The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part Two – The Emperor
(This is chapter 8 of the second part. If you haven’t read part one of The Kavakian Empire novella yet, find it on the bar to the right. The first seven chapters of part two can also be found there.)
J.T.’s brow furrowed as he studied the digiview. He couldn’t make sense of these specifications. Despite all the studying he had been doing in his cell, he couldn’t figure out how the resulting energy transfer came out as it did. Based on his current understanding, it shouldn’t have been so high.
The pressure of massaging his temples and brow alleviated his developing headache for only a moment. As soon as he stopped, a shock wave of pain washed over his forehead before settling back down to a dull throb. His eyes felt dry and tired from staring at the digiview for so long, but he couldn’t afford to give his attention to anything else.
The more J.T. looked at the numbers and formulas, the more they all seemed to melt together into a jumbled mess. This plan of Jori’s wasn’t going to work. This was too much information to figure out and too convoluted for him to make sense of it all. Jori had tried to explain this particular part earlier, but J.T. just wasn’t getting it. The urge to toss the digiview across the room was only barely hindered by his desperation. He had to figure this out, at least for the sake of pretense.
There was an unnerving silence in the cargo area that made it difficult to concentrate. J.T. could practically taste the tension around him. The Alliance prisoners were being watched over by a dozen hawk-faced warriors. They stood motionless, yet were as alert as a pack of predators on the hunt. If not for their towering bulk, their dark uniforms might have made them less conspicuous as they stood in the shadowy gloom of the surrounding walls.
The laser had been put back together so now it was a matter of figuring out how to make it work. (Describe how other crew members were doing with their duties. Who was doing what? Who looked worried? Who looked calm? Of the three other people that J.T. shared his cell with, only Simmonds seemed to have a grasp of what they were to do, or at least pretend to do. Hanna was completely lost, but she tried to look busier than anyone. No doubt, she didn’t want any unwanted attention. Jori was helping too. If anything, J.T. got the sense that he knew what he was doing more than anyone, including Jako… describe if I haven’t already.)
J.T.’s thoughts were interrupted by Jako’s condescending tone. “What are you doing, you idiot?”
He was talking to Harley, who stood a little further down from where J.T. was working. Harley’s face was red and he scowled darkly. Jako certainly liked to exert his authority. It was obvious this wiry Tredon soldier was considered inferior by the other warriors. They harassed and picked on him so he, in turn, bullied the Alliance prisoners.
“What kind of senseless moron tries to connect the _______ before the ________?” Jako continued. “Whatever you lack in muscle, you certainly don’t make up for in brains.”
“Funny, that’s exactly what I heard one of your men say about you,” Harley responded testily. J.T. groaned inwardly. Young men could be so rash.
“Don’t you dare talk to me that way.” Jako’s nose flared angrily and his fists clenched at his sides. He was obviously on the brink of violence, yet somehow this Tredon warrior looked almost comical with the way he was trying so hard to be intimidating.
J.T. could see that Harley was barely suppressing a smirk, which only infuriated Jako further. “You might be a giant cockroach among cockroaches,” Jako said through clenched teeth, “but here you’re still just an insect. And if you don’t watch it, I’ll have you exterminated like one.”
Harley huffed in derision.
“You don’t believe me?” Without turning away, Jako said to one of the guards, “Kelar, take this man to the scourging room and have him whipped.”
J.T. wanted to step in, but he knew it would do no good. Luckily, Jori intervened. “Jako, we don’t have time for this. Let him get back to work.”
“I will not be spoken down to by Alliance scum. This man must be punished.”
“Excuse me?” Jori replied darkly. “Are you telling me what to do?”
Jako’s scowl quickly reversed as he realized his blunder. “No, Sir.”
“Then you will address me properly and do as you’re told without argument.”
“Without argument. Do your job and report any problems to me. Understood?”
Jako looked angry but he answered subserviently. “Yes, Sir.”
