The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part One – First Encounter
Jori relaxed in the gentle heat of the healing bed. He could feel his pains subside and his body mend. More than that, though, he could feel his brother’s life force. It was still weak, but at least he was still alive. The doctors were no longer in a mad rush, so Jori could only suspect they had done everything they could for now. The rest was up to his brother.
Now that the urgency of his brother’s fate had calmed, Jori turned his thoughts on the men lost in the crash, the men who had died to protect Jori and his brother. Jori didn’t care for some of them, Bok especially. Bok was an arrogant brute, quick to temper, and asinine. But many of the others were good men. Veda was one of the best. He was a worthy warrior who fought to defend rather than assault. He was intelligent and used wisdom rather than animalistic brutality to act. Jori was going to miss him the most.
Jori realized he was facing the enemy alone. A panic almost rose within him, but he pushed it down. He was a warrior and he would not be afraid. He would fight against these Alliance weaklings if he had to. Jori knew most Alliance personnel were not warriors. And ridiculously, some of them were even women. They were weak and he was strong. But then again, there were far too many of them. He tried not to think about it, but deep down he knew that he was utterly helpless.
When the healing bed was done, the lid came open to a smiling nurse above and an Alliance officer standing in the background. A glance at the officer told Jori that he was the commander of this vessel, the same man he had seen on the planet.
“How are you feeling?” the nurse asked with genuine kindness.
“Well,” Jori responded. As the nurse did a brief inspection, Jori took the opportunity to review his surroundings and make a plan of attack, should it be necessary. His training had taught him to be subtle yet thorough. Two armed security officers stood just outside the divider that sectioned off the area he was in. Jori could sense two more he couldn’t see on either side. And a quick glance further revealed two more guarding the exit. Then there was the commander himself. At least five medical personnel were also nearby. In Tredon, doctors were also warriors. Jori doubted it was so here, but it was best not to make assumptions.
The nurse handed him some clothes. They were black and the shirt was long sleeve just like his uniform. But there the similarity ended. The material was not the same, nor was it the same style. At least the clothes are the right color, Jori thought as he accepted the garments.
“I bet you’re hungry,” the nurse said. “Would you like something to eat?”
“Yes,” Jori answered simply.
“Anything in particular?” she asked. “I believe our processor has some Tredon recipes.”
Jori replied with a precise list of not food, but nutritional requirements. “I do not care what form it comes in or how it tastes.”
Both the nurse and the commander raised an eyebrow but neither commented.
“Very well,” the nurse replied.
When the nurse left, the commander approached. Jori stood up off the healing bed and stood in a militaristic at-ease fashion with legs shoulder-width apart and his hands clasped behind his back. He locked eyes with the commander giving him his full attention.
“Hello,” the commander said with a kind smile. “I’m J.T.” He held out his hand in greeting. Jori glanced at his hand in confusion. The commander’s smile was genuine, as was the greeting. But this man was his enemy.
Be strong but don’t make trouble, Jori reminded himself silently. If the enemy decided to hurt him, they’d have a difficult time of it. But his brother’s life was completely vulnerable. And so he tentatively put out his own hand and performed the customary hand shake of the Alliance. “Jori,” he said, giving his own informal name in return.
J.T. noted the boy’s wariness. It wasn’t a nervous wariness, but an alert guardedness of a soldier. “It’s alright,” J.T. said. “We’re going to help you.”
“And what of my brother? Are you helping him as well?” the boy, Jori, replied in a tone that was almost accusing.
“He’s stable at the moment,” J.T. said warmly. “But his condition is precarious. I promise we’ll do whatever we can to make sure he pulls through.”
J.T. put his hand on Jori’s shoulder to assure him. The boy glanced down at the hand in puzzlement, and for a brief moment J.T. thought he saw the young face soften. The formal demeanor of the boy faltered so quickly that J.T. wondered if he’d really seen it.
“And what of me?” the boy asked, back to his blunt formality. “I’m assuming I am to be held as your prisoner.”
“Actually, you will be staying with me.”
Jori’s brow furrowed warily. “Are you to be my interrogator?”
J.T. was taken aback. The boy said the word interrogator in such a way that J.T. was certain it really meant torturer. “No! Goodness no. We will certainly ask you questions, but we do not torture people.”
“You say you will do everything you can for my brother. Is this contingent upon my cooperation?”
“No, of course not,” J.T. replied as assuredly as he could. My god, he thought, what sort of world does this boy live in? “It would help us to know what’s going on, what happened between you and the Grapnes, but we’re not going to hold you or your brother’s life over your head in order to get that information.”
“You swear it?” Jori demanded.
“Yes, I swear it,” J.T. promised.
“I must hear it from your captain,” the boy insisted. “I will answer your questions after,” he stressed the word after, “after I hear your captain make the same promise regarding my brother.”
(This story is protected by copyright) Copyright August 8th, 2014 by Dawn Ross