After so many years living underwater, the sun felt brighter and the air too strong. Not than all five years had been spent underwater, there had been some trips to the surface, so that Ethan and the other kids could get some sun and fresh air, and once a year on Kimball’s yearly travel to the Fortress. Ethan and I always stayed on the coast, never going inland in the Empire, there were too many memories and dangers there for me, but even on the coast it gave Ethan the opportunity to experience life outside.
The villa Kimball had found was located on a private island, only members of the Royal Family visited it and a few workers lived there. It wasn’t a public place and few people knew about it, Kimball thought it was the perfect place to adopt as home, we could even pretend we had been there for years. Despite everything I didn’t like the place, I had a bad feeling, and I knew that the feeling wasn’t necessary because of the place, but still.
The events that were going to take place during the following weeks involved many people, many decisions were taken each day, and the future kept changing because of that. I knew something bad was going to happen, but with so many possibilities and so many players it was hard to know exactly which future was going to become real. For the moment my plan was to send Ethan away so he would be safe, while we decided what to do. Much depended on the King’s and Queen’s actions, once they made their move, I would know how to act.
“Hi, hello,” the housekeeper greeted me. “The rest of the family is here,” she announced happily.
“I still don’t think it was a good idea for Ethan’s grandparent’s to come here, what if someone followed them?” There were so many things to consider, so many places where security could be compromised.
“They took every precaution they could, and if you are going to send Ethan to live with them, it’s better if they spend some time together so the change is not so hard on him.”
“I know you’re right, in theory, but I’m afraid something bad is going to happen. Many of the futures I see end up in death and destruction, I’m just trying to make sure those futures don’t become true,” I explained.
“It must be very difficult to see the future and still not knowing what is going to happen for sure. See the worst and not knowing if you can avoid it. Sometimes I think is better not to see anything, that way you don’t have to worry.”
“But you miss the opportunity to fix it. It’s hard to avoid problems when you don’t know the’re coming. I know what you mean, many times I had thought of this more like a curse than a gift. It’s painful to have these images in my mind and to see over and over your loved ones being hurt, dying…. But if the pain of seeing the worst is the price I have to pay for the chance of keeping people safe, then I will gladly pay it.”
“That’s why I admire you so much, you are always willing to fight for those you love. I’m grateful that you are on our side, I don’t want to imagine what it would be like to have you as our enemy.”
“Let’s hope we never find out,” even if I liked her and the rest of the people working there, and even if they showed me as much loyalty as to any other member of the family, I still remembered how easily the people I trusted the most was able to betray me. Even Kimball, who loved me, had betrayed me, hurting me more than anyone. Even if I liked her and loved the idea of friendship, I knew that at the end of the day the only one I could really trust was myself.
“I think we should head inside, the family must be waiting for us,” she said, clearly trying to change the topic. The conversation had turned heavy and we needed to relax.
Kimball’s family received me with open arms. Since moving to Acuarium, communicating with the exterior had been hard if not impossible, but with time his parents and most of his family has accepted me and they treated me as part of their family. With my empathy I knew that they weren’t just using empty words, they really appreciated me, they had even forgiven me for almost killing Kimball, that only proved how much they liked me, because that was not an easy thing to do.
Ethan was the one who benefited most when the family was together, since his main power was empathy, he fed on the love his family felt for him. Everyone loved Ethan. There was something about him that called people to him, and it wasn’t just his power as I first suspected, he was just a lovable boy, his personality and his smile could win most people’s love. I knew that he was going to become a very dangerous person once he was older, his natural charm and his empathy would be powerful weapons. He was a natural leader, people were drawn to him, and would follow him to the end of the earth, not because they had to, but because they wanted to. I knew he was going to become a powerful leader, one people loved and respected. But first I had to make sure he had the opportunity to grow.
That night, while I was carrying Ethan, who had fallen asleep, back to his room, I started to feel unease, I knew that something bad was about to happen, I just didn’t know what. I had so many visions going around my head that I didn’t know which one to blame.
“Are you okay?” Kimball asked. As always, he knew something was bothering me just by looking at me. He knew something was wrong and he wouldn’t let it go until I tell him the problem so he could find a solution.
“I have a bad feeling, but I don’t know why. All I know is that we have to be prepared for anything,” I put Ethan in his back and tuck him in, once I was satisfied that he was going to be alright, I walked out of his room, Kimball checked on his son and then followed me out of the room.
“It’s a good thing that by tomorrow my parents and Ethan will be away from here. It will be easier to face whatever is coming if we don’t have to worry about them.” Kimball put his arm around my shoulders and we walked back to our room, together. Following our nightly routine made me feel better and calmer.
