The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part One – First Encounter
(Begin reading “The Kavakian Empire” by following the link under categories in the right hand column. Chapter 1 was written in August 2014.)
The next morning, J.T. went with Jori to sit by Terk’s side again. After nearly losing his brother, Jori seemed determined not to let Terk out of his sight again.
Jori was not as impersonal as he had been after the incident with Liam. Despite baring his emotions yesterday, J.T. could tell the boy had his guard back up. The two had connected, though. There was no denying it. J.T. felt he understood Jori a little better than before.
Jori might have a vastly different background than most other people J.T. knew. He might be a lot more mature than most adolescents. But he was still a human being. No matter how much the boy might try to hide them, he had emotions like anyone else and loved just as strongly.
The two sat with Terk for some time. Neither said anything as each of them perused their digiviews. At some point, though, J.T. realized something. Even though he had decided not to press Jori into conversation, his curiosity got the best of him. “Jori?” he said.
“Yes,” Jori replied, not looking up from his digiview.
“You don’t have to answer this, but I am wondering about something.”
Jori said nothing but he looked up, so J.T. took it to mean that he wasn’t averse to talking.
“Did you know something was wrong with your brother yesterday when you stopped the game?” J.T. asked.
Jori was silent for a moment. J.T. wasn’t sure he was going to answer. But after seeming to think about it for a moment, he replied. “Yes.”
“Really?” J.T. asked with interest. “How?”
“I can sense him,” Jori said hesitantly.
J.T.’s eyes widened. “You’re a reader?” It was the only explanation.
Jori scowled. “Not exactly,” he replied. “I don’t go into people’s heads and take information. I only sense what is already there.”
Sounds like a reader to me, J.T. thought to himself. But more politely he said, “I’m not sure I understand the difference.”
“There are two kinds of readers,” Jori said. “Three, if you count Lyco-readers.” J.T. shivered at that name. What a Lyco-reader did was more like torture. Jori continued to explain. “Your reader goes inside the head. He rummages around like a thief and takes whatever he finds,” he said with obvious distaste. “I don’t go inside anyone’s head. I can’t pull thoughts or information at will. I only see what is presented. It’s only slightly different than what anyone else does when they talk to someone and try to guess their true intent by reading their body language.”
J.T. thought he understood. Jori could sense brain waves or something. But this was the most he had gotten Jori to speak in a while, so he gently prodded him more. “But you couldn’t see your brother from the gymnasium. How were you able to sense him from so far away?”
“I can feel people from some distance. It is different for different people. Since my brother and I are so close, I can sense him from a much greater distance than anyone else.”
“I see,” J.T. said as he shifted in his seat. Despite the difference that Jori had explained, J.T. felt a little uneasy at what the boy could do.
“I can’t read your mind, Commander,” Jori said with a hint of assurance. “I can tell you feel uncomfortable, but I don’t know what you’re thinking. I can only guess.”
“Can all Tredons do this?”
“No,” Jori replied. “Just my brother and I, and our mother.”
“Not your father?”
“This ability probably comes in handy,” J.T. said, trying not to let the idea of Jori reading his emotions bother him.
“It is why I didn’t shoot you when you and your men confronted me on Pensla,” Jori said humorlessly. “It’s why I trust you and the captain when you say you will help save my brother.”
“Huh,” J.T. replied in understanding. “That’s definitely handy.”
“Yes,” Jori admitted. “But it comes with a price.” J.T. looked at him questioningly so Jori continued. “When I feel the pain or sadness of others, sometimes it makes me feel the same way. And sometimes I have a hard time knowing which are my own emotions and which are the emotions of others.”
“So you can feel what your brother is feeling now?”
“My brother isn’t feeling anything,” Jori said with a hint of sadness. “He’s empty. But I felt his life force slip away.”
“I’m sorry,” J.T. said with genuine concern.
Jori looked about ready to cry again, but he took a deep breath and held the tears at bay. “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t say too much about this to anyone. The captain, I can understand. But no one else, please.” For once, Jori’s emotions were plain on his face. He was truly pleading. “My father doesn’t know,” Jori added.
J.T. raised his eyebrows in surprise. “You’ve kept this from your father?”
“Yes,” Jori nodded. “He would force me to use it, the way he… Never mind. I’ve said too much already.” Jori scowled and turned away.
Darn it, J.T. thought. I’ve pushed him away again. “You’re right,” he said, hoping to make amends. “I didn’t mean to press. I won’t say anything to anyone.”
Jori softened. “Thank you,” he replied sincerely. With that, he went back to perusing his digiview.
J.T. sat back, full of thought.
(This sci-fi story is protected by copyright) Copyright February, 2015 by Dawn Ross
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