As every year, Kimball came back from his trip to the Fortress in a good mood, I guessed that seeing Greca had done that, and I appreciated it, he was warmer, funnier and gentler. While we were traveling back to Mzansi he didn’t stop touching me for a second, just holding hands or hugging or offering me his shoulder for a nap. And as always, I felt better for having him with me.
“It’s a shame you had to cut your visit short, I know how much you like to spend time with them. Maybe next year we can repeat the experience, I would like to meet Melchizedek, he seems like a great guy.”
“I would like that, and Melchizedek said that it wouldn’t take so long for my next visit, maybe next year?”
“I’m sorry you didn’t find the answers you were looking for, but don’t worry, it’s not your job to give us all the answers. I don’t need you to guide us trough the war, a suggestion once in a while will do.”
“I would like to do more, I want to help us end the war. I know it’s been years since this all started, but I would like to end it. Your people don’t deserve to live like that, surrounded by death and blood.”
“You are right, and things have only turned worse over the years. At first they weren’t so bloody. They targeted individuals, not entire countries. But no matter how bad it turns, my people will rather die fighting than live as slaves.”
“I know what you mean.” My mind moved to dark thoughts, of days of servitude. I have never been a slave in name, but Agmong sure treated me like one. “I understand the need for freedom and I promise I will do my best to make sure you and your people can continue to live in freedom, and I won’t ever lose my freedom again.”
As soon as we arrived at Mzansi a group of people went looking for Kimball. They told us Kimball was needed urgently. One of them suggested that I must be tired and should go rest, but I knew that was not what he meant. Even after all the time I had been living in Mzansi, there were still some people that didn’t accept me and didn’t like me participating in their meetings. I didn’t even bother to address his suggestion, I took Kimball hand and walked with him to the conference room where the rest of the military chiefs were gathered with Chief Zola, King Kgosi and President Frederik. It was not a common sight, usually they tried to keep the three of them in separate parts, which could only mean that something very important had happened.
“So nice of you to finally join us.” Was Kgosi greeting to Kimball. As always, he ignored me. “Our neighboors have been under heavy attacks this last few days. Three of them at the same time, their losses have been great. As you can imagine they are not happy, one of them called a Chief of State’s meeting.”
“We have been discussing about the best location to have this meeting, we don’t want what happened last time to be repeated, so we need a secure place.” Frederik said. “As our expert in security, we would like your opinion on this.”
“I’m honored that you think my opinion is important, and I will do my best to live up to your expectations. Do you have any ideas of where to host it?” Kimball asked.
“Some of our neighbors suggested their own territories for the meeting, but I think it would be safer if it’s in Mzansi,” Zola said. “That being said, I think we should look for a new location, not the usual ones. I think a place no one knows would be better.”
“We can’t keep the location a secret for long, as soon as we inform our neighbors were to meet us, the secret is out. No matter how careful we are, we can’t control the information for long, there will be many opportunities for the location to leak. We need a safe, heavily armed location if we want safety.”
“Or we could choose a meeting place for arrival and then move the people to the final destination. This way we can keep the final location protected, we would be only exposing a part of the journey. We could even choose a different meeting place for every country, that way if there is a leak, we would know where to look for it. And the different destinations will make the enemy think we are planning something different from a meeting.” I suggested.
“That’s an excellent idea,” Zola smiled at me. “As always you managed to find the middle point between our ideas.”
“She is a force of balance,” Frederik said. “I like the idea, but it will make things even more complicated, we will have to choose more locations for the first drop off and the final meeting place.”
“If we want this to be as secret as possible, then let me make a suggestion,” Kimball said. “Leave everything related to the final destination in my hands. You choose the first meeting place, and I will have my drivers ready to pick up our visitors and take them to the final place. The first half of the journey will be in your hands, the final one in mine.”
“Another excellent idea,” Zola said. “Everyone agrees?”
“I do.” Frederik said.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea. This is too important to leave in the hands of one man, we need to take the decision together.” Kgosi said.
“That’s your opinion and I respect that, but we are a democracy and you are outnumbered,” Zola said. “Kimball and Kaiserin will take care of our final destination and security, we will coordinate the arrivals.”
“Do I have to remind you that as King the military forces are under my control? Kimball works for me, not you.”
“I know exactly who you are and the functions of your position, I was Queen for a long time.”
“But you are no longer Queen, and you have to respect my authority as King.” Kgosi said, clearly mad.
“I know exactly how you feel, and I’m not trying to undermine your authority, but I would like to remind you of a simple fact. I left my position, you didn’t win it from me. Don’t make me regret my decision of leaving the throne. I knew that you still have a lot to learn, but there are a few lessons that I wouldn’t mind teaching you. For example, your first duty as King, is making sure your people are safe and protected, nothing, not even your ego is more important. You said you want us to work together, but you don’t cooperate with us unless your ideas are the ones being used. I’m sorry, but that’s not how things are done. Frederik and I have our trust in Kimball and Kaiserin, and even if you don’t like it, you will have to agree, because that’s what’s best for our people.”
“Is there a threat in there?” Kgosi asked.
“You complain that we are trying to undermine your authority, but you keep trying to undermine ours,” Frederik added, “just because you are the head of our military forces, it doesn’t mean that they are yours, we all have responsibility over the country’s safety, and all our voices count. Right now two of us decided to take a course of action you don’t like, just get over it, or you will create complications that we don’t need right now.”
“Are you blaming me for this problem? I’m just trying to do what is best for all of us.”
