I had used too much energy and was exhausted. The adrenaline had run out and after Agmong’s death, I felt like there was nothing else to keep me fighting. I didn’t move, I was too tired for that, instead I fell into an uneasy sleep. I woke up to the sound of the door opening, but unlike the previous visits I heard someone walking towards me.
“What happened here?” A voice echoed in the room. “Agmong?” I stood up to face the visitor: lieutenant Kosht, Agmong’s superior.
“I’m afraid Agmong won’t be able to respond ever again.” Kosht didn’t look pleased with my response, he walked to me.
“What’s going on Sklave?” I saw his hands curling into fists, preparing for a fight. “I hope you have a good explanation for this or you will regret it.” Kosht was the kind of people who face every problem with his fists. I knew, twice he had beat me close to death for failing to fulfill his crazy wishes.
“Maybe you haven’t heard, but I don’t respond to that name anymore. My name is Kaiserin.” He looked mad, he didn’t waste his time, he attacked me and I barely had time to dodge his punch.
“How dare you talk to me like that?” He asked furiously. “Agmong told me that you were to blame for his group being reassigned and taken from me during battle, he also told me that ever since those captains from the Palace appeared you started to act like you owned the place,” he tried to hit me again and I dodged, but because of my injured leg I fell to the floor, “rebels like you need to be reminded of their place.” There was no way I could dodge, so I used my telekinesis to stop him from stomping my face.
Kosht was too strong for me to beat in a fight, if I couldn’t defeat him in his own game I had to try something else. I rolled out of his way and let his foot go. I could see how he was getting furious every time I dodged him. But I was getting angry as well, I was tired of being forced to obey people like him. Before I could think of a counterattack, he was over me, he grabbed me by the arm and tossed me to the wall. The hit left me breathless and it took me a moment to regain my wits. I saw Kosht picking up Agmong’s whip and realized that he was going to use it against me. Before he could attack me, I concentrated my power on his throat, it was the only target his uniform didn’t cover, and I used all of my strength to give him a telekinetic punch. I saw him tumbling around and finally falling to the floor.
My head was hurting and I didn’t know if it was a memory crawling its way out or if the abuse of my powers was finally taking its toll. I walked toward Kosht, he was unconscious but alive, the hit that would have killed others only hurt him. I went looking for a weapon and found one piece of the table, I took one that looked like one of the legs, like the one Agmong had used against me. I went back to Kosht and started hitting him. I didn’t care that he was unconscious and couldn’t fight back, no one had had any considerations with me so I wouldn’t have any with them. I hit him again and again until the table’s leg broke. All that was left was a sharp fragment… I stabbed Kosht’s neck with the fragment and a spray of blood hit me in the face. Kosht was dead, just like Agmong.
It wasn’t time to think about the consequences, it was time to enjoy my little victories. A few days before I wouldn’t have been able fight them that. I went to find something to wipe my face clean, I sat on my bed while I cleaned my face, but I was so tired that before I noticed I had drifted down to the bed and to sleep.
I knew something was wrong before I opened my eyes, I heard noises around me and I just knew that I wasn’t alone anymore. I opened one eye as I tried to discretely watch my surroundings. I saw Orlom. Orlom started moving towards me and I jumped up, I couldn’t let him get closer to me and take me by surprise. Once I was standing I noticed he wasn’t alone, I saw several warrant officers and lieutenants glaring at me, on the other side of the room captain Joshes watched us.
I started to think of an attack strategy, if they were going to kill me I was going to take as many of them as I could. I would start with Orlom of course, not only because he was the closest, but because he was the meanest, one of Agmong’s more vicious and frequent clients. Unmada would be next, she was a sadist, and the world would be better without her.
“I’m glad you woke up,” said Joshes as she walked closer to me, “I didn’t want to disturb your rest, but I’m not a patient person and I hate to wait.” She was playing with something, tossing it into the air and catching it again. “I understand that you are tired, 4 soldiers, 3 corporals, 1 sergeant and 1 lieutenant. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to kill them all.”
“It wasn’t easy, but it sure was satisfying.” I said.
