At first, the man didn’t move, didn’t respond, he was surprised things didn’t go his way. The soldiers were now surrounding him, prepared to defend him if necessary, the one who had shot Boyar was still next to him, checking him.
“He’s still alive.” The guard announced.
“Pity,” I said, “although I expect that will change fast enough.” I tried to suppress the smile on my lips.
“Why did you do that?” asked the leader of the Predators.
“Why not?” I shrugged.
“If you don’t care about him, why are you even here?” he was regaining his cool and was watching me, analyzing. “You could just have ignored me.”
“You went through a lot of trouble to make this meeting possible,” I took the papers with his initial requests out of my pocket. “This,” I threw the papers back to him, “is an insult. You know those requests are impossible, but there’s something you want, and despite your terrible first impression I’m willing to listen to you,” he opened his mouth, ready to say something, but I cut him before he could speak. “No, don’t even try,” I left my seat and walked closer to him, “you bet on the old man to win this, but you have to realize it was a mistake. Go away, think about what you want and think what are you willing to give us in exchange, and make it something good. Once you have something solid, something that you are sure is going to be worth my time, then you and I will talk.”
“Sound fair,” he gave me a shallow bow, a sign of respect, “and you’re right, this was an awful first impression, let’s start again.” He stood and closed the rest of the distance between us, I prepared, just in case he was trying to do something against me. “My name is Rex, I’m the leader of the Clan Predators.”
“Kaiserin from the Maxima Family, general of sector 32 of the Empire.” I said. “Once you have something good to offer, you are welcome to come to my sector, I will give instructions so you and your people can reach me without problems.”
“How do I know you are not setting me up?”
“If I wanted to kill you, I would have already done it.” Trying to be casual, I picked up a handful of dirt, then I opened my hand and let the wind take the dirt away.
“You seem pretty sure of yourself.” Rex was staring at me, trying to read me.
“I am.” I said sincerely, I haven’t feel so alive in a while, I was in control, playing a dangerous game with the man, but I had the upper hand, I knew he was going to be someone important in my future, he, along with Felinae, were part of the visions I shared with Melchizedek in the shadows. “If there’s nothing else to discuss, I’m leaving.”
“Wait,” one of the guards stepped forward, “you can’t let them go.”
“Stay out of this.” Rex warned the young man.
“This is an opportunity we won’t have again, we need the control of this sector, if taking Boyar didn’t work, maybe taking them will.” The young man was like a younger version of Rex.
“I say; stay out of this,” Rex repeated, “we promised them not to attack them if they agreed to this meeting, I won’t start breaking promises now, I gave them my word.”
“If you won’t do what’s necessary, maybe I should take control of the situation,” the place was filling with tension, the Predators were getting ready to attack if needed, my own people were getting restless as well.
I turned around and started walking back to my vehicle.
“Stop!” the young man yelled at me.
“Let her go.” Rex replied.
“Kid,” I said, turning around and looking at him, “never start a fight you know you will lose.” I used my powers to make the ground under him collapse, he fell, until half his body was buried, he was unable to move or escape. I could feel him fighting, trying to climb out, but it would take him a long time to get out.
“I will see you soon general Kaiserin.” Rex said, he wasn’t angry, he looked glad that I taught a lesson to the young man.
“Are we really leaving Boyar here?” Modra asked.
“I thought that this meeting was to stop them from killing Boyar, so they couldn’t claim to have defeated a general.” Zounkla whispered.
“But they didn’t kill him, I did.” Both of them stared at me, but none of them say another word.
I extended my mind, looking for Boyar, I entered his mental landscape, it was dark and was falling apart.
‘You are an ungrateful bitch’, said Boyar’s mental image. ‘This is how you pay for everything I did for you?’ his mental image was blurry, falling apart, just like his mind.
‘You have never done anything for me, everything you do is for you,’ I said. ‘You have only humiliated me, used me to your own advantage.’ He was weak, disappearing.
‘You would have died without me!’ He yelled. ‘Vasuman would have killed you if I hadn’t vouch for you.’
