Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
“You are of course aware of the alien invasion theory of the Great Fire, Congressmember Reyes?” Congressmember Ferrety asked, and this seemed to catch the attention of the only other Human that was there with them. Reyes’ and Ferrety’s presence consumed the space in the conference room so completely that the man, Congressmember Reyes’ assistant, and who introduced himself to Angzal as Tani Naomi, was somehow easy to forget, despite being so broad of shoulder. He sat next to Reyes, his head low over his tablet as his fingers worked furiously, and he would occasionally whisper things to the congressmember that even Angzal couldn’t hear, even though she was sitting only a few seats away. She noticed that Tani smiled by pressing his lips forward and together, and that he smiled often and generally seemed a much softer contrast to Reyes herself who was all jabbing points and angles. Now he had lifted his head, smiling again at Ferrety’s suggestion that Earth had been invaded by aliens two thousand years ago, and Angzal could swear there was a spark of mischief in Tani’s dark eyes.
“I’m aware of the theory, yes,” Reyes responded, “Though I can’t say I subscribe to it. If you’re about to go into a rendition of the Yanus Susin story, spare me, I know how much you Martians are invested in that one.”
“Wouldn’t think of it,” Ferrety said, raising his hands and leaning slightly away from the table. “But in light of our own history, we have to consider the perspective of the Krevali themselves – hardly even begun to explore their own stellar system. They were probably convinced they were the only ones in the galaxy, with the exception maybe of some dismissed lunatic fringe groups who rightfully believed the signals they’ve been seeing were from others like them. And then the Known Reaches in all their terror start raining death on them from the sky.”
That was the curious contrast between the local press and what Angzal consumed of the Mraboran articles on the matter – the former was all Krevali-centred, much like Ferrety’s colourful rendition, while everything she read from home focused entirely on the Thorians, the Krevali reduced to a mere plot device in larger affairs.
“Oh, you have it, too, Gord?” Reyes asked with a condescending smile and crossed her arms. “I thought you better than that.”
“This saviour’s complex. That we can swoop in and somehow save the Krevali from the Thorians?”
“And that is such a bad thing in your eyes?”
“It is when we’re the ones that are expected to do it.” The smile disappeared, almost at the same time as Tani’s, who lowered himself over his tablet again. “Don’t quote the struggles of the Krevali to me, Gord. What the Thorians have done to them sickens me as much as it does anyone, but it should not be incumbent on Humanity to step in when others are much more capable.” She pointed with a straight open palm to where Angzal and Rzena were sitting, and unlike Congressmember Ferrety, Reyes offered no apologies.
“So if we sit by because everyone else sits by, doesn’t that make is just as bad? How would have Humanity fared in the Great Fire if there was but one voice to step in and protect us from devastation?”
“You are not seriously trying to leverage this preposterous theory to inform our current decisions?”
“And why should I not?” Ferrety’s puckered mouth shifted slightly to one side as if he was in deep contemplation.
“Other than the fact that still no species has taken responsibility for the attack?” The expressions on Congressmember Reyes’ face struck Angzal as chaotic. The only thing that had been consistent were her smiles, always empty, just the baring of teeth in a gesture that seemed all too familiar to Angzal. “What about the fact that most of them weren’t even aware that there was another sentient species hiding out here in this corner of space?”
“Perhaps the invaders had since been destroyed, which is why there’s no record of them?” Ferrety suggested.
“Or because it’s a nationalistic fabrication made to make us feel better about the darkest time in our history, as if we were a victim of anything but our own stupidity, and that can now be leveraged to justify this insane foreign policy,” Reyes said with another empty smile, and slumped back down in her chair, arms still crossed.
At least during the morning session, before they’d broken for lunch, the two Congressmembers were exchanging endless numbers, Tani pitching facts and statistics to Reyes who then hammered them at Ferrety – potential tax increases lined up alongside casualty figures from previous conflicts – both rendered equally soulless when stripped down to talking points inside the small conference room. These were at least tangible concepts that Angzal could keep up with. Now Reyes and Ferrety moved beyond statistics and descended into pure ideology, a mess Angzal was beginning to doubt that she would be able to untangle.
The two Humans continued to debate the ethics and merits of interplanetary and interspecies interventions, throwing out names of planets that Angzal did not readily recognize, snippets from Human history that were irrelevant to everyone but the species directly involved.
There was a distinct possibility, Angzal admitted to herself, that any other Mraboran plucked at random from inside the consulate building would have done a better job than her. Sure, she arranged the rides, the room and the food. Sure, she was able to fill a seat and not tune out the conversation … for more than a minute at a time. But beyond that, what had been her contribution, and what had been her credentials? There was also that observation from Reyes when they last talked, though it was presented by the Congressmember more like an accusation – that Angzal appeared young for the position she was given. Why had she really been pulled in to serve here? Whose bright idea was it for her to fill her predecessor’s shoes? Rzena seemed more than capable of doing better the things that she was tasked to do, if it weren’t for him seeming to lose interest over the years in affairs both Human and Mraboran, a true citizen of the Known Reaches whose only remaining connection to his first home seemed to be through food.
She couldn’t really blame him – there were so few Mraboran on Earth, and most of them she would only see at the consulate. It was like being immersed in a fictional world that ceased to exist when the book was closed, and so outside these walls it was easy to forget that Mrabr, and billions of her people, were actually out there somewhere.
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.