I was dreaming again, I was in my special place. One of the crystals in front of me grew until it was as tall as me and started showing the memories of the last days. I wanted to see what happened again.
“This is not what I expected,” said someone behind me, again, in so short a time, someone was inside my dreams, but it wasn’t the woman, it was a man’s voice, one that was familiar.
I looked around and found him in the same spot I had used to spy on the woman. For the first time in a long time Kamose was in my dreams, but it didn’t feel like the other times.
“I haven’t dreamed about you in a long time,” I said out loud.
“Do you think this is a dream?” he asked as he materialized next to me.
“Of course, what else could this be?”
“We are inside your mind,” he answered me, “in your mental landscape. A place build by your memories and experiences” I wasn’t so sure about it. It felt like a dream. “But I didn’t expect it to be like this,” he continued, “this is not a normal mind, this landscape belongs to a telepath’s mind.”
“But I’m a telekinetic, so what you are saying cannot be true. This is just a dream after all.” The last words were more for me than for him.
“I would agree with you if I wasn’t watching it with my own mind,” he touched one crystal and the images I had arranged for the woman were displayed. “The way you arranged your memory to fool the telepath, to make her think your mother was sick, that’s something most telepaths wouldn’t be able to pull without extensive training, you are a natural. She must have been fooled thinking you weren’t capable of something like this. You were wearing a psychic suppressor, so we weren’t expecting resistance, but she should have noticed something wrong when she saw this landscape. I don’t get how she was so careless, she should have suspected something when she walked into this landscape.
“This is the weirdest dream I ever have” the Kamose in my dreams was acting weird, usually in that place when I dreamed of someone it was always about things they have done or I have heard about them. It wasn’t normal for him to act like he was acting.
“You don’t dream in here, you remember,” he said as if answering a question I haven’t asked. “This is a telepath sanctuary, the place where he is stronger. Here you can go back to any moment and analyze something that happened to you, you can plan, think and relax without anyone bothering you. This is your world and you can do with it whatever you want.
The dream was getting way too weird, I wanted to wake up.
So I woke up.
Instead of the pain I had been waking to I was received by the blessed stupor of narcotics. Instead of the hard floor I was in a soft bed, instead of the cold of the cell I was warm… in someone’s arms. I was lulled by the rhythmic beat of a heart. Someone was holding me, and it felt safe.
“She could have been mine,” I heard Kamose, but I wasn’t dreaming anymore, I was sure, “if she had the right eyes she could have been mine.”
“Don’t yell” my mother hissed next to me, “you’ll wake her up.”
“She is awake, she just threw me out of her mind,” his voice was rising, “did you hear me?! She threw ME out of her mind! Cerridwen was right. It’s very likely that she has a double mind, one that belongs to a telepath. She could have been mine!”
“A Maxima can be a telekinetic or telepath, but she never showed any inclinations towards telepathy,” my mother’s voice was soft but firm, “she is a Maxima, it doesn’t matter what you or that witch think.”
“All the sign show that it’s possible, she wouldn’t be able to survive the astral voyage if it wasn’t for an anchor. The kind of anchor a double mind gives you.”
I finally managed to open my eyes and saw my mother, she was holding me in her arms. Kamose was seated on a chair by the side of the bed. Once I saw him and heard him doubts started to fill me, maybe it was real, maybe it hadn’t been a dream after all.
“Your presence is bothering Kaiserin, you must go now.”
Kamose stood up and left the room. He slammed the door as he left and the noise hurt my ears and made me shiver.
“Don’t worry,” my mother sweetly whispered in my ear, “everything is ok.”
“Where am I? What happened?” Little by little my mind was clearing. “What happened to my teammates?” I tried to sit up, but my mother stopped me and then I noticed the bandages and the IV in my arm.
“Don’t move, you’re still recovering” her voice was soft, as her touch, I couldn’t remember a more intimate moment with my mother. “I’m afraid that Boreas, Masani and Oslo didn’t make it, neither the other units. Masani’s body was found in a mass grave along with the others that fell during the fight. Boreas was in the dungeon, he was burned” I remembered Boreas’s body, burned alive, a horrible death, especially for a cryokinetic. “Oslo’s body was in the cell where we found you, his fast metabolism couldn’t handle the starvation and dehydration and shut down. Ratri and Geb were in a bad shape, they were weak and their injuries were infected, but they are under proper care now and there’s a good chance they will make it. The rest is ok. Kozlak, Echrad and Agis are resting, once they ate and were rehydrated their condition improved fast.