“I will miss him so much, I don’t remember being away from him more than a couple of days since he was born. Now I understand why the Empire takes the babies as soon as they are born, if we were given the opportunity to be with them for long we wouldn’t be able to let them go.”
“I guess that’s just one of many reasons. If you could go back in time and give Ethan away, would you do it?”
“I don’t know, I can’t imagine my life without him. This is not the life I imagined when I left the Empire, not even the one I imagined when I decided to come here with you, but now I can’t think of anything different, I wouldn’t change the last few years. The time we spent in Acuarium, just the three of us, is the best time I’ve ever had. The closest I had was the time I spent with Melchizedek and Soturi.”
“Maybe because with them you had your first experiences with a family. Do you miss them?” Kimball knew everything about me and knew how important they were to me, they had been an oasis of peace in the middle of the most complicated part of my life.
“I miss them, but what I would like most is to help them. I know Melchizedek is having his own problems, I remember him saying that his family life is not so easy anymore, he doesn’t get along with most of his family and doesn’t share their way of thinking. Last time I spoke to him, he said that things were getting back in the Kingdom, and if it didn’t get better, soon they would be at war. I feel guilty for not being able to help him, but I have enough on my plate, I can’t do anything for him.”
“Melchizedek sound like a great guy, I’m sure he knows how you feel, how you worry for him, even if you can’t help him, and that’s enough. No matter what you think, you are a good person and I’m sure he knows it too, and how he feels about you won’t change just because of time or distance.”
“I think that’s true, he is a great person and he sees in me more than I do. Since knowing him I’ve had the impressions that he always thinks I’m better than I really am.”
“I think he sees your true self. You are one of the best persons I know, despite the way you grew and your painful experiences, you are a strong person that uses her power to help others, not to abuse them.”
“I’m selfish, all I do is for my own benefit. I’m a warrior that is about to start a war just to save a few people I care about. I’m doing this because I don’t want to be alone, because I don’t want to lose someone important to me, and because I don’t want to be under other people’s power. Maybe you think that I’m good because I’m helping, but I’m not.”
“Alright, you think whatever you need to think to sleep at night, but at the end of the day what you are doing for my family and my country is something just a good person would do.”
Kimball, just like Melchizedek, always wanted to see the good in me. It was true that it was hard for me to turn my face on people’s needs, but they didn’t see the truth behind my actions. They appreciate my willingness to fight for the people I love, but they don’t see the dozens of life I’m willing to sacrifice because of that. I don’t care about the pain my actions can cause other people, I just care about the pain that could be caused to me. The mzansiers applaud my actions in battle, not seeing that the people I kill have families, friends, people depending on them, and yet I don’t mourn their deaths. If I had to kill them again to protect me and my family I would do it again, because I don’t care about the consequences my actions will have on their loves ones, I just care about the consequences to mine.
My mother used to say that being a leader it’s not a privilege, but a responsibility, and that’s something I haven’t forgotten. That’s one lesson I got from my mother that I live by. Melchizedek and Kimball have a different code of conduct and different life experiences, and I know I would never be able to appreciate human life the same way they do.
Before going to sleep, I decided to take a walk through the fog of the future, the bad feeling I had been feeling was getting worse and I felt that I needed to see the future so I could be prepared for what was going to happen. The paths were constantly changing, more than ever before. The different paths were fighting to be the main one, the lines between possibilities and probabilities were getting blurred before my eyes. Whatever was going to happen depended on many variables and it was making it hard to pinpoint the results.
The paths were dark and full of dangers. Each one was full of fights and loses, but I refused to accept the dark futures before me, I knew that I could find a path where I wouldn’t have to lose anything. A path was clearer than the others and I decided to walk through it, noticing some paths already disappearing. With each step I take, I see the path I’m walking becoming stronger, the path was becoming the most probable future, but once I realize where the path was taking me, I felt myself falling apart. I knew that Ethan was in danger just by being the son of Kimball and me, but the path was showing me how they were going to turn him into a weapon against me. Ethan was in danger and I knew that I had to do everything I could to protect him.
I got out of the fog, feeling disoriented and agitated. The light coming through the windows was the first sign I got that I had spent more time that I wanted in the fog. Remembering the paths disappearing I realized that I was running out of time, every minute counted if I wanted to save Ethan from a future where his life was going to be in mortal danger. Not able to contain myself, I ran to Ethan’s room, hoping to find him there, but his room was empty. I tried to find his mind, but no matter how far I reached I couldn’t find him.
“What’s wrong?” Kimball asked, his voice full of concern.
“He left this morning with my parents. I tried to break you out of your trance so you could see him, but I couldn’t. What did you see?”
“We need to go. The boat where they are is going to be attacked, if they survive, they will be in the hands of our enemies.”