The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part One – Starfire Dragons (provisional title)
Chapter 12 – Revised
(Here is another completely new chapter that wasn’t in the original version of part one of this science fiction novella. Remember, the revised version has a lot of similarities to the original, but the story has changed. So don’t be tempted to read the unrevised version.)
“I certainly have a better understanding of what you mean,” the captain said when Jori left with the guards to go and see his brother.
“Regarding?” J.D. asked as he sat down at the table in front of him.
“His apparent level of maturity. His attitude. And how unsettling his manners are.”
He made a half-smile in reply. Maybe Captain Arden had thought he wasn’t doing his job, or maybe he just wanted to see for himself. Either way, now the man had a better understanding of what he had to contend with.
He still hadn’t figured Jori out. And he still hadn’t decided on how he really felt about the boy. His jaw hurt from grinding his teeth so much and he’d probably sighed in frustration more often in these past thirty-six hours than he had in his entire life. But so far it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
“Now that we’ve spoken to him, what do you think about this new development?” the captain asked regarding the murder claim.
“I still don’t think he’s murdered anyone,” he said without hesitation. “He looked honestly appalled at the thought of being accused of murder.”
“Agreed,” the captain replied. “Though there’s still a chance he could be lying.”
“Honestly, Sir, he’s made no attempt to lie so far. If he doesn’t want me to know something, he simply refused to speak.”
“Yes. I see what you mean.” The captain’s brow drew down. “I think he definitely knows what this is all about. He could have lied and made something up, as children tend to do. But he didn’t.”
He nodded in reply. “I believe he’s hiding something too, but I have no idea what it could be.” He set his chin in his hand and rubbed his jaw. He was getting used to its bareness now.
“It could be prejudice, as he said.”
J.D. put his hand down and straightened up in his chair. “Could be. I’ve read some of the horrific things that Tredons have done. And after hearing some callous remarks from our own people, it wouldn’t be a stretch for others to take their hatred further. And I imagine there’s a lot of people out there seeking revenge and children make easy marks.”
The captain nodded. “Disturbing, but true.” He sighed. “I’ve sent a message to the Depnaugh Space Station. Perhaps we will get more clarification.”
“In the meantime, I’ll keep trying to get Jori to open up.”
The captain nodded.
“May I make a suggestion, Sir?” he asked hesitantly.
“Of course,” the captain replied.
“A show of good faith, perhaps? While we’re waiting to find out more, we could still head towards the Chevert Outpost.” His heart began to pound. “You truly mean to get him back home, don’t you?” He hadn’t wanted to ask such a direct question, but he had to know for his own peace of mind.
The captain folded his hands and leaned forward with a direct stare. J.D. felt a lump in his throat. His heart raced in anticipation. Please don’t let this be another Kimpke Incident.
“I know you and I don’t know one another well yet,” the captain said calmly. “So let me assure you, I say what I mean.”
He resisted the urge to swallow. “Yes, Sir. I didn’t mean to accuse you otherwise.”
“Don’t apologize, Commander. Never apologize for trying to do what’s right.”
Commander Hapker left. Robert leaned back in his chair and sighed heavily. He wanted to believe the child. And despite not knowing Hapker well yet, he wanted to have faith in him as well. But he also had a responsibility to the safety of his crew.
He folded his arms and stared at the viewscreen without really looking at it. Murder was a very serious accusation, one that couldn’t be ignored. Captain Fargoza had been right about it taking weeks to file a warrant through the Alliance. What if the warrant was approved and the children were already back home? Then again, what if the child was right and the charge had been fabricated just for the sake of revenge?
He pinched his bottom lip. The only one who could give answers right now was the child—the child with a countenance just as hard and unyielding as any Tredon warrior he’d ever met. But was it the face of a murderer? His gut said no. But the child was definitely keeping something back.
Hapker might be able to get the information. But it didn’t seem likely that he’d be able to gain Jori’s trust any time soon. Could he afford to wait? So much could go wrong.
Robert sighed again. He sat up in his chair and checked his inbox for any new communications. There were none. Even waiting to hear back from the Depnaugh Space Station would take more time than he cared to give.
He ran his hand down his face. He had to do it. He had to use Liam.
Liam was a good man. But many people were uncomfortable with what he could do. They feared that even though he wasn’t supposed to use his skills without permission that he’d do it anyway and none would be the wiser.
Their fear was justifiable. Many like Liam had been convicted of just such a crime. It was an invasion, a violation of one’s rights. But the Prontaean Alliance used people like Liam anyway—for situations just like this where lives could be at risk.
He opened the communication link and tapped Liam’s name. A photo of an older man with an oblong face and pale leathery skin popped up on the screen. The ‘Contact’ button below the image stared at him.
He was within his rights to give Liam permission to use his skill, but he had to be careful. Was he using him just to satisfy his own curiosity, to solve this mystery? Or was there a real threat to security?
He rest his chin in one hand and tapped the table with the other. Liam was an easy solution. Too easy. Depending on such people to help make judgements was an easy trap to fall into. Was he ready?
There were other risks as well. He didn’t expect those risks to be a factor with the Tredon child, though. Still, they deserved consideration.
He tapped the screen. The photo disappeared and he was back to the main communications page. Let’s see what the Depnaugh Space Station has to say first.
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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