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StarFire Dragons Chapter 1 Rewrite #3

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised 3, The Dragon Spawn Chronicles with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2016 by Dawn Ross

Book Cover for StarFire Dragons

StarFire Dragons

Book One of The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera Saga by Dawn Ross

Note from author: As you may recall from last week’s post, there were a lot of great tips for improvements on this chapter. Some of it was conflicting, but I think I’ve got it figured out. Read chapter 1 of this sci-fi story again and tell me what you think. I’ve got to get this right before publishing so I need all the feedback I can get. Thanks!

 

Chapter 1

The front viewscreen of the bridge displayed an expansive stretch of deep black dotted with an array of shimmering constellations. The universe. So empty yet so full at the same time.

A heaviness settled deep within J.D.’s chest. In a way, the vastness of space reminded him of the forests of his home world. But instead of trees, there were stars. And where the trees sheltered a variety of nature’s creatures, the stars housed a multitude of different human cultures.

Back home, the trees brought serenity. Out here, there was nothing but discord.

Commander J.D. Hapker pushed down the hollowness rising within. There was a time when the prospect of visiting different worlds had made his heart soar. Though every terraformed world was outfitted with Earthen flora and fauna, each had developed their own unique aspects. A range of different landscapes promised a lifetime of adventure. And every human culture had evolved, or devolved, into new and fascinating facets of living.

The Kimpke incident had changed his perspective. The exuberance of his youth was gone, replaced with a disillusionment as depressing as the blackness that surrounded him.

J.D. sucked in his breath, letting his expanding lungs stretch his back. There was no use thinking about this. He stood up and stepped off the central platform down to the half-moon section of work stations located at the front of the bridge. A few officers glanced at him without so much as a head nod or smile. They could have been intent on their work, but J.D. couldn’t help but feel the weight of their judgement. They knew about Kimpke. Everyone knew.

It was a mistake coming here. He should have declined the commission to serve on the Odyssey. He should have just resigned and gone back home. Heck, he probably never should have joined the Prontaean Alliance Fleet to begin with. His father was right. The galaxy wasn’t ready for the enlightened view of a Pholan Protector.

“Sir,” The communications officer’s tone struck through the lull of the starship bridge. “We’re getting a distress signal from outside the Hellana system.”

J.D.’s pensiveness cleared away as though he were coming out of the gloominess of a nebula. He sat back down in the commander’s chair and focused on the new information scrolling across the bottom of the viewscreen.

“From who?” His voice came out louder than intended and with an edge of tension to it. After thirty days of border patrol with absolutely no activity, he’d been hoping it would remain this way. Despite having a background in strategy and combat, the last thing he wanted was to engage in more violence.

Lt. Brenson held the side of his half-bald head into the earpiece designed specifically for the unique shape of his ears. “It’s coming from a Tredon ship, Sir.”

J.D.’s skin went cold and his gut twisted. The Tredons. Just the ones he’d been hoping never to meet. They were a technologically advanced race of humans but with the barbaric mentality and desire for domination of the ancient Earthen Huns. “It’s a trap. It’s got to be.”

He tapped the comm on his console. “Captain, you’re needed on the bridge.” Again. “Lt. Commander Bracht, to the bridge.”

Lt. Brenson turned to him with a tilted head and wrinkled forehead. “Sir, the signal translation says they’re being pursued by the Grapnes.”

J.D. pulled back. “Grapnes? Are you sure?”

Brenson’s brows went up. “Yes, Sir. Quite sure, Sir.”

J.D. leaned forward. His mouth fell slack as he read the translation Branson posted on the viewscreen. This had to be the first. The galaxy’s fiercest warriors being chased by the vultures of the galaxy? It had to be a trick. “Locate the signal source and put it on the screen.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“And verify their claim. Scan for another ship.”

Captain Robert Arden entered the bridge with a solid and solemn gait. He stepped onto the upper platform with an iron composure and settled in the chair beside him.

J.D. pulled back his shoulders and straightened his spine. He was the captain’s new chief commander and if he expected his career with the Prontaean Aliance to last much longer, he’d best look less like an owl at sunrise and more like a sparrow hawk at dawn.

“Report.”

The captain’s rough tone made J.D.’s stomach do a flip. He’d served under harsh leaders before, but Captain Arden gripped his career by its heart. A career he was no longer sure he wanted, but he’d rather it be his own choice. “A Tredon ship reports they’re being pursued by Grapnes, Captain.”

Captain Arden’s dark bushy brows twitched downward over his eyes, eyes as sharp and as blue as kyanite crystals. A frown appeared through the dark beard covering most of his face.

“I’ve called Lt. Commander Bracht,” J.D. added. His stomach did another somersault. He hated having to notify the man. Adding the Rabnoshk warrior to the bridge meant a battle was surely eminent. But it was protocol to alert the chief of security in such a case.

The captain acknowledged him with a slight head movement. “Do your scanners pick up a Grapne ship?” he asked Lt. Brenson.

The lieutenant reviewed the information on his console. “I do detect another ship, Sir.”

J.D. scrutinized the information on the viewscreen. The Tredons actually told the truth, but there must be more to it.

“Forward the coordinates to the helm.” Captain Arden’s tone was even and calm. “Helm, set a course to intercept.”

J.D.’s shoulders fell. As commander, he probably should have given that order before the captain arrived. But every captain demanded a different level of initiative from his commanding officers. And after three months with Captain Arden, he still had no idea what the man expected of him.

The hulking form of the chief of security entered the bridge with an uncompromising expression and a savage look enhanced by his unruly blonde hair.

J.D.’s chest hardened as Lt. Commander Bracht made his way to the tactical station on the captain’s other side. He’d never met a Tredon, but god help them all if they were anything like the Rabnoshk warriors.

Lt. Commander Bracht seemed to embody every unpleasant stereotype he’d ever heard—loud and abrasive, confrontational, limbs like tree trunks, and, most unsettling, front teeth filed to reveal a carnivorous snarl. Having a man like this serve as chief of security certainly didn’t help change J.D.’s misgivings about taking this commission.

The front viewscreen switched from the displayed data to a single digitized image. J.D. shoved the Rabnoshk out of his mind and watched attentively as two dots moved rapidly towards a planet while the dot of their own ship still hung outside the solar system. “Something isn’t right.”

The captain didn’t respond, not in sound or gesture. The man seemed as cool as ever.

J.D. suppressed the urge to fidget. He hadn’t exactly said anything helpful, but the captain’s utter lack of response was unsettling.

A year ago, he had the confidence to deal with anyone and any situation. He’d been the fleet’s most promising officer, moving up rapidly in the ranks and even receiving a medal. But ever since Kimpke…

He pushed his thoughts aside once more. He had more important things to deal with right now than the state of his career and whether he was making a bad impression on his new captain.

“Can you identify the makes of the two ships?” he asked the operations officer.

“It’s still a bit far but we’ll be in range shortly, Commander.”

J.D. leaned forward in his chair. The dot representing the Odyssey was moving much too slow for his taste. He tapped his finger on the arm of his chair, adding to the other faint sounds of the ship—mechanical beeps, fingers tapping consoles, and a slight hum that he could always hear, and feel, when the Odyssey traveled over a certain speed.

His body itched. Though not much was happening yet, things had been too quiet for too long. A quick glance at the crew and he could tell most of them probably felt the same. Lt. Commander Bracht watched the viewscreen with a fierce focus. The operations officer hovered over his station. Lt. Brenson kept his hand to his earpiece and a hawkish gaze fixed on his console.

Captain Robert Arden, on the other hand, looked almost impassive. The man sat back in his chair with his hands relaxed on the arm rests. His face always appeared to be scowling, but perhaps it was because his brows were so prominent. As far as J.D. could tell, he seldom expressed any emotion. One could only guess at how many enemies he’d dealt with before his time on the Odyssey. The Tredons were just another variation.

J.D. had had his fill of contending with the Alliance’s enemies. After the Kimpke incident, it was obvious the Alliance viewed the protection of their people much differently than Pholans. They seemed to think sacrificing others for the greater good was acceptable whereas the only sacrifice Pholan Protectors made was with themselves.

