The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part Two – The Emperor
(I’ve been working on this sci-fi novella all through November for National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNo at www.nanowrimo.org. Athough I’m posting this chapter late in the month, I have finished writing all of part two of this story. You won’t see all of the, though, for several months. You will continue to see a post every Saturday. Each post is the unedited version. My hope is to get editing done behind the scenes and have a select few people do reviews for story and writing improvement. If you are a science fiction fanatic and would like to give me a hand, either continue to check by every Saturday and leave comments or email me for the story in its entirety.)
Devon stood in a solid stance with his hands clasped behind his back as he discreetly surveyed the scene before him. He was careful to stand along the edge of the laser room so as not to be noticed. Devon was no fool. If the men knew he was watching, they’d pretend to work harder. And he wanted to see how they behaved in ordinary circumstances.
Except for the guards standing on the outer edges of the room, everyone seemed to be doing something. The tall skinny Tredon man barely thought of as a warrior emphatically jabbed his finger at something on the laser. Devon didn’t have a good view, but he knew Jako was standing over someone. And his erratic gestures suggested he was yelling at them too.
Devon ground his teeth. He was tempted to go tell whoever Jako was talking to that they’d better do as they were told. They’d taken more than enough time to do this job as it was.
When Jako stomped off, Devon’s lips twisted in disgust. The person he had been berating was the Alliance woman. Devon never understood why the Alliance worked so closely with their women. He found it laughable that she had been a part of the firefight on Thendi.
Women could be a huge distraction. Devon kept his put away and only went to see them when his work was caught up and he was feeling lusty. He almost hadn’t allowed this Alliance woman to work on this project. But the documentation Terk had found on her said she was an expert with laser technology.
Devon wasn’t so ignorant as to assume women weren’t as intelligent as men. He knew they could be. He preferred mating with intelligent women, in fact. It helped improve the chances his sons would be intelligent. Devon did believe, however, that women should only serve a limited purpose.
Devon glanced over to where Jori was working. The boy’s brow was furrowed as if in concentration as he fiddled with something on the laser. Jori was diligent and Devon had no doubt that the boy’s claim of being more intelligent than Jako was true. But while Jako was physically weak, Jori was deliberately weak.
Devon felt a stab of a headache and realized he was clenching his jaw too tightly. Why in the hell does that boy have to be so cowardly? Jori was highly intelligent and very talented in martial skills for a boy his age. But his adamant refusal to engage in torture irked Devon to no end. He should have gone through with his threat to send Jori to the gallery along with the Alliance crewmembers, but the little shit had made a good point about counter-productivity.
Devon desperately needed get this laser working, and the sooner the better. It had been decades since his father had lost the Pentam system, but it had also been decades since Devon vowed to get it back.
It wasn’t for lack of wanting that Devon hadn’t reconquered the Pentam system. It was the damned balance of power Lord Falcorn managed to keep in check. In Devon’s grandfather’s time, the Kavakian Empire reigned supreme. No lowly lord was powerful enough to go against the emperor’s will.
Lord Falcorn, unfortunately, was not so lowly. He was Devon’s most powerful ally and adversary. He was one of the few lords with his own fleet space vessels. He didn’t have as many as Devon, but he had enough. His other military assets were not to be discounted either.
Falcorn acted subservient under Devon’s authority and so long as Falcorn paid his taxes Devon didn’t attempt to dominate the man as he did with other lords. He knew attempting to take the Pentam system would cause their delicate truce to break up in an all-out war. Although Tredon men lived for war, both sides were powerful enough that fighting one another would be a great risk. Devon risked being the cause of the fall of his dynasty while Falcorn risked losing the privileges his current power allowed.
If Devon succeeded in taking the Pentam system, his power would double and Lord Falcorn would be doomed. So it was in the lord’s best interest to keep Devon from succeeding in such a venture. If Devon were to organize his fleet to go after the Pentam system, Falcorn would react in what he considered as self-defense and use the vacuum of Devon’s absence to oust control. If Devon had the laser, though, he could take Pentam with just a few ships instead of his entire fleet. The rest of his fleet would keep Lord Falcorn at bay and Devon would regain the glory his father had lost.
Devon scrutinized each of the Alliance workers. They all appeared to be working, but he had no way of knowing if they were doing anything productive. Jori was supposed to be making sure, but for some reason it was Jako who went around to each of the prisoners.
Jako never looked happy when he inspected the work. But Devon suspected there was an alternative reason as to why. With the way Jako strutted around with his chin held high, it was obvious he was enjoying his current dominant status. No Tredon ever took Jako seriously, but these Alliance men, and woman, had no choice.
