Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
It was still more than a half hour left until noon when Rzena ceased the shuffling of papers Angzal was convinced was mostly for show and declared that he was heading out to lunch.
“A bit early for you isn’t it?” Angzal observed casually.
“Don’t you have an appointment with Congressmember Reyes at 11:30?” he replied with the same sort of feigned breeziness, though Angzal noted a prey-like jitter underneath Rzena’s tone.
“It’s reason enough to take a whole day off let alone duck out for an early lunch.”
Angzal had been posted here for a month, and for a month this appointment crept forward in her calendar, usually postponed two or three days at a time on the eve of the scheduled meeting. When Angzal asked her predecessor, who had stayed on for a brief transition period, about the appointment with Congressmember Reyes, she laughed and then took off for a much cushier position on Kai Thori, leaving the meeting solely Angzal’s responsibility. Rzena, who had worked at the embassy for over fifteen years, was equally unhelpful.
“I’ve got ten minutes left. You sure you can’t give me a little heads-up as to what I’m in for?” Angzal asked.
“Hmm, yes, but she might be early, so it’s ten minutes I’d sooner not waste. And besides, why would I want to ruin the surprise when you’ve waited this long?” Rzena scrunched his nose at her and headed for the door of their cramped office, flicking a tail that had begun to lose some its colour and sheen in his age.
“Rzena, so help me if you go through that door I will hunt you down and eat your heart,” Angzal snarled at his retreating back.
“I’ll take that chance.” And with a parting swipe of his tail, Rzena shut the door.
Rzena had been in this associate role for so long, and had now witnessed the full terms of several of what were supposed to have been his superiors, that he acted like he was the essential cog at the embassy, while the officials that were periodically sent from the homeworld were serving as mere shiny gloss over the true machinery.
What annoyed Angzal was less the attitude itself, and more that he was probably right. Few Mraboran had the patience to stay on Earth for as long as he did, so the experience he accumulated was possibly worth more than her own title. Though she would have preferred if he didn’t mete out his knowledge in miserly portions and only when Angzal had earned it based on his sole criteria she was yet to decipher.
There wasn’t much by way of publicly available Intelnet info on Congressmember Frances Reyes. Newly elected and already splashing about to create whatever waves she could, Reyes was considered to be within the ranks of the non-interventionists, though whereas most non-interventionists saw wider conflicts as none of Humanity’s concern, Reyes actively insisted they were everyone else’s problem to solve.
The clock on the wall was simultaneously too slow and not fast enough. Ideally, it would have just skipped ahead about a half hour; instead, it counted down the slow painful minutes to the appointed time that was approaching too quickly. The office, though diminutive to the point of insult, at least had a few plants and a window that opened up to the bay around which the city had been nestled.
Her native Mrabr had its shares of inland seas and an abundance of lakes, but nothing that approached the grand splendor of the seemingly endless Mer Pacific. It was incredible to her that Humans had almost succeeded in destroying this beauty over two thousand years earlier, and all the more impressed they managed to clean it up so well since.
Her admiration of the great greyish-blue expanse was interrupted by a knock on the door that made her turn and push the tips of her ears to the back of her head, though the gesture would likely have been entirely lost on a Human. The door clicked open before Angzal had a chance to invite the visitor in, which caused an involuntary low growl to slip from her throat as Congressmember Reyes entered the room.
“You’re not the deputy consul,” Reyes observed by way of introduction.
“Starting to wish I wasn’t,” came Angzal’s reply.
With her wide slightly pointed nose, stern mouth and dark eyebrows, Reyes’s face seemed to be poised to break through whatever hapless obstacle stood in her way, a silent challenge Angzal accepted out of spite before Reyes even had a chance to state her case.
“Well we’re both here now,” Reyes said, the level of annoyance in her voice seemingly unaffected by Angzal’s remark.
“Please, take a seat,” Angzal offered. Reyes didn’t budge.
“Did the previous deputy consul have a chance to brief you on our demands before she left?” That word ‘demands’ certainly didn’t bode well.
“Unfortunately, due to the developing situation around Krevali, my transition to this post has been a bit hectic.”
“Spare me the lecture, I’m fully aware of the situation around Krevali.” Being this far out in the sticks, that contention seemed like quite an exaggeration to Angzal. “Whatever’s been keeping you lot so busy that you continuously postponed our meeting seems to have amounted to little more than the Mraboran Protectorate protecting its own tails.”
Why did every species without a tail find it so necessary to point out the Mraboran’s any chance they got?
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.