The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part One – Starfire Dragons (provisional title)
Chapter 8 – Revised
(Check under Categories for “The Kavakian Empire” then, “Sci-Fi Part 1 – Revised” link in the right hand column in order to read the previous chapters of this science fiction novella. This story has changed so make sure you go to the revised one.)
“I will see my brother now,” Jori said as he pushed his chair out.
J.D. opened his mouth to reply, but the boy was up and already turning his back to leave. He closed his mouth and suppressed a groan.
“Sorry,” he said to Shra as he tilted his head towards the Schemster game still on the table. “I’ve gotta go.”
He managed to catch up to Jori and the security officers without running. Jori didn’t even acknowledge him. His nerves prickled. He clamped his mouth closed. Chastising the boy for his rudeness would only make matters worse. Just try to remember what he’s going through.
He took a couple of deep breaths and focused on the calming rhythm of the footsteps echoing down the hall. Jori didn’t say a single word along the way. It was probably for the best since none of their conversations had gone well. Still, it irritated him that the boy was pointedly ignoring him.
He ignored the trailing security officers as well. The behavior struck him as arrogant. But then again, maybe the boy was pretending they weren’t there because he didn’t want to think about the fact that he was surrounded by enemies. That’s right. Try to think optimistically. Remember, he’s been through a lot. Not that he’d act the same way if their situations were reversed. But Jori was a child and children were not always easy.
When they reached Jori’s brother in sick bay, he stood off in the corner to give the boy some space. Oddly, the boy didn’t even look at his brother. His face was void of any emotion as he examined the medical diagnostics monitor by his brother’s bed. Dr. Jerom came in and briefly explained the medical situation.
“I’m sorry. We still don’t know if he’ll survive.”
Despite the grim news, Jori still didn’t display any emotion. He looked over the medical monitor and asked the doctor a number of very specific medical questions. At first, Dr. Jerom answered in layman’s terms. But Jori’s questions were so technical that the doctor found he had to answer the same in return.
“Thank you, Doctor. That will be all,” Jori said.
Dr. Jerom looked like he wanted to say more, but Jori turned away. The doctor scowled, probably at the apparent dismissal. J.D. made a slight apologetic shrug. Maybe the boy didn’t know he was being rude. Maybe no one had ever taught him any better. That seemed plausible, considering where he came from.
Dr. Jerom left with a shake of his head. Jori gave J.D. a look, as though expecting him to go as well. He crossed his arms and leaned against the wall instead, partly out of spite for the boy’s rudeness. But mostly because Jori’s demeanor worried him. His brother could possibly die and the boy didn’t have the decency to show a single shred of emotion.
Jori turned back to his brother and stood quietly by his bed. The blank look on his face didn’t change. Neither did his posture. He just stood there, like a statue.
J.D.’s legs began to ache. He suppressed a yawn. If the boy thought he could bore him into leaving, he was wrong. He’d stand here all night if he had to.
His thoughts began to drift. He shook his head and regained his focus. Something had changed. The boy held his brother’s hand. His brow was furrowed and he looked genuinely concerned. J.D.’s skin tingled with goosebumps when the boy gently rest his other hand on his brother’s forehead.
He slowly stood up straight, careful not to disturb the boy. Jori’s eyes looked wet. Are those tears? A flush of warmth washed over him. Is this an act or is he really about to cry?
When the boy’s chin began to quiver, he knew what he was seeing was real. He uncrossed his arms and went to stand by the boy’s side.
“He’ll be alright,” he said, and put a comforting hand on Jori’s shoulder. The boy flinched ever-so-slightly, but otherwise didn’t acknowledge the gesture.
Jori’s eyes burned. A surge of sorrow threatened to overwhelm him. He clenched his jaw and took quiet deep breaths in hopes of keeping the tears at bay.
He didn’t mean to let these people see this weakness in him, but being here with his brother, touching him, feeling the emptiness within him, stressed the stark reality of the situation. Dammit, Terk. You have to get through this.
