Archive for kavakian empire

National Novel Writing Month Winner 2016!

Posted in The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , , , , , on December 3, 2016 by Dawn Ross

NaNoWriMo Winner 2016

I did it! I completed the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge for 2016. I wrote over 50,000 words in November towards another novel. Book Three of the Kavakian Empire has its first draft written. It is nowhere near complete, though. There will probably be two to three rewrites and much editing to be done before it will be published. And that goal is quite some time away since I’m still rewriting book one of this sci-fi epic!

Speaking of book one, I’m still in the process of rewriting it. I had planned on having it ready to publish by the end of this year, but it will probably still be another six months or so before it’s ready. Why? Rewriting is such a detailed process. Each chapter needs to be evaluated and possibly modified. My first set of beta readers had a lot of great tips for making the story better. Hopefully, there will be fewer such tips in the second wave of beta readers. Then editing will still need to be done.

Anyway, I just wanted to pass on the good news. Thank you for following my blog. 🙂

Dawn Ross

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StarFire Dragons Chapter 1 Rewrite #3

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised 3, The Kavakian Empire 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

Conclusion to StarFire Dragons: Part One of the Kavakian Empire

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised, The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2016 by Dawn Ross

If you’ve gotten this far, then you like my science fiction story. Do you like it well enough to buy it? Great! Because will be ready to buy soon. Right now, it’s being reviewed by beta readers and edited by a professional. I will let you know as soon as it’s published.

“What? You mean I have to buy it in order to find out the end?” you say.

I bet you feel cheated, like I’ve dangled a free story over you like a carrot and then whacked you with the stick instead.

Before you send me a nasty email, let me explain myself. I’ve worked long and hard on this science fiction novella. I’ve worked many hours, days, weeks, months, and even more than a year on it. Now let me ask you… If you wrote a book or even created a piece of art or composed some music, wouldn’t you want to get paid for it? Of course you would! It’s only fair, right?

My intent is not to cheat you. In fact, part of the reason for posting this free version of my sci-fi novel is to keep from cheating people. How so? Well, have you ever purchased a book that really sucked, that sucked so badly you could barely get through to page 10? By giving the first 3/4 of my story for free, I’ve given people the opportunity to decide whether they like it or not. And so I say again, if you’ve gotten this far then you like it.

So please help an artist out. Encourage me to finish Part Two by purchasing Part One of the Kavakian Empire: StarFire Dragons. And keep me excited about writing so that I write even more of this continuing space opera saga (which I already have mostly mapped out).

Thank you for your consideration.

Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire Part One Chapter 33 – Revised

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

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part One – Starfire Dragons (provisional title)

Chapter 33 – Revised

(Here is another brand new chapter. I hinted at some of it in the unrevised version of my science fiction story, so maybe you know what’s coming… maybe.)

Jori sprung forward, landed on his hands, flipped back onto his feet, and repeated three times, adding an extra twist on the last one, and landed facing the direction he had just come. Terk furrowed his brow in determination and then did his own moves down the mat, landing next to Jori with a full flip.

The two went back and forth at increasing levels of difficulty, not really competing yet still trying to outdo one another. Neither of them spoke. They hadn’t spoken since yesterday’s incident at the gym. Jori was irked with Terk’s constant confrontational attitude and Terk was probably upset at him for calling him out on it.

What does he expect? Sure, the Alliance as a whole was their enemy. But Captain Arden’s words kept popping back in his head. Why? Why are we enemies? He still didn’t know the answer. But he knew J.D. wasn’t his enemy. The man had played a large part in saving their lives. And he’d been protecting him while Terk was in a coma. If only Terk would listen and understand.

J.D. walked by, dabbing his forehead with a towel. The wetness of his shirt indicated he was probably done for the day since the man rarely spent more than an hour at the gym.

Jori caught J.D.’s eye. The man gave a nod and small wave, verifying his assumption. Jori dipped his head in return while Terk simply glowered. His brother continued glaring at the man’s back as he headed towards the exit. Jori clenched his teeth and bit back the name he wanted to call his brother. Terk caught the look and the tension between them grew.

“I’m done here,” Terk said abruptly.

“Fine,” Jori replied.

Terk moved to leave. “Well, come on,” he said irritably. “We have to do what the Alliance says and stay together,” he added sarcastically.

Jori growled, but followed. No need to give the guards a reason to act. They were already watching with the intensity of a caged blackbeast, ready to attack as soon as the cage door flew open.

Jori walked the track with his brother sullen silence. He masked his emotions, knowing Terk would unintentionally feed off them. He also kept his mouth closed as they paused at different workout stations knowing if he showed any interest or disinterest, his brother would claim the opposite just out of spite.

A prickling sensation tickled his mind. He stopped.

“Come on already, dammit.”

Terk’s annoyance touched his senses, but the other sensation was too strong to be overcome. “Do you feel that?”

“Feel what?”

