Archive for July, 2016

The Kavakian Empire Part One Chapter 24 – Revised

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised, The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2016 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part One – Starfire Dragons (provisional title)

Chapter 24 – Revised

(I’m a bit worried this next part may be too long and boring. It seems like I’m writing about every single meeting the captain has with his crew. Although the information here is very important, I’m wondering if some of it can be cut and inserted as an afterthought elsewhere. Read on and let me know what you think of my science fiction story so far in the comments below.)

Captain Arden made a sweeping hand gesture. “Please, have a seat, Commander.”

J.D. sat, thankful he had the captain to himself before Bracht and the others arrived for this morning’s meeting.

“I’ve been updated on the situation with the elder prince’s health,” the captain said. “How’s the younger one taking it?”

“Not well, Sir. He’s very distraught.”

“That’s understandable. How is his reaction towards us?”

“I believe he knows we really are trying to do everything we can.”

The captain raised his eyebrows slightly. “That’s good. Good to hear.”

“In fact, I believe the incident’s brought us closer.”

The man’s eyebrows went up further. “Really?”

“Yes, Sir.” He smiled. “I’m actually getting to like him. And I think he feels the same towards me. I’m starting to hope you’re right about being able to build a more peaceful future between our people.”

“That’s wonderful news, Commander. It’s unfortunate it came about in this way, though.”

His smile fell away. “Yes. But I think it was already starting to happen.”

“Good job, Commander,” the captain replied. J.D.’s heart swelled. “But it’s not over yet.”

His heart shrank. “No, Sir. There’s still a chance his brother won’t make it.”

The captain’s brows drew downward. “Yes, there is that.”

The conference room door slid open. Bracht stepped in. The warrior nodded a greeting to both the captain and himself before sitting down. A few moments later, Lt. Sam Simmonds arrived, a pleasant man, but an odd-looking one in his opinion.

Simmonds sported a mustache and long sideburns growing down to a point that ended at the start of his bald chin. It wasn’t his facial hair that made him look comical, though. It was the way the man’s large nose turned red at the tip whenever he was nervous or agitated. It reminded J.D. of the jocose performers at the traveling bazaars back home.

Lt. Hanna Sharkey came in next. She gave him a small smile, but her posture was rigid and her face looked strained.

“Lt. Sharkey, I wasn’t expecting you,” the captain said.

“She has some information I think you should hear, Captain,” Bracht replied.

The captain nodded and indicated for her to sit.

She sat. She’d been a part of their conferences before, but her striking blue eyes darted about as though she was nervous.

Lt. Jenna Stein arrived last. She, too, had an edgy look about her.

“Lt. Sharkey, why don’t you begin,” the captain said.

“Sir, there’s a lot of resentment amongst the security officers going around. I believe the information has gotten out and spread in a very bad way.”

J.D. leaned forward. The invisible weight he’d been feeling lately grew heavier.

The captain frowned. “In what way is that, Lieutenant?”

Hanna hesitated. “I believe a group of people tried to pick a fight with the prince the other day.”

He sat up quickly. “When?”

“At the gym, after you left.” She averted her gaze from his, as though she felt guilty for telling on him. Not that he’d done anything wrong. “I don’t know the details, but apparently someone thought it was funny to program the holo-man to look like a Tredon. Words were exchanged, but someone else intervened before it got out of hand.”

J.D. swallowed down the hard lump in his throat. I should have stayed with him. Jori’s going through so much already. “Jori didn’t tell me anything about this.” Why didn’t he tell me?

“Why wasn’t this reported?” The captain’s tone was heavy and stern.

Her brows tilted into an apologetic look. “I only heard it second-hand, Sir. When I asked the officers who were on duty, they pretended to know nothing about it.”

“Sir,” Brach said, “I’ve already arranged to meet with each of them privately about this.”

“Find out what you can, Lieutenant-Commander,” the captain said to Bracht. Then to Hanna, “You say this information has spread?”

“I believe the entire security teams knows, Sir. And probably beyond them as well.”

“Then perhaps I should address the entire crew. This behavior is absolutely unacceptable.” The captain’s voice boomed.

The captain’s eyes were dark. He’d never seen so much anger in him before. “I’ll stay with the boy at all times from now on, Sir,” he said. His gut churned in guilt. Even though it wasn’t his fault, maybe if he had been there this wouldn’t have happened.

“You or Lt. Sharkey,” the captain replied. “Who else do you know for certain you can trust?” he asked Hanna and Bracht.

“I should’ve been able to trust all of them,” Bracht said. His tone was sharp, as though he were angry, but J.D. suspected there was a hint of shame in his voice as well. After all, the man was head of security.

“I agree,” the captain replied. “But hatred for the Tredons runs deep with a lot of people here.”

“The Tredons be doing many bad things,” Lt. Stein added.

“Everyone should be judged as an individual,” the captain said sharply. “So far, the child has done nothing to deserve this.”

“No, he hasn’t,” J.D. added. It’s such a relief having a captain like this. His gut rolled at the thought of what Zimmer would be doing in this situation.

“As…uneasy… as I am about having him here,” Bracht said, “I must agree.”

He gave the Rabnoshk warrior an appreciative nod. The man was hard and unrelenting at times, but he wasn’t as bullheaded as he first thought.

“I believe Lt. Gresher can be trusted, Sir,” Hanna said.

“Very well. You three work out an arrangement,” the captain said.

“Yes, Sir,” both he and Hanna replied at the same time.

“Lt. Simmonds,” the captain said to the science officer. “Tell me what you’ve found.”

“I’m afraid not much, Captain,” Simmonds replied. His mustached turned down in a frown. “The Chekrosians have been very secretive about their work. There are only rumors saying they’ve found a way to use it and manipulate it off planet.”

