"The more clearly I and my supporters state the obvious -- that unmanaged contact was disastrous once before -- the more hotly we are accused of fantasizing threats out of a synthdrama," Ranar told her, in frustration.
"It did not help at all that Thomas insisted on mentioning swords."
"They really do use swords?" asked Ann, perking up.
Ranar closed his eyes. When he opened them, his tone was flat. "It is recurring motif. They appear in the First Contact pictures of Liege Monitum and Ava-Ameron. That's all we really know."
"Swords?" She tried to get her head around that. In synthdramas they made a sort of dramatic sense and felt inevitable. But in real life? "On space stations?"
"They are probably a symbol of rank. We know their politics are hierarchical. Fencing might be a elite sport. There are any number of possible explanations but it is beside the point Ann!"
She blinked at his vehemence.
He let out breath forcefully in a sigh. "I am sorry. It is just that I am sick of people fixating on the swords. If the Gelacks are a threat to us, it won't be swords they will use to attack."
"Then -- what?"
"I do not know!" Ranar actually lost his temper.
It upset him more than it did Ann.
"If I knew," Ranar told her stiffly when he had recovered,"I could write it up for the record and go home."