Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
One would think that with everyone now well fed, and on the Mraboran Protectorate’s dime to boot, the talks would resume in a more orderly fashion, but Congressmember Frances Reyes of Earth had different ideas.
“You do realize, Congressmember Ferrety, that it’s your children that would be sent to die in this conflict?” she asked before anyone even had a chance to settle back into their seats in the small conference room on one of the top floors of the consulate building.
Straight to dead children, Angzal thought; Reyes really didn’t have a pause button. Gord Ferrety, one of the members of the Human Interstellar Dependency Congress who represented Mars, did not skip a beat in the face of the sudden challenge.
“Yes, I realize the colonies have a more disproportionate uptake into the HID and ORC navies, but it’s due entirely to desperation. You’re citing the problem itself to undermine the solution to it.”
Problem. Solution. Got it. Angzal hoped that Rzena was taking better notes than she was.
This was the second day of the discussions between the two Human Congressmembers and Angzal’s final chance to prove herself and possibly avoid being shipped off to an even more remote and irrelevant rock, though such a bleak place was difficult to imagine. The Human Interstellar Dominion Congress was taking its vote tomorrow – on whether to approve both the intervention by the HID fleet, and by the fleet of the Outer Rim Confederacy which the Humans were a part of, in the current situation developing around Krevali, the pre-space-age world that the Thorian Empire recently conquered.
“And you’re the one proposing to douse flames with gasoline, thinking it’ll work just because it’s a liquid,” Reyes continued, and Angzal wished the Congressmember could sit in her chair for longer than a few seconds at a time. “If this blows up into another Last Gasp, and no one should be putting it past the Thorians, it could tie up our fleet for a decade. It would be our periphery worlds that would be most vulnerable to pirates filling that vacuum.”
“The pirates haven’t been a significant issue for years,” Congressmember Ferrety replied with a patience that seemed almost admirable to Angzal, “The continuing poverty and resource scarcity on the other hand …”
“Won’t be improved by this war no matter what you’ve led yourself to believe.”
“Don’t write this off as simple-minded belief, Congressmember.” Ferrety’s mouth, which seemed to have a constant pucker about it, took on the form of a pout whenever he was especially displeased with what Reyes was saying. “I know even for you it’s tempting to think of us colonists as simple-minded rockhoppers that need the wise citizens of Earth to tell us what’s good for us. But believe me when I say there’s a lot of sentiment out there that Earth needs to do more to make Human worlds more relevant in the Known Reaches, or they will continue to languish like irrelevant, well, ‘rocks’.”
He said this calmly, almost kindly, projecting the very model of the provincial politician, with nothing but love for his neighbours and boundless hospitality for strangers. Angzal wondered how much of this was an act.
“You’re from Mars, Ferrety. You can hardly describe yourself as being out in the boondocks. Only thing closer to Earth is Luna. And don’t think I’ve forgotten how much of our shipbuilding gets done on Mars. I’m sure this kind of foolish crusade would do wonders for your economy.”
Congressmember Ferrety’s puckered lips seemed to project themselves further from his face as he regarded Reyes with his small black eyes. He had surely known this accusation was coming; even Rzena was helpful enough to provide this background to Angzal ahead of time. But talking to Frances Reyes was like drinking from a fire hose – an overwhelmingly difficult task even if you were dying of thirst.
Reyes was one of the most vocal supporters of the non-interventionist position and by extension, despite being born and raised on Earth, was a great champion for the HID colonies, who generally preferred Earth stay out of interplanetary politics and stick to supporting its own worlds. Reyes advocated the idea that not only was it inappropriate for Humans, a race that were relative newcomers to space travel, to be involved in conflicts between other races, but also that it was incumbent on well-established and well-resourced races, like Angzal’s Mraboran, to act as the mediators, and where necessary, police.
Congressmember Ferrety of Mars, on the other hand, was a spokesperson for a relatively small group of HID colonies that believed a more proactive Earth would attract more economic interest from the Known Reaches to some of the HID’s periphery worlds. Between Reyes’ and Ferrety’s factions, the entire vote hung in the balance, and Angzal’s career along with it.
The Mraboran Ambassador’s instructions to Angzal were quite clear – facilitate the discussions between Reyes and Ferrety to ensure that the vote carries, that the Human and ORC fleets are dispatched to meddle in the situation around Krevali, and take any heat off the Mraboran themselves. They had been at these discussions for all of the previous day and also all of that morning, and with the vote looming tomorrow, Angzal’s tail pulled with anxiety at the leather bindings that kept it strapped close to her body.
“Every well-resourced older colony has some kind of hand in supplying ships for our space fleet, Congressmember,” Ferrety said, his fingers lying on top of the conference table while his thumbs dug impatiently into its side, “Surely you don’t mean to dismiss all of us due to these economic realities? The ships we end up building and providing crews for, once this is all over – they will return to patrol our own borders in greater numbers. We can ensure that HID and ORC sovereignty is defended, and anyone would have second thoughts about pushing us around, whether it be pirates, the Thorians, Hatvan or Mraboran.” He held Reyes’ gaze and after a few moments, turned towards Angzal and Rzena. “No offence meaning, of course.”
Angzal showed her right hand, palm up and with no visible claws, as a gesture of goodwill.
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.