Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
There was little distinguishing the darkened Yshot Station from the other minor satellites that orbited the rocky planet below them and Boro knew this had been a major reason why the station was chosen for their mission. It didn’t make it any less disheartening though that after a month of flying under the stealthy cloak of the Forseti’s “ghost” technology, the scenery was hardly less drab than the complete darkness at the edge of subspace.
“We’ll be at Yshot in less than ten minutes,” Surch Guraty announced, sitting in the pilot’s chair in the recessed centre of the bridge, appearing to be more at ease flying under propulsion engines than having to do minor course corrections to the mostly autopiloted flight that brought them there.
“Everything look normal down there?” Captain Timofie Pueson asked.
“Nothing unusual, far as I can see.” The answer came from Maggie Okoth, the starship’s Techever. The visual display that covered the back half of the wall of the rotunda-shaped bridge was a video display, rather than a true window to the outside of the ship, as the Forseti’s bridge was located closer to its centre, away from exterior walls. Maggie, however, with the five wires running from underneath the fingernails of her left hand and plugging into her computer terminal, could see so much more, as the Forseti’s systems were essentially wired through her brain at that moment, allowing her to process all of its visual and other scans into a coherent picture.
As Surch indicated, in ten minutes the ship was ready to dock with the recently decommissioned Iastret Station. Decommissioned solely to accommodate their arrival. The planet Yshot itself, after which the station that was orbiting it and the entire stellar system were named, was an uninhabitable rock located in the fuzzy borders between the Iastret Commonwealth, the Vaparozh Interdependency and the Thorian Empire. Until about a century ago, it was home to a mining colony, until a glut in the resource it produced forced its abandonment. After that, Yshot Station was staffed by a skeleton research crew studying the adaptability of a non-native lichen on the planet below. And now several months ago, the local Iastret government ordered a recall of the science crew pending a needlessly bureaucratic review of its research mandate. It was an advantage of bureaucracies – a single cog moved the whole mechanism that was not aware of why it was moving. For good measure, it had also done the same thing to two other innocent research teams, just to keep whoever may have been watching on their toes; most likely the Thorians.
Surch eased the flat forward part of the ship against one of the docking ports of Yshot Station. The pilot’s hands were placed on the dome-shaped controls built into each armrest of the pilot’s chair, corresponding to the similarly-shaped propulsion engines on either side of the Forseti.
“Ship is safely docked, Captain,” the Techever announced from behind them.
“Thank you, Lieutenant Guraty,” Pueson said in his soft, almost-quivering voice. “Commander Stevin, I trust that you’re still planning to supervise the onboarding of the cargo.”
“Yes, Captain, I’ll get the team ready right away,” Boro answered. “Indario, I’ll see you down there.” There was no rational reason why Boro couldn’t wait a moment and head to the cargo bay doors together with the Forseti’s Parsk Nahur weapons specialist. Boro found the smell emanating from the digestive sacks of their species, located between their sagging cheeks and their shoulders, to be overwhelming and the less time he spent in closed quarters with Indario, the better.
The task of overseeing the loading of cargo from an empty station was a babysitting job that didn’t really require Boro’s presence, but protocol was protocol and with his Comms Officer in a cast and walking boot, Boro was the next logical candidate to oversee the operation.
The Thorian, as Boro had predicted, was alive. Boro checked with Dr. Sufai if he’d been in to see her, but citing patient confidentiality she refused to confirm or deny it. Even then, the fact that he hadn’t appeared since the stasis rotation ended meant that the Thorian was probably in need of some serious convalescing, which was consolation enough for the second-in-command of the Forseti.
What Boro did not expect, even with his prior knowledge of the general fighting prowess of the Thorian species, was how much damage Mikarik would inflict to Boro’s crew. Not only did he now have an officer with a broken leg, a third of the engineering team was also laid down. As far as he heard, Chief Engineer Aimi Ishikawa really let her crew have it for their lack of judgement, and if the full force of Engineer Ishikawa had already descended on their concussed heads, Boro found no reason to follow up personally.
After exiting stasis, Surch seemed to Boro to have been in a changed mood. Or at the very least, the fact that the pilot failed to make a quip about Boro’s exciting cargo transfer mission as Boro left the bridge was an indicator that something was amiss. If Surch was still troubled by Boro’s methods – the Commander’s decision to let the fight between the Thorian and his crew play out undeterred – all Boro could say was that no one suffered any permanent injuries, save possibly the Thorian, and he could tell that already some tension had left the ship.
When Boro reached the cargo hold doors, everyone who needed to be there, except for the Parsk Nahur, who would join them momentarily, was already gathered. There was Meeron Thuliga, the ship’s steward and quartermaster, as well as Tuka Rose and Ryo Sutanto, two Human members of the maintenance crew.
“How are things looking from this end?” Boro aske no one specifically.
“Docking sequence went pretty smoothly,” Tuka answered in a heavy rockhopper accent – a form of Earth Standard Commercial that was careening towards being unintelligible. “I thought she may be a bit rusty with the crew being off for a few months but she did alright.”
“Good. Meeron, you have everyone you need?”
“Doesn’t need to be complicated,” the shaved-headed quartermaster said, “Everything we need is nearest the door, so we should be quick.”
“Just the essentials?”
“Of course, of course,” Meeron steepled his eyebrows in a show of innocence.
The Parsk Nahur arrived holding a neural devastator gun, his fleshy fingers a hair away from the trigger.
“You think that’ll be necessary?” Boro asked. A neural devastator in the hands of anyone but a Human had always made Boro uncomfortable, doubly so in the hands of a Parsk Nahur, though by all accounts their species were not known for violence, just everything else unsavoury.
The Parsk Nahur merely nodded, a gesture that Boro had figured out was for their species the equivalent of a shrug. Indario could talk, he just chose not to most of the time, and Boro wasn’t sure if that bothered him more than if the Parsk Nahur was incapable of speaking at all.
“Alright, let’s get it over with,” Boro said and gestured to the loading doors’ control panel, which Tuka was quick to activate. The doors whirred to life, rising slowly and revealing not only the stack of crates that they expected to be waiting for them, but two accompanying Humans standing to either side of their cargo.
Michael is a husband, father of two, lawyer, writer, and is currently working on his first novel, at a snail's pace. A very leisurely snail. All opinions are author's own.