Simmonds didn’t need to say what ‘it’ was. He’d read the report about their new visitors while Jori was watching over his brother. Nothing stood out specifically as being suspicious, but he couldn’t ignore the fact that they were here at the same time as the Kavakian Princes.

“It’s their right, I suppose,” the captain replied. “This substance is from a planet in their own system. They own it.”

And they have autonomy. One thing that made the Prontaean Alliance so large was its strict rules against interference. His own home planet opted to be more involved in the Alliance, but not all planets made this same choice. If the Chekrosians wanted to keep this stuff to themselves and not share the technology, they could.

“Can perantium interfere with certain signals?” the captain continued.

Simmonds’s brow furrowed. “Not that I’m aware of, Sir. But if they’ve found a way to stabilize it off planet, I would assume it would be by some sort of electromagnetic induction or some such.”

“I need you to work with Lt. Chandly on finding a way to trace and track it. No one’s noticed anything at the source of the ship itself, but that’s where I want you to start.”

“Yes, Sir.” Simmonds made a slight bow. “Also, Sir. I did read one noteworthy report. Apparently in its gaseous state, perantium can go through a solid object without affecting its original solid state.”

The hairs on the back of J.D.’s neck went up. “Are you saying that if their ship is made of perantium, it can travel through solid objects?”

“I doubt their technology has gotten that far, Sir. But if it has… well, it would’ve had to have gotten very far indeed to do such a thing with something as large as a ship.”

“Let’s assume it can,” the captain said. “And let’s assume they may have other objects with them that can as well. I don’t know how they’d use such a technology, but inform security.”

Bracht and Hanna nodded.

“I have more information security should know about,” Lt. Stein said.

The captain put up his hand to forestall her. “Is that all you have, Lieutenant?” he said to Simmonds.

“Yes, Sir.”

The captain inclined his head toward Lt. Stein.

“The Tredons and Chekrosians do have other ties,” she said. “One recent and very unpleasant one. Apparently, Tredon pirates attacked a transport vessel with Chekrosian travelers on board. Those not killed in the attack be taken prisoner and probably sold into slavery. Chekrosians be very strong, great for working in Tredon mines.”

Oh no. J.D. leaned back in his chair. The weight threatened to crush him. “I can see what Jori knows of it,” he offered reluctantly.

“No. That won’t be necessary,” the captain replied. “Even if he does know of it, there’s not much he or we can do about it.”

“He can tell us exactly where the Chekrosians were sent,” Bracht protested.

The captain sighed. He leaned forward into his hand and stroked his beard. “Commander Hapker,” he finally said. “What do you think? Are you close enough with the child yet to ask him about this?”

He swallowed, trying to stimulate away the dryness from his throat. “I don’t think so, Sir. And I honestly don’t want to push it at this point.” He let out a sigh. “I will, if needed. But to be honest, Sir, there are a million other things we could ask him about. How far do we go before it becomes an interrogation? He’s just a boy.”

“Sir,” Hanna offered. “Intelligence probably already knows many of the places with higher slave populations. I mean, I feel bad for the Chekrosians, but why target only one group of people to save? There are already dozens, if not hundreds, of Alliance citizens living as slaves in Tredon.”

“Exactly my point,” J.D. added. “We ask about one group, we may as well ask about them all.”

“Finding out about Chekrosians may save trouble being caused by these guests,” Lt. Stein said. “If they be up to something, we may be able to stop it by giving them information.”

“It may not be enough,” the captain said. “Even if they do have the technology to do something about it, those children still offer a great bargaining chip.”

The captain continued to stroke his beard. His brows furrowed deeply. “No,” he eventually said. “Let’s keep the child out of this for now. I really can’t see how the information could do anyone any good.”

“Sir, there be something else you should know,” Lt. Stein said. The captain nodded to her. “The non-Chekrosian be who he says. And his records do be clean. But I looked further and it seems he once be a Prontaean Alliance officer.”

“Really?”

“Yes, Sir. And furthermore, he not be traveling with the Chekrosians until after the warrant be issued by Depnaugh.”

“How is that possible? Did he meet them along the way or something?”

“No, Sir. The records from the Depnaugh space station indicate he left with the Needletail when it departed.”

“When it departed?” J.D. frowned. “That would mean it departed after the warrant was issued.”

“That seem to be the case, Sir.”

“And this means the Needletail out-paced us somehow,” the captain added. “Are you sure there isn’t a mistake in the records?”

“I triple-checked, Sir. It appears the Chekrosians must have hired the ex-officer as soon as they knew the Tredon Princes be aboard our ship. And then somehow caught up and passed us.”

A tingling sensation went down J.D.’s spine. “So they’re after Jori.”

“Either that, it be just coincidence. But I don’t believe in coincidences, Commander.”

“Nor do I,” the captain said. “Especially not in this case. Bracht, I can’t stress enough how important security is right now.”

“I will make every effort to stress this upon them, Sir,” the Rabnoshk warrior replied.

Yes. Please do. J.D. sat back in his chair and sighed. Poor Jori. Because of his father, he was surrounded by even more enemies than he thought. And to top it all off, the boy was doing it all alone. Well, he has me. I don’t care what he is or what his father’s done. I’m on his side.

 

I’d love to hear some constructive criticism. Please leave a comment below. Praise would be most welcome as well.

(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright May, 2016 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 Book One Book Cover

Posted in Book Art, Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised, The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , on July 23, 2016 by Dawn Ross

What do you think of this book cover art design for Book One of the Kavakian Empire: Starfire Dragons, art by Anita Young?

Starfire Dragons Book Cover

The Kavakian Empire Part One Chapter 23 – Revised

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised, The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2016 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part One – Starfire Dragons (provisional title)

Chapter 23 – Revised

(This part was in the unrevised version. But a few things have changed, so please don’t compare it to the unrevised version. If you haven’t already, read the revised version of this science fiction story by locating “Sci-Fi Part 1 – Revised” under Categories located in the right column.)

