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Chapter 20

It was weird being in the field again.  It was true that I had been the one to request to be part of the trip, I had the feeling that a change in scenery would be good for me, but I wasn’t so sure anymore, traveling was so hard and I was feeling uncomfortable.  Pregnancy was worse that I remembered, I was always tired and the visions were more frequent, that made me feel powerless and anxious.  Visions were the worst part, for the first couple of months my visions focused on Kimball and his fight, lately my visions were about the Amazons and the Militaries.  I wasn’t sure what that meant, the lack of visions about Kimball made me uneasy, I didn’t want to think about the implications, so instead I focused on the other visions.  I knew something big was coming, something that could affect even the Empire, but I wasn’t sure what it was, I was getting fragments, I needed the big picture.

As the group advanced I had a premonition, I knew something was about to happen.  At first I thought of warning the Amazons, but then I decided to wait and see what they were capable of, after all, the whole trip was an exercise to see if the youngsters were ready to face the world.  I was especially worried about Euryleia’s reaction to the ambush, after what happened to her after the Militaries’ ambush she could break again.  We were heading to an ambush, my premonition couldn’t be wrong.  I trusted the Amazons, but I wasn’t a fool, I gathered my energy and erected a psychic shield around me.  It was just a precaution, we were riding an armored car, but I couldn’t take any risks in my condition.  I was confident that the Amazons would be able to at least resist the attack, I had time to see if my intervention was necessary.

The attack didn’t take long to take place, a land mine exploded, knocking over the first car in the convoy.  The Amazons riding on the top of the cars responded to the attack much faster than our adversaries expected.  Molpadia and Valasca were riding with me, none of them moved, they just looked out of the windows waiting for a status report.  It didn’t take long, one of the warriors came to tell us that they had captured a group of Predators.

Our final destination was still far away, so the group stopped to set camp a few hours later.  While some of them started setting the tents and other basic tasks, Molpadia and Valasca decided to go see the prisoners.  I covered my face using the hood of my cape and joined them.  When we arrived to the group I was glad I had taken the precaution, one of the prisoners was Sable, Rex’s brother.  It didn’t make sense that Rex’s brother was in the field setting ambushes, what the hell was he doing there?

“Just five of them?” Molpadia asked.

“Those were the ones we found,” one of the guards responded.

“What are we going to do with them?” Valasca said as she took a knife out of her belt and approached the prisoners.  “We could cut them in pieces and send them back to their leader as a warning.”

“Or we could take them back with us as slaves, they seem strong, they could be useful,” Molpadia suggested.

“Or we could negotiate their return to their Clan,” I said.  “Sable is the brother of Rex, the Predator’s leader, I’m sure we could benefit from their safe return.”  I saw Sable looking at me, I felt his confusion, but I could tell he didn’t recognize me.

“Why waste our time?” Valasca said.  “It’s easier to kill them or enslave them.”

“I’m offering another option, but that’s for Molpadia to consider.” Valasca was furious, she didn’t like my reminder that she was not the one in charge.

“We don’t have to make any decisions at this moment,” Molpadia said, “I’ll think about our options tonight and decide tomorrow morning.  Valasca, stay away from our prisoners, if I decide to take Pitonisa’s advice I want them to be unharmed.” I saw Valasca was about to protest, but Molpadia never gave her the chance.  “Do you understand?” Molpadia’s voice resonated on my bones, it was an uncomfortable feeling, and a reminder for her cousin.  Valasca trembled and glared at her cousin with hate.

“I understand.” Valasca turned and left the place.

“Tell me Pitonisa, what do you suggest? You have more experience with this stuff, what would you do in my position?” Molpadia’s tent was ready, and we started walking towards it.

“We need to know what is Rex’s position, he is the leader of the Predators and Sable’s brother.  If Rex wants his brother back, he could try to get him back, just like the Militaries are trying to get Tank back.  We have to think about this, we have enough problems with the Militaries.  Are we ready to get into a war with the Predators too?  Specially if that war could put the Empire against us too?”

Molpadia was thinking about what I said, so I left her alone to process.  I knew that if she needed to speak with me more she would send for me.

Molpadia asked me to join her for breakfast the next morning.