His stomach soured. A confrontation with the enemy wasn’t what he’d signed up for when he took this commission. Although equipped with weaponry, the Odyssey was not a warship. If not for the escalating friction with the Tredons, the Odyssey crew would be well within the safety of the Alliance territory serving its normal function as a diplomatic and transport ship with civilians on board.

“The Tredon ship is only a small Serpent,” the operations officer said. “And the Grapne ship is actually an Angolan Cougar.”

This explained why the Tredons were running. He had seen a Serpent only once before. Although it was equipped with weaponry, it was far too small for anything other than hit and run tactics. A Cougar, on the other hand, now that was a full-fledged fighting ship—almost as well-equipped as the Odyssey and other Prontaean Alliance vessels. How in the heck the Grapnes managed to get their hands on such a ship was beyond him.

He absently rubbed his jaw, still unused to its clean-shaven smoothness. Knowing the types of ships involved shed some light on the situation, but it didn’t explain why the Grapnes would risk attacking such a dangerous warrior race. No one purposely messed with the Tredons.

“We’re in visual range, Captain,” another bridge officer announced.

J.D. tensed. The captain flick his hand and the officer responded by replacing the viewscreen’s graphic images with an up-close view of the Serpent.

A memory of a black cottonmouth snake popped into his head. This ship resembled its namesake with its flat head and narrowing tail. Its sleek design was worth admiring, even if it did belong to the Tredons.

The Cougar ship was not so elegant. It was more clam-shaped. The only thing cougarish about this ship was its yellow color. Even then, it wasn’t quite the same yellow he’d once seen on the real live cougar he glimpsed during an Earthen-like safari on his home planet.

J.D. inched forward in his seat and caught himself before slipping off the edge. Both ships fired upon one another. The spread of the dissipating energy from their shields indicated both ships were evenly matched in firepower. It was only a matter of time before they’d determine whose shields were stronger.

The perspective on the viewscreen widened, showing the blue-gray planet the ships were headed toward. “Is that Pensla?” he asked no one in particular.

“Yes, Sir.” The operations officer was the one who replied. “Fifth planet from the Hellana system star. It supports life, Sir, but it ain’t inhabitable.”

“Ah, yes. I remember that from my studies.” It was from one of the required readings he had been given shortly after he found out he was going to be assigned to this sector of the Prontaean Alliance territory. “It’s a small mining planet. And without masks or air filters one could only survive a few weeks. Is that right?”

“Yes, Sir, Commander. We call it the Blue Blight.”

“Communications are in range,” Lt. Brenson said.

J.D. straightened.

“Open a channel to both ships,” Captain Arden replied.

The half-bald Vrucian made a few quick taps on his console. “Open, Sir.”

“This is Captain Robert Arden of the Prontaean Alliance ship, the Odyssey. You are in Alliance territory in violation of the Ornman Treaty and committing criminal acts by the use of your weapons. Stand down immediately or you will be fired upon.”

The strength of the captain’s gruff tone penetrated to J.D.’s core. The man seldom spoke, but when he did, it was direct and to the point.

A low beep signaled the comm channel closed.

“We will be within firing range in 2,000 clicks.” Lt. Commander Bracht’s voice boomed. The ends of his long mustached stabbed down like daggers with each word. “I’ve targeted the Serpent.”

J.D. turned his head sharply and frowned at the Rabnoshk warrior. “The Serpent? The Cougar is the aggressor.”

Bracht scowled back. “And probably for good reason.”

“A small ship like that probably means they’re pirates,” one of the officers added.

It was a good point, but hardly enough justification. “We don’t know all the facts yet.”

Bracht’s frown deepened and his nostrils flared. “They’re Tredons. That’s all we need to know.”

J.D. clenched his jaw and returned the look. “Target both ships, Lieutenant Commander.”

He half expected the Rabnoshk warrior to argue. Bracht’s dark look didn’t change, but he did as he was told. “Yes, Sir.”

J.D. glanced at Captain Arden to see if there was any hint of whether he agreed or if he would counter his command. There was none. His new captain was known as a peacemaker for his efforts in negotiating peace with the Rabnoshk. But that was ages ago. The man seemed hard now. And unreadable.

The operations officer turned to him and the captain. “The Serpent is called the StarFire.”

J.D.’s mouth curled from a sour taste of bile rising in his mouth. Bracht may be right. A Tredon ship named after a deadly weapon probably meant pirates. Or worse—slave hunters. “Do we have any records on this ship?”

“Nothing, Sir.”

It wasn’t surprising. Tredon pirates changed the name and call signs of their ships all the time. But maybe, just maybe, the StarFire was just a regular transport ship that had ventured a little too far from home.

Neither ship had responded. He found himself on the edge of his seat again. The StarFire headed directly towards Pensla at an alarming speed. He almost couldn’t bear to watch. The ship was taking a great risk by entering the atmosphere too fast.

“What are they doing?” he asked out loud but more to himself. Surely they weren’t attempting suicide. Tredon’s were more of the ‘die fighting’ type.

“It looks like they’re going to try a skimming maneuver,” the helmsman said.

J.D. shook his head. “They’d better be damned good pilots to try that.” The maneuver was highly frowned upon because it was so dangerous. He had only seen it performed in simulation. In the few times it had worked, the intentional combustion of the upper atmosphere blinded pursuers and allowed the fleeing ship to disappear onto the other side of the planet. It was an amazing feat and there was a time when he’d daydreamed about trying it. Youthful foolishness, of course. Most simulations resulted in the destruction of the very ship that had deployed it.

He couldn’t tear his eyes away from the shrinking view of the StarFire as it dashed toward the planet. A bright orange cloud suddenly burst over a section of the atmosphere and rolled out in a gigantic wave. He reflexively pulled back. The fire rippled in waves of orange to yellow to brown and he lost sight of the ship. “Where’s the StarFire?”

“Scanning, Sir.”

“Are we in weapon’s range yet?” The sound of Captain Arden’s voice seemed to snap a few of the officers out of their awe.

“Almost, Sir.” Bracht’s bushy blonde brows were drawn inward as though he was angry at the Tredon warriors for attempting such a daring maneuver.

The Cougar was still firing but its shots were chaotic. They probably had no idea where the StarFire was either.

“They did it!” The operations officer’s voice was an odd mixture of awe and disappointment.

J.D.’s heart jumped. The viewscreen blinked into a focus on the StarFire as it flew away from the inferno. He leaned forward in amazement while other crew members mumbled their disappointment. Few had any liking for the Grapnes, but they hated the Tredons more.

His pulse raced in anticipation while the StarFire sped away. It was almost out of the Cougar’s firing range when one of the random shots struck its tail. His stomach twinged as the ship spiraled out of control.

“Open the comm to the Cougar.” The shape of Captain Arden’s brows were the same as Bracht’s, but he suspected his anger was for a different reason.

A distinct but subtle beep from the lieutenant’s console indicated the comm was open. “Cougar ship! You will fall back at once!”

J.D. stiffened at the heated tone. The captain’s knuckles whitened as his hands gripped the armrests of his chair. This was the most emotion he’d ever seen the captain display. He was obviously not a man to be disobeyed.

“The StarFire’s going to crash.” The officer’s tone was elated.

J.D. turned his head back to the viewscreen. The Tredon ship wobbled into the atmosphere of the planet with its tail in flames. He swallowed down a lump in his throat. Whatever he thought he knew about the Tredons, it was still tragic to see them go down after such an incredible maneuver.

“We’re in range, Sir,” Bracht barked.

“Arm torpedoes!” Captain Arden’s hands were now in fists. “Lock onto the Cougar ship.”

His heart pounded in his ears. The anticipation of battle made him antsy, but he managed to display an outward calm.

“Armed and locked, Sir,” the Rabnoshk warrior boomed from the tactical station.

Captain Arden opened his mouth to give the fire command.

“Wait!” Lt. Brenson’s high tone stabbed into his eardrum. “The Cougar is hailing us, Captain. A Captain Seth.”

“They’ve disengaged their weapons,” the operations officer added.

The captain gave Bracht a look. J.D. wasn’t quite sure what the look meant but he suspected Bracht was to keep the weapons armed and ready. Bracht glowered darkly but nodded respectfully.

The captain flexed his hands. “Open the channel.”

The viewscreen changed to the image of a Grapne. The man was thin and wiry, as was typical of most Grapnes. And there was a sly look about him that reminded J.D. of the eel he’d caught once while fishing with his dad.

