Epilogue

Kaiserin’s first chapter was published six years ago.  Now, I’m publishing the last one.  It’s been a very long and significant journey to me.  My goal always has been to share Kaiserin with all of you.

When I published that first chapter, I already had the first book finished, and it had been the work of many years.  Even if I had an idea of where I wanted to take the story, I didn’t have the rest of the books figured out yet, and I feel that because of that the rest of the books weren’t as good as the first one, and I will be working on fixing that, taking and adding stuff as needed.  The first book will be published in Amazon by the end of the year (this time I promise I will), and hopefully the others will follow soon, but in this site, Kaiserin’s story has reached its end.

I want to thank all of you that took the time to read this story, and thank to all of you who have shared it with others.

 

20 years later

It had been a while since all our family had been together, but the fight was too important for our family not to be there.  I had just left Kimball and Ethan to get ready, and was on my way to the box area, when Apolo intercepted me.  From all my grandchildren, Apolo had always been the more distant, so the fact that he had been the first to approach me immediately caught my attention, and I stopped to greet him.

“Grandmother, can we talk for a minute?” he asked, formally.

“Of course, can we do it while we walk?  I don’t want to miss a minute of this fight.”

“We all know how it’s going to end, Grandfather has no chance against Ethan.  All this sham is nothing but protocol.”

“It’s true that Kimball is old, especially under imperial expectations,” Apolo was the son of one of the Empire’s Generals.  Greca was the only one to follow the style of most imperial women, and had three kids from three different men, but Apolo was the only one recognized as an Imperial heir, since his siblings were born from Assassins’ warriors, “even I should have already been dead by my people’s standards, but things are different in Mzansi, and despite what you may think, this won’t be easy for Ethan.”

“I thought Grandfather wanted to retire.”

“That’s right, his time has come to an end, for a while actually, but that doesn’t mean he will make it easy for Ethan, he still has his pride,” I could tell Apolo wasn’t convinced, not that it mattered, once the fight started, he would realize that even if Kimball was older, and not as fit as he used to look, he was still a top notch warrior, and Ethan would need all of his strength and tricks to win the battle and claim the position of King of Mzansi.  “But you are not here to talk about your grandfather and uncle, what do you want to ask me about?”

“It’s just that something weird happened to me a few days ago, and I can’t stop thinking about it, and I thought maybe you could help me.”  I knew that whatever it was, it was important to him, so I stopped a few steps from our destination, to give him time to clear his head.  “I dreamed that I died,” he finally said, “but it wasn’t like a normal dream, it was way too real, as if it was really happening, and I can’t get it out of my head.”

There was no way I could have stopped smiling at that.  For a long time I had given up hope on something like that happening.  Malkia was the one with more psychic blood running in her veins among my children, but by joining a hybrid like Antrax, her children had even lost the ability to step into the astral planes, and even if there was a chance that Ethan’s and Hye Ki’s children could inherit the gift, they would be considered Seers of the Dominion, not the Empire.  But Apolo was an Imperial heir, and if he had somehow inherited my powers, then he would have a big advantage over the others.  I couldn’t help it, I embraced Apolo and started laughing.

“I had no idea you would get so excited about me dying,” he said dryly, trying, uselessly, to escape my embrace.

“Don’t be silly, you must know what this means.  It’s your first vision, you are my grandson, the heir of my power,” I could see in his face that he didn’t trust my words.  I knew he always had felt a little excluded from the family.  Malkia and Antrax, as well as Ethan and Hye Ki had strong relationships and had raised their children together, Greca’s children had been raised only by her, and they resented being different from the rest of the family, even if that was normal for most people in the Empire.  I knew that Apolo, by spending most of his life between the Imperial Clan and the Assassins’ Clan, felt even more isolated than his siblings.  In a way, he didn’t feel like part of the family, not like he should.

“I don’t see how this is making you so happy.  Most people, including you, don’t see Seers in a good light.”

“It is a heavy burden,” I had to recognize, “and not something I would usually wish on anyone.  This may sound very selfish, but I want someone with my blood to keep up my work in the Tribunal.  I know how strong you are, and how capable, and as soon as you get rid of that chip on your shoulder, you will be a great judge.  You know that there’s been pressure from the Empire to replace me with Ratu, she is a kind of competent seeress and the Emperor’s sister, but even if we share the same blood, it’s not the same, and I would like for you to take over the position once my time is done, if you want it.”

“Do I have a choice?  You make it sound like a done deal.”

“There’s always a choice.  There are other things that may attract you, of course, you may decide not to get involved in politics at all, or decide you would rather be a Governor or the Emperor, those are extremely powerful positions with more glamour and less responsibilities.  Being part of the Tribunal is a heavy burden, and even if it’s a job I consider greatly satisfying, it’s mostly a behind the scenes kind of work.  Many people don’t realize how many wars we have stopped or how many live we have saved.  You are the only one who can decide what path to take.  No one, nor your mother, nor your father and especially not me, can tell you what to do.  I just want to give you another choice, and ask the gods to make you want to follow my steps, if that’s what’s best for you.”

“Are you sure I’m the person you want in this job?” he sounded incredulous, but my powers allowed me to know he also felt interest and hope inside of him.  I knew that for him it would be a way to feel accepted, really part of the family, in a way he hadn’t felt until then.

“Not right now, but I’m sure in time you will be the right person, you still have a lot of growing up to do, a lot to learn and much to live.  You only have to decide what to do, and then work on getting it.”

12 years later

“Are you ok, mother?” Malkia asked.  She wasn’t the one I was expecting, I was fairly sure that Ethan would be the first one to arrive and question me.

“As well as you can expect from someone who just lost the love of her life,” my eyes went back to the bed, now empty, where just moments before I had found Kimball dead.  In a way, it was something to expect, he was many years older than me, and his life was not easy, even with his powers, there had to be a moment when his body reached its limits.  It’s just that after witnessing his parents and uncles went over the 100 year mark, I had expected him to do the same.  I had always believed my time would run out before his.  He had always felt timeless, and even if it had been mere moments, I already missed him.

“I can’t imagine how hard it must be,” Malkia said, sitting next to me, “he wasn’t my real father, and still, I loved him as if he was.  His death left a hole inside of me, and I’m sure that’s nothing compared to what you must be feeling.”

“Pain is not about who should feel it more, each person feels the loss in their own way and lives their mourning different ways, all of them very valid, and equally important.  Kimball always thought of you as a daughter, and in a way, you were.”

“It’s just that I worry about you, after all those years together, are you ready to live without him?”

“No, I’m not ready, and I’m not sure I will be someday.  But that doesn’t change anything, it’s not the first time I lose someone important to me, nor the first time I face a radical change in my way of life.  Besides, I know I’m not alone, I have you and your siblings, I have my grandchildren and great grandchildren, all three generations to keep me company.”

“But losing Kimball is not easy,” Malkia said, and for the first time I realized the tears trying to escape from her eyes and how hard she was fighting to contain them, “but I wouldn’t be able to stand losing you.”

“Oh, my dear!” I took Malkia into my arms and I felt her tears finally falling.  “I’m not ready to leave just yet.  But I can’t stay forever either.  Sooner or later we will have to tell each other goodbye.”

“I hope we still have a long wait until that moment arrives,” Ethan interrupted.  With his arrival Malkia escaped from my embrace and tried to regain her composure, pretending she wasn’t just falling apart in my arms moments before.  “I was getting everything ready for the funeral, he will be given all the honors he deserves.  It will be a public event, but I also prepared a smaller, more intimate ceremony, only for immediate family.”

“Thanks for taking care of that,” Ethan had grown to be everything I expected of him, and more.  In the time he had been taking charge of Mzansi, he had proved to be a worthy successor to his father, and sooner or later, when he managed make it to the Dominion, he would prove to be my worthy successor.

“It’s the least I could do, mom,” Ethan moved closer and took one of my hands, while putting his other hand on Malkia.  “I know we are all sharing the same pain, we are with our family, it’s not time to pretend or try to be strong, this is a time to show our pain,” Malkia started crying again, and I could see tears falling on Ethan’s face.  I felt another presence enter the room and Greca came to us, taking my free hand.  I could see in her eyes that she had been also crying, and at seeing us, she resumed her crying.

It had been many decades since I had last cried, I had believed I had forgotten how to do it, but then I felt something on my face, and realized that I, just like my children, was crying.  It was a weird feeling, but it felt good in a way.  I wasn’t the only one who would miss Kimball, but his absence was leaving a hole in my heart, he didn’t leave me alone, I had my children, my grandchildren, even a few great grandchildren, and soon there would be even more.  Life would go on, even if at that moment, it felt like my world was ending.

