Archive for August, 2016

The Kavakian Empire Part One Chapter 28 – Revised

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised, The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2016 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part One – Starfire Dragons (provisional title)

Chapter 28 – Revised

(This is a new chapter, one that’s not in the unrevised part one version of my science fiction story. The first part was added to give more insight to how Jori feels about his brother nearly being murdered. The second part was added to connect Calloway with the visiting strangers. Let me know what you think in the comments below.)

The comforting warmth of Terk’s hand in his was countered by its lifelessness. Please, Terk. You can pull through this. Jori clenched his jaw to keep the rising tide of tears at bay. The burning sensation in his sinuses came in an occasional wave, threatening to overwhelm him if he dwelled too long on the state of his brother. He breathed steadily, like Master Rivochi had taught him, and the sensation receded again.

He squeezed his brother’s limp hand, hoping against hope the gesture would be returned. But it wasn’t going to happen. Not now. Not while Terk was still in a coma.

He could only sense a vague feeling of his brother’s life force. He might have woken up already if it wasn’t for that damned medic. But there was no change—not positive change anyway. Terk had lost weight from laying there so long. He looked thinner now and his skin was a sickly grey. Come on, Terk. Please wake up. I need you.

J.D.’s kindness was a comfort, even now as the commander sat awkwardly in the chair breathing softly as he slept. This man had stayed with him here in Terk’s room all night and for most of the day, and was the only one he could truly trust in this cage of blackbeasts.

A dull ache from sitting had set in from his behind and up his back to his shoulders. He dared not leave here and entrust his brother’s safety to any of these people again. Only Dr. Jerom and Dr. Gregson were allowed to tend to him now. And only J.D. and two security officers J.D. said he trusted were allowed inside Terk’s room. He’d sent two of the outside guards away earlier because their hatred was so strong they were influencing his own emotions.

He hadn’t sensed that person he’d felt the other day again, the one who’d made him feel like he was being hunted. Whoever it was, it wasn’t the same one as the medic who tried to kill Terk. They were probably still around somewhere, waiting to attack, waiting until he and his brother were more vulnerable.

A fiery heat swelled in his chest. If Terk died, he’d make these people pay. One way or another, he would. Why in the hell have I been so compliant all this time? He’d been behaving himself. He hadn’t made any trouble. And yet, here Terk was, still in a coma after ten days, all because of this Alliance man.

The bastard couldn’t take on his brother awake, so he had to do it while he was helpless. Koshinuke. Coward. How can anyone murder someone so defenseless?

The fire in his chest suddenly turned cold. Gereva. I killed those people. The image of a young girl popped into his head. He wasn’t sure what he’d expected when he stepped onto that space station. Dead warriors, perhaps. But not the old man with his head taken nearly clean off by a shard of flying metal. Not the woman with the bottom half of her torso missing. Not the woman clutching the infant that had been crushed to death when the blast threw them against a wall. And not the little girl with dead eyes—the little girl who was about the same age as he.

Nausea rolled in his stomach. His mouth watered. He clenched his jaw and breathed deeply through his nostrils to keep from heaving. He squinted his eyes, hoping the image of the little girl would go away. But it didn’t. That little girl could have been the medic’s daughter for all he knew.

We didn’t mean to, dammit. Terk doesn’t deserve to die.

The wave of burning tears threatened again. He clenched his fists. Breathe.

The sensation slowly faded. He hadn’t been able to hold it in back then, though. His father had beaten him for it, but the physical pain was nothing compared to the mental torment he relived nearly every night for a month afterward. The nightmares still plagued him on occasion. Those little girl’s eyes still haunted him.

He tried asking why those people had to die. But asking his father had been a mistake. The man felt no sympathy for any of them. Terk had tried to mimics their father’s lack of concern, but he could tell his brother felt guilty for killing those people too.

The privacy curtain slid open. J.D. jerked awake as Doctor Jerom stepped in. The doctor smiled but the gesture didn’t touch his bloodshot eyes. The man walked with a slumped posture and there was a brief sensation of guilt mixed in with the doctor’s fatigue—probably due to his failed promise to help Terk get better.

“I have some good news,” the doctor said with a tiny spike of optimism emanating from him.

Jori straightened. “He’s going to be okay?”

Dr. Jerom patted his hand downward. “Now, now. I don’t know that yet. I’m sorry.”

A feeling of heaviness fell over him but he remained sitting up straight. “What’s the good news, then?”

“The good news is the drug our medic gave your brother had no lasting effects. It’s out of his system now.”

“What was it?” J.D. asked.

“We think it was a form of ciculata, a poisonous plant variety. How Laren got a hold of it, I don’t know. We have none here on the ship. Fortunately for your brother, it was given in small doses so it wouldn’t be picked up by our monitoring system. If the doses had continued, though, the poison would’ve caused severe and irreversible consequences and eventually death.”

A prickling sensation ran up Jori’s arms and down his back. “So its effects have been reversed, but he could still die?”

Dr. Jerom sucked in a huge breath. “Yes, the effects have been completely reversed, but your brother has suffered a severe trauma from the crash. I’d like to say he’s improving. Much of his external and internal wounds have healed. But there’s still a risk that some of them won’t heal at all. Some wounds … like brain damage … can’t be repaired, no matter how good the immune system is.”

Jori swallowed hard. His eyes watered. Terk could still wake up, but he might be brain damaged?

