Before the kick could connect, Mbali moved out of reach and positioned behind my back. As I tried to move so I could face her again, she tried to grab me, but all she could hold onto was air, as my psychic wall was surrounding me a couple of inches from my skin. I tried to kick her legs, so I could make her lose her balance, but she jumped out of the way and away, moving to a safe distance, yet again.
“You keep telegraphing your movements, I can see exactly what you are trying to do before you do it,” Mbali said. “If it wasn’t for your psychic shield I would have won this fight a long time ago.”
“And if I was using my powers for offense, instead of defense, the fight would have ended with me as the victor a long, long time ago.” I countered. Mbali was the one who had the brilliant idea of training with each other, but her condition was that I would use my powers only for defense, that made it equally difficult for both of us to fight the other.
“Well, I have to accept that you may be right,” that was one of the things I liked about being with her, she was strong and capable, but aware of her limitations, she knew that in a real fight the odds were in my favor, and it was more likely I would win.
After a couple of days on the island, Kimball and I had traveled to Mzansi, to the place where their King, one of the three powers in Mzansi, held court. At first Kimball had done everything he could to include me in his everyday activities, but King Kgosi wasn’t happy with my presence, he tried to ban me from attending their meetings, but Kimball said that wherever he went I had to go, and the King had to accept my presence, but he made sure to let me know I wasn’t welcome. He used only the languages I couldn’t understand, and every time Kimball tried to change the conversation to another language the King ignored him. After a while I got tired and decided to stop attending the meetings. The war wasn’t really my problem, and if they didn’t want my help, well, that was their problem not mine. I knew they would regret it eventually.
Luckily I found Mbali soon after we arrived, she was a familiar face that became a friend in a short time. Kimball’s cousin kept me company while Kimball was with his uncle, the King, and we soon started to spar during that time. Mbali wasn’t super strong, like most of the people I had met from her Clan, but she had superior sight and reflexes. Fighting her was similar to fighting Kimball, because she had the ability to predict my movements as accurately as if she was reading my mind, she could see what I was planning as if she could see what my mind was trying to do.
Despite everything, fighting her was relaxing, not frustrating. Sparring with her I felt like I was back in the Palace, training with my family. I learned a lot from our training and I felt better afterwards.
“It seems like we won’t get anywhere like this, and I’m getting tired to not being able to connect any of my hits. What if we tried something else? Like shooting.” Mbali was an expert shooter, she was the best sniper in their country, and she was good with all kinds of weapons.
“Are you looking for something you can actually win?”
“Of course!” She accepted in a good mood. “Don’t act surprised, you don’t like to lose either. And I don’t know you, but I’m tired of this, I don’t like wasting all my day with something that won’t take me anywhere. Without using your powers for offense, you can’t beat me, and while you use your powers for defense, I can’t touch you.”
“Ok, if you want me to give you a lesson in shooting, be my guest.”
“No one is better than me.”
“What if we raise the difficulty? What do you think of trying to shoot blindfolded?”
“Are you going to cheat?”
“You are just like your cousin, accusing me of cheating just because I’m using my abilities. Using my powers to help me is not cheating. It’s not cheating when you use your superior sight to see the targets, why would it be cheating for me to use my powers? We are only using he abilities we have to help us win.”
“I know that, but I need an excuse in case you win.” She said with a smile.
Just as I had been able to guess who were allied with Kimball and who were against him during my first stay with him and his Clan, it was easy to spot those who served under him and those who didn’t during that stay. Those who recognized Kimball’s authority often greeted or saluted me when I walked past them, but most people just ignored me or looked angry at my presence.
When they had told me that people from Mzansi didn’t like foreign people I didn’t realize just how much. Even with Victoria’s warnings it was hard to adjust, because while people like Mbali welcomed me with open arms, some people made me uncomfortable, even if I couldn’t see what they were thinking I was aware of how much they hated me.
When we arrived at the shooting range we found the place already occupied. Another group was having what looked like a competition, and we decided to stay for a while and watch them. At first, there was no problem, but then people started to notice us.
“I’m sorry, but you can’t stay here, this is a private competition.” A man that said. By his uniform I guessed he was the same rank as Kimball.
“Chill out Neo, we are only watching.”
“Nothing to see here.” He repeated, trying to get rid of us. I could see that Mbali was getting angry and I didn’t want her to start fighting with her own people.
“He’s right, nothing to see here. It’s obvious that those soldiers are not very good, I’m sure we can find something better to watch.” My words made the man angry, he wasn’t going to let me insult him. He moved to block our path before we could leave.
“I demand some respect for the real warriors. Stay,” he said, changing his mind, “maybe watching them you could learn a few things.”