Jori looked back to where he thought the sensation might be coming from. There were several people doing various workouts, but their emotions seemed to be a simple mixture of determination and satisfaction.

“Menace.” A shiver ran down his spine. Where is it coming from?

“Menace?” Terk crossed his arms.

“You can’t feel it?” Terk’s ability was not as sensitive as his own. But the feeling was so starkly different from anyone else’s that he should notice. Maybe his own attitude is getting in the way.

Terk stepped beside him and looked around.

The sensation dissipated, as though whoever it was had left.

“Hey,” a man called out from behind.

Jori turned around. His concern was replaced by a spike of annoyance. Calloway.

“If you two are looking for something to do, how about a game of hoop ball?” Calloway wore a kind smile, but Jori could tell there was no sincerity in it.

What’s he up to?

“That’s not such a good idea,” one of his guards, Lt. Sharkey, said before he or Terk could reply.

It was odd seeing a female in charge of security. Odder still was seeing and sensing how much the other guards deferred to her without any hint of disdain—everyone except Calloway, anyway.

“Why not, Lieutenant?” Calloway cocked head in mock confusion. “It’s just a friendly game.”

Lt. Sharkey opened her mouth.

“Certainly,” Terk said. “I don’t mind a friendly game.” Terk also wore a smile, one just as duplicitous as Calloway’s.

Shit. Now they’re both up to something. He scrutinized the surrounding guards. As much as he’d love to humiliate Calloway, no good could come of this.

He glanced at Lt. Sharkey. He got the sense that she didn’t trust Calloway either, but she considered it anyway.

“Yeah, it’s just a game, Lieutenant,” one of Calloway’s team members said.

The other Alliance crew members apparently part of the hoop ball game looked less confident. Lt. Sharkey met the eyes of each. One man shrugged his shoulders. Two gave Terk and Jori a dark glare but masked the look from her. Jori sensed nervousness from some of the others, but none of them spoke up against the idea.

“Very well,” Lt. Sharkey said. “But make sure it stays friendly. Is that understood?”

“Yes, Sir,” Calloway replied.

Calloway’s smile curled up slightly and Jori sensed his smugness. Unfortunately, Terk also felt smug.

Chikusho. Shit.

The game was rather easy and not at all as intense as wall ball. All Jori had to do was pass the ball to other team members or throw the ball in the hoop. Being the shortest player gave him the advantage of being able to dart around the opposing players. And both he and Terk quickly got a feel for aiming the throw of the ball through the hoop.

The four players they had been teamed with had not been happy in the very beginning of the game. But they warmed up to them as their team’s score progressed. As Calloway’s team fell behind, Jori sensed the man’s anger rise.

Jori made a move in one direction, then pivoted in the other. He darted past another opponent attempting to block him only to find Calloway in his way. He feigned again. Calloway didn’t fall for it. Again, back and forth, until Calloway overreached in the opposite direction.

Just as Jori slipped by, Calloway slid his foot in the way. Jori skipped over it, nearly losing his balance in the process. He regained quickly and aimed the ball.

The ball sailed through the air and fell through the hoop. His team cheered. One member actually clapped him on the back.

“Great shot,” the man said.

The other team had the ball now. Jori had a knack for getting the ball away from them when they bounced it, but this time his opponent tossed the ball overhand. He jumped at it, but didn’t even came close.

Jori ran down the court, following the other team to their hoop. Calloway ran up beside him, then purposefully placed his foot in front of him. Jori hopped over it.

The game moved too quickly for him to respond, so he played on. Calloway tried twice more, and failed twice more.

The ball was his once more. He rushed down the court, bouncing the ball as he went. Calloway jumped in front of him. The man held his arms out wide. His stance was also wide, and so was the stupid grin he had on his face. Jori glanced around. All of his team members, including Terk, were blocked by their opponents. His only chance was to shoot the ball. It was a distance shot, but he could probably make it.

Jori held the ball up and took aim. He jumped up and flicked his wrist. The ball sailed out over Calloway’s head.

He didn’t have a chance to see the ball go into the hoop. The palm of Calloway’s hand jabbed him in the sternum, immediately taking the breath out of him. He flew backward. Master Jetser had taught him how to recover from a fall, but he couldn’t think quickly enough and landed with a hard thud.

Calloway barked a laugh. Jori’s face flushed. He quickly regained his feet and balled his fists at his sides. He opened his mouth with an insult ready on his tongue but Terk suddenly stepped between facing Calloway.

His elder brother’s elbow drew back and then a loud pop echoed. “Don’t you dare touch my brother, you fucking ass!”

Calloway landed hard with a grunt.

The guards rushed forward, surrounding him and his brother. He and Terk automatically went into a battle crouch and stood together back-to-back, ready to fight them off.

Evade!

His brother’s command in their Tredon tongue spurred him to duck. The air crackled above him as the stun fire shot past.

“Stop!” a female voice yelled. “Stop, dammit! That’s an order!”