‘You sold me,’ it was an old argument, but a true one, ‘you gave me to Vasuman so he could use me for his pleasure. It was luck and my own strength what allowed me to be more than his concubine.’
‘I have always tried to help you, if I was hard on you it was to make you stronger, to help you to face the world’ he sounded sincere, and I knew that it was almost impossible to lie in a mental conversation, I wasn’t sure if it was making things better or worse. ‘Getting what you want is not easy, you need to make sacrifices.’
‘You think that I needed that lesson?’ I was getting angry again, ‘did you really think that making my life harder was going to help me?’
‘I wanted to help, taking your hand and babying you wouldn’t do you any good.’
‘Don’t worry, if you want to help this is your chance, your death is going to help me a lot.’
‘Don’t! You can’t leave me here, don’t let me die!’ He was desperate, but I wasn’t going to let him affect me.
‘You know Boyar, I’m really tired of you telling me what to do.’ I left his mind, I knew he would be dead in a matter of minutes, but I didn’t care, he was another chapter of my life I was leaving behind.
Once we reached the rest of my group I sent a few men back to follow the Predators to their camp. Another group was sent to retrieve Boyar’s body so we could give him a proper funeral.
“That’s not what I was expecting.” Arkta said once we were back in our sector, back in the war room, discussing our meeting.
“My mother used to say that we need to take the easy path, let the other side do all the work,” I explained, “they need something from us, the meeting was a way of showing them that they can’t come to us and demand, they needed to understand what they were dealing with. They thought they had the upper hand, that we would do whatever they wanted, now they know better, we are the ones in control and they have to work to get our help.”
“We told them that Vasuman was alive and then gave them time to think,” Modra pointed out, “this could backfire on us.”
“The spies we sent after them will keep us posted about their movements, I’ve been talking with them through astral projection. They won’t be able to move against us without our knowledge,” I assured her. “Besides, Rex is not stupid, he knows better than us the risks, and he has a lot to prove.”
“How do you know that?” Arkta asked.
“I have a feeling.” I knew it was a stupid answer, but it was all I had, that and the visions I shared with Melchizedek had to be enough.
After our meeting I went to Vasuman’s room to check on him. He was thin, but he wasn’t as pale as before, so I expected him to be better. I sat on the side of the bed, careful not to disturb him. I took his hand in mine and I felt they were warmer. He used to be always hot to the touch, and now he was getting warmer, another good sign. During the time he had been sick his hair and beard had grown, I was surprised to see that his hair wasn’t black, but dark red. For some that hair color was a sign of weakness, but I liked it, it reminded me of the fire he controlled.
I didn’t want to stay with him, it was depressing seeing him like that. I stood up and let his hand go, but before I could get away, I felt him grabbing my wrist.
“Kaiserin?” his voice, just like his hold, was weak. I sat again and let him hold my hand.
“Vasuman, how are you feeling?” I was glad he was awake. I put my hand on his cheek, giving him comfort.
“Tired,” he said. He closed his eyes and I wanted to shake him, I didn’t want him to go back to sleep. “What happened?” he asked after a minute of silence.
“The battle with the Beasts, you were hurt, remember?”
“I remember the battle,” he opened his eyes and stared at me, “you were there.” His words were an accusation.
“My group was back just in time, I found you on the battlefield and brought you back.”
“You could have died, those Beasts,” he was getting agitated, the memories haunting him. “It was a trap, there were more and stronger than before.”
“Don’t worry about them, everything is under control.” I was caressing his face, trying to calm him.
I wanted to talk more, but the effort was too much for him and he was asleep again. I waited for a while in case he woke up again, but after a while I went looking for a doctor and told him what had happened.
Once in my room and took a few minutes to think about what was going on, trying to reassure myself that I was doing the right thing. I wondered what my mother would have done in my place. I hoped I was right about the Predators, and that I hadn’t made a mistake with Boyar. But it was too late to change things, I had to prepare for the future.
I went to visit Vasuman the next morning and found him awake.
“Where were you?” he asked as soon as he saw me.
