The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part One – Starfire Dragons (provisional title)
Chapter 23 – Revised
(This part was in the unrevised version. But a few things have changed, so please don’t compare it to the unrevised version. If you haven’t already, read the revised version of this science fiction story by locating “Sci-Fi Part 1 – Revised” under Categories located in the right column.)
J.D. bent over panting. His chest heaved. “You’re getting better and better at this,” he said to Jori.
He was in great shape, but a full hour of full-on cardio was a little more than he was used to. He’d never sweat so much in his life. Nor tried so hard to win.
“I’ve learned to anticipate your movement patterns,” the boy replied.
He shook his head. Who analyzes movement patterns? Professional players maybe. But someone Jori’s age should be playing just for fun.
“Well, you’ve certainly got me figured out,” he said instead. “I haven’t won a game all day.”
“Want to try again?”
The boy looked so eager, he had to smile. “One more. But I warn you, if I drop from exhaustion, you’re going to have to carry me back.”
The boy quirked his mouth. Was that almost a smile?
The game began anew. Jori was really beating him this time. His own legs seemed to move like gelatinous ooze while the boy was still ripping around like a comet.
Jori suddenly caught the ball in his hand. “I’ve got to go see my brother,” he said abruptly.
“Now.” Jori dropped the ball and racquet to the floor and ran out.
Oh no. Since Jori could sense things, he was probably sensing something happening with this brother. He dropped his own gear and ran out after the boy. A rush of adrenaline burned away his fatigue.
They both reached sick bay at the same time. His heart clenched at the sight of Terk’s room. The privacy curtain was pulled back. Doctor Jerom was yelling out instructions. Medics rushed about in a frenzy. Mechanical beeps sounded in alarm.
He grasped Jori’s shoulder, partly to keep him from rushing in and partly as a way to provide reassurance.
“What’s happening?” Jori tried to ask one of the medics as she rushed by. But she seemed not to hear.
Jori inched closer against J.D.’s grip, but seemed to have the sense to stay out of the way.
“It’s going to be okay,” he said, holding the boy closer. “They will do everything they can.”
Jori did not reply. He just stood there, his body rigid but shaking, as the medics bustled about. Suddenly, their panic heightened. Their yelling intensified. Someone yelled something about cardiac arrest.
“No,” Jori said almost inaudibly.
The sound in the boy’s voice wrenched his heart. He looked down at the tears falling down Jori’s cheeks. The boy’s chin began to quiver. His own eyes began to water as an ache spread over him.
He embraced Jori around the shoulders. To his surprise, the boy slumped against him, then turned and buried his face against his chest. Jori didn’t make a sound, but his body shook as though he were sobbing. J.D. enveloped him in both arms and held him. Jori hugged him back.
It seemed like ages before the medics calmed, but in reality, it had only been a few moments.
“He’s stabilizing,” he heard one of the doctors say.
Jori heard it too and turned to watch them. His arms around J.D. loosened but he didn’t let go.
“He’s going to be okay,” he assured the boy.
Jori looked up at him. His eyes were red and tears were still falling. J.D. hugged him close again. It struck him that the boy didn’t resist. If the circumstances hadn’t been so dire, he’d probably be feeling elated over this breakthrough between them.
Eventually, Doctor Jerom came over. His normally arched brows wrinkled inward. “I don’t know what happened,” he said. “He went into convulsions and then his heart stopped.”
“Is he going to be okay?” he asked on Jori’s behalf.
“He’s stable. That’s all I can tell you for now,” Doctor Jerom said solemnly. “I’m sorry.”
“Can I see him?” Jori said.
“Let us see if we can figure out what happened first,” Doctor Jerom replied. “You’re welcome to wait out here for now and I’ll let you know when you can go in.”
Jori returned to his stiff and formal composure while they waited. But at least he didn’t shy away from J.D.’s offer of sympathy and comfort. Something had changed between them, something deeper he couldn’t quite define. It’s too bad it took a near tragedy to bring us together.
They waited an hour before Doctor Jerom returned and gave Jori permission to see his brother. The boy spent the rest of the day by his bedside. It wasn’t until dinner time that he’d finally coaxed the boy away.
“You can come back later,” he said as he put his arm around Jori’s shoulder and led him away.
He glanced back on the way out. He didn’t know this boy. But he was getting to know Jori. Whatever violent and hateful world he’d come from, it was obvious he still loved.
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 May, 2016 by Dawn Ross
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