Archive for starfire dragons

Core Story Problems with “StarFire Dragons”

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised 3, The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , , on March 25, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Book Cover for StarFire Dragons

Last week I discussed the core story problems my content / development editor pointed out. But when I discussed these issues, I discussed them in a general manner. The following applies those issues to my own story, “Starfire Dragons”.

Making the Primary Protagonist Face a Hard Choice

I seemed to have two primary protagonists, J.D. and Jori, neither of which had to face a truly difficult choice. Jori was faced with a choice where he could either please his father by hurting J.D. or not hurting J.D. and suffering the consequences of his father. But he makes his choice too easily. And the idea of consequences from his father is too distant for the reader to grasp. J.D. is faced with a choice where he could either go against his superiors to help the enemy child he’s come to care about or follow orders and betray the child. Again, he makes the choice too easily and he slips out of the consequences.

I admit, making characters I love makes it really difficult to put them in tight spots. But it’s got to be done if they’re going to truly grow, which leads to the next heading.

Helping the Primary Protagonist Grow

Both J.D. and Jori grew as people but not in a profound way and not in such a way where they had to face a final antagonist in order to grow. J.D. became less wishy-washy, but I think he’s still too wishy-washy in the end. At first glance, it would seem Jori made the most growth, but when you consider some of his history and his teachings with Master Jetser, he already had a foundation to build on.

Choosing One Primary Protagonist and One Primary Antagonist

As my editor, Kristen Lamb, pointed out, my story had no primary antagonist for the primary protagonist to fight. I thought my antagonist was more of an intangible one—our human tendency to hate someone because they are different than us. But how can there be a final battle with a human flaw? If I were to keep this human flaw as my primary antagonist, I would have put it into a single human form.

Jori as the Primary Protagonist?

If I choose Jori as the primary protagonist, who will be his primary antagonist? It can’t be J.D. because he would be downgraded to secondary protagonist. It could be the captain, but this would cause me to rethink the entire series I have mapped out. If I made Rear Admiral Zimmer the primary antagonist, I’d have to bring him more into the story. If I make Calloway the primary antagonist, I will need to give him a higher rank. Things to consider.

J.D. as the Primary Protagonist?

My other option is to make J.D. the primary protagonist. His primary antagonist can’t be the captain for the same reason indicated above. It could be Zimmer, maybe even Calloway. In a way, it could be the Alliance itself. After all, he’s struggling with a dilemma of duty versus morality. If the Alliance represents duty, he’d have to make a hard choice regarding morality. But the Alliance itself can’t be a defeated antagonist without a human form. Jori comes across as his antagonist at first, but my future stories won’t allow for him to be the primary antagonist.

Terk as the Primary Antagonist?

Perhaps Terk could be J.D.’s primary antagonist. Terk would have to wake up sooner and his father’s beliefs would have to be stronger than Jori’s. The only thing is, I will need to think of a way to defeat Terk without killing him (as Kristen suggested) because he’s an integral part of book two. I know, I know, Kristen. Having a “little darling” as you call it could be a huge boulder in the path of a successful story. But I will find a way to blow up that darned boulder and still keep my character. Perhaps defeat could mean thwarting Terk’s plans.

Creating a Final Epic Battle

No matter who I choose as my primary protagonist, I need to make sure they defeat my primary antagonist in a battle of some sort. Battles don’t always have to be with actual fighting. But considering Jori and Terk are warriors and J.D. is a strategist, I think this makes the most sense. I see a huge space battle scene forming.

Conclusion

If I really want to improve my writing and make this story great, much of it will have to be changed. A lot will need to be cut out. And some things may not go the way I had originally planned. While this seems harsh or even discouraging, I’m not put off by it. If anything, I’m raring to go. My mind is churning with ideas. “StarFire Dragons” isn’t going to be published when planned, but it will be published. And it will be my best work ever.

So Confused – Best Way to Start a Story?

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised 3, The Kavakian Empire, Writing with tags , , , , , , , on February 11, 2017 by Dawn Ross

I just finished tweaking my first sci-fi novel, StarFire Dragons. I tweaked the first chapter based on some good advice from someone I consider a professional writer. She said that rather than  just jump right into the action, I need to ground my character in a normal world first. So if you look at my original and my revised 3 versions, you can see the difference. My original started out with the communications officer reporting a distress signal. My recent final version, previously reviewed by said professional, starts out with J.D. sitting on the bridge and wondering what the heck he was doing here. In a way, it establishes ‘his’ problem as a character and I feel that it helps people get to know him a little as well as get a feel for the setting. Then at about the 7th paragraph, we get into the action with the distress signal.

