My panic was growing worse and worse as we made our way to the control room. Kimball’s parents and Ethan, along with a few other members of his family had left the island a few hours before, I was convinced that we were already too late. The man in charge of surveillance confirmed my worst fears, they had lost communication with the vessel and have been unable to reestablish it.
“It’s too late.” We couldn’t waste our time trying to communicate with them, we needed to start planning their rescue. We couldn’t leave them with the enemy for long. I remembered my time with the Creators Clan, how they had used me to get to my mother, and I shivered at the memory of my experience with them. I couldn’t allow something like that to happen to Ethan.
“No, they must be okay, there are many explications of why the communication was lost,” Kimball said in denial.
“Please, you are way too smart to pretend this is not happening.”
“If Faakhir’s men got their hands on my family, it only can lead to bad things.”
“That just means that we have to change our plans. We can’t allow our enemy to take the lead.”
“I see something on the radar,” one of the technicians said. “It seems the boat is heading back, but it’s not alone.”
“Can you identify the other boats?” Kimball asked, as he looked at the radar, willing the machine to give him the answers he was seeking.
“I can only confirm that those are not ours.”
“It’s them.” I didn’t need to say more, Kimball already knew what was going on, the enemy was coming for us and we couldn’t attack them, there was no way to know in which boat were the member of his family, and our son. We couldn’t risk attacking a boat only to find out that our son or his parents were there, we couldn’t risk their lives.
“It’s an invasion. We have no army to defend ourselves. If we could sink their boats we wouldn’t have problems, but we can’t be sure if we are attacking the right boat. They could be all in our boat, using the others as bait, or have our people divided on all the boats.”
“You’re right, all we can do right now is prepare a welcome committee. Gather our men, all we can spare. I need some time to prepare, I’ll meet you at the marina,” I told Kimball before heading out.
“At the speed they’re moving, they should arrive in half an hour,” the technician informed us.
“That should be enough time,” I said, trusting I was right, but not really sure. My visions showed me what the enemy was planning, but there could be many endings for our encounter. I needed to be careful if I wanted to get out of it alive.
“I will start setting up the defenses, I’ll meet you in half an hour,” Kimball said, taking control and giving orders, while I made my way back to our room.
To prepare for the oncoming confrontation, I gathered the weapons Kimball had given me in the previous years. First, I made sure I was wearing the necklace he had given me, I needed it to make sure I wouldn’t lose my powers, I would need all my powers and strength if I wanted to win the battle. After that I changed my clothes to something similar to the uniforms that Mzansi’s especial forces used, mine was only slightly different, it had a few elements of my uniform from the Empire, Kimball had made it for me, with the right protection and the hidden places for weapons that I needed. After changing I made sure to have the guns, explosives, knives and daggers that had been made for me. Finally, I put my cape on. Armory, as I had named it, was my most powerful weapon, it could be used as a shield, with carbon, kevlar fibers and other metals, it was strong enough to stop bullets, but most importantly, it was manageable, I could use my powers to transform it into different kinds of weapons. With Armory I had any weapon I could need at my disposal.
I got out of the room and headed for the marina. The few soldiers at our disposal were already in their positions, spread in strategic positions around the marina, but their low numbers were evident. Kimball and I stood at the end of the pier, waiting for the boat to reach us, returning after just a few hours of being away. When it finally arrived, a group of soldiers, heavily armed, got out of the boat and headed in our direction. One of them, the one in charge, stopped in front of me.
“King Faakhir invites you to join him on board. He wants you to discuss business with him.”
“First, I need to know what he did to my family,” Kimball said.
“If you want to know about your family, I suggest you accept our invitation,” the soldier said, with a superior attitude. Without waiting our response he turned around and headed back to the boat.
The enemy’s soldiers moved around us, cutting us off from our men. I wasn’t happy to obey their orders, but there wasn’t much I could do from there, so I went to the boat, following the soldier. He guided us to the deck, where Kimball’s parents and family were waiting on one side, and the boat’s crew on the other. In the center, in a high chair that resembled a throne was a dark skinned man, with eyes shining with intelligence. I knew he was Faakhir, and not only because of my visions, the man exuded power, he wasn’t trying to hide who he was. Next to him was a soldier, holding Ethan in her arms.
“Welcome,” Faakhir greeted us. “Thank you for accepting my invitation.”
