Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
The setting sun covered the city below the spire in a red glow, and Kalirit was reminded of home. In this light, she was able to take off her sunglasses and rest her eyes as she surveyed the metropolis before her. Thousands of years earlier, before Thorians landed on Varakan, the landscape would have been nothing but endless fields begging to be cultivated to feed the nascent Empire. In the millennia since, the planet had grown to be the headquarters of the Anthar Kai, making Varakan the de facto capital of its own quasi-empire that Kalirit had now ruled for over two decades.
Having her office sit at the tip of a dark tower that reached more than a mile into the skies above Varakan’s main city seemed needlessly regal to Kalirit when she first moved in – a remnant of a time two centuries earlier when the Anthar Kai was at the peak of its influence, before the other races began to grow stronger, and the Thorian Presidium on the home world of Kai Thori began clawing back some control. She had built her career on being close to the ground, visiting as many worlds under the control of the Anthar Kai as she could, preferring to do business out of cramped quarters on freighters rather than the comfort of a proper desk. But she had grown to like such an expansive view, and now that her own construction projects were nearing their final years, she could see the renovated central district take shape as a microcosm for the colonies under her influence.
She readily admitted, but only to herself and at the end of a long day, that it was partially a vanity project, but as one of the youngest to have ever achieved the post of the High Commissary of the Anthar Kai, she knew she needed to seize the opportunity to throw her energy into a lengthy transformative endeavor. For twenty years the central district had been substantially rebuilt to organize the governing, logistics, freight-forwarding and other administrative offices by the worlds they represented. Not only would this inject some much needed efficiency into the bureaucracy, but would also give the millions of staff who worked in the city a clearer idea of the scale and distances of the empire they were tasked with running.
In the far distance to her left was the new complex that represented the outer Vaparozh colonies that formed some of Anthar Kai’s newest acquisitions, whose administration was granted to them by the Thorian Empire after the defeat in what had become known as the Last Gasp. Drawn against the setting sun were the dark shapes of the buildings that were responsible for the furthest Anthar Kai worlds on the very border of Dead Space. And below her, the finishing touches were being put on the dome of the grand pavilion that housed the governing structure of nearby Ntaos, home of the species that formed a sizable demographic of the workforce on Varakan due to the proximity of their homeworld.
As the city plunged further into darkness, the lights came on in her office, and on cue, her assistant rang the telecom to be permitted inside. Kalirit could not resist the brief smile that crossed her lips at Gaingat’s innate knowledge of the little slivers of day where she should not be disturbed, but by the time the door opened, the smile had been erased, and the face of the High Commissary was positioned carefully into place.
“High Commissary, an urgent message from Governor Fainreshlin.” The diminutive Ntaos began. No Ntaos stood over four feet tall, their square bodies hunched over into a constant deferential posture that made them the butt of so many Thorian jokes. Kalirit knew a fool whenever she heard anyone quip either about their far-set eyes that never looked straight at you, or their mottled yellow skin that was always wet with perspiration. She was capable of acknowledging that their bent spines formed the backbone of the Anthar Kai and therefore the Empire, and anyone who dared make light of that fact was, in the eyes of Kalirit, akin to someone who would saw the branch they were perched on.
“Has it now?” She picked the data pad from Gaingat’s stubby fingers. “That’s faster than I would have expected from Fainreshlin.”
“The Governor is punctual, isn’t he?” The other thing most Thorians commonly missed about the Ntaos is that they actually possessed personalities, something that would shock most staunch supremacists, who preferred to see the universe in easily categorized and generally unflattering broad strokes. Gaingat, for example, exhibited the frequent trait of bitter cynicism that was masked by a gaze diverted at the floor and missed by most Thorians, since they could not even begin to conceive that a peculiar turn of phrase was a subtle stab in their general direction. Kalirit chose to cultivate this particular trait in Gaingat as she was starved to work with those that actually dared express their opinions in her presence.
“Punctual is certainly a kind way of describing the Governor, and we wouldn’t want to be going soft on old Fainreshlin, would we?”
“I think the Governor has an easy enough time going soft on himself, High Commissary.” Kalirit gave her assistant a long look, debating whether she should permit herself to laugh or smile, but the moment had slipped out of her hand. “Sorry, High Commissary,” Gaingat quickly added.
“No need, Gaingat, you’re absolutely right, of course. The Governor is getting somewhat comfortable in his position, and there’s no reason why we should go out of our way to make his comfort our priority. Have we confirmed receipt of this yet?”
“He’d sent it certified.”
“Typical.” She could see Fainreshlin now, in the pompous robes of the old Governors, a self-described traditionalist that worshipped only those traditions that suited his own image of himself. She let her pause linger in the hopes that Gaingat would pick up on her desire to have news of the communication that she was waiting for with far more anticipation than the inevitable ramblings of Fainreshlin.
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.