I recently presented this same finalized first chapter to others and several are saying I should jump straight into the action in order to grab the reader’s attention. So which is it? Do I ground the reader first or do I jump straight into the action where no one knows the characters, or even cares? Both sides make valid points.

Getting a story reviewed and getting feedback is a great way for writers to grow. But sometimes these mixed messages can be quite confusing.

What do you think? When you begin reading a book, what do you like best about the beginning? Do you prefer a stage setting first or do you like to dive right into the action?

 

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.

 

The Kavakian Empire Part One Chapter 30 – Revised

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised, The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2016 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part One – Starfire Dragons (provisional title)

Chapter 30 – Revised

(Part of this chapter is new. The other part was in the unrevised version of my science fiction story. Hopefully, I have done a better writing job this time around. Any tips or advice? Please comment below.)

 

“How is our patient?” Captain Arden asked J.D.

“Very well, physically,” J.D. replied. “There’s no sign of brain damage and the paligenesis treatment will have him on his feet in another day or so.”

He shivered involuntarily. Although the elder Prince Kavak’s muscles had atrophied, the paligenesis machine was helping to rebuild his cells. So rather than spend days or even months on rehabilitation, the young man would be back at his full strength by the time they got him to the Chevert Outpost.

“And non-physically?” the captain asked, catching on to his hint.

He sighed. “Attitude-wise he’s no worse than Jori was when he first arrived. But I get a sense that he has a bit more of a temper.”

“And he probably be better able to act it out,” Lt. Stein added.

The captain furrowed his brow. “Do you get the impression he’ll act out, Commander?”

He shrugged. “He seems fine with me, but he’s been giving the security guards some ugly looks.”

“Do you think he knows about Laren?” the captain asked.

His gut twisted painfully. He hadn’t told anyone about Jori’s confession. He should have told the captain that Jori and his brother had played a part in the attack on Gereva. He wanted to. He wanted to trust the man. Surely, the captain would understand the boys weren’t directly at fault, that their father put them up to it.

But Captain Arden was still an enigma to him. He seemed to be a man of both morals and of duty. And when the two conflicted, he suspected the captain would choose the moral path, but he still didn’t know him well enough to be entirely sure.

“I don’t,” J.D. replied regarding Laren. “If he did, I don’t think he’d be cooperating as well as he is right now.”

“The child might tell him,” Lt. Stein said.

Another shiver went through him. “Maybe.”

“If I may, Sir,” Bracht said. “When the elder prince is released from sick bay, both children should be required to stay together at all times so I won’t have to split the security detail.”

“I agree,” J.D. said, hardly believing he’d said it. “Remember, Jori is a level nine in hand-to-hand combat.”

Lt. Stein let out a low whistle. She must have missed this piece of information from one of his earlier reports.

“He’s smaller, so probably can’t use his skill as effectively yet,” he continued. “But his elder brother may be a different story.”

The Alliance security officers averaged level five. J.D. himself was a level seven. And Bracht was the only one above Jori at level ten. Actually, the Rabnoshk warrior was well beyond level ten, but the holo-system only went up to ten.

Captain Arden frowned. “Very well. Do you mind having both children in your quarters?”

“I actually think it would be best,” he replied. The two of them were obviously close. Perhaps Terk would be more considerate of the consequences of his actions with his brother around.

“We can reinstate that two or more guards also stay in your room,” Bracht added.

He stroked his chin. I trust Jori, but can I trust Terk? Would having security in my room be a provocation or should I show him I trust him? Bracht would no doubt think him a fool if he did the later. And maybe he was. “No. I think I’ll be alright.”

The captain’s eyebrows went up again. “Are you sure?”

He nodded. “For now.”

The captain folded his hands. “It’s decided then. However, there is another security issue we must be concerned about. The source of the signal disruptions has still not been found.”

“Sir,” Bracht said. “Security has reported no unusual activity from the Chekrosians. Their presence must be coincidence.”

“Probably so, but they must still be considered. I want the reports of their activities to be more detailed.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“That is all I have,” the captain said. “Anyone else?”

