Chapter 37

We were in the middle of an unknown territory, among enemy forces.  From what Melchizedek had told me, the Light ones weren’t as good and sweet as they pretended to be, and I knew that they could cause trouble for us, even if I wasn’t concerned about them hurting us.  I knew that this was not only and important mission, but a chance to see Melchizedek for the first time in years, and even if I couldn’t pretend that this was only a meeting between old friends, I decided to bring Kimball and Ethan with me.

“You should wait here, but if you think there might be trouble or if you think everything is under control and there’s no problem with getting closer, then you can come here, but for now, just try to be discreet,” I asked them.

“I don’t think you can be discreet in this place, there’s no way you won’t be noticed using that uniform.”

I ignored Kimball, mostly because I knew he was right, and kept walking to a point from where I could watch the couple moving through the temple’s gardens.

“There must be another choice,” Mistral was saying, “you can’t leave.”

“You don’t see what I see, every time they speak, I can see the fakeness twirling around their words.  I’m no longer sure this is a good place, and I’m afraid if I stay you could be also in danger.”

“But you can’t leave, where would you even go?  How would you survive?”

Both of them had been distracted while they walked, so none of them had realized they were not alone any longer, nor that they were being followed, but eventually they got too close to me not to notice me.  Charles’ son moved in front of Mistral, trying to protect her.  “Who are you?” he asked, as he started to move back, trying to put more distance between us.

“I don’t recommend moving back, there’s more danger behind you than in front,” after hearing my words, and recognizing the truth in them, they both looked over their shoulders and finally noticed the man that had been following them

“What is going on here?” Mistral asked, to no one in particular, I could see her fear and confusion, but her partner was doing his best to keep her protected from all the threats around them.

“The High Priests asked me to follow you, they are worried about your faithfulness and obedience, and the fact that you are consorting with a Dark one is a sign that they were right to doubt you.”

“Dark one?” Mistral asked, a note of hysterics coming to her voice as she looked at me with distrust and confusion, maybe even a hint of recognition.

“Now it won’t matter who your father, or your protector is, this is enough to send you to the Shadows, maybe even to offer you to the Goddess as a sacrifice.”

“And you call my people barbarians,” I said, “at least we don’t make elaborated lies to justify our actions.  We all know you are only looking for an excuse to do what you already were going to do.”

“Camil?” Mistral was looking at her companion asking for an explanation.

“Everything she says is true, but when he talks his words are full of half truths or outright lies.”

“And how do you know that?” the Light one asked, “Are you being helped by demons?”

I couldn’t help but laugh at his words, the situation was ridiculous, the guy knew the truth about powers and their nature, and still he was buying into his own lies.  “Your hypocrisy is outstanding,” I finally told him.

“My powers come from the Goddess,” he said.

“And why are you so sure his don’t come from the same place?  You know what? I don’t care about your answer, I just want to fix this.  I will give you the chance to leave this place, so you can see I’m not so bad, but if you stay here, I won’t guarantee your safety.”

“Sinners and infidels, I won’t let you get away with this,” from somewhere between his clothes he managed to get a knife out and moved to Camil and Mistral, but using my powers I threw him in the opposite direction, making him hit a column with enough force to knock him out.

“You killed him!” Camil said.

“No, I didn’t, he is still alive, and I think you should remember that if he had gotten away with it, he would have killed you.”

“Who are you?  What do you want?” Mistral asked.

“I thank you for your help,” Camil said, more diplomatically, “but I think it’s time for you to leave here, you are not welcome.”

“I’m afraid I can’t go, not unless you come with me.  You are the main reason I came here today.”

“I won’t let you take him,” Mistral said, turning brave as soon as someone she cared about was threatened.

A feeling of peace and calmness fell like a blanket over us, and I immediately knew that Melchizedek had decided to join us.  After taking a moment to search the surrounding area I realized that he was getting closer, but he wasn’t coming from the same place as Camil and Malkia, he was coming from the other side, from behind me.  I turned around just in time to see him getting out of the tree line, and noticed he wasn’t alone, Ethan was with him, smiling, but also looking a little confused.  Without thinking about it, I started moving towards them, only to have Mistral appearing between us, holding the knife the other guy had used against her, blanding it inexpertly.

“Not another step,” she warned me, but I ignored her, using my powers to take the knife from her and throw it away, then to hold her still while I moved passed her and into Melchizedek’s open arms.

“It’s been so long since I saw you!” I greeted him while I lost myself in his embrace, feeling the safeness and peacefulness that I had missed so much.

“It’s good to see you again, darling,” Melchizedek told me.

I let go of my hold over Mistral, allowing her to turn and see what was going on.  I couldn’t see her, but still I could tell she was confused and even a little bit mad, even with Melchizedek’s influence.

“Sir?” Camil asked, moving closer to where we were.

“Are you ok?” Melchizedek asked him.

“Confused, do you know this… Dark one?  She is a Dark one, isn’t she?”

“Yes dad, what’s going on?”

“I think that deep down, you know what’s going on, my dear.”

“She is getting her powers back, that means her memories must be coming back too,” I agreed with Melchizedek, she had to know more, even if she was refusing to believe it.  “I see you already met my son Ethan,” I said, changing the topic and trying to figure out why they had arrived together.

“I found him on my way here, and he agreed to come with me.”

“You knew who he was,” I was sure, Melchizedek’s powers were far superior from mine, and I was sure he knew all there was to be known about Ethan already.

“He even called me by name,” Ethan confirmed, “but I’m sure I would have known who he was, just by looking at him after all you told me about him.  What I don’t get is why you call him the most powerful empath there is, he has strength, but he lacks control.

“Maybe he doesn’t have the same kind of control as you in how he affects those around him, but he has a lot of control over his own feelings.  Just imagine the kind of damage someone like him could do by being angry or scared and projecting those feelings, imagine the chaos.  You know I’m always going after you to control your emotions because of the kind of damage you could do by projecting all those feelings without control.”

“You may be right,” he accepted.

“Could someone explain to me what’s going on?” Mistral asked, some traces of frustration going over her father’s influence.

“I would also like to know who she is and what’s she doing here.”

“This is Kaiserin, former Empress of the Dark Empire,” Melchizedek introduced me, “and she is here to take you with her.”

“What? No!” Mistral said, moving in front of Camil as if she could protect him.

“You know who he is,” Melchizedek nodded, but I didn’t need the confirmation, I expected him to already know everything about the young man he had taken under his protection.

“I know, and I have done my best to prepare him for his future.  And you arrived just in time, for the High Priests are already suspicious of his powers, and they don’t trust their ability to turn him to their side, they know he is a good person, and one that is not fooled by their lies.”

“He has become a risk, they no longer want to have him around in case he could turn against them or betray their secrets,” I said, getting a better understanding of the situation.

“There’s nothing they fear more than truth, since all their teachings are based on lies and secrets.”

“Daddy, I don’t get what’s going on.  Please, explain to me what this is, how do you know her?”

“Could we have this conversation in another place?” Kimball’s voice reached us.  “A group of people is heading this way.  It would be better to move this conversation to a place where there isn’t a risk of people walking into a Dark one.”

“Of course, that’s a good idea, let’s more to a more secluded place where we can talk without problems,” Melchizedek agreed.  “I promise to explain everything, even if I think you already know the answers, you just have to accept them.”

We walked in silence for a while, with Kimball in the front, guiding us to the place we had already prepared just for this reason, and where Sofia would be waiting for us.  Despite the lack of words, there was plenty of communication going on around us, Camil and Mistral giving each other looks and gestures meant to reassure each other, while Melchizedek’s smile was all I needed to know how glad he was about our meeting.  Kimball also was looking at me, letting me know that everything was alright, while Ethan just looked around, absorbing as much information as he could.  We finally arrived to our destination, an improvised camp with a group of warriors watching us just from out of sight, while Sofia waited in the center.  When we moved closer, I noticed that Sofia was in trance, and I actually felt the vision that had her trapped calling to me.

“I think this is the first time that the three most powerful Seers in the world had been in the same place,” Melchizedek pointed out, “usually this kind of power is placed in different parts of the world.”

“With Sofia and me in the same place, the balance must have been seriously affected a long time ago,” I pointed out.

“Not that much, the Dark Empire has a lot of seers, that helps to keep the equilibrium.”

“Is that how you know each other?  You meet in the Fog of the Future?” Camil asked.

“Not really, in fact, it was Melch who taught me how to walk the fog, he was my teacher.”

“Can we start from the beginning?  I really need to understand what’s going on here,” Mistral asked.

“Of course, that’s only fair.  But I’m pretty sure that you at least have an idea of who I am, deep down.  I saw how you appeared in front of me, that means you are using your powers again, that wouldn’t be possible if you didn’t have at least part of your memories back.”

“How do you know so much?  Who are you?  Tell me, no more evasion, or mores questions.”

“You know that, I’m your godmother.”

Mistral stayed quiet and silent, she didn’t deny my words like I expected her to do.  I could see her going over my words and her memories, trying to find something to confirm or deny my words.

“Sometimes I remember a woman’s voice, but when I try to see her face something else distracts me and I can’t focus on her anymore.  There are some memories, some things and feelings that I can’t get a hold on, like the feeling of getting lost in time, the feeling of moving from one place to another in the blink of an eye.  Sometimes I even see myself in another place with different people.”

“Those are suppressed memories, from a past you no longer remember,” I tried to explain.

“Why can’t I remember?”

“Because a long time ago you asked me to block your powers, and the only way I knew how to do it, was by hiding some of your memories.”

“Are you going to do that again?”

“The first time I did it because you asked me to, and I may do it again if it’s something you really want, but the first time it was because you were too young and impulsive and we were afraid you wouldn’t be able to hide your powers from other people.  But now you are all grown up, you are capable of hiding your powers, and of knowing when it’s ok to use them.  What happened before was your reaction to what you perceived as a threat, but once you have the right tools, you will be able to control that kind of thing from happening if you don’t want it to.”

“I want my memories back,” Mistral asked, “I want to understand what’s going on and see for myself what’s going on, right now I feel like everyone knows something I don’t, I feel I don’t see the whole picture and I hate that.”

