Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
Kviye sighed and palmed the sphere. “Remember when we were little and would clamber up on the roof and watch the night sky together, and I would always try to guess which star was ours until you threatened to shove me off the roof? That question never left me, Val. I think that’s why father does most of his business out of Vingu now, because it’s cloudy all the time I almost never see the stars. You and my dad should talk sometime. He’d like nothing more than to tie me to a stake hammered into the ground, too.” Valyen tried to interject but Kviye stopped her and put the little black ball up to the ceiling light. “It wouldn’t matter though, I know they’re there, and they keep calling. It’s my sickness to deal with, so let me try this cure.”
Valyen picked up the tool she was fiddling with and walked over to place it on a shelf. She slowly took a deep breath, and looked for something else on her desk that she could rearrange while Kviye remained hypnotized by the ball between her fingers.
“And let’s say this works,” Valyen said, “and somehow you find out that we had come from somewhere else. Then what? I mean think about it. No other humans had ever visited Tanfana. If we did come from somewhere else, where are we now? For all you know, we’re the last ones left, that we’re all we have. What’re you going to do with that knowledge? How is that going to help you find home?”
“This has never been about finding home, Val,” Kviye replied, the hurt seeping into her voice. Valyen had always taken her dreams personally, and each of their arguments felt like an accusation that Kviye did not care enough. “I know where my home is. Just like I’m sure anyone who passes through here has a strong connection to whatever rock they’d grown up on. But they’re out here playing a role in something bigger – a wider home. We know there’s a great big world whose edge we’re floating on and who’s to say there’s not already a place out there for us?”
Valyen let out an exasperated sigh, saying nothing and idly fingering a greasy wrench.
“So, you want to head out there and help me install this thing?”
Valyen’s eyebrows nearly shot off her face. “Now? And, I’m sorry, you think I’m actually going to help you with this foolishness?”
“Look,” Kviye said, slipping the ball into her pocket. “I can either go out there and do this all alone or you can help me and make sure I don’t blow myself up, okay?” And, without waiting for a reply, she went out of the garage.
“You’re not exactly making me feel better about any of this,” Valyen grumbled, but grabbed her work jacket, and followed.
It was late into the afternoon when Kviye truly felt that she was close, that it was this precise configuration of spheres that would accomplish what she intended, and that she just needed to find that imperceptible movement that would lock them into place. Valyen’s help mostly came in the form of moral support through impatient tongue-clicking and sarcastic grunting. On more than one occasion, she expressed her displeasure at the fact that the process seemed to her more art than science, which according to Valyen was entirely misplaced when approaching a poorly-understood part of the skiff that had the capability of blowing the whole ship up on a whim.
“Why are you so sure you know what you’re doing?” Valyen asked, looking over Kviye’s shoulder, who had her tongue sandwiched firmly between her lips as the worked the array into place.
“I’m not, but I think that’s kind of the point.”
“You’re going to have to give me a bit more here.”
“I don’t have any more to give you, and I swear I’d explain it if I could.” Kviye’s fingers slipped and the larger of the spheres dropped to the bottom of the reactor with a louder thud than its diminutive size would have suggested. At least, Kviye had assumed it was some kind of reactor. Had Valyen known the full string of assumptions that led Kviye to that day, Kviye expected she would have clocked her over the head with a wrench and strapped her to a chair in the garage so that she couldn’t escape.
The particular piece of the skiff’s equipment that she was working on continued to puzzle Kviye. She had found it in the engine room by pure chance, trying to trace the source of a leak to an innocuous wall panel that had been sealed off centuries before her and revealed a device far more elaborate than she expected. By its configuration, it appeared to her to be some kind of support system for the engines. There was a whole host of connections that had once been intended for the engines but that at one point had been severed, while other connections led to dead ends near the ship’s hull, and whatever they may or may not have originally connected to had been completely erased from the ship’s memory. There had been no manual for the skiff, and her mother left no instructions, though Kviye suspected that it was more than likely that even her mother hadn’t known about the device. The empty chamber that she was currently working on, however, did bare an uncanny resemblance to parts on alien ships that she occasionally serviced alongside Valyen, and which were used as a type of auxiliary reactor for their faster-than-light engines, each equipped with a sphere similar to the one that she received from Valyen. But even rerouting all available power to this ‘reactor’ had only given them a small burst of energy, a miscalculation that had almost led to the disastrous end to her last attempted spaceflight.
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.