“Captain Arden here,” he said just as the Grapne opened his mouth to speak. “What in the hell are you doing firing your weapons in Alliance space?”

“Captain Arden, we apologissse for the intrusion,” Captain Seth replied in the typical Grapne hissing accent. He tipped his head down in a way that reminded J.D. of a groveling dog. “We were in pursuit of these thievesss and didn’t have the opportunity to ssseek permission.”

A brief flicker of smugness crossed the Rabnoshk warrior’s face. J.D. clenched his jaw. Bracht may have been right about the circumstances but he’d been right too. The captain’s recent targeting order proved it.

“I do not have any reports of thieves, Captain Seth,” the captain replied tersely. “Protocol states you are to report such things to the proper authorities. You didn’t even do this much. I can only assume you are here for a personal vendetta rather than an ordinary pursuit of a thief.”

“I assure you, Captain, my intentionsss are honorable.”

“I doubt that,” J.D. muttered.

Captain Arden glanced at him and he realized it was a look of reprove. His gut twisted and the uncertainty of his new position threatened to well up again.

“Nevertheless,” Captain Arden said to the Grapne, “you will stand down and await disciplinary action. Is that understood?”

“Yesss, Captain Arden.” The tone would have been meek if it the Grapne didn’t sound like a devious little snake.

The viewscreen switched back to the full view of the planet. Any evidence of what just happened was completely gone. The fire in the planet’s atmosphere had dissipated quickly, leaving the blue-gray planet as serene-looking as ever.

“The StarFire has crashed,” the operations officer reported before he could ask.

“Survivors?” The captain’s brows were still drawn down, but seemed to have a more troubled than angry look.

“Unknown, Sir. The atmosphere distorts our scans.”

Captain Arden turned to J.D. “Commander, take a team of medical personnel down to the surface. And two teams of security as well.”

J.D. jerked his head back. Medical personnel for Tredons? Despite his surprise, he almost jumped out of his chair. “Yes, Sir.”

He had a feeling the captain was giving him a chance of some sort. Generally, Bracht, as head of security, would lead such a team. Since J.D. had once been head of security on another ship, he was just as qualified—except for the fact that he had failed in that position. At least according to some.

He glanced at Bracht to see if the man resented the fact that J.D. was going and not himself. The warrior was frowning, but this was nothing unusual.

“Commander!” Brenson said. J.D. stopped short. “It looks like the Grapnes are sending a team down as well.”

This can’t be good. He left the bridge and quickened his step. His heart raced in anticipation. If any of the Tredons survived, he doubted they’d be in any shape to fight. But the Grapnes would be there and he had no idea what the heck they were up to. Whatever was going on, he’d better be at his best. The last thing he needed was to get on the wrong side of another superior officer.

 

(This science fiction novella is protected by copyright) Copyright November, 2016 by Dawn Ross

Free to share so long as you link back to this website and mention, The Kavakian Empire by Dawn Ross.

Book Cover for StarFire Dragons

The Kavakian Empire – Part Two Emperor Ch12

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 2, The Dragon Spawn Chronicles with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2015 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part Two – The Emperor

Chapter 12

(I’ve been working on this sci-fi novella all through November for National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNo at www.nanowrimo.org. Athough I’m posting this chapter late in the month, I have finished writing all of part two of this story. You won’t see all of the, though, for several months. You will continue to see a post every Saturday. Each post is the unedited version. My hope is to get editing done behind the scenes and have a select few people do reviews for story and writing improvement. If you are a science fiction fanatic and would like to give me a hand, either continue to check by every Saturday and leave comments or email me for the story in its entirety.)

Devon stood in a solid stance with his hands clasped behind his back as he discreetly surveyed the scene before him. He was careful to stand along the edge of the laser room so as not to be noticed. Devon was no fool. If the men knew he was watching, they’d pretend to work harder. And he wanted to see how they behaved in ordinary circumstances.

Except for the guards standing on the outer edges of the room, everyone seemed to be doing something. The tall skinny Tredon man barely thought of as a warrior emphatically jabbed his finger at something on the laser. Devon didn’t have a good view, but he knew Jako was standing over someone. And his erratic gestures suggested he was yelling at them too.

Devon ground his teeth. He was tempted to go tell whoever Jako was talking to that they’d better do as they were told. They’d taken more than enough time to do this job as it was.

When Jako stomped off, Devon’s lips twisted in disgust. The person he had been berating was the Alliance woman. Devon never understood why the Alliance worked so closely with their women. He found it laughable that she had been a part of the firefight on Thendi.

Women could be a huge distraction. Devon kept his put away and only went to see them when his work was caught up and he was feeling lusty. He almost hadn’t allowed this Alliance woman to work on this project. But the documentation Terk had found on her said she was an expert with laser technology.

Devon wasn’t so ignorant as to assume women weren’t as intelligent as men. He knew they could be. He preferred mating with intelligent women, in fact. It helped improve the chances his sons would be intelligent. Devon did believe, however, that women should only serve a limited purpose.

Devon glanced over to where Jori was working. The boy’s brow was furrowed as if in concentration as he fiddled with something on the laser. Jori was diligent and Devon had no doubt that the boy’s claim of being more intelligent than Jako was true. But while Jako was physically weak, Jori was deliberately weak.

Devon felt a stab of a headache and realized he was clenching his jaw too tightly. Why in the hell does that boy have to be so cowardly? Jori was highly intelligent and very talented in martial skills for a boy his age. But his adamant refusal to engage in torture irked Devon to no end. He should have gone through with his threat to send Jori to the gallery along with the Alliance crewmembers, but the little shit had made a good point about counter-productivity.

Devon desperately needed get this laser working, and the sooner the better. It had been decades since his father had lost the Pentam system, but it had also been decades since Devon vowed to get it back.

It wasn’t for lack of wanting that Devon hadn’t reconquered the Pentam system. It was the damned balance of power Lord Falcorn managed to keep in check. In Devon’s grandfather’s time, the Kavakian Empire reigned supreme. No lowly lord was powerful enough to go against the emperor’s will.

Lord Falcorn, unfortunately, was not so lowly. He was Devon’s most powerful ally and adversary. He was one of the few lords with his own fleet space vessels. He didn’t have as many as Devon, but he had enough. His other military assets were not to be discounted either.

Falcorn acted subservient under Devon’s authority and so long as Falcorn paid his taxes Devon didn’t attempt to dominate the man as he did with other lords. He knew attempting to take the Pentam system would cause their delicate truce to break up in an all-out war. Although Tredon men lived for war, both sides were powerful enough that fighting one another would be a great risk. Devon risked being the cause of the fall of his dynasty while Falcorn risked losing the privileges his current power allowed.

If Devon succeeded in taking the Pentam system, his power would double and Lord Falcorn would be doomed. So it was in the lord’s best interest to keep Devon from succeeding in such a venture. If Devon were to organize his fleet to go after the Pentam system, Falcorn would react in what he considered as self-defense and use the vacuum of Devon’s absence to oust control. If Devon had the laser, though, he could take Pentam with just a few ships instead of his entire fleet. The rest of his fleet would keep Lord Falcorn at bay and Devon would regain the glory his father had lost.

Devon scrutinized each of the Alliance workers. They all appeared to be working, but he had no way of knowing if they were doing anything productive. Jori was supposed to be making sure, but for some reason it was Jako who went around to each of the prisoners.

Jako never looked happy when he inspected the work. But Devon suspected there was an alternative reason as to why. With the way Jako strutted around with his chin held high, it was obvious he was enjoying his current dominant status. No Tredon ever took Jako seriously, but these Alliance men, and woman, had no choice.

Devon glanced at Jori again. His clenched jaw sent another jab of pain to his skull. He wished he could discern if the boy was up to something. But why would he help the Allaince? It made no sense, yet he couldn’t help but wonder whether Jako’s accusations were true. That Jori refused to torture the prisoners did not support Jako’s view. The boy never participated no matter how much Devon tried to bully or force him.

Devon stepped from the corner in a huff. Jako couldn’t be relied upon to give accurate information about Jori. And somehow Devon suspected Terk would protect him. It was time to gather information from other sources.

Devon deliberately walked across the laser room. All the men, including the Alliance crew, stiffened. Their already vigilant guard stances seemed even more attentive. Devon would have smiled, but it would ruin the moment.

