The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part Two – The Emperor
(I wrote this during National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNo, so all of part two is written. It’s written, but it’s not edited and it needs beta readers. If you would like to read all of part two of this science fiction novella, please find my contact information on the About Dawn page. Although I personally think this story is really good, it needs some work before it gets formally published into a book. Of course, you can always continue to stop by this blog weekly and post constructive criticism here.)
Jori’s father hadn’t stopped by the laser room once today. The Tredon men who worked on the laser spoke more freely. Pelax and Biskol were actually giggling over something while they worked. The Alliance prisoners didn’t talk, but Jori could tell they weren’t as tense.
Jori’s ability to sense emotions from others was more of a curse than an asset. He felt his father’s suspicion and anger very acutely, even if it wasn’t directed at him. Although the prisoners didn’t have this ability, the man’s presence put them on edge. And Jori had been feeling their stress weighing down on them.
He wished he could think of a plan. But with his father watching him so closely, he felt like he was fighting to keep a ship straight in a solar storm. Even now when his father wasn’t in the room, Jori knew he was being watched.
A warrior named Hagar stood with the guards along the wall. He had long straggly black hair and whiskers on his face that could only barely be considered a beard. He was Trevine’s man, through and through. And being Trevine’s man meant he was also his father’s man.
Trevine was as brutal as they came. And he expected his men to be the same. Most Tredon warriors emulated him because they had to. But some, like Hagar, emulated him because they wanted to.
Jori hated both men, but there was little he could do about them. So he worked or pretended to work and kept from interacting with the prisoners as much as possible.
Jori analyzed the data J.T. had gathered. The numbers were exactly where he had expected them to be. Now it was a matter of determining which setting was best for the task at hand.
He was doing the math in his head when he got the sense of a highly pompous attitude. Jori didn’t need to look to see who it was coming from. Only one person on the ship lately had emanated this emotion.
Jako hadn’t been to the laser room in the last couple of days. Terk had said he set him straight, but Jako could be a sneaky bastard. What the hell is that man up to now?
Jori gave Jako a dark look when the man came up to him. Jako’s eyes twinkled and he had a smug smile on his face. “I have something you’ll want to see,” he said.
Jori narrowed his eyes and glowered. “What?” he asked.
Jako jutted his chin and raised his eyebrows. “Oh, I think you’ll want to keep this private.”
Jori pursed his lips and ground his teeth. “This had better be good,” he said. His heart was beginning to race.
“Oh, it is good. Just wait and see.”
Jori stood from his work. He noticed Jako didn’t address him by title and it worried him. He didn’t let it show, though. He let his face go blank and purposefully led Jako to a private room where they could talk.
As soon as the door closed behind them, Jako handed Jori a scanner. Jori gave the man a dark scowl and Jako replied by widening his smile. Jori’s heart pounded faster.
He scrolled through the scanner and immediately picked up on the information Jako had given him. Jori felt blood drain from his face. Oh crap. His ruse had been discovered, and by Jako the weasel, no less. Jor’s chest tightened. Nothing good will come of this.
Jori may have let the shock show up on his face because Jako made a small laugh. “I thought it was rather suspicious that all the Alliance crew members had skills with laser technology.” Jako spoke with an irritating smirk on his face. “So I decided to do some research on my own.”
Jori’s stomach knotted tightly. His heart was pounding now, but he’d be damned if he was going to give Jako the satisfaction of seeing fear in him. Jori set his jaw and gave Jako a menacing stare.
Jako ignored the look. He even seemed to find it amusing. “I realized Terk couldn’t have done this. He doesn’t know how and there is only one person on the ship who does.” Jori clenched his teeth and held the glower on his face. Jako continued, “If your brother finds out you’ve used him…”
For once, it was good that Jako thought Jori and Terk were rivals. The weasel seemed to have no idea that his brother was in on this.
Jori still didn’t speak. His heart was pounding so hard, he was sure it would burst. He clenched his fists and tried to keep his breathing even.
Jako held up his finger. “Oh, but it would be so much worse if your father found out.” The triumphant smile on the man’s face made Jori want to stab his dagger into it.
Jako might as well have made a death threat. Jori seriously considered killing Jako right then and there. But then he thought about the sensation that came along with death. Jori had seen other men relish it when they killed. But they didn’t sense what Jori sensed. Of all the emotions that Jori had ever felt from others, the feeling of dying was the worst. Jori endured it when he had to act in defense, but he knew that if he killed in cold blood, the resulting nightmares would make him live their death over and over again. This would be self-defense, wouldn’t it? But Jori couldn’t bring himself to act.
“What do you want,” he said in a quiet tone. If Jako meant to turn his discovery in to his father, he would have done it already.
Jako held up his fingers. “Two things. The first one is easy,” he said. He clasped his hands behind his back and puffed out his chest. “I want assurances that if the laser doesn’t work, the Alliance crew will be blamed.”
It was easy, but Jori didn’t so much as nod. He didn’t want them to be killed.
Jako took his silence to mean that Jori didn’t understand. So he explained. “I don’t want to be put at fault in any way. If your father does try to blame me, I expect you to tell him that I did everything I could.” Jako’s face hardened for a moment.
Jako waited a few moments but when Jori still didn’t speak, he went on. “Secondly, I want money, and a lot of it.”
Jori’s face darkened. The bastard’s blackmailing me for money? The insolence of the man was almost unbearable. But what could he do? If he stabbed Jako right here and now, his father would wonder why. An investigation might ensue.
“Oh, don’t worry,” Jako said. His tone was condescending. “You don’t have to pay me all at once. Just a little bit at a time. Not enough for anyone to notice it missing, but enough for me to buy a few high-class whores whenever we go planet-side.”
Jori’s dark look didn’t leave his face. He clenched his fists at his sides. His fear and anger were jumbled together so tightly that Jori’s stomach felt like a raging storm. He was at a loss because there was no way he’d do what Jako wanted. His pride wouldn’t let him. But he couldn’t let his father find out either.
Jori knew he should kill Jako, but still couldn’t bring himself to do it. He could tell Terk later, but he might as well kill Jako himself because telling Terk meant Terk would kill him.
He couldn’t see any way out, at least not at the moment. He had think of something, but Jako was waiting.
After a long moment of silence, Jori finally nodded his head in agreement. “You’ll have your money soon,” he said through clenched teeth.
Please comment below to tell me what you thought of this chapter. I’m an amateur writer and am in desperate need of constructive criticism.
(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright November, 2015 by Dawn Ross
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