“In my room,” I said without thinking.
“This is your room.” Vasuman was angry.
“No, is your room.” I didn’t want to fight with him, he was just getting better. “You were hurt, I didn’t want to hurt you so I’m sleeping in another room.”
“You didn’t have to do that,” he extended his hand and I moved closer so I could take it, he pulled me closer until we were just a few inches from each other. “Your place is by my side.”
“Did you have breakfast?” I was in an awkward position and wanted to free myself, but I didn’t want to hurt him, so I needed to change the subject and make him let me go.
“They gave me something to eat, yes.” He placed his free hand on my neck and pulled me closer so he could kiss me. It was an awkward kiss, a needy kiss. When he finally let me go I sat on the bed. “What is that?” He asked, noticing the insignia I was wearing.
“My new insignia.” He was surprised, but more than anything, he was angry.
“That is not for you,” he tried to take the insignia, but I moved away from him. “Where is Boyar?”
“He’s dead,” I said, “the price they were asking to give him back was too high, so I killed him.”
“You did what!?” Vasuman tried to get out of bed, but he was still weak and couldn’t. “Boyar is a general, you can’t take his life on a whim.”
“Boyar had no problems taking control of my life.” I knew I sounded bitter, and I knew I had to get past it, he was no longer there to torment me.”
“It was different,” he said. “I need to get up, there’s a lot to do.” He was trying to get up again, I stopped him.
“Everything is under control, don’t worry about anything.” I used my mind to call the doctor that I knew was just outside the door and asked him to give something to Vasuman so he would go back to sleep.
I told the others about Vasuman’s recovery. Everyone was happy with the news, I wasn’t, I was feeling alive and happy, but with Vasuman back, everything could change again. He didn’t want me to be a general, but I wasn’t sure I could go back to be a colonel, under his command.
I went back to Vasuman’s room that night.
“Where have you been?” he asked when he saw me. He was looking better and the IV was gone. He was seated, assisted by a few pillows.
“I was busy, there’s a lot of tasks that required my attention.”
“They should have come to me, I’m better now, I can take care of anything.”
“Everything is under control, you need to focus on getting better.” I went to the bed and sat next to him.
“I’m feeling much better.” He moved closer to me and kissed me, I felt him opening my jacket.
“Wait.” He wasn’t ready, I didn’t want to hurt him, and I wasn’t sure what he could and couldn’t do.
“I won’t wait any more.” He said as he pulled me closer to him.
I didn’t resist, it was something he needed and it was all I could do for him. I stayed with him until he fell asleep and then went back to my room. I could have stayed all night, but I only wanted to go back to my own room and be alone.
In the morning I went back to Vasuman’s room. I went to lay beside him on the bed. Vasuman woke up when he felt me getting into bed.
“You’re back.” I didn’t know how to interpret his words, so I didn’t say anything. “I woke up and you were gone.” After a while he asked. “Why did you leave last night?”
“You are still recovering, I don’t want to hurt you.”
“We have shared this bed every day since I found you, even when you’re injured, has my presence hurt you? Have I made your injuries worse?”
“No, never.” I knew that, we have been together since he had brought me to his room to recover from the burns he had inflicted on me. I remembered being terrified of him sharing his bed with me, but he had never touched me when I was injured, and even when he finally took me, he had been careful not to hurt me.
“Then why are you staying away from me?” he asked. I could feel the room getting warmer, it was a sign that Vasuman’s powers were at work, that he was getting angry.
“Is not that I don’t want to be with you, is just that it has been a long time since I had a place for myself, since I have been allowed to be on my own, just want to enjoy it as long as I can.”
“I don’t get it,” he sounded sincerely confused by my words, “everything I have is yours, this is your room. Yours and mine.”
“That’s not true and you know it.” I wondered if I was overreacting, but, was it a crime to wish for something for myself? “Everything within these walls is yours, and you insist in having complete control over your belongings… including me.” I wasn’t sure why I was telling him that, it was not the time to talk about it.
“Is that what you think?” He was serious.
