The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part One – Edge of the Dragon’s Shadow (provisional title)
Chapter 6 – Revised
(All previous chapters of this science fiction novella can be found under the The Kavakian Empire → Sci-Fi Part 1 – Reviesd link under Categories in the right hand column. Don’t be tempted to read the unrevised version. The story has changed.)
“Murder?” Captain Robert Arden said. “Before you were just claiming theft and now you are telling me these Tredons murdered one of your people?”
“Yes, Captain,” Captain Seth of the Grapnes replied. “The Tredons are murderous cutthroats and our people simply want their justice.”
“Who did they murder?” He allowed an inflection of skepticism in his voice. He was usually polite when he addressed others, but Captain Seth crossed the line. Shooting down another ship was intolerable, especially since the man seemed to have no valid reason for doing so.
“A very important dignitary.”
Robert pursed his lips. If the Grapne was telling the truth, he was stretching it. “Yes, but who? And how?”
“I cannot provide you with the details,” the Grapne said. He grinned as he spoke and seemed to have a difficult time keeping eye contact. Most of the Grapnes he had met before tended to fib, and fortunately weren’t very good at it.
“Can’t or won’t.”
“Can’t, Captain Arden. Because I don’t know. I am just going by the information given to me by my superiors. You understand.”
Robert sighed in frustration. “You stated earlier that you yourself are the victim of this theft at the Depnaugh Space Station. How is it that the Tredons murdered one of your dignitaries during this theft, but you can’t tell me who? You were there, after all.”
“A misunderstanding, Captain, I assure you. It wasn’t me they stole from. It was from another one of our ships.”
Robert gritted his teeth. “Even if what you say is true, I’m afraid justice is out of reach. Nearly everyone on the Tredon ship was killed in the crash.”
“You said there were survivors,” the Grapnes said. “They must answer for their crimes.”
“The survivors are children and I will not be handing children over to you.”
“But it was the children who committed the murder.”
He folded his hands and grasped them so tightly that his knuckles turned white. “Forgive me, Captain Seth,” he replied, “but it seems your story keeps changing in order to fit the situation.”
“I’m not hiding anything, I assure you,” the Grapnes replied with that same ridiculous smile. Robert had read somewhere that Grapnes tended to smile a lot because they thought it would make people believe their lies more easily. “We simply want the justice that you are required by law to provide.”
“I’ll tell you what, Captain Seth. You provide me with concrete evidence that these children personally committed murder, theft, or any other crime, and I will consider turning them over to you.”
“Our evidence must be supported by their testimony,” the Grapnes insisted. “We must take them into custody in order to build our case. You understand.”
The man is smooth. I’ll give him that. “I will not be handing children over to you for interrogation without evidence, and that is final.”
“What about my four men they killed on Pensla?”
“That was obviously self-defense. It is not enough to convince me that I should hand them over.”
“My superiors will not be happy, Captain Arden.” The Grapnes’ grin finally faded. “Your council will hear of this.”
“I’ll take my chances. In the meantime, you will report to the Melna Check-in Post immediately where a hearing will be held on your actions and your ships weapons will be disabled.”
“Immediately!” He took a deep breath to calm himself. “If you do not, I will put out a warrant for your arrest. I have Alliance authorities expected you at the station in half a day cycle’s time, so you had best be on your way.” He abruptly terminated the conversation and plopped back in his chair with a heavy sigh.
“I think they be lying,” Lt. Jenna Stein said. Both she and Bracht had observed the entire conversation.
“I couldn’t agree more,” Robert replied.
“Killing someone sounds like something the Tredons would do,” Bracht said.
“Yes, but it doesn’t mean they did kill someone. Nor does it mean the boys specifically killed anyone,” he said.
“Even though that boy killed four Grapnes?”
Robert clenched his teeth. Bracht made a great security officer, but he tended to be unbending in some of his opinions. “Tell me, Lt. Commander,” he said patiently, “If your ship were shot down and people from that very ship confronted you, wouldn’t you react the same way?”
Bracht scowled, but didn’t answer.
“Has security reported any problems?” he asked him.
“None, Sir. But it doesn’t mean there won’t be any.”
“Hopefully not,” he replied.
“If his brother dies, the boy may no longer cooperate,” Jenna said.
“And if he lives, my security team will have two Tredon warriors to contend with,” Bracht added.
“Both your points concern me, but there are larger matters to contend with at the moment,” he said. “For one, what are the Grapnes really after? And two, what are we going to do with these boys? If they’re innocent, getting them home won’t be easy.”
“They’re not innocent,” Bracht said.
Robert frowned at him. Until he knew more, the boys were considered innocent. In which case, he would need to get them back to Tredon somehow. It wasn’t as simple as calling on the Tredons. They’d likely see the fact that he had two of their people as highly suspicious. The Tredons and the Alliance were already on uneasy terms, and the last thing he wanted was for them to suspect he had anything to do with this tragedy.
“What if we take boys to the Chevert outpost and give them what they need to find their own way home?” Jenna said. She was very good at grasping the depth of a situation.
“I’m not sure that’s safe,” he replied as he massaged his brow where a headache was developing. “We can’t leave them on their own, especially not with the Grapnes after them.”
“I do find their behavior odd,” Jenna said.
He nodded. The Grapnes might shoot down another ship in order to steal its cargo, but so far, nothing of value had been found. And even if there was, for them to risk offending such a powerful adversary was highly unusual.
“What if the Tredons find out we have them?” Jenna said.
“Believe me, I’ve considered that. Let’s see what Commander Hapker reports. In the meantime, I need you to check with the Depnaugh Space Station to see if authorities there know anything.” He certainly wasn’t going to find out anything from the Grapnes.
“Yes, Sir,” Jenna replied.
“Bracht. Let me know immediately if your security encounters any problems.”
I’d love to hear some constructive criticism. Please leave a comment below. Praise would be most welcome as well.
(This sci-fi saga is protected by copyright) Copyright February, 2016 by Dawn Ross
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