What follows is a supporting work of fiction for the Martian Symbiont series. The interview program Smart Interface, its guests and its host, Andrea Smart, are the intellectual property of author Phyllis K Twombly.
SI: Welcome to a brand new e-zine edition of Smart Interface. My name is Andrea Smart. Today’s guest is Doctor Coren Ravell, the chief geneticist of the Martian community. He’s also brother-in-law to Jessica Ravell, the Martian matriarch. Thanks for being here today, Doctor.
Coren: It’s my pleasure, Andrea.
SI: To begin with, Doctor, you give your age as between forty and fifty. But you’re a lot older than that…
Coren: If you count all the times I’ve been cloned, yes. Jerod still wonders if each succeeding clone isn’t an entirely new individual in spite of the data and experience downloads.
SI: What do you think?
Coren: Martian cloning relies on a spark of life from the previous individual to initiate the regeneration sequence. In that regard alone, I believe we must consider each man to be a continuation of his former self. Most of our community kept a ‘backup copy’ on file in case they died when I wasn’t there to clone them immediately. It takes so much out of a man that you’re lucky if you can create more than one. Jerod used up his last one shortly before Kelly met him.
SI: So he was fairly young when they met.
Coren: His body was. He’d been aged to about forty-five. As you know, human techniques for cloning are nowhere near as advanced and much of the technology was banned for decades because of ethical questions.
SI: I understand that only the Martian community retains the authority to produce clones now, right?
Coren: Even we don’t do it very often anymore. Having been blued tends to alter the DNA in a way that hinders the cloning process.
SI: Are there any Martians left who haven’t been blued?
Coren: There’s one. We keep hoping he’ll get blued soon because he won’t let us reassign him until he does. And he’s running out of cloning potential because he keeps getting blown up.
SI: Blown up? What does he do?
Coren: He clears out old land mines. He’s very good at it but unfortunately the people who designed some of the last ones were also very intelligent.
SI: But if you’re doing this interview you won’t be available to clone him if…
Coren: That’s why I gave him some time off.
SI: Wouldn’t it be the matriarch or the coordinator’s role to give someone like that time off?
Coren: Nah. We’re an easygoing bunch.
SI: You’re a strange man, Doctor.
Coren: Why do people keep saying that? If the matriarch or the coordinator thought I wasn’t acting for the good of the Martian community they wouldn’t hesitate to let me know and sanction me if necessary.
SI: It almost sounds like you’re daring them to.
Coren: Are you sure you don’t have the symbiont, Andrea? You ask some very smart questions.
SI: You tell me, Doctor.
Coren: (reaches in his lab coat pocket) I’ll consider that assent to give you a quick medical scan, won’t hurt a bit…
SI: That’s quite alright, Doctor. I may not have the symbiont but I can assure you I’m in perfect health.
Coren: It won’t take a moment…
SI: Thank you but no. I think our readers would be interested in what you can tell us about the red and blue swirls that sometimes become visible in the skin of a person who has the symbiont.
Coren: The symbiont is a constantly moving life form living in the Martian or human circulatory system. It passes from one part of the body to another with no impediment as it flows through bodily fluids. It can cause a slight increase in blood flow as it travels, which is what causes the red swirls. When it recognizes a man’s future wife it draws on the blue un-oxygenated blood to flush the man’s face. It’s very quick and you have to be watching to notice it.
SI: Does it ever cause other colors to appear in the skin?
Coren: There are only two exceptions. The first is when something is making both symbiont and host ill. That causes sort of a green shade. Then there’s the ‘royal purple’ that sometimes surfaces in the face of a matriarch when something is terribly, terribly wrong. The last time I saw that was when we were first struck by the illness that wiped out our women.
SI: That’s what brought the Martians back to Earth hundreds of years ago. Do you think you would have come back at all if you hadn’t needed to find compatible women?
Coren: It probably wouldn’t have been so soon. Mankind might not have even sensed our presence. But we did set up long distance warning buoys to alert us to whenever Earth was about to be threatened by the hostile aliens. We’ve saved this planet from them many, many times.
SI: I’ll be talking more about that with the coordinator on my next interview. Perhaps you could give us a medical opinion on the hostile aliens.
Coren: Fortunately for us and the entire world, they were already dying when they made their last attack on Earth a few years ago. In their natural state they’re roughly two and a half feet taller than an average sized man. They weren’t that intelligent so most of their technology was stolen from other species. They only kept someone alive long enough to demonstrate how things work. Then they made a meal out of him. They particularly enjoyed the challenge of eating a Martian before death caused the body to disintegrate. It’s why they tried to eat us alive…
SI: Ewww! Let’s get back to the physical attributes of the hostile aliens.
Coren: Sorry, I get wrapped up in little details. Let’s see, they tended to have a gelatinous looking skin, with big bulbous eyes. The digits of their hands and feet were much better defined when they were healthy. Just before Lyle defeated them they were extending their own lives by using other aliens as hosts for their physical bodies.
SI: Lyle’s father was one of those aliens, wasn’t he?
Coren: Yes. Lyle Senior has undergone quite a personality change through that experience. He used to belong to an interplanetary council that went around raiding other planets. Once the council’s aliens were restored they planned on raiding Earth. Lyle Sr. put a stop to it.
SI: I think that’s something that’s probably news to our readers. What do you suppose motivated his change of heart?
Coren: Gratitude, I think. He was happy that his son was allowed to survive and then he discovered he had grandchildren. That’s a nice surprise when you think your species is almost extinct.
SI: I’m sure it would be. Thank you Doctor. I’d love to continue but I’m afraid we’re out of time and space. I’m Andrea Smart for Smart Interface and today’s guest was Dr. Coren Ravell. Join us next time when my guest will be the Martian coordinator.
Thanks for reading. 🙂
Phyllis K Twombly