Archive for December, 2015

The Kavakian Empire – Part Two Emperor Ch14b

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 2, The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 26, 2015 by Dawn Ross

Red Luxurious Bedroom

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part Two – The Emperor

Chapter 14b

(I hope you all had a Merry Christmas. I actually spent some time writing my book. This part of the story that you’re about to read, though, was actually written during National Novel Writing Month, or NaNo. During this month, people who sign up for NaNo do so in order to spur themselves to write 50,000 words during that month. Some people are serious writers while others are new to writing and would like to finally have a chance to write the novel they’ve always wanted to write. I did it because although I do write, I don’t do it often enough. I signed up for NaNo for the challenge of it and to see if it would help me. It did. Even though I wrote the rest of part two of my science fiction really fast, it actually came out pretty good. Because it was written so fast, though, it needs some work. So please check it out and be sure to comment below with any helpful tips or errors you found.)

Instead of going back to work on the laser, Jori stormed out. He didn’t tell anyone where he was going or why. His emotions were all in a jumble. He wanted to scream. How dare Jako threaten me! His face felt hot. He wanted to cry, but in shame, not fear. The petty little bastard actually had the gall to blackmail him. He couldn’t believe it.

Jori knew men only did what he ordered them to because Terk would back him up. He had very little authority of his own. Still, it was rare that someone would outright disrespect him. And Jako had gone way over that line.

Jori wasn’t just angry and ashamed. He was afraid. Jako held something very dangerous over his head. He could ask Jori anything and Jori would have to comply. If he didn’t, it meant the worst beating and torture he had ever experienced. It could even mean his death. There was no way his father would let his betrayal slide with anything less.

Jori didn’t want to go to Terk except as a last resort. If he didn’t learn to handle things himself, who was to say if someone else wouldn’t try to manipulate him in the future.

He considered going to Master Jetser, but Jetser was in the laser room guarding the prisoners right now. Jori couldn’t risk calling him out for a private meeting. He was walking a thin line as it was and he didn’t want Jetser to be implicated.

But he needed to talk to someone right now. And he knew just who to talk to. She didn’t have any power to do anything, but she was someone he could vent to. And if he was lucky, she’d give him some savvy advice.

Jori walked purposefully to a highly guarded and restricted area of the ship. It wasn’t guarded by men, for his father didn’t trust them. He put his hand on the scanning device and stood in front of the retinal scanner.

The machine beeped and the heavy double-doors slid open to reveal another security room. Jori went inside and tapped his foot anxiously as the biometric body scanner verified who he was.

Jori had lived in this area when he was younger. He wasn’t supposed to be in here anymore unless his father ordered him to retrieve someone, but Jori still came to visit from time to time.

When the second set of doors opened, Jori was met with a scene that looked like nowhere else on the entire ship. The cold steel walls were covered with colorful tapestries. Elegant furniture stood in place of the austere desks, beds, and shelves that resided in the soldiers’ quarters.

It was the smell, though, that made the place stand apart the most. While the solders’ quarters smelled musty and dirty, the harem smelled clean and fresh. There was no hint of any odor of electronics or chemicals, which was prevalent in other parts of the ship.

Jori sighed out a breath of relief. His heart still pounded, but it was more like a light tapping than a hard punch. This was the only place on the ship where Jori felt like he could be himself. It was the only place he felt truly safe.

The room he had entered was just the welcoming chamber. Sevana, a girl only just a little older than Terk greeted him warmly. “Hi Jori,” she said. “You here to see your mother?”

“Yes,” Jori said. He was surprised his tone had sounded so calm. His thoughts were still a jumble, but the thought of being able to spill it all out to his mother made him less anxious.

She waved her hand down the hall and Jori went straight to his mother’s room. Sevana didn’t need to call his mother on the comm to let her know he was coming. He could sense that she already knew.

As soon as her door opened, she was standing there with her arms open. Jori rushed into them and let her embrace him. She felt so warm. Her perfume was soft but sweet and reminded him of the botanical garden on the ___________ space station.

His mother caressed his head as she held him. “What’s happened?” she asked. Her voice was soothing. “Are you okay?”

“Jako,” Jori said. His voice sounded muffled thought the crook of her arm. He pulled himself away so she could hear him.