“If you are sure about it, then I can help.”

“Wait a minute,” Camil asked, “are you sure you can trust her?  She is a Dark one.”

“You can answer that question better than I can.  What do you see?  Is she lying or telling the truth?”

“She seems to be telling the truth, but I don’t know if it’s a good idea to trust her, besides, she wants to take me with her, and she hadn’t explained why.”

“What do you know about your origins?  Your past?” I asked him.

“There are a lot of rumors and guesses about my past, and something tells me you know more about it than me.”

“There is so much to talk about that I don’t know where to start,” I said.

“What about the beginning?”

“I will, but could you give me a few minutes first?  I would like to work a little on Mistral, try and free some of her memories about the Shadowlands, that way she will understand better what we have to say.”

No one objected to my suggestion, so while Camil and Melchizedek had a private conversation, and Kimball and Ethan moved away, either to give us privacy or make sure we were safe, Mistral and I took some of the free chairs near Sofia.

“What do I have to do?” Mistral asked, looking a little nervous.

“Nothing special, you just need to relax and try not to fight this.  The only reason this worked so well the first time was because you trusted me, and didn’t put any resistance to my influence, and I need that right now.”

“You must be telling the truth, because I feel like I can trust you, sure, my first reaction wasn’t a good one, and all my teachings tell me to run the opposite direction from you, but deep down I feel like I could trust you.  If not in you, at least in my father, he had always guided me in the right direction, and I trust him.”

Feeling a lot better after her words, I went into her mind.  What I had done with her was different from what my father had done to me, he had hidden my memories behind closed doors and inside protected chests, I had gone for a less painful option.  Mistral’s landscape was also different, she wasn’t a telepath, and because of that her mental landscape was very basic, without visual representations, still, a lot of time had gone by since the last time I had been in there, and what I found was very different, I was hard to find my way to where I had hidden her memories.  Instead of locking them up like my father had done, I had put them behind other memories, masking them and distracting her from looking into them with the brighter, happier memories before them.  The attractiveness of those memories had lost its power with time, and I could see some of the memories shining from behind them, trying to get out.  Recovering those memories was extremely easy, all I had to do was move them from behind and leaving them in a place where they could be easily accessed.  She had already been trying to reach them, and some had escaped in their own, making the whole process extremely easy.  The fact that I didn’t find any resistance was a sign that she did trust me.

Hiding her memories and locking her powers had been a long process, but freeing them had taken just a few minutes.  I finished my task and got out of her mind.  She opened her eyes and stared at me for a moment, I could see her wince in pain and realized that despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to shield her from all the pain, having that much memories dumped on her, had still affected her.  I knew there wasn’t much I could do, so I just waited, and just a moment after her face lighted up in recognition and she threw herself into my arms.

“Nina!  I can’t believe I forgot who you were.  Well, I do, I asked you for this, after all, but it’s incredible someone can forget someone like you.  There are so many things I have to ask, things I need to clarify.  I feel like a big part of me had been hidden, and I feel complete for the first time in forever.”

“That’s exactly what happened, those secrets were necessary, but left you with only half a picture,” Melchizedek said.  “But it’s good to see you have them back and that we can talk freely now.”

I saw the same painful wince in Mistral, and then she looked solemnly at her father.  “You weren’t accepted as a Priest because of your powers, you are not a Blessed one that was guided to them, you are part of that family, you were destined to be a High Priest,” she said.

“That’s right, they are also your family, our family, but their hypocrisy made them reject us and put us to the side.”

“I see everything so differently now, is like the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place, but I don’t see the image I’m putting together,” Mistral said, and I could see she was sad because of that.  “What I still don’t get is why you are here and why are you interested in a Light one,” Mistral said.  “Why do you want to take him away?”

“I’m afraid I’m the reason for that,” Sofia said, finally out of her trance.  “Kaiserin is only helping me getting reunited to my grandson.”

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Chapter 36

Aquarium was officially part of the Dominion, even if it was also considered just an extension of Mzansi since it wasn’t big enough to be a nation of its own.  But it was still mine, my refuge when I needed time, or a safe heaven, where my allies and I could get together and just be ourselves.

For a whole weekend I was going to host our allies and enjoy some peace and quiet, even if the assistance list had gotten longer than I anticipated and I was having to deal with logistic problems I had not expected.

“I think that everything is settled,” Kimball said, “we had to ask for some of the permanent residents to let us use their homes, since we didn’t have enough space for everyone.

“This place is huge, I never thought we would be able to fill it like this.”

“It’s not that unexpected, since we are hosting almost all of your old refugees and their families, plus a few new allies.”

“I never that many would accept the invitation.”

“A lot of people love you and respect you, some day you will realize that,” Kimball said, moving closer to me and wrapping me in his arms.  “And this is just because some of them already had previous commitments they couldn’t get out of.”

“Where is Ethan?”

“Where do you think he is?”

I was to be expected that if Ethan and his cousins, and the rest of the young refugees, got together, they would be in the gym competing against each other.

I didn’t need to tell Kimball what I was thinking, he could always read my intentions, so he just moved to offer me his arm and guided me to the gym.  The organized chaos that greeted us would be surprising to anyone who didn’t know this particular group of teens.

Apparently they had decided to form two teams and they were facing each other.  Just as we walked in, we watch as Ethan raises a flag between shouts of joy and people complaining.

“That is not fair!”  one of his cousins was complaining.  “Everyone wants to be on your team, so we get the bad players.”

“There are always situations where you found yourself at a disadvantage,” I said, raising my voice, “so that’s not a valid excuse.  A good warrior will always find a way to succeed no matter the challenge.”

“But it’s impossible to win against Ethan,” another one from the losing team complained.

“Nothing is impossible, it can be difficult, you may not even succeed the first time, but if you work hard enough, you can do it.”

“Mom, you are supposed to support me, tell them I’m invincible, make them fear me, or something.”

“I’m sorry, but another important lesson, one you have to learn, is that no one is invincible, and that you need to be prepared for anything.”

“Why don’t we try an ‘everyone against Kaiserin?'” Joon Hwan suggested.

“Isn’t that a bit unfair?  There’s a lot of you,” I said, “at least let me have Kimball on my team.”

“Somehow I feel we would be the ones at a disadvantage with that arrangement,” someone said.

“I accept the challenge,” Ethan said.  “Who is with me?”

A choir of voices, some more enthusiastic than others, agreed with Ethan, who immediately started to plan and organize his team.

“This will be fun,” Kimball said, “we will be doing a classic capture the flag setting.  I suppose you are going to defend and I should capture?”

“That sounds like a good strategy,” I agreed.

A protective bubble around the flag was the easy choice, but Ethan knew me enough to know how to find and attack my weaknesses.  He also knew his father’s strengths and most of his strategies, and that made the challenge a good one.

His plan was simple, he was attacking from different sides, trying to weaken my bubble, as Ethan used his powers to try and distract hard enough that I would lose concentration, allowing them to go through my bubble.  It was a good plan, and in another setting, it may have been effective, the problem was that with Kimball trying to capture the flag, they didn’t have enough time to make it work.

Ethan had been consistently getting stronger as the years went by, and he was capable of keeping his mind alert enough to go against his father, making counterattacks and changing strategies on the fly, while simultaneously sending psychic attacks against me.  Unfortunately for him, I had fought stronger attacks than his without problems.  Eventually Kimball managed to get past Ethan’s defenses and had taken their flag, the exercise had taken more time than I had expected, and I had to recognize that I was tired after it.

I couldn’t avoid turning the game into a learning opportunity, and I went on to point out the mistakes and the successes of the exercise, while Kimball did the same.

We barely had time to go to our next stop by the time we finished with the young ones.  My people in Aquarium had insisted that we needed a banquet to celebrate the reunion, even if I wanted something simple.  After a quick shower and a change of clothes we went to the hall where the party was going to take place, and most of our guests were already there when we arrived.  I had kept contact with most of them, but there were a few faces I hadn’t had a chance to see in a long time, and those were the first to approach me.

The reunion was pleasant and just what I needed to remember why I was doing what I was doing.  My ulterior motive involved talking to the refugees and see if they could help me decide if it was ok to give the nations of the Dominion more freedom.  Before Emily took control of it, being part of the Dominion was a choice, being part of it provided stability and protection, much like what happened in the Empire with those allied to the Imperial Clan.  Once we had reached new levels of stability in the Dominion, it was time to move things a little closer to what they used to be, and that included letting them decide if they wanted to be part of us, or not.  It wouldn’t be an easy task, but I needed to see if it was possible.  I knew that opening that door could open us to a lot of problems, but I also knew how important it was for people to be able to have a choice.  I doubted that anyone would jump to take the opportunity and leave the Dominion, at least not right away, not when being part of it gave them so many advantages, but I knew that with time, some of them would decide it was a risk worth taking, and I wanted them to have the option.

I needed to talk to Dante and present the proposal to the congress, but from what I had gathered, it would be well received.

“This is a celebration, you need to relax, you look too tense,” Sofia said.  Our relationship had improved a lot since her betrayal, and I didn’t feel as angry as before, still I didn’t feel comfortable with her, especially not when she had cornered me while I was alone.

“Sofia, what are you doing here?”

“Still mad at me?  I don’t know what else can I do to show you how much I regret what happened.”

“I expected you to be able to understand where I was coming from, for you to understand how hard it was for me to trust, and how much a betrayal could hurt me.  You should have known how your decisions would sever our relationship.  I trusted you, you know you could have approached me and talked to me about it, instead of going behind my back.”

“I get that, in retrospect, but you know that my children are my only weakness, and…”  Sofia never finished her thought, because before she could, we both got trapped in a vision.

I couldn’t see Sofia, but I knew she was with me inside the vision, I wasn’t sure if it was mine or hers, but one of us had dragged the other inside it.  We were in the middle of an unfamiliar landscape, a pair of figures approaching.  I thought I recognized one of them, and once I heard her name, I knew who she was.

When we got out of the vision I found Sofia crying, something I wasn’t expecting, especially not if we considered the smile that accompanied the tears.

“Did you see?  Do you recognize…?”

“Yes, that was my goddaughter Mistal.”