5 years later

When someone becomes a Seer, the first vision they get is that of their death.  I knew exactly how I was going to die since a long time ago, but knowing that didn’t mean you knew when, not exactly.  Many times during my life, I had faced difficult situations, in which I felt my life was threatened, but I had the advantage of knowing that no matter what, I still had time.  But my time was running out.

I had been having the feeling that my time was running out for a few days.  I had taken the time to put everything in order, preparing for what was to come.  Since I had woken up that day, I had realized that my time was reaching its end, I had very little time left.

I went into my room and gathered all I needed.  First, I took the letters out of my desk, I had spent the last few days writing them.  How to say goodbye to the most important people to you?  I couldn’t do it face to face, none of them would understand.  Well, maybe Apolo would, but not the others.  They would try to find a way out, to change my history, but I knew there was no delaying my death.  Not that I wanted to, I was ready, and something I had been waiting for since Kimball had left me.

I put the letters in groups.  Those going to my family were a priority, and had to be delivered that same day, while the others, the ones for the people I didn’t share blood with, but that were important to me, would arrive after the news of my death.

“Did you call, my lady?” my butler asked.

“Yes, I need you to get my plane ready, I want to go to Mzansi as soon as possible.”

“Is there a problem?” he asked, I could tell he was worried and about to call someone else to help.

“No problem, it’s just that I feel like I have to visit my husband’s grave,” Kimball, as the Kings before him, rested in Pretoria.  Ethan was there, and would most likely be the first one to find me.  “Once I leave, I want you to send these letters,” I pointed to the first group, “these must be delivered today, I don’t care when the others are delivered.”

“It will be done as you ask,” he immediately said, “your transportation will be ready in an hour.”

I had only an hour to walk the halls of Aquarium one last time.  Time flies when it’s running out, and it took me longer than an hour to reach the plane, but no one said anything about it.  Some wondered about my lack of luggage, but they knew I had properties in all the cities where my children lived, so no one said anything.

It was already late when we arrived in Pretoria, and I knew I was almost out of time.  I didn’t stop to eat or rest, not of that mattered anyway.  When I arrived at the cementery, I didn’t go straight for Kimball’s grave, first, I took a walk through the place, visiting the tombs of those I knew when they were alive.  In a way, I felt like I was saying goodbye for the last time.

I finally arrived at Kimball’s grave and took a seat on the bench next to it.  I had spent a lot of time there since his death.  Even if I knew that all that remained of him were his bones, and that his essence had already transcended, there was something especial about being there, I felt more connected to him in that place.

Many people feared death, but it was never something I feared.  I knew that people I was leaving behind would miss me and be pained by my death once I was gone, I know there will be tears and mourning, and I like to think that I had touched enough lives for more than one person to miss me, but that won’t be relevant to me, I wouldn’t be there anymore to worry about it.

It’s been a long time since my first visions, so I didn’t remember exactly how it was going to happen.  I still remember the pain, my body shutting down…

Chapter 86

I couldn’t believe how fast the workers had managed to make the necessary changes to prepare Aquarium to host the new Tribunal. When Aquarium had been first created, the idea was to create a place where we could hide from our enemies without fear of being found. The original design had been made to make certain they wouldn’t detect us, but that had to be changed if we wanted to open our doors to everyone that needed us. For months, after the meeting when they had decided to let Aquarium be the host of the Tribunal, two new areas had been added to Aquarium. The original area had remained unchanged, but we had added another, smaller area on top of that, in a space closer to the surface, connected by many elevators. On the surface, we had created something that resembled a small island, with enough space to receive a few planes, and some buildings where they could be put away, and a few security posts. We had basically a small community at the top, a new community in the middle between the surface and the original space, and the original Aquarium still in their place, and all its original glory.

“I can’t believe how fast they finished the work,” I told Kimball.

“Many people were interested in making this fast, and having the original plans and all the resources of the Dominion helped a lot,” he said.

“I like the result.”

“I can imagine. Your power only grows, this place will become a true center or power.”

“It’s more a center of balance,” Sodía said. Melchizedek and Sofia had arrived the previous day to help prepare for the ceremony that would inaugurate the new Tribunal. “From the beginning, we could see that Kaiserin is an agent of balance. That has been, and will keep being her job for the foreseen future.”

“Are you sure this is what you want?” Kimball asked me in a whisper, trying not to let Sofia hear him. Despite all the support he had given to my appointment as head of the tribunal, and had been there for me every step of the way, I could tell he was worried my new responsibilities could be too much for me.

“I’m not sure, but at the same time I know this is something that I have to do. My visions, and my need to make sure that the people I care about is safe, will be much easier to satisfy if I had the force of the Tribunal behind me. Besides, the way you chose the structure for this new organization makes my job very easy. We,” I said, meaning Melchizedek, Sofia and I, “will only handle the high stakes cases, the rest of the people working for us will handle the day to day. Most of the time we will only supervise their work.”

“I still don’t know if that’s because most people believed you deserved some free time, or if they did it because they still don’t fully trust you,” Kimball said.

“I think it’s a little bit of both.”

“Are you happy with the work done here?” Kimball said, looking around. “Because if you are, then I think it’s time to head back and start getting ready for this afternoon’s ceremony.”

“Yes, I am. Time to go back.”

We went back to the original part of Aquarium where my quarters were. They were still the bigger and more luxurious of Aquairum. Kimball had insisted on that from the beginning, despite the limited space. Now that we had started preparing the new space, construction had gone with the understanding that nothing could be bigger than my rooms.

Preparing for the ceremony was easy, still I took my time to distract myself and relax, first in Kimball’s embrace, then by taking a long and relaxing bubble bath. Once I finished my bath, I found a group of assistants waiting to help me get ready with my clothes and makeup. As always, my clothes both reflected my warrior’s side and my new position. Before leaving my room I also took my cape, a gift from Kimball that had helped me through the years. Also a couple of jewelry that had a double function. It wasn’t because I felt threatened, not in my own home, but because that was an important part of me, I couldn’t deny my nature.

When Hoshi had threatened my life, so many years ago, I had thought my life was about to end, I hadn’t realized it was just about to begin. My life had taken many turns. From what had happened when my father had blocked my powers and Caracalla had sent me to hell, to when my friends had found me helped me get my powers and my memories back. From how my thirst for revenge had helped me face my fears and grow in power, to how the fear for my daughter’s life had pushed me to leave everything behind. How my priorities had changed and my loyalty shifted to include the Amazons, and in a certain way, the Rebel Clans. Everything I knew and everything I believed had changed when I had decided to leave everything behind me to go with Kimball, it was a decision that had come at a great cost and had caused me a lot of pain, but that I had never regretted. The sacrifices I made for my children, my people, and even for those I didn’t know, everything I have lived had taken me to that moment. And now my life was about to change for the last time.

I knew that I was walking into what would be the last stage in my life. This wouldn’t stop the fighting, but it would never be as bad as the one I had already fought. The world would keep being just as chaotic, but my life wouldn’t have the same risks. Things would get better, and I would have the satisfaction of knowing that I had played an important role in those changes.

Despite the fact that Aquarium had enough space to hold a gathering with all the leaders of the different nations, most of them would only be present virtually. When I walked into the room we had selected to hold the meetings of the Tribunal, there were just a few people there. My family, of course, was already there, a few of my protegees and a few allies I had obtained during my life.

I went up the stairs and took my place next to Melchizedek and Sofia, and felt like the pieces were finally falling into place. It felt good to have them with me, despite the differences we had had during the years, there were a lot keeping us together, not only the power we shared and the battles we had fought together, but our desire to make things right, to make sure our people was safe and that everyone could have the chance to move forward.

The ceremony started. It wasn’t the first time I had been part of one like that. I had been named Empress, taken control over Mzansi, and then the Dominion, and then I had been voted to represent the Dominion a couple of times, being recognized as one of the representatives of the Tribunal shouldn’t have been different, but it was, because I knew, that that time, was the last time. It would be the last position I would take before my death.

“I promise to use my powers to uncover the truth, and use it to find the best solution to any conflict presented before this Tribunal,” Sofia started her speech. “I won’t allow lies or confusion to cloud our people’s mind while they are working on solving the issues brought to us. I will always do my best to be just and even in my decisions.”