His heart pounded wildly while at the same time the heat of his brother standing behind him gave him comfort.

The guards stopped short. But each of them held their stun guns out, ready to fire. If they thought this would stop them, they were mistaken. Jori and his brother had practiced just such a scenario hundreds of times. They’d each duck and roll to one of their opponents and disarm them. Then they’d take each opponent down, two at a time, whether by turning their firepower against them or by physical force.

“Stand down!” a male voice said.

J.D.

“I said, stand down!”

He and Terk remained in their battle stance. One-by-one, the guards tucked their weapons away and stepped back.

When they were all obviously no longer a threat, Jori stood erect. Terk did so as well, albeit much more slowly. His brother’s face was bright red and his knuckles were white from clenching his fists so tightly.

“What the heck happened?” J.D. said to no one in particular.

“He broke by dose,” Calloway said. The man was still on the ground holding his nose. Blood gushed from between his fingers. No one moved to help him.

J.D. turned his eyes to Terk. The look wasn’t accusatory. Jori could sense the man’s disappointment, though.

“He hit Jori and made him fall!” Terk pronounced each word like he was punching them out. His nostrils flared and his chest heaved.

J.D. looked at Jori. Jori replied with a nod of his head, but said nothing.

“It wad an acthident,” Calloway replied.

“Fucking liar!” Terk turned to go after the man again.

J.D. put out his hand. “Stop!”

Terk stopped and turned slowly to face J.D. A growl rumbled in his throat and Jori could sense his anger boiling over.

“I believe you,” J.D. said to Terk in a much calmer voice.

Terk’s growl died. A hint of confusion stabbed through his anger. Jori sensed the commander’s truthfulness so Terk probably did too.

J.D. turned to Jori. “Are you okay?”

“Yes.”

“Let’s get you to sick bay and have a look anyway, alright?”

“Why?” Terk barked. “So you can verify we’re telling the truth? You think we’re lying about this?”

“I just told you, I believe you,” J.D. said firmly. “This is just protocol.”

His brother’s jaw rippled, as though he were grinding his teeth.

“I thought you left,” Jori said to J.D., hoping to divert his brother.

“Lt. Sharkey called me back. She suspected Lt. Calloway might try something and thought my presence would deter him.”

“Well it didn’t,” Terk said vehemently. “Why in the hell did that ass pick on my brother anyway?” Terk spit on the floor and glared hatefully at Calloway’s back as the man staggered toward the exit.

Jori glowered at the man’s back as well. Interesting how no one is bothering to help him. “He hates us. But since he can’t do anything about it, he resorts to pettiness.”

Terk frowned at his brother, but the look wasn’t hateful. “Why you?”

He shook his head. He and Terk had been taught to take out the strongest opponent first, so Calloway’s actions made little sense.

J.D. put his arm on Jori’s shoulder and looked at Terk. “He’s a bully. Bullies only pick on people they know they can overcome.

Terk huffed. “Jori can easily reduce that baka to a pile of bloody goo.”

J.D. winced. “Let me rephrase that. Bullies only pick on people they think they can overcome.”

Jori’s cheeks burned. J.D.’s words troubled him, though he didn’t know why. Perhaps it was the man’s corresponding feeling of disgust. Why did he touch my shoulder when he said that? Why did he wince at what Terk said? Does he think we are bullies too? Some Tredons were. His father certainly could be. I’m not though, am I?

*****

Terk clenched and unclenched his fists against the tingling sensation in his fingers as the adrenaline coursed through him. “He’s a coward for trying to hurt my little brother. You shouldn’t have stopped me,” he said to the commander.

“While I agree Lt. Calloway was way out of line,” the commander replied with an annoyingly calm look on his face, “and he will get punished for it—your reaction made it look like you were the instigator rather than the other way around.”

He grunted. Master Jetser had said something similar on more than one occasion, but why in the hell should he care what others think?

The commander shrugged his shoulders. “It’s over now, at least. Let’s just go on to sick bay, alright?”

Terk heated again. “He said he’s okay. He doesn’t need to go to your stupid sick bay.”

The commander stiffened at his tone. He could sense a touch of uneasiness in the man and it almost made him smile.

“Well, I’m going anyway.” Jori briskly stepped away.

Terk opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again and growled instead. He caught up to his brother, giving both him and the commander a dark look.

He deserves to die,” he said to Jori in their secret language as they headed toward sick bay.

His brother sucked in his breath. “J.D. has done nothing!

He sensed the commander didn’t know what they were saying, but the man’s head cocked slightly at hearing his untranslated name.

Terk frowned. “I meant Calloway. But the commander too. All of them. They are our enemies.

Jori’s eyebrows went up slightly. “They saved us.”

He let out an exasperated sigh as a new heat flushed over him. “Not this damned argument again.”

His brother’s brows turned back down. “You wouldn’t even be alive if it weren’t for them.”