“No, that was my grandson, Charles’ son,” she said, leaving me speechless.  “When his mother escaped Emily, I tried to ignore her future and what had happened to her son, I didn’t want Emily to know what had happened to them, and if I couldn’t tell if they were alive, then she wouldn’t either.  I lost their trail, but I did that to keep them safe, and now I know he is ok.”

“But not for long.  I could be wrong, but the vision showed us he is in a difficult situation.  We need to go back to the fog and see more, at least now we will have the vision to guide us in the right direction.  And even if that’s not enough, I think I will be able to find him, his path seems to be connected to someone close to me.  Sofia, it’s possible we will meet with Melchizedek, that was his daughter Mistral with him.”

“Melchizedek, the seer.”

“This could become complicated,” I said, more to myself than to Sofia.

“For the moment you have a party to attend, nothing in that vision suggested this is urgent.  But please, as soon as we can, help me find more information about my grandson.”

“I will,” and not just because of her, that vision could also mean danger for her.

Chapter 35

I woke up scared, and started to panic until I realized that I wasn’t trapped, that it was only Kimball who was holding me.

“Calm down, everything is ok, easy there…” he was talking softly to me, comforting me.  “Can you tell me what happened?” he eventually asked, once he realized that I was back under control.

“Malkia is in trouble,” I said, and as soon as I spoke, Kimball’s demeanor completely changed, and he was ready to act.  “Don’t worry, she has help, she isn’t in danger.  Is just that my old problems are once again hurting my daughter.  It’s hard enough to face your own demons, it isn’t fair that she has to fight mine too.”

“That’s not your fault, whatever happened, you are doing your best to keep her safe, and that’s all you can do.  Do you want to tell me what you saw?”

“The Empire is having trouble, new battles are starting and the assassins, as the Imperial Clan’s allies are there helping.  Malkia was eager to prove herself in battle and despite Dendro’s warnings she went to battle, but she didn’t realize she was going to be facing enemies and allies.  Once of my old tormentors found her and decided to take her, just because she looked like me.  She had an unlikely ally stepping in and helping, things could have gone a lot worse if it wasn’t for him.”

“What you saw, it’s something that is going to happen?”

“It was something that was happening, it was too real, it felt written in stone.  I have to go talk to her, I’m sure that once she finishes dealing with the situation, she will have questions for me.”

“Are you strong enough to make that kind of astral journey?”

“I am, you don’t have to worry, I’ll be fine.  I just hope that she will be looking for me, and I don’t want to get too close to her camp, she is in Imperial territory and they always have astral sentries posted around.”

“Whatever you have to do, just be careful,” Kimball asked.

I knew that the vision wasn’t about the future or the past, it had to be something that was happening, so it was too late to change it, all I could do was being there and answer any questions I could.

The travel through the astral planes was easy, I moved to the superior planes and had no trouble moving, and as soon as I got close, I felt my daughter waiting for me.

I thought you may have some questions for me,‘ I told her as soon as I reached her.

That’s correct.  I guess you already know what happened,‘ she said, her demeanor serious.

I saw what happened through my visions.

You forgot to mention a few things the last time we spoke,‘ she complained.

I told you that I couldn’t tell you the whole story, I only told you what you needed to know.  I get if you don’t understand why I can’t tell you more, but this is one of those occasions where knowing could be more dangerous than staying in the dark.

Don’t you trust me?

What do you want to know?‘ I asked, knowing that it was better to move the conversation forward instead of going in a direction that could provoke a fight.

The woman that… attacked me,‘ she started, having trouble finding a word that described what had happened.

Her name is Joshes.

She said that I looked like her broken toy, but that her toy couldn’t have children, so she couldn’t be my mother.  The Captain also mentioned that I looked like his father’s lover, but that she was barren…

When I was under Joshes’ command, and at the beginning of my… relationship, with Vasuman, that was true, but eventually I was healed and managed to get pregnant, not long before Vasuman’s death.

Then that Captain…

He is your half-brother, Vasuman’s son with one of the women he used to have before he found me.‘  I could feel her confusion, everything she had learned from the warriors from Sector 32 was different from what she knew about me.  ‘I had already talked to you about this the last time we saw each other, like you had already guessed, I wasn’t an Assassin, but an Imperialist, and I told you that I was in a bad situation during my early years, and that you were the daughter of one of my superiors.  I also told you about the enemies I left in my old clan, and why I had left you in the Fortress, and then under Dendro’s protection.  I know that as Antrax’s partner, you have the right to be by his side during the Clan’s meetings, but you need to understand that my old enemies wouldn’t hesitate to make you pay for the problems they had with me.

I have a half-brother,‘ Malkia said, for some reason that had been what had caught her attention.

More than one,‘ I told her sincerely.  ‘Before meeting me, your father had a lot of women, most of them recognized his power and decided to have children with him.  I don’t know how many of them survive to this day, but the fact is that you have more brothers and sisters.

I should go to the Empire and try to meet them.

Those who were raised by their mothers may be poisoned against you.  It was never my choice to be with your father, but the rest of the women always hated the fact that he stopped paying them attention once he got me.  The fact is that you need to be careful, not all of them will be happy with your existence, some of them could see you as a rival, someone to get rid of.

But we share the same blood,‘ she said, and I could feel her desire to connect with her family.

Most of my problems in the Empire were caused by my half-brother.  Not everyone is like Greca, my blood and my powers created a link between you that makes you stronger when you are together, that’s an advantage in your relationship.  But is not the same in other cases.  If you trust the Captain, you can share with him who you really are.  I had a chance to meet him, since he got out of the Academy before his father died and had a chance to meet us, even if Vasuman didn’t really recognize him, he didn’t seem to be angry at me for that.  Still, is better if people don’t know about you at all.

I can’t spend the rest of my life in hiding.

You can face the world once you are sure you can take it on.  You need to be able to face them all, to be the strongest of them all, that’s a lesson I had to learn the hard way.  I’m sorry I left such a burden for you, but there’s nothing we can do about it, you just have to make sure to stay away from the Imperial territory unless you are sure no one can take you down.

Why do they hate you so much?  Why do they love you so much?  Some of them, like Dendro, would do anything for you, but others like Ivy don’t hesitate to try and destroy me just because they feel like they are fighting you.

When you are ready, once you are strong enough, you will be able to go to the Palace and face the Royal Families, then you will understand.  If I told you everything right now, you would get ideas that would put you at risk.

You can’t know that,‘ she said.

I can, I have seen your futures and I’m doing my best to keep you on the best path available.  Is there anything else I can do for you?

You said you would come back one day, when?

I still have things to do where I’m at, reasons to stay away, at least for a couple more years.

Then I guess we don’t have anything else to talk about.

Please, don’t be mad, you need to understand this is not easy for me either, but I’m doing what I think it’s best for both of us.  Someday you will understand it all, for the moment all you can do, what I’m asking you to do, is to train to be stronger, to become an invincible force.  That is very important.  There will be always battles to be fought, and you need to be prepared for them.

I trust you, even if I don’t get you.  When I needed you, when I was trapped in the inferior planes you were there, helping me.  I know that it’s likely I wouldn’t have survived the experience without your help.  It’s just that these secrets make me think that it’s you who don’t trust me.

I’m sorry you feel that way, and I hope you know how proud I am of everything you have accomplished, but the danger waiting for you in the Empire is beyond what you can imagine.  I had to face that danger before I was ready, and that cost me a lot of pain and blood.  I’m just trying to make your journey easier than mine.  After everything that happened today with Joshes, and what happened a few years back with Ivy, I hope you understand why I’m so worried.

It’s not easy, but I will try to be more patient and not put myself at risk again.

‘That’s all I ask.’  After talking about some superficial stuff, I finally left her to get back to my own body.

I thought Kimball would have gone back to sleep after I left to the astral planes, but when I got back I found him awake, waiting for me.  I knew how hard it was for him to stay behind, not being able to do anything, without a chance to act.

“How did it go?” he asked as soon as I opened my eyes.

“She is fine, a little mad she doesn’t know the whole story.  I think that what she found affected the image she had of me and she still doesn’t get what is going on.  She wants to know everything, and I can’t give her the details.”

“Why not telling her the truth?  That you were the Empress for a short time and that your position made you a lot of enemies?”

“I know what is going to happen if she learns everything.  She is still young and doesn’t get all the dangers of that position.  If I tell her who I was and who her family is, she will get curious.  As soon as she gets in front of my brother, he will receive her with open arms, painting a target on her back, everyone who desires to take the throne will go after her, because they will realize she is a threat.”

“But she is the partner of the next leader of the Assassins, I don’t think she will leave him for the chance of being part of the Imperial Clan.”

“That is something they don’t get and don’t care about.  In my youth it never crossed my mind to become the Empress, that didn’t stop Caracalla from being afraid of me and trying to get rid of me.  It’s too big of a risk, and one Malkia won’t understand until it’s too late.  She is strong, but not strong enough to face the whole Clan.”

Kimball didn’t insist, but I knew he didn’t agree with me.  I knew that I couldn’t keep Malkia on the fringe forever, sooner or later she would be forced to take her rightful position by Antrax’s side, and she would have to go to the heart of the Empire, I just wanted to give her as much time as possible to get stronger.  Maybe I was affecting her future by keeping her away from her roots, but I didn’t want her to suffer like I had.  I knew that it was the sum of my experiences that had made me who I was, without Agmong’s torture and Caracalla’s assassins I wouldn’t have have grown so strong, at least not as fast.  I wanted to believe that I would have been able to reach my potential in other forms, I needed to believe that for my children’s sake, since I wanted them to reach their own potentials without having to suffer like I had.

Sometimes I felt like I had condemned them just by giving them my blood.  Sharing my face had given Malkia shelter and the opportunity to make a life with the Assassins, but it had also put her life at risk every day.  Like Ethan’s life that had been in danger many times because of me.  No matter what I did, I couldn’t change that, all I could do was to do my best to keep them safe.