The heaviness nearly crushed him. If Terk awoke but had brain damage, father would kill him. Then he would start a war with the Alliance and kill more people, probably starting with innocent people like that little girl on the space station.

J.D. put a hand on Jori’s shoulder. “He’ll pull through. If he’s even half as strong as you, he’ll make it out fine.”

The tears threatened again. I’m not strong. I’m weak. Still, J.D.’s words gave him hope.

“There’s still a chance he’ll make it,” Dr. Jerom added. “I agree, your brother’s pretty strong. His immune system is one of the most efficient I’ve ever seen.”

Jori could sense the doctor’s honesty as well as his compassion. It was confusing. The hate from the medic, from Calloway, and from others on the ship was intense, but somehow the concern from Dr. Jerom and J.D. was even stronger. These two were not so bad. Captain Arden didn’t seem to be either. Perhaps it was like Master Jetser had once said, There’s good and bad in all races so judge each man individually.

Fine. So not everyone here deserved payback if Terk died.

*****

“You look stressed,” Mik Calloway said to his security partner for today’s shift.

Jack sighed. “Yeah. I just got roped by Lt. Commander Bracht.”

Oh hell. Mik suppressed the urge to swallow. Did your skinny-ass tell on me? Roped was Jack’s way of saying questioned, probably regarding the same thing the Rabnoshk warrior had grilled him on. “So what’d you say?”

“Nothing. I can’t afford to get written up.”

He suppressed a sigh of relief. That no one wanted to get in trouble for antagonizing the Tredon prince was all that kept him from getting in trouble again. Besides, the little shit deserved it and everyone knows it. Jack had been one of the security officers on duty at the time and if anyone would’ve snitched on him, it would’ve been him.

Jack’s real name was Jacques Harmel and everyone called him Jack or Jack Hammer. It was funny because this man was nothing like the huge industrial machines used in demolitions. His frame was so small, he wondered how in the heck the man had made the cut as a security officer to being with. Jack’s personality was weak, too. He was a well-known pushover. What a wonder that Bracht hadn’t caused him to spill his guts all over the warrior’s shiny black combat boots.

“Same here,” Mik replied. “I wonder how he even heard about it to begin with.”

“The little Tredon?”

“Naw. If he had said anything, he would’ve pointed us out to the commander.” His new best friend, apparently.

No, it probably wasn’t the little warmonger. It could be Felissa, since she’d interrupted all their fun. But that would’ve been stupid since her boyfriend Siven was there too. Whoever the hell it was fortunately didn’t give any names.

Mik shifted his stance. His calves ached from standing so long. At least he’d been taken off the menial work, though. Not that it was any more exciting to watch over their Chekrosian guests.

“How about that lecture he gave,” Mik said, referring to the rant from the Rabnoshk warrior about how important it was to keep the peace. As if the Tredons had any interest in peace.

Jack shook his head. “Yeah, that was a ringer.”

Mik had no idea what he meant by that word. By the context, he’d guess Jack didn’t mean laughable. Lt. Commander Bracht was such a hypocrite. The man hated Tredons as much as anyone else, but he was such an ass-kisser to the captain.

Captain Robert Arden, man of peace. What a joke. If I wasn’t for Arden, they wouldn’t be putting up with the barbaric Rabnoshk warrior to begin with—or the fucking little Tredon monsters.

He dared not say this to Jack, though. Nor to anyone else for that matter. Most of his fellow officers were oddly loyal to Bracht and the captain. Loyal to a bully and his wuss of a captain. This new commander was turning out to be a wuss as well. How in the hell did I come to serve on a ship like this to begin with? Captain Richforth would’ve tossed the spoiled little prince in a cell with nothing more than a bone to chew on.

“I don’t get it. Those two should be locked up, not pandered to,” Mik said.

“Maybe,” Jack replied. “They are just kids.”

Not you too! “Murderous little cutthroats, you mean,” he said venomously. “You saw that child take out four Grapnes. He murdered four adults in less than ten seconds.”

Jack shrugged. “Yeah. I guess you’re right.”

I know I’m right. Fucking pushover. Jack Harmel never disagreed with anyone. He was a jack hammer made of rubber.

Mik straightened up importantly as one of the Chekrosian guests came out of their room. Another came out of her room. Then another. And even the non-Chekrosian one. They all went into their captain’s quarters, the man called Derovichi. From what he’d heard, they did this every day. They all slept in their own quarters, but they mostly hung out in their leader’s room. I hope they’re plotting the deaths of those little shit-heads.

I wish there was a way I could help. He knew exactly where both of the Tredon princes were. Part of his duty, after all, was to make sure these guests here didn’t cross paths with the little Tredon monster.

He thought about slipping a word to one of the Chekrosians, but there was always another officer with him. He’d been lucky no one told on him the last time. After Bracht’s harangue, he doubted he could get away with it this time.

All it would take is one word, though. Sick bay. That’s it. The little freak had been spending a lot of time in the gym, but he was probably too afraid to now. Lately, he’d been spending most of his time in sick bay with his monstrous brother. So much so that he caught Laren trying to kill him yesterday.

The details of that incident alluded him. A dozen different stories circulated already, but not a single one of them were first-hand accounts. The only two verified facts were that Siven received a good kick in the balls and Laren was in the brig. Where the fucking little princes should be.

