I felt water around me, pushing, trapping. I knew that the rest of the warriors that had been dragged by the wave were somewhere around me, most of them already on their way up, looking for air, but not me. I couldn’t move, the water dragging me further down while I was running out of air.
Despite my own power and control over a great range of elements, I avoided fighting telepaths using their own powers, because they usually had a greater hold on their own elements. But at that moment I had no choice, I needed to wrest control of the water from whomever was using hydrokinesis to fight me. Luckily I still had the energy I had stolen from the warriors I had killed, and I used that excess of energy to connect to the water around me and create a current that would push me to the surface. Even with my quick thinking and acting I had spent a few minutes under water, and even if I was able to hold my breath longer than average, I was at my limit, and did my best to fill my lungs with air as soon as I got out.
I was just recovering when I felt someone grab my leg and try to drag me back to the water. I couldn’t keep fighting over control of the water, what I needed was to move to a new battlefield where I wouldn’t be at a disadvantage. I filled my lungs with air and let myself be dragged, but only long enough to use my powers to turn my cape into a harpon that I used to hurt the warrior holding me. For a little while longer I let myself be at the mercy of the water, just until I modified my cape once more, then, I used my powers to create a water geyser that threw me up in the air. I had modified my cape to act as a glider and I used it to get to land, using my powers to push me as far as possible from the water, and at the same time, as far from Kimball and Ethan as I could, I had to keep them safe.
I could see my enemies following me on the ground, and I felt the air around me changing just before I lost control of the glider. One of them threw a grenade at me, and even if my psychic wall was enough to protect me from harm, it did nothing to help me fight the shock wave that sent me free falling. As I was falling I modified my cape once more, wrapping it around me before using my powers to create an air bubble under me to help with my fall. Despite my actions the hit was hard and it took me a while to recover from my fall, in that time the warriors had already moved around me.
“Faakhir wants you to join us,” one of them said, the one who looked like the leader, “that’s the only reason you’re still alive. If you want to stay alive, surrender and come with us.”
“In the last few minutes you lost three men and I am still standing.” Thanks to the energy I had stolen I wasn’t as tired as I should be, and the psychic headache that should be pounding was still away, but I knew it wouldn’t keep that way for much longer. “I have a counteroffer, leave me alone, and I will let you live.”
“We outnumber you,” a woman said, “you can’t fight all of us.”
I noticed something weird around me and expanded my psychic wall. I noticed that the sounds and images around me weren’t making sense, I knew one of them had to be using illusions, not only visual but auditive too. It was a good job, but I was trained to find such tricks and it didn’t fool me. Allowing a second of vulnerability I threw my mind up to the astral planes, just for a second, enough time to break the hold of the illusions, once I got my mind back I used my double mind to avoid falling prey to the same trick. I saw the enemy still around me, but not in the same places I had seen them before. Using my double mind to see both illusion and reality I noticed how they had me surrounded and how they had planned to trap me, they had no intention to let me go, but I was fine with that, I was used to facing my problems head on.
I dropped to the ground and connected with the earth below us, moving the surface just enough to make the warriors coming at me lose their balance, giving me the time I needed to move out of their reach. Using my powers I modified my cape to form a light armor around me, and also to build a short sword that I used to attack the warrior closer to me. They were expecting to take me by surprise, but I surprised them instead. I formed a small whirlwind to take advantage of the loose dirt that my previous actions had gotten loose, that blocked their vision and set them back. My powers allowed me to know where they were, and I used that knowledge to try and take them out, but as I was about to stab one of them with my sword, he moved out of my way, throwing something at me and making me lose focus. I recovered fast, but another one of my enemies had already reached me. I tried to increase the force of the whirlwind, but it was starting to affect me too.
When I felt like I was getting back control of the situation, I felt a mind trying to break my defenses, it wasn’t a strong attack, but it was a distraction and I couldn’t allow that. I let the whirlwind die and used the force of the air to push my enemies back and put some distance between us. I prepared some traps around me, it wasn’t enough to stop them, but it was enough to buy me time. The energy I had stolen had run out and the psychic headache was already showing itself, I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep going for long.
The psychic attack went from light to vicious in a heartbeat, and I felt a stab of pain that made my stomach turn and almost blinded me when the enemy finally broke into my mind. I let myself fall to the ground, I needed a second to gather my strength while I tried to understand what was going on.
“Stop the attacks,” someone said at the time I found out that it was Faakhir who had invaded my mind. “The King has this under control, I just got news that he is working on her and we can’t attack.”
“We should take this opportunity to neutralize her,” a woman said, “while her mind is busy and she can’t defend herself.” They didn’t know I had a double mind that allowed me to talk to Faakhir and fight them at the same time, and I decided to let them think I was defenseless for a while longer.
“The King is trying to make her join us, we can’t do anything to jeopardize his efforts.”
