Of all the challenges I had faced in my life, taking over the Dominion had to be the biggest one. I had grown in the Empire, I had been raised as a warrior of the Imperial Clan and my world had consisted first of a cavern and then the Palace and surrounding grounds. When I grew up, I had expanded my world to the Rebel Clan’s territories and then the Shadow Kingdom, and even if I had never been there, I knew that the Light Kingdom existed. But nothing compared to knowing about the Dominion and being there, the size of it was beyond what I could imagine and the territories that formed it were bigger than everything I already know. Taking control of such a big place had been an incredible challenge, and even if I had managed to do it without much complications, after years of planning, I was still waiting for the other shoe to fall.
Everything had been fine so far, but it was mostly because most people were still afraid after I had taken over, and I was in contact and had agreements with most of the rebel groups. I knew that I had to act and start to make changes if I wanted to keep my advantages and to keep my allies loyal to me, and I needed to be very careful. I knew that there were many people interested in retaining their power no matter what, and some people that even wanted to increase the power they already had. I had already had to stop some attacks that I had been able to stop thanks in part to my visions that were slowly returning, but I still needed to be careful and keep watch so I could be prepared in case someone else tried to attack.
I was in my office, going over reports and making plans for my day, when I was interrupted by the Representative Jeong, that had entered my offices without announcing his presence first.
“I’m sorry,” my receptionists said from the door, “I couldn’t stop him.”
“Don’t worry, it’s ok,” I told her, trying to assure her everything was fine, as I turned my attention to the Representative. “To what do I owe this visit?” I wasn’t worried about him arriving like that, I was more than capable of taking care of him, that was without taking into account the two bodyguards standing inside the room, one that was practically invisible, thanks to his power, and another capable of disabling any opponent without trouble.
“I received an invitation for a reunion for the Committee, and I wanted to ask you what did you need from us, just so we could be prepared. I don’t think it would be in the Dominion’s best interest to keep hiding and controlling all the technology that we have developed, it’s time to set it free and go to the next step.”
“That’s something to discuss during he reunion, now it’s not the time.” I said.
“If you want everything to go smoothly, then you should follow my advice,” Jeong warned.
“I don’t think you are in a position to tell me what to do, remember your place. Have you already forgotten what I’m capable of?”
“How could I forget how you murdered my son in cold blood? It’s only that things won’t go well if we keep stopping progress, it would be better to allow people to move forward and do what’s best for the Dominio. It would be in everyone’s best interest.” I agreed with him, and I knew he was speaking the truth, but I had a role to play and an image to maintain, at least for a little bit longer.
“The reunion will stay as planned, and I expect you and the other Representatives to be ready to hear me out and follow my wishes, or you will be in trouble.”
I was still talking to Jeong when I was hit by the vision, it was a weird one, it came to me with a weird clarity, and that was even more odd after weeks of hard to understand visions, and confusing images.
I knew exactly what was about to happen and who it would affect, for what I could see in my vision, it was something that was going to happen soon, because the clothes I could see Ethan wearing were the same ones he had been wearing that same morning. I knew that I had time, but I wasn’t sure how much, I needed to move, fast, because there was no way I could let my vision come true. I knew that I would be haunted by the sight of Ethan in a pool of his own blood for days, but that wasn’t something for me to worry about at the time, what I needed to do was to move fast, so I could keep the vision from becoming reality. I needed to act.
When the vision ended, the Representative was staring at me, I was sure he knew what had happened to me. I used my powers to call my guards and get them moving, I had to act fast, there was no time to waste.
“I’m sorry, Representative, but this meeting is over, anything else you need will have to be discussed during out reunion.”
“What’s going on? Was that a vision?” I couldn’t stop and answer him, so I signaled one of my guards to take him out of the room. I knew he didn’t want to leave, he still had questions and things to discuss, but I had work to do and people to save and couldn’t deal with him.
I tried to contact Kimball using my mind, but that was a difficult task, his mind was naturally armored against mental intrusions. I tried his technology next, but he didn’t answer my call, and I had to send him a text message, with just a few key words to tell him something was going on at Ethan’s school, I would have one of my people go to him and fill the rest.
“What’s going on?” Ivan asked, appearing in the middle of the room, answering my call.
