I knew I had to keep going, but I was too tired. I had hours to go before sunset, but I couldn’t keep going anymore. I used my powers to find a safe place to spend the night. I had a bad feeling, I knew they were coming for me, but I just couldn’t keep going, especially if I was going to have to defend myself, I needed to keep my strength. After setting the camp and putting some basic defense mechanisms I decided I needed to do some astral reconnaissance, I needed to search for my pursuers, but I couldn’t find them. Even if I couldn’t see them, I knew they were close, because of my bad feeling.
After eating, I lay down, I was going to do another astral travel, to make sure I could give my body the opportunity to rest, while keeping myself alert, but I couldn’t, I fell asleep before I could get outside my body. I don’t know how long I had been asleep when I felt my brother’s presence in my mind. When I felt him, I went searching for him in my mental landscape.
“Brother,” I called his mental representation, he was wandering my mind, trying to find answers to my secrets, to find out where I had been the last few years.
“Sister, I’m glad I finally reached you,” he really was happy, but also worried about something.
“What are you doing here? Where are you?”
“I came to warn you, you are in danger. My group and I were looking for you…”
“I know that,” I interrupted him, “the Naturalists told you where to find me.”
“You can’t blame them for that, they were trying to help, they are worried about you, as I am, we want to help you.”
“I asked you to stop looking for me.”
“You know you are vulnerable. Where else could you be safe, but in your home? Especially now. Just tell me where you are and I will go pick you up.”
“I don’t need your help.”
“Yes, you do. My group was looking for you and we were attacked. We are not the only ones after you, you have another dangerous enemy, one with impenetrable minds. One of them was even capable of defeating me. Me! You can’t face them alone, you need our help.” One of my greatest fears was becoming real, the only one I could think of, capable of defeating Trajan, was Kimball.
“Don’t worry, I won’t let him or anyone else get me. Understand? No one! Nor Kimball nor you can decide what’s best for me, none of you will make my life a living hell. Kimball already tried and couldn’t do it. If I was able to stop him once, I will be able to do it again.”
“I don’t know why you won’t accept my help. You clearly need it.”
“Are you talking about my pregnancy, or…?” I didn’t finish my question, I realized that Trajan knew my secret, and that wasn’t good, for him, and for most of my Clan that meant that I was no longer a warrior, I was a Seeress, an easy target, someone to protect and hide, to control and use. “Who else knows it?”
“No one else has to know it, but Kaiserin, you are in danger, it would be easier to protect you if you are with me.”
“I don’t need your protection, I don’t need you or anyone else.”
I cut the connection and woke up startled. I knew Trajan would keep looking for me and if he had the Naturalists on his side he would find me. Even though it was still dark and needed to move, I couldn’t keep hiding, I needed to go north as fast as I could. I needed to run not from one, but two groups. What would be worse? To be caught by my family or by Kimball? If I had a choice, it would be neither of them, but I knew my life was not easy.
I didn’t bother trying to hide the camp, they would find it anyway and it was better to move. I decided that I wasn’t going to let my tiredness stop me again, but at noon I realized that I wouldn’t be able to keep that promise to myself. I had to stop, and it wasn’t because I needed to eat or I was tired, I stopped because a piercing pain in my womb made it impossible for me to keep driving. I didn’t know what to call that pain, it wasn’t labor, it was too early, but the pain was as strong. Once I was safe on the side of the road I used my powers to try and find what was wrong with me.
I was no expert in biokinesis, but I could feel something breaking inside of me, my womb was breaking, blood was spilling. I didn’t know what, but I knew something was really bad, and I feared for my son’s life, and even mine. I focused my double mind in learning my body’s structures, I needed to keep my blood flowing the way it was supposed to, even with broken veins. It was hard, and complicated, and I realized I wouldn’t be able to make it work for long. I needed help.
For hours, or maybe it was just minutes, for an endless instant, I let myself get lost in my fears, I felt like I was dying, I felt like I was losing my child, Kimball’s child. I finally accepted that I couldn’t do it alone, I needed help, and I didn’t have many options. If I went to my Clan for help, they would definitely save my life, but I couldn’t be sure about my child, there was only one person who would be as desperate to save him as I was, just one person loved my unborn child as much as I did.
I crawled outside my vehicle, I wanted to extend my mind and try search around me, but I had to focus my powers on keeping my baby alive, it was a task that was getting more and more complicated by the minute. Despite my efforts I kept bleeding, I didn’t want to look how much blood I was losing. I didn’t have time to be careful or even worry about myself, I needed to save my son.