As far as he was concerned, Laren deserved a medal. Well, he would’ve if he’d actually succeeded.

An odd chill went through him. He rubbed his arms.

Jack shivered visibly. “The circulators must be off.”

Whatever. They stood in silence for a while. He had no interest in having a conversation with this man, especially if he was going to agree with him only to turn around and take sides with someone else later.

He stiffened again as the people from Derovichi’s room came out. He tilted his head. Funny, I don’t remember seeing this man go into the room earlier. Perhaps the man had slept in Derovichi’s room. Perhaps the two men were a couple. Gag.

Derovichi greeted them with a friendly smile, and led them all to the common area lounge.

The guests took up a table perfectly situated near the place where Mik and Jack stood guard. It was perfect because he was close enough to hear them talking. If they were up to something, he’d be the first to know. He wouldn’t tell on them, of course, unless Jack decided to. He’d hope it would open a door so he could help them.

If only I could sit and have a drink with them. But that wouldn’t be at all wise. If these men were up to something and he’d been seen socializing with them, he’d be blamed in no time.

Their conversation was dull at first. But then he heard someone mention the word, Tredon. He stiffened and turned his head slightly so he could listen in better.

“It was a bad idea coming this close to Tredon territory. It’s a good thing this Alliance ship came to our rescue,” one of the Chekrosian’s said.

Subtle. Very subtle. He suppressed a smile. He found it difficult to believe these people didn’t know their own comrades had been taken by Tredons and sold into slavery just a short time back.

The talking went on. Finally, Derovichi turned to Mik and Jack. “You two work in this part of space. Are the stories we’ve heard about the Tredons true?”

Mik told them about his personal experience from a few years back. Jack actually told them about the Tredon child shooting and killing four men in cold blood. He didn’t tell them the child was now on board this ship, though, of course. Slick. Mik followed Jack’s lead and also told them about Laren’s family without actually mentioning Laren’s name or that he nearly succeeded in killing the elder Tredon prince while he lay in sick bay in a coma. If only I could give them that little piece of information.

The strangers invited Mik and Jack to drink. He wanted to say yes, but had to decline.

“It’s not allowed,” Jack said.

“After you’re off-duty, then,” Derovichi replied.

Mik looked at Jack and Jack looked back. It was obvious the hammer wanted to. I so wish I could! But I can’t risk the implications it could cause.

“I’d really love to,” Jack said. “But I’m afraid it would be a conflict of interest.”

Smart way of putting it.

Derovichi tilted his head. “A conflict of interest?”

“Sorry. I’m afraid I can’t explain,” Jack replied.

Mik gave Derovichi a look he hoped held some hidden meaning. “Lt. Harmel right. It’s a shame, though, because I bet we have a lot in common.”

 

 

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 June, 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 Part One Chapter 27 – Revised

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised, The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2016 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part One – Starfire Dragons (provisional title)

Chapter 27 – Revised

(This is also a rewrite from the unrevised version. It also hasn’t changed much. But even if you’ve already read the unrevised version, you really should still read this revised one. And if you haven’t read either version, you should probably start out by reading chapter 1 of the revised version, which was posted in January 2016.)

Jori’s eyes burned angrily.

“Jori, I’m really sorry about what just happened,” J.D. said with sincerity. “You know I’m telling the truth.”

“If I hadn’t been here, that man might have killed my brother,” Jori said heatedly through clenched teeth.

“I know. I’m sorry, I really am,” he replied. “I know some of us don’t like the Tredons, but I didn’t expect anyone to take things so far.”

“How can I trust you now? How can I trust anyone? Who will try to kill my brother next? Will it be you?”

“That’s not fair, Jori,”J.D. replied with a hint of rebuke. “I think you know I don’t condone this. But you’re right. I messed up. I completely underestimated my crew.” He sighed and rubbed his brow, then ran his hand down to his chin. “I guess the hate of some runs deeper than I imagined,” he said out loud but more to himself.

Jori looked away. “Why don’t you hate me?” he said in a softer tone.

“What?” The boy’s abrupt change in tone threw him off. “Why would I hate you?”

The sound of Lt. Addams coughing diverted his attention. The lieutenant had already left the little room, along with the other officers. And if those other officers were taking Laren to the brig, then it meant Addams was the only guard still here.

“Hold on,” he said to Jori, and then left the room.

Addams was sitting on an exam table while a medic did a body scan.

“Lieutenant,” he said to the man. “Are you alright?”

Addams nodded.

“He’s going to be fine, Sir,” the medic replied.

“Has someone alerted the captain?” he asked Addams.

“Yes, Sir.” The man’s voice croaked from the pain he was obviously feeling. “He’s on his way here now

“Good. Thank you.”

Dr. Jerom approached.

The medic explained Addams’s symptoms and the medication he planned on giving. Dr. Jerom nodded his approval.

“Doctor,” J.D. said before the man could leave. “I need you to analyze this.” He handed the hypospray over. “I was told it contained hippoceretine, but I don’t think it’s what’s in it. I think it might be something that caused the boy to go into convulsions the other day.”

Dr. Jerom’s eyes widened. “Why? Who in the universe would do that?”

He swallowed down the lump in his throat. “I think Laren has a very serious grudge against the Tredons. They killed his wife and child after all.”

Dr. Jerom’s arched brows drew together and light brown eyes darkened. “I knew about this, which was why I wasn’t letting him tend to the patient.”

