Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
“Look, Frances,” Congressmember Ferrety started as Angzal tuned back in, the calm façade in his voice cracking, and the fatigue showing.
“Ah, so I’m finally ‘Frances’ now, Gord?” What did seem indefatigable was Congressmember Reyes’ derisive smile, and her comment made Ferrety steady himself, take a breath, and start over.
“I recognize that there’s grey areas in intervening in the affairs of other people or other species, but I’m having trouble seeing what that grey area is in this case. The Thorians have clearly violated the Treaty of Krevali with this invasion, a treaty that includes the Human Interstellar Dependency as one of its signing members. If we just let them ignore the letter of an agreement that was earned by Human blood, what value does that blood have then? What is the worth of Humanity and Human worlds in the larger universe?”
“And how far do we take this, Gord? What lengths would we be willing to go to in order to defend this affronted dignity of ours? So we send a few ships to make a statement and then what? Would we engage in any direct conflict? Or would we put actual boots on the ground and support a full-scale liberation? It’s a fight we can’t win, Gord,” Reyes’ voice turned quiet, a volume Angzal didn’t think it was capable of reaching, and the way she gathered her eyebrows together, it made her look almost sad. “Not against the Thorians. But there are others that can. Mrabr is so much closer to Krevali than we are and the Mraboran have a history with the Thorians that predates the Great Fire for us. Let them handle it. Provide other support if we must, send resources from the same colonies you claim would be dismissed as irrelevant, but keep our Navy out of it.”
There was something going on behind Ferrety’s small black eyes – the calculations he was going through seemed removed from the conference room and there was a harshness that entered those perpetually slightly puckered lips of his. Could he feel the same thing that Angzal was feeling? That things were slipping out of her control. ‘We want the best’ is what the Ambassador had told her, but Angzal’s best did not reach those standards. How did she find herself on the crest of this ripple – a conversation between two irrelevant Humans that could potentially send a wave to the other side of the Known Reaches, perhaps encouraging the Hatvan to start taking cues from the Thorians? Did Angzal want another flare up like the Hatvan Troubles, or something even worse? Did she want another useless tussle over border worlds that had traded hands dozens of times over the last few thousand years? Would the Ungadath survive another battle over their territory between the two Empires? Or will they go by way of the Jadafeon – obliterated from existence and living on as historical curiosities?
Congressmember Reyes continued to press Ferrety with fantasies of Mraboran, or even more laughably, Hatvan intervention, to the point where Angzal found herself unable to listen anymore. The words were pressing on the inside of her lungs and she thought she would soon burst if she did not interrupt.
“You must recognize, Congressmember, that this is an empty alternative?” Angzal said, finding the impossibly rare break between Reyes’ sentences, and drawing all eyes suddenly on herself. “No one there will step up to do anything no matter how much you fantasize about it. Look at the Mraboran Protectorate. We’ve got our old foes the Hatvan on one side, the Thorians on the other, and internal independence movements that need crushing. Our plate is full, and we’re not about to add the Krevali or anybody else to it. There’s a routine we’ve found ourselves in, and we’re perfectly comfortable with things continuing just as they are. Those who deserve little get little. Those who deserve a lot, get a lot. Those who get to decide who deserves little and who gets a lot? Well, who knows who appointed them to determine that, but no one’s about to question it. The Thorians may have upset the equilibrium we’ve enjoyed for decades, but that will safely remain their problem. Do you think anyone on Mrabr cares what happens to a bunch of backwater savages, or what a species that are two hundred years removed from being backwater savages thinks on the subject of Mraboran relations with the Thorians or anyone else?”
The room remained silent when Angzal finished, sitting there at the edge of her chair and trying to mask her heavy breathing. “You want to make a difference?” Angzal asked. “Then go ahead and make it. But if you want someone else to do the job, then you can just as well wait for this table to launch itself to Krevali.”
Reyes sat, legs stretched out under the table, the fingers of one hand drumming on top of it. Tani’s hand was hovering over his tablet, his eyes staring at the side of the face of the Congressmember that he served. Ferrety was equally immobile, as if afraid to scare away whatever thought process Reyes may have been going through. As for Angzal, all she was at this point was exhausted, and just wanted to go to bed and wake up somewhere that didn’t smell so strongly of Humans; even here, at the Mraboran consulate, there had been no escaping it.
“It’s getting late,” Congressmember Reyes said, sounding as tired as Angzal felt, “And I still need to prepare for tomorrow’s vote.” It had been a valiant effort in any case, Angzal thought and then wondered if perhaps there was some remote Vaparozh mining colony that was about to get a new interpreter. “We’ll need to confer before we wrap this up. Can we use the same breakout room again?”
“Yes, go ahead,” Angzal answered.
“Good, we’ll see you again here in a half hour.” Reyes gave a short nod to the room and then had Tani follow her out the door. When they’d both gone, and left the two Mraboran and the Martian Congressmember to continue avoiding eye contact while fishing for the next thing to say, Ferrety did the sensible thing and excused himself. “Maybe I’ll go take a walk, breathe in some of that fresh Earth sea air.”
“See you back here in half an hour then,” Angzal said, not bothering to hide her resignation, and dropped her head down to the table the moment the door was closed.
Michael is a husband, father of three, lawyer, writer, and looking for that first big leap into publishing. All opinions are author's own.