“Captain, Sir,” Bracht said. “I have concluded my investigation on the rumor that someone was harassing the child.”

“Yes, I’ve read the report. So in your personal opinion, was the rumor unfounded?”

“No, Sir. I believe something did happen. But considering no one has confessed and that the child has said nothing of it, I assume it was a relatively minor incident. And I believe I have made myself clear to the team regarding how I feel about such behavior.”

The captain turned to him. “Commander?”

“I honestly haven’t had a chance to find out anything from Jori. But I concur with the Lt. Commander.”

The captain nodded. “Then if that is all?”

J.D. glanced at the others and they glanced at him. No one said anything.

“Good day, then. Dismissed,” the captain said.

****

Robert reviewed Lt. Chandley’s analysis. So far, it was inconclusive. The Chekrosians’ vessel was quiet. His own crew members had manually scanned every corner of the Odyssey, including around the Chekrosians’ quarters, and reported everything was normal. And when the signal disruption was actively occurring, the ship’s internal sensors were unable to locate the source.

Robert stroked his bearded jaw. At least the disruptions had subsided. But he wasn’t certain whether this was a good thing. It would be odd if it was simply something in space they’d passed through because no similar anomalies had ever been reported before. Or if it had been glitches in the system that had now self-adjusted, it would still mean a problem since such corrections should’ve showed up in the ship’s auto-log.

Any other captain might let this go. But he’d learned long ago to never dismiss anything as a mere coincidence. Perhaps I’ll order another manual scan.

The beep of the comm interrupted his thoughts. He glanced at the small viewscreen on his desk and cringed.

He sighed heavily, then composed himself and pressed the answer tab on the screen. “Rear Admiral Zimmer,” he said to the admiral through the vid-comm. “To what do I owe this pleasure?”

“I hear you have the Kavakian princes on board your ship, Captain,” Zimmer said crossly. The elder man’s wrinkled face was creased in a perpetual frown over his weak chin. “And I’m wondering why you didn’t notify me directly.”

Robert’s heart sunk. “My apologies, Admiral. Since they are just boys, I didn’t think their presence warranted a priority report,” he said, hoping he sounded nonchalant.

“Having the sons of the Alliance’s worst enemy on board your ship is not a priority?”

“Since they are just children, I figured not, Sir.”

“You figured wrong. Just what did you plan on doing with the children, anyway?”

“I am in the process of making arrangements to get them home, Admiral.”

“Out of the question,” Zimmer said angrily. “We could use these children to negotiate the release of some of our people.”

Robert hoped his dismay didn’t show on his face. “If the emperor found out we have his children it will likely trigger a war.” Darn it. Everything’s been going so well up until now. His stomach rolled uneasily.

“We can reinforce our borders,” Zimmer replied offhandedly. “I will be at Caspan in eight days. I want those children brought to me immediately.”

Dear god. Does this man have no brains at all? The Alliance didn’t have the resources to effectively reinforce the border against a horde of Tredons. I’ve got to think of something.

“Capsan?” he replied. “But that’s at least thirty day-cycles away for us, Sir.” He tried hard not to let his anger show. The fool.

“Where are you now?” Zimmer asked.

He gave his coordinates.

“Very well,” Zimmer said. “We can meet at the Chevert Outpost. I am only about ten day-cycles from there. I will see you then.”

“Yes, Admiral,” he replied. Chevert. It’s where I wanted to go anyway. He’d get there a few days before Zimmer. Maybe I can come up with something before he arrives.

“One more thing,” Zimmer said. “I take it you haven’t contacted the emperor to tell him we have his children.”

“No, Sir,” he confirmed.

“Do any other Tredons know?”

“I have not contacted anyone as of yet, Sir.”

“Good. Keep it that way.”

“Yes, Sir.”

The conversation ended and the viewscreen blinked back to Lt. Chandley’s report. He sat back heavily in his chair. What am I going to do? He had so hoped to keep this from Zimmer. Now he was going to have to break the promise he made to the younger prince. This is not good. This is not good at all.

 

 

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

(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright June, 2016 by Dawn Ross

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

 

The Kavakian Empire Part One Chapter 29 – Revised

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised, The Kavakian Empire with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2016 by Dawn Ross

The Kavakian Empire

A Space Opera by Dawn Ross

Part One – Starfire Dragons (provisional title)

Chapter 29 – Revised

(This chapter is a rewrite of chapter 20 from the unrevised version. I have enhanced it and also hopefully explained some parts better. If you haven’t read the unrevised version, don’t. This revised version of my science fiction story is much better. It is more fully developed and hopefully gives more insight into the characters through deep PoV.)

