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 of this space opera story was written in August 2014.)
Jori woke up feeling groggy. He hadn’t slept well at all that night. He wanted so badly to be angry at J.T. for talking down to him and calling him a child. But darn it, J.T. was right.
Every time Jori tried to empty his mind for sleep, Lord Mottrick Panske kept popping into his head. Motty was his informal name and Jori and Terk called him Motty the haughty. To say that Motty was a spoiled rotten brat was a vast understatement. Jori had never seen anyone throw a fit before until the day Motty’s father told him he couldn’t visit the airfield that day. The boy actually wailed while stomping his feet. If Jori had ever considered doing something like that, his father would have knocked him senseless before the first stamp of his foot. But Motty’s father gave in. Motty tried the same tactic with Jori and Terk when he didn’t get his way. Terk didn’t knock him senseless, but he nearly broke Motty’s jaw.
Jori hadn’t behaved as badly as Motty yesterday, but he could have acted a little better. He hated how snotty some of the noble Tredon boys at home could be and didn’t want to be compared to them. Master Jetser had taught him better than that.
Master Jetser would insist that Jori apologize. Jetser would say that pride is a weakness and the only way to defeat pride is to take responsibility for your actions. Jori considered apologizing to J.T. as they made their way to meet the captain. But he could sense that J.T. was in a foul mood and so decided to wait until later.
Captain Arden was in a better mood. He greeted Jori with a pleasant smile. But, as usual, the captain had a more serious disposition.
“Welcome, Jori,” the captain said. “After last night’s dinner, I feel the need to speak with you more formally and come to an understanding.”
Jori said nothing, but he did glance over to a man he had never seen before standing behind the captain.
Captain Arden noticed Jori’s look and responded. “This is Lt. Junior Grade Liam Garner. He’s here to help me today.”
There was something about the man that didn’t feel right, but Jori nodded politely to him anyway.
“Now Jori,” the captain went on, “I’ve made it clear that you are a guest here and we will not mistreat you. I will keep this promise. But you must understand, I still have a job to do. I not only have a crew to protect, but I have a responsibility to my superiors and to the Alliance as a whole. This means J.T. and I will question you from time to time.”
“I understand, Sir,” Jori replied. A feeling of guilt for his childish behavior churned in his stomach. He wanted to apologize then and there, but something about the man, Liam, in the background distracted him.
“To be fair,” the captain continued, “from now on we will only ask you questions in a more formal setting such as this. This way, you do not need to worry about anyone manipulating you.”
Jori nodded in reply, glancing again at Liam and wondering what he was going to do to help the captain.
“Good,” Captain Arden said. “Then I need to ask you more about your mission. We’ve been able to verify everything you’ve told us so far. But we also know there is more to it. We have reports that you and your brother were seen speaking to Shekaka. He’s a very disreputable man, you know. He’s a known spy who deals with the trading of sensitive information. I must ask you what information has he passed on to you two and what does it have to do with scientists?”
Jori barely heard what the captain had said. A slight tingling sensation buzzed in his head. At first, he didn’t know what it was. But then when he realized, a panic came over him. “What is he doing?” Jori asked in alarm.
“What is who doing?” J.T. asked.
“Him!” Jori said, pointing at Liam. “Get out of my head!” he said to the man.
“He’s a reader, Jori,” the captain replied calmly. “He’s not going to hurt you.”
“Tell him to stop!” Jori demanded. His heart raced fearfully. Although the man wasn’t harming him, Jori’s training had taught him that men like this were dangerous. They exposed a man’s innermost thoughts and there were many things, personal things, private feelings, that Jori did not want exposed. “This man is trespassing and I do not like it. I want him out!”
“Liam, stop,” the captain said calmly as he gestured to the man behind him.
As the buzzing in Jori’s head abated, Jori felt his panic turn into anger. His face flushed and his nostrils flared as he breathed heavily trying to calm his racing heart.
When he was certain that Liam was out of his head, Jori turned a dark scowl towards the captain. But he wasn’t about to make the same childish mistake as last night. He held his anger in check and kept his tone neutral as he spoke. “It wouldn’t have worked, Captain,” he said through gritted teeth. “I know how to defend myself against a reader.”
“You understand I had to try,” the captain responded.
Jori did understand. His father would have tried far worse. But he didn’t like it. He didn’t like it one bit. He felt violated. All thoughts of admitting his bad behavior yesterday left Jori’s mind. These men had made their status as his enemy clear and enemies did not deserve apologies.
(This sci-fi story is protected by copyright) Copyright February, 2015 by Dawn Ross