“I promise to use my powers to help people calm down and have productive discussions, to help people find a solution where everyone involved can feel satisfied,” Melchizedek said. “I won’t let emotions cloud people’s judgement, I will always look for peaceful solutions, and when that’s not possible, I will favor those that needed it the most, and those who really deserved it.”

“I promise to use my powers to search for the greater good, no matter who is involved in the conflict, I will always look for the solution that’s best for everyone,” I said when my turn arrived, sending a clear message that I wouldn’t let my personal interests to affect my judgement, as many feared I would do.  “I swear that I will make the tough decisions, no matter the consequences, I won’t let the pressure from the many different groups to affect my decision making.  I will always look for the well being of the people in this world.”

Once the formalities ended and the ceremony was done, we moved to the room next to us, where the feast was going to take place.  It wasn’t the first time I had one of those either, and as always I felt full of energy and satisfaction.  My powers were letting me know what the people around me was feeling, and I knew, that at least the people in attendance, was happy for me and my new position.  I would feel their respect, their love and admiration, and that made me feel complete, and happy.

Looking around me, to my family and my allies, seeing them happy and secure, I realized that there wasn’t anything else I could ask for.  Everything I could wish for, I had already gotten.

Chapter 85

The sun was starting to hide behind the horizon.  It had been hours since the meeting began, and they were still there talking.  They haven’t been outside, not even to eat, they had asked for food to be delivered to them.  After a few hours my family and I had gone to our room and spent some time just talking.  They all had worked hard to avoid any reference to the meeting, and I knew that my children were trying to avoid any reminder or what had happened to stop me from feeling bad.

Even if I was grateful for what they were trying to do, I couldn’t help but feel worse knowing it was so obvious how affected I had been by the situation.  Even if there was no talk about the meeting, I knew they were keeping tabs on it, their mood changes and hidden silences made me suspect they were keeping communication with Kimball, or maybe even Antrax to stay up to date with what they were discussing at the meeting.

In the afternoon we decided to leave the room and went to other common area, one on the lower floor, and sat down around one of the salt water pools.  While we watched the sunset, Ethan had started a game, one we used to play when he was younger.  Using some of the pool’s water, we started to create different shapes, while the others tried to copy it, once the copy was perfect, the first one to get the perfect copy then changed the shape and waited for the other to copy it.  As soon as they had understood the game dynamics, Malkia and Greca had joined us.  Once the game started to get too repetitive, we started to create basic weapons and started fighting with them.

Fighting with water weapons wasn’t easy, so one of the first things I did was to transform them into ice.  Freezing salty water was harder than freezing simple water, but if you managed to separate the salt from the water it became easier.  Since I knew the direction the game was taking, since I had played it many times before, I had started the process of separating the salt with each transformation I did, and when the time arrived, it was easy to freeze the water around a center of salt.  Ethan knew about the freezing the water trick, but I saw the moment he realized it wasn’t going to be as easy as usual, he hadn’t taken into account the fact that we were using sea water, and I could see him having trouble freezing it.  It was easy to destroy their first weapons, since they were not fully frozen, and I watched as they struggled to copy my trick, not knowing exactly what I had done.

I was so focused on the game that I didn’t notice the figure stalking me until he took out of my seat and into his arms, luckily I noticed it was Kimball before I attacked, as I was prepared to do.  Kimball sat in my place and then set me on top of him.  It wasn’t a proper position, but that didn’t matter, I was in Kimball’s arms, and after a long, difficult day, it felt really nice.

“How did it go?  Did you manage to reach an agreement?”

“It was a very productive day, even if we didn’t get too far, that people is terrible, and when dealing with so many points of view and different ideas, it’s very complicated to agree on something, but there was a very important subject we were discussing, and we are already working on the fine details,” Kimball answered.  “You will need to come with me tomorrow, by the way, there is something we need to discuss that needs your presence, no matter what Stone wants.”

“I’m not sure if I want to be part of the meetings after I was kicked out like that.”

“Those against you are a minority, most people support you and are on your side.”

“Melchizedek asked me to get out of that place.  If it was just Stone, I’m sure I wouldn’t have any trouble fighting for my rights, but when he asked me to leave…”

“He had his reasons, as you always say.  Seers, in case you haven’t noticed, always have their secret plans, and have reasons for everything they do.  Some of the topics we discussed today, and one of the reasons we want you there tomorrow, would have been more difficult to talk about if you had been there.”

“And what was discussed that would have been affected by my presence?” Kimball smiled at me, and for a moment I wasn’t sure if the was mocking me, or just didn’t want to answer me.

“We aren’t supposed to repeat any of what happened today, they don’t want any of our plans being discussed until we have a definitive agreement.  However, I can tell you that what we want to discuss has to do with your future, and with Aquarium.”

“I guess they want Aquarium as neutral ground,” that was one of the possibilities I had seen in my visions.  There were other things, but most of the future was foggy, and I couldn’t really see it.

“Something like that.  We will talk more about it tomorrow.”

I knew that I could have pressured Kimball into giving me more information, or maybe even someone else.  It would have been so easy to get into someone’s mind and see what had happened.  I could even go into the fog and walk the set paths, the ones that showed what had already happened.  There were many things that could be done, but I decided to wait.

The next day I walked with Kimball back to the meeting room, but he asked me to wait outside.  I was starting to get angry again, but just a few minutes later William arrived and asked me to follow him.  There were three new seats in the middle of the room, and I was guided to the one in the center, but I didn’t take it, I wasn’t going to sit down so they could look down on me, I wanted to be able to look them all eye to eye.

“Thank you for joining us today,” President Yu greeted me, “especially after what happened yesterday.  I would like to start by saying you don’t have to agree to anything we are going to discuss today, you are free to refuse any of our requests if you don’t feel comfortable with any of it.”

“Thank you, President.  You should already know that I never do anything I don’t want to do,” I knew my words could be considered hostile, but I wasn’t worried about that.

“We are looking for a place where we can set our International Tribunal.  A neutral place where everyone can feel safe.  During our discussions yesterday, the possibility of using Aquarium was mentioned,” Yu said.

“For many of us, there isn’t a safer place than Aquarium.  Many of us lived there as refugees, and we remember it with affection.  For those that are not part of the Dominion, it is a safe place because it’s under your protection, and for all of us, that’s very important,” William said.

“Aquarium has always been neutral ground, first it was a refuge for all of those from Mzansi who were in danger during the war with the Dominion, then for all of those in danger in the Dominion, once we became part of them.  Right now it’s a place that’s it’s open to every investigator and developer who want a safe place to work.  Even if Aquarium is part of Mzansi, since we were the main investors in the project, as I explained to the other leaders yesterday, Aquarium has always been yours, it was my gift to you, and therefore, I can’t make any decisions over it.  Because of that, the only one with the authority to decide if Aquarium can host the Tribunal, it’s you.”

“As you say, Aquarium was a gift to me, but I can’t pretend it’s only mine, many people now call it their home.  Aquarium’s doors have always been open to those in need, and that’s something that won’t change any time soon.  Keeping it as neutral territory is a given, and if you want to use it for the Tribunal, I have no problem with that.”

“Thank you, Kaiserin,” President Yu told me.  “If you are so kind as to take a seat, we have other topics to discuss.”

I decided to sit down, feeling more comfortable with the situation.  Besides, I didn’t see Melchizede, but Malkia sitting with the people from the Light, and I was curious to know what was going on with that.  William walked out of the room again, and came back a moment later, followed by Sofia and Melchizedek, who took the seats to either side of me.

“We spent a lot of time trying to decide what to do.  One of the decisions we arrived at, was to create a new organization that helps us keep the peace and balance between all of us.  We decided to create a Tribunal, an organization we can go to when we have disagreements, one we can respect enough to listen to.  But we also need it to interfere when they think someone is about to make a mistake that can affect others,” William started to explain.

“We all agreed that the people in charge of this new organization have to be people we can all respect, people with integrity and the ability to make decisions that are best for everyone.  After thinking about it, we realized we already have those people with us, and that they have been doing a great work for a while, and that it was time to recognize their hard work and give them the position they deserve,” Luzian said.

“For your constant work and the sacrifices you have done in the name of your people, for your powers and your ability to see into the future and make the best decisions you can based on that, the people of the Light would be honored, father, if you will do us the favor of representing us in the new Tribunal.”