With all that had happened, I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I got out of bed and went to Ethan’s room, from the doorway I watched him for a while, he was calm, but he was going to wake up soon to start his day, so I left him alone.  I kept walking and went to our living room, stopping in front of the windows, watching the city, with the Black Tower easy to spot in the distance.  I could feel Kimball nearby, but he knew me enough to give me a little time.  Eventually Kimball came to me, with a cup of coffee as an offering.

“How are you?” he asked.

“I feel like a change is approaching.  Sooner or later things are going to change and we need to be ready.  My time in the Dominion is approaching its end, even if I get elected as Prime Minister for another term, that only buys me three more years, then I will have to find another path.”

“You want to go back to the Empire,” Kimball said, he wasn’t asking, he knew what I was thinking.

“I think I will need to, soon.”

“When the time arrives, I will be by your side.”

“I know,” I answered sincerely, feeling stronger by knowing, that as always, I had his support.

Chapter 34

Mihaela let me know the moment they started preparations to get out of the bunker, but I still wasn’t sure how many were coming out or what they were expecting to find, all I knew was that I was angry and motivated enough to make them pay for what they had done.  I heard the noise of the bunker’s door opening and steps getting closer.  As soon as they saw me sitting in the same place they had left Ethan tied up, they stopped and stared at me.

“What are you doing here?” one of them demanded.

“Didn’t you see my video?  Your time has come to an end, it’s time to pay for what you did.”

“Do you think you have already won?  We are ready for you,” one of them said, with total confidence in his success.

“As I see it, I did win.  My son is safe with his father, this place is under our control, and there’s nothing you can do against me.”

“Are you sure about that?” he asked, and as soon as he spoke I felt weird, I noticed that the headache that was starting to bother me was going away, and my powers with it.  The emptiness inside me made me want to panic, but I did my best to recover, I wasn’t alone, and I was still in control.

“I will give you just one chance, leave your games and give up right now, or you will face consequences.”

Just a couple of them seemed to consider it, but the man that was acting as the leader, talking to me, moved his hand and took something from his back.  As soon as I realized he was moving, I got my gun out and shoot at the shoulder of the arm he was moving.  Ivan, who apparently had also lost his powers, had his own gun out and was pointing it to the group.

“I advise you not to try something like that again,” Ivan told them

“In fact, better do it, give me a reason to justify killing you.  We could arrest you, but I have no trouble just killing you all right now.  In fact, I prefer that option, especially the longer I’m out of powers,” I wasn’t sure how they were doing it, but the feeling of vulnerability that usually came with having my powers removed was affecting me.  At least I knew that whatever they were doing was affecting everyone in the same way.

“I know you think you won, but you haven’t,” the man said, holding his injured arm.  “Your reign of hate and fear has come to an end.”

“My reign of fear?  People are living peacefully under my reign, unlike before.  People are having better lives, they are progressing faster than before.  You are the ones who are trying to start a reign of terror with your tactics.  What would have happened if your bombs had blown up as you planned?  Innocent people, people who had nothing to do with your fight or agendas would have been injured, could even have died.  I’m not the monster in this room, you are.”

“We are working for the good of our people, for the freedom or the Dominion,” a woman said from the back of the room.

“You are working for your own good.  Now, you can stop blocking my powers, or face the consequences,” I asked again, hoping that the desperation wasn’t showing in my voice.

“You won’t win so easily,” the leader repeated, and I could see some of his followers getting ready to act.  I didn’t think twice before shooting him, but as I pressed the trigger, the man moved, and instead of hitting him on a safe spot, the bullet went through his neck.

A blanket of silence fell over the group as the man hit the floor and a pool of blood started to grow under him, and then, chaos erupted.  They all started moving at the same time.  There was some distance between me and the group, but Ivan was closer to them, and most decided to attack him first.  I started to shoot them, making sure the injuries weren’t life threatening, just bad enough to stop them.  Ivan was doing the same, but he was focusing on those ignoring him and moving to where I was, protecting me first.

Despite all their plans, the group wasn’t as ready to face us as they pretended, their actions were impulsive and clearly weren’t working.  I noticed the exact moment their leader realized that their plans were ruined and that they were losing, something he couldn’t accept yet.  Unlike Merce, from whom the leader had copied their ideas, he was willing to sacrifice himself, not just others, for what they thought was the greater good, something that became clear when he got a grenade out of his coat and threw it to where we had left the explosives we had taken from Ethan.  I didn’t need a walk in the fog to know what would happen if the grenade exploded in the middle of all those explosives.

For a moment my mind went blank, and then I started to go over all the options we had, I needed to stop the explosion or all the people in the building, and probably even those outside like Ethan and Kimball could die.  My options were limited, at least at the beginning, because after watching their leader willing to kill them all, the person blocking my powers stopped, and I got my powers back, which allowed me to use my mind to grab the grenade and throw it through the open door to the bunker, where it would cause less damage, the only problem was that some of our enemies ran back inside the bunker trying to protect themselves from the explosion.

The wave caused by the explosion was strong enough to throw those who hadn’t ran away to the floor.  Before they could go back to their feet I used my powers to shift the floor and trap them in it, but not in the case of the leader, for him I used stakes that went through his extremities and pin him to the floor.  I hoped that the person who had blocked my powers was dead, but if he wasn’t, I was going to make him wish he had been in the bunker when the grenade went off.  As for the leader, once I finished interrogating him, he was going to wish he was dead.

“Are you ok?” Kimball asked, as he ran into the room, closely followed by Uktam and Mihaela.

“Everything is ok,” I said, pointing to my captives.  “They all have bullet woulds and a few bruises, possibly a few contusions, still, I need you to make sure they’re not a danger before transporting the.  As for him,” I said, pointing to the leader, who was screaming in pain, “don’t take him to the police, I want to interrogate him first.”

“William won’t like that,” Kimball said, but from the intensity in his eyes and he stared at the person responsible for kidnaping his son, I knew he had his own plans as to what to do to him.

“He will understand,” I said, knowing that even if William got angry, at the end he would help me, he knew all the legal loopholes that I needed to justify my action, and he knew how important it was for me to stop people like that man.  “How is Ethan?”

“He is stable, but I’m not sure what kind of agent they used to knock him out, I’m still working on that.  I took one of their tanks so I could study the substance later.”

I left my people to clean up the disaster, while I went back to the Palace.  Ethan was with us, laying down on the seat, with his head on my lap.  He was still out, but I could feel his mind active and I could feel his life force, and I knew he would be able to survive the adventure with no significant damage.  After the extensive use of my powers I needed my suppressor to keep the psychic headache under control, so after making sure Ethan was ok, I activated it, but as soon as my powers went away I started feeling vulnerable and uncomfortable.  I knew that we still had a lot to deal with, there were more people involved, and those people could still cause trouble.  My own men were already working on finding them, but I knew that to make sure that all the information we got was correct, I needed to conduct my own interrogations, and for that I needed my powers, something I didn’t have at the moment.

Once back at the Palace Ethan reacted, and that helped me confirm that he was alright, I confirmed that he had suffered some electric attacks, but not enough to cause lasting damage, and he insisted he was ok, even if I could see he was embarrassed for falling on enemy hands, as if being captured had been his fault.  I remembered my own fears and feelings of guilt when I was his age.  I remembered when I had been captured by enemy forces and my mother had to rescue me, how bad I had felt about the situation and the lives that had been lost in that mission, even as people congratulated me for my actions.  I knew that simple words wouldn’t help him feel better, so all I could do was to let my emotions free and allow him to realize for himself how proud I was of him, and how much I loved him.

At the same time I had been busy rescuing Ethan, my people had been working on their own missions.  Two of the bombs our enemies had set had exploded, the enemy had set sentries around them, and some had realized that my people had been trying to deactivate them and to stop them they had blown them.  Agata had already realized about the sentries and was working on finding them and neutralizing them, but sadly she wasn’t fast enough to stop those two bombs from going off, and that cost us the life of an innocent man that had refused to stay in his house, and had caused some of my men to be injured, but all of them would be able to have a full recovery.  At least we had been able to capture more people involved after interrogating our captives, and that included some State leaders that had actively collaborated, or that at least had turned a blind eye to what his people was doing.

I had taken my time doing my own interrogations, and I could confirm that they were followers of Merce, and that some people insisted on hating me, and weren’t willing to accept me and my place in the Dominion.  I knew that originally that had been the plan, for people to hate me, but I also had planned for them to be so afraid of me that they wouldn’t be willing to fight me, and the new situation made that part very difficult.  I also realized that my actions against the kidnappers had affected my image again, in ways I couldn’t understand yet.

A couple of days after the incident, I was ready to face the world and present my findings, and Aziz was there ready to help me with my message.

“Everything is ready for the broadcast,” Aziz told me, and I could see that that included William and Dante, they had agreed, once again, to support me.  I knew that their support would influence a lot in how people received the announcement.

I stepped in front of the camera, ready to say the words that I needed to say.  It wasn’t easy, I knew that with everything that had happened people’s perception of me had changed, as well as the political scene in the Dominion.  Even if the attack had been very public and everyone in the Dominion had witnessed how they had used my son to try and get me to resign, the fact that some leaders, and those of countries that hadn’t voted for me, were involved, only complicated things, for some could see my actions as revenge.  At least I had William, and even Dante, supporting me, even if some leaders were afraid after my actions following Ethan’s kidnapping.  Despite having won the fight, I knew that some consequences of my actions would follow me for a while.  Kimball said that I was taking the situation in a very negative way, and that people would show me once again how much they loved and trusted me, but I couldn’t be as positive as he wanted me to be.

“Good afternoon,” I said to the cameras, knowing that most of the Dominion’s population was watching from the other side, “today I come here to give you another announcement.  All of you witnessed the demands and actions of a criminal group that intended to take control of the Dominion without any care of who they hurt in the process.  Thanks to the actions of a lot of people who worked together to protect the city and stop the threats to the Dominion, what could have become a great tragedy, was controlled.  Unfortunately, an innocent civilian lost his life and many of my soldiers were wounded, but at the end, they managed not only to save my son, but to stop everyone involved in the attack.  During the interrogations that followed the capture of the people responsible, we were able to discover that very important, and influential people were also involved.”

