Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
Sivian and Eframe approached Mikarik’s table with such a swaggering gait he thought it would be appropriate for them to strip down to their primal vestments and swing their genitals to-and-fro as a form of intimidation. Meslina, on the other hand, was career military and moved with a slower dignity, arriving at the exact same destination beside his booth. The forkful of food, that up until then hung in the air, was finally lowered to Mikarik’s plate in defeat.
“Really?” Mikarik sighed. “Are we really doing this?”
“You’re going to pay for what you and your people have done,” Sivian said.
“I’ve been paying for that my whole life, who appointed you my official debt collector?” Mikarik asked, pushing his plate away.
“Get up!” Eframe snapped and slammed his open palm against Mikarik’s table, though the Thorian refused to flinch and briefly glanced at the descended hand with disdain.
“What? You’re not going to wait for more of your friends to show up? At least try to make it a fair fight?” There was no emotion in his voice other than amusement, something he hoped the others would notice as well.
It was only then that he spotted the manual door jack by Sivian’s side, a hefty metal rod about two feet in length. Mikarik eyed it skeptically for a few moments then looked up.
“So you did bring reinforcements, that should help even it out a bit, though I doubt it’ll be enough.”
Mikarik thought that surely that would be sufficient for them to make the first move. He counted the ways in which they could lash out, the ways in which he could stop them, use his own Thorianness to his advantage against opponents who were not familiar with his strengths and weaknesses because they were not also their own. It wasn’t his first time being cornered. It wasn’t the first time he had to account for the nearest exits ahead of time. But he promised that it would be the first time that he got to leave on his own terms.
“So why aren’t we getting this over with?” Mikarik looked at Meslina, who had been silent until that moment. “They’re waiting for you, aren’t they? What’s it to you, though, Officer Meslina? Wouldn’t your Captain be upset that you cost him his Thorian?”
“You shouldn’t be here.” She spoke with a distinct voice; quiet but with a hint of a creek, as if her patience was always on the verge of snapping.
“There we can find some common ground.”
“Shut up.” Again, this was said softly with the implied threat that it would be the last time. “Nothing about your presence on this ship makes sense. You take us to the wormhole and then what? And why parade you in front of the whole crew? Why not put you into cold storage, and pull you up only when needed?” There was a definite note of malicious pleasure as she made that suggestion, so much so that Mikarik’s forearms started to itch.
“Would that be any way to treat a guest?”
“You’re not a guest here, Mikarik, you know that. So why are you here?”
“You know why I’m here.”
“No, I don’t think I do.” Her narrow eyes, their shape accentuated by the wrinkles radiating from their outer corners, regarded him shrewdly. “I don’t think anyone does. We’re told why you’re here. And we’re asked to hold our noses and close our eyes, and just believe it. Maybe Captain Pueson does, I don’t know. All I know is, this is our ship, and I need to protect our crew.”
“No. That whole thing about protecting your crew? You’re borrowing Commander Stevin’s line.” Mikarik leaned slightly forward across the table, knowing this is the first time Officer Meslina would have had a good unobstructed look into his eyes. “You lost someone. That’s what this is for you.” For the most part, Humans were an open book, emotions exaggerated and easy to read. Not this one though, she knew how to keep her face still, her eyes stern, her thin lips pressed into a straight line with just the slightest curl at the corners of her mouth. Still he’d met enough of them; not Human, but others, at far away outposts, at waystations, on freighters – those who came across the business end of the Anthar Kai or the Empire itself, those whose pain yearned to manifest into something, and for whom Mikarik provided a convenient outlet.
“So who was it?” Mikarik asked, looking into her dark brown eyes that were hooded just slightly by their upper eyelids. “A parent? Maybe a sibling.” Her face didn’t flinch, but something was brewing behind her expression, he could tell. “During the Nabak Insurrection? No, this goes deeper. The Last Gasp, most likely.” Meslina extended her hand and Sivian passed her the door jack. “Someone you know died so that those feathered bastards could mostly maintain their borders, right?”
“Get up,” she told him almost calmly – a simple command that could not be disobeyed.
Mikarik stood and faced her. Maybe if he kept walking right past her, he’d be able to leave. But who was he kidding? He knew something like this was likely to happen, and still he came.
The fact that he had his back turned to the other two didn’t deter them; a Thorian didn’t warrant a fair fight. In a way, he was lucky that it was Eframe that decided to strike first. Tall for a Human and nearly Mikarik’s height, he used his size wildly and telegraphed his sucker punch from such a distance that Mikarik could practically hear Eframe’s fist whistling through the air. It gave Mikarik a chance to turn, and glance the hit off his forearm.
Sivian, though shorter in stature, was in possession of four tusks, two on either side of his mouth, and he used them to his advantage by ramming his face into Mikarik’s side. Mikarik grunted, likely giving Sivian no small amount of satisfaction, and though he didn’t feel like the Nabak’s tusks had managed to puncture him, the pain around Mikarik’s ribs did provide enough distraction for Eframe to land a few good punches, causing Mikarik to retreat into a defensive stance, protecting his face with his forearms.
Mikarik favouring his upper body gave Sivian another opening, and this time the Nabak ran into Mikarik’s stomach and almost lifted him off the ground before pushing him against the table. Thankful though Mikarik was that the evolution of the Nabak had mercifully cut down their ancient weapons so that he did not wind up fully gored, Mikarik quickly discovered that there was a lot of rage packed into those short muscular Nabak arms.
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.