The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part One – Edge of the Dragon’s Shadow (provisional title)
Chapter 2 – Revised
(Note from the author: This is the rewritten version of part one, chapter 2 of my science fiction story. The original version was posted in the summer of 2014. I changed a little bit of the beginning, as you will see with Jori’s reaction to the medics. And I’ve tried to write this in deep PoV. Let me know what you think of my novella so far. Feel free to leave constructive feedback below.)
Jori’s head swam as his view of the planet distorted into the interior of the Alliance ship. His skin tingled at the sensation of being disintegrated and reintegrated. The process wasn’t painful, or even dangerous, but he couldn’t help but to tense up every time he used a transport.
The prickling of his skin quickly dissipated and his vision sharpened. He stood on the transport platform, face level with a half-dozen strangers. Several of them rushed forth. Jori’s heart skipped a beat. A man with dark hair shoved something at his chest. Jori slapped it away and swung his hand back around in a fist. A strong hand grabbed him by the crook of his arm just before he hit the man’s nose.
“Whoa, young man,” one of the security officers beside him said.
Another hand grasped Jori’s shoulder painfully. A hot flush of adrenaline shot through his body. His heart jumped into a rapid pulse and his muscles tightened.
Jori wrenched against the hands holding him. It didn’t work. The men hardened their grip.
The medical man who had escorted him from the planet rushed away. He yelled something as he went but all Jori could hear was his own heart pounding in his ears.
“No! You promised!” he yelled after the man. Let me go!” He’d been tricked. They weren’t going to help him. He was their prisoner.
Jori struggled, but the hands held him tight. If only he weren’t so small. And if only he wasn’t injured.
“The doctor is prepping for surgery,” the same security officer said. “And this guy’s a medic. He only wants to help you.”
Jori paused. There was a truth in the man’s words. He could feel it. Stop panicking and think.
Jori worked on controlling his rapid breathing. He slowly lowered his fist and glanced around the room at the strangers before him. The man he had nearly punched had taken a couple of steps back. His eyes were wide. He’s afraid. Jori could not only see it on the man’s face, but he could feel it with his senses as well.
Jori could also sense a hint of unease from many of the others. The people wearing the same light blue uniform as the man stayed back. Their postures, although tense, were not poised to attack. Jori took a closer look at what some of them were holding. They were scanners, like the security officer had said.
Jori’s heart still throbbed, but the sensation was lessening. He got his breathing under control and forced himself to relax. The security officers loosened their hold but didn’t let go.
Another man wearing a light blue uniform stepped forward with his scanner. “May I?” he asked.
Jori focused is his senses on this skinny red-haired man. He could feel the medic’s wariness, but there was concern as well. And no malice. The man wasn’t a threat.
Jori nodded in consent. As the man scanned, the others wearing blue began to bustle. Jori ignored them. They weren’t a threat either. It was the ones wearing the brownish gray uniforms he had to worry about. The three around him felt as vigilant as any warrior. There were two more amongst the medics, standing with their feet apart and with their hand on the phaser holstered at their side. They were at the ready, but none of them felt hostile.
“Get that gurney over here!” one of the female medics said.
Jori snapped his attention in her direction. His heart leapt to his throat as she leaned over the unconscious body of the other boy. He tensed. She’d better not hurt him.
Jori focused his ability on her emotions. Worry and a strong desire to help. Jori swallowed away some of the dryness in his throat. It wasn’t a trick after all. The enemy was really helping them—for now anyway.
“Let’s get you to sick bay,” the skinny red-haired man said. He called for another gurney.
“I’ll walk,” Jori replied. It was bad enough being surrounded by the enemy. He wasn’t going to lay vulnerable for them too.
Jori moved to step down off the plat form. The hands held him for a moment, but let him go forward.
“You really should get on the gurney,” the skinny medic said.
Jori ignored him and followed the other medics who were wheeling the other boy away. Jori reached out his senses to see if he could feel anything from the unconscious form. A coldness swept over him. No. Jori clenched his jaw. He couldn’t cry here. Not in front of all these people.
His brother was alive, he knew it with certainty. But there was nothing else, no other sensations at all. You can’t die Terk. You just can’t.
When they reached sick bay, Jori watched men and women wearing white swarm around the body of his brother. The medical man from the planet was amongst them. Jori sensed his urgency and the urgency of the others. There was a lot of yelling as orders were called about.
They’re serious about helping. We are their enemies, yet they are helping us. Perhaps the things Jori had heard about the Prontaean Alliance were true. His father would have called their compassion a weakness. At the moment, Jori didn’t care. His brother had a chance to live. Jori took a deep breath and let some of his tension go.
One of the men wearing white approached and knelt down before him. Jori briefly noted the green of his eyes and the rich dark brown color of his skin.
The security officer gripped his shoulder again. “Careful, Doctor,” he said. “He nearly rammed his fist into the nose of the last medic who came up to him.”
Jori clenched his jaw and frowned. That’s hardly fair. I thought he was attacking me.
“I can hardly blame him,” the doctor replied. “It looks like he’s been to hell and back, and now he’s surrounded by a dozen people he doesn’t know. Isn’t that right, young man?”
The doctor smiled warmly. He seemed to understand. Jori felt a sense of relief but didn’t return the smile.
“Let’s get you to one of our healing beds so I can take a look at you.” The doctor put his hand on Jori’s other shoulder. Unlike the security officer, though, his grip was gentle. And Jori sensed a genuine kindness from the man.
“We’re going to do everything we can to help you,” the man said.