Melchizedek got out of his seat, with a smile on his lips.  He didn’t look at me or Sofia, but I could feel his attention on us.  “It would be my honor to keep working for the good of every person in the world as the representative of the Light, and I promise I will keep using my powers to look for the best solutions for my people, and all the people in the world.”

“Thanks, father,” Mistral said.

“I know you have said in the past that you no longer wish to take on the responsibility of a work like this,” William started, “truth is, you have already given your life to the service of our people, even if you think you let us down with what happened during my sister’s rule, I know you did your best, and eventually, you helped the Dominion to go back to what it used to be.  Because of that, I ask you to keep using your powers for the good of our people and that you accept to represent the Dominion in this new Tribunal.”

“I have always done my best, but I have let you all down in the past.  I made mistakes, I was weak, but I have learned from those mistakes and I’m willing to work in this new phase.  My time working in the Dominion ended a long time ago, but this is different, and I’m ready to give it my best, and to show you, and show myself, that I can do better, and that I can still be useful.”

“Thank you mother,” William said with a smile, and then his eyes locked with mine.

I didn’t need my powers to know what was coming next.

“When they first introduced this idea, they said they needed people capable of respecting and understanding the different points of view of all the people in this new experiment.  Immediately one person came to mind,” Molpadia said, “in our divided and war filled world, only you were capable of teaching us how to see the other people’s point of view, you taught us that people can see the same situation through different glasses, and that that doesn’t mean one of them is wrong, but it also doesn’t mean they are right.  You taught us to find the middle point.”

“You have already proven you are capable of holding a position like this, because you have done it before.  You understand how the Free Clans work, and the Allied Clans, and you have taught us how to put our differences aside and work together.  You also understand the people of the Light and the Dominion.  You know people, you understand them, and you know where to draw the line and what lines to cross when needed,” Spike added.

“Because of all that, we think that the right person to represent all the clans, it’s you, Kaiserin,” Pompeyo said, formally.  “We already asked you to open the doors of your home, and now we are asking for your time and work.  Aunt, right now I’m asking you to represent our people in this new tribunal.”

I glanced at Kimball, who had a satisfied smirk on his face.  William and Mistral were looking at me eagerly.  I had the impression that Melchizedek already knew this was going to happen the previous day, and that was why he asked me to step outside, he wanted to catch me by surprise, he didn’t want to give me time to think about it.  During all our history together, Melchizedek had always been there to support me, but it also wouldn’t be the first time he went full Seer on me and hidden information from me.  I couldn’t be mad at him, but I wasn’t happy about the trick he had played on me.

“During all my life I have used my powers to help others, I don’t see why I would have to stop now.  If there is a way I can help others have a better life, then that’s what I will do.  I accept to represent the Clans in this new tribunal.”

I could feel that some of them had been unsure as to what I would respond, and they were more calm after my agreement.  I was surprised by the acceptance I could hear and feel from the people around me, I didn’t expect so many people to support me, especially not after being kicked out of the place just the previous day, but at the same time I understood those were different circumstances, and that they seemed more comfortable choosing me for a new position that to recognize me as part of the governments I had left behind me.

To represent my own people, make me feel connected to my roots.  I knew it wouldn’t be an easy task, but at the same time it felt right.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop worrying about people, and that if my powers needed me, I would do my best to help people, which would be so much easier from my new position.

There wasn’t much time to think after accepting my new position, because they immediately went to explain what had happened the previous day and what was the part they wanted us to play, while we started to give our own suggestions about it.  Little by little the new world was taking shape, and my role in it was starting to come together.

We still had a long way to go, but the foundations were set.  And even better, I wouldn’t be alone.  Melchizedek was a strong presence, but at the same time he was the pillar that could hold you up and would be always be there to support you.  Sofia was a woman that had lived a long life and was full of experiences, that made her a fountain of wisdom.  Despite the three of us being high level Seers, we didn’t always share the same ideas, and that was something that was going to be useful in our new job.  I knew they would temper my fighting instincts, and I would give them the strength and push to act when needed.

Ch 84-b

The first vote was to decide if they should let the observers stay, and it was a long and complicated process, setting the bar for how complicated the rest of the negotiations were going to be. Some of the leaders were content to wait and listen as the others were engaged in heated arguments. Some were worried people would start to migrate. Not only the people from the Dominion worried that people from the clans or the Light would start moving to the Dominion, but the clans were worried that people from the Dominion would go to their territories and try to change the way they thought or acted, and people from the Light recognized how vulnerable they were and worried that some people would decide to take advantage.

At the end it all boiled down to lack of trust. The three powers barely knew each other and there wasn’t enough trust between them. While some were eager to start relationships, more than one was ready to find a way to take advantage of the others while others worried about being the ones being taken advantage of.

“You have a clear advantage over us,” Molpadia was saying. “While we lost most of our history before the Great War, you still remember. When you say you want things to go back to what they used to be, it’s hard for us to understand what you mean, since we don’t share the same stories, we can’t know for sure that things were better before.”

“Besides, if it was so perfect before, how come we ended up fighting the Great War? It’s clear something went wrong,” Spike added. “Instead of trying to get things to be like they used to be, why don’t see into the future? Start new?”

“We look into the past to learn from it so we can correct our mistakes,” Melchizedek said. “It’s true we can’t do things the same way, but we can take what happened in the past and improve on it.”

“When we created the Dominion it was thinking of that,” William said. “After World War I, the nations created an institution that was supposed to stop another war, but just a few years later the World War II started. The countries learned from their mistake and created the United Nations, among other institutions created to stop that kind of war from happening again. Many people think that their lack of a real army was one of the reasons they were unable to stop the war, so when we created the Dominion we gave it their own army, but we all know what happened with my sister. I guess even you have heard the story?” William asked the clans and the Light.

“Both my aunt and my sister told me a little about what happened to the Dominion, what I can’t understand is, if your government already failed you once, why go back to the same method? Why tempt fate?” Pompeyo asked.

“Queen Sofia tried to warn us what was going to happen, and we have set some rules to avoid it from happening again. We also have to admit that what we are doing here is another way in which we will try to stop it from happening again. These alliances that we are building are a way for us to keep ourselves in check and stop our government from losing control again,” Yu explained.

“What we have been thinking about, is building some kind of international tribunal, an institution capable of stepping in when there’s trouble, to act even if there is no one asking for help yet,” Melchizedek said. “But we need a law, a set of rules in which we all agree that sets the tone and defines what can be done and what not. Which crimes we can’t let go and which are to be managed by each country. We need to work with the details, and I’m sure we won’t all agree about them, but we will need the majority to decide what path to follow.”

“What have you seen?” Luzian asked, she was the only one representing the Light’s clergy. “I know you have an idea of what to do. The Seers have always been a source of wisdom and comfort for the rest of us.”

“It’s not my place to say it,” Melchizedek answered.

“We need people capable of understanding the different points of view of the people in this new institution,” Luzian said, “someones who not only understands, but respect the different points of view and is able to reach the best solution for everyone. We need someone capable of understanding the consequences of their decisions, and capable of acting accordingly.”

“I think there is a person that is perfect for the position, if you are willing to consider her,” Spike said. “Her actions while she was with us prove that she is capable of doing all of that and more.”

“When Kaiseirn arrived to the Amazon’s territory, she was looking for sanctuary, but she ended up being our salvation. She not only helped us with the war we were fighting, but her actions helped prevent a future war with the Empire, and what could have ended killing thousand of people.”

“Besides her actions and teachings were the foundations in which we build the alliance that now unite all the Free Clans,” Spike said.

“You all give that woman too much credit,” Felinae interrupted. “You are so blinded by her that you don’t realize she is using you all. I know her, and I was a victim of her ambition. She not only destroyed my people, but she captured me and then gave me to our enemies as payment for an alliance that would secure her position in her clan. You all are falling into her game without realizing that all she is doing is looking after herself.”

“As Seers, our job is mostly difficult. For Kaiserin, it wasn’t easy to give you to Rex. While she was visiting me, I had a vision of you, next to Rex, and I shared that vision with her, we both knew it was important for the future for you two to be together. Your choices were to die with your clan, whose ending was inevitable, or to join a new clan. One path led to certain death, the other at least gave you a chance at a future,” Melchizedek explained.

“I don’t care about your stories. Neither you, nor Kaiserin can understand what I suffered at Rex’s hands, she just didn’t care what happened to me. She had no idea what giving me to him would do to me. They just used me to get more power and to destroy my own clan.”