“Ethan is in danger, there is going to be an attack at his school and I think he will be harmed, he could even…” I couldn’t even finish the thought, that would make it real and the idea of losing my son was too much for me.
“What do you need?” Ivan asked. I knew I could trust in him, he was one of my oldest allies in the Dominion and someone I could trust.
“A small group of warriors, prepared to face anything, the group we will face won’t be easy to subdue, not if they were able to take care of the guards posted at the school.”
“Your best men? I will be there guiding them, I won’t let anything happen to Ethan.
“I will go with you. I won’t stay here while my son is in danger.”
“I thought your plan was to act as if you didn’t care about him.”
“And that is still the plan, but there are different ways of handling the situation and still accomplishing my goals. I can’t allow Ethan become a target for my enemies, but I can’t allow him to be harmed either.” I still remembered my first encounter with Faakhir and how I had been forced to harm Ethan in order to protect him. I was afraid I was going to face a similar situation, but I had to believe everything was going to work out, I couldn’t let my fears to cloud my mind or affect my decisions. “I trust you to find the right people for this, five guards is all we need for now, a bigger group will follow us and take care of the enemy while we distract them.”
“With all due respect, I think I should be part of your group,” Yoweri said, speaking for the first time, and I could see that Ivan agreed that he would be an asset to us.
“I agree, and I think I have the right people to fill the other spots for this mission,” Ivan said before vanishing from the room, just as Thalia was walking in.
“Did you call?” She asked.
“I need your help,” with Thalia I didn’t even need to talk, I just opened my mind and let her take a look at my vision and allowed her to see my plans, trusting that she would do whatever necessary to help me with them.
Trusting Thalia to do what she needed, and to find Kimball and fill him in on what was happening, I left the room, with Yoweri and Zhou following me without a sound, ready to face any danger. I went straight to my room, the ones that I had taken after killing the former King and Queen of the Dominion, and started selecting the weapons I would need. I was used to wearing the cape Kimball had made for me every day, but there were other weapons he had given me that I would need and that I usually left in the room, so I went there to retrieve them, there were a lot to choose from, and I found exactly what I needed in no time.
In less than an hour everything was ready, and I followed Ivan to a limousine that he had prepared for us, to take us to our destination. Faakhir had built the school close to the building that had the Palace and the government offices, and near the Towers where the Representatives and Embassadors from the different corners of the Dominion lived. It was all part of his need for control, the school was mandatory for the children of the people living in the Towers, it was a place where they could be controlled and watched. The trip was a short one, and as soon as we arrived, we could see something was going on, there were more soldiers than usual, and the uniforms they were using were different from the uniforms of my army. As soon as we stopped at the gate, a small group of soldiers surrounded us and started yelling for us to get out of the vehicle. Ivan complied, teleporting outside and demanding to talk to the person in charge, while my other four guards waited for my orders.
I got out of the vehicle and started moving towards the school without a word, the soldiers around us lifted their weapons and pointed them at me, one of them made the mistake of pointing his gun at my face. I was able to confirm that I was familiar with his weapon, and I expanded my senses, with a thought I connected to their weapons and disabled them. At the same time I pushed the soldier out of my way and resumed my walk. I kept moving, confident in my guards’ ability to protect me. I heard yelling and threats around us, but I ignored them as I crossed the gardens and the parking lot and headed for the main administrative building. Before reaching it the doors opened and a woman that looked familiar got out, followed by another group of soldiers.
“Greeting Kaiserin,” the woman said, “it’s so kind of you to come visit us. Before you try anything else, let me tell you that we have taken the students hostage and we have them in two different locations inside, if you try anything against us, we will start killing them, starting with your son.”
I looked over my shoulder and saw my guards approaching me, and I knew that at least Ivan had heard the threat.
“What do you pretend with this?” I asked, waving my hand around, “What’s your plan?”
“It’s not me who you need to talk to, I will take you to my boss, and your son, he will explain to you how things are going to be, but your guards have to stay here, we need to make sure neither one of you will cause trouble for us.”
I watched as she retrieved a powers suppressor and I tried to convince myself that everything was going to be ok, I had the necklace that Kimball had given me, and I was sure it would disable the suppressor and I would be free in just a few minutes.
“Do you want me to wear that?” I said, trying to keep my tone neutral, I could feel that my lack of reaction was making her unease.