One warrior guard did not need to adjust his stance. Jetser was a seasoned warrior, one of the best there was. Sometimes it annoyed Devon that Jetser didn’t seem to fear him. But Jetser always did what he was told and then some. Devon couldn’t complain.

“Come with me,” Devon told the man.

Jetser gave a slight deferential not. “Yes, Your Eminence,” he replied. His face was calm and cool with no hint of worry at being called out by the emperor. If it had been any other man, their face would have turned white.

Devon led Jetser to a private room off from where the laser was being worked on. There was no desk or chair to sit in so Devon and Jetser stood facing one another in the at-ease stance.

“You have heard Jako’s claims. What do you think of them?”

“I think Jako is jealous, my Lord, of your son.”

Devon frowned. “So you believe he is trying to undermine him?” The idea of someone trying to undermine a Kavak chafed him.

“I don’t think he intends it as an affront to you, my Lord.” Jetser must have noticed Devon’s annoyance. “I think he’s worried. Jako’s only redeeming quality is that he knows this stuff better than anyone, or at least he used to. He probably feels Jori’s aptitude will oust him.”

“Hm.” Devon nodded his head. He hadn’t considered that. “So you do not think Jori is helping the prisoners?”

“No, my Lord.”

Devon narrowed his eyes. “You haven’t seen or heard anything that would lead Jako to think he was helping them?”

“Jori is not as impatient with them as Jako is, but he’s not friendly with them in any way.”

“Not impatient, as in, he’d rather help them than motivate them?”

“Jori has never been fond of torturing.”

Devon let out a slight snort. “No doubt a doing of his mother’s. I should have pulled him away from her sooner. The boy is far too womanish.”

“He’s still young, my Lord. Still learning.”

Devon pursed his lips. True. But damn him. It doesn’t look good to have a son who’s so soft. Whatever Jori’s shortcomings, at least Terk made up for them. At the same time, though, Terk was becoming a great warrior, but Jori was already beating him in games of strategy. Neither boy was perfect, but together they damned near were. And they were as close to perfect as Devon was ever likely to get.

He had had other sons once, but they fell markedly short of his expectations and died in some way or another. In a couple of cases, they died at Devon’s own hand.

But Devon couldn’t have any more children. An assassination attempt kept it from happening. The assassin used a poison that corrupted Devon’s DNA. If by some small miracle he did happened to impregnate a woman, the results were mental retardation, deformities, or other unacceptable flaws.

The technology existed to manipulate DNA, but this was universally frowned upon. Generations ago, genetic manipulation was common. But from what Devon had read, the average citizens rallied against the practice with a war that spanned the galaxy.

Despite the limitations of the natural born man, they eventually won. Strict laws against genetic manipulation were passed. After the universal declaration, those born with manipulated DNA were not given the same rights as other citizens. They were practically relegated to the status of slaves.

Even Devon’s ancestors complied with the new universal stance. They cheated it, however, by only breeding with others that had ancestors who used genetic manipulation. In fact, Devon chose the women in his harem based on their DNA compatibility and the ones he favored most had benefited generations ago by DNA enhancements.

Jori and Terk’s mother was one such woman. That she also had the abilities of a Truth Seeker also made her a desirable. Although Terk and Jori did not have her ability, they were both excellent results of select breeding. They were the last two he had sired and were the only two sons he had left.

Jori irritated him a great deal, but Jetser was right. He was still young so there was still time to mold him.

“I want you to have a long talk with him about being careful not to look like he’s befriending our enemy.”

Jetser nodded respectfully. “Yes, Your Eminence,” he replied.

Devon gave Jetser a dismissing nod. “Bring me Hagar,” he said.

Jetser nodded again with a slight bow. Devon stepped out of the at-ease stance and crossed his arms in front of him. He wasn’t quite as annoyed about Jori as he had been a moment before, but he wanted to make sure. Hagar came recommended by Trevine and was proving to be a very promising warrior guard. Devon would have him keep a closer eye on Jori and report anything suspicious.

 

Please comment below to tell me what you thought of this chapter. I’m an amateur writer and am in desperate need of constructive criticism.

(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright November, 2015 by Dawn Ross

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

The Kavakian Empire – Part Two Emperor Ch10a – Insert

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 2, The Dragon Spawn Chronicles with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2015 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part Two – The Emperor

Chapter 10a – Insert

(I realized that I forgot to tell you all what happened when Devon called Jori back. So this part of chapter 10 needs to be inserted prior to what you read a few weeks ago. Remember, this science fiction story is a work in progress. You will find many errors as you read. Feel free to point them out and please provide me with constructive criticism.)

Jori’s stomach felt like it was full of rocks that were grinding together. And it wasn’t because he thought he was in trouble. He was used to being punished. It was because his father knew something was amiss with the Alliance crew members. Jori was sure that whatever pain he felt from being punished wouldn’t even come close to the pain he’d feel if something happened to J.T.

Seeing people die, especially when they were brutally murdered, already gave Jori nightmares. And if this happened to J.T., the nightmare would be a hundred times worse because the death would be of someone he cared about.

Jori steeled himself for whatever was to come. He stood in what some called an at-ease stance with his hands behind his back, but he was anything but at ease. His muscles were rigid and he dared not give in to the desire to fidget. He held his breath as his father stood over his desk, looked down on him with a threatening glare.

“Why do the prisoners have so much information on their digiviews?” His father’s voice was quiet, but Jori could sense his boiling anger.

Rather than be intimidated, though, Jori’s eyebrows drew together. It was no secret that the digiviews were full of information. “Although they have general knowledge on lasers, they aren’t familiar with this project.”

“So you thought it was a good idea to give them information beyond the project, information they should already know?”

Jori felt a twinge of annoyance. For once, he hadn’t done anything wrong. “The more information they have, the more likely they’ll be able to complete the project.”

“How can I be sure they’re knowledgeable enough if you’ve given them all the answers?” His father’s lips were pressed together and his jaw tightly set.

Jori had to be careful to keep his tone from sounding peevish. “Since they only minored in the technology, I gave them references they could turn to so they wouldn’t mess anything up.”

His father took a deep breath. Jori could sense his irritation, but he seemed to accept the explanation. Something else was bothering him though. “Why does Jako seem to think you’re helping them?”

The rocks in his stomach tumbled again, but Jori kept his face neutral. “Jako is jealous because he knows I’m smarter than him.”

His father raised his eyebrow impatiently. “So you’re not helping them?”

“I merely make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing. If I help them, it is to make sure they’re doing it right.”

“And I suppose you’re not protecting them either?” His father’s nostrils flared and his breathing sounded heavier.

Damn Jako. Jori knew the man was going to be trouble, but that he actually had the nerve to make such accusations to his father really irked him. “Protecting them how?” Jori replied. He tried to make his tone sound innocent, but it sounded vexed instead.

“By not properly motivated them,” he said through clenched teeth.

Jori’s mouth was dry and he wanted to look away from his father’s glare. But he managed to hold his eyes and keep his composure. “Jako’s desire to exert his newfound dominance on them is counter-productive.”

Jori knew his tone had come across as sounding defensive because his father’s fists were balled up so tight that his hands were turning white. “Is that your sentiment talking, boy?”

“No, Sir,” Jori replied. He lifted his chin in a way he hoped would reflect the confidence he didn’t feel. “I am tired of having to work with these cowardly men, but I do what I must so that the laser can get done as quickly as possible. The more Jako wants to punish them, the longer it will take.”

His father still had a dark look, but his fists were no longer clenched. “So you’re taking it easy on them for the good of the empire?” His father sounded skeptical but Jori could sense he was buying it.

Jori forced himself to clench his teeth and frown in a way that he hoped his father would interpret as hate. “I have no love for the Alliance.”

“Then it won’t bother you if I sign them up for another round in the gallery.”

Rather than give in to panic, Jori tried to hold on to his look of hate “Not at all, Sir.”

“Good. Then when Derianna is done, I will make the arrangements.” His father stared at Jori for a moment to see if he’d react. Jori’s stomach turned, but he didn’t let anything show. Still, his father wasn’t satisfied. “And if you hate the Alliance so much, I expect you to participate.”