His mother held up her finger, then waved her hand to one of the plush upholstered chairs. He didn’t like this chair much. It always felt like he was falling into a cloud. But it was comfortable and it helped him relax.

She sat in the chair across from him and leaned forward. Her chair was close enough that she could touch his hand. “Tell me everything,” she said.

Jori told her everything about Jako’s blackmail.

“Oh no, Jori. I’m so sorry. I wondered what had put you in such a state,” she said. Jori could see the pained look on her face, and feel it too.

“I don’t know what to do,” he said. His mother bit her lip. She understood the seriousness of the situation and it frightened her. It frightened him too. “I should kill him,” he added.

She frowned at him. “Killing isn’t the answer to everything. I think you know that.”

“He’s basically threatened to kill me, Mother. I can’t let him get away with that.”

She shook her head. “No. No you can’t. But what if there’s another solution?” He leaned forward and looked at her expectantly. She tilted her head and turned down her lips in thought. “Do you know of anything you can use against him?”

“You mean other than the fact that he’s trying to blackmail me?” Jori quirked his lips. “No,” he told her. He fell back against the chair in a huff. “He’s not just a snake. He’s a coward, too.”

“Hmm. I’ll think about it. You too, but don’t worry too much.” His mother clasped her hand around his and gave a slight smile. “You’re an intelligent young man. I’m sure you can think of some way to be rid of Jako without killing him.” Jori said nothing and looked up at the ceiling in despair. “You’re not like your father, Jori,” she said. “Rely on your strengths.”

Jori frowned. He had hoped to find the answers here. Perhaps even a small part of him hoped she would tell him it was okay to kill Jako.

But he did feel better. His heart was no longer pounding. Jori was still worried, but his head was clearer. He met her eyes. “I’ll think of something.”

She grasped his hand tighter and gave him an approving smile. They sat in silence for a few minutes when something J.T. had said made him think of something.

“Could you use your power on Jako? Make him forget what he found?”

His mother took her hand away. Her frown was real now. Jori sensed a spike of annoyance from her. “You know I don’t like doing that.”

Jori’s cheeks burned and he looked away in shame. “Sorry.”

Her frown melted away and she took his hand again. “Besides, I don’t even know which one is Jako. There is no way I can get to him. The only time I’m allowed to leave here is with your father.” Her tone was even when she spoke but Jori sensed a stab of sadness from her.

Jori knew she had tried to escape once, and suspected there were many other attempts besides the one that nearly got her killed. Terk had brought the subject up to her again a half year ago. They were older and were in a better position to get her to safety, but she had declined. She told them she wanted to stay with her handsome boys. Jori’s heart melted when she said it. But at the same time, he felt guilty for being her reason for remaining a slave.

The two sat for a while longer, holding hands, talking about mundane things. She smiled warmly at times and nodded her head in understanding. He could tell her anything without fear or judgement. He had already told her about J.T. and she fully understood why he was risking so much to help them.

Suddenly, Jori felt an emotional disturbance. There was a stab of fear, then a jolt of anger. The anger spread and there was a chaotic tremor felt from a multiple persons.

Jori abruptly sat up straight. “Something’s happening.”

“I feel it too. You’d better go.”

Jori gave his mother a quick kiss and rushed out.

 

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

You may share this sci-fi novella so long as you link back to this website and mention, The Kavakian Empire by Dawn Ross.

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The Kavakian Empire – Part Two Emperor Ch14a

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 2, The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2015 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part Two – The Emperor

Chapter 14a

(I wrote this during National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNo, so all of part two is written. It’s written, but it’s not edited and it needs beta readers. If you would like to read all of part two of this science fiction novella, please find my contact information on the About Dawn page. Although I personally think this story is really good, it needs some work before it gets formally published into a book. Of course, you can always continue to stop by this blog weekly and post constructive criticism here.)

Jori’s father hadn’t stopped by the laser room once today. The Tredon men who worked on the laser spoke more freely. Pelax and Biskol were actually giggling over something while they worked. The Alliance prisoners didn’t talk, but Jori could tell they weren’t as tense.