He stopped short and turned to his little brother, leaning in close to his face. His teeth clenched so hard that a pang ran from his jaw and down his neck. “I don’t understand why you like him so much. He’s a pussy.”

He’s not.” Jori steadily held eye contact.

He clenched his fists as a strong urge to knock some sense into his little brother came over him.

“Is everything alright?”

The commander’s voice grated his nerves but he ignored him. He could sense the man’s apprehension, but the feeling was overpowered by the determination he sensed from his little brother.

Terk straightened. As much as Jori frustrated him sometimes, he wouldn’t hit him. It wasn’t because Jori would hit him back. It was because he wouldn’t. Somehow, this bothered him more than anything. Besides, it wouldn’t do any good anyway. Stubborn brat.

Terk held his annoyance in check but refused to let the argument go, especially since he was right about this. “He is a coward. I can practically feel him shaking in his boots when he’s around us.”

He’s just being cautious.”

He’s afraid.” Terk spoke through his teeth.

And yet he still doesn’t cower. Master Jetser says bravery is when you stand tall despite your fear.”

I don’t give a damn what Master Jetser says. I still say he’s a coward.”

Calloway’s the coward.”

Which only brings me back to my original argument.”

Jori squared his shoulders. “Calloway got what he deserved. You humiliated him. You broke his nose and didn’t even get in trouble for it. I’d say that’s punishment enough.”

He huffed at Jori’s naivety. Men like Calloway needed to be put in their proper place—at the bottom. “You’re weak. You know that? You stayed too long with mother.”

Jori set his jaw firmly, but Terk could sense the comment stung. He averted his gaze from Jori’s hard stare. The comment was unfair and he knew it. Jori could outdo him in almost every physical activity. The only things holding him back was his current lack of strength.

Despite his guilt, Terk wasn’t about to apologize for the comment. “Fine. Maybe we’ll just hurt him a bit when we make our escape.”

He turned away and the two of them began walking again. The commander kept pace, radiating a sense of unease along the way.

We don’t have to escape.” Jori said. “They’re letting us go.”

Terk growled in frustration. “We can’t just walk away from here without doing something to make up for our failure.”

Father was going to be so pissed. He was Daiichi Prince and it was his duty become the fiercest of warriors. It was bad enough those damned Grapnes had caused a fiasco. Grapnes of all people! He had no intention of continuing to play nice with these Alliance cowards.

Jori scowled. “Father doesn’t have to know we were ever here.”

Dammit, Jori. Don’t you get it? We failed. I failed.” He leaned in slightly as they walked and pointed emphatically at his chest. “I can’t go home empty handed.”

Why not? Why should we try so hard to please someone who doesn’t really care about us?

Terk growled. “Because we have to be strong.”

I am strong. I don’t have to be hateful like father in order to be strong. Master Jetser says there is strength in standing up for what is right.”

Fuck Master Jetser!

“Hey!” The commander put out his hand to stop them.

Terk stopped but gave the man a dark and hateful look.

“I don’t know what you two are arguing about, but—“

“It’s none of your business,” Terk said through clenched teeth.

A sense of anxiety spiked from the commander, but the man squared up his shoulders. Terk glared at him, daring him to interfere.

Jori stepped between them with is back to Terk. “It’s nothing, J.D. Just an argument between brothers.”

The commander didn’t move. Terk kept his eyes locked to the man. He wasn’t about to be the first to turn away.

Jori stepped back into him, forcing him to step back. He looked down at his brother in reflex, breaking the lock.

His face tightened along with another wave of heat that swept through him. “Dammit, Jori.”

Jori’s face was dark red and his eyes like daggers. “Stop this, Terk. He is not our enemy.”

The torrent of fury his little brother radiated gave him pause. Not because he was afraid, but because he knew this level of determination. If he made a move against the commander, he had no doubt Jori would try to stop him and he’d have no choice but to fight with his brother too.

His stomach roiled at the thought but he pushed it down. He held his brother’s glare for a moment longer, then turned away abruptly. “Fuck this. I’m going back to the gym. You and your friend can go on to sick bay if you want.”

He marched back the way they had come, not caring if anyone followed. The guards did, of course. All six of them.

*****

Derovichi scrolled through the information on his tablet. The captain had told him to leave it on his ship in their docking bay, but he needed to get this work done. Fortunately, getting the tablet right out from under their noses had been as easy as breathing, just as easy as it had been in getting the other perantium suits.

Someone tapped Derovichi’s shoulder. He looked up from the tablet and saw no one.

He stood, not the least bit afraid. “No games. Show yourself.”

A shimmer wavered in the air before him and coalesced into a man. Except for the silver suit the man wore, it was like looking in a mirror. Many outsiders couldn’t tell one Chekrosian from another, but in this case making the distinction was actually a challenge. Derovichi recognized the same jutting chin, the long but not too long face, the narrow lips and sunken eyes.

“It worked.” His twin brother grinned widely.