Jori awoke with a gasp and found himself surrounded by a swirl of darkness. His body stiffened. He held his breath and listened. Nothing. Nothing but the sound of his pounding heart.

He blinked rapidly at the shadows. Light slowly filtered in. The blackness turned to greys. Shapes became more defined. That’s right… I’m in J.D.’s quarters. The tension in his shoulders fell away. The commander had convinced him to sleep here tonight while Lt. Gresher stayed with Terk.

Jori didn’t know Lt. Gresher well. Even after questioning the man and sensing his sincerity, it wasn’t until J.D. assured him he was trustworthy when he finally decided Terk would be safe.

So what woke me up? His mind churned, trying to recall. No fleeting images teased his memory. If he’d been having another nightmare about Gereva, surely he’d still have a lingering glimpse. There was nothing, though, nothing but a feeling he was missing something important.

He closed his eyes and spread out his senses. His mind’s eye pictured the sun shining through the broad leaves of the hardimen tree, bringing in the feeling of warmth and strength he’d come to associate with J.D. A peacefulness drifted in as well. J.D. was sound asleep. Whatever had woken Jori up hadn’t had any effect on the commander.

Jori fanned out his senses. The four guards standing outside radiated boredom. One of them also had a stench of sorts, making Jori think of the smelly cage of a blackbeast. Calloway. He wrinkled is nose and tightened his jaw.

It had been some time since Calloway had been close enough for him to feel. The man hadn’t been either his guard or Terk’s for some time. For whatever reason, though, Calloway was standing guard now. Maybe he’s the reason I woke up. But no. Calloway’s foulness was fairly mild right now.

He stretched out his senses a little further. A few other Alliance officers walked by now and then, but none of them felt threatening. He lay back down with a sigh, too tired to think on it further.

The heaviness of sleep slowly began to fall. Then a sensation similar to a brush of wind suddenly tickled him. He sat up abruptly and froze in place, listening to the delicate sensation.

“Terk!” I can feel Terk!

The covers flew off in one wild swoop. He leapt out of bed and zoomed to the door. The door panels slid open too slowly for his pace, forcing him to twist his body sideways through the opening at the last moment.

The slick floor of the corridor met his bare feet causing him to falter. But he recovered quickly and sprung forward eagerly.

“Hey!” Calloway grabbed him by the arm, jerking him to a halt. “Where are you going?”

A low growl escaped his throat. “To see my brother.” He jerked his arm but Calloway had him tight.

A swelling heat ignited in his cheeks. He gritted his teeth with determination and then twisted his arm swiftly and jerked at an angle out of the hold, just like Master Jetser had taught.

His fists balled at his sides and he gave the man a hateful glare.

Calloway returned the look. “No you don’t. You’re staying right here.”

Jori kept his fists at his sides, but stepped into a defensive fighting stance with most of his weight balanced on his back leg. “I dare you to try and stop me.”

As much as he wanted to rush to his brother’s side, a part of him had been looking forward to a confrontation with this man. He was perfectly poised to make a quick front kick into the man’s groin. Calloway would double over and he’d give him another kick right under the jaw. When the other guards came after him, he’d leap over Calloway and use the man as a shield so that all three of them couldn’t rush him at once.

Calloway put his hands on his hips. “Oh, please. Give me a reason. I’d love to throw your little royal ass in the brig.”

His face grew hotter. “Not only do you lack the skill, you insignificant minion, you also lack the authority.”

“You don’t know anything, you little shit.” Calloway’s face twisted sourly. “I’m in charge here now and if you try to leave I’ll kick your little ass. Then I’ll tell the commander I had no choice because you attacked me.”

His fingernails dug into his palms as a surge of adrenaline infused his body. “Besides the fact that you’ll be laid out before you can so much as raise your hand to me, there’s another problem with your plan.”

“And what’s that? You think—”

“These other officers here don’t like you well enough to lie for you,” he interrupted. The emotions from the other guards told him he was right. His mouth twitched upward into what he hoped was a mocking smile.

“They won’t stand up for a spoiled Tredon prince either.”

