Archive for January, 2015

The Kavakian Empire – Part One Chapter 12

Posted in The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , , , on January 24, 2015 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part One – First Encounter
Chapter 12

(Read the previous chapters under the “The Kavakian Empire” link under categories in the right hand column, beginning August 2014.)

Dinner is going to be an interesting event, J.T. thought to himself as he and Jori made their way to the captain’s dining room. Even if the young prince hadn’t said it, he was obviously upset by J.T.’s prying. In a way, J.T. understood. But at the same time, what did the boy expect?

Jori’s previous formality and distance was nothing compared to now. He wasn’t just being overly formal, he was cold. Instead of just being brief with his answers, he was also being curt. And sometimes he didn’t even bother to answer.

Despite being given the cold shoulder, J.T. didn’t give up. “I believe the captain has requested Genevian dishes for dinner. Have you ever had Genevian?”

“It hardly matters, does it?” Jori replied.

J.T. ground his teeth in annoyance and suppressed a rude reply. “Probably not,” he said as kindly as possible. “But I’m only asking out of curiosity. There’s no harm in asking, is there?”

“Ask your questions then. But do not think you can trick me by being nice to me, and then asking.”

“No one is trying to trick you, Jori.”

Jori made a grunting noise but said nothing. J.T. sighed heavily.

The captain’s table was set in a small room, just a little larger than the center table set for ten. Everyone was there, it seemed. Some were sitting but most standing. The captain was standing closest to the door and was the first to greet J.T. and Jori.

“Welcome, Jori,” the captain said with a smile. Jori acknowledged him with a gesture but did not smile in return. “I’d like to introduce you to a few other members of my crew. You remember Lt. Commander Bracht, Lt. Jenna Stein, and Dr. Beck Jerom?”

“Yes,” Jori replied.

“This is Lt. Handly, one of our operations officers,” the captain continued. “Lt. Sara Fisher from engineering, Lt. Rik Gresher from security, and Lt. Triss Stever, one of our helmsman, or helmswomen, I should say.”

After greeting each one with a nod, Jori replied, “I’m assuming everyone here knows who I really am?”

“Yes,” the captain replied.

“Then you will all address me as Swent Prince Kavak, or just Swent Prince for the duration of this visit.”

J.T. wanted to groan but managed to keep his chagrin in check. Instead he gave the captain a helpless shrug.

“And if we don’t?” Bracht challenged.

Before the captain could give Bracht a warning, Jori replied, “Then I will address you as bonan.”

Bracht darkened but a look from the captain kept him from replying. Bonan meant unworthy slave in Bracth’s tongue. J.T. wanted to warn Jori that provoking a Rabnoshk warrior probably wasn’t a good idea, but he doubted it would do any good.

“I see no reason why you shouldn’t be addressed by your title, Swent Prince” the captain said politely to the boy.

They settled down at the table and began serving their meal. The captain asked Jori if he’d ever had Genevian food and thankfully Jori replied in the affirmative rather than give the caustic answer he had given to J.T.

But the civility was not to last.

“So, how do you like our ship so far, Prince Kavak?” Lt. Gresher asked.

“It’s Swent Prince,” Jori corrected sternly. “My brother is not dead.”

“My apologies, Swent Prince,” Lt. Gresher replied politely. “How do you like our ship so far?”

“It is surprisingly well maintained,” Jori admitted.

“You should see our cells,” Bracht replied.

“Bracht,” the captain warned.

“What? It’s where he should be,” the warrior muttered.

“What’s the matter, Rabnee?” Jori retorted. Rabnee was a derogatory name for a cowardly Rabnoshk warrior. “Are you afraid a child will be able to overwhelm your crew?”

Bracht growled in reply.

“Bracht!” the captain yelled. “You will apologize at once.”

The Rabnoshk warrior turned so dark red, J.T. was sure he was going to explode.

“There’s no need, Captain,” Jori replied. “A forced apology is no apology at all.”

Thank goodness, J.T. thought. Bombshell diffused… for now.

The captain glared at Bracht but did not push for the apology. The room fell into an uncomfortable silence.

The captain broke the silence by clearing his throat. “Well, Swent Prince, I will be talking to your father soon to make arrangements to get you home.” Jori did not reply so the captain continued. “If you’d like to speak to him as well, I’d be happy to make arrangements.”

“I do not wish to speak to my father,” Jori replied.

“No?” the captain asked. “Surely you want him to know you’re all right.”

“I do not wish to speak to him,” Jori said a little more firmly.

The conversation lagged for a bit, but the captain tried to get it started again. At first he asked casual questions, which Jori answered in his usual brevity. But the brief responses compelled the captain ask more probing questions.

“I assure you, Captain,” Jori said, “that if you try to torture the information out of me, you will still find out nothing.”

The captain was obviously a bit taken aback by the response, but he didn’t let that deter him. “We’re not going to torture you, Swent Prince. We’re simply asking. It’s perfectly reasonable for us to ask.”

“I suppose you have a right to interrogate your prisoners,” Jori replied contemptuously. “Shall I sit in a dark room while your Rabnoshk warrior goads me?”

