The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part One – First Encounter
(All previous chapters can be found under the “The Kavakian Empire” link under Categories in the right hand column. You can also click August 2014 to current under the Archives.)
“Murder?” Captain Robert Arden said. “Before you were just claiming theft and now you are telling me these Tredons murdered one of your people?”
“Yes, Captain,” Captain Seth of the Grapnes replied. “The Tredons are murderous cutthroats and our people simply want their justice.”
“Who did they murder?”
“A very important dignitary.”
“Yes, but who? And how?”
“I cannot provide you with the details,” the Grapnes said evasively. He grinned as he spoke and nodded his head at the oddest times.
“Can’t or won’t.”
“Can’t, Captain Arden. Because I don’t know. I am just going by the information given to me by my superiors. You understand.”
Robert sighed in frustration. “You stated earlier that you yourself are the victim of this theft at the Melna space station. How is it that the Tredons murdered one of your dignitaries during this theft, but you can’t tell me who? You were there, after all.”
“A misunderstanding, Captain, I assure you. It wasn’t me they stole from. It was from another one of our ships.”
Robert gritted his teeth but kept his frustration from showing on his face. “Even if what you say is true, I’m afraid justice is out of reach. Nearly everyone on the Tredon ship was killed in the crash.”
“You said there were survivors,” the Grapnes said. “They must answer for their crimes.”
“The survivors are children and I will not be handing children over to you.”
“But it was the children who committed the murder.”
“Forgive me, Captain Seth,” Robert replied impatiently, “but it seems your story keeps changing in order to fit the situation.”
“I’m not hiding anything, I assure you,” the Grapnes replied with that same ridiculous smile. He wore it constantly throughout the conversation. “We simply want the justice that you are required by law to provide.”
“I’ll tell you what, Captain Seth. You provide me with concrete evidence that these children personally committed murder, theft, or any other crime, and I will consider turning them over to you.”
“Our evidence must be supported by their testimony,” the Grapnes insisted. “We must take them into custody in order to build our case. You understand.”
“I will not be handing children over to you for interrogation without evidence, and that is final.”
“What about my four men they killed on Pensla?”
“That was obviously self-defense,” Robert replied. “It is not enough to convince me that I should hand these children over.”
“My superiors will not be happy, Captain Arden.” The Grapnes’ grin finally faded. “Your council will hear of this.”
“I’ll take my chances.” Robert abruptly terminated the conversation and plopped back in his chair with a heavy sigh.
“I think they are definitely lying,” Lt. Jenna Stein said. Both she and Bracht had observed the entire conversation.
“I couldn’t agree more,” Robert replied.
“Do you think they knew?” she asked.
“That the boys are the Kavakian princes?” Robert said. “I have no doubt. It explains their actions. Knowing the Grapnes, they probably intended to take them for ransom.”
“A very dangerous venture,” Jenna said.
“Agreed. But the Grapnes are not known for having much sense.”
Robert wondered about his own sense. Was it foolish of him not to put the Kavakian prince in the brig? He was just a boy, but it was apparent that he could be very dangerous. He killed four Grapnes single-handedly, after all, and while injured no less.
“Has security reported any problems?” Robert asked Lt. Commander Bracht.
“None, Sir. But it doesn’t mean there won’t be any.”
“Hopefully not,” Robert replied. “But I do worry about the situation with his brother.”
“If he dies, the boy Jori may no longer cooperate,” Jenna said.
“And if he lives, my security team will have two Tredon warriors to contend with,” Bracht added.
“Both your points concern me, but the larger matter is with Emperor Kavak,” Robert replied.
“He’s not going to like the fact that we have his children” Jenna said. “By all accounts, Emperor Kavak is the most dangerous, ruthless, and relentless enemy of the Alliance Core. He hates us with a passion and is not going to believe we just happened upon his sons and that we want to return them unharmed.”
Robert nodded in agreement. “I have no doubt he’s going to make an issue of it. We may not be able to avoid conflict.”
“What if we don’t tell him,” Jenna suggested. “What if we take the princes to the Chevert outpost and give them what they need to find their own way home?”
“I’m not sure that’s safe,” Robert said as he massaged his brow where a headache was developing. “What if someone finds out who they are? Would they hold the princes for ransom, like the Grapnes intended? Would they torture them for information or simply out of spite? Emperor Kavak is hated by everyone, including his own people. I could be putting these boys in a situation that gets them killed.”
“Whoever kills them will be doing us a favor,” Bracht said.
“Would they?” Robert asked. “I don’t think so. Just because the Kavakian line ends doesn’t mean the problem of the Tredons goes away. Far from it.”
“I know we are probably obligated to notify the Emperor,” Jenna said, “but I strongly suggest we find a way around it.”
“I’m not sure we can,” Robert replied.
“Perhaps Commander Hapker will have some ideas,” Bracht offered.
“Or the rear admiral,” Jenna added.
“I do not want to contact the rear admiral unless I absolutely have to,” Robert replied sternly.
“You are obligated to report this, Captain,” Jenna said.
“I will report it. Just not until the monthly report is due.”
“Not to question your decision, Captain,” Jenna replied, “but isn’t this something you should inform them about right away? Having the Kavakian princes on our ship is no small matter.”
That’s an understatement, Robert thought. Out loud he said, “Protocol is not entirely clear on what sorts of sensitive situations require further authority. This is for good reason. Being on the front line gives me a perspective that someone as far away as Rear Admiral Zimmer doesn’t have. I’m not sure he will fully grasp the sensitivity of the situation.”
Jenna made a noise indicating she agreed. She’d dealt with Zimmer enough times to know how the man could be.
“I will talk to Commander Hapker on this later,” Robert said. “If either of you come up with any suggestions on how we can handle this without putting ourselves or the princes in danger, let me know.”
“Yes, Sir,” they both replied.
(You may have noticed that this is chapter 8a. I have not written the second part of the chapter yet. If I ever put this sci-fi in book form, 8a and 8b will be one chapter separated into two parts.)
This story is protected by copyright. Copyright November, 2014 by Dawn Ross.