“I don’t need them to stand up for me. But they will report the truth of this incident.” At least I hope they will. “And the truth is I have every right to go see my brother whenever I wish.”

Calloway’s face darkened. He could tell by the man’s clenched jaw and tightened fists that he was thinking about following through with his threat.

Jori glared at him intently, keeping his balance ready for a front kick. The guards, seen clearly from the corner of his eye, stayed back. Their emotions were a mixture of contempt and anger, but oddly, not all of it was directed at him.

Calloway must have realized this. He eventually stepped back. “Fine, you friggin brat.”

“That’s what I thought,” he replied disdainfully.

After using his senses to make sure none were going to attack him, he relaxed his stance. His body prickled as the adrenaline made its way out.

He took a deep calming breath, subtle so no one could hear it, and then promptly turned about and headed towards sick bay.

The guards followed, but they made no move to stop him. Calloway whispered some negative comments just loud enough for him to hear, but he ignored them. He would deal with this man some other time. Terk was much more important.

*****

J.D. ambled sleepily from his bedroom. His eyes fell to where Jori’s cot was set. He blinked the gumminess from his eyes in confusion. The rumpled lump of blankets didn’t contain a boy. The bed was empty.

“Jori?” He turned to the bathroom. The door was open and the lights were off. A quick glance around the rest of the small room showed no sign of the boy. Well, that’s strange. Jori had left early before. But he’d usually folded his blankets up first.

He poked his head outside his quarters. “Jori?”

The security officers were gone too.

He must’ve gone to see his brother.

He came back in and sat at his desk. The small viewscreen blinked to life with a touch of his finger. He tapped a few keys and entered the security log.

“What?” For some reason, it showed Jori and the officers were still here.

“Security. Report,” he said into his comm.

“Lt. Sharkey here,” the comm came back.

“Lieutenant. Can you verify whether Jori and security are in sick bay?”

J.D. rest his chin on his palm as he waited for Hanna to reply.

“Sir?” she replied a few moments later. “The log says team epsilon has the boy at your quarters while team kappa reports he’s with them. I take it the boy is not with you?”

“That’s correct. He’s not here and neither is team epsilon.”

“I’ll run a quick bioscan for you, Sir. Then I’ll contact them to verify their whereabouts.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant.”

He tapped his chin and waited a few moments.

“Sir, bioscan confirms both teams are in sick bay,” Hanna said. “I contacted team epsilon. They claim they updated the log and there must have been a glitch.”

J.D. frowned. “Who is in charge of team epsilon?”

“Lt. Mik Calloway, Sir.”

Glitch? He shook his head. “A glitch seems highly unlikely, doesn’t it, Lieutenant? Like once in a trillion unlikely?”

“Yes, Sir. It does.” Hanna’s tone indicated she knew what he was hinting at—that Calloway was lying.

“I trust you’ll handle this further?”

“You bet, Sir.”

He didn’t need to tell her how to handle it. Hanna didn’t like Calloway any more than anyone else did. There’d been some reluctance to promote the man to begin with, but Lt. Gresher thought he should be given a chance. J.D. had agreed … to a point, anyway. Everyone deserved a chance, and sometimes even a second or third chance. But he had a bad feeling about Calloway. The man reminded him of the poisonous skins of the salamanders he’d see on fishing trips with his dad back home.

“Thank you, Lieutenant. I’ll see you later. Hapker out.”

*****

Eight guards stiffened in attention from their previous state of varying boredom. J.D. nodded at Lt. Gresher, then locked eyes with Lt. Jr. Grade Mik Calloway. He pursed his lips and gave the man a penetrating look. Calloway’s face paled in reply.

“As you were,” he said to all the officers, and then stepped into the prince’s room.

He stopped short. Something was different.

Jori was asleep by his brother’s side. Nothing unusual there. But his brother, Terk, had his arm around Jori’s shoulder.

Is he awake? He glanced up at the monitor. It was all alien to him. The ups and downs of the various monitoring systems could have been recording subspace signals for all he knew. He couldn’t even tell which of them was for the heartbeat.

He glanced back down at the boys and his heart jumped. Terk was looking right at him.

“You’re awake,” he said in a higher-pitched tone.

Terk made a slight nod. “You must be Commander J.D. Hapker.”

J.D. forced himself to smile. “And you must be Prince Kavak.”

