Short Fiction: Wiretap

If you caught last week’s short fiction, “Dossier,” you know that Niralans aren’t as simple and unassuming as they appear. Anev Nahara in particular seems to enjoy spying.

And sharing.


To: Koa Nantais, Ambassador
From: Anev Nahara

Re: a bit of light reading

This got caught in one of the toys I left in S6’s comm array during my last visit. Thought you might find it entertaining. –Anev



To: Office of the Hegemon, H1 Clearance
From: Aqharan Mazereth

Re: the ambassador

After a minor setback and an inconsequential diplomatic incident, I have managed to secure shipping through Kolmanbot space. Negotiations were delayed briefly by the sudden (albeit not unexpected) death of Rion Nereved and her equally sudden replacement in the role by Koa Nantais, her personal physician. I do not expect this substitution to pose any difficulties.

Rion Nereved was a woman who got her was and who was used to getting it. Her approach in negotiations was about what you’d expect from anyone mediating between the Alashkani minister and the Kolmanbotic: a show of force.

Koa Nantais takes a subtler approach. She’s formidable; the iron spine of the senarie hasn’t wavered. But she manages, without any sort of threat, to evoke in others a certain hesitancy to cross her. One might even call it shame.

But I get ahead of myself.

Koa Nantais was born in the New Barrow colony on Mars in or about 2317. She was educated on Phobos and then at the Atalanta College of Medicine, where she specialized in internal medicine and endocrinology. She served a pair of highly distinguished fellowships, one on Titan and one with a Devori medical transport. After these she was immediately recruited into the service of the senarie and has served as personal physician to every Niralan dignitary in the past thirty years.

To date, I have found Koa Nantais to be more approachable than her predecessor. She unabashedly enjoys people; she enjoys a good game of wits; she is a shameless flirt.

None of which should imply to you, even for a moment, that she is malleable, gullible, or reckless. On the contrary; I have never seen anyone handle a roomful of Viidans with such carefully controlled authority and grace.

She’s more animated than any of her kind I have yet seen, possessing a warmth Niralans are universally presumed to lack. If it is a performance, it is indistinguishable from the real thing.

What she does appear to lack is any deceptive impulse, which makes me suspicious at once: no one is that good. It also makes me suspect she’d be a difficult one to crack under interrogation, should the need arise. Her interest in and warmth toward others indicates she’d be broken more easily by others’ suffering than by her own. Station 6’s senior physician might be an option; they’ve worked closely together through Rion Nereved’s final illness, from which he has emerged in a state so specific to humans that only human languages have a word for it: “smitten.”

But again, I get ahead of myself.

I have been monitoring her transmissions per our usual protocols but have so far seen nothing more interesting than her autopsy report on the previous ambassador and flirtatious correspondence with no fewer than a dozen other people of varying species—even one Viidan (a minor functionary stationed at the embassy on Cubewano and named Keleva). I await further orders, Father.

– Mazereth

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