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 the Martian coordinator. I understand you’re pressed for time today, Coordinator. Thank you for being here.
Coordinator: Thank you, Andrea. I’m happy to be here.
SI: On the last Smart Interface interview, Dr. Coren mentioned that you might not have returned to Earth if the Martian women hadn’t been wiped out by the virus…
Coordinator: Actually, we did have some plans to return as soon we developed a stronger weapon against the hostile aliens. It would have been far easier to teach mankind to defend itself than for us to keep on returning every time Earth was under attack.
SI: So Dr. Coren was wrong about that.
Coordinator: Coren sometimes forgets that he’s the chief of genetics and not a coordinator or an engineer. I tend to overlook it.
SI: You know it seems like the hostile aliens were after the Martians and the humans for a very long time.
Coordinator: They were one of the first species we met after we developed the symbiont. I shudder to think what might have happened if we were without it back then.
SI: How did the symbiont help the Martians survive those attacks?
Coordinator: The telepathy helped us to warn each other of imminent danger. It also helped us coordinate our defenses.
SI: Why did they keep coming after you?
Coordinator: They wanted our technology. Everything they had was stolen from other aliens. We refused to share any information with them. They kept giving us ‘second chances’ but we knew giving them any data would be our demise. Besides, there were two species at risk. The humans and the Martians can almost be considered the same species but the symbiont as we know it was engineered in space.
SI: As a Martian myself, I understand the value the Martian community places on the symbiont although I don’t have one of my own. Perhaps you can explain the Martian perception of the symbiont.
Coordinator: It’s so much a part of us that it’s hard not to take it for granted. That’s part of where my role comes in. I help maintain the respect for the symbiont and manage the balance of power the matriarch holds against the good of the Martian community. In particular I resolve any disputes between the Matriarch and her immediate family.
SI: Then a matriarch who only took one mate must have made your role simpler.
Coordinator: The matriarch was raised here on Earth and never expected to become the leader of our people. Of course the symbiont ensures respect for her original culture and traditions. But she has the right to claim as many mates as she wishes. That’s part of the Martian culture surrounding her role.
SI: How do you suppose Jerod feels about that?
Coordinator: I suppose nothing. Jerod trusts the matriarch to do what’s in her own best interests as well as his. Since he makes her content he doesn’t concern himself with the issue. If he became unhappy I would step in.
SI: And what would your solution be?
Coordinator: It would depend on the source of his unhappiness. I don’t think I can answer the question adequately without more to go on, just as I can’t resolve a situation without an understanding of the problem.
SI: Let me broaden it. Suppose you discovered Kelly wanted another husband and Jerod was unhappy about it…
Coordinator: First I would have to probe Jerod’s mind to find out why her desire made him unhappy.
SI: It almost sounds like you believe the matriarch is never in the wrong.
Coordinator: (laughs) She’s almost never wrong. The symbiont helps her find the right path and enlists my help when it senses an imbalance.
SI: I would never dare to call the matriarch unbalanced.
Coordinator: If you did I would step in. Even as a Martian without the symbiont you would be sanctioned.
SI: I think that’s reasonable, Coordinator. However the underground might view it as violation of my freedom of speech.
Coordinator: It’s just one of many things the underground doesn’t understand. I confess the matriarch has helped me to be far more forgiving to them than I would have been on my own. Before she blued Jerod and saved the Martian community I was dealing with a lot of anger and frustration.
SI: How does a Martian show anger?
Coordinator: I suppose the best example was the time I was kidnapped by a taxi driver. My cloned body had only been aged to about thirteen but the symbiont makes us quite strong. I overpowered the driver. To show him just how angry I was I ripped the wheel from the steering column and took it with me.
SI: He must have been terrified.
Coordinator: Mortified, at least. And somewhat surprised.
SI: How did you manage to calm down?
Coordinator: I calmed down when I saw the matriarch had things under control. We do seem to balance each other out. Of course if our personalities were too alike someone else would take my role. My purpose is to promote understanding among the Martian leadership when viewpoints vary too widely. That means I need to be able to present points of view that otherwise might not have been considered.
SI: How did you get this role?
Coordinator: It’s the only hereditary male role in the Martian community. That’s part of the reason the coordinator and the matriarch cannot be closely related. There must be a minimum of five familial relationships between us.
SI: So a cousin removed five times, that kind of thing?
Coordinator: Exactly. Otherwise the perspective becomes too introspective.
SI: You’ve had experience with that?
Coordinator: No, but it’s in the Martian records.
SI: I understand the Martian records are quite exhaustive. Are you going to leave a copy here when the Martian community returns to space?
Coordinator: Yes and no. We won’t be leaving the database we’ve been drawing on since it’s an integral part of the mother ship. However all Martians who have a symbiont have access to the data through the symbiont interface. The symbiont likes to store excess data within the unconscious mind of its host, which is a tremendous space saver for our computers.
SI: Is that tied in with telepathy?
Coordinator: It’s possible. It seems telepathy requires more parts of the brain to be active than is normal for someone who doesn’t have the symbiont.
SI: Could someone hide a symbiont by pretending not to have telepathy?
Coordinator: It would be highly irregular. He or she would have to be someone with a dynamic personality and very altruistic ideals or the symbiont would betray itself to others in the Martian community. Why do you ask?
SI: It’s mentioned on my clipboard.
Coordinator: I’m a bit disappointed. I was wondering if you had someone I could investigate.
SI: You don’t get to do that much, do you?
Coordinator: Not so much, no.
SI: And we’re out of time and space. Thank you for time, Coordinator. I’m glad you were able to be here today.
Coordinator: My pleasure, Andrea.
SI: Join us next time when I’ll be interviewing the ‘most misunderstood’ Martian, Darcy Ravell.
Thanks for reading. 🙂
Phyllis K Twombly