“It’s not like we had an option,” Kimball said, surprising me with the venom in his voice, he was usually more composed, cold when dealing with the enemy. “I thought we had a deal, but you came here and attacked my people. Can you explain why?”
“We didn’t attack anyone… yet.” Faakhir said. “I just wanted to have a little chat with you. I wanted to discuss the possibility of you joining our forces, we want your country to be part of the Dominion.”
I could feel the pressure in my mind, more than one telepath were trying to find cracks in my defenses. They were using soft touches, but I knew they were experienced telepaths. I needed to be careful, one mistake and they would move inside my mind. It wasn’t as if they could really hurt me, but I needed to stay ahead of them.
“I think you have the wrong people, you should be talking to my King, or the President, or even the Elders Council,” Kimball said. “Anything involving our country is their problem, you talk to the leaders, not to retired Generals.”
“I’m never wrong. During the last few years I got the impression that is you that move the threads of this country politics. Specifically, her,” he said, looking at me. His eyes were full of interest and lust, and Kimball didn’t miss the look. His body tensed, and he moved closer to me, without really realizing it.
“What do you want Faakhir?”
“Don’t you know? I thought you were a Seeress. Isn’t that why you caused us so many problems five years ago?”
“I knew your people were coming, but the visions show a lot of paths. I don’t know why you’re here, but if it was to kill me, as I saw in a few of my visions, you would have already tried. Or are you one of those people who bores his victims to death before killing them?”
“I like you Demoness. And no, I don’t want to kill you, unless you make me.”
“Then what? You came here for me to kill you? During your previous attacks I finished with all of the forces you sent to me, the only survivors were those I chose to let alive so they could warn you against me. But I see you haven’t learned your lesson.” I knew that what happened that day would chance the future. All depended on that single day. I knew that it could end up with a compromise or a blood bath, and I was fearing that the latter was becoming the more likely option, but I tried hard to hide my fears.
“I came for you. I have a proposal for you, I want you to work for me,” Faakhir opened his arms, showing me the warriors already working for him, the ones that weren’t like the others, the ones that looked really dangerous.
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible,” I said. “I don’t follow orders, from anyone, especially not from people who tried to kill me.”
“Mommy!” Ethan screamed. “Daddy!” The woman holding him, put her hand over his mouth to silence him, but we could still hear him crying and screaming. Ethan was channeling my fears, but unlike me, he wasn’t doing anything to hide it.
“I think you don’t understand, you have no choice here. I would like you to come to me on your own free will, but if you don’t, I have other methods for recruiting you.” Faakhir said, the threat clear in his voice, floating between us while Ethan crying increased, showing me what I had to lose.
Faakhir made a signal to his men and in response, the soldiers surrounded Kimball’s family, forcing them to their knees and aiming their guns to their heads. Kimball moved, trying to do something to help his family, but before he could, one of Faakhir’s men, a speedster, punched him in the stomach, while he was doubled over, he shoved his gun to his head, while another soldier did the same. I felt the soldiers behind me pointing their guns at me. Using my powers I connected to the weapons around us, making sure none of them could be used against us. I knew that Faakhir wouldn’t hesitate to shoot us, if that helped him reach his goals, he could easily kill my family without losing any sleep.
“It seems that is Kimball you’re after, is his family you captured, he is the one you got leverage over.”
“Maybe you don’t care about your extended family and your husband’s parents, but I have your son, and if you think I won’t hurt him because he is a child, you haven’t learned anything about me, I wouldn’t mind killing him if that’s what I need to do,” Faakhir threatened, no longer trying to hide his intentions.
“All I know is that you don’t have any idea who you’re dealing with. Do you really think that I would put other’s people lives over mine? I think you are wrong about me.”
“Let me be very clear,” Faakhir said. “You will work for me, you will be part of my elite warriors and will follow my orders. You will help me take control over Mzansi and will keep their people under control.”
“Again I ask, why would I do that? If you want Mzansi, talk to Kimball, this country has nothing to do with me.”
“Of course it has to do with you!” Faakhir exploded, his frustration over my carelessness clear in his outburst. But Ethan’s crying and yelling showed how I really felt, it was a good thing that no one knew how I was really feeling, well, no one other than Kimball who knew how my mood usually affected our son. “Your son will stay by my side, and his wellbeing and his life will depend on you following my orders.”