J.D. bent over panting. His chest heaved. “You’re getting better and better at this,” he said to Jori.

He was in great shape, but a full hour of full-on cardio was a little more than he was used to. He’d never sweat so much in his life. Nor tried so hard to win.

“I’ve learned to anticipate your movement patterns,” the boy replied.

He shook his head. Who analyzes movement patterns? Professional players maybe. But someone Jori’s age should be playing just for fun.

“Well, you’ve certainly got me figured out,” he said instead. “I haven’t won a game all day.”

“Want to try again?”

The boy looked so eager, he had to smile. “One more. But I warn you, if I drop from exhaustion, you’re going to have to carry me back.”

The boy quirked his mouth. Was that almost a smile?

The game began anew. Jori was really beating him this time. His own legs seemed to move like gelatinous ooze while the boy was still ripping around like a comet.

Jori suddenly caught the ball in his hand. “I’ve got to go see my brother,” he said abruptly.

“Now?”

“Now.” Jori dropped the ball and racquet to the floor and ran out.

Oh no. Since Jori could sense things, he was probably sensing something happening with this brother. He dropped his own gear and ran out after the boy. A rush of adrenaline burned away his fatigue.

They both reached sick bay at the same time. His heart clenched at the sight of Terk’s room. The privacy curtain was pulled back. Doctor Jerom was yelling out instructions. Medics rushed about in a frenzy. Mechanical beeps sounded in alarm.

He grasped Jori’s shoulder, partly to keep him from rushing in and partly as a way to provide reassurance.

“What’s happening?” Jori tried to ask one of the medics as she rushed by. But she seemed not to hear.

Jori inched closer against J.D.’s grip, but seemed to have the sense to stay out of the way.

“It’s going to be okay,” he said, holding the boy closer. “They will do everything they can.”

Jori did not reply. He just stood there, his body rigid but shaking, as the medics bustled about. Suddenly, their panic heightened. Their yelling intensified. Someone yelled something about cardiac arrest.

“No,” Jori said almost inaudibly.

The sound in the boy’s voice wrenched his heart. He looked down at the tears falling down Jori’s cheeks. The boy’s chin began to quiver. His own eyes began to water as an ache spread over him.

He embraced Jori around the shoulders. To his surprise, the boy slumped against him, then turned and buried his face against his chest. Jori didn’t make a sound, but his body shook as though he were sobbing. J.D. enveloped him in both arms and held him. Jori hugged him back.

It seemed like ages before the medics calmed, but in reality, it had only been a few moments.

“He’s stabilizing,” he heard one of the doctors say.

Jori heard it too and turned to watch them. His arms around J.D. loosened but he didn’t let go.

“He’s going to be okay,” he assured the boy.

Jori looked up at him. His eyes were red and tears were still falling. J.D. hugged him close again. It struck him that the boy didn’t resist. If the circumstances hadn’t been so dire, he’d probably be feeling elated over this breakthrough between them.

Eventually, Doctor Jerom came over. His normally arched brows wrinkled inward. “I don’t know what happened,” he said. “He went into convulsions and then his heart stopped.”

“Is he going to be okay?” he asked on Jori’s behalf.

“He’s stable. That’s all I can tell you for now,” Doctor Jerom said solemnly. “I’m sorry.”

“Can I see him?” Jori said.

“Let us see if we can figure out what happened first,” Doctor Jerom replied. “You’re welcome to wait out here for now and I’ll let you know when you can go in.”

Jori returned to his stiff and formal composure while they waited. But at least he didn’t shy away from J.D.’s offer of sympathy and comfort. Something had changed between them, something deeper he couldn’t quite define. It’s too bad it took a near tragedy to bring us together.

They waited an hour before Doctor Jerom returned and gave Jori permission to see his brother. The boy spent the rest of the day by his bedside. It wasn’t until dinner time that he’d finally coaxed the boy away.

“You can come back later,” he said as he put his arm around Jori’s shoulder and led him away.

He glanced back on the way out. He didn’t know this boy. But he was getting to know Jori. Whatever violent and hateful world he’d come from, it was obvious he still loved.

 

I’d love to hear some constructive criticism. Please leave a comment below. Praise would be most welcome as well.

(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright May, 2016 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 One Chapter 22 – Revised

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised, The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2016 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part One – Starfire Dragons (provisional title)

Chapter 22 – Revised

(This chapter is a completely new part of my science fiction story in that it isn’t included in the unrevised version. I know my story has no single hardcore antagonist. This new part won’t add to an existing one, but it does go along the same lines as previous antagonists. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you probably haven’t read the previous 21 chapters. You can read from the beginning by checking under the categories for Sci-Fi Part 1 – Revised.)

 

“We’re in range of the ship, Sir,” Brenson said.

Robert stood. “Hail them, Lieutenant. Let’s find out what’s going on.” And see if this is just another attempt to get at our Tredon guests.

The small cargo vessel looked new—just like the identification code embedded in the distress signal had indicated. Not a single dent or flash-burn stain could be seen on its shiny grey mantle.

His face tightened. No sign of battle, so how is it that a new ship is already in need of repairs?

He jerked the hem of his jacket to smooth the front. Coming here to assist this ship added an extra day to their trip—an extra day for the rear admiral, or worse, the emperor, to find out the Tredon princes were here. This had better be legitimate.

He cleared his throat. “This is Captain Robert Arden of the Prontaean Alliance, the Odyssey.”

A man’s face popped up on the screen. “Captain Derovichi here, of the Needletail. I can’t tell you how glad we are to see you, Sir.”