“I’m so sorry mother” I had been a brat, I had gone against my mother wishes and suffered the consequences, “I should have listened to you.”
“You will be fine, and that’s what it’s important,” she said as she caressed my not scarred face. “Besides, you were right, you were prepared for this. I have to admit that if it wasn’t for you no one would have survived. We never suspected the Creators, we blamed a Rebel Clan or maybe a new group, even the Innovators, but we were wrong. Not even Cerridwen could see who was causing the problems.
“How is Cerridwen?” I asked as I remembered what Lamia told me about her being in jail.
“She’ll live,” her tone warned me not to ask again. “She told me she had taught you astral projection and that you were one of her best students. Did you know that besides being the strongest seer, she is also the most experienced astral traveler?” I shook my head and the movement made me dizzy, reminding me that I was better but still not well. “Cerridwen asked for astral beacons to be placed around the Innovator Clan. She knew the dangers of this mission and thought that astral projection could help you. For most people just getting a few feet from their bodies can be dangerous, but you traveled hundreds of miles. It was so dangerous. Beacons can help guide you, but they could have prevented you from going back to your body.
“I was afraid” I admitted, “I was so scared of dying, but I wanted at least to let you know what had happened.”
“You did the right thing and I couldn’t be more proud of you. But you’re still recovering and you need rest,” she added when I tried again to sit up. “Sleep, it will be good for you.”
I was easy to obey, I was tired, despite having just woken up. I closed my eyes and drifted to sleep once again.
When I woke up I missed my mother’s arms. I was alone in bed, but I wasn’t alone in the room, there was someone else with me.
“I was worried about you, little one” Kozlak told me as he held my hand “watching you hurt and being unable to help was killing me.”
“I’m sorry I doubted you,” said Agis from the other side of the bed, “I just assumed you were trying to save yourself and that you had yielded to our captors in exchange of your life, I never imagined that you were in contact with the clan, neither that you were planning a rescue mission.”
“I wanted to escape” I admitted, “but I would never betray you, I had at least try to help you, to inform what had happened. I just told the people from sector eight what I knew and asked them to act on it, they did all the work.”
“Being humble is overrated” Kozlak told me, “what you did was amazing and you should feel proud about it.”
“How are the others?”
“We lost Masani and Oslo, but Ratri is out of danger and will be discharged in a couple of days. Geb is still in a bad shape, but the doctors are working on him, he should be fine – Agis informed me. “And the rest of us are ok.”
“Where are we?”
“Still in the Creators Clan’s territory, in fact, this is their master bedroom, GEM’s chambers” that information made feel unease, I wanted to leave right then.
“What happened?” I remembered explosions, but nothing more.
“All we know is that GEM and a bit portion of his army left the place to go search for the empress leaving the place unprotected” said Agis.
“Yeah, apparently someone made them believe that Sultana was sick and she was being transported in secret to the Assassins Clan to receive some kind of experimental treatment” Kozlak smiled conspiratorially to me. Making them believe that Sultana was on her way to the Assassins Clan was the best I could think of at the moment, taking advantage of my memories of Sultana and Curare. “They thought that they were going to ambush the empress and they ended up being ambushed instead. The rumor is that most of them died in the attack. There was no casualty on our side, just a few injured soldiers.
“A second attack force came here and attacked while the rest was away. The Creators had some new weapons that they had kept secret, but the Imperialists stayed out of range so they didn’t suffer any damage. As the bigger portion of the army kept them distracted an infiltration unit got here through some underground tunnels and opened the way for the rest of the Clan. They were the ones who opened rescued us” Agis was pacing the room as he talked and that was making me queasy. “Those same warriors got to the control room and took control of the cannons and opened the doors for the rest of the army.”
“The general said that without your Intel they wouldn’t have accomplished it, you are full of surprises little one” I hated when Kozlak called me that, but I was so happy for us being alive that I didn’t even try to argue.
“Boreas is dead” Agis broke the silence. “Burned alive. I can’t think of anything worse to happen to a cryokinetic.”
“I know, I saw him. He was so strong, he held on until the very end, he fought that telepath despite the pain. He protected the mission secrets.
“Is that what you think?” the incredulity in Kozlak’s voice surprised me. “He told them you were Sultana’s daughter.”
“Maybe they got that from me” I tried to defend him, but I knew it was him. But I didn’t blame him, that would be unfair. “Besides, it was for the better, we survived.”
“Yes, we did.”
I heard the door and turned to see my mother entering the room.
