The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part One – First Encounter
(The first chapter of “The Kavakian Empire” can be found by following the link under Categories in the right hand column. You can also find the first chapter by looking for August 2014 under Archives.)
“Jori, I’m really sorry about what just happened,” J.T. said with sincerity. “This was not supposed to happen at all, I promise you.” Jori’s eyes burned angrily. “You know I’m telling the truth,” J.T. added.
“If I hadn’t been here, that man might have killed my brother,” Jori said heatedly through clenched teeth.
“I know. I’m sorry, I really am,” J.T. said. “I know some of us hate more strongly than others, but I didn’t expect anyone to take it so far.”
“How can I trust you now? How can I trust anyone? Who will try to kill my brother next? Will it be you?”
“That’s not fair, Jori,”J.T. replied with a hint of rebuke. “I supported your suspicion. I backed you up against my own crew member.”
Jori looked away. J.T. let him think about it for a bit, and stepped out of the room to speak to security. “Has someone alerted the captain?” he asked.
“Yes, Sir. He’s on his way here now,” one of the officers replied.
“Good. Thank you,” J.T. said.
When he went back into the room, Jori no longer looked angry. But there was something else in the boy’s eyes.
“What happened in Gereva,” J.T. asked.
Jori hesitated. He looked down to his feet, then to the side again. J.T. didn’t think he was going to answer, but he finally met J.T.’s eyes and said, “I killed them. I killed that man’s family.” He swallowed hard and looked away guiltily again.
J.T. felt his chest tighten. “What?” he asked in astonishment. “How?”
Jori looked down at his feet and spoke in a low voice. “It was three years ago. My father directed an aerial battle over a small space station called Gereva. He allowed my brother and I watch. At some point he asked us if we’d like to help by firing torpedoes at space station. He’d never allowed us to participate in a real battle before so we eagerly agreed. We . . .”
J.T.’s shock turned into dread. He put a comforting hand on Jori’s shoulder and knelt down so he could look into Jori’s eyes. Jori was trying hard not to cry. “It wasn’t your fault,” J.T. said.
“It was,” Jori replied. The tears welled up and began to fall down his cheeks. “We had fun doing it. We even had a competition to see who could make the biggest explosion.”
J.T. swallowed hard. “Oh, Jori,” he said sadly. “You didn’t know what you were doing,” he tried to say reassuringly.
Jori shook his head as if to agree. “We learned, though. After our soldiers secured the space station, our father took us inside. There were so many people, women, chi . . .” Jori suppressed a sob.
J.T. moved to comfort him, but Jori put up his hand to hold him back. “I could feel the ones that were still alive,” Jori said.
“You didn’t know, Jori,” J.T. said again. “Your father did this, not you.”
“I’m a criminal,” Jori said, looking earnestly into J.T.’s eyes. “You should take me into custody and let me answer for my crime.”
“You’re not a criminal,” J.T. replied as he rubbed Jori’s arm consolingly. “You couldn’t have understood what you were doing. I know you are really mature for your age, but you are still naive in many ways.”
“I understood when we walked through the station,” Jori replied.
“I know you did,” J.T. replied. “You learned something then, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” Jori said.
“You came to understand the consequences of such actions and you won’t want to do it again, right?”
“No, I won’t want to. But my father will want me to. I may not have a choice,” Jori replied sadly.
“Someday you will,” J.T. said. Jori nodded in reply.
Jori was wiping his eyes when Doctor Jerom approached the doorway and motioned for J.T. to come talk to him.
When J.T. followed the doctor to his office, Captain Arden was already there.
“How’s Jori taking this?” the captain asked.
“He was angry, but I think he’s calmed down now,” J.T. replied.
“That’s good,” he said. “What happened?”
J.T. explained what had occurred with Laren, including Laren’s reluctance.
“How did Jori know?” the captain asked curiously.
J.T. glanced at the doctor and decided that even though Jori didn’t want him to tell anyone but the captain, that telling Doctor Jerom was acceptable. “He can sense emotions.”
“He’s a reader?” Captain Arden said with surprise.