“Was security made aware that he wasn’t allowed?”

The doctor’s face paled. “I didn’t think to tell them, Commander. I’m sorry. I had no idea he’d do something like this. None at all.”

J.D. nodded in understanding. Dr. Jerom was no security officer. He had no reason to think like one. But if only it had occurred to him. Then they wouldn’t be in this mess right now.

He shook his head to himself and went back into the room with Jori and his brother.

Jori no longer looked angry. But instead of having the usual blank look, the boy’s face had a haunted appearance to it. He was looking down at nothing on the floor and his normally stiff posture was slumped.

“This wasn’t your fault, you know,” J.D. said, assuming the boy was feeling guilty for what nearly happened to his brother. It was only natural to take blame, even when it was obvious others were at fault.

“Yes it was,” Jori replied quietly.

J.D. cocked his head. “You were there? You were there at Gereva?” he guessed.

Jori hesitated. He looked down at his brother, then back to the floor again. He fidgeted with his hands for a few moments before finally meeting J.D.’s eyes. “I killed them. I killed that man’s family.” The boy swallowed hard and looked away guiltily again.

His chest tightened. “What? How?”

Jori, still casting his eyes down, spoke in a low voice. “It was three years ago. My father directed an aerial battle over a small space station called Gereva. He allowed my brother and I watch. At some point he asked us if we’d like to help by firing torpedoes. He’d never allowed us to participate in a real battle before so we eagerly agreed. We . . .”

His shock turned into dread. He put a comforting hand on Jori’s shoulder and knelt down so he could look into the boy’s watering eyes. “It wasn’t your fault,” he said.

“It was,” Jori replied. Tears began to fall down his reddening cheeks. “We had fun doing it, too. We even had a competition to see who could make the biggest explosion.”

He swallowed down the hard lump in his throat. “Oh, Jori,” he said sadly. “You didn’t know what you were doing.”

Jori shook his head as if to agree. “We learned, though. After our soldiers secured the space station, our father took us inside. There were so many people, women, chi—” Jori suppressed a sob.

J.D. moved to comfort him, but Jori put up his hand to hold him back. “I could feel the ones who were still alive,” the boy continued. “But they didn’t get to live for long.”

Saliva welled up in his mouth. He swallowed it down, along with the urge to vomit. “You didn’t know, Jori.” That bastard! What kind of sick monster teaches his children to murder innocent people and then takes them down to look at the gored bodies? “Your father did this, not you.”

“I’m a criminal.” A look of earnestness and guilt filled the boy’s eyes. “You should take me into custody and let me answer for my crime.”

“You’re not a criminal,” he replied as he rubbed Jori’s arm consolingly. “You couldn’t have understood what you were doing. I know you’re really mature for your age, but you are still naive in many ways.”

He remembered how he was when he was about Jori’s age. The only thought he may have given to consequences was on how his mother and father would lecture him if he got caught. Jori couldn’t have been more than seven years old at the time. He couldn’t have fully comprehended what destroying that space station meant. Even Rear Admiral Zimmer with all his experience had seemed blind to the real consequences of firing on what appeared to be nothing more than a hunk of metal.

“I understood when we walked through the station,” Jori replied. He looked back down to the floor.

“But you didn’t understand before.”

“No. But I should have. I should have known.” The boy glanced up with pleading eyes.

“I don’t think you could have known. Not really. But you know now, don’t you?”

Jori nodded and looked back downward.

“You came to understand the consequences of such actions and you won’t want to do it again, right?”

“No. I won’t want to. But my father will want me to. I may not have a choice.” The boy’s face looked pained.

He swallowed hard. “Someday you will. And then you can make better choices.”

Jori nodded again.

He put his arm around Jori’s shoulder and pulled him into a hug. The boy didn’t resist.

“It’s all right,” he whispered close to the boy’s ear. “Everything will be all right.”

A wave of heat washed over him. The emperor had manipulated this innocent boy. Looking down at him now, it was obvious Jori knew he’d done something terribly wrong. And it was obvious he regretted it. But would he carry what he learned from the experience to adulthood or would he harden himself against it and follow his father’s footsteps?

*****

Jori was wiping his eyes when Doctor Jerom approached the doorway and motioned for J.D. to come talk to him.

He gave Jori a comforting pat on the shoulder, and then followed the man out to where Captain Arden stood waiting on the other side of the room.

“How’s the child taking this?” the captain asked.

“He was angry, but I think he’s calmed down now,” he replied.

“That’s good,” he said. “What happened?”

He explained what had occurred with Laren, including Laren’s reluctance to hand over the hypospray and the series of following actions. Dr. Jerom added that Laren wasn’t even allowed to tend to the boy to begin with.

“How did Jori know?” the captain asked.

“He can sense emotions.”

“He’s a reader?” Captain Arden’s eyes widened.

“Not like Liam,” he said almost defensively. He thought he had included this information in one of his reports, but must have forgotten. “Jori says he can only sense the emotions others project. His ability isn’t strong enough to classify him as an actual reader.”

One of the captain’s eyebrows went up. “I see,” the man replied in a tone suggesting they would discuss this later. “So he sensed Laren was up to something?”

“Yes,” he replied. “Was he? Was Laren up to something?” he asked, turning to the doctor.