“So the security officer’s information was valid.”

“I have a plan.” Conovichi’s grin widened further.

Derovichi returned the smile. “I’ll notify the others. The six of us should be able to pull this off.”

 

THIS IS THE LAST CHAPTER I WILL PUBLISH ON THE BLOG

To find out the end, you will need to wait until my book is published. This could take time depending on whether I can find some beta readers to give me feedback, whether the feedback requires a lot of rewriting, how long it takes for the book to be edited, and how long it takes for me to format it for both an e-book and a paperback.

I apologize for getting you hooked and not letting you read the end. But if any of you are artists (whether it be with music, fine art, dance, or writing) then you understand how much work goes into what we do and how important it is for us to be compensated.

 

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 August, 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 32 – Revised

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised, The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2016 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part One – Starfire Dragons (provisional title)

Chapter 32 – Revised

(This chapter is even newer than the last. The following two scenes were not even mentioned in the unrevised version of this science fiction story.)

J.D.’s skin prickled and his jaw tingled as though his blood had drained from his head. His breath caught every time one of the two princes swung or kicked at one another. The two boys sparred in a blur of motion. Jori whirled and twisted like a blade in a cyclone, with Terk moving nearly as fast.

Although it was only Terk’s second day out of bed, his treatment was complete and he was at full strength now. Yet he still barely matched the moves of his little brother.

One of Jori’s kicks caught Terk right in the jaw. Spittle flew, and maybe even a little blood. J.D. flinched, certain that Terk’s temper would ignite and the two would fight for real.

The two stopped for a brief moment. Terk shook his head, then spit off to the side. His expression was blank. Not a hint of anger showed.

In one quick motion, he raised his fists and the two sparred once again.

After two hours of sparring, a rather large crowd had gathered. Most had their mouths agape. Not even Lt. Commander Bracht and Lt. Gresher’s sparring bouts looked like this. Bracht, though strong and fast, definitely didn’t have Jori’s agility and flexibility. And the two men didn’t land nearly as many hits as the two brothers.

A deep thud sounded as Terk’s leg jutted into Jori’s gut. The boy tumbled back, but quickly somersaulted to his feet just as his brother honed in for another attack.

J.D. hesitated to stop this. To others, it might appear the two brothers were fighting. Yet, somehow he knew they weren’t. Despite the intensity of their movements, neither did any serious damage to one another. Dear god, this must be their normal.

The sparring ended abruptly, as though the brothers had reacted to an indiscernible signal. The two bowed respectfully to one another. The whispers of the onlookers grew louder, but no one seemed to be brave enough to direct their questions and comments to the princes themselves.

Terk turned away toward the exit of the gym while Jori made his way to J.D.’s side. Terk stopped short and turned to his brother with a half-frown. He hesitated a moment, then met with J.D. as well.

“We’re ready to go,” he said with a hint of irritation in his voice. He scowled down at his brother, who returned the look with a dark one of his own.

Instead of leaving, the three of them ended up stopping to watch the officers using the various martial equipment. Terk squared up his stance and crossed his arms in front of the speed bag where Bracht was practicing. The back of J.D.’s neck prickled. The increased rate of his heart quickly caught up with the beat-beat-beat of the bag being hit.

“What the hell?” Terk said loudly. “You have a tame Rabnoshk? So much for them being a superior warrior race.”

Bracht caught the speed bag in both hands and growled. “Fool, boy! You know nothing of what it means to be a true warrior.”

Terk reddened. “A true warrior doesn’t serve his enemies.”

“A true warrior knows hate is his only enemy. One day, perhaps you and your barbaric peoples will evolve and learn this.”

Terk uncrossed his arms dramatically. He puffed out his chest and clenched his fists. “You think you’re better than me, you fucking Rabnee?”

“That’s enough!” J.D. quickly stepped between them. “Lt. Commander,” he said to Bracht, “I suggest you go back to your practice.”

Bracht jutted out his chin. “Gladly, Sir.”

The Rabnoshk warrior pounded the bag anew. It was the same rhythm, yet somehow louder and more menacing. The security officer guards were still but looked ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. Each one of them glared threateningly at the daring prince.

I’m going to have a talk with that man. Bracht had just set a terrible example in front of the crew. Not that it was unprovoked, but he should have ignored the boy. No good can come of this.

“Is everyone here a coward?” Terk said loudly.

The beat of the speed bag faltered. J.D. suppressed a curse. “Do you think it’s smart to try and pick a fight with every member of this crew?” he said to the prince before Bracht could make another comment.

“You mean this crew of weaklings?” Terk made an emphatic gesture with his hand.

“I mean an entire ship full of people who hate you and would rather see you dead than walking these halls.”

“I’m not afraid of you. But I can tell you’re afraid of me.” The elder prince smiled dangerously.

J.D. ignored the flight-side of the fight-or-flight sensation welling up within him and stood firm. “I don’t deny that your behavior gives me a reason to be concerned.”