“Now get back to work. Both of you,” Jori said.
Jako turned away in a snit. Harley gave the man a triumphant look as he walked by. Jako stopped short and opened his mouth to say something, but he saw Jori glaring at him with a raised eyebrow as though daring him disobey. Jako thought better of it and went on to inspect Simmond’s work. Harley looked smug, but the look quickly faded when Jori gave him the same daring look. Rather than appear chastised like Jako, though, Harley glowered but said nothing.
J.T. sighed silently and went back to trying to figure out how the data all fit together. It was quiet again but not quite as tense. It was clear that despite Jori’s age, he carried enough authority here. Most of J.T.’s crewmen didn’t know how deeply Jori was involved with helping them, but they probably sensed he was at least partially on their side.
“What are you doing?” Jako asked.
J.T. flinched. He hadn’t seen Jako approach. He had a quick reply ready, though. He simply repeated what Jori had told him about analyzing the data.
“Yes, but how?”
“By running the process through my head so that I can make sure each step is correct.”
“It’s not that hard. Surely you know _________.”
“Yes, of course.” J.T. lied. He said it with too much hesitance, though, because Jako squinted his eyes with suspicion.
Then Jako asked him a question about the figures he was looking at. The answer was the very problem that J.T. had been trying to wrap his head around this entire time. He wasn’t sure how to answer. But he couldn’t not answer, could he? In his nervousness, he spit out the first thing that came to his mind.
Jako frowned. J.T. felt a wave of dread. He had answered incorrectly.
“Either you Alliance scum are not as smart as you think you are or you’re just playing dumb. Don’t think that playing dumb will save you, because it won’t.”
“Sorry,” J.T. replied quickly. “You just put me on the spot. I got nervous.”
Jako looked dubious. “Very well then. Try again,” he challenged.
J.T. cleared his throat. His nervousness was real. He could feel the sweat forming on his brow as his mind raced to remember exactly what Jori had told him previously. The words wouldn’t come though.
“Well?” Jako said.
J.T. licked his lips. He could see Jako’s suspicion growing. He was about to respond by saying he didn’t know, but then he noticed Jori a short distance behind Jako holding up his digiview. The answer was right there on the screen with the words enlarged so that J.T. could see. And with that, he answered Jako’s question.
Jako’s look changed to one of disappointment. “Well then. Maybe you’re not as stupid as you look.”
J.T. should have felt insulted by the remark, but he was too relieved.
“I suggest you not let your cowardice interfere with your work,” Jako continued. More quietly he said, “If you mess this up, I’ll have you whipped no matter what the little know-it-all princeling says.” He said ‘princeling’ with a sneer. If J.T. didn’t know any better, he’d bet Jako was jealous of the boy.
“What was that, Jako?” Jori said from behind.
Jako jumped and his eyes went wide. “N-n-n-nothing, my Lord,” Jako said as he faced the young prince.
Jori replied with a raised eyebrow. Jako stuttered an apology then quickly went to find something else to do.
Jori looked at J.T. with a slight quirk at the corner of his mouth. In his relief, J.T. suddenly realized just how comical Jako’s reaction was. He coughed loudly in order to hide his laughter and Jori’s generally stoic face broadened into a smile.
The look was brief, though, and Jori quickly reverted back to a more serious demeanor. “You best study more on this,” he said gravely. “I can’t protect you if he realizes you don’t know what you’re doing.”
“I’m trying,” J.T. responded just as seriously. “I really am.”
Note from author: You’ll notice a lot of blank spaces and that portions of the story are in parenthesis unfinished. Remember this is a work in progress and what I’m posting is unedited. The blank spaces are because I don’t know much about lasers. At some point I will have to study them at least far enough to make it sound like I know what I’m talking about. For the part in parenthesis, I just didn’t feel like writing it out. If and when this story gets published, all the blanks will be filled and the story will be complete. Please help me make a good story by offering your input.
(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright August, 2015 by Dawn Ross
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