The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part Two – The Emperor
(To go back and read the first chapters of The Kavakian Empire, check the Archives option on the right. Part One of this sci-fi saga began August, 2014.)
Note from the author: This chapter intentionally has some portions that lack in structure and/or detail. In order to protect my story from those who might copy it and present it as their own, I sometimes only share the rough draft version.
J.T. was resting in his cell with his other cellmates. The pain still throbbed and his thoughts spiraled around an empty void. He wasn’t dying, just out of touch with what was going on around him. Something cold touched his neck. A hiss sound followed. J.T. jerked awake. Terk was kneeling over him with a hypospray. The pain began to subside.
“Are we getting out of here?” J.T. asked hopefully.
“No, I’m afraid not.” Terk offered no further explanation. He stood and waited for J.T. become more alert. J.T. was on the floor. Harley, Simmonds, and Hanna had the three beds. With the way they were stirring, J.T. guessed that they too had been given something for the pain. Although J.T.’s pain was easing up, he still didn’t have the strength to do more than sit against the wall.
Jori handed them all a digiview and began to explain their duties. J.T. noticed he had a black eye and a cut lip. Despite the pain his own body was feeling, his gut churned at the thought of the boy being hit hard enough to leave those marks.
Jori handed the last digiview to J.T. and told him to read up on how photons were generated in laser technology.
Jori then proceeded to tell the prisoners that the torture was probably over unless they resisted.
“What was that you did to us?” Simmonds accused. He sat up on his bed.
Terk told him about how the rod worked to send a painful electric charge through the body.
“I’ve never felt anything like it. It was awful.” Simmonds was rubbing his forehead.
“It could have been much worse,” Terk replied flatly. “Be glad I wasn’t ordered to kill you.”
“Would you have done that?” Simmonds raised his head in disbelief. “After all we have done for you?”
“Yes,” Terk replied bluntly. He did not offer an explanation.
“There is not much we can do,” Jori added. “It is in your best interest to go along with things. Father’s threat about Ankgar is very real. Even when those sent to Ankgar are permitted to live, they don’t truly live.”
Silence as J.T. and the others let that sink in. Simmonds went back to massaging his forehead. Hanna and Harley were still lying on their beds. Both were not yet as alert as J.T. and Simmonds.
J.T. broke the silence. “Did you get in trouble for not hurting us?” he asked Jori.
“Yes, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve never participated before so it is not as suspicious as it would have been if Terk had refused.”
“I’m sorry,” Terk said. “I didn’t want to do it. But he’s right. Father would have been suspicious.”
“I still don’t understand why you don’t just tell him,” Simmonds whined. He wasn’t there when Jori explained to J.T. about why they couldn’t tell their father how J.T. helped save them. But J.T. had relayed the information.
“Do you seriously think a man like my father would care?” Terk’s tone was harsh. “You have no idea what he is capable of. One thing he is not capable of, though, is sentimentality. So say nothing about how we know you or these little visits where we help you to stay alive will stop.” Terk was almost yelling now. Simmonds gulped, nodded his head and argued no further.
“We can’t fix that laser,” Hanna replied, barely audible. She still hadn’t risen from the bed.
“If you wish to live, you will act like you can,” Terk warned.
“For how long?” J.T. asked. “We can’t keep this ruse up for long.”
“Do you have a plan?” Simmonds said.
“Not yet,” Jori replied.
“We make no promises,” Terk added.
Hanna tried to sit up. She groaned in pain. “I’m sorry for what happened to you,” Terk told her.
“You scared the hell out of me, you know,” she said. Her voice was still weak but it sounded almost accusatory.
Terk raised his eyebrow. “When I came to help you, I was met with nothing but fury and insults.”
“Can you blame me?” she said.
Terk was silent a moment then said, “I suppose not.”
Note from the author: What did Harley think of all this? Hanna was grateful. She was in pain but wasn’t raped. J.T. held out hope that the boys would help them. Simmonds was defeated. He was the only one in their cell that had begged. But Harley? He was a security officer so perhaps he shared some of Calloway’s prejudice. He was young, so perhaps he was also a bit rash.
When Harley became a bit more alert and sat up he made some terse remarks, blaming Terk and Jori for their current predicament.
“We did not bring you here,” Terk said angrily. “It is not our fault you were captured. It was your own incompetence. Whether we choose to help you or not is completely up to us so I suggest you lose the attitude.” Terk clenched his jaw and glared at Harley. Harley scowled and glared back but eventually broke eye contact.
Terk told Jori to go to the next group of prisoners. After Jori left, Terk spoke specifically to J.T.
“I do owe you.” Terk’s features had calmed and he spoke evenly now. “I even admit that you have a lot of admirable qualities for an Alliance officer. And I don’t want to see you die. But helping you is extremely risky. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to a little risk for myself.” Harley harrumphed. Terk ignored him. “But if my father gets wind of this and something happens to Jori because of you, I will not hesitate to kill you.” Terk’s tone was cold.
“I understand,” J.T. replied, knowing full well that Terk meant it. “But understand that if I feel I must protect myself or my crew, or if I see an opportunity to escape, I will do so.” He tried not to sound challenging when he spoke and added, “But I will do my best not to do anything that might bring Jori harm.”
“Fair enough,” Terk replied.
Harley did not agree. He replied, “Why should your brother’s life be more important than ours?”
“Because you’re nothing but a worthless piss-ant.” Terk’s voice was harsh again.
“And you’re an ungrateful brat.”
“Harley!” J.T. said sternly.
But it was too late. Terk lifted Harley by the neck and slammed him against the wall.
“Be grateful I don’t snap your puny little neck.” Terk spoke through gritted teeth. His face was dark with anger.
“Terk, please don’t,” J.T. said in a tone that was calmer than he felt.
Terk held Harley’s eyes in a hard stare while Harley flailed uselessly and struggled to breathe. Damn that boy is strong, J.T. thought. Sure, Harley was injured, but Terk was only about fourteen cycles old and yet he had a grown man pinned to the wall. J.T. had no doubt the boy was capable of killing Harley then and there.
Terk finally let go and Harley crumpled to the ground choking. Terk left abruptly without another word.
J.T. didn’t blame Harley for his accusation. But it would do them no good to antagonize anyone, especially the only two Tredons who seemed to want to help them. Terk and Jori were their only lifeline.
(This sci-fi story is protected by copyright) Copyright June, 2015 by Dawn Ross
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