“Papa! Papa, wake up!” Little JoJo, sitting on his beloved grandfather’s lap, carefully reaches his right hand out to lift his Papa’s left eyelid open. “You in there, Papa?”
Jethro Hodge, the Director of Building Operations for the capital city construction project, is back aboard the United Nations Ship Divine Scepter to testify before a tribunal and is enjoying his final day at home.
While the young boy peers anxiously into his Papa’s eye, his own eyes widen as Jethro’s hands grab Jo-Jo’s legs. Jethro bares his teeth and emits a menacing growl. “Are you my dinner? You look awfully tasty!”
JoJo screams, “No, Papa, No! Don’t eat me, Papa, pleeease!”
That brings Sara-Jane Hodge running to the doorway, only to find her husband burying his face in the little boy’s tummy. Her grandson is screaming and laughing as he hugs his Papa’s head.
She adores the relationship her Jethro has cultivated with little JoJo. They are all that the boy has left in his world after his parents were stricken six months ago by the same killer virus that took Marla Hastings’ life – the courageous wife of the ship’s Commanding Officer, ArcGeneral Thomas Hastings. With Jethro off-ship so much now, directing the construction of the new capital city, JoJo doesn’t get to see his Papa every day.
“Oh, you two!” Sara-Jane stands, hands on her hips, wearing the sternest expression she can muster. “What am I going to do with you, two ruffians?”
“Nana, Nana!” Jethro squeals, “Papa is trying to eat my tummy, and it tickles!”
She grins at her two favourite men, blows them both a kiss and returns to her dinner preparations in the kitchen. By the time she reaches the stove, she can hear her husband quietly questioning the boy. The loss of her son and daughter-in-law still pain her sharply, but JoJo is a great gift to them from the Gods.
Back in Jethro’s study, young Joachim Hodge is poised to ask his Papa about some things that are perplexing him. He’s a bright boy who coined his nickname while learning to talk. He wasn’t quite two years old and had trouble getting his tongue around ‘Joachim’. It always came out of his mouth as ‘JoJo’, and it stuck as the family adopted it from that day forward.
Jethro’s eyes are dancing with glee and pride as he gazes at his grandson, still perched upon his lap. He can see that the boy wants to talk.
“What’s on your mind, JoJo?”
“Member your story about Divine Semper?” Jethro nods his head for him to continue. “Well, how come Nana and me can’t go with you to our new house? We wanna see the plantet Genesis too, Papa.”
The day before, Jethro told JoJo that their home – their world was a spaceship called Divine Scepter. He had recounted the story of humanity fleeing the Omega Virus that was destroying all humans on their home planet, Earth. Divine Scepter had taken about a million survivors on a 95-year journey across the galaxy to their new home planet, Genesis. The ship’s arrival had prompted Hodge to explain why they would be moving to a new home on the planet below.
Hodge gently brushed a strand of hair from Joachim’s face while he considered his answer. He had never lied to the boy but sometimes found it a challenge to explain in terms that the lad would understand.
“Excellent question, JoJo.” The boy nodded and looked at his Papa expectantly. “I can’t take you with me because our new house hasn’t been built.”
JoJo scrunches his face in impatience, “But you’ve been gone for seven whole days! I kept count, Papa. And Nana helped me…” His voice trails off until a new thought crosses his mind. “Is it because of the monsters, Papa?”