The man’s smile was kind. His appearance was rather neat as compared to most merchants out here in this part of space. The man was bald and completely clean-shaven. His prominent cheekbones made him look gaunt, which indicated he was probably of the Chekrosian race.

“I’m glad we were nearby to help,” Robert replied. “I understand your ship is in need of repairs.”

“Yes, Sir. Our perantium diodes were damaged. We can’t move any faster than solar speed.”

“We have plenty of excess parts we’d be happy to give you, but I’m not familiar with the make of your ship, Captain. What’s its counterpart?”

“It has none, Sir.”

“Really?” he replied with a tone of interest. The Needletail was indeed of a design he’d never seen before. But most ships were generally improvements on other models. “I’m sure our fabricor can still make you a new diode.”

“I’m not sure your fabricor is capable of constructing one out of perantium, Captain. Fortunately, we know where we can get one. Unfortunately, at the rate we’re moving, we’ll run out of food and water before we can even get a tenth of the way there.”

Perantium? Where have I heard this word before? “Your ship is new, I take it.”

“Yes, Sir. We’ve barely had her a year.”

“Rather unfortunate to have her break down already.”

“Yes. Well, we ran her hard recently. Got chased by pirates.”

“I see. It’s fortunate you got away.” Hmm. Chased but not fired upon apparently.

The man smiled pleasantly. “We’ve had quite a few unfortunate incidents end fortunately, Sir. Luck is with us today as well, if you can take us to the Chevert Outpost.”

The hairs on the back of his neck prickled. “It just so happens we’re headed that way.”

“Thank the stars, Captain.” Derovichi looked up, as though praising a deity. “You’re a life saver.”

“We’re just doing our job, Captain Derovichi. Please forward the identification documents of you and all your crew members. As soon as they’re authenticated, we’ll send you the docking instructions.”

“Will do.”

“Expect a full search when you arrive, both of your crew and your ship.”

“Is that really necessary, Sir? If our documents are in order, there’s no reason you shouldn’t trust us.”

So everyone says. “I’m afraid it’s the price of our service, Captain. Prontaean Alliance regulations require it.”

Derovichi made an exasperating throat sound. “No disrespect, Sir. But I can’t allow it. Our ship is a prototype. Its technology is highly classified.”

“Our Prontaean Alliance regulations also protect your secrecy, Captain. We will merely make sure your ship presents no danger and that you and your crew are unarmed.”

Derovichi pursed his lips. “Very well. It’s not like we have much choice.”

No, you don’t. “I look forward to meeting you, Captain Derovichi.”

“You as well, Captain Arden. You will have your documents shortly.”

Robert nodded. “Odyssey Out.”

The viewscreen flicked back to the view of the Needletail. He could see why it had no counterpart. The two propulsion units appeared to take up the entire length of the ship, rather than just the rear. In a way, it resembled a pair of binoculars.

“Lt. Chandly, run a deeper scan on the ship. And let me know if you find anything suspicious in their documents.

“Yes, Sir.”

“Bracht, send a security team to the docking bay.”

“On it, Sir.”

“Lt. Simmonds,” he said into his comm.

“Here, Sir,” Lt. Sam Simmonds replied back through the comm system.

“What can you tell me about perantium?”

“It’s an unusual substance found only on the planet Wendar in the Xenar system, Sir.”

“Unusual how?”

“Well, Sir, when it’s in its solid state, it’s very dense. But it can be manipulated with electric currents to make it more malleable, like rubber even. And it can even be rendered into a gas state that retains its shape.”

Ah. I remember now. The substance could do all sorts of miraculous things on the planet it was derived from. But off the planet, it automatically converted into its gas state and dissipated like a fog. Scientists had been trying for decades to harness its unusual properties off the planet. They must have finally succeeded.

“Thank you, Lieutenant. I’ll need a full report on this as soon as possible. I’m particularly interested in any progress made on its applications.”

“Yes, Sir.”

The comm clicked out.

“Sir,” Lt. Chandly said. “Their documents appear legit. There are five crew members all together, all with clean records, not even a misdemeanor.”

“How far back do those records go?”

“Uh, the captain himself, not far. His ID was issued only a half a year before this ship was registered. But the other crew members go back at least three years. One goes back as far as ten years.”

Hmm. New captain, new ship. Either Derovichi only just entered the realm of space travel or his documents have been applied for under false pretense. Most captains, even captains of small cargo ships, generally had longer records. Something about this is too tidy. I hope it’s just my imagination.

“Run a facial scan and make sure he doesn’t match anyone else in our system.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Bracht, when we meet the crew, make sure we get a scan of them as well.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Jensin, send docking instructions to our new guests.”

“Yes, Captain.”

“Bracht, Stein, you’re with me.”

Robert went into the bridge tran-car with Lt. Commander Bracht and Lt. Stein. The door slid closed.

“What do you think about this new development?” he asked Lt. Stein.

“I do not believe in coincidences, Sir.”

“Anything about the Chekrosian culture I should be aware of?”

“They not typically be merchants, Sir. They do like to travel, though. And I should point out they be from the Xenar system.”

“Are they?” Robert replied. “I missed that connection. I suppose it explains this ship and its inexperienced captain. But it doesn’t explain why they are all the way out here testing a prototype.”

The tran-car door slid open onto the docking bay.

“Bracht,” he said before stepping out. “As always, make sure our guests are not told anything of our other guests. And Jenna, be sure to find them rooms as far from Commander Hapker’s quarters as possible… and far from sick bay as well.”

“Yes, Sir,” Lt. Stein replied as she began tapping the buttons on her digiview.

“If you can manage it, Bracht,” he said to the Rabnoshk warrior, “I’d like a security detail held on these people as well. Make sure your teams communicate closely with one another so our two guests don’t meet.”