“You are wrong about that, if someone knows what you had to go through, that’s Kaiserin. You may be just a couple of years younger, but by the time she gave you to the Predators, she had already experienced more than most people, she had already gone through harder tests than you faced. You think she didn’t care about you? It wasn’t easy for her to leave you in Rex’s hands, and she even threatened to take you back if Rex kept mistreating you,” Melchizedek replied.

“My wife is a complicated woman. She has never claimed to be a selfless person, she herself recognized she has flaws. What is true is that she always tries to go for the best scenario, one in which everyone wins, but that doesn’t mean she won’t be willing to sacrifice others to achieve her goals. When she left the Empire and went looking for heaven with the Amazons, she did it for selfish reasons, but once she was there and knew how the situation was, she decided to stay and fight in a war that wasn’t hers, and she saved the Amazons. She also did it for the Empire and what could have happened if the Amazons had lost. Still, after all that, she could have just walked away, but she stayed longer to make sure she could set the seeds of what it’s the Free Clans Alliance.”

“We are aware and recognize all that Kaiserin did for us,” Spike cut in, “I know that without her help I would be dead, and I also know that without her teachings, our people would probably be dead, or at least in a situation that is much more unstable and dangerous than our current one.”

“Kaiserin is always worried about people’s wellbeing, and she takes as hers the people she lives with. Just as she took the Amazon’s fight as her own when she was living with them, once she arrived at Mzansi she took our fight as hers. It was a hard and long journey, and once we realized we couldn’t save Mzansi from becoming part of the Dominion, she focused her efforts on turning the Dominion to what it used to be. Maybe not everyone liked her methods, but Kaiserin did her best trying to minimize the damage and maximize the benefits.”

“From what I have learned from my mother, knowing the future doesn’t mean you have control over it. She saw the Dominion’s crisis coming, and did her very best to prevent what was going to happen, but at the end she was powerless to stop it. For years she had to stay at my sister’s side and witness all the crimes she committed. But she knew that sooner or later Kaiserin would arrive, and that together they would be able to save our people from the nightmare we were living. From what we have seen, being a Seer doesn’t make you infallible, but it helps them search for the best way of doing things,” William said.

“I think it’s clear what we must do,” Luzian said. “The Seers have been carrying the difficult task of guiding us for years. Even if we don’t always understand their actions, the results they have given us are clear. The Goddess herself gave us a powerful weapon that we should not let go to waste: the power of the Seers. We have one from the Light, one from the Darkness and one from the Domain. I think they are the right people to guide this tribunal or whatever institution we want to set in place.”

“I guess that when you said we have one from each of the powers you meant Melchizedek, Kaiserin and Sofia. But there is a problem with that,” Stone said, “first of all, Melchizedek is one of the leaders of the Light, so he can’t take on another position of power. Kaiserin is part of the Dominion, so to pretend she can represent the Darkness, or the clans, however you want to call them, is not accurate, and since Queen Sofia has already rejected other positions of power, there is nothing to assure us that she will agree to occupy this new position.  We also know that Kaiserin has ties to many groups, in the clans and the Dominion, so we can’t guarantee she will be impartial on this.

“Those are valid points,” William said, “but Luzian’s proposal makes sense.  Maybe you haven’t noticed, because you don’t have as much practice dealing with Seers, as some of us do, but from Melchizedek’s words, I think this is exactly what he was thinking of, isn’t it?”

“There are certain points in time that are hard to see, but between what I have been able to glimpse, the chance of a scenario like the one you described is very high.  I would be willing to quit my current position to be part of this new institution you propose.  I can’t speak for Sofia or Kaiserin, but if this is the direction the Goddess wants us to take, I’m sure both of them will accept.”

More voices joined the discussion.  While others thought the proposal was the perfect and the solution to their problems, others insisted that it was crazy to trust their future on those people.

The conversations started to change, they started to discuss the possible structure of this new organization and what locks could be put into place to stop them from abusing their power.  How could they trust the Seers were telling the truth?  If they were truly looking at some distant future, how could they believe that what they were saying was the truth and that their decisions were truly for the greater good?  So much power in few hands was dangerous, and they all agreed that they needed strict and specific rules created especially from stop possible abuses of power.  They thought that it would be better to have more people, not only the three Seers as Luzian had proposed, they would put other people there, representing all the powers in a proportional matter so they could act as helpers and supervisors of the Seers.

Kimball knew it was a good idea and that Kaiserin was going to accept.  No matter how much she insisted she wanted a quiet life, he knew that she couldn’t stop from getting involved if she had a vision telling her that someone needed her help.  The new position would give her the tools she needed to act in case she saw something in her visions, but also to have a more quiet and relaxed life.

At the end of the day, there were still a lot of things to discuss, but at least they had the idea to build their future around.  They still had to talk to Kaiserin and Sofia, and wait for Melchizedek to define his situation, but the future was getting closer, and the end of the road was in sight.

Chapter 84

The sound of hundreds of voices echoed in the room.  The Dominion had a more extensive territory, but between the clans and the groups of the Light, the representatives of the Dominion were outnumbered.  I knew that was an unbalance that had to be included in the discussions, but for the moment it wasn’t the most pressing matter to discuss.

The people from the cruise had prepared a room and had divided it into three sections.  In the front of each section the three representatives of each power were seated, while behind them the ones representing each nation or group, the ones that would be the voices of their people were sitting.  Behind them was another section where a few more people, myself included, were waiting as observers, for the meeting to start.

“Silence, please!” Yu called to order.  “Please, we need silence to start this meeting.  You all have your universal translators?  Because of the number of languages that we all have, it will be better for everyone of you to activate them to avoid misunderstandings.”

“The translators were given to each person walking into the room, I trust everyone has one,” William said.  “If no one has anything to add or do before this, then I call for this meeting to start.”

“I think this reunion is very important, we are about to make history in this room.  Nothing will be the same once we leave this place.  Because of that, I believe that we need to take this seriously, and make sure we act with total confidence and freedom,” Stone said.

“I agree completely,” Melchizedek said, his eyes turning to me.

“I believe there shouldn’t be any outside interference during this process.  We can’t risk the results of this meeting to be affected by anyone.”

“I think we all agree on that,” William replied, “what’s your point?  Where are you going with this?”

“I think we shouldn’t allow Kaiserin to be here during the meeting,” was Stone’s answer.  “We all know how strong she is and the influence she has over many of the people here.  From the beginning I rejected the idea of having observers during the meeting, but it’s her presence in particular that I think shouldn’t be tolerated.  We can’t ignore the risk she represents, she could take this chance to take over the world.”

Everyone around me started talking at the same time, the volume was rising, but still a few voices could be heard over others.

“That’s stupid.”

“I agree.”

“How dare you!”

“Get her out of here!”

“Silence!” William finally said.  “We won’t get anywhere by talking all at the same time.  I think that we should take turns talking, we need to respect everyone’s right to speak and don’t interrupt each other, otherwise we will never reach an agreement.”

“If you allow me, King William, I would like to speak first,” one of the representatives from the Dominion said.  “I don’t see the point of denying Kaiserin to be here.  It’s absurd to think she will use this meeting to take control.  We are talking about a woman that had all the control of the Dominion, and let it go.  Not just that, she freed us from a very difficult situation and gave us back our old power.  If she wanted, she could have seized control of the Dominion, and if I understand correctly, she could have fought her way to the top of the Dark Empire.  With that kind of power, taking over the rest of the world would have been easy.  Why set us free, give us the weapons we needed and then walk away from power just to take it back by force?”

“We all know that Stone is after reelection, and we also know that a few very vocal leaders still resent the power that Kaiserin has.  Stone is trying to use that resentment to secure her reelection, not realizing that the people that supports and respects Kaiserin is the majority, even if we are not as vocal as the others,” Natasha said, speaking out of turn and not minding it at all.

“This is something that we can solve easily,” another of the leaders, one that I recognized as one of Jeong’s contacts said, “we simply need to vote on it, and I’m pretty sure most of us will agree to let her stay.”

“I think we are giving her too much credit,” another voice said, “a lot of you keep thinking that she still has our best interests on mind, but we can’t forget that her family is part of the Empire and that her loyalty could be divided.”

“That’s something we worried about at the beginning,” Pompeyo said, “but that changed as time went by.  I realized she will never put the Empire over the Dominion, but is also true that she won’t benefit the Dominion at the expense of the Empire.  Anyway, I think we are blowing this out of proportion, she is here only as an observer, after all, she won’t even be part of any discussion.”

