Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
Timofie Pueson may have been the Captain, in the strictest sense of the word, but Boro Stevin knew that the Forseti was his ship. Captain Pueson spent the majority of his time holed-up on the bridge, likely staring into the great black beyond; a pastime that would have left someone with a hungrier intellect starved to death. Not to mention that he willingly chose to never set foot inside a stasis pod. There were a handful of such weirdos on board, including the Thorian and the Techever.
Pueson’s captainly attention was largely limited to the dozen or so Navy personnel in the mostly Human crew, though he did seem to wear as a badge of pride each occasional debriefing or chance encounter in the galley with the civilian side of their operation. After each such meeting, Captain Pueson would go on at length about how even though this was first and foremost a military operation, it served to have an appreciation for everything that was going on aboard the ship. The fact that Pueson would muse about this in that soft voice that Boro considered unbecoming of a ship’s captain, always added a sprinkle of irony to this lecture, particularly coming from an otherwise tall imposing man crowned by a round head that was covered in short dark hair that seemed desperate to crawl away in every direction.
Captain Pueson was one of those dime-a-dozen officers of the ORC Navy fleet, contributing not so much to regression but at the very least to the stagnation of Human potential in the Known Reaches. Himself Boro saw primarily as the son of Admiral Avanthy Stevin, hero of the battle of Krevali that concluded the War of the Last Gasp. This made Boro an heir to the kind of bold leadership that could pave Humanity’s way through the stars. He therefore chose to bring more hands than mouth to this hands-on approach to the ship, preferring to seep like blood into every corner of the Forseti, sometimes even when it was on stasis rotation. The ship ran on a standard Navy schedule with a maximum of one week in pods and a minimum of two weeks out. Boro largely adhered to the regime, except for the occasional day that he spent mostly alone with the ship, away from the cranky civilians who were used to clocking themselves out for large chunk of a journey and, lacking discipline to keep themselves occupied for long periods of time, did not appreciate being forced to bend their schedules to the ORC Navy crew.
Despite the preference to free-roam his domain, even Boro was beholden to official mandatory duty schedules, which is how he found himself bidding a reluctant goodbye to Ory Sufai, the ship’s doctor, and Aimi Ishikawa, the head engineer, and heading from the galley down to the bridge.
When Boro entered the bridge, a domed room that had just the right space for the seven to eight individuals that were normally stationed there, with a recessed platform in the middle for the pilot’s chair, Captain Pueson barely moved his head in acknowledgement. “Commander Stevin, it’s been so long I was afraid I wouldn’t recognize you the next time I saw you.” It had been two days since Boro’s last bridge shift, though he supposed that when your surroundings change as frequently as that of a lonely hilltop tree, that would be the equivalent of half an eternity.
Still, Surch Guraty chuckled from the pilot’s chair. “The disguised prince returns from mingling with the common folk.”
The Captain gave his own version of a chuckle, which was more of a whispered wheeze, and went back to his work.
Boro crossed his arms and stood on the main floor, behind and slightly above Surch, studying the massive display at the head of the bridge, which was currently showing the sector map. Surch, who primarily flew fighters on sub-light engines for most of his career, found it unsettling that when skimming subspace on long hauls there was no frame of reference to be seen for the pilot outside the ship but a darkness devoid even of starlight.
“How are we doing for time?” Boro asked as the sector map zoomed out to encompass their destination.
“About four weeks out of Yshot Station,” Surch replied, his hand resting on one of the molded spheres in his chair’s armrests that served as his controls. “Which is about two days better than we were expecting. I haven’t flown anything that required so little in terms of manual course corrections. You could probably put me in cold storage right now and we’d still get to that wormhole right on schedule.”
“It’s easy to forget because it doesn’t look like much, but the Forseti is a credit to the ORC fleet,” Captain Pueson pointed out. Surch threw a conspiratorial look back at Boro. The Captain may have felt the need to pump the tires of the ORC, but with only one Winti on board and no Fusirs, this was clearly a Human ship despite the odd incursion here and there from alien species.
“Only four short weeks, huh,” Boro said under his breath.
“Something troubling you, Commander?” Pueson asked.
“Not so much ‘troubling’, but a sense that the bridge is about to get a bit too crowded.”
“You talking about the Thorian? Seems like a decent enough guy,” Surch replied.
“For a Thorian,” Boro added.
“That goes without saying.”
Surch tended to share Boro’s belief that the non-Navy members of the crew were a nuisance foisted upon them as a result of political appeasements rather than sound military decision making, but unlike Boro, who believed it was a leader’s responsibility to make sure that even a nuisance should be studied and put to good use, Surch took the Captain’s approach, preferring to hole up in the “brain” of the ship as he liked to call it. This disappointed Boro, given that during their Academy days together Surch Guraty showed a lot of promise, but now on their first commission in years, Surch was merely the pilot while Boro rose as high as second-in-command.
“I have no problem with Mr. Mikarik as an individual,” Boro continued. “But that doesn’t mean I have to like him being here with us on a daily basis.”
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.