Devon glanced at Jori again. His clenched jaw sent another jab of pain to his skull. He wished he could discern if the boy was up to something. But why would he help the Allaince? It made no sense, yet he couldn’t help but wonder whether Jako’s accusations were true. That Jori refused to torture the prisoners did not support Jako’s view. The boy never participated no matter how much Devon tried to bully or force him.
Devon stepped from the corner in a huff. Jako couldn’t be relied upon to give accurate information about Jori. And somehow Devon suspected Terk would protect him. It was time to gather information from other sources.
Devon deliberately walked across the laser room. All the men, including the Alliance crew, stiffened. Their already vigilant guard stances seemed even more attentive. Devon would have smiled, but it would ruin the moment.
One warrior guard did not need to adjust his stance. Jetser was a seasoned warrior, one of the best there was. Sometimes it annoyed Devon that Jetser didn’t seem to fear him. But Jetser always did what he was told and then some. Devon couldn’t complain.
“Come with me,” Devon told the man.
Jetser gave a slight deferential not. “Yes, Your Eminence,” he replied. His face was calm and cool with no hint of worry at being called out by the emperor. If it had been any other man, their face would have turned white.
Devon led Jetser to a private room off from where the laser was being worked on. There was no desk or chair to sit in so Devon and Jetser stood facing one another in the at-ease stance.
“You have heard Jako’s claims. What do you think of them?”
“I think Jako is jealous, my Lord, of your son.”
Devon frowned. “So you believe he is trying to undermine him?” The idea of someone trying to undermine a Kavak chafed him.
“I don’t think he intends it as an affront to you, my Lord.” Jetser must have noticed Devon’s annoyance. “I think he’s worried. Jako’s only redeeming quality is that he knows this stuff better than anyone, or at least he used to. He probably feels Jori’s aptitude will oust him.”
“Hm.” Devon nodded his head. He hadn’t considered that. “So you do not think Jori is helping the prisoners?”
“No, my Lord.”
Devon narrowed his eyes. “You haven’t seen or heard anything that would lead Jako to think he was helping them?”
“Jori is not as impatient with them as Jako is, but he’s not friendly with them in any way.”
“Not impatient, as in, he’d rather help them than motivate them?”
“Jori has never been fond of torturing.”
Devon let out a slight snort. “No doubt a doing of his mother’s. I should have pulled him away from her sooner. The boy is far too womanish.”
“He’s still young, my Lord. Still learning.”
Devon pursed his lips. True. But damn him. It doesn’t look good to have a son who’s so soft. Whatever Jori’s shortcomings, at least Terk made up for them. At the same time, though, Terk was becoming a great warrior, but Jori was already beating him in games of strategy. Neither boy was perfect, but together they damned near were. And they were as close to perfect as Devon was ever likely to get.
He had had other sons once, but they fell markedly short of his expectations and died in some way or another. In a couple of cases, they died at Devon’s own hand.
But Devon couldn’t have any more children. An assassination attempt kept it from happening. The assassin used a poison that corrupted Devon’s DNA. If by some small miracle he did happened to impregnate a woman, the results were mental retardation, deformities, or other unacceptable flaws.
The technology existed to manipulate DNA, but this was universally frowned upon. Generations ago, genetic manipulation was common. But from what Devon had read, the average citizens rallied against the practice with a war that spanned the galaxy.
Despite the limitations of the natural born man, they eventually won. Strict laws against genetic manipulation were passed. After the universal declaration, those born with manipulated DNA were not given the same rights as other citizens. They were practically relegated to the status of slaves.
Even Devon’s ancestors complied with the new universal stance. They cheated it, however, by only breeding with others that had ancestors who used genetic manipulation. In fact, Devon chose the women in his harem based on their DNA compatibility and the ones he favored most had benefited generations ago by DNA enhancements.
Jori and Terk’s mother was one such woman. That she also had the abilities of a Truth Seeker also made her a desirable. Although Terk and Jori did not have her ability, they were both excellent results of select breeding. They were the last two he had sired and were the only two sons he had left.
Jori irritated him a great deal, but Jetser was right. He was still young so there was still time to mold him.
“I want you to have a long talk with him about being careful not to look like he’s befriending our enemy.”
Jetser nodded respectfully. “Yes, Your Eminence,” he replied.
Devon gave Jetser a dismissing nod. “Bring me Hagar,” he said.
Jetser nodded again with a slight bow. Devon stepped out of the at-ease stance and crossed his arms in front of him. He wasn’t quite as annoyed about Jori as he had been a moment before, but he wanted to make sure. Hagar came recommended by Trevine and was proving to be a very promising warrior guard. Devon would have him keep a closer eye on Jori and report anything suspicious.
Please comment below to tell me what you thought of this chapter. I’m an amateur writer and am in desperate need of constructive criticism.
(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright November, 2015 by Dawn Ross
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