Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
As one of Vice Commissary, Seshathirlin’s key roles was to act as the primary contact with the Presidium, the decision to subject themselves to him as Vice Commissary had always puzzled and troubled Kalirit.
They found Seshathirlin implanted firmly in his office with the door closed. The Vice Commissary’s office was even more impressive than that of the High Commissary, with a shard of glass floor next to one of the windows to mimic the effect of standing at the top of the Cliff District in Vain Sarshi, the capital city of the homeworld. When they came in, Seshathirlin had been looking down that chasm and feigned surprise at the presence of his visitors. He formed an imposing shape against the tinted window that shielded them from the Varakan sun, a figure that backed up his blustery temper. Jowly for a Thorian, most of his facial features, from his cranial bumps to his lips, stuck out accusingly at anyone who haplessly wondered into his line of sight.
Eitherorik helped himself to one of the chairs across from Seshathirlin’s desk while Kalirit chose to stand leaning against a support pillar with her hands behind her back. While the Vice Commissary looked like he will be accidentally set off like a neglected bomb from a bygone era and Eitherorik was eager to launch any second like a freshly-minted missile, Kalirit’s presence created a pocket of resoluteness, eyes constantly reading.
“Vice Commissary, you must be a busy man, I’ve hardly seen you these past few weeks,” Kalirit started.
“Sometimes I think it’s my own fault that the Company can’t afford my retirement, but I’m sure you both have been busy as well.”
“Has there been any word from the Presidium on the news from this morning?” Eitherorik cut-in.
“If the Presidium had word, I would have known about. And I’ve heard nothing.” Seshathirlin took his place at his desk and gave Eitherorik a long look.
“Am I right to assume that a dispatch will be sent to them immediately?” Eitherorik asked.
“Diplomacy, especially Company diplomacy, is very unlike your area of expertise, Eitherorik. I can’t just scramble the nearest gunship to hover menacingly above a work camp. This takes finesse, and finesse takes experience, as I’m sure you’ll one day learn.”
“And I’m sure your experience is unparalleled, but can we afford to hang back? The Presidium has been treating the Anthar Kai not as the lifeblood of the Empire but as a nuisance, and perhaps it’s time we started voicing our concerns more strongly.”
“And do you think their opinion will change if we bombard them with communications like an impatient child? There’s also the shareholders to consider. A lot of powerful people, money older than you and I could even comprehend, are going to be as displeased as we are, and they will start banging on the door of the Presidium and the Senate. They can break down the doors so we don’t have to get our hands dirty. High Commissary, what do you think?”
Kalirit put on her imitation of a warm smile. “I will defer to your extensive expertise on the matter, Vice Commissary.” Back then she thought that the Presidium would toy with them only for a few days, that Seshathirlin’s outrage would displace his dithering and he would send them hours of footage of him banging his fist on the table in lieu of punctuation, but instead she ended up personally preparing a dispatch, feeling not as a child who was impatient, but one that was being scolded.
“I can’t believe the Company’s highest authorities are just willing to sit back and do nothing.” Eitherorik shook his head.
“I am not sitting,” Kalirit observed.
“And I am not doing nothing,” Seshathirlin added. “Perhaps, Eitherorik, it would be best if you gathered yourself and headed to Vesh Takar and waited for the inevitable call to pacify the local Krevali populace and to keep the posturing Mraborans and Hatvan on a short leash. High Commissary?”
“I agree. You would likely be of more use on Vesh Takar for the time being.”
Eitherorik, with his eyes still on Kalirit, spoke to Seshathirlin. “I wish I could share your optimism, Vice Commissary, but I’m sure you’ve noticed the Presidium has hardly relied on us since the Last Gasp. Mind you, a major reason why we lost that war in the first place. Had the Thorian military engaged the Anthar Kai like they have in wars of conquest for thousands of years, we would have easily overwhelmed the Vaparozh and the Iastret and would have laid waste to the meddling Human fleet. But no, somebody decided to shrug off tradition and try something new, and if it was the novel experience of defeat they were after, then I guess they succeeded at that.”
Seshathirlin waved at him and his cheeks wobbled. “Don’t you go quoting me the Last Gasp, Eitherorik. That war happened practically in my backyard and let me tell you that we threw it deliberately.” Eitherorik sent a pleading glance in the direction of Kalirit but her expression was implacable. “The whole affair was orchestrated to coax the others into letting their guard down. Let them think they stand any kind of chance against the Empire and when the time is right, overwhelm the Vaparozh and then those arrogant Iastret and the others would soon fall.”
Eitherorik let out a long sigh. Only the older generation could cling to the myth that everything they did had some hidden wisdom to it. “There is no grand plan, there is only almost five decades of unforced errors by the most stagnant Presidium in generations. Some fresh blood might do well to put the Empire back on track.”
“And we will watch your political career with great interest,” Kalirit said and got an under-the-breath chuckle out of Seshathirlin.
Eitherorik stood up then, and without further ceremony said, “I know when to take good counsel. If you need me before my departure for Vesh Takar, you know how to contact me. Good day to you both.” And with that he walked out of the office, his jacket’s coattails billowing in the wake of his determined stride. Kalirit let herself wonder whether that determination arose out of a need to vacate Varakan or return to Vesh Takar.
“He’s young, that one. He’ll figure things out in time,” Seshathirlin said.
“He’s not so much younger than me.”
“You know what I mean. He doesn’t know a world before the Last Gasp, so he’s angry. It’s no wonder it was their generation that popularized that term.”
“And you disagree?”
“We’ve all got a lot of breathing left in us.”
That conversation had been the last time she had seen Seshathirlin in weeks, which for Kalirit was unfortunate, because in turbulent times like these he would have been a helpful window into the collective mood of the Empire, which ordinarily shifted in gentle ebbs and flows, and scarcely affected Kalirit. Any subtle shifts could be deduced by observing her colleagues, their posture, their tilt of the head, the way they carried themselves into the office and out. But times of great upheaval made for dangerous waters.
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.