Someone was shaking me and I tried to open my eyes, but the light was too bright and it hurt my eyes. Someone blocked the light and put something close to my lips. I panicked, what was he going to do to me? Was he going to hurt me? I tried to move away, but I couldn’t.
“This is going to help you feel better.” I knew that voice, but I didn’t remember who he was. The voice was calm and comforting. Could I trust him?
I drank what he gave me, but it tasted funny. I wasn’t hungry nor thirsty, and I didn’t want to drink anymore, but the person kept insisting that I had to drink all of it, so I forced myself to drink everything. I prepared myself for whatever he intended to do to me, but nothing happened, and eventually I fell asleep.
Nightmares, I knew they were only nightmares. It wasn’t real, Agmong was dead, they were all dead, but I felt them there, waiting to take advantage of my weakness. I tried to run from them, but my legs wouldn’t move, and then I was falling, falling… I found something to hold onto; an anchor, a lighthouse, protection. I held it with both hands, I felt that as long as I was holding it I would be safe. I wasn’t falling anymore, the shadows were disappearing. I was able to breathe again.
I woke up again and I felt better. I was lying on my stomach, I moved, but the pain in my leg stopped me. Other than my leg I felt so much better, my body wasn’t hurting anymore. I was holding something in my left hand, something warm, a hand. I let it go and turned to see what it was. I saw Kimball seating on the floor next to my bed, his head was resting on my bed. His hand was the hand I had been holding.
“How are you feeling?” He asked, his voice was sleepy, I guessed he had woken up when I moved.
“I feel fine, what are you doing in my room?” I wasn’t sure yet what had happened. “Why was I holding your hand?”
“I came in here because you were sick and I was taking care of you. And you were holding my hand because you were having nightmares and holding my hand seemed to help you calm down,” he explained. He got up and I could hear his bones cracking as he stretched. I knew that the position he had slept in was not a comfortable one. I looked at him and noticed the bruises under his eyes and his wrinkled clothes. He didn’t look fine, and I wondered if he was looking so bad just because he was taking care of me, how was I looking?
I was still confused about what had happened, I moved again to sit and felt the pain in my leg radiate. The pain was what was triggering the memories. The battle, the wound, my sickness, the shower, the pain… I noticed I wasn’t wearing my clothes, I had only my bathrobe on. What had happened? I was afraid to know, to ask.
“Your leg was infected,” Kimball explained, before I had a chance to ask. “A couple of days ago I heard a noise in your room and when I came to investigate I found you burning with temperature. I got you into the shower to get your temperature down,” I remembered water, and hands taking my clothes off, “once the temperature was down I worked on getting your leg fixed,” I remembered strong hands holding me down, holding my ankle and touching my leg, “the infection is under control now and the wound is getting better, but you’re still weak and need to rest for few days.” I was feeling better, that much was true, but my memories were foggy and I wasn’t sure what was real and what not. “You were hallucinating,” he continued, “you thought I was someone named Agmong.”
“Agmong? What did I say? What happened?” I had tried so hard not to let him know how weak and vulnerable I could be, I wanted him to think of me as someone strong, not as a victim. He didn’t respond and I felt frustrated because I couldn’t read his mind.
“You must be hungry,” he broke the uncomfortable silence between us, “I will go and make you something to eat, you need to get your strength back.” I felt like he was escaping so he wouldn’t have to answer my question.
I stayed there, angry at myself for being in that situation. I had worked so hard on showing a strong image and I had to crumble in front of Kimball. I should have listened to the doctor and stayed in the infirmary, although it could have been worst to be there, I knew Alkaia’s cousins and sister would be very happy to see me sick. Maybe it was better if only Kimball had been there to witness my fall.
I heard noises downstairs, it sounded like fighting, so I got out of my room and went to investigate. It was hard to walk, but I had control of my powers again and I could use them to block some of the pain. I walked to the top of the stairs and from the railing I saw what was going on downstairs. I saw Bremusa and two warriors, they had Kimball on his knees, they were fixing cuffs on his wrists and ankles, and they were attaching chains to them to link them together.