“That’s a good observation, as an observer, she doesn’t exactly have any role.  But we need to think that if we are going to exclude Kaiserin from the meeting, we will need to get rid of all observers, that’s only fair,” Yu said.  “Anyway, I don’t see why we need to lose our time discussing something so superficial when we have important matters to attend.  I think we should take this opportunity to explore the voting method we are going to use, and propose that the first matter to put on vote to be: should observers stay or go?”

“If I’m allowed to give my opinion,” Melchizedek cut in, “I think it’s very noble what you are trying to do, but if a sole person’s presence can cause so much trouble, wouldn’t be easier just to ask her to leave?”  I had been feeling pretty good with the show of support people was giving me, but Melchizedek’s words made me feel betrayed.  I never expected him to treat me like that.  “As an observer, she won’t be part of our discussions, and because of that her presence it’s not necessary.  She will be able to access all the information about the meeting later, I’m sure more than one person would be willing to share everything with her.  She won’t be missing anything.”

“I think the same,” Stone said, “she is not needed here, and the risk of her taking over and affecting our minds is less if she is not here.  Despite the blind faith some of you seem to have, I’m sure many people will feel better if she is away.”

I realized that I didn’t have any choice but to leave the place, it looked like my presence was only going to cause trouble for everyone, but that didn’t mean I was happy about it.

“Melchizedek is right, I will find out what happens in this room one way or the other.  You don’t need me here because I won’t be part of the conversation.  But in the same way, nothing that happens here is going to chance just because I’m in the room.  What are you so afraid of, Stone?  Why do you insist on sending me away?  You know very well that if I wanted to take control, there’s nothing you could do about it.  My power goes beyond what you could imagine, and the fact that I’m not using it should be proof enough of my good will.  But if what you want is to deny me the chance of being part of something I have been working my whole life to accomplish, then I will grant you that wish.”

I heard some voices calling my name, at the same time someone was calling for order in the room.  Some of the other observers left the room after me.  I wasn’t sure if they were acting in solidarity or were leaving before someone had the chance to ask them to leave.  I started to walk with no real destination in mind until I found myself in one of the cruise’s terraces, watching the ships floating around the cruise.  Malkia and Ethan moved to stand on both sides of me, watching the horizon with me, showing me their support.  Greca hadn’t been in the room with us, but I was sure that if she had, she would have been there with us.

“Couldn’t you see what was going to happen?” Alukah asked, making fun of me.  “Aren’t you supposed to be a seeress?  You could have saved yourself the humiliation.”

“It doesn’t work like that,” Ratu answered for me, “besides, so many seers in the place make everything around the meeting hard to see.”

“We are at a crossroad, in a hard time to see, with so many seers involved, it becomes more difficult to see something already hard to see.”

“Then you can’t see what’s going to happen to my sister?” Alukah asked.

“Your sister has many paths to choose from, so nothing is decided yet.  A lot depends on what happens on today’s meeting.  The most probable path is one when all come to an agreement that takes us into a new era of peace and prosperity.  But that peace and prosperity can take many faces, and I’m not sure which one it’s going to take.  There are some spots I can’t see yet.  So I will have to wait, just like everyone else.”

“Don’t worry,” Ratu told her, “everything will be fine.  You know my brother will support you in all you need.”

More people started gathering in the place, and Greca’s arrival confirmed my suspicion that her siblings thought I needed the support.  In truth, I was feeling betrayed, and I really wanted to be there.  History was being written right at that moment and I deserved to be there, not outside after getting kicked out of there.  I needed to accept that Mlechizedek hadn’t been acting in bad faith by trying to stop a fight, but I still expected more from him.  He had always been my support, an unconditional friend.

The silence around me was heavy, but at the same time it wrapped me in a secure feeling.  Those people were there for me.  I could feel it.  I would have their support while I waited for the meeting to end.

Chapter 83

It was quite impressive to see all the ships getting closer to the cruise, not to mention the constant influx of helicopters landing on it.  Almost every coastal country in the Dominion had arrived by ship, and some of the maritime clans had accepted to carry their neighbors without access to transport.  While the rest of the Dominion countries had arranged for their own transportation, like the helicopters, many of the clans had accepted my help to transport their people.  Everyone in the Light were traveling with my people, since no one there had the technology to make the trip to our meeting place.

The cruise we were using had room for thousand of people, enough to host all the leaders and their people, but some countries and some of the clans preferred to remain in their own vessels and only travel to the cruise for the meeting and activities that were planned.

“The fire power of those ships is considerable,” Yu said from next to me.  “And I’m only talking about those that belong to the Dominion, I had no idea how much damage the ships from the clans can do, but I’m sure it would be considerable.”

“That’s correct, the damage they could inflict would be significant, enough to sink this cruise, even with the reinforcement it has.  But you don’t have to worry, I really doubt any of them would risk an attack with so many other vessels ready to answer to any attack.”

“I hope you’re right, the amount of people coming to this is quite large, and I can’t even imagine what would happen if a fight starts here.”

“Several fights will start, all we can hope for is that none of them escalates.”

“Everyone was supposed to promise not to fight while the talks lasted, and none while being on board.”

“That’s right, but there are always some fights that are worth the risks,” I said, while a watched one of the most menacing ships approaching the cruise, the one belonging to the Corsairs.

It wasn’t until hours later that the ones who were staying on their ships boarded the cruise to attend a dinner that had been scheduled to allow the people participating in the meeting to mingle before the actual meeting.  As soon as I saw Alukah and her brother getting away from the rest of the Imperialist, I knew they had figured out the mystery, and I just had to go after them to stop them from starting a war.

As soon as the Corsairs boarder the cruise, Alukah and her brother intercepted them.  Rogers wasn’t that happy about it, but he kept his demeanor indifferent, at least at first.  Once he realized none of the siblings was going to let him through, his patience ran out.

“What do you want?” Rogers asked.

“Allow me to introduce you to my brother Sluagh, I told him about your partner Clisson, and he wanted to meet her.”

“You smell delicious,” Sluagh said, getting closer to Clisson and smelling her hair.  She immediately took a step back while a mad Rogers moved between them.

“That woman is mine, so stay away from her.”

“I think that in this case, you are mistaken, she is mine, clearly,” Sluagh replied, “I know her smell, and it’s very familiar.”

“I don’t know you, and if you get close to me again, you will regret it,” Clisson threatened.

“I’m sure that you have an interesting power, and that’s why you feel confident, but it would be useless against Sluagh, since his main power is to neutralize yours,” Alukah explained.

“You can neutralize people’s powers?” Rogers asked, skeptically.

“Not everyone’s, just my family’s,” Sluagh answered.  I could see that Rogers was faster getting the reference than Clisson, who was still looking confused at Sluagh, “especially my sister’s,” he clarified, but I could see that Clisson was full into denial.

“There is no way you can prove it,” Rogers said.

“If someone can prove it, it’s my brother.  In fact, I already suspected it, that’s why I brought him, to confirm what I was thinking.”

“I think that if someone can prove it, then it’s me,” I said, interrupting their conversation, “after all, I have the Vlad’s power to read lineages, not to mention that I was there when the Corsairs bought Clisson.”

“What’s your name?”

“My name is Kaiserin, but your parents knew me as Pitonisa.  They were giving me a ride to the Light Kingdom when we made a stop in the Slavers’ territory, when I found the mother of these three.  I knew what would happen to Clisson if she stayed there, especially after her mother died, so I suggested your parents to take her with them.  A woman of her lineage, was guaranteed to turn into an amazing warrior.”

“My lineage doesn’t matter, it doesn’t change anything,” Clisson said, and I could see her denial was a way to calm Rogers, who was about to explode, also, it was a way to force herself not to see her options, not to give in into hope.

“You lineage may or may not change your circumstances, it all depends on what happens with the Toreador Clan, and if they are interested in recovering their heiress.  Your father was an only child, after all, and you are his only child.”

“I thought your parents were from the Imperial Clan,” Rogers said.  “Aren’t they Imperialists?”

“Her mother was part of the Imperial Clan, until she betrayed her clan and her cousin, who was the Empress.  She conspired, along with the Toreador Clan, to take my throne, and because of that, she was exiled and ended up with the Slavers, it was there where she gave birth to Clisson and where she found her end.”

“Why would we believe you?” Clisson challenged me.  “You, who pretend to be an Empress when you aren’t even really part of their clan, you are part of the Shadows and the Dominion.”