“Not like Liam,” J.T. said almost defensively. Readers like Liam were required to register with the Alliance, but not readers like Jori. J.T. had looked into the Alliance laws to make sure. They distinguished the differences just as Jori had explained. Since Jori’s ability didn’t invade other people’s minds, his ability was not considered a violation of privacy. But still, J.T. realized he should have told the captain. “Jori only just told me the other day that he can only get a simple sense of what someone might be feeling.”
“I see,” the captain replied in a tone that suggested they would discuss later why J.T. didn’t tell him about Jori’s ability earlier. “So he sensed Laren was up to something?”
“Yes,” J.T. replied. “Was he? Was Laren up to something?” he asked turning to the doctor.
“I’m not sure what was in the syringe yet,” Doctor Jerom said. “But whatever it was, it certainly wasn’t hippoceretine.”
“So Laren was trying to harm Terk,” J.T. said with a regretful sigh. Jori’s reaction made J.T. suspicious, but he didn’t want to really believe Laren would do such a thing. Now, he had no choice but to believe it.
“It appears so,” the captain said with a hint of regret.
“I think,” Doctor Jerom said, “Laren has tried this before.”
“When Terk nearly died the other day?” J.T. asked.
Doctor Jerom nodded. “If you don’t mind, Captain, I’d like to run a few more tests.”
“Certainly, Doctor,” the captain replied. “Commander, I need to apologize to Jori.”
With that, all three left the room. Doctor Jerom went one way while J.T. and the captain went to Terk’s room. Jori was sitting by the bedside and holding his brother’s hand. Jori’s eyes were still a little red, but it wasn’t noticeable that he’d been crying.
When the captain entered the room, Jori stood up and stood formally before the captain.
“Jori,” the captain greeted. “I’m so very sorry about what just happened. I assure you that I will do everything I can to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
“I’m sure you know now that it isn’t naivety that makes me believe you, Captain,” Jori said formally.
“Commander Hapker told me of your ability,” the captain replied.
“Good,” Jori said tersely. “Because if I didn’t know you were telling the truth about this incident, if I didn’t believe you truly meant to protect my brother, this conversation would be going very differently.”
J.T.’s eyes bulged at how blunt Jori was being and at how humble the captain was in response. “I understand, Swent Prince, and I’m glad you know I am telling the truth. I truly regret this incident.”
Jori responded by nodding curtly.
When Captain Arden left, J.T. gave Jori a look. “You could have been a little more polite to him, you know. It wasn’t his fault.”
“He’s the captain, isn’t he?” Jori said, not really asking. “His fault or not, it is his responsibility.”
“And he is taking responsibility,” J.T. reminded him a hint of sternness.
“I know,” Jori softened. “Look, J.T. I know you and I have come to a better understanding of one another. But I still need to keep my guard up. I can’t afford to keep exposing my weaknesses.”
“Being upset about your brother is not a weakness,” J.T. replied unassumingly.
“Such sentiment is weakness. Emotion is weakness,” Jori said.
“Emotion in itself is not a weakness. Losing control of your emotions, however, is. It is about control of your emotions, not about elimination of your emotions.”
“You know how I feel about my brother,” Jori said. “If you wanted to, you could use that against me.”
“There are people in this world who would do such a thing. But it doesn’t make you weak,” J.T. replied. “Having compassion for others is a good thing. If you don’t, if you don’t care, then you’re just a bully.”
“I’m supposed to be a bully. That’s what being a Kavak is all about.” Jori said, but not sounding like he really believed it.
“Is that what your father tells you?” J.T. asked. “I think he’s wrong. There are better ways to lead than to bully people.”
“Maybe,” Jori replied. “But if you weren’t who you are. If I were on another ship, perhaps, my emotions would have left me vulnerable.”
“Your sentiment for your brother just saved his life. And your brother obviously has emotions for you as well, since he saved your life when your ship crashed,” J.T. said recalling the video he had seen of Terk protecting his brother. “Together, you and your brother are stronger because of your emotions.”
Jori didn’t reply, but he was obviously thinking about it.
“I can’t deny there are times when it is best to keep your emotions to yourself,” J.T. added, “but you shouldn’t make yourself numb to them.”
(This story is protected by copyright) Copyright April, 2015 by Dawn Ross