“It will be done, Sir,” Bracht replied.

They waited in the observation room while the unusual-looking ship docked. The propulsion systems were much larger than they had appeared on the viewscreen. The living area located in between the two scope-like structures was barely large enough for half-a-dozen people. Their tech, whatever it was, took up a bulk of the vessel.

This was typical for any new sorts of technology. Earlier model space ships he had seen in museums were so cramped and crowded, it was no wonder half the crew members ended up with space sickness. His own ship held hundreds of people. But it was large enough for them to have plenty of room for leisure space, including a vast botanical garden with a holographic ceiling displaying a realistic sky that alternated daily to resemble the skies of various worlds. Ah, I wish I was there now.

Focus. There is a lot at stake here.

“Lt. Stein,” he said. “Do the Chekrosians and Tredons have any ties?”

“It’s possible they be trading partners.”

“Do Tredon merchants venture to their part of space?”

“Not likely, Captain. I believe the Chekrosians hire a third party for such transactions.”

“Do the two of them have any current grievances?”

“Not that I be aware of, Sir.”

“When you get a chance, check for any recent events.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Once the Needletail was settled and the docking bay doors closed, Robert and the others went down to the platform to meet their guests. Bracht and Lt. Stein stood on either side of him while Lt. Hanna Sharkey and the other security team members spread out in a half-circle behind.

Captain Derovichi was the first to disembark. The man was tall and lanky, supporting his guess that Derovichi was of Chekrosian descent. Three of the other crew members also appeared to be of Chekrosian descent. But to his surprise, the fifth crew member did not. His race was unidentifiable. This man wasn’t quite as clean-cut as the others, but neither did he have the rough look of a bandit. A guide perhaps?

“Captain Robert Arden,” Derovichi said. The man bowed stiffly.

Robert returned the gesture. “Greetings, Captain Derovichi. Welcome aboard the Odyssey.”

Robert introduced his crew members and Derovichi introduced his. The non-Chekrosian man was indeed a guide, so Derovichi claimed. The man then reiterated their situation, all of which seemed a little too plausible to appease his suspicions.

Once all pleasantries were exchanged, Robert signaled some of his security officers forward.

“We have rooms ready for you, Captain, but first we must run a quick scan.”

Lt. Sharkey and another officer waved their scanning wands over the visitors. The wand made an alerting noise when waved over Derovichi’s right side. Derovichi pulled out a rectangular device of some kind.

“It’s just a portable database with a modulator.”

“I’m sorry, Captain,” Robert said. “You’ll have to leave your tech with your ship.”

Derovichi shrugged his shoulders. “It’s nothing dangerous, I assure you.”

“Unless you want us to analyze it to verify it says what you say it does, I suggest you leave it with your ship.”

“I don’t have a problem with you analyzing the tech, but this device contains top secret information. I can’t risk anyone else getting their hands on it.”

“Then, please, leave it with your ship,” Robert replied. “We will gladly provide a digiview for each of you to use during your visit.”

Derovichi made an exasperating noise. “That hardly helps me analyze our data.”

Robert stood firm. “I’m sorry, Captain. You will have to do so at another time.”

“Very well.” Derovichi smacked the device into the waiting hand of one of his other crew members. “Take this back inside.”

“Thank you, Captain,” Robert said. He swept his hand towards the cargo exit. “Now Lt. Stein will escort you to your quarters. A liaison has been assigned to you and will meet with you shortly. He will see to all your needs.”

Derovichi nodded. When the other crew member returned, they followed Lt. Stein out.

Robert sighed quietly. That wasn’t so bad. Most visitors in this situation acted more offended about being searched and argue profusely about the rules. Generally, those who protested the most usually had the most to lose. Derovichi had given in comparatively easily, though. Either the man had nothing to hide or he was much smarter than the typical bandit. But if his story or his intentions were false, there was no indication. The Chekrosian captain seemed to have a valid explanation for everything.

Robert went back to the bridge while Bracht went off to take care of security matters.

“Sir,” Lt. Chandly said as soon as Robert stepped onto the bridge. “There was an odd reading in the internal sensors, a disruption of sorts.”

Robert went over to Lt. Chandly’s station. “What sort of disruption?”

“I don’t know, Sir. Everything just went wonko.”

Wonko? Lt. Chandly was a good officer, but his use of slang could be frustrating. “Can you be more specific, Lieutenant?”

“Sorry, Sir. It was a random and rapid fluctuation in the bio readers. It started shortly after their ship landed and ended just before you got back here.”

Coincidence? “Were you able to trace it?”

“No, Sir. It disappeared before I had a chance.”

“What do you think it was?”

“I’m not sure, Sir. A glitch maybe? It’s something I’ve never seen before.”

Robert sighed and went back to his captain’s chair. “Do a full analysis and let me know if it happens again.” He tapped his comm and called the lieutenant on duty in the hangar bay. “Triple-check that ship and look for any unusual signals it might be emitting.”

“Yes, Sir.”

His chair wasn’t as comfortable as usual. Too many coincidences, but nothing overt. This could all end well, or it could end in a complete disaster. The sooner he could get to the Chevert Outpost, the better.

 

I’d love to hear some constructive criticism. Please leave a comment below. Praise would be most welcome as well.

(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright May, 2016 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 One Chapter 21 – Revised

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised, The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 2, 2016 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part One – Starfire Dragons (provisional title)

Chapter 21 – Revised

(This is a new chapter in the revised version of my science fiction story. I added the first half of this chapter because I needed a transition and pacing scene. The second half was added because I decided I needed more tension and Calloway was the perfect way to provide it. Read on and let me know what you think.)

J.D. watched Jori’s eyes dart over the schemster board. The boy undoubtedly saw his trap and was trying to figure a way out. There wasn’t one. In four more moves and he’d have Jori’s general and the game would be over.