“I’m not sure what’s in the hypospray yet,” Doctor Jerom said. “But whatever it is, it certainly isn’t hippoceretine.”

His gut churned. “So Laren was trying to harm the boy.” Darn it. He didn’t want to believe Laren would do such a thing. Now, he had no choice but to believe it.

“It appears so,” the captain said. His mouth turned downward.

“I think,” Doctor Jerom said, “Laren has tried this before.”

“When the boy nearly died the other day,” he said.

Doctor Jerom nodded. “If you don’t mind, Captain, I’d like to run a few more tests.”

“Certainly, Doctor,” the captain replied. “Commander, I’d like to apologize to the child.”

“Yes, Sir,” he said and led the captain back to the room where the next shift of guards now stood.

He pulled the curtain open. Jori stood from his brother’s bedside. The boy took on his usual formal posture with his hands clasped behind him and his shoulders pulled back. He quickly masked his face so it reflected no emotion, but his eyes were still a little red around the rims from crying.

“Jori,” the captain greeted. “I’m so very sorry about what just happened. I assure you I will do everything I can to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

“I’m sure you know it isn’t naivety that makes me believe you, Captain,” Jori said formally.

“Commander Hapker told me of your ability,” the captain replied.

“Good,” Jori said tersely. His dark eyes were on fire. “Because if I didn’t know you were telling the truth about this incident, if I didn’t believe you truly meant to protect my brother, this conversation would be going very differently.” The boy cocked an eyebrow.

J.D.’s mouth fell open. Things had been going so well between the two of them, he’d forgotten how blunt the boy could be.

The captain didn’t seem the least bit ruffled by Jori’s tone or the threatening look. “I understand, Swent Prince. I’m glad you know I am telling the truth. And I hope you can tell how much I truly mean it when I say I want your brother to fully recover.”

Jori’s dark expression seemed to soften. He made a sharp nod.

An awkward silence hung for a moment before the captain finally excused himself and left.

J.D. crossed his arms and gave the boy what he hoped was a reproving look. “You could have been a little more polite to him, you know. It wasn’t his fault.”

“He’s the captain, isn’t he?” Jori said, not really asking. “His fault or not, this is his responsibility.”

“And he is taking responsibility,” he replied with a hint of sternness.

“I know.” Jori frowned. The anger was gone from his eyes. “Look, J.D. I know you and I have come to a better understanding of one another. But I still need to keep my guard up. I can’t afford to keep exposing my weaknesses.”

“What do you mean?”

“You know what I mean.” The boy’s frown deepened.

His crying? “Being upset about your brother is not a weakness.”

Jori pushed back his shoulders and his face went back to his typical emotionless look. “Such sentiment is weakness. Emotion is weakness.”

“Is this what your father tells you?”

“Yes. And Master Jetser too.”

“They probably mean you should control your emotions, not eliminate them. I can see how hiding your emotions can be important in some situations. But having emotions is not a weakness unless you lose control of them or let them control you.”

“Maybe. But you know how I feel about my brother. If you wanted to, you could use my sentiment against me.”

“There are people in this world who would do such a thing. But it doesn’t make you weak. Having compassion for others is a good thing. If you don’t, if you don’t care, then you’re just a bully.”

“I’m supposed to be a bully. It’s what being a Kavak is all about,” he said with a hint of sarcasm in his tone.

“If this is what your father tells you, I think he’s wrong. There are better ways to lead than to bully people.”

“Maybe,” Jori replied. “But if you weren’t the man you are, if I were on another ship, perhaps, my emotions would have made me vulnerable.”

“Unfortunately, that’s quite possible. But think about this. Your sentiment for your brother just saved his life. And I’d be willing to bet your brother would do the same for you. Together, you and your brother are stronger because of your emotions.”

Jori cocked his head. “Maybe.”

He clapped Jori’s shoulder and smiled. “You know I’m telling the truth.”

The boy frowned. “Just because you believe it’s true doesn’t’ mean it is.”

He broadened his smile. “Of course it does.”

Jori gave him a dubious look but didn’t argue.

 

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 June, 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 26 – Revised

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised, The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2016 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part One – Starfire Dragons (provisional title)

Chapter 26 – Revised

(If you’ve read the unrevised version, this is a rewrite of one of those chapters. It has changed slightly, but not by much. If you haven’t read the unrevised version, don’t. Just read the revised version of this science fiction story starting with chapter 1, posted in January 2016.)

J.D. jerked awake and a twinge burned in his neck from sleeping in the medic-room chair.

“What is that?” Jori demanded the medic standing on the other side of Terk’s bed with a hypospray.

“It’s hippoceretine to help him heal,” the medic replied.

Jori gave the man a penetrating look. Is he trying to read the medic’s thoughts?

“It’s the same injection we’ve been giving your brother every two hours,” the medic replied.

“What’s wrong?” he asked Jori. His brother had been getting injections every two hours. The boy knew this. But the intensity of Jori’s eyes put him on edge.

“Let me see,” Jori said as he stood up and made his way around the bed to where the medic stood.

The medic took a step back and held the hypospray out of Jori’s reach. “No.”

J.D.’s spine shivered at the darkness in the man’s eyes.

“Give it to me,” Jori demanded.

The medic shrunk back even further. His face twisted hatefully. “No!”

The look combined with the medic’s adamant tone made his stomach knot. “Let him see it,” he said as he held out his hand. What’s his name again? Lelan? Loren? Logan?