“And my brother,” Jori said. He felt a sudden pang in his gut. Was it a mistake to let them know the other boy was his brother? Too late. They’d probably figure it out anyway. Other than Terk being three years older than him, they looked very much alike. So long as they don’t find out the rest of it. They’d let us die if they knew.
“And your brother,” the man replied. “I promise.”
Jori surveyed his surroundings as he followed the doctor through the sick bay. The room was vast, but seemed smaller because of all the sectioned off areas. Lots of places to hide—if the need arose. And there were multiple exits, exits which didn’t have security officers guarding them.
Jori could use this opportunity to get away. But that would be stupid. Where would he go? It was evident these people intended to heal him. Let them. If they tried to hurt him later, at least he would be at his best.
The doctor brought him to one of the sectioned off areas. A female medic was already there, sorting through some medical tools. The doctor motioned Jori to the healing bed, which had already been lowered. Jori came in and sat down. Only one of the security officers followed him in. The other two waited on the other side of the partition.
“What’s your name?” the doctor asked.
Jori didn’t reply. He didn’t dare. They know I’m a Tredon, but that is all they need to know.
“I’m Doctor Gregson and this is Medic Shera.”
Jori still didn’t reply. They were going to heal him anyway. No need to make friends.
Medic Shera handed the doctor an oxygen mask. “Well, young man. I’m going to need to set your arm. This will make it so you won’t feel a thing.”
Jori jutted out his hand and stopped the doctor short. “No,” he said. The security officer moved forward, but the doctor made a slight wave of his hand. The officer gave him a dubious look, but the doctor ignored it and looked at Jori instead.
“It’s just so you won’t feel the pain when we set your arm.”
“No anesthesia. No drugs,” Jori said. It was bad enough he was injured and at their mercy. He didn’t want to be drug-addled to.
“Are you sure?”
“Do it,” Jori said.
The doctor hesitated. He glanced at the nurse and back, then at the security officer. The security officer shrugged.
“Very well then. Sit back.”
Jori leaned against the open hood of the healing bed. The doctor got on one side and the medic on the other. Both put their weight against him to hold him down. He didn’t need to be held down, but he didn’t struggle against them.
The doctor pressed down on his arm. Pain radiated sharply. Jori gritted his teeth and grunted, but he didn’t dare cry out. His head swam and nausea swirled in his gut. Jori breathed heavily, but in a controlled way that helped him deal with the pain.
“Are you sure you don’t want any anesthesia?”
“Just hurry up, dammit!” Their kindness grated his nerves.
The doctor jerked his arm and pressed again. The pain was blinding, white and hot. The room was spinning now and he almost blacked out. He growled, but not loudly enough for it to count as crying. Master Riyochi would be proud.
Jori inhaled and exhaled deeply as the doctor did a quick scan.
“All done with that,” he said. “You were very brave.”
Jori scowled. Brave? What does bravery have to do with it? The people of the Alliance obviously knew nothing of bravery. Still. At least they were helping him and his brother.
The pain in Jori’s arm slowly subsided into a heavy throb. The doctor guided him down. Jori didn’t need his help, but didn’t object. When he was in position, the doctor closed the lid of the healing bed.
The vibrations of the bed began to hum, Jori closed his eyes and concentrated his senses on what was going on in another part of the sick bay. He felt the tension of the numerous doctors and medics. He could tell they were desperately trying to accomplish something. However, it wasn’t them he was trying to feel. It was his brother.
Jori focused intently, but his brother’s life force was weak. He was barely alive. Jori swallowed down a sense of dread. He couldn’t lose his brother. They had to save him. They just had to.
J.D. sifted through the last remnant of charred debris in the cargo hold. Protein bundles, just as the manifest said. J.D. didn’t get it. The Grapnes claimed the Tredons stole their cargo but everything this ship held was accounted for in the manifest.
Captain Arden said he’d been trying to get more information, but he told J.D. the Grapnes wouldn’t or couldn’t say what this mysterious stolen cargo was supposed to be. This race wasn’t known for their honesty but they had to be after something, didn’t they?
J.D.’s crew had checked other parts of the ship as well. Nothing of apparent value was found. He supposed there could have been something that was completely demolished by the crash, but surely a trace would have been seen. Nothing. Not a darned thing.
J.D. sighed heavily from his nose. He didn’t dare breath out of his mouth. Smoke still lingered, but it had dissipated enough for his breathing apparatus to filter it. It didn’t filter out the smell, though. J.D.’s nose stung with the odor of burnt chemicals.
J.D. stepped from the Serpent’s gored innards to its charred head. The cockpit didn’t look as damaged, but it smelled just as bad.
Footsteps sounded behind him. “Sir,” Lt. Hanna said. “We’ve confirmed. There are twelve bodies, not including the four Grapnes. They’re all Tredons, all male, all adults.”
Darn. If one hadn’t been a Tredon, it might have explained the elusive cargo the Grapnes were claiming. J.D. didn’t really want to find an innocent victim on this ship, but it sure would have explained this mystery. And he would have an explanation to give to the captain. So far, he had nothing. The man’s going to think I’m not doing my job if I don’t find anything.
“Thank you, Lieutenant,” J.D. said without turning. He entered the information on his digiview and transmitted it to the captain.
“Have you been able to access anything here yet?” J.D. asked the officer working under one of the consoles.
“Not yet, Sir. Things here are pretty damaged. I might be able to get some data from the cad deck but I have to take this apart to reach it.”
“Do it,” J.D. said. Something more was going on here and he was going to figure out what it was. If the ship didn’t reveal anything, then they’d have to try to get it out of the boy. J.D. didn’t relish that idea at all.
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(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright February, 2016 by Dawn Ross
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