“I can only imagine Kaiserin” I was surprised to hear her using my name, “still I’m sure it was a tiring job. It was hard to believe my eyes at the beginning, but then when I heard you were the culprit it all made sense. I don’t know what happened, but during our trip I learned that the name Kaiserin provoked interesting reactions and I heard the most amazing stories about her. Apparently you, or the person you took your name from, died a couple of years ago.
“Kaiserin has always been my name” I wasn’t sure what she was planning, but I was getting more and more nervous, they were more than me, and stronger too. “It took me a while to remember my name, but it’s mine.”
“You will have time to tell me your story latter.” Latter? I didn’t understand her game. She threw the object she was playing with and it landed on the bed close to me. “You took from me one of my lieutenants, so you will have to replace him” I saw the object, it was lieutenant Kosht’s insignia. “Well, lieutenant Kaiserin, I guess you haven’t eaten, you must be starving. Orlom, go to the kitchen and have someone cook something for Kaiserin, have them take it to the infirmary” ordered Joshes, “and you” she told me “you better go and have your leg checked.” She was pointing to my leg and I noticed that the blood had soaked my bandages. “I will go to visit you later, and then we can talk.” It took me a moment to understand what was going on.
“Lieutenant? I don’t understand, are you rewarding me after what I did?” I wasn’t expecting it and from the faces of the others neither were they.
“Someone with such good contacts in the Palace and that’s able to do something like that,” she gestured towards the dead bodies on the next room “is someone I want as an ally, nor an enemy. Orlom, Unmada and Guri were under Kosht’s orders and will be under your command for the time being. I know is not the best situation, but is what I can offer right now, we will search for a better arrangement later.”
I understood, those three were my tormentors, they had abused me and Orlom and Guri were still seeing me as a victim, not a leader. Unmada I didn’t know what to think.
“Do you need help getting to the infirmary?” asked Unmada.
“No, I can get there on my own.” I didn’t want them to know I was scared, I needed to show them a strong face.
“Orlom?” asked Joshes. “Shouldn’t you be on your way to the kitchens?”
“If she wants food,” he roared “she can get it herself.”
“That’s not a proper way of addressing your superior.” Scolded Joshes.
“I noticed that Kaiserin’s carnage was missing a warrant officer” said Unmada, “are you offering to take the position?” she asked Orlom.
“I wouldn’t encourage it, but I won’t blame you if you get forced to dispose of one of them” Joshes said after Unmada’s words. Was she really giving me permission to kill him? Or was she setting me up?
I pinned the insignia to my uniform.
“That insignia would look better on my uniform” said Guri.
The pain exploded in my mind, the scene in front of me dissolved and for a second I was inside my mind. I could see the wall in my mind and the door trying to burst from it. But there was no one there to help me, I had to tear the wall down and open the door by myself. I did it and the pain of it sent me to my knees. I could see them smiling at my pain, for them, I was the pathetic Sklave, scared of them. But there was a memory trying to get free and I couldn’t ignore it. I entered the vault in my mind and saw the chest and I knew when I saw it that it was a different one, this one wouldn’t open with an explosion. I took the chest and opened it, a wave of energy burst into my mind attacking my mental image, tearing it up, pulling it in all directions. I felt like my head was going to break in two and it made it very difficult for me to concentrate on the images in the chest. There was no one helping me so I had to endure it alone and I could see outside my mind Orlom and Guri ready to take advantage of my weakness. Instead of fighting the pain I embraced it, I let it run through me as I relived the battles of my first day as a sergeant. In my mind it felt like hours had passed, the pain in my body agreed with the time frame and as the images faded the pain remained.
It had only been a minute, but the place felt different after my memory attack. It wasn’t like with the other memories where the pain ended along with the memory, with this kind of memory the pain remained and I was still shaking from the pain, just like old Sklave used to, when she was a victim of fear and pain. Orlom and Guri were smiling. I took the insignia off my uniform and placed it on my hand. I extended it in front of me and presented it.
“Do you want it?” It was time to leave pathetic Sklave behind me once and for all, it was time to introduce them to Kaiserin. “If you want it, come and get it.”