“You’re right, right now is not the best time to be fighting another Clan.  If the Predators decide to attack us to get their people back we will be between a rock and a hard place.  We have our hands full with the Militaries, we don’t need to be fighting the Predators as well.”

“That’s what I think, and I believe that your mother would agree.”

“Do you think is safe to ask for a meeting with Rex?”

“The rules is that no one attacks during a meeting.  We need to take precautions, but I think we’ll be safe.”

Molpaida listened to me and acted accordingly.  She sent one of the prisoners with a message for Rex.  She prepared a place for the meeting, that same afternoon.  After interrogating the prisoners we found out that Rex and his people had a camp a few miles from us.  I confirmed the information with an astral walk.  I stayed away to avoid being discovered, but I could see that the group was big, there was no doubt Rex was with them.  I had no idea what he was doing there or how he would react to the Amazons message.

Molpadia asked me to join her, we went to the meeting place, along with her cousins and the prisoners.  Her warriors took care of the prisoners as her cousins and I waited with her for the arrival of the Predators.

Rex and his people didn’t take long to arrive, first I noticed his bear, and then I saw them.  It was comforting to see the familiar image of Rex and his bear.  I made sure that my face was hidden with the hood of my cape, I didn’t want him to see me, and if Molpadia managed to control the situation I would be able to remain anonymous.  I knew that if Rex found out I was with the Amazons, he would inform my brother and they would ruin my plans.

“Greetings Amazons.” Rex said when he arrived.  “I see that you have something of mine.”

“Your men attacked us, they are our prisoners.  They are ours, his actions put them in our hands and now we own them.  But we will give you the opportunity to recover them if you meet our demands.” Molpadia said.

“They were just doing their job.  An ambush is a risk everyone takes when traveling these roads.”

“Your people ambushed the wrong Clan.”

“I know that, I wouldn’t be here otherwise.”

“You are a long way from home Predator, you are in Amazon’s territory, you cannot be here.  Now you will do as I say if you want your brother and your warriors back.” Molpadia was getting carried away by the situation.

“I’m here to negotiate Amazon, but don’t be so sure you have the upper hand.  How do you even know that I want my brother back? Why are you so sure that I would compromise my position by worrying about those warriors?”  Rex smiled, a cold smile that would scare weaker people.

“Nice try Predator, but you won’t fool us that easily.” Areto walked to Sable and pushed him to the ground, then she put her feet on his throat.  The threat was clear, she could crush his throat and kill him easily.  “I know that you would risk anything to get your brother back, I know you will agree to our demands.”  Areto’s power was a weird combination between telepathy and empathy.  She could read the words behind emotions, she could feel the emotions behind words.  She was some kind of hybrid, with a power that I hadn’t seen before.  The fact was that you couldn’t lie to her.  I knew that she would be a great asset to Molpadia if they could become allies.

“It’s obvious we are the ones in control, so shut up and listen,” Molpadia said.  “Your men made a terrible mistake by attacking us, you made a mistake by invading our territory, and you will pay.”

“I don’t know who you think you are kid, but I won’t let you talk to me like that.”

“I’m Molpadia, heir to the Amazon’s throne, and you, you’re nothing but a man and it’s time you learn your place.”  Molpadia’s attitude was getting worse, I knew that she could get in trouble if she kept going like that, I had to do something before things got out of control.

“And I’m Rex, leader of the Predators and I won’t be intimidated by a bunch of kids.”

“Silence!” Molpadia ordered, using a menacing tone of voice.  “I’m the one that makes the rules, and you, you will remain silent…” I couldn’t let her continue, I slapped her, I needed her to shut up before she ruined everything.

“No Molpadia, you need to calm down.  Take a minute and don’t speak before you can address the leader of the Predators with the respect he deserves.” I didn’t care if I was scolding her in front of everyone, that was no way of speaking to a leader.

Molpadia stared at me, surprised by my actions and unsure of how to act.  She wasn’t the only one surprised, Amazons and Predators were stunned by my actions, but no one, not even Valasca dared to question my authority.

“Who are you?” Rex asked me, I could feel his confusion, he knew my voice, but couldn’t identify it.

“Rex, Pitonisa is right, I got carried away.  I think that we need to discuss our situation in a way that we can find a solution that is beneficial for both sides.” Molpadia said once she recovered.