“Using that information, that my people made sure was true and accurate, we were able to give issue arrest warrants for a couple of presidents and a queen,” William explained.  “We also were able to clear other leaders that had been fooled or whose trusted people had acted in their name, but without their knowledge.”

“As I told you before, we are not going to punish the people of the countries for the crimes of their leaders, but there could be some problems while we fill the positions that were left open.  We are already working on that, and we hope that everyone is satisfied with the results once we finish.”

“I know that many of you are wondering what this will mean for you, and I want to assure you that, at least I, will work to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again and will take every precaution to avoid another incident like this,” Dante said.  “All of us who have positions of power have the duty and the responsibility to make sure that everyone who works with us is capable of following and honoring our laws and the principles that rule the Dominion.”

“We will keep working for you, for the people of the Dominion, for your well being.  And I, personally, will work on opening better communication lines between the people and your governments, I want people to realize they don’t have to do things like this to get our attention, we will hear you, but I also ask you to hear other people.  I know some of you don’t want me here, but as long as the majority wants me here, I will stay here, doing my best to be worthy of your trust.”

“The three of us will keep working on everyone’s well being, working for our people, today and always,” William said.

“Perfect!” Aziz exclaimed with his usual enthusiasm.  “All of you did a great job.  I will be monitoring the different communication channels to see how people respond to this broadcast, and I’m sure we will have good news soon.”

“I hope so,” I said, knowing that things were going to change and that I needed to be prepared for what was coming.  I needed to do a better job, I couldn’t allow more people to get hurt because of me.

Chapter 33

We started to advance to where Ethan was being held, I was in the fog, just a minute in the future, in a place where the possibilities ahead of me were so few I could still keep track of them, and still gave me enough time to act in case it was needed.  As we moved Kimball didn’t have any trouble neutralizing the cameras outside the building and the few traps that we found.  The first problem we faced was when we reached the building.  I could see that as soon as they opened the door something invisible attacked them and caused them to drop like flies before anyone could do something to counter the attack.

I got out of the fog and using my powers I formed a barrier in front of the door to stop them from using it.  At first they didn’t know what was going on and were prepared to fight their way inside.  “We can go through there,” I warned them, “there’s a trap on the other side, something that will affect us and warn out enemies about our arrival.”

“What do you suggest?” Kimball asked.  “Do we need to find another entrance?”  I thought about it, and then I moved to the wall.  I connected to it, expecting to find concrete, reinforced steel, but all I felt was concrete blocks that I knew I couldn’t break, for it would have been too noisy, but that I could get around.

“I think I can find an alternative entrance,” I said, as I put both my hands against the wall.  After I established a deeper connection I started to work on loosening a few blocks, big enough to at least see the other side.  Once I managed to open a hole big enough to put my head through it, I signaled Ivan to move closer.  “Could you teleport to the other side?”

“I think so, all I need is to see where I’m moving to,” he said, putting his head through the hole, like I had done before, and then disappearing.

“What can you see?” I asked him.

“There is a tank with some sort of liquid here,” he said.  “It seems there is a simple mechanism that breaks the opening valve when the door opens.”

“Can you deactivate it?” Kimball asked.

“I think so, it seems pretty simple,” he said.

I leaned against the wall and went into the fog again, making sure we didn’t face any other surprises.  When I went back, Uktam was by my side, ready to carry me again if I needed him.

“I think I will walk for a while,” I said.  “I think we will need a moment to study the place, and I want to take advantage of that time to reach Ethan.  I can move while I do that.”

“As you wish.”

I extended my senses, being very careful, trying to avoid other telepaths from feeling me.  I knew Ethan’s mind very well, and I knew that I would have no trouble finding him, but when I reached his mind I realized he was occupied.  Still, I knew he had noticed my presence, so I waited for him to reach back to me, and I didn’t have to wait long for him to look for me.

What took you so long?‘ he asked.

How are you?  Did they hurt you?

I could be better, but there’s nothing to sorry about,‘ he said, but I could feel he was downplaying his injuries.  ‘I didn’t see you arrive, I have been keeping tabs on the woman in charge of watching the security feeds, I wanted to be able to stop her from sounding the alarm when you arrived, but it seems I didn’t need to worry about it.

Your father is with us,‘ I offered as an explanation, ‘what she must be watching is just a repeat of old feeds.  But you know how it is, if she is good at her job she will notice something odd and will try to check the recordings, then we will be in trouble.  What else can you tell me?

All of them, but two guards and the woman in the control room are hiding in a bunker under us.  They have me sitting on a bunch of explosives.  The idea is to stop you before you reach the room I’m in, but if that fails, they are ready to blow us up.

I suppose the bunker is protected against explosions.

I suppose the same, they seem pretty confident they won’t be harmed even if the explosives blow up.  I also found out that they are keeping an eye on this room using a different camera circuit, one that they are sure can’t be hacked, so they can see if you go through the traps and reach this point, they will notice as soon as you reach me.

Don’t worry, your father will be able to deal with that.

When I found the second system I tried to hack it, but it was a very strong encryption that makes it hard to understand, even my father will have trouble understanding the system.

We will deal with that once we reach that point, don’t worry.

There are some other things you may want to know before moving forward.‘  Ethan shared with me the things he had learned during his captivity, and some of that information proved to be very useful.

I started to explain to Kimball what was going on, and I could see he wasn’t happy with the situation.  The explosives and the second set of cameras made things more difficult for us.  But it was nothing we couldn’t deal with.  For the moment what worried me more is how sure our enemies were that we wouldn’t be able to reach the room where Ethan was being held, and the fact that despite Ethan’s assurance that there were two guards patrolling the place, we hadn’t seen anyone yet.

“I think I will have to go back into the fog,” I said, and Uktam moved to where I was.  Despite how weird it felt to depend on someone else to transport me, I knew that it was necessary, besides Kimball was near.

We started moving again, it wasn’t fast, but at least we hadn’t encountered any other threats.  But our good luck didn’t last forever, and eventually we found one of our enemies.  My vision allowed me to know that they would be able to stop him without trouble, but still, I got out of the fog so I could look into his mind.

I didn’t like what I found in his mind, even if we had only seen him, a psychic connection with his partner allowed him to know that we were there, as soon as we had attacked, the other guy had moved back to his body, and he was on his way to warn the other we were there.

“We have problems,” I said.  “They just found out we are here.  I will try to stop the guy who found us out, but we need to move fast.”

“I will call our people and tell them to prepare the transmission in case we need a distraction, hopefully it will help us buy some time.”

I didn’t wait any longer, I threw my mind after the guy that had been alerted to our presence, at the same time, I moved my mind to the one we had captured.  I found the other guy and invaded his mind completely, to render him immobile, but when I got into his mind, I realized he had already reached the control room, where apparently they could communicate to the bunker.  The woman in front of the screen seemed to be in a trance, and I realized that Ethan had moved into her mind to stop her from calling the bunker, but I saw her hand over a button, one that she had managed to push before we could stop her, and that could be either an alarm or something to warn the people we wanted to avoid that we were there.

After dealing with the soldier whose mind I had invaded, I moved to the mind of the woman.  I knew that having two minds inside of hers could cause a lot of damage, but it was the best way to establish communication with Ethan, because he couldn’t get out of her mind and risk letting her take control of her body again.  Besides that, with the way Ethan’s powers worked, I couldn’t go to his other mind, because the one behind was his mutant mind, and that meant that it was toxic for me, so I chose to destroy the woman’s mind instead of hurting mine.

I felt Ethan’s presence immediately, and I could see that he could barely hold the woman back, her mental strength was impressive for a non-telepath, and I knew that staying out of her notice, and then invading her mind when needed, had required a lot of strength.

I’ll take care of this, go back to your body,‘ I told Ethan.

You have to get out of here!‘ Ethan warned, he was worried.  ‘She managed to activate one of the defense mechanisms of the place, right now the hallways, the whole place is being filled with the same gas they used to neutralize my bodyguards and to knock me out and transport me here.  I don’t know exactly what it is, but I know it’s bad news.

“They activated a gas,” I told my group.  “Ethan says is the same one they used against them.”

“The suits have anti-gas masks, we just need to put them on,” Lukas said.

“Ethan’s bodyguards also had the same kind of masks, and its protocol to activate them in case of attack,” Mihaela reminded him, “still they were murdered.  We can’t rule out that the gas can work with skin contact or some other way.”

“What can we do then?”

“We need to get out of here,” Ivan suggested.

“We can’t leave now, we can’t leave Ethan,” I protested.

“We can’t stay here, either, we risk being captured,” Ivan said, looking around nervously.

In a way I knew he was right, but I couldn’t turn around and leave my son behind.  ‘Ethan, we will try to reach the room where you are, do your best to stay calm, and don’t worry about us.

Mom, I can wait, but you need to protect yourselves…‘ I cut our connection.  After having two other minds inside hers, the soldier was out, I knew we wouldn’t have to worry about her, she wasn’t a risk, even if Ethan got out of her mind.

I could feel that my own mind was getting tired, suffering from all the effort I had made, I knew I needed to be careful, because even with the energy I had already used, it would be very easy to go overboard and get a headache.  Using my powers I formed an air bubble around us, two air currents running in opposite directions were forming a barrier around us that should be able to keep the gas away from us.

“The other option is that if they have a method to pump this place full of gas, they must have a system to clear it out,” Kimball said, “otherwise they would be at the same risk of being affected, or they would have to be locked up in their bunker for longer than comfortable.”

“Either alternative, I think our best option is to go to the control room,” I said, doing my best to keep my concentration.

We started to walk, as fast as we could and still be inside my protection bubble.  The trip only took a few minutes, but it felt like an eternity.  We finally arrived to our destination and found the bodies of the two guards whose minds we had taken over.  I knew that it was likely that the damage we had caused in them would be permanent, but I didn’t feel guilty about it.

“It will take a while to identify what all this controls are for,” Kimball said, as he pushed the woman off her seat and took her place in front of the computers.  As he worked on that, the rest of us didn’t have much to do.

“Will it take long?  Every minute we’re here, is a minute more than we are at risk of being discovered, or the gas reaching us,” I complained.

“We are worrying too much about the gas, and there is a chance it won’t even affect us if we wear the masks,” Lukas said.

