Director Jethro Hodge is back aboard the colonizer ship orbiting Genesis for a brief three-day respite from the intense construction of the capital city area. His return has a dual purpose of attending meetings with High Chancellor Hayes and ArcGeneral Hastings as well as to celebrate his wife’s birthday with his young grandson. Hodge was summoned to give private testimony about the school science trip that had unfortunately triggered the criminal acts perpetrated upon Marines and civilians aboard ship by Crusader officers and soldiers. Hodge has just returned to the peace and tranquility of his home and is relaxing in his study.
Joachim Hodge bounds into his grandfather’s cozy reading room to find its owner sitting in his favorite chair, absorbed in an old-fashioned book. Hearing the boy’s running steps, the silver-haired family patriarch drops the book in his lap just in time to reach out, catch his airborne five-year-old, and set him upon his book.
“Great catch, Papa!” The boy squirms as he reaches for the book under his bottom. “What’s this, Papa?”
“That’s the story of our people, JoJo.”
Jethro Hodge smiles at his only grandchild. JoJo gave himself that nickname when he was learning to talk at twenty months. All he could manage from ‘Joachim’ was ‘JoJo’ – and it stuck as the family began to use it from that day forward.
“Yes and everyone else’s family too. Tell me, what did you learn in school today?”
His Papa asked him that question every day when he was at home, but today young JoJo’s face lights up with excitement as he remembers the big news.
“Papa, do you know that we’re all flying in a spaceship? It’s called Divine Semper! How come, Papa?”
Hodge opens the book in Joachim’s lap so the boy can see the picture of the ship on the inside cover of the leather-bound volume. “This is our ship, JoJo; it’s called Divine Scepter.”
“That’s the same picture we saw in class today,” Joachim says pensively as he studies the drawing carefully. The boy looks up from the book and locks eyes with his grandfather. “What’s a Divine Semper, Papa?”
Jethro settles in to tell his grandson the story. “Well, JoJo, a scepter is a fancy staff carved from wood used by kings a long time ago. The staff was a reminder to their people that the king had the power to rule. The word ‘divine’ means something that belongs to the Gods.”
Joachim scrunches up his face in thought for a moment as he looks at the picture. “It doesn’t look like a staff.”
“You’re right, it doesn’t. This ship was provided by the Gods as a sign of their will that we travel to a new world.”
“How come, Papa?” Hodge smiled indulgently at the oft-repeated question.
“Well, young sir, that is an interesting story. Shall I tell you?”
“Please, Papa!” JoJo’s face is animated as he claps his hands together in glee. He loves his grandfather’s stories.
“Alright, JoJo, get comfy now. It all started a long time ago before any of us on this ship were born. Our grandparents and great-grandparents came from a world called Earth. But there was a terrible war – people fighting each other, and killing each other because they disagreed about the Gods they believed in.” Jethro looks to see if the boy is following. He nods his curly head, so Hodge continues.
“One day, some people created a very powerful disease to make their enemies sick and then die. They called it a virus. It was so powerful that no one could control it… it had a mind of its own. They called it Omega. You won’t believe what happened next… JoJo… are you listening?
Little Joachim has fallen fast asleep in Jethro’s arms.