The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part One – First Encounter
(Read the beginning of this space opera from the August 9th, 2014 post onward. All previous chapters can be found under the “The Kavakian Empire” link under categories in the right hand column. This chapter is a little long and probably a little boring. I’m hoping to provide a little more insight into Jori’s character. After reading this chapter, feel free to comment below with any ideas on how I can make this chapter more interesting.)
J.T. had interacted with dignitaries more times than he could count. Some were demanding, some were contemptuous, many were arrogant, and only a few were wholly pleasant. He also had experience with children. For the most part, J.T. enjoyed children. He didn’t care for the temper tantrums or talking back parts, but since he had never been a parent he rarely had to deal with the negative behaviors.
Despite J.T.’s experience, he had never dealt with someone who was both a dignitary and a child. He imagined temper tantrums were going to be worse along with arrogance, talking back, and bossiness. He wasn’t sure how he was going to handle this situation since spanking was probably out of the question. But there were no other options.
When J.T. left the captain’s ready room and entered the bridge, Jensin and the boy were engaged in a conversation about the navigation system.
“Commander,” Jensin said with a smile as J.T. approached. “Jori here is very smart. He knows a lot about how warp drive systems work.”
“You are not supposed to be talking about restricted information, Ensign,” Bracht bellowed accusingly.
Jensin’s eyes went wide. “I didn’t tell him anything specific, Sir,” he said apologetically. “I swear.”
“Lt. Commander,” Jori interrupted, “I am already well aware of the science behind how matter-antimatter annihilation allows ships to travel so quickly through subspace.” As he briefly explained other complex components of subspace travel, Bracht turned redder and redder with anger. Some of the things the boy said touched on classified information but J.T. was too impressed with his knowledge to be angry.
“This tour is over,” Bracht ordered, giving Jori a dirty look and Jensin an accusing one. J.T. would have given Jensin a look to put him at ease since he didn’t really do anything wrong, but the ensign was too nervous to meet his eyes.
“What do you say we get something to eat?” J.T. asked Jori. “I know you have eaten a bit, but I’m famished.”
“Very well, Commander,” Jori replied, ignoring Bracht’s dark looks. When J.T. and Jori left the bridge, the Lt. Commander did not follow. However, a handful of security guards did. The boy noticed them but did not comment.
As J.T. and Jori walked the halls towards the common area, J.T. attempted to strike a friendly conversation. “So you enjoy the science and physics of starships?”
“I wouldn’t say enjoy,” Jori replied. “Father requires I know the information and so I do.”
“If science isn’t something you enjoy, what sorts of things do like to do in your spare time?” J.T. asked casually.
“I have very little spare time,” Jori replied.
Not to be deterred, J.T. asked, “Well, what do you like to do, in general?”
Jori stopped and faced J.T. with a suspicious look. “Why do you want to know?”
“Just curious,” J.T. replied, a bit taken aback by Jori’s direct manner. “You and I will be spending a lot of time together so I just want to get to know you better,” he said kindly.
“Know your enemy, you mean,” Jori replied candidly. “I can understand that.”
“Well, I suppose that could be part of it,” J.T. admitted. “But sometimes when enemies get to know one another, they realize they are not so different and become friends.”
Jori appeared to think it over a moment. “Hmm,” was all he said as they began walking down the hall again.
Okay, then, J.T. thought to himself. This isn’t going well. “What about games?” J.T. said out loud. “What kind of games do you like?”
“Physical games or strategic games,” Jori replied.
J.T. tried to think of some strategic games that Jori would know. “What about Barson Hop or Treasure House?”
“Those are children’s games,” Jori replied with a hint of disdain. “I do not play children’s games.”
“Okay,” J.T. replied, feeling a little uneasy with Jori’s stiff manner. “How about Schemster?” Schemster was J.T.’s favorite strategic game. He would have thought it was a bit complex for someone Jori’s age, but it was the first adult strategic game that popped into his head.
“Yes, I like Schemster,” Jori said.
J.T. was a bit surprised since Schemster was such a complex game. But then again, he had begun playing Schemster with his grandfather when he was about seven. “Good,” J.T. replied. How about after we eat, we play a game of Schemster?”
“Very well,” Jori replied formally without any hint of either eagerness or reluctance.
J.T. looked at the Schemster game table in consternation. The boy had J.T.’s stronghold completely blocked and most of his game pieces scattered. Jori would undoubtedly have him beaten in a couple more moves.
J.T. was dismayed because he was an expert at this game. In fact, the only ones who had ever beaten him in a long time were hardcore Schemster players. J.T. may not have been a professional player, but his major at the Academy was in strategic planning and analysis and Schemster was actually a required subject for anyone seeking a degree this field. J.T. was the second best Schemster player at the academy that year and earned the highest marks in his major. To be beaten by a ten-year-old was both shocking and humbling.
“That was amazing,” J.T. commended after Jori won the game. “The last person to beat me was a Schemster Master from Harbon.” Harbon was planet within the Alliance Core that specialized in strategic warfare. They used to be conquerors but were now a planet full of military consultants and mercenaries.
“Perhaps you were too lax, Commander,” Jori offered.
“I won’t take away your victory by saying I was,” J.T. replied courteously.
“It’s all right, Commander. People often underestimate me.”
J.T. felt the hairs on his arm raise. He was a bit unnerved by Jori’s bluntness, but tried not to let it show. “Shall we play again?” he asked.
Even though J.T. probably had let his guard down in the first game, he was a good loser and didn’t make excuses for his defeat. He simply learned from it and paid closer attention in the next game. As a result, the second game was much more intense. They played for well over an hour, going back and forth in getting the upper hand.
In the end, J.T. won. He half-expected Jori to be upset. It was how children tended to react when they lost a game and sometimes even how some adults reacted, especially when those adults were noblemen or other officials who were used to getting their way.
Jori, however, took his loss well. There was no sign of hurt feelings or anger. Actually, there was no sign of any emotion. Jori was a blank page and it both perturbed J.T. and intrigued him.
After the game, J.T. gave the boy a tour of the rest of the trip. Jori’s level of intelligence became even more apparent when J.T. showed him the engine room. Jori immediately knew what most of the components of the warp engine were and how they worked. So much so that J.T. felt they needed to move on before he figured out some of the more classified mechanisms.
When they visited the gymnasium, the boy still kept his face blank but his questions and close observations of the activities showed he was interested in this area. “Perhaps tomorrow after you’ve rested from your ordeal, we can come here again,” J.T. offered. Jori agreed.
Their final stop was at the recreation room. The recreation room was a huge area for both children and adults to hang out and do crafts, play games, draw, paint, play music, and other stationary activities.
Note from author: I deleted the rest of this chapter because I think it’s too weak and I changed my mind about the introduction of one of the characters.
(This sci-fi story is protected by copyright) Copyright October, 2014 by Dawn Ross