The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part Two – The Emperor
This is the end of chapter 7 for part two of the Kavakian Empire saga. If you haven’t read any of part two yet, you can find the first chapter under The Kavakian Empire category heading and Sci-Fi Part 2 subheading. And if you haven’t read any of this sci-fi story yet, start with the Sci-Fi Part 1 subheading.
After Hanna had been taken back to her cell, Terk went to the cargo area where the laser was being reassembled. The Alliance officers worked beside a few of his father’s men while other warriors stood guard. The Alliance men were cooperating, albeit a little more slowly than the others. They hadn’t been healed like Hanna had.
J.T. was one of the few who did not act like he was in any pain, but Terk could sense his discomfort. Due to his rank, J.T. had been tortured more than the others. And although this Alliance commander was not a warrior, he hadn’t begged while being tortured either. Terk almost admired him for his strength. Almost. Too bad Father is eventually going to kill him.
Terk had considered refusing to participate in the torture of the Alliance officers. J.T. was probably one of the most genuinely kind persons Terk had ever met. But refusing would have made his father suspicious. At the same time, though, Terk worried about making Jori look bad in front of their father. Jori wouldn’t torture anyone. He refused no matter how much their father demanded it and no matter how harsh his punishment was. A part of Terk was angry that Jori refused. In a way, he felt Jori deserved the punishments. More than that, though, Terk admired his little brother’s resolve.
Jori stood on the other side of the cargo bay observing the men at work. Terk made his way over and stood beside him. “How’s it going?” he asked his little brother.
“Too well.” Jori spoke in a low voice. There was too much noise in the cargo area for anyone but Terk to hear.
“Too well? This is a good thing.”
Jori frowned. “No it’s not. We can’t allow this laser to be finished. Do you know how many people Father will enslave and kill if we get this thing working?”
“You’ve changed, Jori. Ever since you found out Master Jetser is a rebel sympathizer, you go around acting like you’re some sort of humanitarian.” Terk spoke acerbically, but the truth was he wasn’t sure if he was altogether against Master Jetser’s dual loyalties. Oh, he had been furious when Jori told him what he discovered. But he couldn’t bring himself to punish the man, or even to tell his father, which would have been as good as killing him. Master Jetser was a good man. And while his actions might be considered traitorous to their father, Terk agreed with the things he had done.
“I haven’t changed. I’ve always known the things that Father does are wrong. So have you,” Jori said, echoing what Terk was thinking. “Only now, we have a better understanding of why. And we know a better way is possible.”
“Don’t be foolish, Jori. Father is going to kill you,” Terk said with a harsh but low tone. He knew Jori was right, but there could be terrible consequences
“This is right. And you know it as well, or you would have turned Master Jetser and the others in already.”
“We can’t change things.” Terk resisted the urge to throw up his hands in frustration of having the same debate yet again. “At least not yet.”
“We can try.”
“We can die, too. Is it really worth it?”
“Do you want to be the one who pushes the button to attack the innocent people of Pentam?” Jori’s exasperation did not show on his face, but Terk could sense it. “Do you want to go down to their planet and take prisoners to turn into slaves? Do you want to be there when Father allows the women to be raped and orders the murder of the old and infirm?”
Terk felt a wave of shame and tried to suppress it. This had happened before when he was eleven and Jori was just seven. The dead, the dying, the mutilated bodies of both the very young and the very old. Terk still had nightmares about it. It wasn’t my fault, though, dammit. “I won’t have a choice. I do what I’m told,” he said bitterly.
“I have a choice right now and I’m making it. If they manage to put this laser together properly, I will make sure it remains inoperable.”
Terk wanted to be angry with his little brother. Jori was braver than him in some ways. One wouldn’t think with all Terk’s bravado that he was the weaker of the two. He should have been jealous, but he loved his little brother. “You’re getting too soft,” Terk replied, although half-heartedly. “Just be careful,” he added. “You don’t want to end up like our half-brother Fenner.”
Jori looked like he was about to reply, but an old seasoned warrior approached them.
“Boys,” Master Jetser said with a deferential nod. He was one of the most powerful warriors, but that was not the only thing Terk admired about him.
Jori and Terk nodded respectfully back.
It was generally considered highly inappropriate for anyone to address Terk and Jori as ‘boys’, but Master Jetser was one of the few officers who could talk to them like this. The man had practically raised them, after all. Their father didn’t have the patience to teach them anything so Master Jetser had been the one to do most of their training. He was a stern but fair instructor, and he cared about them too. Terk couldn’t count the number of times Master Jetser had lied to their father in order to protect them from punishment. Or the number of times he said ‘good job’ or ‘I’m proud of you’, words their father would never say. Terk wouldn’t use the word ‘love’ to describe how he felt about Master Jetser. That was a girlish sentiment. But Terk’s admiration was definitely strong enough to keep the man’s secrets.
“Is there any hope of getting help from your friends,” Jori asked him. He was referring to the rebels.
“I’m afraid not, young Lord,” the older man replied. “There is no way we can get these people off the ship safely, let alone back to the Alliance.”
“Are you sure?” Jori said.
“As much as I admire your concern for these people, my Lord,” Master Jetser said, “sometimes there is nothing you can do.”
“We could stage a ship malfunction similar to what we did last time,” Jori said hopefully.
“Too many coincidences like that will make your father suspicious.”
“He’s right,” Terk said in an I-told-you-so tone.
“Besides,” Master Jetser explained. “Your father is going to blame someone and someone will die as a result. Which of our men do you think that should be?”
“Lank,” Jori replied immediately.
“Boy, I know you’re joking,” Master Jetser said in his gruff voice. “No one will believe Lank is capable of such a thing.”
He’s right again, Terk thought. By the look of Jori’s face, he knew it as well. Lank was too stupid and too selfish to ever risk his neck for anyone else. “I’m sorry, Jori,” Terk said. “We might be able to keep this laser from being finished, but you’re going to have to accept the fact that you can’t save these people.”
Jori scowled but said nothing.
Note from the author: The purpose of this portion of the chapter is to establish that there is nothing they can do to save the Alliance crew. The situation is pretty hopeless. It is also to give a little more insight to how Terk feels about Jori. And since Master Jetser is helping Terk and Jori protect the Alliance crew, it is important for the reader to know more about him as well. Also, Master Jetser is important much later in the series.
(This sci-fi story is protected by copyright) Copyright June, 2015 by Dawn Ross
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