The medic made a dismissive sound. “It’s nothing, Sir,” he said. “It’s just hippoceretine.”

“He’s lying,” Jori said.

“Why would I lie?” the medic replied.

Why would either of you lie? Something had Jori worked up. And the boy had said he could tell whether others were being truthful or not.

He squinted his eyes and scrutinized the man. Laren. That’s his name. Laren’s eyes, normally hooded and narrow, were wide now. And there was perspiration on his upper lip.

“Let him see it,” he said more forcefully.

“You really want me to hand over this drug to a child?” Laren asked with mock incredulity.

“I gave you a direct order, Laren. Give it to him now.”

“Sir, it’s just hippoceretine,” Laren said again.

Laren’s reluctance and obvious nervousness convinced him something was wrong. But before he could react, Jori used his brother’s bedside to hoist himself up and snag the hypospray out of Laren’s hand.

Laren reacted by trying to grab it back, but Jori quickly backed up and J.D. rushed forward.

“I gave you a direct order, Laren,” he shouted in the man’s face.

Laren’s eyes widened and his face paled.

“Let me go!” Jori shouted.

He turned to see two security officers trying to take Jori into custody. One man, Lt. Addams, grabbed ahold of both Jori’s arms and tried to pin them back. The hold must not have been strong enough because the boy rammed his elbow down into Addams’ groin. When Addams doubled over, Jori twisted away. The other officer moved to go after him, but J.D. stepped in his way.

“Leave him be,” he ordered.

“Sir!” the red-faced officer said. “Look what he did to Siven.”

He glanced down in the direction the officer pointed. Lt. Addams was on all fours gagging. The thought of the pain he was suffering brought a phantom cramping sensation to his own groin, but the man would be fine soon enough.

“What the hell were you trying to grab him for anyway?”

“Sir?” the officer said. His face twisted in apparent confusion. “He attacked him.”

“He didn’t attack. He just took something from him. It’s not the boy you should be worried about. Take Laren into custody.”

The officer’s mouth fell open. “Wha—“

Laren made a dash to grab the hypospray that was now in the officer’s hand. Before he had a chance to react, Jori leapt from a chair and kicked the medic’s hand upward, making him miss it.

J.D. grabbed the back of Laren’s shirt and pulled him back. “Take him into custody, now,” he demanded the still-standing officer. “And give me the hypospray.”

The officer complied. Laren began to resist. Two other officers came and managed to get the man’s arms restrained.

“I know who he is,” the medic shouted. “He’s a monster. They both are!”

Laren jerked away from the officers’ grip and lunged at Jori. The boy faced him with a grim look. He stood in a defensive stance with his fists up.

Fortunately, one of the officers grabbed Laren again before he got too close.

“Your father killed my family!” the medic said to Jori. “Gereva. Do you remember Gereva? My wife and daughter were killed because of him!”

Laren continued shouting as the officers took him away.

J.D. turned to Jori. He was still in the same stance, but his fists were at his side and his face was white.

“You alright?” he said.

Jori nodded. Then his face suddenly darkened. “One of your men just tried to kill my brother,” he said venomously between clenched teeth. “You told me you were going to help him, not kill him!”

J.D. felt the blood rush from his face. There was no doubt in his mind what Laren had been up to. “Oh, Jori. I’m so sorry. This wasn’t supposed to happen.”

The boy’s face was red now. His lips curled and he bared his teeth. “You expect me to believe that? My brother almost died because of you! He could have been better by now if it wasn’t for you!”

He swallowed down the lump in his throat. “I’m really sorry, Jori. I really am.”

“Keep your damned sympathy!”

He sighed heavily. One step forward. Two gigantic leaps back. It didn’t help that the boy had a right to be angry.

What was Laren thinking?

Ah, yes. His family. What a mess this all is.

 

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 June, 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 25 – Revised

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised, The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 6, 2016 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part One – Starfire Dragons (provisional title)

Chapter 25 – Revised

(This is the rewrite of a chapter already written. Some things have changed, and hopefully have changed for the better. Please read on and let me know what you think in comments. If you’re reading this blog for the first time, you should check out the previous chapters of my science fiction story first. Scroll down or find what you need from the column on the right.)

J.D. left Bracht’s meeting with the security officers with a feeling that he’d just been strung through a singularity. The Rabnoshk warrior really had a way of lecturing. It seemed to have left everyone there with the same feeling. None of the departing security officers spoke as they hastily returned to their duties.

He, himself, had only been there as an observer. But the quake of the Rabnoshk warrior’s voice tremored down to the core of his bones. The shame, disappointment, and anger the warrior had expressed left even him feeling guilty.

It was a truly impressive experience. His respect for the man grew by the day. However boorishly Bracht had behaved towards the boy, the man was proving to be much more compelling. Not at all the one-dimensional brute I had first assumed.

“Hey, Jori,” he said to the boy as he entered the elder prince’s room in sick bay.

Jori looked up and made a slight nod.

“Is he any better?”

Jori shook his head.

He pulled up one of the chairs and sat down beside him. Jori didn’t seem to be in the mood to talk, so they sat in silence for some time.

The boy hardly moved as he sat hunched over his brother’s bed. This posture was very unlike his usual stiff and formal bearing. He couldn’t be sure if it was because the boy was becoming more relaxed with him around or if he was depressed. Maybe a little of both.