He smiled inwardly. It wasn’t just that he was going to win yet another game against this very talented opponent. The past two days with Jori had been rather peaceful. The boy still wasn’t opening up, but at least his temper had calmed. He was actually beginning to like the boy.

They’d played schemster at least three times a day. Jori lost each time, but losing didn’t seem to deter him. Even though he never saw the boy smile, he was sure he was enjoying the challenge.

Even now, even when losing was once again inevitable, he could see the energy in the boy’s eyes. It reminded J.D. of one of his strategic defense classes where he’d spent many hours in the virtual simulation environments. The way his hands shook before a challenge. Then the fast-paced exhilaration felt during the simulation. And how his mind would race long afterward as he replayed and analyzed the event in his head, wondering how he could do it better next time.

The boy finally moved one of his pieces. His face was blank, as usual, but he somehow looked confident and satisfied at the same time.

J.D. examined the board. “Huh,” he said approvingly. The move wasn’t going to help the boy win, but it would be a really close game. If Jori’s past strategies were any indication, he’d be taking a few of J.D.’s key pieces before the end.

If you can’t win, at least leave your enemy too weakened to cause more trouble, one of his instructors had said. This didn’t really apply in schemster where each game began anew, but it was a good rule nonetheless.

The game went quickly now. It actually took more moves than he’d thought, but he still won—just barely.

“You’re very good at this,” he said to the boy. “Who taught you to play?”

“My mother.”

“Really?” Jori had mentioned his mother before, but somehow the concept of these Tredons having mothers didn’t seem to fit.

Of course they have mothers. Just because the Tredon culture viewed women as inferior didn’t mean they didn’t exist. Still, he knew nothing about their family life.

“Does your mother live on the ship?” he asked.

“Yes.”

Jori’s answer was as brief as usual, so he prodded. “So she’s the empress, then?”

“Not exactly. That title hasn’t been used in over a century.”

“No?” he prodded again.

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

“Oh, I see.” So he has a family life, but one that’s very different from most—certainly different from mine. “What’s your mother like?”

The boy’s lips pressed to a thin line.

“Don’t worry. I’m not trying to pry any secrets from you. I’m just curious, is all.”

At first, he didn’t think Jori was going to respond. “She’s kind,” he eventually said.

Jori still wasn’t offering much information, but he was determined not to let it bother him this time. Time. And if I open up, maybe he’ll open up. “My mom is kind, loving, giving, overprotective at times. Let’s see. She’s also wise. And she’s always willing to sacrifice her own needs for the needs of my brother and I. Not that we expect her to. She just does it, sometimes without us even knowing about it.”

Jori said nothing, but the blank look on his face didn’t seem as hard.

“Your mother is like this too?”

“Yes.”

Good. I’m glad he has a positive influence in his life. “Yeah? I bet you love her a great deal.”

Jori looked him directly in the eyes but didn’t speak.

J.D. stretched out his hands, then relaxed them. Getting frustrated wouldn’t help anything, especially since the boy could sense it.

“You know,” he added, “I still love my mother, so it’s not childish or unmanly if you love your mom.”

“That’s a matter of opinion,” the boy said flatly.

He suppressed a sigh. “True enough, I suppose. Well, I don’t think it is. I’m not ashamed to say I love my mom.

“You remember the honeyberry pie I had you try? The one you said was too sweet?”

Jori nodded. His placid face twitched, perhaps because of the abrupt change of topic.

“Well, back home, my mom makes a similar pie, but with a different variety of honeyberry, one that isn’t quite as sweet but practically melts in your mouth.” His mouth was beginning to water just thinking about it.

“Generally, she only makes the pie on special occasions,” he continued. “But I remember this one time when I was just a little older than you.

“One of my teachers had it in for me and he accused me of cheating on my final exam. I was almost kicked out of school because of it.

“I was angry at first. Then really depressed. Getting a degree from that school meant everything to me since it was a step toward my dream of getting into the P.A. Institute and becoming an Alliance officer.”

Jori leaned forward. The boy actually looked interested. “But you didn’t kicked out after all, I take it.”

“No. And I have my mom to thank for it.”

Jori cocked his head, ever so slightly.

“See, I was so depressed, I was near ready to give up. I was actually considering not protesting the accusation since it was just my word against the teacher’s.

“But then my mom made that pie. We had a long talk while it baked. We talked about many things, not just the teacher and the accusation. When the pie was ready, my spirits were beginning to lift.

“I ate a piece of that delicious hot pie with a scoop of ice cream melting over the top of it and forgot everything else.” His stomach felt suddenly hollow.

He swallowed down the saliva building in his mouth before continuing. “By the time I was done, I was more than ready to face the school board. The confidence my mom had somehow given me helped me blow the accusation apart. Not only was the teacher discredited, but all my past projects and previous tests through him were reanalyzed. I ended up with the highest marks in the class.”

Jori’s brow furrowed. “All because of pie?”

J.D. chuckled. “All because of my mom. It wasn’t the pie. It was that she took the time to make it just for me. It was the way she talked with me, listened to me, and the way she took the tangle of the mess I was in and weaved it into a cohesive pattern.” His heart swelled as he spoke. “It was the way she built up my confidence without using false praise. She always did have a way of making me believe in myself.”

“She sounds very nice.” Jori still had a flat look on his face, but, if he wasn’t mistaken, there was a warmth in his tone.

“Best mother in the galaxy,” he replied with a smile.

“So your father didn’t consider her as an influence of weakness?”

He frowned. I bet this is how his father views women. “No. Not at all. Moms do tend to be overprotective and are more about getting in touch with their feelings than dads are. But it’s a complimentary balance. I don’t suppose you see much husband-wife relationships in Tredon?”

