Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
Finding two passengers in the cargo hold of Yshot Station when they were led to believe that the station was decommissioned and fully abandoned, the Parsk Nahur raised his weapon, his finger moving to the trigger. Then, likely noticing that the unexpected persons were Human and therefore, on their face, not hostile, he began to lower the neural devastator.
“Hold up.” Boro raised his hand to the height of his waist. “Don’t lower it yet.” There was something immediately curious about these two, and it wasn’t that they weren’t supposed to be there, but that the woman and man seemed to show absolutely no distress at having the weapon raised at them.
“What are you doing here?” Boro asked. “We were told there were no more personnel on Yshot.”
“There have been security breaches, Commander,” said the woman on the right, “They have forced a change of plans, and someone needed to oversee the transfer.”
“And so they sent you two?”
“They sent whoever was least likely to be compromised.” The woman who was speaking for the two of them had jet black hair, cropped short into an unflattering haircut that made it look like her hair oozed over her head. Small black eyes sat beneath a dark brow and a long nose pointed towards a mouth that seemed constantly puckered forward.
“So then you’re from Intelligence?” Boro asked, itching to have the neural devastator in his own hands instead.
“That is correct,” the woman with the long nose and long face said.
“You don’t look like Intelligence to me.”
“Think about it, Commander,” the man stepped in. “If this station was discovered, would you rather they find two Intelligence officers here or two abandoned maintenance workers?” This one spoke in a voice that was oddly paternalistic, and what stood out about him to Boro were his light eyes, a pale green, with one being noticeably smaller than the other.
“You have credentials on you?” Boro asked, trying to anticipate every asinine question the Captain would ask him.
“Commander, again, this is not a time to be carrying credentials.” Why did Boro feel the man with the pale mismatched eyes was trying to pat him on the head with his words? Tuka and Ryo were standing at the threshold of the of the door leading into Yshot Station, shifting their weight from foot to foot but otherwise keeping quiet and watching the interaction. Boro stepped a few paces back, and they followed suit while the Parsk Nahur maintained his position, hands firmly around the devastator.
Boro called Captain Pueson on his personal pad and was brought up on the bridge’s viewscreen.
“Trouble, Commander?” the Captain asked with a slight smile which disappeared when he assessed Boro’s expression.
“I’m not certain yet, Captain,” Boro said before recounting the situation with the supposed Intelligence Officers and then providing his recommendation that they ought to proceed, but with extreme caution.
“That seems to be our only option,” Captain Pueson said. “We haven’t received any advance warning on this, which isn’t really a surprise considering that the intention was to not send any pings our way.”
“Doesn’t seem to be anything in the Station’s onboard computer either,” Maggie Okoth, the Forseti’s Techever reported from behind Captain Pueson, “A clean slate since the last Iastret left.”
“You can interface with it from here?” Though Boro was generally suspicious of the Techevers, Humans engineered and trained to interface with machines, he was repeatedly struck by the extent of their abilities.
“In a limited way. Though it doesn’t like me being in it no more than I enjoy rooting around inside it,” Maggie said, then cocked her head to the side and gave a tight-lipped smile.
“You are of course, free to go, Commander,” said the Intelligence officer with the pale green eyes.
“Though we’re not sure how well that would serve you in the long run,” added the one with the jet-black hair.
They certainly talked like long-time partners, playing off each other as a single unit, though doing little to put Boro at ease, which ought to have been their goal. In any case, they were right. There was no turning their back on these supplies, but that also didn’t mean that they had to turn their back to the Intelligence officers either.
Before giving Tuka and Ryo the order to proceed, Boro approached the Parsk Nahur and said under his breath, “If either of them try anything funny, you shoot them.”
“To kill?” Came the vibrating voice from inside the Parsk Nahur’s speech organ.
Boro looked from one of the Intelligence officers to the other and then said, “Just one of them.”
The loading of the cargo itself went smoothly. The crates were fitted with maglev facilitators which allowed Tuka and Ryo to haul them easily from station to ship using a single gurney, while Meeron then checked the contents of the delivered crates against the manifest. The Intelligence officer with the black eyes and long nose made a move to help at first, but Boro sharply told her that it wasn’t necessary. The constantly puckered mouth on her face made her look almost pouty at that, but truthfully her expression hadn’t changed in the slightest when she was forced to step aside and let the Forseti crewmembers handle the operation.
Boro almost had to admire the Parsk Nahur at that moment. An imposing frame with a larger head, and for most species an unreadable expression, given their lack of mouth and large recessed eyes that didn’t provide for much of a brow. The two Humans aboard Yshot station, whoever they were, even if they were from Intelligence, would think twice about attempting anything.
And for the most part they waited patiently as the cargo was loaded crate by crate, filling up the storage hold of the Forseti.
As one crate moved past Boro, who stood nearer to the doorway that connected Yshot Station and the Forseti, he heard some murmuring between Tuka and Ryo, which culminated in Tuka asking in hardly a hushed tone when the crate arrived by Meeron’s side. “This is the one where the good stuff is, aight Meeron?” Tuka tapped the crate as it settled on the floor beside the quartermaster.
“Pipe it, will you?” Meeron said, though he also didn’t bother lowering his voice.
“Oh you talking about the Commander?” Tuka looked over his shoulder to where Boro was standing next to the door, just slightly behind the Parsk Nahur, looking at the inventory charts on his personal tablet. “He’s one of us, ain’t he Commander?”
“Can’t hear you Tuka over the sound of how busy I am,” Boro called out, eyes not lifting from his tablet. He was still firmly committed to the idea that a certain amount of slack was required, and that undue tension was far more dangerous for the crew than the occasional, and mostly harmless, disrespect for the rules. Captain Pueson may have liked to do things by the book, a very flimsy paperback book as it was, but if he didn’t want Boro to do things the Boro way, then he shouldn’t have delegated anything to him in the first place.
Tuka and Ryo left the latest crate in Meeron’s hands and headed back into Yshot Station, whose cargo bay was no longer so crowded near the doors.
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.