“Daiichi Prince Kavak,” Terk corrected.

A shiver went down his spine. Terk spoke with the same bluntness as Jori, but his tone was much deeper, more ominous. “Yes, of course. My apologies.”

Terk made another nod, hopefully indicating the slight was forgiven.

“How are you feeling?” He resisted the urge to shift his feet. Don’t be stupid. Prince or not, he’s still just a person. Prince Kavak, or Daiichi Prince Kavak, wasn’t the first dignitary he’d ever spoken to, nor the highest ranking. But maybe the deadliest.

“Tired, but glad to be alive,” Terk replied. “And well. I understand I have you to thank for it.”

He made a slight smile. “You really have Captain Arden to thank.”

“Yes. I suppose so. But it’s you Jori has spoken so well of.”

J.D.’s heart swelled. “I feel the same for him. I hope you and I can be friends as well.”

Terk raised his eyebrow. His face was otherwise blank.

J.D. felt another shiver run thought him. “If not friends, at least not enemies,” he added.

“We shall see. But for now, leave us be,” Terk said tersely. “My brother is asleep and I am tired.”

J.D. flushed at the dismissal. He dipped his head and left the room.

Here we go again.

*****

Terk kept his eyes open long enough to see the commander close the privacy curtain. His lids fell heavily, but more in a state of relaxation than for sleep.

I don’t get it. What’s Jori see in him? The commander was weak. It was obvious the man wanted to play nice. He couldn’t blame him. No one wanted a Kavak as an enemy. But it wasn’t just the commander’s mannerisms. He could sense the man’s good will as well. Friends? What a baka. Fool.

At least most of the guards outside had enough sense to hate him. Their hostility wafted over his senses. But they were weak too. One moment, their hate would be at a boil. Then like a marishi adding ingredients to her potion, a dash of fear and a pinch of reluctance sent their hate away in a flit of smoke.

Weak fools, all for the taking. And he needed take quite a bit. Father was going to be so pissed when he found out he’d lost all his men, his ship, and the cargo. He’d failed completely. But I can make up for it so easily. What’s the loss of a few men when compared to an entire Alliance patrol vessel carrying hundreds of Alliance officers?

“We can’t,” Jori mumbled.

Terk flinched. “What?”

“We can’t. They’re not all bad.” Jori said the last part in their secret language. They dared not speak in the Tredon language for fear that the guards had a translator device.

Terk fumed. He hated how well Jori could read him. They both had the same ability, but Jori’s was more sensitive. He said he couldn’t read minds like a reader, but it sure in the hell seemed like it sometimes. “You don’t even know what I’m thinking.”

“I can feel it. You hate them. And I can tell you’re also thinking of father.”

“Hell yeah, I’m thinking of father. I’ll consider myself lucky if I don’t find myself in another coma.”

“These people saved you. They saved both of us. We’d be either dead or under torture right now if it wasn’t for them.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. You explained this to me already.” Terk flicked his wrist. “Just because they saved us doesn’t mean we owe them anything.”

“Don’t we?” Jori’s annoyance was evident in both his tone and his emotions. “I, for one, am glad they saved you. Why shouldn’t I be grateful?”

Are all little brothers this annoying? “The fact that they saved us makes them weak and stupid.”

“They are far from weak or stupid. I’ve been watching them,” Jori argued in the same secret language. “I know we don’t have to owe them anything. I just don’t want to hurt them. They helped us when they didn’t have to. And if we’re going to harm anyone, I’d rather do it to people who deserve it.”

“They are our enemies,” he replied firmly.

“Why? Because our father says so? Everyone is father’s enemy. It doesn’t mean we have to be.”

Terk clenched his jaw. “If we don’t come back with something, father will punish us.”

“Father is going to punish us no matter what. We lost our entire crew. He’s not going to overlook that. Besides, I don’t care if we get into trouble.”

He sighed irritably. Stubborn brat. He wasn’t afraid of father either, but he didn’t want to have to lay bed ridden again either. His punishment would be severe. And there’d be no healing bed, no pain meds, nothing until his father was satisfied he’d suffered enough. Considering how terribly he failed, that could be a very long time.

He knew what Jori’s reply would be, so he said nothing. He was too tired to argue anyway. His strength would come back soon enough. And when it did, he’d do what he wanted whatever Jori thought.

 

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

(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright June, 2016 by Dawn Ross

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