“That’s a risk we can’t take,” Ivan said.

“Not all of us, but maybe one of us,” Mihaela said.  “What if one of us, Lukas since he suggested it, walks outside the bubble with only his mask to protect him?  That way we can be sure if it will affect us or not.”

“It’s too risky,” I said.

“I think that’s a good idea,” Lukas said at the same time.  “I don’t have a problem trying.”

“You decide,” Kimball said from his place in front of the computers, “this system has many security layers, and even if I am making progress, it will take a while.  The good new is that there is a system to extract the gas, but it won’t be easy to activate it.”

“If you are willing to take the risk,” I agreed, “then we can try.  The only problem is that I can’t take the bubble down or we would be at risk, you will need to get out yourself, and it won’t be easy.”

“Understood,” Lukas said.  Without further ado, he ran hitting the bubble walls.  I watched as the air currents pushed and pulled him from side to side, until he finally broke to the other side, at least he looked good, if a little disoriented.  “It seems everything is fine,” he said, but as soon as he finished talking, he started to sway, and then, he fell, as if his body suddenly lost the ability to hold itself up.

“That doesn’t look well,” Ivan said.

I was still trying to decide what to do, since keeping the bubble required a lot of me, when I saw Kimball throw a hook and used it to pull Lukas back to us.  Once inside I could see he looked unconscious, but also in pain, his whole body seized.

“At least now we know,” Mihale said, “that was not a good idea after all.”

“It seems as if we can isolate different rooms in the building and clear the air by sections.  I will start with this room and then I will look how to open a path to Ethan,” Kimball said after a while.

“How can we be sure it’s working?” Ivan asked.  “We can’t risk ending like Lukas.”

“There is a monitor that will let us know once the air is safe again,” Kimball explained.

We all waited for Kimball to give us the green light, we could hear the fans working on extracting the gas, so at least we knew it was working.  Finally, a few minutes later, Kimball told us it was safe to breathe in there, but after witnessing what happened to Lukas, none of us was eager to try our luck.

“We don’t need to risk all of us,” Ivan said, “let’s do another test.”  Before I could say anything, Ivan teleported outside the bubble.  Unlike Lukas, he really seemed to be fine.  “I think it’s safe,” he said a moment later.

Little by little I let the bubble down, still a little worried, but trusting Kimball and Ivan, who still looked ok.

“I’m opening a path to the room where Ethan is, we need to get there fast, because right now the recorded message is being transmitted from the Palace.  They will be distracted for a few minutes while they watch the video, but once they realize Kaiserin is not going to do as they asked, and that she is going after them, their most likely target will be Ethan.”

“Then we cannot waste more time.  Do you know the way?” Kimball nodded.  “Then we will follow you.”

“I’ll stay here with Lukas, and keep an eye on these monitors,” Mihaela offered.

“Perfect.  Let’s go.”

We started to move forward, the path we were following was very close to the one I was going to use, but Kimball knew exactly what way to go to avoid places with gas or traps.  He had cleaned the most direct route to Ethan, and we were moving fast.  Still, I was keeping a psychic wall around me, just in case something happened.

We arrived at the end of a hallway, and Kimball opened a door, on the other side I could see Ethan.  From the way he was leaning on the chair, I could tell he had been another victim of the gas.  My first instinct had been to run to where he was, but I knew what a bad idea that was.  I used all my self control to keep from moving forward, while I used my mind to explore the room.  Kimball was doing the same in his own way, he was moving around the room, starting at the edge and moving slightly closer to Ethan as he circled it around.  It wasn’t an easy task, since we didn’t know for sure what we were dealing with, and we needed to be careful not to set the bomb off, since it would mean all of our deaths.

“This is much more complicate that it looks like,” Kimball finally said.  “I’m afraid that any movement can activate the bomb, and that would not only obliterate Ethan, it would blow the whole place off.”

“What about the rest of the terrorists?” Ivan asked.

“The bunker where they are hiding must be strong enough to resist the explosion, or they wouldn’t be using it,” I told Ivan, as I watched Kimball and got in contact with his emotions, trying to read by them his real thoughts.  “Do you think you will be able to disarm it?”

“I know I can do it, the first step is to block the wireless receptor, so they can’t activate it from a distance, then I will deal with everything else, but it’s a very difficult task, it will take a lot of precision.”

“Would it help if I go into the fog and keep an eye on the possible futures?  Maybe that way I can warn you if something goes wrong.”

“It may help.  Ivan, stay with us and keep watch over us, the rest of us, keep watch on the doors, even if Kaiserin is taking a look at our futures, we can’t let our guards down, we need to be careful.”

I went into the fog, looking for the right spot to see the different paths clearly, and still give me enough time to be able to warn them in case something went wrong.  As usual, it was hard to keep track of time in the fog, but I trusted Kimball to be moving as fast as it was safely possible.  After what felt like hours, but should have been just a few minutes, I saw in the futures the moment Kimball disarmed the bomb and freed Ethan.

I got out of the fog in time to see Ethan being freed in real time, and I saw how focused Kimball was, and how his body relaxed once the danger was over.  He looked at me, a smile in his lips, before finishing opening the locks holding Ethan to the chair.

“Thanks, you did a great job,” I told Kimball, not knowing how to express how relieved I felt knowing Ethan was safe.

“It was teamwork,” he said.  After getting Ethan out of the chair, he laid him down on the floor, going over him to make sure he didn’t have any injuries.

“You should go with Ethan back to the vehicle, we can deal with the rest of the people responsible for this.”

“I would feel better if we face them together,” Kimball said.

“And I would feel better knowing you are with Ethan, but it’s your choice.”  Kimball thought about it for a moment, and then took Ethan in his arms and signaled Uktam to go with him.

I knew where our enemies were, and with the control room under our command, and the explosives disarmed, I knew that they would be forced to get out to investigate, but if they didn’t, then I would go after them, but one way or another, I would make them pay for what they had done.

 

Chapter 32

The problem with having the message broadcasted to the whole Dominion was that everyone knew what was going on with Ethan, and soon I started to get calls from people who had mostly good intentions, but that were making my efforts to find and rescue him more complicated.  Most I could just ignore or at least have Karl, my assistant, take care of, but when the leaders that had yet to leave Capital City requested a meeting, it was harder to ignore, and I ended up receiving them.

“Thanks for seeing us,” Natasha said.

“Where’s Kimball?” Kgosi asked.  “What are you doing to find Ethan?”

“I’m glad to see you care,” I said, not bothering to hide the sarcasm in my voice.

For a couple of minutes I heard their questions and good wishes, but then a voice started to intrude on the conversation, a mind that seemed to be screaming and that I chose to listen carefully.  I could tell that the person was worried about someone, the image of that person kept showing in his thoughts, it was an image that seemed familiar, and it didn’t take me long to recognize that person, since he was part of an image that would take a long time to disappear from my own mind.

“I hope it all goes well and that you can find your son in good health,” the man whose mind I had been listening said.  I noticed that it was the same president that had started the whole election debacle.

“I’m sure I will find him soon, and when I do, I’ll do my best to get you your advisor back, but I don’t promise he will be in good health.”

“What are you talking about?” he asked nervously, letting me know he knew or suspected something.

“Did you know what he was planning?” I asked, moving menacingly closer to him.  “Were you his accomplice?”

“I think the situation has affected your mind,” he said, but his mind was open and I could see things that only condemned him further.

“You will tell me all you know,” I said as I used my telekinesis form a psychic wall around us, in case someone tried to interfere, and used my telepathy to invade his mind and see what information he had on what was going on.

It didn’t take long to realize that the man, the one who was supposed to represent his country and its people was only a coward that had been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right moment.  He was so worthless that he hadn’t been able to realize he was being used.  The idea of calling for an election wasn’t even his idea, he had let fear blind him to reality, allowing other people to manipulate him and tell him what to do.  He had realized that his advisor has other plans that didn’t include him a while ago, but he had believed he could handle the situation, right until the moment he recognized one of the masked men as his advisor.

Once I got all the information I could out of him, I got out of his mind and let the psychic wall drop.  I hadn’t been careful while invading his mind, and the president fell to the floor in a catatonic state once I was out and my powers were no longer holding him.  I heard the screaming and could feel the fear around me, my actions, which they didn’t understand, had only made them recall their fear of me, and worked on supporting what the man on the ground in front of me had said all along, I was nothing but a savage.

“Guards!” I called, getting the attention of the guards that were working on containing the situation.  “Call William, and let him know that I need a warrant for the president for helping and protecting the terrorists that kidnapped my son.”

“He was working with the kidnappers?” Kgosi asked, his voice equal parts incredulity and anger.

“He knows at least one of them, it’s one of his advisors,” I said as I turned around and went back to my office, while I gave my guards a telepathic command to get those people out of my meeting room, I suspected I would need it for another reason soon enough.

“What have you found?” I asked Fatima when I felt her entering the office behind me, followed by Thalia and a few other of my personal guards.

“I’m afraid nothing good,” she said.

“What you just did in there is going to cause you trouble,” Morgana said, she sounded worried.

“I don’t care, that man had important information that he decided to hide out of fear, well, now I’m going to make sure all his fears become reality.”

“That’s another reason to stay in your good graces,” Razak said, but his joke fell flat.

“Does anyone knows where Kimball is?” I asked, desperate to share with him my findings.  I wasn’t sure how long it had been since the attack on the president, but I knew that my men must have sent a message to him as soon as the attack started, I had been almost expecting him to be in my office when I got there.

“He must be on his way,” Yoweri said, confirming my suspicion.

I let myself drop on my chair and started to go over the information I had found.  Knowing that my enemies had been hiding under the protection of the government of one of the countries under the control of the Dominion had me worried, the fact they had managed to move under the radar and get that kind of resources had me worried.

“What happened?” Kimball asked, entering the room and ignoring everyone but me.

“One of the kidnappers is the advisor of one of the presidents.  I think that he was behind the plan to get me out of the government.  I don’t know if their only goal was to get me out, but I suspect they were planning on ending me once I was out of here.

“I have reason to think they are Merce’s followers,” Fatima said.

