Kamose went back to his seat after I told him I had relevant information, general Bunefer who had also been walking away followed him back. General Knyaz haven’t moved, so he was just staring at me with curiosity. I was expecting Adze to also be there, I guessed she would make her appearance before long.
“It’s hard to believe that you have the solution for the problem with the Beasts, many generals have tried to solve that problem and have failed.” Kamose said. “But I would like to hear what you have to say about the metal supply.”
“You have always had a low opinion of me, but if I say I can help is because I can.” I answered him.
“I think we should address the rank problem first,” Bunefer said, “I’m not comfortable sharing rank with someone like her.” I didn’t know Bunefer that well, but her words made me hate her.
“How is that you decided that you are a general?” Kamose asked me.
“Extraordinary circumstances required us to give her the rank,” Modra explained, “with Boyar missing and Vasuman dying, we needed someone to take charge and we decided to give that responsibility to the person who saved us from the Beasts.”
“I heard about that, but it can be but lies,” Bunefer interrupted. “We received reports saying that the people from sector 32 had been attacked by the Beasts and that they had defeated them, but we also received a report from a sector on the other side of the Empire of a Beasts attack just a day later. They have to be lying, they can’t be on two places at the same time.”
“The battle was real,” Modra repeated, “we were at a disadvantage, if Kaiserin hadn’t arrived when she did our sector would have been lost.”
“Those are lies to justify an undeserved position.” Bunefer said dismissively.
“If you had been there, if you had seen what she is capable of, you wouldn’t dare to say that.” Modra claimed.
“That’s enough Colonel,” I told Modra before she could get herself in trouble. “General, I understand your doubts, so let me explain,” I felt their stares one me, but especially I felt the minds around mine, trying to pry any thought that wandered my mind. “Our sector wasn’t attacked by the Beast’s Clan,” Modra was shaken by my statement, the generals didn’t show anything, although I caught a smile from Bunefer, I let her enjoy her victory for a minute, “we were attacked by a few tribes from the Beast’s Clan.” Again they showed no reaction, but I knew I had their attention. “Thanks to the Beasts that we captured we know how they operate. This Clan is not like others, they have what they call tribes, they had stations around our territory. Each tribe has its own leader and it can be as little as a dozen warriors or a few hundred. Most attacks to our troops had been an effort by tribes working together, the attack to my sector was one of the biggest collaboration between tribes. This weird modus operandus is the reason why they can attack different sectors with days or hours of difference.
“That would certainly explain a lot,” Knyaz said, “I was always curious about the way they move, but the theory that they are isolated groups that share certain characteristics makes more sense than other theories, like the one that there are other Clans pretending to be Beasts.” His last statement was accompanied by a significant look at Bunefer.
“We can’t just take her word,” Bunefer said, angry that we were questioning her theories.
“If you don’t believe me, you can see the truth of my words directly in the mind of one of the leaders of the Beasts that I captured.”
“You have one of the leaders with you?” Kamose asked.
“Not with me, I gave her to the leader of the Predator’s Clan, but he is close and I can ask him to bring her.”
“Why would you give your prisoner to the enemy?” Asked Knyaz. “That makes no sense.”
“I needed to start a good relationship with them,” I explained, “because we need an alliance with the Predators, they are the key to solving the problem with the metal supply.”
“Explain.” Kamose ordered.
“In the Predator’s territory some major deposits of metallic waste, that can be recycled for our benefit, were discovered. They have no use for them, but it would be extremely useful for us, for what I can see it would be enough to solve our supply problems for a few years at least. By forming an alliance with them, we would be able to go into their territory and recover the metal, we just need some slaves and a few squads to supervise them.
“We don’t need an alliance for that, if you know where the deposits are, we could just get rid of the Predators and take control of their territory.” Knyaz said.
“Why waste our efforts fighting them if we can use them to our advantage?” I said. “We could use them as our own police, letting them into our roads and letting them attack and plunder the rebels that venture into our territory, this will affect our enemies and will keep our people safe. Besides,” I said, as if the thought had just entered my mind, “we could ask them a percentage of their earnings, that way they will be continue to be useful even after the metal supply in their territory is spent.”
