The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part One – First Encounter
Rough Draft of Chapter 19
(Chapter 1 of “The Kavakian Empire” space epic began in August 2014. Find this date under the Archives in the right hand column.
Jori wanted to be angry for what nearly happened to his brother, but he couldn’t seem to find any anger. J.T. could have let the medic administer the medicine. But he actually believed Jori over him. J.T., in fact, had saved Terk’s life. How could Jori hate him for that? Master Jetser had taught that there is good and bad in every race, so judge each man for himself. This is what J.T. did, and Captain Arden as well, so why shouldn’t Jori extend the same courtesy? Jori kept this in mind as he addressed Captain Arden in the captain’s ready room. The usual senior officers were present.
“Lt. Calloway is not to guard my brother,” Jori said while trying not to sound impertinent.
“Has the lieutenant done something to make you think he will harm your brother?” the captain asked.
“He has made his hatred of me known more strongly than the others. But I can protect myself. My brother can’t.”
Captain Arden looked at J.T. to confirm what Jori had said. J.T. gave a slight nod. “Very well,” the captain said to Jori. To Bracht, he merely gave a look. Bracht nodded in understanding.
Jori was impressed with how well Captain Arden led his crew. It seemed he had to say very little to motivate his men. Jori’s father and many of the Tredon military leaders were often loud and enforced their authority with force of will and sometimes violence. In Tredon, Captain Arden would have been considered weak. He was not a warrior. But his men obviously respected him a great deal. Jori wished he could observe more of the captain’s leadership skills to see how he did it.
Jori was relieved that the captain was willing to take his word on Lt. Calloway. He could sense the captain’s sincerity when he apologized for what nearly happened to Terk. And, it seemed, he sincerely wanted to make sure something like this didn’t happen again. So when the captain asked if Jori would talk to his father, Jori still replied in the negative, but offered an explanation this time.
“He will not believe you didn’t harm us no matter what I say,” Jori said. “Besides, he will ask me about my experiences here. You don’t really want him to know about the attempt on my brother’s life, do you?”
“I’d prefer e not,” Captain Arden replied. “But just because you speak to him doesn’t mean you have to tell him about it. I’m hoping you will just tell him that you are all right and that we are not mistreating you.”
“My father doesn’t understand such mercy,” Jori said. Not only that, Jori thought, Father will be angry when he finds out I didn’t take advantage of their hospitality. “I strongly advise you not contact my father until the very last moment. Wait until we get to the Chevert outpost and leave us with our ally rather than wait for my father to arrive.”
“Who is this ally?”
“He is a Tredon administrator who organizes much of our empire’s trade,” Jori replied.
“Are you sure you can trust him? I could be leaving you in danger.”
“I’m positive,” Jori said with conviction. There weren’t many Tredons Jori would trust with his safety, but Jax was one he could. Jax enjoyed his position at the Chevert outpost. He was married and had children, and his family was far safer at the Chevert outpost than they were in Tredon territory. If Jori told Jax that his father already knew he and his brother were under his care, Jax wouldn’t jeopardize his position to take advantage. He’d get the boys home as promptly and as safely as possible.
“I will take this into consideration,” Captain Arden said sincerely.
“It is the only way, Captain. If you contact my father, he is going to assume my brother and I are being held hostage. And when you arrive at the Chevert outpost, he will attack you.”
“If he does that,” Bracht interrupted, “we will kill him.”
“Do not think it so simple, Rabnoshk,” Jori said disdainfully. “You will most likely die.”
“Even if either side survives,” Captain Arden said neutrally, “this incident would likely cause a war between our people. I do not want war. If we can handle this without confrontation, it would be better for everyone.”
“You are afraid to fight us,” Jori said with realization.
“Not afraid,” the captain replied. “But I have no love for war either. And I don’t believe our differences can be resolved simply by fighting over them.”
Jori gave him a questioning look so the captain continued. “Tell me, Jori, what do you think the purpose of fighting is.”
“To teach a lesson,” Jori replied automatically. “To seek retribution for a wrong.”
“When someone hurts you, do you come to a sudden revelation that perhaps you were wrong? Do you learn a lesson?”