Jori felt the blood drain from his face, but he forced himself the keep the hateful look. This time, though, the look was a reflection of how he felt about his father. “You know I won’t.”

His father’s face turned red and he bared his teeth when he spoke. “Then when I am done with them, it will be your turn.”

Nervousness and outrage rumbled together in Jori’s stomach. He defiantly held his father’s stare, but didn’t reply. So be it, he said to himself. He would have said it out loud but he knew it would earn him a hard slap.

Despite Jori’s Jintal training, a form of training that taught him to endure pain, he still felt anxious about being punished. But while his father thought the torture would make Jori more compliant, it only served to make him hate his father more.

“Damned your stubbornness, boy,” his father said through clenched teeth.

 

Please comment below to tell me what you thought of this chapter. I’m an amateur writer and am in desperate need of constructive criticism.

(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright November, 2015 by Dawn Ross

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

The Kavakian Empire – Part Two Emperor Ch11 – Revised

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 2, The Dragon Spawn Chronicles with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2015 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part Two – The Emperor

Chapter 11 – Revised

(Be sure to read last week’s book review of The Emotion Thesaurus. Sometimes I am unaware of my writing weaknesses until someone points them out. Some comments from readers for part one of my science fiction story told me they were having a difficult time getting into the characters. I wasn’t sure what I could do about it until I read The Emotion Thesaurus. As per last week’s post, I learned a lot form this book. And as such, I think I can use the information I learned to make a big improvement on chapter 11 of part two. So here is the revised version.)

Terk sat at his father’s desk in the ready room. He was alone. His father had gone to bed a while back. Terk should have gone too, but he had something, someone, to take care of, someone he should have dealt with earlier if he hadn’t been so busy.

Terk tapped the tabletop loudly as he waited. His jaw was sore from clenching his teeth, but he had too many thoughts going through his head for the pain to register.

From what Jori had said, all father had wanted when he called him back was to get an update on the progress of the laser. Jori said father was suspicious, but only about the Alliance crew. Nothing else. Nothing else Jori will tell me anyway. Even though Terk wasn’t there, he had sensed Jori’s apprehension and his father’s agitation. Jori and I are going to have a little talk later.

Terk felt tensions growing all around. It was like he was skimming a planet’s atmosphere, one wrong move and the ship would spin out of control, crash and burn. We were almost discovered, Terk thought. That man nearly caused a disaster. A shiver went through him. No. Don’t think about what could have happened. Terk tightened his fists. Think about what will happen if I don’t get this under control.

Terk felt his face flush as he considered the audacity of Jako’s actions. He clamped down on his teeth so hard that pain shot down his neck and to his arms. He clenched his hands until they were white. That damned skinny little bastard went behind my back! Terk slammed his fist on the table. He so badly wanted to beat the shit out the man, to hear him cry and beg for forgiveness.

No. I need to stay in control, he told himself. Terk took a couple of deep breaths and tried to keep his emotions from spilling over. If he went off on Jako, his father would be suspicious as to why. Terk could make something up, but the situation was too tenuous already. He had to do more than just make Jako afraid. He had to convince him of a better way. It was the smart thing to do.

It was Master Jetser’s idea, of course. Terk never would have thought of it. He had a tendency to let his anger get away from him. But Master Jetser’s idea was a really good one and Terk wanted to play it out. The tension in his jaw relaxed somewhat, but he didn’t completely let go of his anger. He still needed it.

Terk sensed Jako’s approach and sat up straight and tall in his father’s chair. He clasped his hands in front of him in order to keep them still.

Terk could sense Jako’s nervousness, but the man actually had the nerve to let out a sigh of relief when he entered the room. Terk pursed his lips and glowered. He thought he was going to see my father sitting here.

When Jako noticed Terk’s look, he averted his eyes and licked his lips. Terk felt the corner of his mouth twitch. Good. The bastard finally has the sense to be nervous.

Terk’s first instinct was to yell at the man before him, but he kept his tone steady. “Do you know why you’re here?” he asked through gritted teeth.

Jako shifted his feet. “No, my Lord.” He licked his lips again. “I’m doing the best I can considering the inferiority I have to work with.”

Terk’s frown deepened at Jako’s lack of self-control. If Terk ever fidgeted in front of his father like this, he’d get the shit beat out of him. But since this was how he wanted Jako to react, he disregarded it. “My father just proved the Alliance crewmen know what they’re doing, and that they’re cooperating.”

Jako frowned. “Really?”

“Do you doubt him?” Terk leaned forward and glared coldly.

“N-no. Of course not, my Lord. It’s just that, well, I don’t see how it is possible.”

Terk sat up straight again and gave Jako a blank look. Put him at ease, Master Jetser had told him. Let him talk first. And then let the hammer fall. “So you think they’re completely worthless.”

“Completely, my Lord.” Jako met his eyes. Terk suppressed a scowl and kept his face neutral as Jako spoke. “When I ask them questions, they barely know the answers. They don’t seem to know what tools to use. And when they do use the right ones, they use them wrongly. I have to constantly fix their mistakes.”

All true, Terk thought. Damned this man for being too smart for his own good. Terk wanted to knock Jako upside his head, but he leaned forward expectantly and kept his tone light in order to play out Master Jetser’s advice. “And you don’t think their ignorance is an act?”

Jako puffed out his lean chest and lifted his chin. “Not at all, my Lord. I think they’re lying in order to save their skin.”

Time for the hammer. Terk raised his eyebrows. “So you can complete this laser all on your own?”

Jako blinked rapidly. His mouth hung open for a moment as he considered his response. “Um, y—“

Terk let his mask fall and his scowl return. His tone deepened. “Don’t lie to me, Jako.”

Jako paled. “Well… no,” he said slowly. More quickly he added, “I can do it with more help. With real help.”

Terk gritted his teeth. “This help you speak of is not available.”

“But these men are useless,” Jako said. His shoulders slumped and he kept glancing away, refusing to meet Terk’s dark eyes.

“Wrong.” Terk slapped the desk hard and stood up quickly. Jako flinched and took a wary step back. “They can help you.”

“How?” Jako shifted from foot to foot.

Terk put his hands behind his back walked stiffly from behind the desk. “Let’s pretend we kill the Alliance men now and leave it all to you. And when the laser can’t be fixed…” Terk stood directly in front of Jako now. He stared hard into the man’s eyes, not giving Jako any choice but to meet his stare. “…who is my father going to blame?”

Jako’s eyes went wide. Terk’s ability felt the man’s apprehension. He felt puffed-up as a result, but he kept the smugness from showing on his face.

“B-but it won’t be my fault. I don’t have enough help,” Jako said.

“Who else is he going to blame?” Terk’s scowl deepened and nostrils flared. “My father might put some of the fault onto Jori, but of the two of you, who is more expendable?”

Terk noticed Jako’s adam’s apple bob up and down. Good, he is afraid, Terk thought. He suppressed a smile and felt some of his tension ease. Now to convince him.

“This is what I propose,” Terk continued. He still frowned and looked Jako in the eyes, but he tried not to sound as hard. “Even if these Alliance men might not know all of what they’re doing, let’s try to squeeze as much usefulness out of them as we can. Who knows, perhaps we’ll get lucky. And if not, much of the blame can be laid at their feet instead of yours.”

Jako let out a breath. “Yes, Sir,” he said.

Terk felt the man’s anxiety fall away again. I can’t have that, now can I, Terk thought. Jako was convinced, but Terk had a reputation to uphold. “One more thing, though,” he said.

“My Lord?”

Terk leaned in nose-to-nose with Jako and gave the man his most menacing glare. “Jori is your immediate superior in this.” Terk’s voice was quiet. If he spoke any louder, it would come out as a growl. “You report any problems you have to him.” Jako took a step back and Terk took a step forward. “If he thinks it is important enough, he will come to me and I will go to our father.” Another step back and another forward. “If you ever go over my head again, I will open the air-lock and let you out. Do you understand me?”

Jako hit his head on the wall as he tried to take another step back. Terk held his glare.

“Yes, S-sir.”

Terk pulled back made his face go blank in order to keep his self-satisfaction from showing. “Good. I’m glad we’ve cleared this up. Dismissed.”

Jako stood straight and tried to regain his composure. Terk went to sit back behind his father’s desk.