“Jori, that’s enough,” J.T. replied harshly, his frustration finally getting the best of him. “You seem far too mature to be acting like such a child.”

Jori gave him a dark look, but surprisingly said nothing. He didn’t even correct J.T. for not using his formal title. Still, the boy looked sullen for the rest of the evening and there was little conversation.
*****

Dinner was over and J.T. and Jori readied themselves for sleep. J.T. was unnerved by the boy’s continued silence and decided it was time to say something.

“You were very rude at dinner, Jori,” J.T. said harshly. “You know, we are trying hard to be polite and make you feel comfortable. And we are doing everything we can to help you and your brother. I don’t expect you to spill your father’s secrets, but I it’s not unreasonable to expect you to be courteous… and perhaps show a little gratitude.”

“Bracht started it,” Jori replied.

“Now you really sound like a child.”

Jori scowled darkly but didn’t say anything more. Just before going to bed, however, J.T. thought he saw the boy’s look go from a sullen one to a more contemplating one. Must be my imagination, he mused. I hope this brat doesn’t kill me in my sleep.

(This story is protected by copyright) Copyright January, 2015 by Dawn Ross

Still Working on a Weak Plot

Posted in The Kavakian Empire, Writing with tags , , , , on January 18, 2015 by Dawn Ross

For the past week, I’ve been trying to learn how to spice up my plot and subplots. Some tips I’ve come across that have been more helpful include:

* Put characters in stressful situations to reveal their character – J.T. is an important character, but I’ve written him very blandly. I’ve introduced a little more of his background into the story and have put him in a stressful situation in chapter 12 (coming soon). Other stressful situations will emerge as the story progresses.

* Plot needs to be presented in a series of escalating conflicts – A plot is emerging, but not strongly enough. I believe I have stressed the need to prevent a war a little mores strongly. Things will escalate more in future chapters.

* Every page needs tension and urgency – I’m still falling short on this one.

* Backstory is worked into the story, not spilled out all at once – I have a tendency to give too much information at once, so I’ve deleted and changed some parts and have hinted at things to be divulged later.

* Leave little mysteries to be revealed later – I hope I’ve done this.

There are several other tips I need to go through in order to spice up my plot. I will keep reading and learning. As you may have noticed from my commentary, I’ve done some revisions to the previous chapters on the Kavakian Empire story. I think I’m still having trouble engaging readers with a good plot and subplots, but I think I’ve made some positive changes. Please go back and read the first eleven chapters of this space opera. Be sure to leave a comment with constructive criticism.

I Need Help with a Weak Plot

Posted in The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , on January 10, 2015 by Dawn Ross

I’m stuck. I’m having a problem moving forward with writing The Kavakian Empire. Why? Because the plot in my story is weak. I know this but I don’t know how to fix it.

I know a plot is driven by character motivation. I know I should leave some mystery in the story. I know antagonists should try to prevent the protagonist from reaching his goal. But I can’t seem to make this space opera engaging.

I need to study more on what makes a good plot. And I need to use what I learn to meditate on how I can make this story better.

Here are a few posts I’m going to read:

Plot: Strengthen Weak Or Unfocused Plot

10-Minute Fixes to 10 Common Plot Problems

How to decide if your plot points are too weak (and how to fix them)

I’m also reading this book:

Book Perfecting Plot by William Bernhardt

Find this book on Amazon

If you have any ideas or sources that can help me with fixing my story plot, please comment below. Hopefully I’ll be back soon. If I modify any of the chapters I’ve previously posted on the space opera, The Kavakian Empire, I’ll let you know.

The Kavakian Empire – Part One Chapter 11 Rough Draft

Posted in The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , , , on January 3, 2015 by Dawn Ross

 

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part One – First Encounter

Chapter 11

(The previous chapters can be found under the “The Kavakian Empire” link under categories in the right hand column, beginning August 2014.)

After his morning duties, J.T. found Jori in the gymnasium. The boy had already been there a while. He was in a steady sweat as he performed a far more complicated version of shadow boxing, including flips, spins, and kicks. Jori was fast and agile, and obviously very good. He had gathered a small crowd of Odyssey crewmen, who watched with awe.

Since it didn’t look like Jori would be done anytime soon, J.T. decided to change into his workout clothes. He ran a few laps around the gymnasium until Jori was finished. When J.T. approached him, Jori told him that though he was done with that particular exercise, he still had a couple hours of training to go.

“A couple of hours?” J.T. asked. “Is it normal for you to exercise for so long?”

“Yes,” Jori stated. “Four to six hours a day.”

“That’s a lot. Do you have time for other studies?”

“Plenty of time. My intellectual studies also take up four to six hours a day, which reminds me … I will need some reading material. I’m currently studying Pershornian Warfare, Fourth Generation, and Alkon’s theories on quantum mechanics.”

“Impressive,” J.T. replied, truly awed. Although he specialized in strategic warfare, he did not get into the complexities of Pershornian warfare until he had entered the Alliance academy. “I can get you a digiview with access to the MDS. You are welcome to read anything you find on the MDS.”