Jori’s ability to sense emotions from others was more of a curse than an asset. He felt his father’s suspicion and anger very acutely, even if it wasn’t directed at him. Although the prisoners didn’t have this ability, the man’s presence put them on edge. And Jori had been feeling their stress weighing down on them.

He wished he could think of a plan. But with his father watching him so closely, he felt like he was fighting to keep a ship straight in a solar storm. Even now when his father wasn’t in the room, Jori knew he was being watched.

A warrior named Hagar stood with the guards along the wall. He had long straggly black hair and whiskers on his face that could only barely be considered a beard. He was Trevine’s man, through and through. And being Trevine’s man meant he was also his father’s man.

Trevine was as brutal as they came. And he expected his men to be the same. Most Tredon warriors emulated him because they had to. But some, like Hagar, emulated him because they wanted to.

Jori hated both men, but there was little he could do about them. So he worked or pretended to work and kept from interacting with the prisoners as much as possible.

Jori analyzed the data J.T. had gathered. The numbers were exactly where he had expected them to be. Now it was a matter of determining which setting was best for the task at hand.

He was doing the math in his head when he got the sense of a highly pompous attitude. Jori didn’t need to look to see who it was coming from. Only one person on the ship lately had emanated this emotion.

Jako hadn’t been to the laser room in the last couple of days. Terk had said he set him straight, but Jako could be a sneaky bastard. What the hell is that man up to now?

Jori gave Jako a dark look when the man came up to him. Jako’s eyes twinkled and he had a smug smile on his face. “I have something you’ll want to see,” he said.

Jori narrowed his eyes and glowered. “What?” he asked.

Jako jutted his chin and raised his eyebrows. “Oh, I think you’ll want to keep this private.”

Jori pursed his lips and ground his teeth. “This had better be good,” he said. His heart was beginning to race.

“Oh, it is good. Just wait and see.”

Jori stood from his work. He noticed Jako didn’t address him by title and it worried him. He didn’t let it show, though. He let his face go blank and purposefully led Jako to a private room where they could talk.

As soon as the door closed behind them, Jako handed Jori a scanner. Jori gave the man a dark scowl and Jako replied by widening his smile. Jori’s heart pounded faster.

He scrolled through the scanner and immediately picked up on the information Jako had given him. Jori felt blood drain from his face. Oh crap. His ruse had been discovered, and by Jako the weasel, no less. Jor’s chest tightened. Nothing good will come of this.

Jori may have let the shock show up on his face because Jako made a small laugh. “I thought it was rather suspicious that all the Alliance crew members had skills with laser technology.” Jako spoke with an irritating smirk on his face. “So I decided to do some research on my own.”

Jori’s stomach knotted tightly. His heart was pounding now, but he’d be damned if he was going to give Jako the satisfaction of seeing fear in him. Jori set his jaw and gave Jako a menacing stare.

Jako ignored the look. He even seemed to find it amusing. “I realized Terk couldn’t have done this. He doesn’t know how and there is only one person on the ship who does.” Jori clenched his teeth and held the glower on his face. Jako continued, “If your brother finds out you’ve used him…”

For once, it was good that Jako thought Jori and Terk were rivals. The weasel seemed to have no idea that his brother was in on this.

Jori still didn’t speak. His heart was pounding so hard, he was sure it would burst. He clenched his fists and tried to keep his breathing even.

Jako held up his finger. “Oh, but it would be so much worse if your father found out.” The triumphant smile on the man’s face made Jori want to stab his dagger into it.

Jako might as well have made a death threat. Jori seriously considered killing Jako right then and there. But then he thought about the sensation that came along with death. Jori had seen other men relish it when they killed. But they didn’t sense what Jori sensed. Of all the emotions that Jori had ever felt from others, the feeling of dying was the worst. Jori endured it when he had to act in defense, but he knew that if he killed in cold blood, the resulting nightmares would make him live their death over and over again. This would be self-defense, wouldn’t it? But Jori couldn’t bring himself to act.

“What do you want,” he said in a quiet tone. If Jako meant to turn his discovery in to his father, he would have done it already.

Jako held up his fingers. “Two things. The first one is easy,” he said. He clasped his hands behind his back and puffed out his chest. “I want assurances that if the laser doesn’t work, the Alliance crew will be blamed.”