“Kimball!” I screamed as loud as I could, hoping that my brother was right and that he was close to me. “Kimball!” I called again, not thinking about what he would do to me, trading my future for my son’s. I couldn’t keep running. I needed help.
I kept yelling and calling until my voice was lost. After a while I wasn’t sure if I was screaming or just imagining it. But finally I heard someone moving, someone was running towards me, and if I was lucky it would be the person I needed.
“Kaiserin! What happened to you?” Kimball arrived and I could see the terror on his face, I finally looked down and saw the blood stain running down my pants, despite my efforts to stop the bleeding.
“Something it’s wrong, you have to save my baby.” My voice was broken, Kimball had to bend down to be able to hear me, but I knew he had heard my words.
“Dammit Kai, what happened? Were you attacked? Did you hurt yourself?”
“I don’t know what happened!” I tried to scream my frustration, but my voice was weak, I had to fight to keep myself awake, I was too weak, too dizzy. “There’s something wrong with Ethan, you have to save him,” I had never been so afraid, and so defeated, all my strength was focused inside, on saving him, without caring about myself. “Please,” I hated how weak and pleading my voice sounded, it was like someone else’s voice, “I will do whatever you want, just save him.”
“Don’t worry about anything, I won’t let anything happen to you.” Kimball took his backpack and started taking medical supplies out. I wasn’t paying attention while he was checking me, my attention was on the inside, trying to fight my own body back. “Kaiserin!” Kimball called and I noticed he had been doing that for a while. “I need you to focus, and listed to me. I need you to do exactly what I tell you to do, no hesitation, no questions. I will take you back right now. Do you understand?” I tried to talk, but I couldn’t, so I just nodded my agreement. Of course I understood, I had to go back, I had to leave my life behind and submit to his will. I needed to do what I had sworn I wouldn’t do again. I needed to do whatever I could for my son, and I would do it, no matter what the cost to myself.
Kimball lifted me in is arms and started walking. My body was at breaking point. I could hear him talking, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying, my mind was clouded and all my strength focused on keeping the bleeding to a minimum, trying to keep my body from rejecting my son. It was too soon, I knew my son wouldn’t survive outside, he had months to go before being ready to be born, and I couldn’t let him die after carrying him for more than five months. I knew Kimball was calling me, trying to get me to react, but I couldn’t focus on him. I knew that he would do his best to save my baby, I needed to trust him to do his work, and do my best to buy him as much time as I could.
I knew I was past my limit, but for hours my mind kept fighting to keep my body working. Despite my efforts I knew I had lost consciousness a few times. My memories of that trip weren’t clear, I knew that I had been taken to a helicopter, I vaguely remembered an operating room. Some words of encouragement, and then everything took a turn for the worse, I lost my powers again, I was vulnerable and unable to protect myself, worse, unable to protect my child.
I lost myself in a fog of drugs and anesthesia. I had a few moments of clarity, enough to piece together what was going on. We had arrived to one of the Mzansiers’ base, Kimball and someone else operated on me. I remembered people running around and working frantically, then something that sounded like a baby’s cry. I remembered waking in a hospital bed, without my powers. I supposed that losing my powers was part of the price of saving Ethan, I just hoped that he was well and my sacrifice wasn’t in vain.
“I see you’re awake,” Kimball said. I couldn’t move and he was out of my sight, so I couldn’t see him.
“My baby?” If Kimball had managed to save him, if he was alive, then all my sacrifices would be worth it.
“Our son is fine, he is premature, but it’s surprisingly strong. He will be in the incubator for a couple of days, just to make sure he is ok, but he will be a strong, healthy child.” Kimball moved and I was able to see him. He was standing next to me, tired, but happy. And why wouldn’t he be happy? He had gotten what he wanted. He had his son, and the woman he wanted under his control.
“Congratulations, you got what you wanted.”
“Kaiserin, we need to talk.” Kimball sat on the bed and took one of my hands in his.
Kimball had won, he had luck on his side and he had taken advantage of my weakness to trap me again, but it didn’t matter, because even if he had won, he wouldn’t be getting the prize he wanted. I had promised to come back, and to obey him, but not to die in the process. Thanks to the people from the Shadowlands I knew more than I did before, I had learned how to build a fortress inside my own mind, I would take everything that made me the person I was and hide it in a corner of my mind, where no one would find me, where Kimball wouldn’t be able to destroy me. If he wanted an obedient girl, that’s what he would get, I would give him the broken part of me, while protecting the strong warrior I was, biding my time until I could reclaim my body and my freedom. It was time for Kimball to meet a person I thought I would never be again. I would hide Kaiserin, and give him Sklave to play.