“Who do you think you are to tell ME what to do?” Bremusa asked, she was furious. “You are no one to decide who can see Pitonisa.”
“What’s going on here?” I asked, surprising Bremusa and her guards. “What are you doing to my slave?”
“This lowly slave dared to tell me that I couldn’t come into your house.” Bremusa roared in indignation.
“He did that under my orders,” I said. “I’m sick and I needed to have some peace and quiet to rest, the least I need is for you and your warriors to come into my house and attack my slave.”
“But I need to talk to you, it’s an urgent matter.”
“Then you could have asked for a meeting, you didn’t need to invade my house and attack my slave.”
“You don’t even like him, you didn’t want him.”
“I changed my mind. I think that none of you realized what you were giving me, but now is too late, he is mine now.” I wasn’t sure why I was talking like that, was I defending him? I felt something wet running down my leg, I had come out so fast that I had reopened my wound and I was bleeding. I knew that I shouldn’t be walking, but I didn’t want Bremusa in my room, it was bad enough to have her in my house. “Kimball? I need you to take me to the living room.”
“As you wish Pitonisa,” he said in a mechanical voice, what you would expect from a slave. I was going to ask them to free him, but he didn’t wait, he just stood up and broke the chains holding him. He ignored the startled warriors and started to climb the stairs, the chains still attached to his cuffs trailing behind him.
“How?!” One of Bremusa’s guards exclaimed, surprised by how easily Kimball had broken the chains. He moved past them like they were nothing to be bothered by and it was easy to see that if he had wanted to, he would have been able to fight them off before.
“Pitonisa, did you know what he was capable of?” Bremusa asked, still calm, but obviously surprised as well.
“Of course.” I answered in the same calm and matter of fact tone.
“Why do you allow someone like him to be around you if you are sick?”
“He is a doctor, he is capable of taking good care of me.” I said.
Kimball arrived to the top of the stairs and took me in his arms. I couldn’t relax as he took me down the stairs and put me in one of the living room couches, Bremusa was right about him, he was too powerful to be around someone that wasn’t on her best, I was an easy target for him. But it wasn’t the first time I had been sick around him, and he was yet to take advantage of it. I wasn’t sure why he acted like that, I could feel how much he wanted me.
“Does Alkaia knows this?” Bremusa insisted.
“Alkaia gave him to me, what I do with him is my problem now. Besides, he knows who is in charge, he will do whatever I told him to do.” I said, as Kimball fussed over me, making sure I was comfortable. He smiled at my words and winked at me, he found my words funny.
“I will prepare some snacks,” he said before leaving us and walking into the kitchen. Bremusa and her guards weren’t happy at his attitude.
“Bremusa, I’m willing to talk to you, but I want your guards out of my house.”
“Alright.” I was surprised by her acceptance, she just motioned her guards to leave us, without questions.
“What do you want?”
“I need a favor.” I was surprised yet again, it had to be something very important for someone as proud as her to ask me for help. “You are supposed to be a very strong psychic, I need to know if you are strong enough to erase my daughter’s memory.”
“Why?” I asked, but I had a strong feeling I knew why she was asking that, I just needed confirmation.
“My daughter had another panic attack after the last battle,” I knew it was hard for her to tell me those personal things, “she was convinced they were coming for her, that they would take her again. She was terrified. It has to stop, I don’t know what to do. I took her to see Tank, I thought that once she saw that he couldn’t hurt her anymore and took her vengeance on him she would be ok, but just seeing him send her into another panic attack. It can’t keep happening, it has to stop.”
“And you think that if I erase her memories of what happened the attacks will go away.”
“That’s right. Can you do it?”
