Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
Boro hovered patiently trying not breathe too loudly behind the Head Engineer.
“You’re not going to leave before I allow Maggie access back into my systems, are you?” Aimi asked without looking up at him, fingers busy at the console.
“I know this is an unusual situation for you, and if I was in your place, I’d have some choice words about the Navy too.” Was it possible to see someone rolling their eyes while looking at the back of their head? Boro shrugged and pressed on. “But first and foremost, this is a military ship.”
“Spare me, Commander. I’ve had the pleasure of talking to Captain Pueson and I don’t need him to send an echo up here.”
Boro realized this was the longest she had kept still, but just as the thought passed through his mind, she was on the move again.
“On the books, the Forseti is a research vessel. As far as its organized, the Forseti is a research vessel. In its mission, the Forseti is a research vessel. But then there’s the command crew, and don’t get me started on your little weapons dungeon which frankly the less I know about, the better I feel. Why a research vessel needs to be armed as if we’re going to fight off the entire Empire by ourselves is – anyway. At the end of the day, I make sure you have air to breathe, I make sure you have running water. My team and I are busy getting the ship where you say we need it to go, and making sure that no one sees it while we’re getting there. But what do I know? I’m just a lowly civilian,” she gave him a cruel smile. “I’m not invited to the officers’ table and yet I’m supposed to accept being bossed around by a glorified personal organizer.”
“Is that what this is really about? A seat at the table?”
To her credit, Aimi did her best to hide that she was grinding her teeth.
“What this is about, Commander.” Never before had his title sounded so much like some sort of derision, “is that it’s my job to make sure the ship doesn’t come apart at the seams. And you need to do a better job of making sure the crew doesn’t do the same. You can let Maggie know she can have full access again, but from now on, this is a partnership. Not a chain of command. Understood?”
Boro’s mind was torn between having to acquiesce to the ultimatum and repeating Pueson’s words about the Forseti being first and foremost a military vessel. Both options seemed to lack the nuance that recognized that the Forseti was, on the books, a research vessel; a research vessel that was outfitted with what Aimi had so lovingly referred to as “the dungeon”.
“I will speak, to Maggie.” His response, spoken coolly despite the pounding he felt in his temple, didn’t satisfy him, but it at least left him in the position of a benevolent compromiser. Whether that registered with the Engineer remained a mystery to Boro, since without any kind of acknowledgement or even a nod, she returned to her work.
Back on the bridge, it took Surch one look at Boro to say, “I see that went well.”
Boro wanted to laugh it off, but everything in his head sounded clumsy and peevish. “To Ishikawa’s credit, she runs a tight ship, even if we’d apparently failed to provide one.”
“What’s that?” Surch asked.
“I’ll fill you in later. The important thing is to remember that it’s expected that our civilian crew will have some adjustment difficulties, but it’s in everyone’s best interests to cooperate.” As he said this, he cast his glance over to Maggie, who stood in the same leaning position she had been in when he left.
“I take it the threats against my life have been rescinded?” She asked.
“In a manner of speaking.”
“Good. I like Ishikawa. She knows her ship.”
“Of course,” Maggie answered with a vague smile, “it’s ours.” She then placed her left hand, the one with lighter grey veins running through her otherwise deep brown skin, over five circular holes in her console, each only a few millimetres in diameter, and metallic tubes wriggled from between her nails and each of her fingertips and inserted themselves into the entry ports.
Most of the time, the galley was a fairly deserted place, with only a handful of people in it a time, but there were peaks, especially between shifts, when as much as half the population of the ship ate and drank together, their chatter melting together into a cheerful din. For whatever reason, though he had struck Boro as a largely solitary creature, the Thorian preferred to make his appearances during these times. Perhaps he derived a sort of pleasure from the reactions of some of the crew that filtered towards him through the room, which wouldn’t have surprised Boro, because who knew what these Thorians truly derived their pleasure from. So it caused little surprise, but no small amount of irritation, when the Thorian deigned show up during the last such peak before the start of the next stasis rotation, which was about to effectively deprive the Thorian of his audience for a week.
Most heads perked up at his entrance, faces adorned with a mix of idle to disgusted curiosity as well as freshly-sharpened eye daggers being sent towards the door of the galley. Head Engineer Ishikawa and Dr. Sufai, who often sat at the same table, were some of the few that hadn’t bothered even looking up.
The deliberate scrape of three chairs across the floor made Boro shudder, not entirely from the sound. Meslina, a junior engineer named Eframe Gonsyn, and the Nabak all rose. They left behind plates of unfinished food and headed for the galley door.
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.