I didn’t need to use my powers to know that Ivan didn’t like me. The Queen had given me the task of finding a young princess that had survived her first cleaning round because she was too young. At first they thought they could control the young lady by bribing her caretakers, but when they were distracted conquering the world, a group of people loyal to her family had taken her to a safe place. At first the Kings didn’t notice and then they didn’t care, but later they decided that her disappearance meant that they were planning something against them. Ivan had been part of the special forces of the country where the young princess was from, so at first it had been his job to find her and kill her. After a few weeks and no results, the Kings had given me the task, with Ivan helping me.
My goal was to find a way to rescue the young lady and taking her to Aquarium. I had been away from Capital City for too long and I hadn’t been able to participate in the other murders orchestrated by the King and Queen, and I felt guilty because I wasn’t able to help any of Sofia’s relatives. Now that I had the chance to help one of them, I wouldn’t fail. The problem was Ivan. His mind was too strong for me and I could only read his superficial thoughts, if I tried to read anything deeper than that he would know. So I needed to find the young lady, stage her murder, take her to a safe place from where I could transport her to Aquarium, and make sure that Ivan wouldn’t interfere or kill her himself.
“There was no need for you to come along, I am more than capable of taking care of a girl,” Ivan complained. It was our second day traveling together, we were visiting the places where he thought she could be hiding.
“Well, you haven’t been able to, so far, that’s why they sent me,” I reminded him.
“This is a job that takes time, if we find her today or tomorrow, it won’t be because of you, but because I already did the groundwork and eliminated most of her possible hiding places.”
“If we find her today it will be because of me. You wanted to keep looking in other places, I suggested we moved our search to this area.” I haven’t been able to search the fog, but when I noticed that spot on the map, I had a feeling that it was the right place, and I had learned to trust my instincts.
“I had a method, my search was systematic, I don’t just chose random places and cross my finger I will succeed.”
“Maybe that’s why you have no luck, sometimes you need to let your instincts guide you.”
“I know why the King is so interested in you, but let me warn you that I won’t let you drag me down with you, and I won’t let you take away my victories. This is my mission and once you fail, I will make sure that Faakhir knows it was your fault.”
“The one who need to learn to accept his failings is you. If you were really doing a good job, then the King wouldn’t have called me.”
We spent the rest of our travel in silence. The helicopter landed a couple of miles from the place where the Royal Family’s summer mansion was located. A group of eight soldiers, Ivan and myself included, had been selected for the mission, and I was in charge of them, my job was to take them to the place and have them search it for the young heiress.
“Don’t you have a problem betraying the family you swore to protect?” I asked Ivan. His mind was too disciplined and he was giving me nothing, so I needed to do something to make him betray his thoughts and give me something useful. Maybe if I made him angry I would have the chance of peeking into his mind and learning his plans.
“The Royal Family shouldn’t even exist. A couple of centuries before the Great War that divided the world and created your Empire, the monarchy in my country was abolished. When the old nations decided to reconstruct their countries someone had the great idea of creating a new monarchy. The person we are looking for is related to some of the old monarchies, but that doesn’t mean she has a right to my country.” The poison in his voice didn’t match his emotions. Maybe he really didn’t feel anything about it, or he was as good hiding his emotions as he was hiding his thoughts.
“Maybe the monarchy is not as old or has as many claims as you would like, but it was part of the government you swore to protect.”
“I obey the power in charge, and right now King Faakhir and Queen Emily are the only ones with power, so my loyalty is to with them. If I had remained with the monarchy and the local government, I would have been on the losing side, I wouldn’t be with the winners, with the people who control all the civilized world. If killing a brat that shouldn’t even be a princess will grant me a place among the winners, then I will do it.”
“Then you are nothing that a mercenary that works for the whomever pays better.” I was trying to make him mad, but his control was absolute, he was too smart to fall for my tricks.
“Maybe your price was higher, but we are on the same ship. You are no one to point finger lady.”
By then we were near the mansion where we expected the young woman to be. The place looked abandoned and I couldn’t feel any presence beside our group. After a quick search we confirmed that the place was deserted, and still I felt like I was in the right place. Or maybe I was near the right place.
“See? We are only wasting our time. Let’s go.”
“No. Not yet. I would like to explore a little bit.”
“There’s nothing else here, we are in the middle of the forest.”
“You know the place better than the rest of us. Why don’t you give me a tour? Wasn’t this your territory?”
“Yes, I’m from a place close to here. But I won’t waste my time giving you a tour”
“Then I will give one to myself.” Before he could protest I went to the forest and started walking.
I let my instincts guide me, I didn’t have the time to go into the fog, but I knew that something was about to happen. I had a strong feeling that I needed to be there, a feeling that I had to be careful, but not because I was afraid, but because I felt as if I could get what I wanted if I just stayed alert. At first the group traveling with us wasn’t sure if they were supposed to stay or follow me, but when Ivan started following me, the rest of the squad did the same.
I didn’t have a destination in mind, I just knew that I had to keep moving. Trying not to attract attention, I reached into one of my pockets for one of Kimball’s gifts. It was a dagger, but not a normal one, it had a small button on the hilt that would activate a beacon, letting Kimball know where I was. It was my way of alerting Kimball to my position and telling him to move closer so he could help me if I needed him. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but if I was about to find the young woman that I had been assigned to kill, then people would get hurt and I needed Kimball’s medical training to help with the injured. I wasn’t sure how, but I needed to save the girl. Her life was going to be a victory for me, and a loss for our enemies, even if they didn’t know.
“Stop!” Ivan demanded after an hour of walking though the forest. His tone of voice made me stop, at least for a moment, while I talked to him.