“My path had taken me through a lot of places, and connected me to a lot of groups.  For the moment, you should be considering the fact that you, just like me, are part of the Empire, even if you have lived and grown up as part of the Corsairs, and if you want to, you can even become part of the Toreadors.  What I’m trying to say is, you have options.”

“No, she doesn’t!  She is mine!”

“For the moment, but you can’t expect that to last forever.  The agreements we are working on warranty some rights, and once that her ties to other clans are confirmed, her right will change.  Just think about what we just said, and consider the options.  For the moment, we have to go so we can be part of the activities for tonight, that includes you,” I told Alukah and Slaugh.

“You don’t tell me what to do, I came here for my sister and…” Slaugh started, but before he could finish his threat, I used my powers to shut him up and then to force him to his knees.

“I know you are used to do whatever you want, but right now, you can risk causing a mayor problem.  For now, you need to give your sister time to get used to what’s going on, and then to give her a chance to decide what it is that she wants to do.  Of course you can try to convince her again, but try to be less creepy.”

I could tell Alukah wasn’t happy with my actions, especially for the way I was forcing her brother to follow me against his will, by using my powers.  But she knew what I was capable of, and she was smart enough to stay silent, at least until we arrived to a place where she wouldn’t be overheard.

“You had no right to interfere, nor to leave Clisson with that man.  She is an Imperial warrior, not a Rebel’s slave.”

“You didn’t think the same about my daughter.”

“So this is revenge?” she replied, angrily.

“No, I’m just trying to be the voice of reason.  You must understand that you can’t go to another clan and change their way of thinking and dealing with things just like tat.  You need to give them time to process what’s going on.  Even Clisson needs time to process everything, and I know you are worried about her, but you need to trust she will be ok.  I know Rogers will be mad, at least for a while, but he won’t risk doing anything crazy.  Now, what you need to do is to talk to Pompeyo about the Toreador’s Clan’s future and the possibility of putting their rightful heir in charge of them.  Even if they decide to keep the same setting with an Imperial Colonel in charge, Clisson is perfect, since she belongs to both clans.”

“You have thought about it previously, don’t you?  Since when did you plan this?”

“From the beginning,” I said as I walked away, leaving Alukah and her brother alone.

The truth was that when I had asked the Corsairs to take Lamia’s daughter, I was only thinking of getting her to a safe place, with the hope that someday in the future, I could go after her and take her rescue her, but at least that way I would help her avoid what I knew was going to be a hell if she stayed with the Slavers.  I wasn’t sure if it was possible to give the Toreador’s Clan their independence, but with Clisson, the woman she had grown up to be and her relations in the Empire, it was possible.

By the time I went to the dinning room, most of the people were already sitting and waiting dinner.  I saw the table where Ethan and Kimball were sitting with some of their relatives and other leaders with whom Mzansi had relations, as expected, Kimball had saved me a seat.  I also noticed a free seat at Malkia’s and Greca’s table, but I didn’t think it was the right moment to go with them and thought about joining them for dessert.

As I was going to my seat I was intercepted by Camil, who was with Mistral.

“It’s a pleasure to see you, Kaiserin,” he greeted me with a smile.  “Would you like to join us?  There’s still room at the table.”

The table he was referring to was the main table.  The leaders of the Dominion, the Light and the Clans were already there.  Sofia and Melchizedek were there, so I decided it would be a good idea to join them after all.  I would have time later to talk to my family.

Several conversations were already taking place at the table, most of the people there acknowledged my presence with a nod or a gesture and then went back to their talks.

“I never imagined so many leaders together in one place,” Melchizedek said, “not even in my visions I had seen anything that could equal what I see today here.”

“I can only imagine tomorrow’s chaos.  A discussion with only the people at this table could get complicated, no add a few hundred people in one place?  Chaos,” I could only imagine the kind of discussions that would take place the next day.  Even if the democratic system of voting for things could help the process along and help them, the first step would have to be to define how the vote would take place, and then convince everyone that it was a good idea and a good tool to use.  It wouldn’t be an easy task for any of us.

“I think the less people are there, the easier it will be to communicate with each other,” Yu was saying.  “I know that it will be complicated because most of our societies are based on a three power system, but maybe we could try to ask for three representatives from the Dominion, three from the Light and three from the clans, and then one from each nation or group we represent.  That would reduce the number of participants and make collaboration easier.”

“We could ask each group to nominate just one member to act as the spokesperson, but allow three or five people per group, we have the room for that,” William said.

“I think it would be a good idea to allow the leaders to have at least one person or a couple of people to be with them, so they can have someone to exchange ideas with,” I said, interrupting their conversation.

“With all due respect, Kaiserin,” Stone said, even if her tone made it clear no respect was intended, “I don’t think you are the right person to talk about this.  What is going to happen tomorrow is none of your business.”

“I think I’m one of the people most interested in making sure everything goes well tomorrow.  I have been involved, directly or indirectly, through all of this process.”

“I know, and that’s a mistake I’m hoping to fix,” Stone replied.

“There is no need to fight among ourselves, we are all after the same goals,” William said, “and anyway, this is not the moment, nor the place to have this discussion.  Why don’t we enjoy dinner and then have a vote about how everything is going to work tomorrow?”

Not everyone wanted to stop the discussion, but we all accepted William’s offer.  Once the main course was taken away, and while we waited for the dessert, I excused myself from the table and joined Kimball and Ethan for the last part of dinner.  The chat at the table was focused on mundane topics, and even if Ethan took a moment to ask me what we had been talking about in the main table, we stayed away from politics the rest of the night.  After finishing dessert, I noticed that the discussion was resumed on the main table, and I knew soon they would reach an agreement.

Part of me felt excluded and wanted to go back and say my piece, but the other was convinced it was the best choice.  For a long time I had wanted to retire, even if part of my couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t help but wanting to make sure everything was going ok, to make sure my people was safe and that the world was a better place.  Of course I knew that if it was a matter of choosing my people or others, I would always choose my people, the problem was that the number of people I considered mine was growing all the time.  I just hoped that with everything that was going on, I could finally make sure that there would be a good and safe future for everyone.  For as long as it lasted, I wanted my people to have peace and prosperity.

Chapter 82

The beginning of the end.  All my plans were coming to an end.  It was hard to believe that everyone on Earth, or at least most of them, would be connected.  I had heard a lot of stories about how the world used to be before the Great War, and even if things weren’t perfect back then, and even if conflicts between countries had always existed, the cooperation and communication between them had caught my attention.  When I decided to get the Dominion back to how it was before Faakhir and Emily, I didn’t realize that I also wanted to bring the world back to what it was before the Great War.

I understood that it couldn’t be the same, the world before and the world at that moment were very different, but I was doing my best to get is as close as possible.  I was fighting to leave my children and my allies’ children a better world.  And we were about to take the first step.

I watched as the Corsair’s ship approached the cruise, it would arrive almost at the same time as the helicopter I could barely see on the horizon.  The groups from the Free Clans would be arriving at the same time as the representatives from the former Kingdom of Light.  People from the Empire and the Dominion had already arrived and were in their rooms.  I knew that sooner or later they would have to get out and spend some time with the other groups, but the official reunion wouldn’t be taking place until the next day, so they all had enough time to rest and get ready before having to deal with the others.

For a moment I considered going to greet them, but going after a group or the other would be the same as stating a preference, and that was something I wasn’t ready to risk, I needed to say as neutral as possible, which was already hard since I had connections to all of the groups.

“If everything goes as planned, we will be a step closer to reaching our goals,” Sofia said, speaking my thoughts out loud.

“I know what my goals are, but I’m not sure about yours.”

“To stop what happened with my daughter from happening again.  The more exposure between groups, and more people involved, the easier it gets to keep the balance.”

“Really?  I would think it would be the other way around, more elements just make it more complicated, fewer elements keep it simple.”

“The Kingdom of Light, or what used to be the Kingdom, is in chaos, and for a while it will be the pet project from the rest of the world, but there will be a moment when it will become another power.  The Empire is shifting its focus, and opening the doors to talks between them and the other clans, they are the most dangerous element right now, it is enough to keep the countries in the Dominion in check and stop them from doing something crazy.”

“The Empire is afraid of the Dominion after the show Kimball and his people gave them.”

“And that’s good, because that will stop them from doing something crazy.  But you know that your people are extremely powerful and it would be a bad idea to ignore them.  They are a force capable of bringing balance.  It’s time to start working on making sure the balance is sustained.”

