The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part One – First Encounter
(Read the previous chapters under the “The Kavakian Empire” link under categories in the right hand column, beginning August 2014.)
Dinner is going to be an interesting event, J.T. thought to himself as he and Jori made their way to the captain’s dining room. Even if the young prince hadn’t said it, he was obviously upset by J.T.’s prying. In a way, J.T. understood. But at the same time, what did the boy expect?
Jori’s previous formality and distance was nothing compared to now. He wasn’t just being overly formal, he was cold. Instead of just being brief with his answers, he was also being curt. And sometimes he didn’t even bother to answer.
Despite being given the cold shoulder, J.T. didn’t give up. “I believe the captain has requested Genevian dishes for dinner. Have you ever had Genevian?”
“It hardly matters, does it?” Jori replied.
J.T. ground his teeth in annoyance and suppressed a rude reply. “Probably not,” he said as kindly as possible. “But I’m only asking out of curiosity. There’s no harm in asking, is there?”
“Ask your questions then. But do not think you can trick me by being nice to me, and then asking.”
“No one is trying to trick you, Jori.”
Jori made a grunting noise but said nothing. J.T. sighed heavily.
The captain’s table was set in a small room, just a little larger than the center table set for ten. Everyone was there, it seemed. Some were sitting but most standing. The captain was standing closest to the door and was the first to greet J.T. and Jori.
“Welcome, Jori,” the captain said with a smile. Jori acknowledged him with a gesture but did not smile in return. “I’d like to introduce you to a few other members of my crew. You remember Lt. Commander Bracht, Lt. Jenna Stein, and Dr. Beck Jerom?”
“Yes,” Jori replied.
“This is Lt. Handly, one of our operations officers,” the captain continued. “Lt. Sara Fisher from engineering, Lt. Rik Gresher from security, and Lt. Triss Stever, one of our helmsman, or helmswomen, I should say.”
After greeting each one with a nod, Jori replied, “I’m assuming everyone here knows who I really am?”
“Yes,” the captain replied.
“Then you will all address me as Swent Prince Kavak, or just Swent Prince for the duration of this visit.”
J.T. wanted to groan but managed to keep his chagrin in check. Instead he gave the captain a helpless shrug.
“And if we don’t?” Bracht challenged.
Before the captain could give Bracht a warning, Jori replied, “Then I will address you as bonan.”
Bracht darkened but a look from the captain kept him from replying. Bonan meant unworthy slave in Bracth’s tongue. J.T. wanted to warn Jori that provoking a Rabnoshk warrior probably wasn’t a good idea, but he doubted it would do any good.
“I see no reason why you shouldn’t be addressed by your title, Swent Prince” the captain said politely to the boy.
They settled down at the table and began serving their meal. The captain asked Jori if he’d ever had Genevian food and thankfully Jori replied in the affirmative rather than give the caustic answer he had given to J.T.
But the civility was not to last.
“So, how do you like our ship so far, Prince Kavak?” Lt. Gresher asked.
“It’s Swent Prince,” Jori corrected sternly. “My brother is not dead.”
“My apologies, Swent Prince,” Lt. Gresher replied politely. “How do you like our ship so far?”
“It is surprisingly well maintained,” Jori admitted.
“You should see our cells,” Bracht replied.
“Bracht,” the captain warned.
“What? It’s where he should be,” the warrior muttered.
“What’s the matter, Rabnee?” Jori retorted. Rabnee was a derogatory name for a cowardly Rabnoshk warrior. “Are you afraid a child will be able to overwhelm your crew?”
Bracht growled in reply.
“Bracht!” the captain yelled. “You will apologize at once.”
The Rabnoshk warrior turned so dark red, J.T. was sure he was going to explode.
“There’s no need, Captain,” Jori replied. “A forced apology is no apology at all.”
Thank goodness, J.T. thought. Bombshell diffused… for now.
The captain glared at Bracht but did not push for the apology. The room fell into an uncomfortable silence.
The captain broke the silence by clearing his throat. “Well, Swent Prince, I will be talking to your father soon to make arrangements to get you home.” Jori did not reply so the captain continued. “If you’d like to speak to him as well, I’d be happy to make arrangements.”
“I do not wish to speak to my father,” Jori replied.
“No?” the captain asked. “Surely you want him to know you’re all right.”
“I do not wish to speak to him,” Jori said a little more firmly.
The conversation lagged for a bit, but the captain tried to get it started again. At first he asked casual questions, which Jori answered in his usual brevity. But the brief responses compelled the captain ask more probing questions.
“I assure you, Captain,” Jori said, “that if you try to torture the information out of me, you will still find out nothing.”
The captain was obviously a bit taken aback by the response, but he didn’t let that deter him. “We’re not going to torture you, Swent Prince. We’re simply asking. It’s perfectly reasonable for us to ask.”
“I suppose you have a right to interrogate your prisoners,” Jori replied contemptuously. “Shall I sit in a dark room while your Rabnoshk warrior goads me?”
“Jori, that’s enough,” J.T. replied harshly, his frustration finally getting the best of him. “You seem far too mature to be acting like such a child.”
Jori gave him a dark look, but surprisingly said nothing. He didn’t even correct J.T. for not using his formal title. Still, the boy looked sullen for the rest of the evening and there was little conversation.
Dinner was over and J.T. and Jori readied themselves for sleep. J.T. was unnerved by the boy’s continued silence and decided it was time to say something.
“You were very rude at dinner, Jori,” J.T. said harshly. “You know, we are trying hard to be polite and make you feel comfortable. And we are doing everything we can to help you and your brother. I don’t expect you to spill your father’s secrets, but I it’s not unreasonable to expect you to be courteous… and perhaps show a little gratitude.”
“Bracht started it,” Jori replied.
“Now you really sound like a child.”
Jori scowled darkly but didn’t say anything more. Just before going to bed, however, J.T. thought he saw the boy’s look go from a sullen one to a more contemplating one. Must be my imagination, he mused. I hope this brat doesn’t kill me in my sleep.
(This story is protected by copyright) Copyright January, 2015 by Dawn Ross