“We are close to the river, and it seems there’s something ahead of us,” his emotions, that had been calm and focused before were showing, and he was worried, and a little afraid. “If we are going to keep walking, we need to be careful. I know the terrain better than you, I should go ahead.”
“If you really think it’s for the best, but stay close.”
He was gone in the blink of an eye. His powers had moved him to the top of a tree. I couldn’t see him, but my powers allowed me to feel him. Then I felt the other minds, and I understood why Ivan was so worried. He was betting that I would fail, just like him, but if I was right, and we were about to find our target, then he would look bad in front of the King and Queen, while I would get another win.
I felt Ivan moving again, and I signaled the rest of the group to keep moving as I headed to where I could feel the people. In just a few minutes I was able to see the house that was mostly hidden by the forest. It was a two story mansion that had part of the construction right above the river. I could feel at least nine persons inside the house.
“There’s people living there, but we need to act with care and investigate before we do anything, it is possible that she is not even there and they have nothing to do with our mission,” Ivan said, appearing at my side.
“And I’m sure that we are going to find what we are looking for in that house,” I took a few steps back and made a signal for the rest of the group to get closer to us. “If my reading are correct, then there’s nine persons in that house, one more than us, which shouldn’t be a problem for us, but still I want to be careful and take them by surprise, I don’t want anyone to escape. Do you see how part of the house is sitting over the water? You can see a boat next to the house there. I think that it’s very likely that there’s an exit that can take them directly to the water and the boat so they can escape. One of you needs to go there and cover that exit.”
“I have an affinity with water, I could take that position and stay undetected in the water for as long as you need me to,” one of the soldiers said.
“Perfect. From what I can see there are other two points of entry, the main entrance and another one by the side, close to the river.”
“There’s a terrace on the other side, that takes the whole second floor, accessed by two doors,” Ivan said.
“Maybe you could take someone with you and cover the second floor, someone else the lateral entry and the rest the main one,” I stopped a moment, as if I was considering something important. “I don’t know the usual policy about collateral damage. I’m sure that the people there is hiding our target, but maybe we should go and investigate first, just in case.” What I really wanted was to minimize damage, our best case scenario would be with no blood.
In a few minutes we were ready to attack. Ivan wanted to wait until they were asleep, but I didn’t want to wait, and I could see that they were all gathered in two groups, most likely eating, and it would be easy to take them by surprise.
I didn’t trust Ivan, but I didn’t have that many options. Since I knew all of them were gathered on the ground floor it made sense to send Ivan to the second floor, that would give me the advantage, it would be easier to reach the princess from my position. The group started to move in an efficient way, their training clear from the way they moved through the forest without making noise, like shadows among the foliage. Even if it was late and the sun was already descending, there was still enough light to see without problems, but it was also a problem because the enemy could see us if they bothered to look. Everything was going according to plan, until we reached the house, and then the groups inside started moving as one, as if they knew the attack was coming.
“We were discovered!” I told the rest of my team, letting them know they didn’t have to keep hiding. “Move! Get in position.”
Leaving the cover of the forest, the group descended on the house. Something started to cover windows and doors, the hose was armored, a clear signal that we were at the right house. One of the soldiers moved to the door and tore it apart as if it was covered with paper and not steel. I let the other get inside before me, because, unlike them, I knew exactly where to go.
As soon as we entered the people inside started their counterattack, it was almost as if they were waiting for us, but that was impossible. It was more likely that they had found out we were outside and they had plans ready in case of an attack. A pair of explosion and shooting received us, and although none of that harmed me, a couple of the warriors that had entered before me were injured. Once I was inside I took one of their firearms and connecting with it, I used my powers to disable the rest of their firearms, giving my team the advantage.
While we were fighting, a group was moving upstairs, and another back to the water. I had a feeling I had to go upstairs, which made no sense, but I had learned to trust my feelings and so far it had served me, I wasn’t going to doubt them, so I went after the group moving up. I took my firearm out and fired at one of them, but I couldn’t stop and check if the wound was fatal or not, all I knew was that he wouldn’t be interfering. I followed the rest of the group to a room at the back of the house, with no exits, and found myself face to face with the young princess I was supposed to kill.
At that moment I felt like time stopped, all my senses went sharp and all I could see was the young princess in front of me. Another of the people in my group got into the room, and he was attacked by one of the girl’s guardians. I took a couple of steps towards her, and she took the same number of steps back, but she had nowhere to go, there was only was door in that room, the one I had just crossed, and a window, that I knew was above the water. I aimed my gun to her, going through my options, but before I could shoot her, someone got in front of me and took my gun away.
“I told you she was mine, this is my job,” Ivan told me as he took his own weapon and aimed at the princess, that had by then opened the window and was thinking about jumping into the river.
“You had your chance and you blew it,” I reminded him, as I touched his gun and disabled it with my powers.
Ivan could use his powers to move faster than me, so I had to think of something to stop him, and fast. I used my powers to modify my cape and turn a part of it into an evil looking hunting knife, one side was serrated, designed to do more damage coming out than going in. By then more people had arrived, but they were watching, not acting. I threw the knife, but by the time it reached the girl, I had modified it to minimize the damage. The knife hit her in the area of her heart, but I knew that with the modifications I had made, it hadn’t pierced her heart, but the hit was strong enough to make her stumble and fall out of the window.
“No!” Ivan yelled, he ran to the window and took another gun out, firing at the water. “I told you she was mine,” he said, before disappearing. His powers helped him move easily, and he could get to her faster than me, and if he did, he would not only finish the job, but notice that my own job hadn’t been as letal as I wanted them to think. I needed to make sure that Ivan wouldn’t spoil my plans.
“Secure the rest of the people in this place, it is possible that the King will want to interrogate them to see who was helping them.” After giving the necessary orders, I went to the window and got ready to go after Ivan and the girl.