Cameo 7

Admiral Victory Jones stood in the center of a spacious room lined with majesty palms and bromeliads. Vast, spacious windows lined the walls and ceilings, with baroque curls of gold and brass creeping into the corners. Several desks and easels sit all about her, and a wastebin full of acrylic and oil paints and used paintbrushes rested a meter away. Watercolour paints displayed a colourful mess. Victory Jones stood in the center of it all, angrily blowing wisps of brown hair out of her face and her brow furrowed in concentration. Whenever her hands got messy, she wiped them on her paintstained white smock. Occasionally, in that broad hall, she swore quietly to herself. She bit her lip till it was raw.

I am the artist-tyrant, she thought to herself.

Without taking her eyes from the canvas, Victory dipped her brush into the cup of water, but didn’t have the presence of mind to tap excess water away. She touched the waterlogged brush to the canvas, and the water instantly stained the wet inks, drawing streaks across the cloth.

For several seconds, she didn’t move. Her knuckles turned white in a bitter grip of the brush handle. The handle suddenly snapped beneath the strain and splinters dug into her fingers. She let loose a scream—more of a screech, really—and backhanded the easel and the canvas, sending them flying across the room and breaking a large frond off of a palm. She slammed both hands down on the end of the table with the watercolour painting supplies and swiped them off, scattering everything across the floor. She punched another easel nearby, bloodying her knuckles. The wooden contraption clattered to the floor.

Suddenly, Victory felt a hand on her shoulder. She almost flipped whoever this arsehole was over her back, but restrained herself when she remembered that he was her aide. She realized she was still screaming and stopped.

“Look,” he said—God, what a prick—“you need to just spend a little bit more time before you-” He continued talking, but Victory wasn’t listening. I am the artist-tyrant, she thought to herself again. Victory glanced over at her copy of Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra on the other table, the one she hadn’t leveled. It was the only possession besides her admiralty that she hadn’t absolutely ruined in three years or less, a formidable list that included two cars, a house, four boyfriends, and several friendships.

“If we just bring in someone who knows a bit, they can teach you. You can learn it, but everyone benefits from a tea—”

“Shut up,” Victory said, cutting him off. If he brought up the teacher thing one more time I’m going to cut his thumbs off, she thinks. “I can teach myself.” I am the artist-tyrant. “Just tell me what’s next on the list.”

“After painting? Photography.”

Victory thinks for a moment. “After that.”

“Poetry.”

“Just get me a camera.”

Cameo 7

The Sword and the Star Arcosion