“Sir, one thing, though,” Jako said. He licked his lips again and cleared his throat. He straightened the front of his uniform and met Terk’s eyes.

Damn, I should’ve stayed standing there, Terk thought.

“I’m worried because it seems the young lord is helping the prisoners,” Jako said.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Terk replied. Terk furrowed his brow and gave Jako a warning look. It wasn’t because Jako was being brave, though that did annoy him. And it wasn’t that the damned bastard couldn’t leave things well-enough alone, though that irked him as well. Terk’s heart pounded in his chest and he felt his body go tense. He’s jealous, he thought. The fucking bastard is jealous of Jori and he thinks I’ll support his suspicions because he believes my brother and I are rivals.

“I swear, Sir. He’s always—“

“I’ll take care of it,” Terk said. He leaned forward and glared fiercely. But Jako, as smart as he was, missed the signs.

“But—“

Terk slapped his hand down on the desk again. Jako jumped.

“I said I’ll take care of it.” Terk stood swiftly and held Jako’s eyes as he stamped his way forward again. A warmth spread over him like fire.

A loud thud resounded in the room when Terk slammed the skinny man up against the wall. Jako’s face went deathly pale and his eyes fully dilated while Terk’s face was red and hot and his eyes cold and dark. “And if you breathe even a whisper of this ridiculous accusation to my father, I won’t kill you.”

“Y-you won’t?” Jako blinked his eyes and tried not to meet Terk’s hateful look.

“No. I will send you to Ankgar.” Terk breathed heavily through his bared teeth and shook with rage. “And I will stand there and watch as he peels away your skin, patch by patch. I’ll smile as he slowly dips you into a pot of boiling water, only to pull you out again so that you can live on. You will be crying out agony but I will be laughing with joy as you live rest of your life in perpetual pain.”

Terk’s nose burned with the smell of Jako’s urine. Jako was even whiter than he had been before. He trembled violently. Terk could tell the man wanted to offer platitudes, but his fear paralyzed him.

Finally, the respect I deserve, Terk thought. There was no room for smugness now, though. Only the raging fire within him. He didn’t care how sensible Master Jetser’s advice had been. If Jako got his brother in trouble, Terk would make damned sure the bastard suffered in the most agonizing way possible.

 

So tell me, did this chapter do more to make you connect with the characters? Did I do a better job of building the scene and with not making the conversation seem so contrived? Do you think I benefited from The Emotion Thesaurus? Please comment below to tell me what you thought.

(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright October, 2015 by Dawn Ross

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

The Kavakian Empire – Part Two Emperor Ch11

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 2, The Dragon Spawn Chronicles with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2015 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part Two – The Emperor

Chapter 11

(Wow, we’re at chapter 11 of part two already. If you missed the previous chapters of this novella and missed part one of the story, you can catch up by browsing the links on the right sidebar of the home page. Or you can email me at naturebydawn at aol dot com and ask me to send you what I have completed in this science fiction story so far.)

Terk hadn’t had time to confront Jako before he went to his father. After J.T.’s interrogation, Terk called Jako for a private meeting. His father had gone to bed so Terk sat in his father’s chair behind the desk of the ready room.

When Jako entered, he didn’t look at all nervous. It’s just me, after all, Terk thought with annoyance. He glowered at Jako angrily and the weasel of a man finally had the sense to begin feeling uneasy. Good.

“Do you know why you’re here?” Terk said.

“No, my Lord. I’m doing the best I can considering the inferiority I have to work with.”

“My father just proved the Alliance crewmen know what they’re doing, and that they’re cooperating.”

“Really?”

“Do you doubt him?” Terk leaned forward to emphasize his angry scowl.

“N-no. Of course not, my Lord. It’s just that, well, I don’t see how it is possible.”

Terk pretended to consider Jako’s words. “So you think they’re completely worthless.”

“Completely, my Lord.” Jako puffed out his lean chest and lifted his chin with confidence.

“So you can complete this laser on your own?”

Jako’s nervousness returned, but not enough for Terk’s liking. “Um, y—“

“Don’t lie to me, Jako. You know I will know.”

Jako paled. “Well… no,” he said slowly. More quickly he added, “I can do it with more help. With real help.”

“This help you speak of is not available.”

“But these men are useless,” Jako said.

“Wrong.” Terk slapped the desk hard and stood up quickly. Jako flinched and took a wary step back. “They can help you.”

“How?”

Terk put his hands behind his back and strode from behind the desk. He didn’t look at Jako, rather he pretended to be in thought. “Let’s pretend we kill the Alliance men now. And when the laser can’t be fixed…” Terk met Jako’s eyes as he stood directly in front of the man. “Who is my father going to blame?”

Jako’s eyes went wide and Terk could sense his increased apprehension. “B-but it won’t be my fault. I don’t have enough help.”

“Who else is he going to blame? My father might put some of the fault onto Jori, but of the two of you, who is more expendable?”

Terk noticed Jako’s adam’s apple bob up and down. Finally, he is afraid, Terk thought. But still of my father and not of me.

“This is what I propose,” Terk continued. “Even if these Alliance men might not know all of what they’re doing, let’s try to squeeze as much usefulness out of them as we can. Who knows, perhaps we’ll get lucky. And if not, much of the blame can be laid at their feet instead of yours.”

Jako let out a breath. “Yes, Sir,” he said.

Terk felt the man’s anxiety fall away again. I can’t have that, now can I, Terk thought. “One more thing, though,” he said.

“My Lord?”

Terk leaned in nose-to-nose with Jako and gave the man his most menacing glare. “Jori is your immediate superior in this.” Jako took a step back and Terk took a step forward.
“You report any problems you have to him. If he thinks it is important enough, he will come to me and I will go to our father.” Another step back and another forward. “If you ever go over my head again, I will open the air-lock and let you out. Do you understand me?”

Jako hit his head on the back wall as he tried to take another step back. Terk held his glare and tried not to let his triumph show on his face.

“Yes, S-sir.”

Terk pulled back. “Good. I’m glad we’ve cleared this up. Dismissed.”

Jako stood straight and tried to regain his composure. Terk went to sit back behind his father’s desk.

“Sir, one thing, though,” Jako said.

Terk could tell the man was trying to muster up some bravery. Damn, I should’ve stayed standing there, Terk thought.

“I’m worried because it seems the young lord is helping the prisoners.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Terk said. His brow furrowed angrily again.

“I swear, Sir. He’s always—“

“I’ll take care of it,” Terk said.

“But—“

Terk slapped his hand down on the desk again. “I said I’ll take care of it.” He stood swiftly and held Jako’s eyes as he made is way forward again. “And if you breathe even a whisper of this ridiculous accusation to my father, I won’t kill you.”

“You won’t?” Jako shifted from one foot to the other as if trying to decide whether to be afraid or relieved.

“No. I’ll send you to Ankgar and tell him to keep you alive indefinitely.”

Jako turned even whiter than he had before. Everyone knew what Ankgar did. And everyone had seen the results of Ankgar’s undying victims.

Finally, the fear I deserve, Terk thought with satisfaction, ignoring the fact that Jako was actually afraid of Ankgar and not him directly. Jako, fool though he may be, won’t be foolish enough to go behind my back again.

 

Please comment below to tell me what you thought of this chapter. I’m an amateur writer and am in desperate need of constructive criticism.

(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright October, 2015 by Dawn Ross

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

The Kavakian Empire – Part Two Emperor Ch10

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 2, The Dragon Spawn Chronicles with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2015 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part Two – The Emperor

Chapter 10

(If you started reading this science fiction story from the middle and want to read it from the beginning without having to sift through posts, please email me, the author, at naturebydawn at aol dot com. I will be happy to provide you with the story all in one document. I may also be able to provide you with specific doc types so you can read it on your e-reader.)

J.T. was working when two big warriors approached. The biggest man jerked his arm painfully and turned him away from his task.

“Come with us now,” he said. The smell of his breath made J.T. step back, and the man took it as noncompliance. Both men grabbed him by his arms, clenching him harder than necessary. J.T.’s heart pounded in his chest as he was escorted out. He’d gotten to know these two men a little. They both seemed to have a special hatred for J.T. and his crew. They liked to bully the Alliance prisoners whenever Jori wasn’t around, sometimes to the point of violence.

