The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part One – Edge of the Dragon’s Shadow (provisional title)
Chapter 3 – Revised
(Note from the author: This is the rewritten version of part one, chapter 3 of my science fiction story. The original version was posted in the summer of 2014. I’ve only changed a little bit of it. Mostly, I tried to rewrite it in deep PoV. Let me know what you think of my novella so far. Feel free to leave constructive feedback below.)
“He must be kept in the brig.” Lt. Commander Bracht had a powerfully deep voice. It sounded like the Rabnoshk warrior was making a demand, but J.D. had come to realize in his short time on this ship that it was just the way the man spoke. Direct. To the point. And sometimes even overly bold.
“The brig? For a single child of no more than ten cycles, Sir?” Lt. Hanna Sharkey replied.
“He killed four Grapnes!” Bracht said a little too harshly. J.D. saw Captain Arden’s eyebrow raise ever so slightly. The look was all that was needed. “Single handedly,” Bracht said more calmly. “Besides, he’s a Tredon. Our enemy. They can’t be trusted.”
J.D. agreed with Bracht to a point. The boy’s phaser was a kill-weapon, not a defensive weapon like their own Alliance issued phasers, which could be sent to stun or kill. But the boy was defending himself. And he didn’t fire at J.D. or his other crew members.
“Enemies or not,” the captain replied. “We are not at war with the Tredons. Nor do we wish to be. This situation must be handled carefully. I won’t treat the child as a criminal without just cause.”
“Killing four men isn’t just cause?” Bracht said, his tone sounding angry.
“It was self-defense,” J.D. added.
“We don’t know that,” Bracht shot back. “The Grapnes said the Tredons attacked them and stole their cargo.”
“There is no evidence of stolen cargo,” J.D. replied. Bracht harrumphed. “Besides,” J.D. continued, “I don’t think he should be held responsible for it if they did. He’s just a boy.”
“You saw what that so-called boy did with your own eyes. He’s dangerous,” Bracht said heatedly.
“But he didn’t shoot at us.” J.D.’s own tone was getting a little heated. He was new to the Odyssey so he was still unsure of the Rabnoshk warrior. But he wasn’t about to back down. Everything he’d witnessed so far indicated the boy was acting in self-defense. And he’s still just a child.
“He threatened you.”
“He was just trying to determine if we were a threat.”
“Obviously you weren’t since I heard you surrendered to him.”
J.D. bristled. “That is enough, Lieutenant Commander.” He eyed the man sternly. He wanted to say more, to defend his decision, but he had already given a full report of his actions. There was no reason to defend them against this man.
Bracht clamped his mouth shut. His frown deepened, but he didn’t argue further.
J.D. turned back to the captain. The captain glanced back and forth between J.D. and Bracht. His demeanor gave no indication of what of he thought this outburst. It made J.D. a little uneasy, not knowing. The man’s apparent indifference always made him feel like a fish in an aquarium.
The captain set his elbows on the conference table and intertwined his fingers. “Lieutenant Stein?” he said, addressing Jenna, the ship’s top anthropologist.
“I would not underestimate these Tredon warriors at any age,” she said. She pronounced warrior as varrior and J.D. recognized her accent as from the desert world of Kochuru. “There be no telling when this boy began training…or what sort of training he had.”
“So you’re recommending the brig as well?” Captain Arden said.
“I’m not sure that be called for, Sir,” Lt. Stein replied. “The Tredons do be our enemies, but we can never make peace if we treat even their children as criminals. I recommend a full armed security detail, no less.”
“Armed?” J.D. said. “If this boy has training, we risk him being able to disarm someone.”
“Which is why he should be in the brig,” Bracht said.
J.D. clenched his jaw. “That’s not what I meant. I say unarmed. And if he causes trouble, then we can restrain him. Whatever fighting skills he has, he’s not that strong yet.” Certainly your security team can handle a small child, he wanted to say. Best not sound petty, though.
“And what of the other one?” Bracht asked.
“We’re not even sure he’ll live,” J.D. replied.
The captain rest his chin on his steepled fingers. Although the captain could be hard to read, J.D. had been relieved when the man didn’t react to him allowing the enemy onto the ship. He seemed to have taken it as a given.
The captain lay his hands flat on the table. “I’m not going to put a boy in the brig unless he gives us a reason,” he said. “That is my final decision. We’ll worry about the other one if he makes it.” Bracht didn’t look happy about the decision but he didn’t argue. “I will, however, recommend a four-man detail of security at all times.”
“I have six in sickbay now, Sir,” Bracht replied. “Should I call two of them off?” J.D. thought Bracht’s tone was almost insubordinate—almost.
“No,” the captain replied. Only a small lift of his eyebrow told J.D. that he had heard the tone as well. But he didn’t acknowledge it in any other way. “Let’s keep the security on him until we have had a chance to speak to him. Commander,” he said to J.D., “I want you to go down and talk to him.”
“Yes, Sir,” J.D. replied.
“Lieutenant Commander, organize a security detail shift of six to stay on him for now and add security to engineering and other off-limit areas of the ship.”
“Yes, Sir,” Bracht replied. He seemed somewhat mollified by the captain’s acknowledgement that the boy could be a security risk.
“If the boy isn’t going to be in a cell,” Hanna said, “where is he going to stay?”
“J.D.?” The captain said.
J.D. was about to suggest an officer, but something about the look the captain was giving him told him he was asking something else. “Me?” he asked dubiously.
“He’s of a warrior class,” the captain replied, “which means he’s used to a ranking hierarchy. I need someone of high rank and with martial skills to instill authority. Besides, I hear you’re good with children.”
“That’s no child,” Bracht muttered.
J.D.’s mouth fell open and he snapped it shut again. This was another test. He was sure of it. But then again, he couldn’t argue with the captain’s logic. Although J.D. wanted to give the boy the benefit of the doubt regarding security, now that he was faced with being directly responsible for him he wondered if he’d taken the wrong stance. What have I gotten myself into?
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(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright February, 2016 by Dawn Ross
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