A little blue world, the third planet from the sun. It's home to 7 billion people with all manner of faiths, beliefs and customs, divided by bigotry and misunderstanding, who will soon be told they are not alone in the universe. Anyone watching from the outside would pass by this fractured and tumultuous world, unless they had no other choice.
Todd Landon is one of these people, living and working in a section of the world called the United States of America. His life is similar to those around him: home, family, work, friends and a husband.
After the attack on San Jose, Todd is appointed to Special Envoy for Terran Affairs by the nentraee, a position many world leaders question. Undeterred Todd wants to build bridges between both people. However, this new position brings with it a new set of problems that not only he, but his new allies Mi’ko and Mirtoff must overcome. Will the humans and nentraee learn to work together despite mistrust and threats of more attacks by a new global terrorist group, or will the terrorists win? Will this bring an end to an already shaky alliance between nentraee and humans?
Here is a short excerpt from the book:
This is a fun moment where Todd finally meets Faa, Mirtoff’s companion animal. It’s a moment I’ve been wanted to share with people since they first met Faa way back in book one:
“Hello, Todd,” Mi’ko said, speaking English.
“Good afternoon, Mister Vice Speaker. You wanted to see me?” Todd turned to Mirtoff. “Oh, Madam Speaker, hello.” He bowed.
Todd hadn’t spent a lot of time with the speaker general. However, during his interactions with her, she seemed remarkably intelligent and professional. Unlike those times, today, she didn’t have a cup of tuma. As always, her auburn hair was braided up into a bun with a few wisps running along the side of her face. Her brilliant dark brown eyes, which Todd had learned were rare for the Nentraee, always seemed to sparkle, giving her a kind appearance.
“Todd, a pleasure,” Mirtoff said.
Faa trotted over next to her and sat down as she spoke.
“I should go.” Todd adjusted the cuffs of his shirt. “I didn’t mean to interrupt you.”
“No sense, Todd.” Mi’ko waved him over. “We are finishing up, and I requested your presence, so there is nothing for you to interrupt.”
“It is I who should go.” Mirtoff dusted off her pants. “I need to get Faa back for his lunch.”
“A cádo.” Todd knelt to look at Faa. “I didn’t know you had one, Madam Speaker.”
Todd hadn’t seen one this close. From what he understood about them, they were akin to dogs or, maybe, cats. Bigger than Bianca for sure, Faa seemed to be about the size of a cocker spaniel, if not a little bigger.
“Oh, he’s beautiful. I love his eyes,” Todd said. “Hello, little guy.” He stuck his hand out for Faa to sniff. “I’m not gonna hurt you.”
“Provider, this human Todd?” Faa asked, tilting his head toward Mirtoff.
“Jesus H. Christ!” Todd shouted and dropped on his butt.
Both Mi’ko and Mirtoff shared confused expressions as Faa jumped on the chair behind Mirtoff. A small whimper came from his mouth.
“It talks. I didn’t know it could talk. How in the holy hell does it talk?” Todd picked himself up off the floor and knelt. “I’m…I’m sorry. He startled me. I didn’t mean to scare him.” He gestured to Faa. “You never said they talked.”
“You have animals that speak on your planet, don’t you?” Mi’ko questioned.
The cádo shook and his eyes were double their normal size.
“Well…” Todd tried to calm his voice. “Parrots or some other birds, but that—not like that. I thought he would mimic words like them, but he’s smart. He knows what he’s saying, doesn’t he?”
Mirtoff’s hand gently rubbed Faa’s back and his head.
“Human scared Faa.”
The Nentraee words came out slow and deliberate so Todd could understand.
Mirtoff sat. Faa climbed onto her lap and nuzzled her arm.
“It’s all right, little one. He won’t hurt you.”
Todd recognized the words. “I’m sorry.”
“Faa, this is Todd Landon,” Mirtoff said. “Todd, this is the cádo who selected me, Faa.”
“Hello,” Todd said and waved.
Faa turned to Mirtoff and then to Todd. His muzzle shifted around, and then he finally said, “Todd.” He swished his tail.
“How?” Todd asked.
“They communicate at a lower level than we do, but they have intelligence. However, they are totally dependent on us.”
“But the language? The intelligence?” Todd asked.
Faa murmured as Mirtoff rubbed his head. He had stopped trembling.
“The best comparison is they are similar to small children,” Mi’ko said. “We assumed since humans have animals that talked and are smart it wouldn’t be so shocking. You said yourself you talk to your cat all the time.”
“But Bianca doesn’t talk back.” Todd paused. Well, she did, in a way, and they understood each other, but not like this. “I just…that is an animal trait that we’ll need to let people know.”
Faa sniffed the air and got up. He jumped off Mirtoff and sauntered to Todd. He sniffed the air again. “Todd Landon.” He seemed to struggle to pronounce the words.
“Just let him come to you,” Mirtoff said.
The three watched Faa move closer, each step cautious. Todd remained kneeling on the floor.
“They don’t eat meat, right?” Todd asked.
“Correct.” Mirtoff kept her eyes on Faa.
Faa sniffed and moved closer, his tail swishing. With a nimble movement, he jumped and landed on Todd’s lap. Faa pushed his front paws into Todd’s chest and stared at him. “Todd Landon.”
Todd’s heart skipped a beat as Faa looked him in the eyes.
Faa was gray and had a short muzzle, dwarfed by his large green eyes and his floppy ears.
“Faa.” Mirtoff snapped her fingers and pointed to the floor, addressing Faa in Nentraee words that Todd didn’t recognize.
Faa mentioned Todd’s name twice, along with other words, but Todd couldn’t focus, his heart starting to pound. He wasn’t fearful of animals, but he had never run across an animal that looked him in the eyes as if sizing him up for a meal.
Relax. It’s fine. He’s just like a big dog. He’s not going to hurt you. Look at those big, beautiful eyes. I’m sure he’s more scared of you than you are of him.
Faa continued speaking and used Todd’s name again.
Todd turned to Mirtoff and Mi’ko for some hint of what the creature said. He couldn’t read their expressions.
“He likes you and wants to be friends,” Mi’ko said.
Faa nudged against Todd’s legs and started to murmur happily.
“Okay, by far this is the oddest thing I’ve experienced since I started.” Todd paused and sat so Faa could sit more on his lap instead of knocking him over. “He’s adorable and beautiful. Don’t get me wrong.” His voice cracked as he forced a small chuckle. He wasn’t sure what to do with the cádo resting happily on his lap.
Faa is a heavy little beast.
Mirtoff called to Faa in Nentraee and clicked her fingers.
Faa’s muzzle shifted.
“I’m sorry, Todd,” Mirtoff said. “I didn’t expect him to act that way. He’s normally not that curious. It’s good information so we can address this with our population. I should have had you and Faa meet sooner.”
Faa jumped off and walked to Mirtoff’s side.
Todd’s shoulders and neck relaxed now that Faa was off him.
Faa nudged the back of Mirtoff’s leg and addressed her in Nentraee.
“He hopes to see you again, and he wants to be your friend,” Mirtoff said.
Mirtoff and Faa moved to the door. She knelt next to Faa and whispered in his big floppy ear.
Faa giggled and then padded over to Todd, glancing up with his big doe eyes. “Bye Bye, Todd,” he said in English, then padded back to the door, and Mirtoff and he walked out.
“Bye, Faa.” Todd waved.
Amazing. That was incredible.