Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
While the fury of Sivian’s fists bore down on Mikarik, so far Officer Meslina had hung back. Whether she was just here to make sure they didn’t do anything too stupid or because she wanted him softened up before she joined in, it was foolish, and she gave up the only advantage they had over him.
Sivian was clearly getting frustrated with Mikarik’s makeshift shell, the Nabak’s blows landing harder all around Mikarik’s arms and some getting through to the top of his head, sparks shooting in front of Mikarik’s eyes whenever one landed. Through the gap in his elbow bends Mikarik could see Meslina come closer with the metal door jack, her expression cold and hard. No, apparently there had been no intention to stop any foolishness today.
Allowing a few members of the Forseti’s crew to let off some steam if it meant they’d be out of his hair when the real part of his mission began was one thing. But Mikarik had no appetite for being bludgeoned into unconsciousness and launched out the airlock into some nameless star before he had a chance to complete it.
Mikarik sensed a short gap in Sivian’s constant blows. The Nabak had just raised both arms over his head for a strike when Mikarik exploded out of his semi-crouch, leading with his head and smashing into Sivian’s face. The forehead bumps on a Thorian may have been an easy target of jokes, but they hid underneath a skull thicker than any sentient in the Known Reaches.
Meslina was momentarily startled by the outburst, but then brought the rod with a vicious upward momentum towards Mikarik’s chin. Just in time, Mikarik slammed his left forearm down on the approaching door jack, sending a sharp pain towards his elbow but otherwise knocking it out of Officer Meslina’s hand. The forearms too, were something they shouldn’t have underestimated, as Eframe would discover momentarily. The Human came at Mikarik immediately after Meslina and was met with a straight arm across his jaw, crumpling to the floor.
Mikarik tried to make a grab for the fallen door jack but Sivian, having shaken off the previous headbutt, repeated his earlier maneuver, and jabbed his tusks into Mikarik’s stomach. This time, the Thorian brought his head down, making contact with the top of Sivian’s skull and causing the Nabak to drop under Mikarik’s legs. The loss of balance and the follow-through that bent Mikarik forward cost him. He heard the dull thud first, and then the pain in his side from where the metal rod struck him to bring him to his knees.
Officer Meslina wasted no time, raising the rod over her head and taking a step toward him. A step that brought her too close.
The restraint in the tightlipped grunt of pain she let out was almost admirable. The sound her leg made when Mikarik’s forearm made contact, and the fact that she immediately went down on one knee, suggested that he accomplished exactly what he set out to do, and broke a bone.
There was relative silence in the galley now, save for the ringing in Mikarik’s ears, his and Officer Meslina’s laboured breathing, and the hardly audible groaning of Sivian and Eframe who were in no shape to move their heads just yet. Mikarik wondered in an oddly distant manner as to what was occurring in his body in the place that Meslina struck him. Listening intently to his pain though, he concluded that it could have been much worse. Sheepishly moving forward on his hands and knees likewise caused no additional sharp pains, which meant his ribs were likely intact. So he decided to keep going on all fours, ignoring the indignity of it, all the way out the galley. But before he undertook that journey, his big Thorian mouth needed one final workout.
“Listen, I know you don’t really care to be hearing my voice, but seeing as you don’t have much choice, I’m going to say it anyway.” He talked slowly and in a hoarse whisper, and any breaths that were too deep let themselves be known as additional jabs in his side. “I think we’ve all firmly established here that I’m a Thorian, and nothing is going to change that fact. You want to hurt me, fine, but it’s not going to hurt the Empire. Letting me do my mission, on the other hand, might actually give you a fighting chance to stand up to the Empire when it finally notices you. So how about you let me be me, even if part of that is being a Thorian, because let’s face it, I’m not filing these off my forehead any time soon.”
Mikarik looked behind his shoulder at Meslina, who was sitting with her broken leg stretched in front of her and the other crossed underneath it, her eyes still hard, but studying him less like prey and more a curiosity. Even in this position, she was still the picture of a Navy Officer, back straight, look severe, mouth in a tight line, her pressed uniform hardly out of place, dark green with black clasps and black trim as well as three golden bands around the upper arm, and on the breast, the symbol of their species – a red firebird rising up from the ashes. She chose to say nothing, which was fine by Mikarik, who at this point attempted to stand up, which was considerably worse for his pain but a significant improvement to his dignity.
Walking out of the galley was out of the question, but hobbling out was doable, which is exactly what he did, past the sprawled bodies of Sivian and Eframe and all the way to his quarters. As far as he could tell, he was issued a standard crew cabin – a fold-down bed, a wall-length “window” into a passing landscape of one’s choosing, a desk, a couple of hardy plants, and a private restroom. He wondered if the Captain’s quarters had its own private stand-up shower, while the rest of them had to contend with the three found in the common area of the ship, though those stalls had on multiple occasions made him thankful for Head Engineer’s Ishikawa’s diligence, since these were always the first to go on board any ship.
The shower, though, tempting as it was since it was guaranteed to be unoccupied, would have to wait. The moment he saw his bed unfold, he lay down on his back and could no longer form an intention to get up, except to shift slightly onto his side to avoid putting weight where Meslina struck him with the door jack.
In this position, he discovered that his sleeve was wet. As he rolled it up, Mikarik’s first thought was that he was bleeding and on closer inspection revised the diagnosis to “had been bleeding”. This could wait. The exhaustion that comes in the wake of receding adrenaline crashed upon him in full force and his eyes grew heavy despite the pain. It was all fine. They had their fill; both in terms of dishing and receiving, so he’d bought himself some peace.
Even so, he realized that until that day, he’d forgotten how good it felt to fight.
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.