“Or maybe I could teach a few things to you and your men.” I was getting tired of his attitude.
“Do you really think you could do better than me men? You can’t use your tricks in here, you need real ability to shoot. Any of my men would prove far superior than you in this task.” At least he knew about me. It was weird how people from Mzansi looked down on psychics, it was the opposite of how it was perceived in the Empire.
“I know I can do better than them.”
“The both of us could wipe the floor with your men.” Mbali added in support.
“I know you would do a good job Mbali, you are one of our own, but I don’t think this psychic could be at the same level as our people.
“What about a demonstration? I could teach you a few things.”
“I will enjoy watching you embarrass yourself. Go ahead.”
Neo started barking orders, and his men left their guns on the tables before them and stood back, giving me space. I walked to the nearest table and grabbed the weapon. I let my mind get hold of it, learning everything I could about it, then I connected to the world around me and searched for the rest of the weapons, lying on the other tables. It was a difficult trick, but I managed to connect with all of the weapons and move them as if they were one. When I started prepping it, the others started to move as well, following the motions of the one in my hands. I heard a few gasps and surprise exclamations, but I kept my concentration, I trusted Mbali to take care of my back while I worked.
It took me a few minutes to prepare, longer than if I was handling just one weapon, but it was worth it. I shoot the rifle on my hands and all the others went off at the same time. My shot was almost perfect, and I knew the rest were close, even if I hadn’t fired them with my own hands.
“What were you saying about me not being able to use my powers for this?” I asked Neo.
“That’s not possible,” he whispered, as he moved to see the targets up close.
“No need to go all the way, I can tell you right now they all hit their mark,” Mbali said.
“But that’s nos possible!” He repeated.
“Don’t be a sore loser, just accept you were wrong and that she is much better than you gave her credit for.” Mbali moved closer and whispered on my ear: “I still think I can beat you, you know?” I couldn’t help but smile, I would like to face Mbali in a real competition, it was always good to have a true opponent.”
“Causing trouble?” Kimball asked from the door of the shooting range.
“As always,” I said, happy to see him.
“Don’t worry,” he said as he moved closer to me, “they will eventually learn not to mess with you. Although I had to admit I enjoy watching you kick their assess again and again.”
“And it’s fun to show them how wrong they are,” but I was getting tired of it. All my life I had to fight and prove myself over and over again. I thought that I had left those days behind me, but I was starting again, since my arrival in Mzansi I had to fight constantly to prove them I was worthy.
“The things she do are not natural.” Neo told Kimball.
“She is a psychic, she does things differently than us. And you have to remember that she is not just a psychic, she is the most powerful psychic in the Dark Empire, maybe in the whole world.”
“But just like all the other psychics she is nothing without her powers, take them away and even a child would be able to beat her.”
I felt like I had been punched, not just because he was being unfair, but because he could be right. Without meaning I started remembering my time with Agmong, how without the full use of my powers I was weak and vulnerable, and complete under his control. I felt like beating Neo, I wanted to tear him apart, without using my powers just to prove him that I could, even if I knew that I was no match to his mutant strength. I would have tried if Kimball hadn’t stopped me.
“Be careful with what you say Neo, you don’t want my woman to prove you wrong again.” Kimball said before I could. “The strongest one is not always the victor, to win a fight you need intelligence, ability and experience, and even if you are older than her, you haven’t spent your whole life fighting for your life. Kai, let’s go, he is not worth your time.”
I got no choice but to follow Kimball back to our room. Mbali walked with us for a while, but she had other places to be and we separated halfway there.
“You should have let me teach that prick a lesson.” I said as soon as we were alone in our room.
“It wasn’t worth it,” Kimball repeated. “Don’t listen to what they say, you and I know how capable you are, it’s not important what the others think.”
“I know, but I’m getting tired of being looked down on.”
“I know, but we both knew it wouldn’t be easy coming here when we decided to move here.” I knew what he really meant. He had warned me it wouldn’t be easy, but I was so afraid of my world that I decided we would go to his, no matter what. I had no right to complain now, it was my decision to come, even if things weren’t going my way. “We will move soon, Kgosi gave me a mission. Mbali and most of my men will come too, so you will have friends where we’re going, you won’t have to start again.”
“Where are we going?”
“Chief Zola has requested my help. She is the head of the Elders Council. They have been having problems, apparently the enemy discovered their locations and have been sending attacks to the place they were hiding. We need to go protect them, find them a new hiding place, and move them to safety.”
“It sounds like fun, it sure beats staying here.”
“I prefer boring to fun, I don’t want any problems on this mission.”
“Don’t worry, as long as we are together, we can face anything.”