Jori sat up with a slight jerk. “What’s wrong with the security officers?” His head tilted in the direction where the officers stood on the other side of the privacy curtain.

Wrong? “Oh, you mean how they’re being a little more mindful?” He smiled. It struck him as funny that the boy could sense the difference Bracht’s speech had made in them.

“I was going to say tense, but I suppose mindful is a good description,” Jori replied. “So why are they more mindful?”

“Well, we found out about what happened in the gym the other day.”

Jori’s brow furrowed. “So?”

“So… Their behavior was way out of line. Why didn’t you tell me about it?”

The boy shrugged. “Why would I? It’s nothing I can’t handle.”

“Maybe. But you don’t have to handle alone, you know. It shouldn’t have happened. What they did was wrong. Very wrong.”

“Why? After everything my father’s done, they have a good reason to hate me.” The boy’s face looked truly perplexed.

“Every person should be judged for themselves. You can’t be blamed for your father’s actions.”

“Maybe that’s true for an ordinary person. But I’m a prince. My entire reputation is built upon my father’s.”

He has a point. A small one, an unpleasant one, but a valid one. “You’re still your own person, Jori. Maybe you’ll need your father’s authority, but you don’t have to be like him.”

“In some ways I do.”

Some ways, as in being the best fighter and the best strategist by practicing three hours a day for each? Yeah, I see why it’s necessary. Tredon was a very dangerous place. He put his hand on Jori’s shoulder. “Perhaps in some ways. But it still doesn’t give anyone the right to gang up on you like our officers did.”

“It was cowardly.”

“Yes, it most definitely was. Tell me if it happens again, alright? I don’t think they have a good reason to hate you at all.”

Jori raised one eyebrow, as though in skepticism.

“I mean it,” he said with a smile. “You know I do.”

Jori scowled. “Yes, but I don’t understand why. I’ve been nothing but a brat since I arrived.”

True enough, but… “I can understand, though. You’re under a lot of stress.”

“That is no excuse,” Jori said. “I am quite capable of controlling my emotions.”

That’s an understatement. He was only just beginning to see the boy show more than just anger. “So I’ve noticed. Rather unusual for one your age.”

“Master Jetser taught us the importance.”

“Master Jetser, huh?” So not his father. “What else does he teach?” he asked carefully. Jori usually got defensive when he asked questions. But the boy didn’t seem quite as defensive today.

“Most all of our fighting techniques, except strategy and aerial combat.”

“Hmm. He must be a good teacher. I’ve seen your techniques in the gymnasium. Pretty impressive.”

“Thanks,” Jori replied with a shrug. “I still have a long way to go.”

“I bet when you grow into your strength, you’ll be quite adept.” He pat Jori on the shoulder again. It felt good to have the boy finally opening up to him.

“I have to be more than just adept. Terk and I have to be the best. Otherwise we will not be fit to lead.”

“Sounds like a lot of pressure,” he replied. And no fun. Boys his age should have at least a little fun. But Jori’s world was a lot different than his own. Climbing trees, playing ball, and swimming was probably frowned upon where he was from, unless it had some sort of combat applications. Sad.

“Despite what many may think, being a prince doesn’t mean living a life of privilege. It means I have a lot to live up to.”

“That’s rather Insightful.” I still can’t believe he’s only ten. “I’ve met a few nobles and dignitaries who think otherwise.”

“Then they’re fools.”

“Yeah, they were.” He shrugged. Much less mature, that’s for sure.

He looked down at the peaceful face of the other prince. How much are these two alike? Will this boy have Jori’s same level of maturity? Will he be as cooperative as his brother? Or will I have an angry warrior on my hands when he wakes up?

“Does this pressure to be the best ever pit you and your brother against one another?” he asked. Lt. Stein had said something about other Kavakian princes killing one another.

“It could, but it won’t” Jori’s tone sounded confident. “Sure, we compete. But we also try to complement one another’s abilities. We each have our strengths and weaknesses.”

He nodded thoughtfully. If Jori’s strength is combat and strategy, what’s his brother’s? Maybe the older prince wouldn’t be so bad. Then again, Jori didn’t seem to be very aggressive. Did this mean Terk was?

Only time will tell. For now, the elder prince looked peaceful. At first, he’d hoped this boy would live so as not to provoke a war with the Tredons. But now, he hoped he’d live for Jori’s sake. Perhaps other Kavakian princes had been rivals, but Jori’s love for his brother was evident. I only hope his brother cares for him as much in return.

“He sounds like a good brother.”

“He is.” Jori’s face fell, like a wave of sadness had come over him.

He squeezed Jori’s shoulder affectionately. Jori didn’t react, not like the day before when he cried in his arms. But he didn’t reject it either. Things were going really well between them.

They said nothing for a while. After the flood of information Jori had voluntarily shared with him, he didn’t want to push it.

After some time, Jori turned to him.

“I am confused about something,” the boy said.

“Yes?”

“The captain doesn’t seem like a warrior, but everyone here does what he says. How does that work?”

Good question. When he was Jori’s age, he’d considered authority as just a given. It wasn’t until he’d taken a class on leadership at the P.A. institute that he really understood the complexity behind it. And poor Jori probably only knew one aspect of it. “There’s a lot more to leadership than just being able to force people to do what you want.”

“Like what?”