“It’s something to consider,” Kamose was hard to read, I couldn’t see if he liked my idea or not. “But, going back to the other issue, that Beast you gave to the Predators, how can you be sure that the information she gave you is reliable?”
“Because I didn’t ask her for information, I took it directly from her mind.” One of the minds circling mine became insistent, I could feel it trying to invade me, it wasn’t Kamose’s, so it had to be Bunefer’s. “I learned from her the travel patterns of the Beasts and their meeting points, I have enough information to ambush them and finish them.”
“You are not a telepath,” Bunefer said, “you can’t have learn that from her mind.” I didn’t answer her, I just looked at Kamose.
“She is a telepath,” Kamose confirmed, “even if her powers manifested as accidents in the past, there’s no reason she couldn’t have learned to control it.”
“Even so, do you really trust her information?” Bunefer insisted.
“If she can bring the Beast we won’t need to trust her info, we can gather it ourselves.”
“I really hope she’s not lying, she can be just wasting our time, making us follow false leads.” Her mind was becoming very insistent, so I let her inside my mind, I confronted her in my mental landscape. ‘At least you have a telepath’s mind’ she told my mental image, ‘but that doesn’t mean that you have the abilities.’ I didn’t bother with answering, I just opened the chest in my hands, the one I had ready just for her, and because she insisted in underestimating me, I was able to open without problem.
The result was as painful to me as it was for her, I felt disoriented and the pain made me lose track of time for a few seconds. Bunefer had passed out and Kamose was with her, helping her.
“How dare you!?” Bunefer asked when she recovered.
“What? It was you who invaded my mind.” I answered defiantly.
“Enough!” Kamose said. “You, go fetch the Beast, once you bring her in, we will continue our discussion.” I bowed to the Generals and the Emperor and walked out, when I was at the door I heard Kamose. “Bring the Predator too.” And with that, I knew I had my alliance.
It didn’t take long to reach the Predator’s camp, once there I was guided to Rex.
“The Emperor is going to talk to you,” I told him, he was sitting, Felinae’s chain still wrapped around his arm. Felinae was at his feet, sleeping. “You have to bring Felinae as well, the Emperor has a few questions for her.” Felinae opened her eyes when he heard her name, I noticed again the bandages over her hands and I noticed the blood. “What happened to her hands?” I asked.
“She tried to cut me with her claws the first day,” Rex explained, “so I ripped her nails.” I don’t know if it was the casual way in which he was discussing torturing her or the way Felinae curled on herself at the memory, or thinking of the pain someone with nails as thick and strong as Felinae’s should have felt, but I felt sick and dizzy.
Felinae was curled at Rex’s feet, protecting her hands with her body while Rex petted her, apparently oblivious to her pain. I wasn’t sure, but it looked as if she was silently crying. I thought for a moment of entering her mind, but I wasn’t sure if I could face the things Rex had done to her.
“Can we talk for a moment?” I asked, trying to keep my voice level.
“Isn’t that what we’re doing?” Rex asked.
“I mean alone.”
“We are alone.”
“Follow me,” I ordered and walked outside his tent. Rex followed me a few minutes later, he was alone and angry.
“What is this about?”
“Is that how you treat my gift?” I asked, trying to keep my anger under control. “You had her only a few days and you already broke her!”
“She’s mine and I can do whatever I want with her.”
“That’s why you searched for her among my prisoners?” I kept going, ignoring his words. “If I knew you only wanted to torture her I wouldn’t have given her to you. There’s more humane ways of getting rid of my enemies.” I finished in a whisper, talking more for me than him.
“You are giving this too much importance, it was only her nails,” Rex said, dismissing my worries, “she’s just having a hard time getting used to her new role as slave, I need to teach her who is in charge.”
“Too much importance?” Rex was angry, but not as much as I was. “You have never been on the other side, have you?” he looked at me as if I was speaking in another language. “This is your problem, you have never been on the other side of the chain.” Was I seeing myself in Felinae? Was that why I was so angry?