“Reason to be concerned?” Terk made a derisive snort.

He let the comment pass. “But don’t think for one moment that I’ll let that stop me if you cross a line.”

“And just what do you think—“

Jori stepped between them. “Achta!” he said to his brother. “Isha dong wacha be? Dukka ma sevi den… agi den.” Jori’s tone was harsh and his brow furrowed in a heated glare.

Whatever language the boy had spoken, J.D. had never heard it before. It wasn’t Tredon yet it was obvious Terk understood.

The elder prince bared his teeth angrily. J.D. braced himself, expecting Terk to turn his rage loose on the boy.

Jori stood fearlessly against his taller and larger brother. The two of them glared at one another with balled fists hanging at their sides. The air around them seemed to crackle. J.D.’s heart froze. If the two fought for real…

Just as he mustered the mindfulness to intervene, Terk’s posture visibly relaxed and his face went blank. His eyes broke from his brother and bored into J.D.’s.

“Lucky for you, my brother likes you.”

Without waiting for a reply, the elder prince turned and stalked away.

J.D. glanced down at Jori. The boy’s face looked nearly ready to spit fire as he watched Terk’s back. It was difficult seeing him as a ten-year-old boy right now. Is Terk afraid of him?

“Thank you,” he said to the boy.

Jori made a sharp nod, but said 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 July, 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 31 – Revised

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised, The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2016 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part One – Starfire Dragons (provisional title)

Chapter 31 – Revised

(This is a completely new chapter in my science fiction story. I think I only mentioned this scene briefly in the final scene of the unrevised version. As I’m writing this, I realize I need a lot more tension. But I’m not quite sure how to do it. Please read this, and then feel free to offer some tips.)

Terk slammed the digiview down, making J.D. jump in his seat.

He’s more childish than his little brother. He opened his mouth for a rebuke, but thought better of it and pressed his lips together instead. It wouldn’t do any good anyway.

“I gotta get out of this damned bed!” Terk threw the covers off and swung his bare feet to the floor.

“The doctor said you should rest one more day,” Jori said, seemingly unfazed by his brother’s outburst.

“I don’t give a shit what he said. If I lay here for a minute longer, I’m going to implode with boredom.”

J.D. winced. The elder prince’s annoyance was almost palatable. Please, no more temper tantrums.

Terk’s outburst yesterday had nearly caused an incident. In a bout of frustration, the elder prince had sent his tray crashing into the wall. His face was red, most likely from embarrassment at not having much strength. When security had rushed in with their stun guns ready, Terk’s face had turned redder, probably from outrage. Thankfully, the paligenesis treatment was still in progress and the prince was incapable of reacting with anything other than curses.

It had taken some convincing to get the officers to stand down… and even more to get Terk to cool down. Perhaps Bracht had been right about keeping the princes in the brig. Well, Terk anyway.

“At least take it slow,” Jori said.

Terk didn’t listen. He stood abruptly from the bed and took a step forward. The move made him stumble like a drunken Bodenkan mercenary.

J.D. suppressed a smirk, not bothering to help the grouchy prince. It would serve him right if he fell on his butt.

Jori rushed to Terk’s side only to stop short as his brother stabilized. The elder prince managed to remain upright. He took a few deep breaths and then walked over to get the clothes Hanna had brought.

Terk pulled off his gown to change. Despite the atrophy, his arms and legs were corded with muscle. He was lean as compared to J.D.’s own build, but looked as fit as any of the Alliance security officers who guarded him. I only hope they will be able to handle him if things really get out of control… which is where things seem to be heading.

J.D. stepped out to give the boy some privacy. Jori hung back a few moments, probably to make sure his brother wouldn’t lose his balance, then met J.D. on the opposite side of the privacy curtain.

It had only been two days since Terk had awoken, but he was fully awake and growing more irritable by every passing hour. And the more irritable the elder prince became, the more difficult it was for J.D. to keep his calm composure. Jori probably sensed this but didn’t comment on it.

Terk didn’t seem to have the same level of intellect as his younger brother. Jori spent as much time studying as he did practicing in the gym, but the elder prince only used his digiview to find instructional or entertaining martial vids. When Jori had mentioned the exciting things he’d learned when reading about Pershornian warfare, Terk waved him off. And when J.D. had suggested a game of schemster, the young man twisted his mouth as though he’d eaten something sour.

The privacy curtain slid open. “Let’s go,” Terk said.

To his surprise, Terk walked steadily, pausing only long enough to give the security officers a dirty look as he headed out.

Dr. Jerom looked up from the digiview he was reviewing. He opened his mouth to say something, but was too far away to be heard. J.D. shrugged his shoulders, giving the man an apologetic look. Dr. Jerom snapped his mouth shut and shook his head. Terk wasn’t the first patient to ignore his advice.