It was easy, but Jori didn’t so much as nod. He didn’t want them to be killed.

Jako took his silence to mean that Jori didn’t understand. So he explained. “I don’t want to be put at fault in any way. If your father does try to blame me, I expect you to tell him that I did everything I could.” Jako’s face hardened for a moment.

Jako waited a few moments but when Jori still didn’t speak, he went on. “Secondly, I want money, and a lot of it.”

Jori’s face darkened. The bastard’s blackmailing me for money? The insolence of the man was almost unbearable. But what could he do? If he stabbed Jako right here and now, his father would wonder why. An investigation might ensue.

“Oh, don’t worry,” Jako said. His tone was condescending. “You don’t have to pay me all at once. Just a little bit at a time. Not enough for anyone to notice it missing, but enough for me to buy a few high-class whores whenever we go planet-side.”

Jori’s dark look didn’t leave his face. He clenched his fists at his sides. His fear and anger were jumbled together so tightly that Jori’s stomach felt like a raging storm. He was at a loss because there was no way he’d do what Jako wanted. His pride wouldn’t let him. But he couldn’t let his father find out either.

Jori knew he should kill Jako, but still couldn’t bring himself to do it. He could tell Terk later, but he might as well kill Jako himself because telling Terk meant Terk would kill him.

He couldn’t see any way out, at least not at the moment. He had think of something, but Jako was waiting.

After a long moment of silence, Jori finally nodded his head in agreement. “You’ll have your money soon,” he said through clenched teeth.

 

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

You may share this sci-fi novella so long as you link back to this website and mention, The Kavakian Empire by Dawn Ross.

The Kavakian Empire – Part Two Emperor Ch13b

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 2, The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2015 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part Two – The Emperor

Chapter 13b

(All of part two of this sci-fi saga has been written during National Novel Writing Month. I’d like to make this part of the story good enough to publish into a book, but I need your help. As you read each of these chapters, please leave me a comment with constructive criticism. If you’d like to read the entire unedited version of this science fiction novella, please email me at naturebydawn at aol dot com.)

The cell was still dreary, but J.T. felt a sense of relief when he was sent back for the day. His body felt heavy and sore from sitting all day. His eyes were dry from staring at computer screens and scanners. And his head spun from all the information he had seen and tried to make sense of.

Doing this day in and day out with little reprieve was having a negative effect on his mood as well. A dark cloud was falling over him. The bright light of hope was beginning to dim. He still had hope, but the uncertainty made it feel less realistic.

Harley, Hanna, and Simmonds must have felt the same. When they were working on the laser, they seemed stiff somehow. Their movements were mechanical and their faces severe.

When they were returned to the cell, they all slumped against the wall. Their shoulders hung low and their eyes were downcast. Simmonds massaged his brow. Hanna mindlessly cleaned her fingernails. And Harley just sat there with a frown on his face.

There was still no word of a plan from Jori or anyone else. Even though J.T. had spoken to him earlier, Jori was keeping his distance. He was even more aloof with the other Alliance crewmembers.

Jori was hard to read, but something about the way he walked stiffly and held an almost frown made J.T. suspect he was feeling the same tension as the others. It wasn’t right. He was just a ten-year-old boy. He should be playing with other kids, not being held responsible for completing a highly technical laser.

J.T. felt a twinge in his stomach. Nor should the boy be expected to go behind the back of one of the most powerful warlords in the galaxy to save J.T.’s life. All his hopes rested on this boy and it wasn’t fair. But it was all he had.

“Hard day?” J.T. asked his cellmates.

“I felt like a little mouse being watched by a pack of dogs,” Simmonds replied. His voice was low, almost feeble. “Why does the emperor have to stand there and watch us too?”

The emperor was around much more often lately. Although the man stood off to the side, J.T. had been feeling the tension in the room. It was like he was a small cargo ship trying to remain unnoticed by the large pirate ship lurking nearby. He couldn’t help but shoot glances at the emperor to see if the man was looking at him. Sometimes he was and his eyes were narrowed as though he were scrutinizing every minute detail. J.T. got a shiver down his back just thinking about it.

“I feel like a piece of meat being drooled over,” Hanna added. “That man Lank is giving me the creeps.”