They know. J.T. had been noticing the deepening look of suspicion in Jako’s eyes. The man looked over his shoulder constantly, making J.T. nervous. It didn’t help that he hadn’t slept well with all the studying he had been doing in his cell. Some things were starting to make more sense but many aspects still kept eluding him.

J.T. suppressed a sigh of relief when they reached the door to the small room he had first been taken to meet Jori. Perhaps Jori needed to speak to him again. But then he remembered who was escorting him. It was highly unlikely that Jori would let these men in on their secret.

The door opened and J.T. was practically thrown in. He stumbled and nearly fell, but one of the warriors still had him by the arm. J.T. was spun to the side and forced into the torture chair.

It was then that J.T. noticed the emperor. His heart skipped a beat at the intensity of the man’s deep dark eyes. The emperor stood silently as the warriors clamped J.T.’s wrists to the chair, but the way his jaw clenched and nostrils flared made him look like he was ready to explode.

The emperor wore a black armored uniform that somewhat resembled the one Terk and Jori wore except with many more metal spikes and a few gold trimmings. His bare arms bulged with muscle and he towered over his two sons, who stood on either side of him.

J.T. met Terk and Jori’s eyes. As usual, both of them held a neutral look. J.T. had gotten to know them well enough, though, that he was sure he saw worry in their eyes.

He didn’t let his eyes linger for long for fear that the emperor would suspect something more. Maybe he already knows they’re in on it, J.T. thought. But he discarded the idea. If that were true, the boys would probably be the object of their father’s dark glare rather than be standing beside him.

It was then that J.T. noticed there was someone else in the room. The person was standing just behind Terk and the emperor and wearing light blue, of all colors. J.T.’s brow furrowed in confusion. Every single crewman he had seen on the Dragon thus far wore brown, dark grey, or black. But blue?

“Do it,” the emperor said.

Terk stepped aside and J.T. was surprised to see a woman. She was tall, about Terk’s height, but not as tall as the emperor. Her shoulders were broad but so were her hips, giving her a nice curvy figure. But it wasn’t her figure that caught J.T.’s breath. She was beautiful. She had jet black hair, olive skin, full lips and dark narrow eyes.

Her light blue dress swished as she came forward. J.T. realized his jaw was hanging down and he clamped his mouth shut. She seemed not to notice. It was his eyes she was looking at, and he was looking into hers. He couldn’t look away. He was so absorbed into them that he didn’t even flinch when she touched his forehead, causing a slight inaudible buzzing in his head.

“You will answer all questions truthfully,” the woman said.

She was still touching him when the emperor began to ask questions. “Do you or your men have the required knowledge to complete this laser?”

A shock of not-quite-pain but certainly discomfort came through the woman’s touch. J.T. winced. His fear sharpened. Is this woman a Truth Seeker? He didn’t know. He’d met one before but they didn’t try their little tricks on him so wasn’t sure if this was what it felt like. The buzzing in his head was certainly something he’d never felt before. And there was something else too. He could have sworn he heard a whisper, lie.

“Yes, I believe we do,” he said. The lie came easier than he expected. Did I really hear what I think I heard?

J.T. noticed Jori’s stony face give way to a look of relief. The boy glanced at his father to see if he noticed but the emperor was too busy glaring at J.T. The man’s scowl deepened. “Do you intend to fix the laser?”

Lie. The whisper was in his head and so light, he still wasn’t sure. “We have no choice,” J.T. replied.

“Answer the question, yes or no.”

J.T. hesitated. The strange feeling from the woman’s touch sharpened again. Lie. “Yes,” he said.

“So there is no plan to escape?”

Lie. J.T. was sure he heard it this time, but he assumed it was his own thought magnified by whatever the woman was doing to make his head buzz. Lie. But J.T. thought it would be foolish to lie and say no. He wanted to tell the truth this time because he knew the truth would make his lies more believable. At the same time, though, he felt compelled to lie. I need to tell the truth, he thought.

Then inexplicably, the buzzing in his head stopped. J.T. answered the emperor truthfully. “We’ve planned, but so far have discarded any ideas.”

“Why?”

“Impossibility. Your men are too attentive. And we’re scientists, not warriors.” J.T. swallowed hard. He might have overplayed that last part.

The emperor glared at him, as if trying to read him. “Is he telling the truth?” He was looking at J.T., but the question was not directed at him.

“Yes,” the woman said.

“I sense no lies in him,” Jori said.

“He’s too afraid,” Terk added.

“Is there a chance he can resist your touch?” the emperor asked the woman.

“I feel no indication that he has this kind of training, my Lord.”

“Yes or no, Woman.”

“No, there’s no chance he is resisting.”

The emperor nodded to the woman and she stepped back. Her eyes went downcast. Now that J.T. was broken by her spell, a flash of recognition hit him. Jori had those same eyes.

He glanced at the four of them several times. Jori had other facial features that resembled hers. At the same time, Jori and Terk looked very much alike. And they both resembled their father, but Terk more so.

And then another realization hit him. Jori had said once that he was a low-level reader. Did he get this skill from this woman who is possibly his mother? And if so, is she a Truth Seeker? And is Jori also a Truth Seeker? The thought gave him chills. A Truth Seeker could not only pull thoughts from people the way a high-level reader could, they could also implant thoughts. So maybe it was her voice I heard in my head.

J.T. was not allowed to contemplate this for long. “You will now answer some questions testing your knowledge,” the emperor said.

Jori asked a series of questions. J.T.’s anxiety subsided as he answered each of Jori’s questions correctly. He knew the answers, too, from what he had learned so far. The answers weren’t being put into his head.

When Jori was done, the emperor was still frowning but he looked satisfied rather than angry. The enraged look returned, though, when the emperor put himself right in front of J.T. and bent face to face. J.T. could feel the heat of his hatred.

“You will finish this laser. And if I see any hesitance in you, or any indication that you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, I will have this woman turn your mind to make you think you’re a dog. From there, you will be my loyal servant, groveling at my feet, licking my boots, sucking my dick, and doing whatever else I ask of you, no matter how painful, unpleasant, or humiliating.”

J.T. swallowed hard but there was nothing to swallow. His mouth was dry. “I believe you.”

The emperor turned away abruptly and headed towards the door. “Get him back to work, now,” he said to the two boys. “Woman, with me.”

The woman nodded meekly. At first, she followed him out with her eyes looking down at her feet. But just before she stepped out of view, she turned and looked at Jori with a slight smile and winked.

 

Please comment below to tell me what you thought of this chapter. I’m an amateur writer and am in desperate need of constructive criticism.

(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright October, 2015 by Dawn Ross

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

The Kavakian Empire – Part Two Emperor Ch9c

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 2, The Dragon Spawn Chronicles with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2015 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part Two – The Emperor

Chapter 9c

Note from the author: This chapter is a little longer than I intended. I think there is too much inner contemplation from Terk and not enough action or tension. What do you think? Please feel free to provide some feedback. I believe this sci-fi story is a great one, but as an amateur writer I need all the help I can get in making sure it is written that way.

Terk sat in his father’s chair on the bridge. His father was not there, which meant Terk was in charge. He wan’t completely in charge, though. General Trevine would take command if he felt Terk couldn’t handle it. Trevine, or tree trunk as many called him, generally left Terk alone, but only because most tasks on the bridge were routine. If there was an emergency, Trevine would take over and completely ignore any of Terk’s suggestions.

This day was as mundane as usual. Terk could sense Trevine’s boredom. The man often was. Trevine was a warrior and like to be constantly active. He was intelligent enough to work the bridge, but he had learned by experience rather than through an education like Terk’s. Terk had tried to argue for more hands-on experience with both Trevine and his father. They agreed, but neither were willing to let go of their authority. Trevine was much like is father in stubbornness and arrogance. It irritated Terk to no end, but there was little he could do about it other than complain. And complaining wasn’t something his father tolerated.

Terk was looking over the engine stats to make sure everything was operating within parameters. Dekel did well enough, but he sometimes forgot to keep an eye on the ___________ sensor. It was difficult to tell whether it was too high or too low because a high number didn’t always mean it was high. The measurement had to be compared mathematically with three other components, which also tended to fluctuate. Biskol was supposed to devise a program to make it easier to tell whether the ____________ reading was normal, but although programming ships was his specialty, he really wasn’t all that good at it. Tredons were not known for making intellectual pursuits a priority. Only lords tended to opt for a formal education and usually had to travel abroad, or in Terk’s case have teachers brought in from abroad, to get it.