“Are you sure?” I asked, my mind going back to the woman that had tried to get rid of me already, and that I had forgotten until that moment.

“Everything points to that,” she answered.

Once the name was mentioned my mind started to go over everything that had happened with her.  There was a thought that was stronger than others.  I dropped back to my chair and concentrated, thinking about the bombs Merce had set in the Palace while trying to get rid of me, no matter who else got hurt.  I extended my senses as far as I could, going through hallways and rooms looking for the same feeling I got from those bombs, and soon my fears got confirmed.

“There are five bombs in the levels under the Palace,” I told them.  “Kimball?  Other than you, who could take care of the bombs?”

“I could go…” he started.

“I want you to stay here,” I interrupted.  “I need you to help me plan Ethan’s rescue mission,” I added, trying to justify my need to keep him close, but the smirk that got over his lips for a second let me know he knew exactly what I was feeling, even if I didn’t say that out loud.

“Besides, those are not the only bombs we have to worry about,” Fatima said, “the attack here is not the only one taking place.  I tried to look at all the possibilities, but I’m pretty sure there are a few I missed.  So far I know that there are going to be several attacks all over the city, all in public places, at different times.  This is all part of a very elaborated plan.”

While Fatima was talking, I noticed that one of the guards went to one of the monitors and turned it on, the screen showing a countdown.

“That’s the time until sundown,” Kimball said, he likely had his own countdown running.

“Do we know where the signal is coming from?” I asked.

“Yes, it was incredibly easy to follow it to the origin, and it matches the information you gave me.”

“Too easy?” I asked.

“That only proves that it is a trap.  But it seems we are not the only ones they are targeting.”

“Why I don’t get is why so much.  If there are bombs under the Palace, someone has to take care of those, by the way, then why take Ethan?  Why give me an ultimatum?  Why don’t use the bombs to blackmail me instead of Ethan?”

“Maybe they want to pin the bombs on you,” Kimball suggested.  “It seems they are as interested in ruining your reputation, than on getting rid of you.”

“This is one of those instances when a good defense is a good offense,” Aziz said from the corner of the room.  I guessed that after my attack on the president he had come here to try and fix my public image, but I wasn’t sure how long he had been listening.  “If you allow me a suggestion, a video explaining what is going on to the general population could allow us to be one step ahead and avoid them lying about you.”

“That’s not a bad idea,” Fatima agreed.

“The problem is that our enemies are watching the transmission waiting for my resignation, and any other kind of announcements I make could put Ethan at risk.”

“It doesn’t need to be a live transmission,” Kimball said, “we could record it and get them to transmit it as we arrive to where they are holding him, that way it could double as a distraction tactic.”

“That’s not a bad idea, it may just work,” I said as I looked at Fatima, trying to get a read on her.  Her face betrayed nothing, but the calmness in her emotions was as good as confirmation.

“Perfect!” Aziz said.  “I’ll start working on something.”

“Kimball, do you have something ready for Ethan’s rescue?”

“I’ve already selected the team that’s going with us.  Are you sure you want to go instead of staying?  You know the trap is set for you.”

“That never stopped me before.”

While Aziz was working on getting everything ready to record the message, Kimball and I started to discuss our plan to rescue Ethan, and then we started to plan on how to find and deactivate all the bombs our enemies had planted in the city.  The planning took longer than I felt comfortable with, but Kimball insisted it was important to cover every contingency with our plan, and have a few backup plans just in case.

Once the meeting was done, Kimball went with a few warriors to work on the bombs under the Palace, he wanted to train them, and Fatima, in how to disarm them so they could take care of the rest of the bombs in the city.  I was worried about Ethan, and only felt worse as the minutes ticked by, we were wasting time and I felt guilty about it.

“Everything is ready,” Aziz called, taking me to a room where he had already prepared everything for the recording.  A few camera drones were floating in the air, while a few other cameras were embedded in the walls.

“How are you?” William asked, he had been waiting in the room, along with Dante, when we stepped in.

“As good as I could be under the circumstance.”

“I heard about your little fight,” Dante said, and I prepared for his reprimand.  “Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter if he is a president, covering up a crime its a felony and he must be punished.”

“Thanks,” I said, surprised by his support.  “And thanks for agreeing to be part of this video.”

“I guess that our presence will help the criminals think you are following their orders,” William said.

“That’s the plan,” Aziz said, with too much enthusiasm considering the situation.

Once we were all in our places, Aziz gave the order to start, and turned the cameras on.  At first I wanted to stay with a neutral expression, but I decided to try to go for pissed off and resigned, mostly to fool my enemies into thinking I was complying.

“Good afternoon,” I said, talking not only to my enemies, but to the people of the Dominion who would be listening, “I’m sure that by now all of you should have seen the video that was broadcasted this morning.  In that video I was asked to give up the position in which I was confirmed by the leaders of the different countries in the Dominion in exchange for my son’s life.  Some of you may remember this is not the first time my son’s life has been threatened by my enemies, and even if I can’t change the past, I can do my best to try and protect him from harm in the future.  All morning my people and I have been working on a way to stop those terrorists, and we were able to identify a few of them.  I also found out that my enemies are not only threatening Ethan, but other innocents, as we found and deactivated a few explosive devices in the public space under the Palace.  Unfortunately, these people have been working under the protection of some of the leaders that came to the election.  Some of them took advantage of the good will of their employees to hide, other are working with their approval, for the moment we are working on identifying all the people involved.  The other targets of these men are the citizens of Capital City, and as some of you should have already noticed, the public spaces have been closed, and that’s because we have reason to believe that the Palace wasn’t the only place they set bombs in, and right now, my people are going around the city looking for other explosives.  At the same time another group with my best warriors is looking for my son and ready to rescue him.  We are working on finding the rest of the people involved and any government involved.”

“Before anything else, let me assure you that no country will be punished for the actions of their leaders,” William said, as he put his hand on my shoulder, a sign of unity and support, “but we won’t let anyone involved to get away with it, we won’t forgive anyone willing to hurt innocent people in order to promote their own agendas.”

“Those terrorists already proved that, no matter what they pretend, they don’t have our people’s best interest in mind.  No matter what they say, they already proved they are despicable,” Dante said, his disapproval was clear in his voice.  He also put his hand on my other shoulder, an action we haven’t agreed on, but that gesture spoke more than words.

“So you have been warned.  Your plans won’t work, I’m sure that before sunset my men would be able to find and detain everyone involved with the kidnapping.  The best you can do right now is surrender.  If you let my son go and present yourselves to the police, then your punishment won’t be as severe.  To avoid danger, I ask the citizens of Capital City to stay in your homes, I’ll let you know as soon as we have secured the city.  Thanks.”

Aziz smiled and gave us two thumbs up to let us know everything had turned up as planned.  “That was perfect,” he said, “and the best part is that I won’t need to edit anything, and that will make it seem more real.”

“I didn’t know you were considering editing the video,” Dante said, and his voice made it clear he didn’t like the idea.

“Not the content,” Aziz made sure to clarify, “Just the timing and things like that, not the content, but I won’t have to now.”

“Do you need help with anything else?” William asked.

“No, I’ll go with Kimball, he must have the team ready, we will go to where Ethan is being held, and will do everything in our power to come back with him safe and sane.”

“Good luck,” Dante said.

“Be careful,” William asked.

“Thanks.”

I trusted they would be able to take care of what was going on in the city, I had to take care of Ethan and the people who had dared to kidnap him.  I arrived at the basement and headed to the garage, the team was ready and Kimball was waiting for me with the vehicle’s door open, but before I could head in his direction, Konstantinos stepped in my way.

“Can I have a minute?”

“I really don’t have time, can it wait?” I asked, trying not to let him see how much his interruption bothered me.

“I have no task assigned,” he said, and it made me angry that he was holding me for something like that, “in this mission my abilities were not required, but I know you will face many challenges, and if my work and abilities have no use, then I want to offer my energy.” That was not what I was expecting.

“Do you understand what you are offering?”

“I know that some of your most amazing feats were done thanks to your ability of taking other people’s energy.  You have already taken a little bit of mine in a couple of occasions, because of that, if that’s all I can do, that’s what I want to do.  I don’t have any missions, so you can take as much energy as you want.”

“I don’t think you understand what that implies or how it could affect you.”

“I have thought a lot about it, so please, let me help you this way if that’s all I can do.  I don’t care if I end up in the hospital for a few days after this.”

I knew that the challenges waiting for me were big, and he was right, more energy would help me a lot and could allow me to even surpass my limits while minimizing the risks.

“I thank you for your sacrifice,” I said, before putting my hands on his chest and establishing a connection that allowed me to see the energy around him.  I started to pull his energy into me, being careful with how much I pulled.  When I cut the connection Konstantinos could barely stay on his feet, but other than that he seemed fine.

“Good luck,” he said.

I smiled, thanking him for his help, while I moved again to the vehicle, from where my people was watching with curiosity, even if I could feel some impatience in them.  As soon as I got inside the vehicle Kimball closed the door and went around the car to get to his seat, as soon as he closed his door, the vehicle started moving.  Kimball looked at me, but didn’t question me, I knew he understood what had happened, and since he wasn’t commenting about it, he approved, knowing that I was better prepared to face the fight.

“I will go into the astral planes,” I told my people.  “I’ll be making sure that we don’t find any surprises in our way, and as soon as we arrive I will try to explore the place, so wait for me to return to my body before you make any movement.”

“Understood,” Kimball said.  “Be careful.”

“Always.”

Moving in the astral planes was much easier, so I had no problem staying with the car, even ahead of it, making sure there were no ambushes or other surprises waiting for us.  The streets were deserted and for a moment I considered the fact that our enemies could notice that something was going on and warn the kidnappers.  But there were no reasons to worry, we arrived at our destination without trouble.  The vehicle stopped a few blocks from the building, and my astral projection was able to explore freely, since there were no other projections around I was able to identify a few of the traps.  I trusted that with Lukas’ powers we would be able to move closer without being seen, and that Kimball would be able to take care of most of the traps, both mechanical and electronic.  Whatever he couldn’t control, I hoped I would be able to neutralize.  When I went back to my body everyone was ready to move.