“Isn’t this what you think?” I wished it was different, sometimes I even believed it, but most of the time I felt trapped, chained to his will. I wanted an answer, so I touched Vasuman’s mind, trying to capture his thoughts.
His thoughts were scattered, diffuse, I could see a need to control, dominate, but he was wondering what he had done wrong, wondering why I felt like this. His thoughts were confusing me, I hugged him, letting my skin touch his, I was still trying to get my hold on empathy and touching him was the only way I could try to read is feelings. Vasuman was scared, confused and very angry.
“I love you Kaiserin,” he said, “you are not my property, you are my partner.”
“As long as I do what you want and stay where you tell me to.”
“Maybe I get carried away in my wish to keep you safe, maybe I have restricted your freedom, but only because I want safe and alive, you with me.”
“I can take care of myself, you don’t need to lock me up and control my every move to keep me safe.” My words gave him something to think about, memories of me filled his mind, the many times he had locked me in his room, or the time he had burned all my clothes to stop me from leaving him.
“Everything I do is for you, but I understand how you can feel like you’re trapped,” he was trying very hard to align is thoughts and feelings. “I don’t want you to feel that way, what can I do for you to want to stay with me?” I worried about his question, mostly because I could hear him thinking that he was too weak to force me to be with him, that he needed another way to keep me by his side, he was afraid to lose me, but he was willing to use any method he could to keep me with him.
I was saved from answering his question by some knocks on the door. One of the guards walked in, he was nervous and unsure.
“General, there’s a group of Predators here, they want to talk to you.”
“How dare they come to my sector?” Vasuman was furious.
“I invited them,” Vasuman stared at me, he was stunned, I haven’t yet told him about my meeting with them. “Take the to the plaza, I will meet them there.” The soldier bowed at me and left the room in a hurry.
“What are they doing here?” Vasuman asked. “And why did you invite them?”
“We are going to negotiate,” I said. “I have to go, but we’ll talk later.” Before he could protest I left his room.
As expected, five Predators were waiting for me, the rest of their guard should be waiting for them in the limits of the sector. I also noticed the bear was missing, but Rex’s brother, the one who wanted to attack me at the meeting, was there.
“General,” Rex greeted me, “after a few discussions we have reached a decision and we are ready to talk to you.”
“Welcome to my sector,” I smiled at them. “You’re here early, do you want to have breakfast with me?”
“She could be trying to poison us.” Rex’s brother told him.
“If she wanted to kill us, there are easier ways to do it.” Rex answered him. “It would be our honor to join you.” He told me.
I guided them to one of the dining halls, one used for occasions just like that. During breakfast we talked about everything but what we really wanted to talk about, there would be a better time for that. Once we finished our food I took them to one of the conference rooms. The Predators were surprised when I was the only Imperialist to walk inside, it was five against one.
“I thought about what you say the last time we met,” Rex said, breaking the silence, “I agree that we started our relation in a bad way, there’s a lot we could do to benefit each other, there’s no reason to fight.” He smiled, showing me a row of white teeth. His aspect was cleaner than last time, his hair was combed back and his stubble was gone, he looked even younger.
“You were the ones who started with the hostilities,” I said, “if what you wanted was a mutually beneficial relationship, attacking a Clan is not the best way to accomplish it. No, you were thinking you could get rid of us using the Beasts, when that didn’t work you tried to extort us, now that you realize that is not going to work you try to establish a working relationship between our Clans.”
“Do you always speak your mind?” Rex’s brother was angry and uncomfortable.
“I think is the best approach, clear the air, show the facts. And the fact is, I have nothing to lose, but you do.”
“You know nothing about us.” He said.
“I know more than you think, now, lets stop stalling, say what you need to say. But remember, your future depends of your next words.”
None of them suspected I was a telepath, so once we were alone in the room their defenses had relaxed, I could pick some of their thoughts, useful information for me to use against them.
Rex was about to start talking when we were interrupted.
“This meeting is over,” Vasuman said as he entered the room, “you are no longer welcome in my sector.”
Copyright © 2014 | Kaiserin Novel