Flashes of what his life would be like if Terk died churned chaotically in his head—having to face his father alone, his father’s anger, his mother’s despair, Master Jetser’s disappointment.
“He’ll be alright,” the commander said as he touched his shoulder. Whatever frustration he had sensed from the man earlier was gone, replaced by an inner warmth. He tensed at the unexpected gesture and genuine emotion, and his cheeks burned. Yeah. But how far will his compassion go if he finds out our secret?
He’d told the truth when he said the Grapnes never gave a reason as to why they were to surrender. But he had his suspicions. They probably knew the secret. Bok, the loud-mouthed braggart, had gotten drunk at one of the space station bars and said too much.
Terk was beyond pissed. Master Veda was even more so. And they’d been forced to leave before they had gotten everything they needed. Their father would be pissed, but at least the blame could’ve been put on Bok.
This wasn’t going to happen now, though. The pang of sadness swelled again. Not so much for Bok, but certainly for the others—especially Master Veda, and now possibly Terk.
A guard coughed, reminding him that the danger wasn’t over yet. What mother would think, what father would think, none of it would matter at all if he never made it back home. He may be free to walk about this ship—with guards in tow—but he was still a prisoner. J.D. promised to get him home, and he sensed the man was telling the truth, but it didn’t mean he couldn’t change his mind—especially if he found out the truth.
He hated all the questions the commander had asked. The more he asked, they closer he came to his secret. He considered not answering at all, but he decided to give him something. Even though J.D. had said he wouldn’t be interrogated, things could change.
What if they access the ship records? What if the Grapnes tell them what they know? A rising fear swelled him his chest. Whatever the commander promised, he wasn’t the one in charge.
Damn you, Terk, for leaving me here alone with these people. His burning in his eyes swelled and he felt liquid running down his nose. With a subtle sniff, he sucked it back up. Dammit! He bit the inside of his cheek and a metallic taste filled his mouth. Control. I need to control this. Emotion is weakness.
He clenched his teeth in determination. A rising heat surged within. Damn Bok! Damn those Grapnes! And damn to you too, Father! Thanks to Bok and the Grapnes, he and his brother had lost their entire crew, their cargo, and their ship. To say his father would be greatly displeased would be a vast understatement. It wasn’t his fault, or even Terk’s. But since he was the only one left, he’d be the one to answer for it.
The information he and Terk had gathered might help to appease his father. Well, maybe. He needed more, a lot more. Killing some Alliance officers could help.
It was all up to him now. He instinctively evaluated his surroundings. The commander wasn’t armed, making him easier to overcome. The guard closest to him wasn’t paying as much attention as he should have so he could easily take his weapon and use it on the others. He’d shoot the tallest of the guards first. This man was the most vigilant. He’d shoot J.D. next since he was the commander and would likely be the quickest to react to the situation. Then he’d take out the guard with the hair so fair that his eyebrows looked invisible against his light skin. Calloway was the name he’d heard one of the guards say. Whatever his name was, even though the man’s posture was more arrogant than guarded, he could sense an extreme hatred from the man and such hatred was too unpredictable to disregard.
His stomach churned, making him nauseous. He should hate these people. His anger was real enough, but not enough to make him act. He’d killed before. He killed those Grapnes. And the people of the Alliance were his enemies, after all. It’s what he’d been trained for. He was a soldier—a warrior.
I can take them. But then what? He couldn’t carry his brother. And he certainly wouldn’t leave him behind. No. He had to think of something bigger and better to appease his father. Perhaps he could find a way to steal information or technology or sabotage the ship.
He wouldn’t do anything just yet. Wait for an opportunity. Wait for Terk. Wake up, big brother. I need you.
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 March, 2016 by Dawn Ross
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“He didn’t mean to let these people see this weakness in him, but being here with his brother, touching him, feeling the emptiness within him, stressed the stark reality of the situation.” Favorite line of the whole chapter! This was another really good re-write. I like following along with Jori’s thinking and planning, and the suspense for Terk to wake up is building. 😀
Thank you!!! ❤