Waking up next to Kimball didn’t compare to anything else. Being with him I felt safe, I rested better and waked up feeling secure and calm. His arms were around me, but I didn’t feel trapped, I felt protected. After everything that had happened between us I was still surprised that we had gotten back to that point, that he had gained my trust back. When he told me that he would never hurt me again, I believed him.
After enjoying each other for a while, we finally left our bed and eventually our room. When we arrived at the dining room, Ethan was already there eating a huge serving of breakfast. With my job it was very hard to find time to spend with my son, and I was surprised by how much he changed in the time I was away. He was growing every day, and it pained me that I wasn’t there to see him every day.
“You are going to be here just a few days, don’t spend them being sad,” Ethan said. “I still have to show you all the tricks father taught me while you were away. I’m sure you will be surprised.”
“I’m sorry, you are right, no sadness or melancholia, this time is to be happy and enjoy my favorite son,” I got closer to Ethan and hugged him, kissing the top of his head.
“I’m your only son, I have to be the favorite by default.”
“Yeah, your right,” I said, thinking that even if he was my only son, he wasn’t my only child, I still had two daughters that I wouldn’t get to see for many years. I envied Kimball and his yearly trip to see them, but I knew that I had to keep away, if I had gone with him, I wouldn’t be able to leave again. “What do you want to do today?”
“I want to train with both of you. Is always more fun when you are together.”
“Are you sure you want to spend the day training?”
“Why are you so surprised?” Kimball asked. “He is your son, is only logical that he will be focused in his fighting abilities.”
“Are you sure it’s just because of that?”
“Maybe it’s because of his cousins, their competition is getting serious. The older ones are old enough to know what’s at play here, which means that it’s not a game for them anymore.”
“They are too young to start worrying about succession. It will take many years for them to have to worry about who the next King will be.”
“There is always someone that wants to start preparing for the role. Since I started to train, in my teenage years, it was clear that in case I wanted to, I could take the place of the King when my time arrived.”
“And why don’t you take it?” Ethan asked. “Don’t you want to be the King?”
“Not right now. I have enough to keep me busy with you and your mother. You are both a menace to my peace of mind,” that made Ethan to start laughing, but I could see the truth behind Kimball’s words. “Before it was easier, each Royal House had its own monarch and the title was inherited. But when the new government was suggested and a King for all the country, not only the different regions, was chosen, things became more complicated for us. There are many Princes, and being one of them is enough for me.”
“Will I be a Prince too?”
“If you work hard, you could be a King. But it’s not only about being strong, you have to learn how to be a good ruler, you need to know how to care for your people.” Ethan was excited, as if his opportunity to be a King was in his near future, and not years ahead of him.
As always, I was surprised by how easily Ethan learned new things. His fighting ability was as good as a person easily three times his age. Kimball was an expert in several martial arts, he also had the ability to learn new things really fast. I knew that after finishing the training that all members of the Royal Houses had to take, he had gone and trained in different martial arts. It had started as an exercise, something to expand his knowledge, but after the murder of his family, he had become obsessed with learning new martial arts. I knew that few people had the same experience as he did, but Ethan was going to be close, especially with Kimball as a teacher. Kimball had done his best to give him the basics of different martial arts, and I had given him the foundations to build his psychic abilities. There were few people who could do what Ethan could. I worried that his potential could make him a target, but I knew that he needed to learn or he wouldn’t be able to protect himself.
After a few days with my family I was recharged and ready to go back to the Palace. It was difficult to leave them behind, but it was necessary. I knew that my fake indifference was the only thing keeping them safe. I also had spent some time with the people I had rescued from the King and Queen. Most of them were grateful and willing to do whatever they could to help me, but a few weren’t so grateful, they resented my intervention and felt like prisoners. Many thought that without me they would be able to be free, they didn’t understand that without me they would be dead. At least those who would be useful in the future were on my side, they were the ones that I would need for my plans to become a reality, and that was enough.
Even if I wanted to delay meeting Faakhir as long as possible, I was summoned to see him as soon as I arrived to Capital City. I found both of them in one of the lounges. They didn’t look relaxed or comfortable in that place, and I wondered why they were both there if it was clear neither wanted to be there.
“Welcome,” Faakhir greeted me with a smile. The way his eyes traveled my body made me realize that things between them were not good, he was usually discreet when Emily was there, but he wasn’t hiding his interest anymore. That only made Emily mad at me.
“It was time you returned. You are supposed to be working for us, I don’t see why we have to wait for you to do whatever you want while you ignore your real responsibilities,” Emily was angry, and I was the one she was focusing her anger on.
“What do you need me to do?” I asked, trying to be respectful and submissive, not knowing if I was managing, too angry myself to care.