“We can’t move that far ahead, first we need to make sure the meeting goes well and then we can start thinking about the World Summit, when we will finally have all leaders, and not just their representatives.”

“You are right, let’s take one step at the time.”

Sofia went away in the direction of the people from the Light, she didn’t have to worry about showing any preferences, since that group had been responsible for her grandchild’s care for years, it was understandable she felt a connection to Melchizedek and his family.  I knew it wouldn’t take Mistral long to come looking for me, maybe even Molpadia would.  The best setting to interact with both groups was during dinner, so I went looking for my room on the cruise ship, it was likely my family would be there, waiting for me.

My time with my family flew by, and soon we needed to go to dinner, a relaxed setting for the groups to interact with each other.  Each group was set apart, with only a few exceptions like Ethan that had no problem moving around them, or Ratu that had no problem approaching the people from the Dominion, Malkia was also moving between the Empire and the Free Clans, while Camil was spending more time with people from the Light than his own and William was visiting each and every group.

The exchanges between groups were cordial, and even a little friendly.  I knew that I couldn’t let myself be fooled by appearances, and that at least a few of them were just looking for a way to get an advantage over others, no matter who could be affected, but as long as most of them had good intentions, it would be enough to make it work.

To stay out of their way the next day, ended up being harder than I thought.  I was there as an observer, from the beginning it had been agreed that only three people from each area would participate in the discussion, but it wasn’t easy for me or the other observers to stay out of it.  I knew that more than one leader was having a telepathic talk with their advisors, but I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to talk to them, and if it was, I wasn’t sure who to talk to.

“So far all we are looking for is to open the doors for trade agreements with all of you,” William repeated.  “The Dominion is constantly growing and it’s getting harder to fulfill everyone’s needs.  Most of our countries are very interested in acquiring some basic goods from you, and we are willing to share our technology and knowledge in exchange.  Our intention has never been and never will be to conquer or convert the rest of you into part of the Dominion.  If you talk with some of our people, you will realize that we don’t force anyone to stay with us, some countries have actually left the Dominion without repercussions.  If you want, I can give you the contact of the ones who left, but I don’t think they will be interested in trading with you.”

“You claim you have no interest in turning us into part of the Dominion, and that you are willing to let us make our own decisions, but at the same time you put conditions and restrictions intending to make our people share your values,” Pompeyo replied.  “Even if we have changed the way we deal with our slaves, even giving them an option to gain their freedom, not every clan in the Empire thinks the same, but you made it very clear that you won’t acquire any products coming from slave work, limiting our options greatly.  Isn’t that a way for you to control and dictate the way we do things?”

“Slavery is something the Dominion cannot accept, but it’s not something we will impose on you, those are our rules, and if you don’t like them you can simply not trade with us,” Stone said.

“Slavery can take many forms and many faces,” Melchizedek said.  “In the Kingdome of Light such title would have never been applied to any of our citizens, however, the way of life humble people lived for many generations, was not that different from that of a slave.  We called them servants, workers, even volunteers, but in reality they were nothing more than slaves for the Royal Family and the Priests.  In the same way, from what I have learned from Kaiserin, I know that there are people in the Dominion that are in fact slaves, maybe illegally, making you fight for them, but there is also a small percentage that falls into something that could be legal, but is not that far from slavery, a situation where maybe they are technically free and have the option to leave if they want to, but in reality they are as much prisoners as the slaves of the Empire.  What we are discussing here is semantics, when we need to discuss the spirit of the issue.”

“Basically all we have to do is change the way we refer to those in charge of the menial work in our societies,” Molpadia added.  “Would that be enough to satisfy the people of the Dominion?”

“That is not fair nor correct.  We have worked very hard to stop social injustices.  Besides, we can trust what Kaiserin says or suggests.  She was part of this government not long ago,” Stone said.

“No, we have to accept that what Melchizedek said is not completely wrong,” Yu said, “we are horrified by the word, but in some places the labor practices are not that far from how slaves are treated in the Empire.  From what I’ve heard from Kaiserin, and yes, I do talk to her and trust her, the way slaves are treated in most clans has improved a lot in the last few years.  Besides, most of them started as war prisoners, and they have the chance to regain their freedom after a while.  It’s not that different from the work programs we have in some of our jails.  As for the quality of life and their human rights, we need to take into account that their values are different from ours, they don’t see what they do as a bad thing.”

As they kept discussing the issues, I realized we have come a long way from how we related to each other.  I could see they were all considering the others points of view, not only their own.  Some of them were more convinced they were in the right, but others were trying to find a middle point.  Hearing them gave me hope that things could work between us.  Still, the people from the Light was still a wild card.  Mostly they just let Melchizedek act as their spoke person, but I wasn’t sure they truly shared his ideas.  At least everything was going well, which could mean that there would be another meeting, one with all the leaders, where each and every one of them would have their own voice and their own vote, that would generate more opinions and show their differences, but it would take us one step closer to the future.

“So we agree?” William finally asked.

“It seems so,” Spike said.  “If no one else has any complaints, protests or objections, I think the next step will be to get together with all of the leaders of the groups we represent.”

“We still haven’t agreed when or where are we going to meet,” Sotne said.

“I think we could use this place as our meeting place once again,” Pompeyo said.  “Even if the ship is part of the Dominion, it’s placed near our territories.  I think we can agree is a neutral point.”

“I think we are the only ones who could complain,” Melchizedek said, “since we are the only ones who depend on others to reach this place and it’s farther away from our territory.  Still, we have no issues about our meeting place.  We only have to decide when are we going to meet again.  Since our people are still working on rebuilding, it won’t be easy to convince all the leaders to leave their territories to come here.”

“We don’t have to agree to a date right now,” Molpadia said, “that’s something we could discuss with our people and then we can talk to the other groups using the communication methods given to us by the Dominion.”

“I think that’s a good idea,” Pompeyo agreed.  “The Clan’s Reunion will be in three months, so I propose we look for a date later than that, and I will take the opportunity to discuss this during our meeting with the other leaders of the Empire.”

“I agree with that timeframe,” Spike said, “I’m sure it will take us longer than three months to organize our own people, after that we can have a few tentative dates to discuss with the rest of you.”

“Perfect, then, if we all are in agreement, I think we can finish this meeting,” Yu said.

Some of the other observers went to their leaders, while others walked out of the room.  I was surprised to see Ethan, whom had been watching all the proceedings with great interest, being one of the first ones to leave.  I stayed in my place, waiting for the room to get empty before leaving, but before that could happen, several people approached me.

“What do you think about the results of the meeting?” William asked, being the first one to reach me.

“I have to admit it turned out better than I expected,” I answered.

“I think we haven’t reached our goal yet,” Melchizedek said, he and his daughter were the only ones left from the Light, “I’m not entirely sure about my people’s sincerity.  I think their focus is on how much they can gain, and not in working for the wellbeing of everyone.”

“They better keep their promises,” Pompeyo said, joining the group, “if they try to renegade our deals, we will be forced to fight back, and I don’t care what the Dominion or any other group has to say about it.”

“No one would blame you for that,” I quickly assured him, trying to avoid trouble.  “But I really doubt we would have to go that far, the recently formed nations in the Light are still trying to find their footing, but it will be easy to remind them of their obligations.  And they are in no position to fight any of you right now.”

“It’s too soon to think about war,” Melchizedek said, “but maybe a little scare wouldn’t be a bad idea.”

“We will worry about it once the time comes, it’s not worth it to worry about something that haven’t happened yet.”

“Before we need to go back, I want to talk to you,” Pompeyo asked, “since we will spend the night here, I was wondering if you would like to join us for breakfast.”

“It will be a pleasure,” I replied immediately, I was pleasantly surprised by the way he had phrased his order, as if it was an invitation.  We have come a long way from our first interactions, when he had been convinced I was trying to take away his position.

“I feel it’s easier for me to find an opportunity to talk to you, so I will leave you to talk to your allies,” William said, before leaving the place, leaving only Melchizedek and Molpadia, who was standing away from the group, waiting for us to finish our talk before approaching me.

“We both know when our time will come,” Melchizedek said, cryptically, but I knew what he was talking about, as seers we had a better understanding of the right times to talk and exchange ideas, and when the right time for us to meet arrived, we always found a way to find each other.

“Molpadia?  If you are not busy, would you like to join me for some coffee?”

“I was actually thinking of inviting you for a drink with me and Spike.”

“I think that’s and excellent idea,” I agreed.  I had to take advantage of our time together.