Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
The next day, Kviye was back on the Oshken, working alongside Valyen to get the ship ready to chase down its next quarry. Uncle Dekan had also been called down to assist, and on account of it being one of his good days, so had Adri. For Kviye, it was all different this time. Work during the previous day felt just like what it was – a job. Now, it had become more intimate. Until this point she couldn’t imagine becoming as familiar with another ship as she had been with the family skiff that she destroyed. Every open conduit, every inch of hull, every piece of temperamental equipment; she realized that what she was doing was potentially exploring the inner workings of her new home, a realization that more than once sent waves of nausea through her, and she was glad when the day was done.
The work led them into the next week, which gave Kviye the phantom impression that it could last indefinitely, forever postponing her need to make a final decision.
“So did you think about what I said?” Samir, who had until then given her distance and not once brought up their earlier conversation, asked as he joined her in descending the ramp in the darkness of the evening.
She had. She had thought about nothing else the whole day to the point that her and Valyen hardly exchanged any words that didn’t directly relate to what they’d been working on.
“I guess,” Kviye answered with a shrug, not meeting his gaze.
“And it’s a lot to think about.”
He laughed quietly almost to himself. “You’d be surprised.”
“What do you mean?”
Samir stopped walking, which forced Kviye to stop as well and turn to face him.
“All I’m saying is,” Samir said. “If you knew what you were missing, you’d realize that there isn’t much to think about at all.” And before she could answer, he walked ahead of her, throwing up one hand to wave goodnight and heading for the guest house.
Despite the exhaustion from consecutive days of hard work, it made it no easier for her to fall asleep at night. There were so many conversations she would still need to have, but in what order, and what of the fact that she wasn’t sure if she was ready to pull the trigger? It didn’t help that Valyen had not yet turned in for the evening, her place on the floor conspicuously empty. They should not have been spending potentially their last days together apart. This also went for the many of the others under that roof but in Valyen’s case, it particularly twisted Kviye’s heart to wonder where her friend may have been away so late.
Sometime past midnight, it was the hunger that got the best of her, so Kviye got out of bed and made her way downstairs. She found a light streaking out of the kitchen door, unusual for the Morozo household at this hour, and inside she found Valyen, and her mother and uncle huddled at the table deep in conversation. They hadn’t noticed Kviye until she made a few steps into the kitchen.
It was Valyen that had best managed to act as if there was nothing going on out of the ordinary, like she’d just looked up from welding or tightening a bolt. Her mother and uncle on the other hand, looked startled, eyes a little too wide and mouths slightly open, unmistakable siblings.
“Oh, Kviye honey, why aren’t you sleeping?” Valyen’s mom asked, folding her arms across the table.
“Sorry, I was hungry.”
“No need to apologize. There’s plenty of leftovers in the fridge.”
Whatever the conversation was before she arrived, it had not resumed while Kviye was there. On her way to the fridge, she had the feeling that all eyes were on her as they sat in complete silence, save for the frequent forced sniffling coming from Uncle Dekan, as if the man didn’t know what to do with his face in the meantime. Kviye originally intended to eat there but now thought it best to taker her plate upstairs.
“Goodnight, honey,” Valyen’s mom called after her, while her daughter kept quiet, her mouth in a hard line, looking just off to Kviye’s side and Kviye noticed that the bottle of Grandma Morozo’s special drink stood un-stoppered on the table between them. Just as Kviye left the kitchen to head back up the stairs, she heard Valyen call from behind her, “I’ll be right there.”
By the time Kviye was back in her room, her appetite had faded and she put the plate aside and went to bed. It was going to be a long day tomorrow, one way or another.
The following day, they were well on their way to completing the work on the Oshken. There had been a large gash in their hull that forced them to decompress a part of their cargo hold. This is what Kviye had been working on, repairing the severed connections on the interior part of the hole when Captain Mokob found her.
“So, what do you think?” He asked, putting his hands behind his back and holding his head up high as only the proud Captain of a veritable hunk of junk could.
“Well, all this,” the Captain gestured expansively, speaking as if the question were the most obvious one in the world. ‘All this’ to Kviye looked like the Oshken bit off the business end of a rock slide and had a difficult time digesting it.
“What is it?” She asked, climbing down the ladder.
“It’s our latest score! We hadn’t had a chance to process it because of the decompression but from what we can tell there’s a few goodies in here.” He walked slowly between the rubble strewn about the floor of the cargo hold, passing his hands over some of the boulders. “We’ve detected diamonds. Not terribly rare, but useful in industry, and with these amounts, should fetch us a decent sum.” He tapped on an iridescent yellow sliver on one of the rocks. “This is anstakite. Purely decorative, but highly sought after. If these flakes are any indication, there should be more inside.”
“Are there any of those …”
“Drops? No, not in this load, I’m afraid.” She had known that though, if there were, she would have felt them. “We are chasing down a lead out here near the Adaract Hive that might just pan out. And hey if not, there’s a whole lot of Known Reaches left to explore, all the way to the Thorian Empire, if we have to.”
“Are you planning on heading to any Human worlds?”
“Sure, why not. We’re not far from Human space in any case. That’s the best part about being a comet chaser, we can go anywhere we damn please.”
“I see,” she said, distractedly looking at the speckled boulder, each dot a star around which a cure could be revolving.
“I heard that Samir told you about our opening. What do you think? Ready to chase the ice-tailed beasts with us?”
“You mean you would actually take me?”
“Sure.” Captain Mokob walked past her, hands still behind his back and she noted that her head didn’t even reach his shoulder. “Why wouldn’t we?” He stopped to look up at the section of wall that Kviye had been working on.
“It’s just that I’ve never even left Tanfana before.”
“So?” He turned around again, surprisingly agile for such a cumbersome beast, though the Wintis in general looked almost frail due to their lankiness. “I can hardly see why that should matter. All you need is the drive and the ability to figure out how to make yourself useful around the ship. And it looks like you won’t have any problems with that last part. The question is then, do you have the drive?”
She looked up into the Winti’s big dark eyes that stared back at her with some form of amusement. “I do. It’s just not that easy to leave.”
For a moment, those eyes turned distant and melancholy. “We’ve all been there, I can promise you that.” And after a pause, the previous jovialness returned to Captain Mokob’s face. “You have some more time to decide, though if things go well from now on, we should be taking off tomorrow afternoon. I hope to see you here again, Hon Kviye.”
With that, the Winti Captain strode out of the cargo area, ducking his head through the door. Tomorrow afternoon. It was far too soon.
“Captain!” She called and Mokob poked his head back through the door. “May I see your drop?”
Captain Mokob was quiet for a moment, a cautious expression on his face, as if he was looking for far-off danger. “Sure, come this way.”
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.