“Why isn’t Jori doing anything anymore?” Harley asked. His frown was deep and his eyes were brooding.

“I told you about my interview,” J.T. said conversationally. He was referring to the questioning done by Truth Seeker, only at that time he didn’t know she was Jori’s mother. He thought it best to leave that part out now. “I think while Jako was relaying his suspicions about us to the emperor, he was also telling the emperor that Jori was being too lenient on us. Jori says he feels like he’s being watched more closely as well.”

“Did he mention any plans to get us out of this mess?” Simmonds asked.

J.T.’s body felt heavier. “No, I’m afraid not. I have a feeling things aren’t going so well for him. Perhaps Terk is making some plans, but I haven’t had a chance to talk to him.”

Simmonds eyes looked both sad and hopeful. “What about that guard? The one Jori told you we could trust?”

“Jetser,” J.T. said. “I haven’t had a chance to speak with him either.”

“What are we going to do, Commander?” Hanna asked. She had dark circles under her eyes, and her face looked strained. “It’s only a matter of time before Lank tries something. And when he realizes I’m not contagious…” She shivered involuntarily.

“What can we do, Commander?” Simmonds asked. He held his hands out in supplication and his brow furrowed. “We’re constantly being watched.” He glanced nervously at the guards outside the cell and lowered his voice. “It’s bad enough we have so many guards in the room, but the emperor standing there as well really makes it hard for me to do my work.”

“I know,” J.T. said. He tried to sound reassuring but his tone was more resigned. “I’m open to ideas.”

“We create a diversion, then run for the hangar bay and steal some ships,” Harley said.

J.T.’s brow wrinkled dubiously. “Sounds simple, but how do we get passed our guards?”

“Our diversion will make a lot of smoke, then we can sneak by.”

J.T. frowned. Harley was young and rash. He obviously hadn’t though things through very well. “Okay. How do we get to the hangar bay? Does anyone know what part of the ship we’re on or even what level?”

“No, but if the princes really are trying to help us, they’ll tell us.” Harley said the word princes with a sneer.

“And I suppose you expect them to give us weapons too so we can fight the dozens of warriors who will block our path.”

“Why not?” Harley’s tone was sour.

“Even if we could get away with such a thing, the soldiers here are armed. They easily outnumber us and are trained fighters, to boot. Besides, even if we did manage to steal a ship, how far do you think we’ll get in Tredon territory before the Dragon or another Tredon ship catches up to us?”

“We can’t just sit here without even trying, Sir.” Harley was agitated. His tone was almost insubordinate.

J.T. gave Harley a pointed look. “Trying a plan that is most likely going to get is killed isn’t a plan.”

Harley crossed his arms. “I’d rather die than finish that laser,” he said. His bottom lip almost came out as a pout.

“I’d rather die than become Lank’s pet,” Hanna added.

J.T. wrinkled his brow in disbelief. “So you two seriously think this is a good plan?”

“No,” Hanna said. “But we’ve got to do something.” She began biting one of her nails.

“So let’s talk to the princes and remind them they owe us,” Harley suggested. His tone was hard.

“They’re just kids. What do you expect them to do?” J.T. asked.

Something.” His eyes widened in annoyance when he said the word.

“They’re keeping us alive,” J.T. said.

“Yeah, so we can get this laser working for them. They’re just as bad as their father.”

“If that were true, Hanna would be somewhere else right now.” J.T. glanced at Hanna and Hanna glanced away.

“We can’t finish this laser,” Simmonds said. “I don’t know if the boys are using us or not, but it sure seems like we’re fixing the laser for them.”

J.T. shook his head. “Jori is just helping us stay alive.”

Harley’s mouth twisted in disgust. “You still think your princes will help?” he scoffed.

“Watch your tone, Lieutenant,” J.T. warned.

“Or what?”

J.T.’s nostrils flared and he took a breath to hold his temper. “We will get out of this,” he said.

Harley threw his hands up. “How, Commander?” he said. His tone was insolent. “You keep coming up with excuses as to why we shouldn’t try to escape.”

J.T. tensed with irritation. “The plans we’ve thought of so far are too dangerous.”

“To dangerous for whom? For us or for the princes? It’s like you don’t even want to escape.”

