The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part Two – The Emperor
(Want to read the part one novella and the first chapter of part two? Check out the archives beginning August 2014. You can also click through to the oldest post under The Kavakian Empire category, or you can send me an email through my About Dawn page.)
Jori’s stomach churned as he was beamed onto his father’s ship along with Terk and the others. With most of the warriors on the planet below, the corridors were empty and eerily quiet. No one spoke as the heavy boots of the Dragon warriors echoed off the walls. Even the Alliance prisoners were quiet.
Jori could sense the prisoners’ apprehension, but he could also feel their grim resolve. He could see it too, with the way they set their jaws and walked purposely, as though they were guests rather than prisoners. The people of the Alliance may not have the mentality of a Tredon warrior, but Jori didn’t see them as cowards. They appeared to face their fate as well as any warrior.
Jori used his senses to single out J.T.’s thoughts. The commander was just as uneasy and yet as determined as the others. Jori felt a sense of betrayal from him as well. I did warn him, Jori thought sullenly. Still. Jori felt a wave of nausea. His gut tightened and he swallowed down the sour taste rising in his throat.
A couple of warriors split apart from the group with Lieutenant Hanna Sharkey. The Alliance men began to protest, but the Dragon warriors quickly beat them into submission. Jori winced when Kelar hit J.T. hard enough to knock him senseless. Prince or not, there was little Jori could do to stop it.
He remembered Lt. Sharkey as one of his guards when he stayed with J.T. on the Alliance ship. He had never spoken to her, but he sensed that even though she hadn’t trusted Jori, she at least didn’t have any malice towards him. Even if she had been his worst enemy, though, it made Jori’s stomach turn at the thought of what Lank wanted to do to her. No one deserved Lank’s form of cruelty.
Jori touched Terk’s elbow and stopped him before he could follow the larger group to the prisoner cells.
“We can’t let Lank have her,” Jori said quietly so that the receding group couldn’t hear him.
“It’s too late,” Terk replied. “He’s already claimed her.”
“It’s not too late,” Jori said. He faced his brother and leaned in, locking eyes. “You can use that stuff we used last time. I know Terena keeps it handy.”
Terk shook his head. “You can’t save everyone. Eventually the men will catch on.”
“I can’t stand by and do nothing,” Jori replied. His jaw clenched and his brows drew together. “Not this time. These people saved our lives.”
“They didn’t. Captain Arden did,” Terk countered.
Jori frowned at the weak argument. “These aren’t bad people. They don’t deserve this. And it is our fault they’re here.”
Terk sighed audibly and crossed his arms. “Damn it, Jori. If we keep helping people, we’re going to get caught. There are two of us, remember? Father only needs one son.”
“Then I will do it myself,” Jori said. He turned abruptly and was about to leave when Terk caught his arm and turned him back.
“All right,” he said. “You’re right. We owe them. But this has to stop. Until I am emperor, we have to go along with our father.”
Jori scowled. There was a time when he had idolized his father. But he was growing to hate him. The more he watched his father hurt people, the stronger his resentment grew. But he didn’t argue the point with Terk this time. They had argued about it so many times before. While they both agreed the on dangers of defying their father, Jori was more willing to take risks.
Terk wasn’t a coward, though. If anything, Jori was the weaker one. He was the one who gave into his emotions most often, especially now when it concerned J.T. He liked J.T. A lot. The thought of J.T. being beaten or tortured to death because of his father made his chest tighten painfully and bile rise up in his throat. Jori had to think of something to save him.
“Fine,” Jori replied. He snatched the scanner from Terk’s hand. “You get the stuff from Terena. I’ll take this.”
“What are you going to do?” Terk asked. His eyes narrowed in suspicion.
“Nothing risky, I promise.”
Terk pressed his lips together and scowled. “Well, hurry up,” he said. “You’re supposed to be helping with the laser.”
Father can wait. I’m going to help J.T.! Jori gave his brother his winning smile.
Terk let out a capitulating sigh and rolled his eyes. “Be careful.”
(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright May, 2015 by Dawn Ross
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