“It’s more common amongst the lower classes, but I don’t think it’s the same as it is here.”

“That’s a shame.” The boy could use a different perspective. “You know, women are just as intelligent and capab—“

Jori put up his hand. “I don’t want a lecture on the topic. I’ve read many scientific documents in support of your argument already, and I can’t refute it other than to say, what is known and what is practiced can be two very different things.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Are you sure you’re only ten cycles old?”

Jori frowned. “Of course.”

He smiled. Maybe the boy didn’t understand it was a rhetorical question, but his conceptual understanding was impressive for one his age. From what he understood, Tredons viewed women as inferior and treated them as such. If this was true, Jori didn’t seem to agree.

Even though the boy didn’t share much about his mother, there was something about the subtle expressions he made as J.D. talked. And it was something good.

“Well,” he said as he began putting the schemster pieces back in its box, “What do you say we forget the mental exercises for the day and get some physical exercise?”

The two of them put the game pieces away. When the last was done, Jori stood. “Wall ball?” he said.

J.D. smiled broadly. “Wall ball.”

*****

The commander raised his fists in the air. “Yes!”

The man’s exultation blew like a gust of wind into Jori’s senses. It was almost enough to make him smile, but he dared not let the commander see such a thing. Emotion is weakness.

J.D. had sweat pouring down his face. The front of his shirt along with the pits of his arms were stained. The man’s face was red and he was practically panting.

Jori’s shirt was wet as well, though not as much and more evenly distributed. His heart beat quickly and his breathing was deep, but neither were straining. J.D. might be tired but his own body was just getting warmed up.

Despite having lost another game of wall ball, the challenge had been exhilarating. J.D.’s height and reach may have given the man an advantage, but Jori liked it when the odds were against him. If a challenge was too easy, it wasn’t worth taking.

It helped that he was also able to sense J.D.’s enjoyment of the game. The combination of their emotions was enough to make him momentarily forget his worries for his brother and the swell of hostility from his surrounding enemies.

J.D. wasn’t like anyone he had ever met. The man’s kindness should be a weakness, but he had a hard time seeing J.D. as weak. The commander might not be a warrior. But there was just something about him.

He should hate this man. And J.D. should hate him. But unlike the four guards standing just outside the court, there was no hint of any negative emotions in the commander at all. Not only was J.D. different than a Tredon warrior, he was different from the others on this ship as well. It was puzzling, but also a relief. He wouldn’t go so far as to say he liked the man, though.

The commander wore a huge grin. Jori pressed his lips together to keep from smiling at J.D.’s cheerful, and almost annoyingly infectious, mood.

They exited the court. As they sat on a nearby bench, the hairs on Jori’s arms and up the back of his neck prickled like a hundred-thousand tiny needles all stabbing him at once. He reflexively focused his senses on the four guards where the swell of hateful emotions originated. He met the eyes of one of them. The man grimaced and then looked away, but his animosity didn’t abate.

“Something’s changed, hasn’t it?” he asked J.D.

The commander’s confusion briefly poked through the hateful wall. “What do you mean?”

“The guards. They know, don’t they?” J.D.’s confusion turned guilty, answering Jori’s question. “I thought the captain said it was between us.”

“Well, yes,” J.D. replied. The commander’s feeling of dread was almost enough to overwhelm the ugly emotions of the guards. “But after discussing it more, he decided to at least inform the full lieutenants.”

His body tensed and he clenched his fists as he analyzed the four guards. They were each exhibiting about the same amount of hatred, yet the patches on their shoulders indicated only two of them were full lieutenants. Since his senses also told him J.D. was being truthful, the full lieutenants had either shared the information or it was just a coincidence. Either way, their level of their emotion pressed around him.

“You okay?” J.D. asked.

“Yes.” He kept his eyes on the guards. None of them were looking at him now, but their emotions were the same.

“You sure?”

Jori met the commander’s eyes. He didn’t have to look at someone in order to sense what they were feeling, but looking at J.D. automatically made him refocused his ability. He still felt the animosity of his guards, but J.D.’s genuine concern helped push some of it aside.

“Yes, I’m sure,” he replied, surprised that he really was okay. He should have felt betrayed. He should have been angry. But whatever ill feelings he was having right now were not felt towards J.D.

J.D. clapped him on the back. “Well, I’m done here for the day. Are you gonna stay?”

He glanced at the guards and a pang of fear stabbed him. He took a breath and forced it aside. The guards don’t scare me. “A little while longer,” he said evenly.

J.D. seemed blithely unaware of Jori’s apprehension. “See you at o-four-hundred for dinner?”

Jori made a sharp nod in reply.

He watched J.D. retreat and followed him with his senses. With each step the man took, his light-hearted emotions went with him like a slowly dimming light.

When J.D. was gone, beyond his sensing reach, the weight of the surrounding animosity struck him once more. Each of his four guards were glaring at him now like ill-tempered blackbeasts.

His heart began to pound. He clenched his jaw, determined not to let these people intimidate him, and went to an empty mat to do some warm-up martial exercises.

They followed and kept their distance as usual. But he could overhear some of their whispers.

“—cking monster.”

The words stung, but he forced himself to concentrate on the moves. Front-snap kick. Jab. Jab. Upper-cut.

“—grow up to be a psychop—“

Focus dammit. Block. Dodge. Roundhouse kick.

“—see how he’d like it if we cut—“

His cheeks burned. He was no baka. He knew what his people were capable of. He’d seen plenty of horrors, most of which he’d watched his father commit. Some of which he had done himself. They think they’re any better? They’re nothing a bunch of cowards.

Block. Strike. Block. “Kee-ya!” Take-down.

The four guards snickered. The heat on his cheeks spread over his entire face. His chest heaved and his heart pounded, but not from the exertion. Temeera! Bastards!