J.T. stood up and loomed over Harley. “That is enough, Lieutenant!” J.T.’s face was red and heat flushed through his body. “It is my job to keep you alive and I can’t do it if you’re making half-cocked suicide attempts that will get us all killed.”

Harley glared but didn’t reply. J.T. held his stare and sat down slowly. Harley eventually broke eye contact and looked down. J.T. glanced at the others and they pointedly looked away.

He took a deep breath to calm himself and spoke in a smoother tone. “Believe me. I’ve been running plan after plan through my head. None of them have even a slim chance of succeeding. So if we can’t come up with something to save ourselves, the very least we can do is come up with a way to make sure the laser never works.”

“Sabotage,” Hanna suggested.

J.T. nodded his head. “Agreed. There are a number of things we can do. I think we, at least, have that much knowledge.” Simmonds and Hanna nodded their heads. Harley still stewed. “For now, though, I think it’s still a ways away from being completed. We can bide our time and come up with a viable plan for escape,” the word viable was stressed for Harley’s sake, “or hope that the Alliance comes to rescue us.”

“What about the princes?” Simmonds asked. “Do you think they will still help us?”

J.T. was still feeling hopeful, but was not as optimistic. “I’m sure Jori wants to. Whether he can or not is a different story. To be honest, though, I hardly think it’s fair to expect two children to help us.”

 

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

You may share this sci-fi novella so long as you link back to this website and mention, The Kavakian Empire by Dawn Ross.

The Kavakian Empire – Part Two Emperor Ch13a

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 2, The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 5, 2015 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part Two – The Emperor

Chapter 13a

(This part of the sci-fi saga was written during National Novel Writing Month. By the time you read this part, I have finished writing all of part two and am now working on editing. I’d like to make this part of the story good enough to publish into a book, but I need your help. As you read each of these chapters, please leave me a comment with constructive criticism. If you’d like to read the entire unedited version of this science fiction novella, please email me at naturebydawn at aol dot com.)

J.T. adjusted the knob clockwise by one click. The numbers on his scanner changed by 2.57 degrees. After documenting the change in the notes section of his digiview, he turned another click.

Photon energy in laser technology was becoming easier to understand. There was still a lot J.T. struggled with, but Jori made it easier by telling him what to do instead of explaining why it needed to be done that way. So for now, J.T. documented the readings and send the information along to Jori later for interpretation.

Although his work was getting easier, life as a prisoner was getting more difficult. The incident with that woman the other day frightened him. And some of the guards were being more abusive.

J.T. heard someone snickering and looked across the room to see Lank standing over Hanna. J.T. reddened at the implication. Hanna was kneeling while she worked on something lower down on the laser and Lank turned it into something obscene. The way he stood directly behind her and thrust out his pelvis made J.T.’s body tense. He clenched his fists, but a quick glance around him made him think better about going to confront the man.

Watching Lank’s persisting harassment of Hanna was another thing that made being a prisoner here more difficult. J.T. hated not being able to do anything about it. He was their leader, but his only ability to lead at the moment was by trying to stay positive. By trying to remain confident, J.T. hoped to make sure they maintained a sense of hope. We can get through this, J.T. thought. Jori and Terk will help us.

J.T. glanced at Jori. He was supposed to be working on another component but J.T. noticed he kept glancing over at Lank. The boy had a frown on his face, but he didn’t do anything to stop Lank’s behavior.

Jori had generally been able to keep Lank in line, so J.T. wondered what had changed. Was it the interview with the emperor? Did I fail the test? He had no way of knowing. Jori hadn’t been by to speak to him since.

J.T. considered taking his digiview over to Jori for examination but thought better of it. If Jori was avoiding him, there was probably a good reason. The last thing he wanted was for the emperor to be suspicious and allow Jako to take over.

The numbers on the scanners were making some sense mathematically, but he only had a vague understanding as to why. J.T. pinched his bottom lip and studied the numbers.

Something stirred in the room. J.T. didn’t feel it so much as sense it. When he looked up, his back stiffened and his breath caught in his throat. The emperor strode purposefully towards him.

