though. But it wasn’t exactly a vacation. Steven was having a hard time.

ME: I’ve… yeah, he told me a little about that. How was it, being dumped in an alien environment?

Roland: It’s not really that alien. You know that. People are people, here. Just a lot more cultures. A LOT.

ME: No kidding. I’ve only been to a few worlds and met a handful of the species and haven’t scratched the surface. Sharon has been globe-trotting all over the place. It is so, the Cooperative is so unimaginably vast. I know you’re not officially an expat but have you considered moving here?

Roland: I have a large family back home. It is nice knowing we’re not alone, but I kinda want to stick around and help make things better for Earth.

ME: Profound. I’d considered that. Maybe I abandoned Earth or something, right? But now that I’m here, I could not imagine leaving this. I have family too. But it seems my family here is growing every day. Heck, I made a good impression on that Keratian the other day. He didn’t squish me.

Roland: [laughs] Well, there’s been talk that Steven might close the gates when they are done with the occupation on Earth. You may be stuck here for good.

ME: That would be hard for us. We’re having a blast here and are kinda exiled, but not… but having Earth completely, being cut off from Earth would suck. How are things back home?

Roland: Referring to Earth as home tells me you’re not quite committed as an expat, Mark. But things… they’re rough. Not dystopian rough, though. We’ve managed to keep society together through the war, but it is tough. Now everyone is blaming the aliens for that, and for the pandemic.

ME: Another pandemic? Am I that sheltered here?

Roland: You’ll never catch it. It seems expats and Evos are immune. But we’ve had confirmation of alien origin, so…

ME: No shit. Are they doing anything about it?

Roland: Stern is not a fan of the aliens so we’re pretty much on our own. But the Evos are working behind the scenes, so hopefully we’ll find a solution soon. The last pandemic was brutal. That makes this one even worse. People are just burned out, you know?

ME: Bad timing. Pandemic, war, a war here. I’m ready for some peace and quiet. That’s saying a lot since there was a time when I’d get bored if there were no conflicts to cover. The Venda here have been a serious annoyance.

Roland: Yeah, they mentioned that. How bad is it here?

ME: They’ve steered me away from hot-spots so I’m not entirely sure. I… you know I’m a wartime correspondent, right? But on Earth, you know what to expect. IEDs, bullets, RPGs, it’s all pretty much domesticated. But here, I have to admit, I’m a bit terrified at the idea of trying to get involved. The Venda have weapons we have never seen on Earth, and tactics that are just… are eons proven. These people are nothing to shake a stick at. Have you seen one? Scary. And they can look like you and me too. Even scarier. Okay, I’m babbling. I’ve been babbling a lot. Sorry. Evos. Tell us about them.

Roland: Nothing to tell. We try to keep a low profile on Earth.

ME: So, nothing?

Roland: Nothing.

ME: Right then. You have a meeting with Steven? Anything you can tell us about that?

Roland: Not much I can say there either. Sorry.

ME: Okay, here’s an easy one. Did she scramble your nugget too?

Roland: [glances at Lorei] No. She just found some memories that confirmed my identity.

ME: Well, I guess it’s just me then. I’ve been here for a while though. She could have found my memories.

Roland: She did. I guess she had to dig deeper. Or you ticked her off. She’s waving. So, are we finished?

ME: Yeah. This was impromptu and I feel like I could talk to you for hours, but if you have to go.

Roland: I have to go. Sorry.

ME: No, that’s okay. Don’t feel sorry for me and try to grace me with a few more minutes.

Roland: [stands up] Okay.

ME: Really? Figures.

Roland: [laughs] I really do have to go. It’s been great chatting with you. Let’s do it again sometime when things aren’t so tense.

ME: I agree. I find it easy talking to you for some reason.

Roland: I’ve heard that before. Must be my glowing personality.

~ ~ ~

Okay, that was a disaster. I am so embarrassed. My interviews are supposed to be like relaxed chatting, but this one was off the rails. I was going to delete this interview, but Sharon insisted I post it. It was annoying that she giggled the whole time she translated and transcribed the interview, however. Only later did I find out that Roland has special abilities. He’s an Evo, and his gift seems to be making peoples’ lips looser. Seriously, I’ve never jabbered like that for anyone. I wondered if the coffee had extra caffeine in it or something.

Good news. I got clearance to visit Rholling. There’s an expat living there I’ve been wanting to sit down with. So, until then, peace.


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