They were intentionally trying to antagonizing him. Control. Master Jetser’s words echoed in his head. He relaxed his clenched fists and unclenched his jaw. Then closed his eyes and focused inwardly, letting his deep breaths calm him and relax his tightened muscles.

The flush of heat returned to a normal level, as did the beating of his heart. Without giving any of them the satisfaction of a dirty look, he pointedly ignored them as he went over to another part of the gym.

A small group was gathered around the holo-man program, indicating it was in use. Oddly, the group burst into laughter. Jori made his way to an open spot to see what was going on.

His cheeks burned anew. Calloway was fighting a holo-man that looked like a Tredon warrior. His four guards caught up to him and joined the laughter.

Jori’s bottom lip began to tremble. Don’t you dare cry, you baka. Don’t you dare fucking cry. His whole body burned now. His throat hurt from trying to hold back the swell of emotion.

Calloway noticed him standing there. A huge grin spread across the man’s face, along with a surge of gloating satisfaction.

A fiery sensation spread over Jori’s body, burning away the hurt and shame. He clenched his fists and jaw and stood as motionless as a blackbeast waiting to pounce.

“What?” Calloway said. “You got nothin’ to say?”

His heart throbbed so loudly in his ears that Calloway’s voice was muffled. It took him a moment to register what the man had said.

Control. He forced himself to speak. “Yes.” He managed to keep his voice even. “I suggest you try a mock-fight with a Munchani. This way if you win, it’ll be more realistic.”

Calloway’s brows drew down and his face darkened. A Munchani was a race of people who were much smaller than average and had virtually no fighting ability.

Jori broke eye-contact and glanced at the control console. “What do you have this set at anyway? Level 5?” He harrumphed. “Figures.”

He’d beaten level five when he was just six years old. Granted, the holo-man was programmed to match his relative strength and height, but the skill level was the same.

A surge of fury emanated from the pompous jackass. Darkened emotions closed in from all around as the guards and onlookers stepped in closer.

His heart rate quickened. He was surrounded and outnumbered by people who obviously wanted to harm him. For whatever reason, though, they held back. Perhaps they were waiting for him to make the first move. But he was no baka.

He was no coward either. He glared challengingly at each man and woman. Outwardly, he wore the raging mask Master Jetser had taught him. Inwardly, he resisted the the instinct to run away. You can dodge and avoid, but never run, Master Jetser said.

They didn’t scare him anyway. Not really. He’d faced far, far worse.

“Someone needs to teach you a lesson, boy,” Calloway said.

“Really?” he said with sarcasm. “You think you’re capable of teaching me?” He huffed derisively.

Calloway stepped forward. “I know I am.”

Jori stood his ground and bore his eyes into the man. “If you’d like to try and express your dominance, go right ahead.”

He clenched his fists, but it wouldn’t be a fist he’d first strike with if Calloway made a move. It would be a quick kick to the groin. Then he’d use his fist in an upward thrust to the man’s chin as he doubled over.

It wouldn’t end there, though. The guards and the other onlookers inched closer. He kept his eyes on Calloway, but took in a broader view for potential weaknesses and openings from the others surrounding him. I could take them all if I wasn’t so damned small!

“I promise, the only way you’ll succeed is if all of you join in at once,” he continued. “Even then, no one will be walking away.” His voice hitched, but he hoped it still sounded intimidating.

Calloway harrumphed. “Why don’t you show us what you’ve got?”

“I’m not stupid,” he blurted.

Calloway crossed his arms. “That’s right. You know better than to start trouble.”

Jori narrowed his eyes. “I don’t start trouble. I finish it.” His heart fluttered rapidly. His body was heavy and stiff, but poised to strike at a moment’s notice.

Someone else made a derisive noise. “Your people start trouble all the time.”

Jori jerked his head and glared at the man who spoke. “I’m not the one starting it this time, though, am I?”

Once Calloway was down, he’d roll away from the man and come up beside the brute who’d just spoken, and then swipe the man’s skinny little legs out from under him. The man would fall quickly and he’d elbow him in the throat as hard as he could. Then he’d roll to his feet and swing his arm into the gut of the next person who got close to him.

Calloway stepped forward again. Jori snapped his head back to him. His body bristled in anticipation.

The raging storm of malice surrounding him was suddenly cut through by another emotion. “You all have got to be kidding me,” a woman’s voice said. “You can’t seriously be thinking about ganging up on this boy.”

“He’s the spawn of a demon,” Calloway said.

“I don’t care. This is stupid,” she said as she pushed her way through the crowd to Jori’s side.

Jori’s mouth fell open and he quickly shut it. He glanced around with uncertainty. A part of him wanted to be offended at her interference, but another part of him was relieved.

“You don’t know who he is,” one of his guards said.

“I know very well who he is,” the woman snapped. Her face was red. She looked angry, but Jori sensed she was also astounded and disgusted. “I also know that you’re no better than his father if you’re all standing here with the intent of hurting a child.” She made a big gesture with her arm. “All of you, every single one of you, ought to be ashamed of yourselves.”

To his surprise, the crowd stepped back. He could still feel their anger, but he also felt shame in a few of them.

The group slowly disbursed. One by one, they turned away, leaving him standing there with the woman acting as a personal guard.

Soon, everyone except his four guards and Calloway had gone.

“Saved by a woman,” Calloway said with an ugly twist of his mouth.

“Yes, you were,” he managed to reply.

Calloway’s hate seethed, but said nothing more. The man gave both he and the woman a snide look and turned away.

Jori slowed his breath. His skin began to tingle as the adrenaline slowly wore off. It was over… For now.

 

I’d love to hear some constructive criticism. Please leave a comment below. Praise would be most welcome as well.

(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright May, 2016 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.