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.)
Emperor Devon Kavak turned towards the sound and saw his men trying to pretend nothing had happened. One man mumbled a curse, then pointedly looked away when he saw Devon glaring at him. Jako picked up whatever metal piece had fallen off the large laser part the other men had dropped.
“Damn it! Be careful,” Devon yelled. “You break anything, you’ll pay for it in blood.” Devon tried to give each of the five men an enraged look in order to emphasize the threat, but none would meet his eyes.
“I want you to move fast, but not so fast that you blunder,” Devon added for all in the room to hear. They didn’t have much time to get the laser dismantled and off this desolate planet. Fourteen hours was the least amount of time it would take for the Alliance to return with reinforcements.
Defeating the Alliance had been easy. Devon used cloaking devices to hide his ships as they left Tredon territory and again as they approached Thendi. His ships would have arrived weeks ago, but cloaked ships can’t move very fast.
Once his warships had arrived, everything moved at a much quicker pace. Devon was a master tactician. His two warships easily wounded the three pathetic Alliance ships. Ships belonging to the Alliance Core generally had more firepower than those of many other races, but not nearly as much as a Tredon warship. They were faster than Devon’s ships, sure, but Devon was even faster with his targeting calculations. He already had two Alliance ships limping away with their tails between their legs by the time his Anacondas landed on the planet surface.
Devon wished he had been able to join the ground forces. He relished the hand-to-hand combat he had done in his youth. But his men were more than capable. The Alliance was scattered and the laser secured in just under four hours.
Too bad we can’t disassemble this laser just as fast, Devon said to himself. He tried to contain his impatience as the men worked, but he couldn’t help but to pace back and forth. At least his pacing seemed to inspire the men to be busy.
“No, no, no!” Jako said to one of the warriors working on the laser. “You have to remove that valve first. And not with a hammer either.” Turning to another man he yelled, “Biskol! It doesn’t turn in that direction. It goes the other way.” Then back to the other man, “Put that hammer down!”
Jako knew what he was doing better than anyone. The only person who came close to understanding the things Jako understood about this scientific crap was Jori. Where is that boy anyway? Devon asked himself. He glanced around the room and noticed not a single man was idle. But his youngest son was nowhere to be seen.
Before he thought to ask anyone, he was distracted again by Jako’s yelling. “Damn it, Raldof! I told you not to use the hammer.”
Jako did not have the military might of these other warriors, so few took him seriously. Normally Devon could care less, but this laser was too important. “Raldof!” he called to the man. “If I see you with that hammer one more time, I’ll break your arm off and beat you with it.” Raldof tossed the hammer aside without complaint and gave Jako a dirty look that told him he’d get even with him later.
While capturing the laser had been easy, taking it apart and reassembling it would not be. And it would be even more difficult to get it to working condition. As far as Devon knew, the scientists had not yet finished it.
Those men we’ve captured better have the skills needed to complete this thing, Devon thought to himself. My men certainly won’t be able to do it. My youngest son knows more than they do. Where the hell is that boy?
Jori had a higher intellect than any of his other sons had ever had. But he was also the most troublesome. The boy questioned too much and was often too squeamish to do the things that most warriors knew needed be done. Terk did what he was told. And he was good at it most of the time. He was smart, too, but not like Jori. Even though Jori was young, he had a lot of potential. He wasn’t as good of a fighter as Terk, but he was a better fighter than Terk was when he was his age. Jori had excellent tactical skills as well. Damn that boy. Where is he?
Even though Devon was irritated with his son at the moment, he really had little to complain about. Whatever shortcomings he had, Terk made up for and vice versa. If the two didn’t kill one another, as some of his other sons had done, they’d make a great team that would continue to exalt the Kavakian line.
The Kavakian Empire was waning, no thanks to Devon’s own father. Devon’s great-great grandfather had held nearly twice the territory. Part of it was lost when a wormhole collapsed, cutting them off from the Quevar system in a distant galaxy. That wasn’t really his father’s fault, but losing the Pentam system was.
Devon desperately needed this laser to not only subdue his internal dissidents and fight off his external enemies like the Alliance, but also to reconquer the Pentam system. Devon’s father lost it when Devon was about Jori’s age. When he became emperor, he tried to retake it, but two things kept him from succeeding. The Pentam system was distant and Devon couldn’t amass enough force to take it without leaving the rest of his territory vulnerable to his greedy lords. Lord Falcorn especially would take advantage of Devon’s absence and take control.
The second reason Devon couldn’t reconquer the Pentam system was because their cities were protected by powerful shields. Devon’s ships couldn’t penetrate them. He believed this laser would be able to do it with one decisive strike. And it could be done with just a handful of ships, allowing the others to stay behind and keep Lord Falcorn in check.
“Your Eminence,” General Trevine said. “Jetser is reporting that fighting in the canyon has begun again. I believe the Thendi have regrouped.”
“Damn!” Devon replied. He didn’t need to give General Trevine useless orders like ‘gather our men’ or ‘kill them’. The general had probably already done all he could. By reporting to Devon, he was asking for his tactical expertise. And to give that, Devon needed to go out and get an aerial view of the fighting.
“Mavers, you’re in charge. Make sure they hurry without breaking anything,” Devon told the colonel. As an afterthought, he added, “And find out where the hell Jori is and tell him to get his ass down here.”
(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright May, 2015 by Dawn Ross
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