“You will, unless you want us to kill your son,” the image of Ethan in a pool of his own blood came to me, but I did my best to keep my fears from showing on my face.
“I think you are over estimating my love for my son, but I’m willing to play your game, for now. Don’t do anything that could put the students at risk,” I ordered my men out loud, but I gave Ivan some further instructions directly to his mind. ‘Wait for us to be gone, and out of sight and fight back, neutralize as many soldiers as you can, as long as you don’t put yourself or the students at risk. Kimball is on his way with reinforcements, if you need to wait for them, that’s ok, if not, start working on securing the place.’
‘Are you going to be ok?‘ I could see the question on his mind before I broke the connection.
‘Don’t worry about me, worry about them if they dared to hurt my son.‘ I left Ivan’s mind and moved closer to the woman, she was happy, thinking that I was at her mercy and that once I had the suppressor on me they would be safe.
As soon as the suppressor was activated I felt the void inside me that indicated my powers were no longer working. I tried to act normal as I touched the suppressor and then moved my hand to my necklace and discretely activated it. I knew that it was programmed to look for any signal of suppression every few minutes, but by activating it, I was buying myself some time, and I knew by experience that in some situations every second counted.
“Satisfied?” I asked the woman.
“Very, what does it feel to be powerless? How does it feel to know you are at your enemies’ mercy?”
“I think you are seriously underestimating me if you think something like this troubles me. Now, take me to your boss, I don’t want to waste my time with you, I need to talk to the person in charge,” I was actually feeling rather vulnerable and a little afraid, but I had to be confident that everything would be fine.
I could see that the woman wanted to do something, but neither she, nor her soldiers dared to get near me, they were keeping their distance make sure I would be able to hurt them. I was glad to see that they were still afraid of me, even when they thought they had me in their hands.
I had been to Ethan’s school a couple of times, and I had a vague idea of how it was laid out. The school was actually a campus that included a few buildings and other installations. It had an elementary, middle and high school. Ethan was still in elementary school, but we weren’t moving in that direction, it was obvious they had the kids in another place. It didn’t take me long to guess we were heading towards the auditorium, which made sense, it was a place big enough to house most students, but not all. The woman had already told me that they had the kids in two different locations, and I knew that the other two likely spots were the cafeteria or the stadium.
It had been barely five minutes when I felt the rush of my powers coming back at me, and it had been just in time, as we were already reaching the auditorium. The woman and the soldiers guided me through a side door and we walked through a series of back hallways. When we finally reached our destination, I realized we were at the stage, we were behind thick curtains, and I knew that Ethan and the others had to be on the other side. Trying to act natural, I put my hand on the curtains, connecting with them, keeping the sensation of the fabric locked so I could recall it later if I needed it.
The woman guided me to the center of the stage and only then the curtains started moving, opening. Strong lights were turned on, all of them focused on me, blinding me momentarily and keeping the scene on the other side from me. I wanted to break the lights or at least turn them away, but I couldn’t, that would have let them know that I had my powers back. Eventually the lights moved, allowing me to see the other side.
In the area in front of me, between the stage and the first line of seats, where a group of guards, tied up and gagged, and I guessed they were part of the school’s guard. In front of them, resting against the stage’s base, was a machine that I recognized as an area suppressor, the kind that they used on sport events to keep the viewers from affecting the results of the game. I tried to push my powers beyond the stage and I realized that I couldn’t, the invisible wall at the edge of the stage was keeping me from using my powers, which made things more difficult for me. Behind the guards, on the first few rows of seats were some older people that could only be teachers, there were not all the teachers, and I could only guess they were important, since they were with that particular group of hostages. At the back, in the other section of seats were some students, from different age groups, and whom I could identify as the children of the most influential persons on the Dominion. In the access hallway, between the two seating areas, just in the middle, directly in front of me, was a man that I recognized as Draco, one of Faakhir’s followers, one that had fallen from grace a couple of years before, because he was too greedy for Faakhir’s tastes. He had a gun in one of his hands, and the other hand was resting on Ethan’s shoulder.
“Welcome Kaiserin, you saved me a lot of trouble by coming here, it would be easier to talk in person,” he greeted me.
“What do you want?” I asked.
“I want you to give me the control of the Dominion, or I will kill your son,” he threatened me, moving the gun until the gun’s barrel was resting on Ethan’s temple.