“That is acceptable,” Jori replied.

There was a silence between them as Jori looked over the gymnasium to decide what he wanted to do next. Finally J.T. offered, “How about a game of wall ball?”

“What’s that?” Jori asked.

J.T. explained how two players face a wall and hit a ball back and forth with a racquet. It was J.T.’s favorite exercise. Jori agreed and the two played. It was a long game at which the boy never seemed to tire from. Jori turned out to be very good at it. They each had won an equal number of games when they stopped because Jori hurt his elbow when he fell. They sat on a bench as J.T. and Jori examined the injury.

“It’s not bad,” Jori replied impassively. “But I can’t play anymore today.”

“We should go see a medic to make sure it’s not broken,” J.T. said.

“I don’t need a medic. It’s not broken. Just bruised.”

“It wouldn’t hurt to check,” J.T replied. “And at the very least, we can get you something for the pain.”

“I don’t need anything for the pain,” Jori said firmly. “I would know if something was fractured or broken, so seeing a medic is a waste of time.”

“Okay,” J.T. relented. “Speaking of broken bones, though, Dr. Jerom noticed that both you and your brother have had quite a few.”

“Yes,” Jori confirmed.

Jori did not offer any other information so J.T. pressed. “It’s unusual for someone your age, of any age actually, to have had so many bone reconstructions. How did they all happen?”

“Various things,” Jori replied.

“Like what?”

“In exercises, games… I’ve been in a couple of vehicular crashes.”

“So all accidents?”

“Mostly.”

“Mostly? As in some were intentional?” J.T. asked.

“That is correct.”

J.T. felt his stomach squirm. Why would anyone intentionally harm another, especially a child? “From your father?” he asked, not really wanting to hear the answer.

“From my father, others, and from my Jintal training.”

“Jintal training!” J.T. replied in alarm. Jintal was a harsh training method that was used to build up pain tolerance. “Aren’t you a little young to undergo Jintal training?”

“Yes, but my father found a way to persuade a Jintal master to teach us,” Jori said. He spoke as if it were no big deal and it unnerved J.T. even more.

“You know this is wrong, don’t you, Jori? What your father puts you through is abuse, torture even, and it’s morally wrong.”

“My father is not known for his morality, Commander,” Jori stated matter-of-factly.

J.T. was incredulous. A part of him wanted to comfort the boy, but Jori was so unemotional about the entire issue that J.T. wasn’t sure how to respond.

“Aren’t you worried,” J.T. finally said. “Worried that your father will kill you, or get you killed?”

“I do not think about it,” Jori replied. “I wouldn’t be the first to die by my father’s hand, but there isn’t much I can do about it.”

J.T.’s gut twisted further, making him queasy. “If you could get away from it, go somewhere else, somewhere safe, would you go?”

Jori paused a moment thinking about it. Finally, he said, “No.”

“Why not?” J.T. asked in disbelief.

“Because of my brother. And my mother.”

“Who is your mother?”

“She is one of my father’s concubines.”

“And so if you left, you’d leave them behind?”

“Yes,” Jori replied. “And because I have responsibilities.”

“You are too young for so much responsibility,” J.T. said.

“Fulfilling my responsibilities keeps my alive, Commander.”

J.T. put his hand on Jori’s shoulder. “Oh, Jori. I’m sorry,” he said, not knowing what else to say.

“Don’t feel sorry for me,” Jori replied. His tone was still formal, but seemed softer somehow. “My life is not so dark and dismal as this conversation has led you to believe.”

“Let’s change the topic, then,” J.T. said. His stomach was in knots the disturbing conversation. “Tell me, if you spend most of your day exercising and studying, what do you do for fun?”

“Sometimes exercising and studying are fun,” Jori replied.

“I can see how that can be. But nothing just for the sake of having fun?”

“My brother and I did some fun things at the Melna space station,” Jori offered.

“Like what?” J.T. asked, realizing that Jori was never volunteering any detailed information unless specifically asked.

“We used a holo deck to visit some exotic planet-scapes. And we went to see some laverjack beasts that the Hurvans were transporting.”

“Sounds interesting,” J.T. said sincerely. He asked more about the planet-scapes and found that Jori studied other cultures as a hobby. And they boy’s eyes practically lit up when he talked about the laverjack beasts. Jori was really opening up so J.T. took the opportunity to ask about the scientists.

“What about scientists. Did you speak to some scientists when you were at the Melna space station?”

Jori wrinkled his brow in bewilderment. “That’s an odd question.”

J.T. sighed. He wasn’t sure how to bring up this topic without it sounding accusatory. But he had to ask. “We found some communications on your ship about some scientists and we are wondering what it is about.”

Jori’s eyes darkened and his jaw clenched. “I see,” was all he said.

“Can you tell me anything?” J.T. asked, keeping his tone casual.

“Nothing,” Jori replied coldly. “We are done talking.” With that, Jori got up and marched away.

J.T. cursed to himself. He had been making real headway with the boy and should have waited to ask about the scientists. Or at least found a better way to ask.

 

(This story is protected by copyright) Copyright January, 2015 by Dawn Ross