“There’s been an uprising, as you know, we can’t allow that,” Faakhir said. “The problem is that the person leading this rebellion is Daisuke Ueshiba, a great warrior highly respected in his country, and by people all over the Dominion.”
“His movement is not openly hostile, but several of his disciples have attacked our forces,” Emily added.
“Back to your question. The fastest way of stopping this uprising is defeating their leader. The rebellion will stop once they lose their leader. Not many are able to fight him, many people consider him invincible. Rumors are that one of the few people that is at his level is your husband.”
“That’s right. He is one of his disciples, he studied under master Ueshiba for a long time, and many agree that he is one of the few that reached the level of his master. I don’t know if he was able to defeat him, or if he is only recognized as being able to hold his own against him. Anyway, that should be enough for you to know if you are up to the challenge,” Emily said.
“What you are asking is if I’m able to defeat Kimball, and therefore Ueshiba. If what you are saying is true, then yes, I think I will be able to defeat this person. I can even question Kimball about his master and ask him about anything I can use as an advantage in battle.”
“I trust you Kaiserin. I know you are the right person for this job. You are my greatest treasure and I know you won’t fail me.”
“I hope I don’t need to tell you what would happen if you fail.”
“I haven’t failed you yet, and I won’t fail this time. You can trust me. I won’t just defeat this rebel, I will do it in a way that all his people will be afraid of facing the Domain ever again.”
“As always all the information you need will be delivered to your room. This time I think it would be better if you chose your own team. You already know most of the people and you will know who to take to ensure your victory,” Faakhir offered.
“I don’t trust her to choose wisely. I want Jonas and Ivan with you,” Emily ordered, choosing the people that everyone considered my biggest enemies. What she didn’t know was that she was sending an ally with me, and that Ivan would help me keep Jonas under control.
“It will be as you want. I will go to my room and start preparing for this mission. I will talk to Kimball and I’ll try to get as much information as possible about his master. In less than a week the rebellion will be dead.”
I didn’t like the situation, I had to come up with something fast. If my target was someone that Kimball respected, then I would have to do everything I could to save him. But if he was as strong as they told me, then it wouldn’t be an easy task.
I arrived at my room and started the process of making sure that the place was protected and isolated, so I could talk to Kmball without anyone hearing me. I was sure that Faakhir was spying on me. And I knew that Emily didn’t trust me, especially since her husband favored me so much. I didn’t understand their relationship, Emily was a very jealous woman, and in Faakhir’s case she has reason to distrust. Most people in the Dominion practiced exclusivity in their relationships, monogamy was very common, but Faakhir was always after any woman that crossed his path. I had managed to stop him from forcing me, but I knew not all women were as lucky as me, most women around him had been with him, either because they wanted, or because Faakhir’s powers forced them. I knew that most maids in the Palace had been with him, and not because they wanted.
For the moment the best I could do was to keep working for them, to make myself indispensable, to be useful enough that my presence didn’t offend Emily, and that Faakhir wouldn’t decide he preferred to have me in his bed and not in the battlefield.
Trying not to think of Faakhir, I took my phone and called Kimball, expecting hi to be on the surface and not back in Aquarium where I wouldn’t be able to reach him.
“I wasn’t expecting to hear from you so soon,” he greeted me, obviously worried about my call.
“I think we will need another room at Aquarium.”
“So soon? I thought all your assassinations were done. Who do they want you to kill now?”
“Daisuke Ueshiva.” The name had an immediate impact on Kimball. “I was told that you know him, they even suggested you would tell me his weaknesses and give me pointers on how to kill him.”
“If the Sensei has weaknesses, I don’t know them. He is a strong and honorable warrior. His technique is flawless and his powers make him very dangerous. His senses are optimized to find his enemies weak points and exploit them. His coordination and balance are superior to most people, and years of training have taken his powers and reflex to the limit.”
“He sounds like a difficult opponent.”
“Few people can say they had bested him, and believe me, many have tried. Why do they want him dead?”
“It appears that an uprising had started and they believe that he is leading it. They seem to think that once that Ueshiba is dead, everything else will go back to normal. It seems that he is not a person I would like to get rid of. Do you think he would agree to fake his defeat?”
“I don’t think so. He would never do something like that, he is an honorable man, he wouldn’t throw a fight, not in front of his disciples and family. You will need to find a way to defeat him, and once you do that, he need to find a way to get him to Aquarium. He is not like others that you can simply send there. If he decides he doesn’t want to go there, he could cause a lot of trouble.”
“This mission sounds more complicated every minute.”
“I trust you. I trust that you will find a way to defeat him and convince him to join our fight.”
I finished the call and started to prepare, mentally, for the mission. I knew that this one someone important and that he would be very useful to our fight if we could convince him to join us.