“I agree.  But first I would like to see my men, I have to make sure no harm was done to them.”

“Of course.  You will see that despite the fact that they attacked us and we had the right to kill them, no harm was done to them.” Molpadia waved Areto to move back so Rex could get closer to Sable.

“Brother, what are you waiting for? Get rid of those kids, you can’t let them treat us like this!” Sable was angry at his brother and us.

“Shut up, we wouldn’t be in this situation if it wasn’t for you.  What were you thinking going like that and setting up an ambush?  I agreed to negotiate your freedom, I agreed to meet them here, I can’t attack them without provocation, I’m a man of my word and I won’t have anyone questioning my honor.” Rex was angry as well, his brother had put them in a bad spot.

“I don’t trust them, especially the one with the hood, she is hiding something.” Sable turned to me, I could see his animosity, he didn’t know it was me, he hated me anyway.

Rex and Sable kept talking, but I wasn’t paying attention anymore.  My back was hurting and I was tired.  I wanted to sit, but there was no place to sit in the clearing.  I could use my powers to make a chair, but Rex would recognize me immediately if I did that.  I started walking, trying to ease the pain.  Suddenly a stab of pain made me bend over.  I could stop the scream from getting out, but I couldn’t stop the people around from noticing something was wrong.

“What’s wrong?” Euryleia asked, worry evident in her voice.  “Is it the baby? Is it coming?”

“Of course not, is three months too early for that.” I said as the pain eased.

“Maybe she’s losing the baby.” Valasca said cheerfully.

“I’m sorry to disappoint, but there’s no way I’m going to lose this baby.” I tried to stand up and face Valasca, but the pain returned and I had to bend again.

I had a bad feeling, and it wasn’t because the pain I was feeling, there was an external threat.  I didn’t see Valasca move, but I knew it was her.  Still bending over, with my hands on my belly, I used my powers to raise some rock stakes around Valasca to stop her attack.  As the pain eased I looked up and found Molpadia, Euryleia, and to my surprise Areto standing between Valasca and me.  They had moved between us to protect me.

“What the hell were you trying to do?” Molpadia was furious with her cousin.

“Are you ok, mistress?” Euryleia was the one closer to me, and she was watching me with concern.

“I’m fine, don’t worry.”

“You need to rest, you should go back to the camp,” Molpadia suggested, “we can take care of this.”

“No, I’m fine, just give me a minute.” I hated that they thought that I needed help, I hated feeling so useless.

“If you allow me, I would like to make a suggestion,” Rex said, “maybe if she wants to lay down for a moment we could use my bear as a pillow.  That’s what my partner used to do when she was pregnant.”

“That’s a good idea.” I could see recognition in Rex’s eyes, I knew it was a good idea to accept his help.  He called his bear and he laid down next to me.  Rex helped me get comfortable.  I had to accept that it felt good.

“Kaiserin, what are you doing here?  It doesn’t look like they are holding you against your will.” Rex whispered, so no one could hear us talking.

“You’re right, I’m with them because I want to.”

“Why? Everyone in the Empire had been looking for you.”

“And they can keep looking, they won’t find me.  I don’t expect you to understand Rex, but I’m where I need to be.  You can go and tell everyone you found me, I won’t be with the Amazons when you return.  But don’t worry, I’ll be fine.  Go and talk to Molpadia, I can guarantee that nothing will happen to you or your people, but I need you to understand something.  This war between the Amazons and Militaries will affect not only the Rebel Clans, but the Empire as well.  You need to keep out of it, if you try to interfere you won’t like the consequences.  Now go.  I won’t ask you to forget about me, I know that you will go to my brother and that you will tell him about me.”

“You could go back with me, whatever you’re going through, we can help.”

“I don’t need help.”

Rex wasn’t so sure about my decision, but he went back to where Molpadia was waiting.  From where I was I could hear just fragments of the conversation.  It didn’t take long for them to come to an agreement: Rex would stay away from Amazon’s territory, and they would let his men go, they would even give him information about the supply centers of the Militaries for his raids.

Rex tried to convince me to go back with him, but I needed to stay with the Amazons a little bit longer.  I knew that I didn’t have much time, I needed to be away by the time my brother decided to send people after me.  All my plans had to change because of Rex, but I could make it work.

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