The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part One – First Encounter
(The previous chapters can be found under the “The Kavakian Empire” link under categories in the right hand column. If you’ve been keeping up with this story, be sure to reread chapter 5. I have revised it.)
“Ensign Jensin,” the captain said to the comm. Will you come to my ready room, please?”
“Yes, sir,” Jensin replied from the other end.
Addressing the young boy, Captain Arden said, “Jori, I’d like to speak to my officers a moment. Would you like to observe our bridge?”
“Certainly,” the boy replied.
At the same time and at no surprise, Lt. Commander Bracht protested, “Sir! Many of our ship’s functions are classified.”
“I am well aware of that, Lt. Commander,” the captain replied. “There is nothing the young man can discern on the surface that hasn’t already been publicized.”
Jensin entered just then. “Ah, Ensign,” the captain said as he stood to introduce the boy. “This is Jori. Will you give him a brief tour of the bridge?”
Yes, sir,” Jensin replied eagerly. He was a fairly new officer with a happy and willing attitude.
After Bracht gave a list of things the boy was not to see, Jensin and Jori exited the room leaving the captain, Lieutenant Stein, Lt. Commander Bracht, and J.T. himself alone in the room.
“Well, that was an interesting conversation,” the captain said stoically as he folded his hands in front of him.
That’s an understatement, J.T. thought but didn’t state out loud.
Bracht harrumphed. “We are harboring a dangerous enemy, Captain. He should be placed in the brig immediately.”
“I am well aware of how you feel about the boy, Bracht. While I agree he has the potential to be an even greater risk than I first thought, he is still just a boy. I will not lock him up unless he gives me reason to.” To Lieutenant Stein he said, “Your thoughts, Jenna?”
“He didn’t behave like any child I’ve ever known,” she replied with a hint of unease in her voice. Clearly the conversation had rattled her as much as it had rattled J.T. “He seems to fit the profile of a Tredon warrior, with a few exceptions,” she added.
“He appears to be genuinely concerned for his brother,” J.T. gave an example. “That’s not something I would have expected of a Tredon prince.”
“Jenna, didn’t you say the Kavakians tended to have a number of sons that eventually dwindled down to just one?” the captain asked.
“Yes,” she replied. “Emperor Devon Kavak himself had nearly twenty brothers. He was the twelfth or thirteenth, I think, and had been personally responsible for the deaths of at least three of his brothers.”
J.T. cringed at this. “Didn’t the boy say he is the second prince?” he asked. “Emperor Kavak has ruled long enough that he, too, should have at least twenty sons by now, much older than these two boys.”
“I heard the emperor has a deteriorating genetic disease that prevents him from having many healthy children,” Jenna replied. “Rumors abound saying the Emperor ordered the extermination of several of his unborn children because of genetic flaws. I’ve also heard rumors of other sons being killed in various ways, including murder. But all this information is heresay.”
J.T. swallowed hard. What a terrible way for a young boy to grow up.
“Do you think he’s telling the truth about his identity? About all of it?” the captain asked.
“The Tredons have no honor,” Bracht offered. “They are arrogant, brutal, and devious.”
“I’m guessing so,” Jenna replied to the captain’s question. “He did appear hesitant to tell you his identity. And when you told him you were looking over his ship, he seemed to consider that before telling you anything.”
“Not to mention,” J.T. added, “that he made sure you were going to help his brother before revealing anything.”
“If they are the Kavakian princes, it would explain what the Grapnes wanted with them,” The captain said.
“Easy targets because they are children and a very valuable ransom,” J.T. added.
“Jenna, see what you can find out about the boy,” the captain told her. “Certainly there are some photos in the data stream that might include him. J.T., keep me informed on what is found on his ship. And see if you can get more information from the boy without pushing too hard.”
“Yes, sir,” they both replied consecutively.
“Bracht,” the captain added, “Make sure sick bay has sufficient security as well. I don’t mind of the boy visits his brother, but it must be strictly supervised.”
“Sir, what of the commander’s safety?” Bracht asked. “It is probably a good idea to have security both inside and outside of his quarters.”
“Actually, that’s not a bad idea,” J.T. said. He wasn’t sure he was comfortable with a Kavakian warrior in his room, even a small one. The presence of security officers would be a bit unnerving, but at least he might be able to get some sleep.
The captain thought it over a bit. “One inside. Three outside,” he agreed. “J.T., if you’re not comfortable with having him in your care, let me know.”
J.T. was tempted to state that he was very uncomfortable. But after the fallout he had with his previous captain on the Goliath, an event which nearly ended his career, J.T. was trying really hard to make things work with Captain Arden. Besides, he thought, who else is there to take care of this boy? The captain was right, Jori needed an authority figure. And it was J.T.’s responsibility as commander to take risks. “I have a few hours to get to know him a little better before we rest,” he replied. “I’ll see how it goes.”
The captain nodded thankfully then turned to Bracht. “Lt. Commander, keep in mind that your security is to not only protect our crew, but to protect the boys as well. It is bad enough most of the crew has heard these boys are Tredons, but if they get word they are also the Kavakian princes, it could generate more trouble. I meant it when I told Jori his identity should be between us. The last thing we need is for matters between the Tredons and the Alliance to escalate.”
“Sir,” Bracht asserted, “It’s important that my security team be fully aware of who they are dealing with.”
“You may share the information with the lieutenant officers only,” the captain advised. He added more sternly, “And stress to everyone that they are both guards and protectors. I do not want an incident, Bracht, is that clear?”
“Yes, Sir,” Lt. Commander Bracht replied.
To Jenna the captain asked, “You said a few exceptions. What are the others?”
“Well,” Jenna replied, “he did not seem to have the temper of a Tredon. He was very formal and proper, but I expect that may be due to his upbringing. Many Tredons push for an argument, square off, if you will. He stood his ground, but he wasn’t confrontational.”
“It’s probably because he’s so young and hasn’t learned yet,” J.T. offered.
“Or he’s too smart to confront a Rabnoshk warrior,” the captain replied. “Do you think he’s prone to the violence that Bracht suggested earlier?” he asked Lieutenant Stein, referring to the killing of J.T. in his sleep.
“The Tredons can be very confrontational. Although they prefer a head-on fight, they have been known to seek vengeance by killing someone when they are vulnerable.”
J.T. felt himself pale.
“J.T.?” the captain said, asking if he was still willing to care for the boy.
“I’ll see how it goes,” J.T. said again with a sigh.
(This story is protected by copyright) Copyright October, 2014 by Dawn Ross
There are a couple of things with this chapter. I think Bracht’s concern over Jori gleaning classified information is a valid one, even if the Captain felt that there was nothing in the open that the boy wouldn’t already have access to or deduce on his own. Were I him, I would have selected a more experienced officer to show Jori around the bridge, someone who would have the sense to understand that even though Jori is only a boy and should be treated like a guest, he is still technically an enemy.
Also, I can’t remember, but is Stein the chief information officer? It bothered me that she tossed out information that she confessed to knowing only as rumors. Maybe when the Cap asks what she knows she can confess that it’s not a lot of solid information, go do some digging and come back to him in a chapter or two with more? Could be a way to build suspense and suspicion too.
My point with Bracht was that he was overreacting. But perhaps I should make that more obvious. Your point about Stein makes complete sense. I need to increase her input in this entire first part. You’re right, it can help build some suspense and suspicion.