“I think I will use one of Fatima’s techniques and will go into the fog to keep an eye on the near future.”

“If that’s the case, you will need someone to transport you,” Uktam said, “I know that I’m not your first choice, but it would be my honor to move you.”

“You are right, you are not my first choice, but that way I can stay in the fog longer and don’t worry about how to move, we will advance faster.”

I let Uktam take me in his arms, and we started moving towards the first obstacle.  I knew that inside the building, Ethan was waiting, and I couldn’t wait to be with him and make sure that he was alright.

Chapter 31

By night time the news about the leaders choosing me as the Prime Minister had already spread all around the Dominion.  Not everyone was happy about the news, as expected, but to my great surprise, most people had reacted in a positive way to the news.  In many places, people were celebrating my win, and the different networks were reporting the news in a positive way.  People weren’t just accepting me, they were happy about me being their Prime Minister.

“It feels good to know that people love you and respect you, doesn’t it?” Kimball asked, and once again I had to wonder if he couldn’t read my mind.

“I wasn’t expecting such a positive response from them,” I said.  We had just arrived to my office and were getting ready to start the day, but at the same time I was a little distracted by what had happened the day before.  I had so many projects that I wanted to make reality, projects that I thought I wasn’t going to be able to work with, but that once again were in my hands, and it felt so good.

“You have done a good job and people love you.  It’s the consequence of your actions.  As long as you keep working for them, the people will keep supporting you.  You can feel proud of everything you have achieved so far, and take the results of the elections as a validation of your good work,” I couldn’t help but smile at his words, grateful for having someone like him by my side.

The situation couldn’t be better, but suddenly I was hit by a bad feeling, the sensation so powerful that it was making me physically ill.  I haven’t felt like that in a long time, and for a moment I expected an assassin to jump from the shadows and attack me, or maybe for the building to fall around me, but nothing was happening, which could only mean that the danger wasn’t there yet, but it was rapidly approaching.

“Something very bad is going to happen,” I told Kimball, but as always he could read me like an open book, and he was already moving closer to me to see what was going on with me.

“A vision?” he asked, but I could tell he already knew that wasn’t the case.

“Just a bad feeling, but a strong one.  Something very bad is going to happen, or is already going on.”

Kimball went to work immediately.  I wasn’t sure what he was doing, but I knew he was working on reinforcing the security and covering all the different possibilities.

I wasn’t sure what to do, I could go into the fog, but I didn’t want to be in a vulnerable position in case something happened, the bad feeling was too strong and was distracting me, making it hard to know how to act.  But even if going into the fog was too risky, I still had other options that would allow me to act, while still being aware of my environment, and one of them was astral projection, so I went to my seat and prepared to step into the astral planes.  At first I stayed in the material plane, staying close while I looked for possible threats in the area around me.  I usually asked for sentries to be posted in the astral planes, so once I made sure nothing was going on in the material plane, I moved down to talk to the sentry on the inferior plane, and then moved to do the same with the one in the superior planes.  I went back to my body just a few minutes after I had left it and I found Kimball waiting for me.

“Everything ok?” I asked, the bad feeling as strong as before.

“I tried to get in contact with all our guards to let them know they needed to be extra alert, to let them know there could be danger.”

“And what’s the problem?” I asked, not sure if I wanted to hear the answer.

“I couldn’t get in contact with the warriors that took Ethan to school this morning,” he said, before going silent, I knew there was more he wasn’t saying, and I didn’t want to listen, but he kept going, “the school doesn’t have any records of Ethan arriving this morning.”

“Maybe they’re still on their way,” I said, denying reality.

“He should have been there half an hour ago.  When I talked to my people, they informed me that once they lost communication a new group was sent to look for them, but so far they haven’t found anything.”  I felt sick, Ethan was in danger, again, and I had done nothing to stop it, I haven’t even seen it coming.  I had failed him again.  “Kaiserin, don’t worry, everything is going to be ok, I’m sure we will find him.”

I trusted Kimball, he knew what he was doing, and he had control over our resources and my people, I knew he had already contacted them, still I extended my mind to talk to Fatima, when I didn’t find her, I looked for Thalia.

Thalia?  Are you with Fatima?‘ I asked once the contact was established.

I’m with her,‘ she confirmed, ‘right now she is in the fog trying to reconstruct what happened to Ethan and his guards.  As soon as she gets out I will talk to you and give our report.

Thanks Thalia, keep me updated.

I felt like I needed to do something, but I wasn’t sure what, I couldn’t go to the fog, to look to the possibilities and explore the future Fatima was enough.  It was tempting to loot to the future, but I knew that at the moment it was also a risk, I was too distracted with the bad feeling getting all my attention.

“You need to see this,” Ivan appeared in the middle of the room, he turned one of the monitors on and we found the blurred images of a group of people in the screen.

“… fooled us for too long.  But the image she pretends to sell is just an illusion…” one of the masked men was saying.

“What is this?” I asked, the bad feeling getting worse, if that was even possible, as I watched the screen.

“It’s a broadcasting that started a few minutes ago,” Ivan said, “we think this could be related to Ethan’s disappearance.”

“… she has made us think she is a benign leader, that she worries about us, and she is even willing to sacrifice herself for us.  She even made us think she was willing to leave her position as leader of the Dominion, but then she used her powers to force the leaders to vote for her.”  Something in the way he was talking made me believe he could have been behind the whole election thing.  “But once again we have the chance to show you that that woman is only interested in herself.”

“Have you tried to trace the transmission?” Kimball asked.

“We have people working on that, but you know that Fatima is one of our best tecnopaths and she is already working on Ethan’s possible kidnapping.  We have other people working on that, but so far we haven’t been able to trace it.”

“I think that Fatima will arrive at the same place no matter what route she takes, I think that those people are behind what happened to Ethan.  We need to find them as soon as possible,” and that would be possible even faster with my help, I was positive I could find Ehtan, and as soon as I had a better idea of what we were dealing with, I was going to go to the astral planes or go into the fog to find him.

“… has an option.  She has until sunset to give up her position as Prime Minister and allow us to elect someone else, if she doesn’t,” the image changed and I could see Ethan there, tied up to a chair, “we will be forced to take an innocent’s life.”

“If you can call someone who shares that murder’s blood an innocent,” said another one of the masked men.

“Do you want to say something to your mother?” one of the men asked.

“Yes,” Ethan said, his voice strong and with no trace of fear, “when you find them, show them no merc…” he couldn’t finish his sentence, and I could see his body tense and his jaw locked and I could tell he was in pain and trying to mask it.  His eyes full of hate and he glared at the masked men was very telling, he wasn’t like that.  Something very bad was going on there.

“We will be monitoring the networks, waiting for your official resignation.  If we don’t see it, then young Ethan will die,” after that, the screen went blank for a moment and then started again.

“That’s a repetition of the message, I already watched that part,” Ivan said.  “It seems we were right, they have Ethan.  We will focus all our efforts in finding him as soon as possible.”

“I would tell you to focus all our efforts to find him, but now that I know what’s going on, I think I will be able to find him easily, but something else doesn’t fit, I got the impression they are trying to distract us.  No matter how much they want to underestimate me, and no matter how much I tried to pretend I don’t care about Ethan, they must know that as soon as I get that message I will go looking for them,” the way I was feeling was telling me that I was missing something, that I needed to step back and get a good reading of the situation.

“I think the same.  There’s something that doesn’t feel right about this,” Kimball agreed.  “I think they want to distract us, keep us looking for Ethan while they do something else.  Instead of focusing on Ethan, I want you to increase the security around the Palace.  Close the place up and start a deep sweep of the place.  It wouldn’t be a bad idea to look at the Towers and the school.  Can you find for Ethan?”

“It’s easier to see the past in the fog, the path is already set, the problem with the future is that there are multiple paths and possibilities.  If you give me a few minutes I can go back and see what happened this morning.  Meanwhile, I want you to find Fatima and tell her to look to the future and what these people could be planning, it would be a waste of time if we are both looking at the same thing.”

“It seems like a good idea.  I’ll start working on assembling a group to go looking for Ethan,” Kimball said.  “I trust you will be able to keep the buildings secure.”

“Leave that to me,” Ivan said.  “Anything you need, you know you only need to call.”

“I need to leave for a minute,” Kimball said, “Yoweri, keep Kaiserin safe while she is in the fog.”

“You can trust me,” Yoweri said from the corner where he had been all along, even if I had forgotten for a minute.

Going into the fog was always an interesting experience, time ceased to have meaning, no matter how much I knew that I needed to be fast.  Finding Ethan’s path was easy, his life was entwined with mine.  I could see a few other paths crisscrossing mine and trying to get my attention, but I focussed on Ethan’s, and found Fatima walking that path.

Kaiserin,‘ I could tell she was worried about something, ‘Thalia talked to me and let me know that you wanted me to see forward.

I think that our enemy is planning something big, and I want to know what.

Be careful with what you find, don’t let your emotion get the better of you,‘ she warned before walking forward in the fog.

I started to move, I decided I needed to see everything that had happened so I could have a better idea of what was going on.  I walked to the moment they had been ambushed and watched as my men tried to defend Ethan, but had failed.  I even saw Ethan trying to fight back, but they had used something that had put them out of combat.  I watched as they executed my men, but I couldn’t stop and mourn them, I would give them the farewell they deserved once I made sure Ethan was safe.  I watched as they took Ethan away.

Just as I had expected, they took him to a warehouse at the fringe of the city, since they didn’t have time to take him farther away.  While I moved in his timeline I realized they it was a trap, and that the people that had taken him didn’t care who was hurt, as long as they could hurt me too.  I could see that Ethan was in trouble, I could see they were hurting him, even as he did his best to stay strong.  The last thing I saw was him, still tied to the same chair, apparently unable to move, but I could see something else was going on, his stare too intense.

After that moment in time his path started to branch off into multiple paths, so I knew that at least in the present, he was still safe, all I need to do was get to him, while avoiding all the traps they had set for me.  It wasn’t an easy task, but I had to find a way to reach him.  Once again, Ethan had ended in a difficult situation because of me, and I needed to right that wrong, no matter what I had to do, I would save him.