“Still here? Kaiserin needs her rest, and so do you” my mother told them, “you better go back to your rooms.” Kozlak kissed my hand, Agis just waved goodbye. “Kozlak” my mother called him, “you should go by the war room so you can speak with your parents.”
“I will,” he said before disappearing through the door.
“How are you feeling?” my mother sat at the edge of the bed.
“Much better,” I really was feeling better, it was a good change. “How long has it been?” I had lost track of time since arriving at the Creators Clan’s territory.
“Since they found you 4 days, since you were captured 10.”
“I was captured for 6 days?!” It seemed like such a short time, but also like an eternity. Most of the time I had been unconscious, but the short time I had been awake was hell.
“That’s right. I wish it had been less, I wish I could have spared you of your pain, but sometimes you have to consider the bigger picture, there were a lot of lives at stake and I had to take my time to make sure we did the right things.”
“I understand” or I least I thought I did, “you are not just my mother, you are the empress.”
“That’s right, and part of being the empress is having to take difficult decisions. I had to think of what was best for the clan and not only for you” we stayed in silence for a while, I didn’t know what to say to that. “The medics told me that you can start eating now, so I will come later so we can eat together.”
I spent the rest of the day on my bed, without further visitors. My mother ate with me, but didn’t stay long, she still had things to do. The next day they removed the IV and I was allowed to get out of bed. With the help of one of the doctors I walked to the balcony and was surprised by what I saw. Other than the building I was staying all that remained of the Creators Clan base was rubble.
“Most of the creators died in the attack” I hadn’t noticed Kozlak by my side until he spoke, “the rest was sent as slaves to different sectors.”
“What are you doing here?” I wasn’t expecting him.
“I came here to see how you were doing and I’m glad to see you are better.”
“Better every day, the doctors said I’m ready to travel now. How are Ratri and Geb doing?”
“They are better as well, do you want to go see them?” He offered me his arm as support.
“Let’s go,” I agreed as I grabbed his arm.
The place was tiny compared to the Palace. It took us just a few minutes to reach our destination despite my slow advance. The improvised infirmary was filled with doctors and healers making rounds on the injured soldiers. Ratri was on one of the last beds, Geb was on the bed next to hers. Kozlak took me to the space between them and then went looking for a chair.
“Greetings Kaiserin” Ratri was wide awake and surprised by my visit, “is good to see you back on your foot. I really thought I was going to beat you to that.”
“Well, I suppose my mother had something to do with my quick recovery.”
“That makes sense. I have to thank you, the medics told me that if the help had arrived just a few hours later I wouldn’t have been able to recuperate” Kozlak returned with the chair as Ratri talked. “They were even able to save my leg.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” I sat, the short trip had been exhausting. “I wished that we all had made it” I thought of Boreas, Masani, Oslo and the other units.
“True, but we have to be glad for those who did,” said Kozlak.
“What about Geb?”
“He will be fine” Ratri informed, “they just put him under to clean his wounds, but he will be awake soon and will have a full recovery.”
As she talked about it, I couldn’t suppress a shiver as I remembered how the man had cleaned my wounds just days ago.
“Are you ok?” Kozlak was over me hugging me protectively, with concern in his eyes.
“Yes, don’t worry, it was nothing. I just think I’m more tired than I realized.”
“What are you doing here?” I was startled by Kamose. I turned and found him standing a few steps away from me, surrounded by some important looking individuals.
“She wanted to visit our teammates,” answered Kozlak for me.
“And you allowed it? In her condition?” I didn’t understand Kamose’s attitude, he had never worried about me before.
“The doctors told me I had to start walking again” I tried to explain.
“Get the information I asked you and look for me as soon as you have it,” he ordered one of the people next to him. “We will continue our discussion later,” he dismissed the rest of the group. He waited until they cleared out to focus his attention back on us. “I can’t believe you were so irresponsible, start walking doesn’t mean to cross the whole building,” he scolded Kozlak now that they were alone. Then to my shock, he lifted me in his arms and without giving me the chance to say goodbye carried me away.
I had never been so close to Kamose, our first encounters had been less than pleasant and now his attitude was beyond confusing. I didn’t know what to say or how to behave. Our encounter in my mind was still unreal, bizarre.
The way back was much faster. Kamose marched right into my room and gently put my back on my bed. Then he took my face in his hands and traced one of the scars on my face with his thumb.
“You shouldn’t push yourself, take things easy, your body was submitted to a great deal of stress and you need to rest,” he went to the door. “If only you had my eyes, you could have been mine,” he left without any more words. I just had one clear though about this, he was my father, but his pride would never allow him to recognize it.
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