J.T. forced himself to move. He looked back to what he was doing with the laser and turned the knob another click. His movements were jerky but purposeful. If the emperor thinks I’m not working, there’s no telling what he’ll do.

But the emperor did not stop to check on J.T. He walked right past him and up to one of the guards. J.T. watched from the corner of his eye as Jetser was led away.

J.T.’s hears still beat rapidly in his chest. He took some deep breaths in order to calm himself. It’s nothing, he told himself. But a he still tense. Jetser had been helping him too. Does the emperor know? Will Jetser alert the emperor to the princes’ deception? J.T. glanced over at Jori to see if he could get a cue from him. Jori seemed more intent on his work somehow, but he didn’t look concerned. It wasn’t reassuring. Jori tended to behave more militaristic around his father but otherwise he was good at hiding his emotions.

J.T. shook himself inwardly. There was no point in worrying so he went back to work. He tried to push all his thoughts aside and concentrate on his task, but he couldn’t quell the unsettled feeling in his stomach.

“It’s okay.” Jori was standing next to him. He took the scanner from J.T.’s hands and examined it. He kept his head down and his voice low when he spoke. “Jetser’s not in trouble and he’s not going to say anything.”

It was like Jori was reading his thoughts, but he had probably only sensed J.T.’s unease. When Jori had been on the Odyssey a few months back, he had explained that he was only a low-level reader. He could sense emotions, but he couldn’t pull or read direct thoughts. Most people were nervous around any sort of Reader, but J.T. had grown comfortable with Jori.

J.T.’s neck and shoulders relax ever so slightly at the information. He hadn’t even realized they had been so tense. But he was still bothered. “Something’s going on though. Am I right?”

“Jako has made my father suspicious, but I’m sure it’s settled now.”

“Then why didn’t you say something to Lank?”

Jori raised his eyebrow at J.T.’s tone. J.T. hadn’t meant for it to come out that way, but his worry for Hanna made him unabashed. Not only that, Jori and Terk did owe him, owed Captain Arden. Who knows what the Grapnes would have done if they had caught the boys so far from home. Terk surely would have died from the crash. The Grapnes did not have medical personnel as talented as those from the Alliance. Still, J.T. could hardly expect them to be able to counter their father’s will.

“My father thinks I’m being too lenient with you all,” Jori said in a low tone. His eyes flashed in warning. “He thinks I should have you beaten every once in a while so you don’t forget your status here.”

J.T. couldn’t help but to swallow the lump in his throat. He wasn’t afraid of Jori, but he was afraid of what his father might make him do. “I’m sorry,” he said. “About your father, that is.”

“It is what it is,” Jori replied. He made a slight movement with his hand dismissively. “The interview you had with my mother went well so I don’t think he’ll push it any time soon.”

“So that was your mother.”

“Yes.”

“She’s beautiful.”

“Thank you.” Jori’s mouth turned slightly upward.

“She’s a Truth Seeker.” J.T. tried to keep his tone flat. The idea of being touched by a Truth Seeker made his stomach crawl, but still, he didn’t want to sound like he was making an accusation.

Jori hesitated. His face was unreadable. “Yes.”

Although he had expected the answer, a tingling sensation went down his spine. “Are you?” he asked.

“No, I don’t carry the right genes. Neither does Terk.”

J.T. let out his breath in relief.

Jori’s brow drew downward. “I know how people feel about her ability. I think you know how I feel about it too.” J.T. recalled how vehemently Jori had reacted to Liam’s Reader ability when he was on the Odyssey a few months back. “But she only does what my father makes her do.”

J.T. nodded his head in understanding. Still, his stomach fluttered anytime he recalled her touching him with her power. Her ability was highly feared and completely illegal to use in Alliance territory. Alliance citizens with this ability were supposed to register themselves. Even relatives had to register so the law could keep an eye on them and look for cases where the ability might manifest.

“I hate to consider this then,” J.T. said. “Can she use her ability to convince your father to let us go?”

Jori shook his head soberly and turned away. “He’s been trained to resist it. And he’d kill her if she tried.”

J.T. sighed heavily. We’re never going to get out of here.

He was about to ask Jori if he and his brothers had come up with a plan, but Jori looked all business again and handed him back the scanner. “I have to get back to work. I suggest you do the same.”

 

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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