I focused on Rex’s hand, in his little finger’s fingernail and using my mind I pulled at it. It was the first time I tried something like that, and the result wasn’t clean or quick, his fingernail was still hanging by a thread of skin. Rex contained the scream that wanted to escape his lips and fell on his knees clenching his hand. His breathing was hard and heavy and I saw how he was fighting his pain. I kneel in front of him to be on his level, his face was hard, he was watching his fingernail, trying to decide if he should just take it off or try to fix it.
“It’s surprising how the little things are often the most painful, don’t you think? Now imagine I do the same to the other nine.” I said as I grabbed his fingernail with my fingers and pulled it off. He looked at me enraged. “We have to go to the Emperor in one hour, so be ready.” I walked away, but before long I decided to go back and give him a last warning. “You need to learn to treat your gifts with care or I will take them away.” Rex stood and faced me, looking at me defiantly, but he didn’t say a word to me.
One hour later, Rex and I were walking together on our way to the Emperor, he had his bear with him and Felinae was riding it. I wondered for a moment, why she wasn’t walking? Then I thought about it and realized that I hadn’t seen her on her feet since I gave her to Rex, I concluded that it was possible that her feet were clawed like her hands, and if Rex wanted to leave her powerless, then he had done the same to her feet that to her hands. When we reached the building where the Emperor was waiting, the guards told us that the bear was not allowed to enter, so Rex took Felinae in his arms. Rex was calm, and I noticed that his attitude towards Felinae was softer, he was careful and attentive to her, but maybe it was just wishful thinking on my part. At least he didn’t seem angry at me anymore, and even if he was, I hoped he was smart enough to let any resentment towards me on the side, we had to be together for this to work.
“Remember what we talked,” I asked, “you will give us access to your territory and let us put a settlement from which we will extract the materials we need.” He nodded his agreement. “The Emperor will also ask you for a tribute, let me talk, I will try to make it no more than a fourth of your earnings. The Emperor is an incredible powerful telepath, so don’t bother trying to hide your thoughts, just concentrate on thinking about the metal supply, think of his size, content, location, anything relevant. If Kamose is distracted with that information he won’t try to find other things in your mind, I don’t want him finding out about your extortion attempt or your participation in Boyar’s death.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll do it just like we practiced.” He said.
They were waiting for us, from the Palace the Emperor, general Bunefer and colonel Pacorus, from the sector generals Knyaz and Adze and a couple of colonels I didn’t know. Modra was with me and Rex. Rex walked in and put Felinae at Kamose’s feet and the bowed to him, showing his respect.
“Greetings Rex, leader of the Predators.” Kamose said. “Thank you for letting us see the Beast.” Felinae was frozen at his feet and her eyes let me know that Kamose wasn’t wasting any time, he was already in her mind, gathering information. “Kaiserin told me that you want an alliance, to be part of the Empire.”
“That’s right.” Rex was behaving like the leader he was. “My father died in battle because he refused to follow the Military Clan’s orders,” he explained. “We need allies, not bosses, we have something to offer, like I’m sure Kaiserin already explained, we just ask in return free transit through your territories. I’m confident that an alliance between us will benefit us greatly.”
“There are rules,” Kamose said. “A Clan needs to meet certain criteria to be able to join us. First, it needs to be recognized by at least five Clans and have an alliance with three of them. Do you meet these requirements?”
“I do Emperor,” Rex took the papers out of his jacket and gave them to Kamose. “I have the letters of recognition and the alliance papers you require.” Pacorus took the papers he was offering to Kamose and went through them.
“Everything is in order,” Pacorus said, after checking the papers, “he has the necessary alliances, I have the documents from the Mercaders Clan, the Naturalists Clan and the Assassins Clan.” Pacorus was looking at me as he spoke.
“If that’s the case, then I don’t see a problem with our alliance,” Kamose said, “but we still have to discuss the conditions for our alliance. For the moment, if you excuse us, we have some private matters to discuss. I will see you at dinner to discuss the details of our alliance.” He said dismissing Rex.