The warriors moved once again to form a ring around me, I knew that if they tried to move closer they would find my mines, and I wasn’t sure if they were keeping a safe distance by coincidence or if they had discovered my traps. But at that moment I had bigger problems to deal with, like the man inside my mind.
“It’s not polite to break into a mind uninvited.” my mental image told him.
“I’m sorry, but since our conversation was interrupted, I thought this would be the best way to continue it.”
“I think I was very clear when I said that my answer was no. I don’t care what you want, no one tells me what to do, I’m my own boss and I take orders from no one. You thought you could control me, I think I already proved that you can’t.”
Outside my mind, the warriors were immobile, that made me feel better, no one would disobey Faakhir and attack me, that told me that my body was safe, but the same couldn’t be said about my mind, I could feel Faakhir moving and exploring my mind. Deciding to take a huge risk and forget for the moment about what was going on outside, I pulled my double mind to the inside so I could face Faakhir. Two mental images materialized inside my mind, but Faakhir was only aware of one. Faakhir was inside my mind, but in the dark, hidden part of it, he was in the dark labyrinth, full of closed doors and vaults. He thought it was the core of my mind, but it was the part where I pushed all my painful and dark memories, a place I kept locked down so it wouldn’t affect me as much.
“I think we got off on the wrong foot, and I would like to start again. I want you to work with me, for what I have seen from your previous work with the mzansiers I think that with you on our side we could accomplish total control of the civilized world. And don’t think that your services won’t be rewarded, my elite forces are on top of the food chain, they are above the rest of the people.”
“But still under you, if I accept I would be just another one of your puppets, and that’s not something I want.”
My second mental image was hidden in the shadows, and it was watching as Faakhir’s essence was infiltrating my mind, how a stone statue in his image was forming in the rock walls of my mind. I knew he was building a back door into my mind, a way to watch and control my actions. I wouldn’t have known what he was doing if it wasn’t for my experience in hypnosis and mental control, I knew that another person wouldn’t have noticed his actions. In other circumstances he would have been able to take control of my mind, his actions were so subtle that it would be near impossible to notice his tampering.
“I can give you whatever you want: power, money…”
“I want something that has been denied to me since I arrived here,” it wasn’t exactly what I had planned, but an opportunity had presented itself and I couldn’t ignore it. Even if my double mind allowed me to resist Faakhir and his attempt at infecting my mind, I knew his mind control was focused on making me accept his proposal, so I had to make him think it was working. At the same time I had to make sure I could fulfill my own goals: to keep my family safe, and to destroy Faakhir’s reign or terror. “I want Mzansi, I want to rule them, I want those stupid Elders, that prideful King and that pansy President to bow before me.”
“Help me conquer Mzansi and I will give it to you. You will be my right hand, as long as you stay by my side Mzansi will be yours, and the entire world will fear you and obey you.”
“As long as I obey you, that’s the part I don’t like. No one tells me what to do.” As I spoke I could see Faakhir’s influence trying to make me change my mind. I felt his influence and what it was trying to make me do, and I let him think that it was working.
“If you want me to work for you, I need certain warranties: I will be free to act as I want, I will follow your orders, but I will do it my way and on my own schedule and I will work for you and your wife, no one else. No one, not even my husband has been able to control me, so don’t think you will. I am giving you some control, but don’t try to take more than offered.”
“I can work with that. Soon you will find out that as long as you do whatever necessary to ensure my control over the Dominion, everything will be fine between us.”
“Then we have a deal. I help you keep control of your people, you give me control of Mzansi. I will make of all the mzansiers my personal army, and an army under your control.”
“We have a deal.” The mental image of Faakhir smiled and his mark in my mind settled, he was sure I was under his power. I would let him think that he had, because that allowed me to infiltrate his forces and be close to him, that way I would know all about his plans and how to stop them. If my visions were right, I had a long way before me. To kill him wouldn’t solve anything, if I wanted to save everyone from the King and his influence I needed to do things right.
“Come to me, join me and we will seal the deal.” With those parting words, his mental image vanished, but his mark remained, the stone statue would serve as a backdoor for him to invade my mind and try to manipulate my actions.
As the immediate danger was gone, I let one of my minds working on isolating Faakhir’s statue, so he wouldn’t catch me unaware when he used it. On the outside of my mind, Faakhir’s warriors were still waiting for orders. I knew that for most telepaths, it was hard to recover after an invasion like the one Faakhir had done, so I had a couple of minutes before he could communicate with his men. I used that time to check the traps I had around me, acting as if I was still in a trance, caught inside my own mind.
I knew that at least one of the warriors was a telepath, I could feel his mind circling mine, but his touch was so superficial that it was impossible for him to get any information, he couldn’t know that my reunion with Faakhir was finished or that I was already preparing an attack in case I needed it.
I knew that any moment I would be summoned to go to Faakhir, and I needed to be prepared, because even if Faakhir thought I was under his control, and that I was bound by the promises he had made me, I didn’t trust him, I knew his word held no weight and that he could betray me any moment.