“Like trust. A good leader doesn’t just order people around. He takes an interest in the people who serve him. He respects them. And he cares for their well-being. In return, his followers don’t just give him their obedience. They give him their loyalty because they trust he will look out for them.”

Jori nodded thoughtfully. “Are you loyal to Captain Arden?”

He took a moment to reply. “Yes. Yes, I am.”

“Why the hesitation?” Jori asked.

He smiled. The boy doesn’t miss a thing. “He hasn’t been my commanding officer for long. But the more I get to know him, the more I respect him.”

“You’ve had commanding officers you didn’t respect before?” The boy’s face twisted into a look of curiosity.

“Oh, most definitely.” Zimmer. A hard feeling formed in his gut.

“But you obeyed them anyway, yes?”

“Most of the time, but …”

“But?”

He hesitated.

Jori looked at him expectantly.

He’s not going to let it go. Well, it’s only fair, I suppose.

He stroked his chin. Where to begin? “We are expected to always obey our commanding officer. It is ingrained in us from the very first day we enter the institute. So that’s what I do, even when I don’t like the orders I am given. But,” he hesitated. He hadn’t really discussed the Kimpke incident with anyone other than his parents. Sure, it had recently come up between him and the captain, but they didn’t really discuss it. Not fully, anyway.

“But,” he continued, “when I was ordered to fire upon a vessel that I knew had innocent people on it, I refused. I was the tactical officer on board another ship under the command of a rear admiral. The ship in question was harboring a dangerous criminal, Jokko Kimpke. The rear admiral had been pursuing this man relentlessly for months. And when he finally caught up to him, he refused to be deterred by the other vessel’s refusal to give Kimpke up. We tried many techniques to get the ship to surrender Kimpke, but nothing worked. The rear admiral was so angry that he finally ordered me to open fire. Not only did I disobey, but I also temporarily disabled the torpedoes. Kimpke got away.”

Jori, who had always seemed so careful about masking his emotions, looked obviously riveted now with his eyes wide and his mouth hanging open. “What did they do to you as punishment?” the boy asked. “You can only guess what my father would have done if someone had disobeyed him like that.”

“Oh, I can imagine,” he replied. “My punishment was harsh, but nothing like that. I was put in the brig. The rear admiral charged me with willful insubordination. I was nearly convicted of the crime. But luckily the court determined that the rear admiral’s order was unlawful and I was acquitted.”

“So the court ranks above the rear admiral?” he asked, his tone a pitched higher.

“Only when it comes to judging crimes,” he replied. “The court system is a way of applying checks and balances so the authorities overstep their directive.”

“We don’t have anything like that.” The boy shook his head in seeming dismay.

“This means when you and your brother come to be in charge, you’ll have to be mindful of the fact that just because you can do whatever you want, doesn’t mean you should.”

Jori nodded in agreement, but didn’t offer anything more. He didn’t want to instigate an argument about the injustice of the Tredon government, so he left it at that.

*****

He couldn’t imagine anyone having power over his father like that. The closest thing his father had to keep him from doing whatever he wanted was with the way some lords, especially Lord Falcorn, presented a subtle threat of rebellion if he crossed a line.

Lords had rebelled before, and paid for it with their lives and the lives of their families, but Lord Falcorn was too powerful. His father couldn’t afford for the man to oppose him.

Not yet, anyway. Things could change when he and Terk got home and gave him the information about the scientists.

A wave of guilt washed over him. It wasn’t just because Lord Falcorn was his uncle. He looked over at J.D. The man smiled warmly and he could feel the genuine empathy emanating from him. His father despised men like this. Emotion is weakness. Sentiment is weakness, he always said. He’d kill J.D. without mercy if the opportunity arose. And if his father got what he wanted from those scientists, the opportunity just might come.

Why should I care? I’m a Tredon prince and I have obligations. He’s my enemy. My sentiment for him is a weakness. But when it came to suppressing his emotions, he wasn’t as adept as his brother. Terk never cried about anything—not ever.

At least Jori never cried when his father punished him. He’d been taught to endure physical pain. But crying from sadness was harder to suppress. That moment when Terk almost died, he sensed J.D.’s compassion and his own emotions broke into a flood. He should’ve been ashamed for allowing it to happen. He’d been taught better.

But he wasn’t ashamed. A warmth radiated from J.D.’s hand on his shoulder. He was safe here with this man. And he was no longer alone.

An uneasy feeling suddenly welled up and a pricking sensation crept up his arms and spine. Someone was intent on something in a very dangerous way. Whoever it was felt the same way a blackbeast felt as it hunted.

Since he couldn’t see through the privacy curtain, he opened his senses. The person wasn’t someone he had sensed before, at least he didn’t think so. Everyone had a different scent of sorts about them, but it wasn’t always easy for him to tell the difference unless he’d been around the person a few times before.

A sense of satisfaction arose from the person. They were looking his way now. He didn’t know how he knew this, but the crawling feeling in his stomach made him feel like eyes were boring into him—like he was their prey.

He held his breath. His body stiffened in anticipation.

But the person didn’t come. Their sense of satisfaction, now satisfied, diminished. Then whoever it was left. He followed them with his mind, but soon lost track as the now subdued emotions mingled in with the others crewmembers.

“What’s wrong?” J.D. asked a little too late.

He let the tension in his shoulders go. They were gone. “Nothing.” Or at least I hope it was nothing.

 

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.