“No,” Jori replied with a frown.
“That’s right. You don’t. In fact, you probably want to seek that retribution you mentioned, do you not?”
“Yes,” Jori replied.
“Say you get your retribution. That person hasn’t learned a lesson any more than you did when he hurt you. He will want to retaliate.” Jori moved to speak, but the captain held up his hand. “And before you tell me that he can’t retaliate if he’s dead, consider who might retaliate on his behalf. When does the retribution and retaliation end? It could go on and on until you’re no longer sure what you were fighting about to begin with. And while you are on your rampage, innocents get in the way and are killed as well. Many die for what was at first a small thing. So tell me again, what is the purpose of fighting?”
“If you’re saying fighting is pointless,” Jori said with a hint of annoyance at the captain’s logical argument, “then I beg to differ. If I don’t fight, I die. I must defend myself.”
“Defense is the correct answer,” Captain Arden replied. “Fighting to teach a lesson doesn’t work. And fighting to seek retribution could have terrible consequences. I don’t want a war because of the terrible consequences of war. But if your father starts one, we will be forced to defend ourselves. So if it is all the same to you, I’d like to avoid a war. If you think contacting your father will create more harm than good, then I will seriously consider your idea.”
Before Jori could say anything, the beep of the comm notification diverted the Captain’s attention. “Go ahead,” he said.
“Sir, I have Rear Admiral Zimmer online,” the voice said through the comm.
“Will you excuse me?” the captain said to Jori. Jori sensed dread from the captain and was confused by it, but now was not the time. He gave a nod in assent and left wondering why the captain felt unease at the mention of his rear admiral.
“Rear Admiral Zimmer,” Robert said to the admiral through the vid-comm. “To what do I owe this pleasure?”
“I hear you have the Kavakian princes on board your ship, Captain,” Zimmer said crossly. “And I’m wondering why you didn’t notify me directly.”
Robert’s heart sunk, but he tried to answer nonchalantly. “My apologies, Admiral. Since they are just boys, I didn’t think their presence warranted a priority report.”
“Having the sons of the Alliance’s worst enemy on board your ship is not a priority?” Zimmer said angrily.
“Since they are just children, I figured not, Sir.”
“You figured wrong. Just what did you plan on doing with the children, anyway?”
“I am in the process of making arrangements to get them home.”
“Out of the question,” Zimmer said angrily. “We could use these children to negotiate the release of some of our people.”
Robert was appalled but managed not to let it show on his face. “If the emperor found out we have his children it will likely trigger a war.”
“We can reinforce our borders,” Zimmer replied offhandedly. “I will be at Caspan in a week. I want those children brought to me immediately.”
“Capsan? But that is at least thirty day-cycles away for us, Sir.” Robert tried hard not to let his anger show. Zimmer was a fool. After Robert had talked with Jori, he was even more certain of the risk of war. The idea sickened him. When he was a young officer, younger than J.T., he was forced to fire on an enemy ship in battle. The enemy ship ended up having children aboard, many who had been killed or maimed in the firefight. Robert still had nightmares about it and he had absolutely no desire to be a part of a war ever again. It was why he redirected his path towards negotiations.
“Where are you now?” Zimmer asked. Robert gave his current coordinates. “Very well,” Zimmer said. “We can meet at the Chevert outpost. I am only about ten day-cycles from there. I will see you then.”
“Yes, Admiral,” Robert replied, trying to keep the dread from his voice. He was going to have to break his promise to the young prince. It would do no good to argue about it with the rear admiral. He wouldn’t understand, and likely wouldn’t care. So Robert said nothing. He had no choice but to follow orders.
“One more thing,” Zimmer said. “You implied that the emperor does not yet know that we have his children.”
“That is correct,” Robert confirmed.
“Do any other Tredons know?”
“I have not contacted anyone as of yet, Sir.”
“Good. Keep it that way.”
“Yes, Sir.” Robert replied.
When the conversation ended, Robert sat back in his chair in deep thought. He had so hoped to keep this from Zimmer. Now he was going to have to break his promise to Jori. This is not good, he thought. This is not good at all.
(This story is protected by copyright) Copyright April, 2015 by Dawn Ross