“Bremusa, do you remember that I told you that your daughter wasn’t ready to see Tank again?” She nodded, but I could see she wasn’t happy with my reminder. “You didn’t listen to me and your daughter payed the price, now I’m asking you to listen to me. Erasing her memory won’t solve your problem. Memories can’t be completely erased, just moved, hidden. All we would accomplish if for your daughter not to know what is causing her panic attacks. A word, a face, a situation, many things could trigger an attack and it would be even worse than now, because she wouldn’t know what is causing them.”
“You can’t know that for sure.”
“I can. The body remembers even when the mind doesn’t. I can’t help you in the way you want, but I can help; by talking to your daughter through her problems, I can help her get past them.”
“I will think about it.” Bremusa stood up and walked out of my house just as Kimball was returning with a tray with food. I hoped she would listed to my advice, I really wanted to help her daughter. “By the way, Alkaia wants you to return to her daughter’s training today, her daughter will be waiting for you this afternoon,” she added from the door as she was about to leave.
“Do you want your breakfast here or want me to take you back to your room?” Kimball asked.
“I’m fine where I am.” I didn’t want to return to my bed, not with him tagging along, not after the memories my conversation with Bremusa had conjured.
“Ok then.” Kimball put the food on a table in front of me and then sat on the floor next to me. The way he was looking at me was making me uncomfortable, again, I was having the impression that he was seeing more than I wanted him to see.
“Is Agmong someone like Tank? An enemy that captured and hurt you?” I wasn’t surprised by his question, he had hinted that I had talked about Agmong while I was sick and he was way too smart not to be able to read between lines, and my conversation with Bremusa would have certainly shed more light into my past. “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to, just forget I asked.” But I felt guilty, he always answered my questions, even when the memories hurt him or when he wasn’t supposed to talk about it, like when I asked about his homeland.
“Agmong was my superior officer,” I finally managed to say, “and what he did to me, it was worse than what Tank did to Bremusa’s daughter, and it wasn’t just a few days, I had to be with him for months.”
“What happened to him?” Kimball asked, I could feel a change in him, fury was rolling out of him even if he was trying to contain it, I would have been afraid if I didn’t know that he was not angry at me but at Agmong.
“I killed him,” was all I said.
“Good,” he smiled, “sometimes I forget that you are capable of taking care of yourself.” His words reminded me of the conversation we had before our last battle and I felt guilty.
“Kimball, I never really thanked you for your help when you found me after my fight with the Scavengers. I know that even if I would like to think that I didn’t need your help, the truth is that if someone else had found me… I don’t even want to think of what could have happened, to me, to my baby. Like Melchizedek would say, you finding me, was a blessing. Thank you, thank you for saving me and my daughter, and thank you for taking care of me while I was sick.
“Believe me Kaiserin, it was my pleasure.” He sounded sincere, and his feelings confirmed his words. I really couldn’t understand the man.
When the time to go and meet Alkaia’s daughter arrived, Kimball insisted on going with me, and I accepted, mostly because I didn’t want him to be worried about me, because I was sure I would be able to go there without his help. Alkaia sent a vehicle for me, and when we arrived to the stadium Kimball carried me the rest of the way.
Alkaia’s daughter was surprised to see Kimball with me, but as usual, she didn’t say a thing. We started the training, but I had to limit what we did, I couldn’t spar with her.
“Is she always this quiet or is my presence affecting her?” Kimball asked after watching her for a while.
“It’s almost impossible to make her talk. Sometimes is like she is afraid of talking, and believe me, it can be really frustrating. I know she will be a great leader someday, she is one of the strongest women in her generation, and not only among the Amazons, one day her name will be feared through all the Empire. But first I really need to make her talk.”
“She reminds me of my cousins,” he said, “they used to act like that. They are mutants, we call their kind banshees, their voices are so powerful that they can kill with them. Some of them are afraid of talking because of that, it takes a while to learn how to modulate their voices. Do you think that is what is happening to her? It may be shyness, but I have a feeling that it could be more. You really should make her scream.”
“I hadn’t thought about that, but you may be right, that would explain a lot.”
The question was, how could I force Alkaia’s daughter to use her voice?