Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
“This one dates all the way back to the Great Fire,” Boro started, crossing his arms and shifting his weight to one foot. “They say it all began with an alien invasion – a great attack force bent on destroying Humankind and taking Earth for its own. On their way to our homeworld though, the invaders’ first stop was the proto-colony on Mars – long before we’d terraformed it. Yanus Susin was the leader of the colony at the time, one of the first second-generation Martians, and he was brought before the alien admiral in charge of the invasion fleet and offered a deal. If Yanus assisted them with the invasion, told the aliens the best place to strike against Earth and how, they would leave their puny little colony in peace. Yanus had thought long and hard and with a heavy heart agreed to the aliens’ demands. He was taken aboard their flagship, and he directed them to the continent of Aremiga, convincing the aliens that little of the Earth mattered outside of it, and if they struck at the heart of Aremiga, the planet would fall easily.”
Boro paused there, letting this supposed betrayal of Humanity linger in his audience’s mind, and then moved on. “What the aliens didn’t know; however, was that Yanus had instructed his family to signal ahead and warn the residents of Aremiga of the coming invasion and of Yanus’s planned betrayal, not of them, but of the invaders.” It had been impossible to read Maggie’s expression, eyes almost vacant, a vague smile on her lips, but she was watching him, and nodded slightly. “So Yanus Susin directed the invaders to land on the great mostly-empty plains of the Aremiga continent. These aliens though, they weren’t stupid. They questioned why they could see plenty of populated centres elsewhere while Yanus was leading them down to a place where few seemed to live. Yanus was a humble and charming leader of his people, and knew how to build trust. He convinced them that the bulk of Human civilization, the ones that were particularly advanced, moved to live in a grand underground city to hide from the worsening weather on the surface. He’d explained to the them that their numbers were so great, the only way the aliens could win is they would land their entire invasion force there and surround the underground Humans.” Boro smiled then, as if Yanus’ success and his wit were somehow his own.
“So there it was, the entire alien fleet, a veritable armada that had briefly blotted out the sky,” Boro made a vast gesture with his arm over his head, “And they had landed in the middle of an empty plain. Their ships touched down, their troops began to disembark, and Yanus was pushed ahead to find the location of the entrance to one of the secret underground tunnels. Yanus felt no fear. He had, ever since he agreed to leave Mars and guide the aliens, known that this would be his end. He was merely guiding the invaders to an end he had chosen for himself. For he also knew the strength of the people of Aremiga. They used to be his people – brave enough to venture to new planets and to do anything it took to save theirs. At the moment the last invading ship touched down, the full ordinance of the Aremiga continent descended on those plains. Yanus looked up in the sky and smiled as he saw the hundred trails of smoke approach from the distance. In a single day, the entire invading fleet and the continent were destroyed so that Earth could rebuild among the ashes and move on, free of the yoke of alien oppressors.”
“That’s quite the story,” Maggie said when he finished.
“Isn’t it? Who knows if it’s true, of course, but where I come from, there’s a common saying whenever someone’s leading you somewhere and it looks like they might be lost, you ask them ‘Where are you taking us, Yanus Susin’?” Boro thought the Techever would at least be amused by this, but she had merely nodded her head a couple of times and said, “Oh I’ve heard it before.”
“I didn’t want to hear the story, Commander Stevin,” she answered, “I wanted to hear your version of the story. You can tell a lot about a story from the different versions that people have, and you can tell a lot about a person about the version that they choose to tell.”
Boro felt his ears grow hot and a rising pressure behind his left eye. Maggie, meanwhile held his gaze and then she did that thing that always gave Boro the heebie-jeebies, where she’d throw the interface wires from underneath her fingernails a few inches out of her hand and then suck them up again, her smile fading and face hardening while she did it.
“Does your family have roots in Aremiga, Commander?” she asked.
“Yes,” Boro answered, not sure what this had anything to do with the story of Yanus Susin, “One branch on my mother’s side.”
“You can always tell if someone hails from Aremiga,” Maggie Okoth said, and then when Boro was silent, added, “One can always tell.” Unphased by the number of perplexed eyes that were staring at her, the Techever said nothing for a few moments before plugging herself back into her console and saying, “Anyway, I better keep an eye on things here, in case something goes wrong.”
“Yes, in case our own little Thorian Yanus Susin leads us astray,” Surch said with a grin.
Boro knew Surch said it merely in jest, but it served a purpose in any case. Thanks to Maggie, Boro had almost forgotten what it was that prompted him to mention the story in the first place. At least with the ship’s pilot swooping in to close the loop, Boro hoped that the requisite seeds of doubt would be planted in the minds of the rest of the bridge crew.
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.