“So are we,” Zola said, “and since we are two against one, our best for all is the one that counts. Kimball, Kaiserin, I know that thanks to you we survived the mess that was the ambassadors gathering three years ago, I trust you to keep us safe one more time.”
“Don’t worry, we won’t let you down.”
In just a few days everything was ready for the meeting. We have worked very hard to keep the final meeting place a secret. The enemy was getting bolder, his tactics bloodier, we needed to keep the meeting out of their radar, or we would lose very important people. Their desperation was because of the nations we have helped free, using local resistance and Mzansi’s special forces, we have managed to free four nations, and those nations were in great danger. It was our job to help them and keep them safe. We were hoping our secrecy would help with that.
Kimball and I waited at the meeting place, Kimball had sent people he trusted to pick the our visitors. They would be arriving to a different base in Mzansi and then moved to the place we were waiting at. The arrivals were scheduled one hour apart, that way the previous group would be already in their assigned area by the time the next arrived. We had no problems during the first two arrivals, but while we waited for the third one I felt uneasy. I decided to risk a walk in the fog of the future. I found what I needed and returned just in time to see the third plane descending on the tarmac. We moved closer to the plane and when the door opened and I saw their faces I knew my vision was right. I needed to act fast if I wanted to prevent a problem.
“Who is the person standing next to the President?” I asked Kimball.
“That’s the President’s chief of security, one of the generals of his army.”
“He is also the person who is going to betray us all for the chance of a high position in King Fakhir’s army.”
“What?” Kimball looked startled by my words.
“I saw the future, he is carrying a transmitter to help our enemies locate this place. As soon as all of us are dead, he will get his prize.”
“Are you sure?”
Kimball didn’t doubt his actions, he walked to them and pushed them back into the plane. Running behind him I entered the cabin just before he closed the door and started shouting orders for us to get back in the air.
“What the hell is going on? I demand an explanation for your actions,” the man that was planning on selling us to the enemy demanded.
“That’s what I want to know,” Kimball said. “What the hell is going on? What are your plans?”
“Kimball?” The President was confused and scared. I had to admire him though, his mind was screaming, terrified, but his demeanor was calm, even while he thought that we were the ones betraying him, and probably planning his death. “I demand an explanation, right now!” His voice broke with the last word and I knew that Kimball would pick up his fear.
“I agree, I need an explanation.” Kimball went and took the General’s briefcase and using a device started to search for something. When the wand he was using started to ping, I knew he had found something.
“You have no right to go through my things, leave them alone, right now.”
“Garai?” Even the president knew something odd was going on, he knew that his General was hiding something.
“Mr. President, you can’t let them treat us like that!” As he was talking, Kimball extracted a small device and held it up.
“This would be a good moment to explain just what this is and why it is in our plane.”
“I have no idea…”
“I know what it is and what it is for. I know why you brought it here and what was your price,” I told him. “This will be your only chance to explain yourself, so I would suggest you don’t waste your time trying to lie. Tell the truth and you may live another day.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about,” he said, but his mind was saying something completely different. ‘It’s too late, they already know the meeting’s location.’
“I know you think you already won, but let me assure you, you didn’t. We took precautions, we have an alternative site ready and as we move the people is being moved to the new location. Even if the Republican’s forces know where the meeting was going to be held, by the time they arrive, the place will be empty. You worked for nothing, you wasted your time.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” THe president asked, clearly confused.
“Your General sold us to the Republic, that’s what’s happening.” Kimball said, anger showing clearly in his voice.
“No, that’s not possible, you must be mistaken. He wouldn’t betray us like that, not after all we had to fight to get out of Fakhir and Emily’s control. Our country wouldn’t survive their demands again.”
“Do you think things are better now? How many people must die before you realize that we can’t fight them? We are only hurting ourselves like this, we can’t ignore reality.” Garai said.
“Don’t pretend you are doing what’s best for your people. You didn’t do this because you cared for them, you did it because they promised power over this region. You sold your people for an empty title and undeserved power.” With him it was easy to find the paths, his conviction was so strong that the possible futures were few, either he succeeded, or he failed. Another plus was that his mind wasn’t like those of the Mzansiers, I couldn’t enter his mind, but I could read his superficial thoughts, and I was learning a lot. He was mourning his losses, all the power and prestige he wanted in exchange of selling his own people.
“If what you are saying is true, I had no idea, I wasn’t working with him, he acted on his own,” the President was worried, he didn’t want the greed of his General to affect the help we were giving to his people.
Kimball turned to me and I saw the question on his face. “He didn’t know, Garai was acting alone.” I was sure of it, and Kimball believed in my word.
“It seems it’s game over for you. Now you have two options, you can either work with us as a spy getting information out of Fakhir, or you can spend the rest of your days rotting in prison.”
“Are you our of your mind? No one lies to Fakhir, he is the most powerful telepath in the world. You can’t fight him and I can’t fool him. If I accept to work with you he will kill me as soon as he sees me.”
“There are ways to fight a telepath, you don’t need to be afraid,” I said, but he didn’t listen to me, he was panicking.
I saw the thoughts going through his mind, he didn’t realize all the information he was feeding me by thinking of everything they had planned. Their plan to brainwash the Presidents into joining the Republic again, how he planned to kidnap and use our own soldiers against us. It was too late when I noticed that Garai’s fears were valid, Fakhir had planted a command in his mind in case he decided to betray him or he was captured. Moving without noticing what he was doing, Garai lifted his hand and bit the rock on his ring, the one Fakhir had given to him, but it wasn’t a precious stone that he took into his mouth, it was cyanide.
I was wrong, I had underestimated Fakhir, an error I wouldn’t repeat.