I knew that how I handled that moment would shape our futures. If I decided to bend to his demands and follow his orders, I would be sentencing Ethan to a life of slavery, his well being tied up to the King’s mood, his health with my willingness to obey them. His pain and fear would be used to punish me for every transgression, real or imaginary, his life would be in constant danger. I knew I needed to act, to do something so drastic that they wouldn’t even dream of using him again. I could fight him, but I knew that the warriors with him were not normal, they were stronger than the ones he had sent after me before. Even if I defeated them, the collateral damage could be more than I was willing to allow. And I was alone, Kimball was still on the ground, being held down by Faakhir’s men.
I used my powers to touch Ethan, I had to make sure he wouldn’t move. I pushed my fears deeper inside me, and focused on what I had to do. I stared at Faakhir, challenging him with my eyes, until I saw doubt reflected on his, as if he was just realizing that I wouldn’t just bend to his will like all the others, realizing that his plan could not work after all. In a move that took everyone by surprise, even Ethan and Kimball, I took a dagger out of my belt and threw it across the deck. The dagger sailed through the air and hit its target with enough force to pierce, but not to kill. Ethan’s scream when the dagger embedded in his chest was bloodcurdling. The injury looked nasty with the blood spilling around it, even to me, and I knew I had hit my target and that the damage wasn’t as bad as it looked. Kimball roared and threw his captors to the ground before running to our son. Unlike others that thought that my daggers had pierced his heart, Kimball knew that Ethan had inherited my dextrocardia and that his heart wasn’t damaged. Still, the picture before him was ugly and I understood his anger and fear.
My actions had taken everyone by surprise, and both allies and enemies were frozen in their places, for a while, Kimball’s cries were all you could hear, then his parents and other relatives joined him, sobbing and crying for my little son.
“I hope you had a plan B,” I told Faakhir, surprised at how cold my voice sounded when my heart was breaking in pieces,” it seems that I just threw your plan A out of the window.”
“That’s not possible,” Faakhir mumbled, “not possible…”
I knew it would be near impossible to kill Faakhir, that’s why my first move had been to attack my own son, it was a desperate effort to make Faakhir forget about Ethan, and maybe to distract his men long enough to attack. I decided to take advantage of the chaos and took another dagger, using it against Faakhir. One of his men moved in front of him and using a baton, blocked my attack and saved Faakhir. The attack had attracted his men’s attention and the mzansiers were now fighting them while they tried to get to Ethan to help him.
“Surrender.” One of Faakhir’s men demanded, standing in front of me with his rifle pointed to me.
“Go on, fire, I dare you.” I told him, sure that his rifle wouldn’t work and I would be safe. He tried to fire at me, just to find out my trick. I could see in his face the moment he realized what I had done.
“Shoot her!” The same man said, calling to the rest of his team, but not a single weapon worked. One of them threw a knife at me, but it bounced on my psychic wall. “We have to kill her, she is too dangerous.”
“The mzansiers are escaping!” Someone else warned. I could see that most of the elite forces were focused on me and protecting Faakhir, because of that, most of the mzansiers had managed to fight off the rest of Faakhir’s forces and were trying to get out of the boat. I couldn’t see him, but I knew that Kimball was moving Ethan to a safe place.
“Let them go!” Faakhir yelled. “She’s the one I want. Stop her, no matter what.”
“I think it’s only fair to warn you, I will kill anyone who tries to stop me.” A few of the soldiers around me hesitated, some even took a step back, but those I had identified as Faakhir’s elite warriors didn’t even blink at my threat.
I prepared for the attack, and the first one didn’t take long to hit, a kick to my legs that would have sent me to the ground if not for my psychic wall. The man fell to my back, and another tried to push me, trying to make me fall. They intended to take me to the ground where they could pin me down. I let them, but as soon as I felt the contact with them, I used my powers to steal their energy. Most of the time I was careful when using that particular ability, but not that time, I wanted to kill them, not knock them unconscious, so I took as much energy as I could, as fast as I could. One of them, the one behind me, was a mutant, and his energy reserve was large, so it took me some time, but the other one was drained in less than a minute.
With all the energy I had stolen I connected with the water around us and caused a big wave to wash over the boat. Even being prepared for it, I wasn’t strong enough to hold onto the boat and I was dragged to the sea with everyone else. Too late, I noticed that one of my enemies was a hidrokinetic and that he was using his power to make the water around us attack me.