Guri didn’t think it twice, he advanced decided to take the insignia, but before he closed half the distance between us I grabbed him with my mind and threw him up. Orlom tried to come to me, but I let Guri fall over him. I started laughing, it was so funny, both of them were trying to get up and they were making the other one fall. When they finally untangled themselves and came for me, I used my mind to shove them to the wall on the other side of the room. From the corner of my eye I caught someone else trying to attack me, but I watched him and once he got close to me I pushed him to where Orlom and Guri where. I was tired, but I managed to lift myself up.
“What’s wrong?” I extended my hand again. “No one wants it?”
I heard someone laughing, it was Joshes, she was enjoying my performance. The rest was watching me with surprise and suspicion, no one expected me to be able to do the thing I’ve done.
Guri was the first to get up, but he looked unsure of what to do next, Orlom on the other hand was furious and charged to me. I didn’t stop him, I let him get close and then just moved at the last minute, tripping him with my mind so he hit the wall behind me. He was stunned by the hit, but he was close and attacked me. I closed my fist and conjuring my strength I hit him, again and again until his face was unrecognizable.
“That’s enough” called Joshes, “I think you have made your point.” I stopped, although I wanted to go on until there was nothing left of him. “He is stubborn, but I think that even he will understand that things have changed after this.”
“I think I’ll go to the infirmary now.” I tried to sound secure, but my voice broke, I was past my limit. “Unmada? I can get to the infirmary by myself, but Guri and Orlom may need help.”
“I’ll take care of it lieutenant.” Unmada walked right past me, for a moment I was scared, afraid of what she might do, but she went for Orlom and dragged him outside, smiling as he moaned in pain.
I put the insignia back on my uniform and walked to the exit. I felt everyone’s eyes on me, but I didn’t stop to think what it might mean. One of the other lieutenants, one that I had seen on several occasions, but I didn’t know walked with me.
“That was impressive, I thought you were about to pass out and suddenly you were wiping the floor with them,” he sounded friendly, but I knew better than to trust anyone.
“I won’t surrender to anyone, not them, not anyone.” I tried to make it sound like a threat, but my words were too soft. “I don’t need company, you can go.”
“I don’t think so, you’re at your limit, I don’t want you to collapse half way there.” I was angry at his words, mostly because they were true, I had pushed myself to the limit.
“You don’t know what you are talking about, I can do this alone” but every step was harder than the last. “I don’t need nor want your help or anyone else’s.”
“But you do, your problems have just begun. No matter what you did back there, for them you will still be Sklave.” Right away, I hated him.
“But I’m not Sklave, I’m Kaiserin.” We arrived at the infirmary and as I crossed the threshold he stayed back.
“Well then Kaiserin, good luck.”
The infirmary personnel rushed to me. I tried to stop them from drugging me, I wanted to stay conscious, but just a couple of minutes after walking in there I was knocked out. When I came back Joshes was talking to someone close to me. When she saw me awake, she walked to me.
“You did a great work,” she made a gesture to someone I couldn’t see and a moment later someone entered with a food tray. “You will be a great addition to my team. Is a pity that Agmong wasted someone like you for so long” I started to eat, I haven’t realized how hungry I was. “The people from the Palace told me things about the Kaiserin they knew, legend stuff.” I didn’t react, I kept eating as if she hadn’t talked. I wouldn’t give her any information until I knew what she wanted. “The empress’ daughter, victor of impossible battles, tragically killed the same day her mother died.”
“That’s interesting,” was all I said. And it was, I wasn’t expecting to be remembered.
“More interesting is the fact that after you arrived to this sector, under the name Sklave, reports about your performance were requested by the Palace. First, they were weekly, then monthly.” She was right, it was really interesting. “Colonel Pacorus asked me to keep the reports going out with the name Sklave or if I preferred to send a report about your death, but I was warned not to use the name Kaiserin in any official document.” Joshes was waiting for me to say something, but there was nothing for me to add. I had a lot to process. Once again, my life was being controlled by everyone but me. “So… what did you do that made them send you here under a new identity?”
“I was born with the wrong eyes,” was the only thing I could think to say. Because I had spent days thinking what could I have done to deserve this and still haven’t come up with an answer. After all, what terrible crime could deserve such punishment? All I knew is, that if I had been born with blue eyes, Kamose would have never treated me like that. If I had eyes like his, he would have received me as his daughter.
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