J.D. glanced at the two Kavakian princes as the three of them headed down the corridor towards the gym. Terk’s upper lip perspired, but his jaw was set in apparent determination. The young man’s eyes were dark yet bright at the same time, as though he were trying to decide whether he was angry at himself for feeling so weak or excited about finally getting out of bed and doing something other than browsing a digiview.

Terk seemed very much like Jori in a few ways. He often had the same placid look, though somehow colder looking. He was just as terse and mistrustful. And he seemed to have Jori’s same ardor for physical activity. Earlier when Jori told him about all the activities available here, the elder prince had seemed riveted.

Even now, Jori was talking about it. J.D. had never heard so many words come out of the boy’s mouth at one time. Nor had he seen the boy express so much emotion. Jori’s eyes were bright and there was almost a smile on his face. It was obvious he was enamored with his brother and exceedingly glad to have him back.

Terk’s eyes suddenly lit up at the pretty young woman headed down the corridor towards them. The elder prince’s mouth curled up and he looked the woman up and down with obvious interest.

J.D. cringed. If he’d ever looked at a woman like that, he’d likely get his face slapped. But the woman either didn’t notice the leering look or was ignoring it.

Terk turned his head to watch her behind as she passed. A heat rose in J.D.’s chest. It wasn’t the first woman Terk had given that leering look to. One of the security officers returned his look with a hard stare, to which Terk had responded by rolling his eyes. And one of the medics pointedly ignored him as she checked his diagnostics, and then rushed away never to return again.

“Don’t look at people like that,” he snapped. “She’s a human being, not prey.”

Terk stopped dead in his tracks. His face darkened and he gave J.D. a penetrating glare. “What? You think I’m some sort of animal?”

He bristled, but getting angry wouldn’t help the situation. “Look. I don’t know how you treat women in Tredon,” he said, trying to keep his tone neutral. “But here, we treat everyone with respect.”

“And just how was I being disrespectful?”

“Leering is not appropriate. Women here find it highly offensive.”

Terk cocked his head ever so slightly.

The confused expression threw him off. He really doesn’t understand, does he? “Do women look at you the way you looked at her?” he asked, hoping to explain it from a different perspective.

“Yes,” Terk replied with a look on his face that seemed to add the words, ‘of course’.

Well, he is the prince. “What if they don’t give you that look? What if you look at them like that and they don’t return it?”

Terk shrugged. “I move on to someone else.”

“You do?” J.D. didn’t mean to say it out loud. He tried not to box people into a stereotype, but it was difficult in this case since Tredons were notorious for committing rape. The files he’d read described Tredons like the barbarian hordes of old where women were taken as spoils of war.

Terk’s face darkened again. “I’m not an animal.”

J.D. put up his hands. “That’s not what I meant. I’m sorry.”

Terk’s face softened somewhat. “If she’s not interested, she’s not interested.”

“She’s a little old for you, isn’t she?”

“I prefer older.” Terk’s eyes brightened and a small smile spread across his face.

J.D.’s stomach soured. “Well here, you are considered a child and any sexual activities with children are highly illegal.”

Terk smirked. “I’m not a virgin.”

He got the feeling Terk was telling the truth. “That’s not the point.”

The elder prince scowled. “So what is?”

J.D. sighed. Where was I going with this again? No, not the stereotype.  “The point is, even if you were an adult, people here don’t like to be leered at. It’s disrespectful. You’re more apt to make that woman feel uncomfortable than anything.”

Terk made a dismissive noise and shook his head. He turned away and they went on to the gym in silence.

The elder prince made a low whistle the moment they entered. J.D. had forgotten how large the recreational areas on Prontaean Alliance ships could be and tried to imagine how grand it looked through Terk’s eyes. Most ships couldn’t accommodate the space, but the Prontaean Alliance felt they could keep crews in space longer if they offered such amenities.

Jori and Terk took the lead with Jori pointing out all the various activities. The expanse to the right was nothing but weight equipment. Cardio machines were further up. Several large sectioned-off rooms for playing sports were further on. Then as they came around the gym’s jogging track, Jori pointed out the gymnastic equipment and several open areas for stretching, martial practice, or for playing other sports. The tour ended at a section where Lt. Gresher sparred with Lt. Addams.

“So, Commander,” Terk said with a sly look on his face. “What do you say you and I have a little sparring competition?”

J.D. suppressed the urge to wince. If the younger prince was at level nine, there was no telling what level the elder prince was at. Even in his weakened state, Terk was probably a lot more skillful than him. “I’m not sure that’s such a good idea.”

“Why? Are you scared?”

“No. Just practical.”

Terk made a small laugh. “Yeah? How’s that?”

“If you beat me, especially despite you’re condition, I will look bad in front of my crew.” Terk smirked at that. “If I beat you,” he said and Terk huffed, “I’m afraid it will sour our relationship. We only have a few days left together. I’d like to make the best of it.”

Terk turned to the closest group of security officers. “How about any of you?”

Two officers darkened and the third’s eyes went wide.

