Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
The request for assistance from the Protectorate to the Humans was another piece of information that would have been very helpful for Rzena to have passed on. Forget snapping his tail in half, she should just bite it clean off at the base.
“In that case,” Angzal replied, visions of violent retribution dancing before her eyes, “I hope your Congress eventually makes the wise decision that recognizes Humanity’s role in a greater world.”
“If I were you,” Reyes’s tone suddenly grew glacial and her body assumed a far more relatable stillness, “that’s not what I’d be pinning my hopes on. If we do somehow vote to send our fleet, and if Human lives are lost, there are those here who will put the blame solely on the ones they think should’ve been fighting instead, and I’d have great concerns about the safety of your people both here on Earth and elsewhere in the Human Interstellar Dependency.”
Had this been another Mraboran, Angzal would have freely laid out in grotesque detail everything she thought about Reyes’s brazen threat against her people. Other species though, and Humans in particular, had more delicate sensibilities, and it took all her strength to keep her instincts from bursting onto the surface, probably to the eventual deep regret of Rzena.
Angzal measured each word carefully so that none of what she actually yearned to say slipped by.
“That sounded an awful lot like a threat, Congressmember.”
“Coming from me? No.” Reyes’s tone was frustratingly casual. “But I’m not the one you need to be worried about.”
“So what is this, then? A warning on their behalf?”
“It is what you make it to be,” Reyes answered with a slight shrug. “I would imagine someone with your influence would consider this a call to use that influence for the good of her people. Or is it that the Mraboran have that little regard for the lives of others, even their own kind?”
Angzal was aware one of her fangs was showing.
“What influence do you think I’m able to wield, exactly?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” Reyes briefly glanced to the side, as if she was growing bored with the conversation. “I’m not going to pretend to know how the intricate web of nepotism works in the Protectorate. Almost fluent in Earth Standard Commercial? Consular position at such a young age? A lot of aging diplomats wouldn’t mind having this view for a few years in what you consider a quiet backwater, yet here you are.”
Angzal recalled what she knew of her predecessors, and Reyes wasn’t completely off the mark.
“I’m one of a litter of five, Congressmember. Trust me, whatever it is you think I get is scraps from the dinner table.”
Reyes gave her head a slight shake and gave a crooked smile. “Big carcass – big scraps.” And before Angzal had found something in reply, Reyes continued. “If the issue is that you simply can’t appreciate the potential gravity of the situation, I would be more than happy to speak to someone who can. Maybe a direct conversation with the Ambassador would be more productive?”
“I’m told the Ambassador is off world,” Angzal replied, ignoring the rising heat in her ears.
“I’m sure she is,” Reyes said and put her hands behind her back. “I think I’ve wasted enough time here.”
Evidently finding as much use for goodbyes as she did hellos, Reyes headed for the door, sending one last volley without even turning around, “Next time, I expect to be able to speak to someone more senior.”
Angzal waited for her to reach the door and open it.
“Congressmember?” Angzal said and Reyes paused, still facing her back towards Angzal. “As would I.”
For another few beats Reyes stood with her hand on the door and then stepped out and closed it behind her.
It had become almost uncomfortably quiet after Reyes left the office, an eerie calmness after the passing storm. Angzal continued to stand for a few moments, as if expecting the door to swing open again and a disembodied wagging finger to fly into the room telling her what’s what, but it looked like the silence was here to stay, so she turned back to the window.
The sky over the bay was a bright blue that tapered off into milky grey towards the horizon, not much different from clear days on her homeworld. If she kept her eyes upwards, she could almost imagine being back on Mrabr, at the family estate, shady purple fronds looming just out of view. Her gaze drifted downward though, and the illusion was broken by the expanse of the bay, and the multitudes of weekday beachgoers spending their time on the sand and in the water.
The blasted Thorian she ran across on the journey here had been right – Humans were jittery and unpredictable. She had never before met a species so full of internal discord; it was no wonder they had nearly blasted themselves out of existence. The question now was, were they capable of doing it again, and would they drag anyone down with them?
The handle of the door to her office clicked, the individual on the other side hesitating, and then fully opened.
“Rzena, you coward, I will drown your litter in your own blood.”
Rzena hardly even looked in her direction as he made his way to his desk. “My litter is older than you are, and there’s three of them. Don’t think there’s enough blood.”
Angzal emphasized each word through clenched teeth. “I will make do.”
Rzena plugged in his personal tablet into his terminal and then peered over his desk-mounted monitor at Angzal.
“I take it your meeting with Congressmember Reyes went well.”
“Well as can be expected.”
“You’re alive, so that’d be accurate.”
“A little advance warning would’ve been appreciated.”
“Really? I’ve always been a firm believer in a practical, hands-on approach to learning.”
“The only practical thing I learned is I’d derive great pleasure from a hands-on approach to your neck.”
Rzena made a low hum at the back of his throat as he busied himself at his terminal, while Angzal permitted herself to sit back down at her desk and release the predatory tension that had gripped her body since before Reyes’s arrival.
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.