Terk was considered highly intelligent, but Jori was the true genius. He absorbed everything he was taught, including aspects of warfare. And he studied even more subjects on his own. If Jori could find the time, he could probably write a program for gauging the _____________. But their father kept them both rather busy. And the more Jori learned, the busier he became because the ship desperately needed the expertise.

His brother was better than him at most things, but Terk wasn’t jealous. There was a time when he was, but Jori was too likeable. And he didn’t have an ounce of ambition in him, other than his desire to learn and learn some more. Kavakian siblings had been known to kill one another off in order to become heir. Terk had seen a couple of his elder brothers do it. And his father had gotten his status in this way.

Although there was once a half-brother Terk considered killing, he would never harm Jori. When Terk became emperor, Jori would be by his side. Terk would handle the leadership and martial aspects of his job while Jori would handle the administrative and technological aspects. Dividing duties in this way would certainly make things much easier. Terk’s father juggled all the duties, except the technological because there wasn’t much of a technological aspect. His father was doing administrative work now, which was why Terk had command of the bridge.

Terk’s musings were interrupted with a beep from the vidcomm. The corner of the bridge window indicated it was Captain General Brevak of the Basilisk.

Terk pressed the answer button on his chair and stood up. Although he could have remained sitting, Terk felt that addressing a high-ranking official in such a way made him look lazy and arrogant. Standing was a mark of Terk’s authority as well as a sign of respect towards the man’s status.

“Brevak, I trust your ship has been repaired and all is well,” he said when the captain general’s face popped up on the screen.

“Yes, my Lord,” Brevak replied.

Brevak was rather young for a captain general, mid-forties, but he was quite capable. He was probably one of the best warrior-leaders of his father’s fleet, at least according to Terk and Jori. He came from a family long dedicated to the Kavakian Empire. But unlike many of the lords who tended to get lazy and leave the work of fighting to lesser-born men, Brevak’s family maintained a strong warrior heritage. They learned their skills both at home and abroad and in many different forms. Brevak was the master of all the basic weapon types and several forms of master arts, was greatly skilled in space combat, and did very well in strategic planning.

His skills were not what Terk and Jori admired most about him, though. Nor was it his unwavering loyalty to the Kavaks. Brevak was an exceptional leader and his men loved him. Terk and Jori had tried to determine what it was about Brevak that made it so, but weren’t around Brevak enough to find out. All Terk knew was that while his father’s men grumbled and complained but did as they were told, Brevak’s men seemed to celebrate their leader.

Terk had tried to get father to send him to the Basilisk so he could tutor under Brevak. But although his father trusted Brevak’s skills and loyalty, Terk sensed a wariness in him.

“However,” Brevak continued, “we engaged with a couple of Alliance ships just before crossing the border and suffered additional damage.”

“Repairable?”

“Yes, my Lord. Within the hour.”

“Injuries to your crew?”

“No one this time.”

“And what of the Alliance ships?” Terk asked.

“I’m sure they sustained more damage, but I doubt it was significant. They didn’t follow us over, although I think they could have. I will need backup, Sir, if you want me to go back over to destroy them.”

“Backup is a few day cycles away yet. Repair your ship and monitor the borders to make sure they don’t sneak in.”

“Yes, my Lord.”

Terk disconnected the communication and the window went back to its view of space. He sat back down in his chair but was careful not to make it look like it was with relief. There had been a time when he would have relished the idea of going to war with the Alliance. But after nearly dying and being rescued by them a few periods back, he had a difficult time seeing them as his enemies.

While Terk didn’t like the idea of Jori endangering himself in order to save them, he did hope they wouldn’t have to die. He especially hoped he wouldn’t have to be the one to kill them. Terk didn’t enjoy killing the way some of his father’s men seemed to. But he had no trouble with killing when it was necessary, although he suspected killing J.T. would bother him. Not to mention that Jori would never forgive me.

Jori came onto the bridge before Terk could contemplate the problem of the Alliance crew further. His brother was apprehensive, though lately that was nothing unusual.

“What are you doing here?” Terk asked.

“Father summoned us.”

“What about?”

“I don’t know,” Jori replied.

Terk felt a spike in brother’s his nervousness. “I’m sure it’s nothing,” he replied as he and Jori made their way to their father’s ready room.

When they entered, their father was focused on his work screen. Terk sensed he was deep in thought and didn’t seem to be in a foul mood.

Good, Terk thought. He still knows nothing.

Terk’s hopes were dashed, though, when his father looked up at him with his piercing dark eyes. Terk felt a mental stab when his father’s anger spiked.

“Jako came to me with a disturbing complaint,” father said.

Shit, Terk thought, blood draining from his face. He had meant to speak to Jako as soon as his shift was over. Now it was too late.

“He says the Alliance crew members don’t know what they’re doing,” he continued.

“Some are more knowledgeable than others,” Jori replied with a calm Terk knew he didn’t feel. Their nervousness had intensified, though neither let it show on their face. Their father couldn’t sense emotions like they could so their ability to hide how they felt was a strong advantage.

The man must have suspected something, though, because his jaw clenched and his nostrils flared. “He seems to think they’re faking it.”

Shit! Terk tried to think of an excuse but his brother beat him to it.

“If they are lying, we’d sense it.”

“How can you be sure? You barely know what you’re doing.”

“I know more than Jako,” Jori said, trying not to sound defensive.

“Terk?” his father said. “Have you sensed any deception in them?”

“No …” His voice cracked. “No, Sir.”

His father glared at them each in turn. Terk suppressed the urge to swallow and held his breath as his father scrutinized them. Both brothers stood stiff in an at-ease stance in hopes of reflecting calm and confidence.

“Just to be sure,” he finally said, “get Derianna … now.”

Shit, shit, shit! Terk thought but kept his face straight. Both brother’s acknowledged their father’s command while keeping their composure, although both were a hundred times more tense than they had been just a moment before.

Derianna was their mother and her ability to sense emotions and lies was much more precise than Terk and Jori’s. Plus she had another skill, one that kept her close while the other concubines tended to get passed on to the men when their father got bored with them.

“Shit!” Terk said out loud once he and his brother were clear of their father’s ready room. If father finds out about our ruse, he’ll be beyond pissed. Terk wanted to be angry at his little brother, and at the Alliance, for getting him into this mess. But the truth was, he was worried. And not worried for himself, worried for Jori.

Their father only had two surviving sons and an assassination attempt that corrupted his DNA kept him from being able to procreate more. But having two sons meant one was expendable.

Terk had been sensing his father’s increased impatience and annoyance with Jori. Although Jori was better than Terk at just about everything, he was very stubborn about certain things. The one annoying father the most was that Jori refused to torture or murder anyone. Oh, he would kill if he had to, but never murder. To make matters worse, rather than simply refuse to do what father told him, Jori often argued with him about it. Although Jori’s reasoning seemed logical, it only served to infuriate their father. Terk was afraid that one of these days his father would lose his temper and take Jori’s punishments too far. It wouldn’t be the first time their father had killed one of their brothers.

Terk pushed these dire thoughts out of his mind. He and Jori would get through this and they would get through it together.

“Warn them quickly,” he said to his brother in their secret language. “I’ll talk to mother.”

Before they could get far, Jori stopped short and held the comm button by his ear. Terk sensed a sharp panic from him. “Yes, Sir,” Jori said.

“What is it?” he asked.

Jori’s face was pale. “Father just called me back. I can’t warn them.”

“Did he say what he wanted?”

“No.”

Shit. Terk tried to think of something but nothing came to mind. When father called for them, there was no delaying. “I’m sorry, Little Brother, but this might be the end of it.”

“Maybe Mother…”

“Maybe. Or maybe we’ll get caught, dammit.” Terk glowered, daring his brother to protest.

Jori didn’t say a word, but the look on his face and the emotions emanating from him said it all.

“Dammit!” Terk said. He turned away in a huff and headed towards the harem. Anyone looking at him would have thought he was in a furious mood, but inside his gut churned with worry.

 

So what do you think of this chapter? Constructive criticism is welcome.

(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright September, 2015 by Dawn Ross

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