“No,” J.D. said loudly. “If you wish to spar, use the holo-program.”

“Over here,” Jori said, gesturing towards the far wall.

“Fine.” Terk strutted by the guards with a smug look on his face, making the two officers turn even darker.

J.D. sighed inwardly.

*****

J.D. fell heavily in the chair without meaning to. Captain Arden didn’t show any reaction, so J.D. assumed the casual motion was acceptable since it was just the two of them here in his ready room.

“I take it things are not going so well with the elder prince?” Captain Arden said.

He sighed heavily. His shoulders ached from holding so much tension. “I’ve never had such a need to practice meditation.”

“That bad?”

“Nothing violent, at least not yet. He’s very…” Rude? Confrontational? Moody? All of the above? “Surly.”

“The younger one was the same way. But you two seem to have made friends.”

I wish I were as confident as he sounds. “I hope so. Because right now I feel like tossing him in the brig.”

“So I take it it would be a bad idea to ask him about his mission.”

“Yes, Sir, it would. As curious as I am to find out what they meant regarding the scientists, I very much doubt he would reveal anything and I fear trying would cause even more trouble than it did with Jori.”

The captain frowned. “Let’s hope it’s nothing.”

“Short of keeping them prisoner, I don’t think we have a choice but to let it go.”

The captain cleared his throat and somehow managed to sit up straighter than he already was. “Speaking of prisoners,” he said in an ominous tone. “Zimmer has ordered we take the children to him.”

He froze as if he’d suddenly stepped onto the ice planet, Sardeer. “What? You can’t!”

The captain lifted his eyebrow at J.D.’s tone.

“You promised them,” he continued, trying to control his rising panic. “If you go back on that promise, there’s no telling what they’ll do. And I’m willing to bet they’re quite capable.”

“Then we’ll have to make sure we’re ready to handle them when they find out.”

“Sir, you can’t! You know it’s wrong. They’re not criminals. I admit the elder prince is a handful, but what happened to trying to handle this diplomatically? What happened to making a good impression on them in hopes of gaining their trust for future peace?”

The captain put up his hand. J.D. ignored him.

“What happened to trying to avoid a war? If Admiral Zimmer takes them into custody—“

“Enough!”

He snapped his mouth closed, cutting off the dozens of other arguments that spun around in his head. He breathed heavily while gripping the armrests of his chair.

“I know the consequences,” Captain Arden said in a moderate tone.

How can he be so calm? He gripped the chair so hard that a pain surged up his arm. It’s the Kimpke incident all over again. He’d wondered earlier whether the captain would choose duty over morality, and it seemed his question was now being answered.

“It’s not something I want to do,” the captain continued.

“Then don’t do it!”

The captain put up his hand again. “And it’s not something I’m going to do if I can help it. I’m speaking to you privately now because I need you to help me think of a way out of it.”

“Disobey him.”

“A way that won’t get us both a dishonorable discharge.”

He sat back in his chair heavily and loosened his grip on the armrests. The pounding of his heart throbbed in his ears.

“Getting the information we know they have won’t help. It will only wet the admiral’s appetite,” J.D. said bitterly. “We can help them escape somehow.”

“Only if we can find a way to do it without anyone getting hurt or anyone being put under investigation.”

“I’ll take the blame,” he replied. It would mean the end of his career. His gut churned at the thought, but he’d rather sleep at night than let Zimmer instigate a war.

“That’s very noble of you. But I’m not ready to lose another commander. We’ll think of something between now and when we get to the Chevert Outpost.”

J.D. straightened. “We’re still going to the Chevert Outpost?”

“We still have our other guests to drop off. And I convinced Admiral Zimmer this location would be more convenient.”

He sighed and some of the tension in his shoulders loosened. “May I suggest, Sir, that we say nothing to Jori and Terk about this until we know for certain what we’re going to do?”

“Excellent idea.”

“Anything else, Sir?”

“No. I think that’s quite enough. Don’t you?”

J.D. stood and made a tight smile. “Yes, Sir. I do.”

“Good. But I do have one more thing to say before you go?”

“Sir?”

“This conversation is strictly between you and I. Is that understood?”

“Yes, Captain. If it’s all the same to you, I’d prefer not to get anyone else involved.”

“Agreed.”

 

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 July, 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.

 

Temporarily Unpublishing The Dukarian Legacy

Posted in Book 1 - The Third Dragon, Book 2 - The Raven's Fire, Book 3 - The Dragon and the Lion, Marketing, Publishing, The Dukarian Legacy - Fantasy Novels with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2016 by Dawn Ross

As I’ve been writing the new sci-fi novel, I’ve come to realize my writing has come a long way over the past 10+ years. Therefore, I am temporarily removing the fantasy saga, The Dukarian Legacy, as a book for sale. My plan is to rewrite it, then republish it. This may take some time as I am currently focused on the science fiction story series, The Kavakian Empire.

Dawn Ross