“Thank you Emperor, it will be my honor to join you at dinner.” Rex took Felinae back in his arms and walked to the door, as he was about to exit the room he looked at me. The door wasn’t even closed when a noise caught my attention, Bunefer had stood up so fast that her chair fell to the floor.
“You!” She accused me. “You played them both for your own benefit.” She turned to Kamose. “That fake general forgot to tell us some relevant facts, the Predators were part of an attack on the Empire just a few weeks ago, and they, both of them conspired to kill Boyar.” She pointed at me and the door, accusing both Rex and me.
“I don’t think this is the place or time to discuss this.” I tried to remain calm. “Is true, I might have let a few things out, but that wasn’t relevant to this negotiation, nor it changes the fact that this alliance will benefit us.”
“Is it true what she said?” Kamose asked me.
“You killed Boyar, why?” Adze asked.
“Why? You’re asking me why?” I was losing control, trying to remain calm was getting harder. “Boyar was in my way and I needed one of these” I showed my insignia, “I took Boyar’s, it was my best choice.”
“Kamose?” I could tell that Bunefer was talking to Kamose telepathically, but she wanted to say something so we all could hear. “Let me show that girl her place, let me punish her for her insolence.” I was so furious with her words that all I could do was laugh. “What’s so funny?” she asked me.
“You? Punish me?” I said. “I think you are overestimating your abilities. I felt the attack, strong, fast and vicious. She wasn’t trying to invade my mind, for she knew what could happen if she tried, it was an attack, made to hurt and destroy, but it wasn’t something I didn’t know or haven’t faced before. “I’m warning you Bunefer, stop now or face the consequences.”
The atmosphere felt heavy, everyone was watching us. I could feel Kamose’s eyes on me, and his mind circling mine, but he wasn’t attacking, just observing. Nor the other generals, nor the colonels dared to interfere.
Bunefer was getting frustrated that her attack wasn’t working. I saw her hand going to her belt and grabbing her gun. I didn’t give her the opportunity to aim it, I pushed her with my telekinesis, throwing her to the wall. I felt her attack weakening and I took the opportunity to attack, I took her body with my mind and lifted it in the air, squeezing it, harder and harder, just a little more and her bones would break, I knew it, she knew it, but there was nothing she could do about it. She was defenseless against me.
“Enough!” Kamose voice echoed through the room. “Let her go.” For a moment I thought of disobeying, but then I felt Kamose’s mind pushing mine and realized that I couldn’t disobey, not only he was stronger, but one word of him and the rest of the people there would attack me, and I wasn’t ready to face all of them. I let Bunefer go and she dropped to the floor. “That goes for you too Bunefer, stop it.”
“But…” Kamose didn’t let Bunefer say her excuses.
“Don’t you think is time to accept she’s capable of her new role?” Kamose said. “Maybe you should take a look at Modra’s mind and see what she did in the battle against the Beasts. ‘Trying to stop you didn’t work as I wanted, I had no option but accept what you have become.’ He told me directly to my mind. He then took Bunefer by the arm to walk her out of the room. “We’ll take a break, I’ll see you in half an hour. Kaiserin, if you want to, you can walk your ally back to his camp.” He stopped by my side on his way out and whispered to me, “I still wonder what how things would have worked if you were mine and not Sultana’s”
The Emperor and the General left the room and I stood there, confused, so many different feelings were fighting inside me after what happened. On one side, Kamose had accepted me as a general, he almost made me feel as if he was proud of me, but he still refused to recognize me as his daughter, nothing I could do would be good enough to compare to Caracalla.
A frustrated scream left my lips at the same time that a psychic wave left my body, making the room tremble by my power.
“I think you have some explaining to do.” Adze told me.
“I need to go to my ally.” I told her as I walked out of the room, I needed to go to Rex, I didn’t know how much information Bunefer had collected from him and I needed to make sure our alliance was still standing. Kamose and Rex still needed to reach an agreement about the requirements for the alliance.
Copyright © 2014 | Kaiserin Novel