When I arrived at the airport, I found Faakhir waiting for me. I thought he was there to give me some last minute orders, but then I saw him getting into the jet and I started to worry. I went after him and I noticed that he was seated in the place next to where I liked to sit.
“Good morning,” I said, trying to sound respectful and not annoyed.
“Good morning Kaiserin. After thinking about it, Emily and I decided that it would be better if I went along with you. I want to meet the guy that thinks he can challenge my power, getting defeated by my most powerful followers.” I didn’t like his choice of words, but I tried to smile and appear submissive. “It also will be a good chance for us to get to know each other better.”
“That sounds good, but if you excuse me, I have to prepare for the mission. I spoke to Kimball, and even if he tried not to help me, he let some clues escape him, he says that this will be one of the hardest fight I will ever have. I need to prepare, I think I will try to take a look into the future and try to find out what I will have to face.”
“Haven’t you done that yet? Didn’t you have days to prepare for that?”
“I have told you that you give that woman too much credit,” Ivan said, as he took a seat near us.
“You just gave me a couple of days to prepare for this mission, it’s normal that I still have things to do. Please, don’t bother me during the flight, I will be meditating.” In truth, I was unsettled by Faakhir presence, I wasn’t prepared to have him there, having him so close would make speaking to the master more difficult.
I closed my eyes and pretended to be disconnected from my surroundings. Faakhir, as a telepath, knew how important it was to meditate and be prepared before a fight. I knew that it wasn’t what he had expected, he had said that he wanted to get to know me better, and I wasn’t acting out his fantasies. We still had the flight back, and I needed to find another excuse to avoid him.
“Are you sure she is the right person for this mission?” Jonas asked when we were a couple of hours into the flight.
“I am. She defeated the people we sent against her again and again. This is not only about her physical strength or even her powers. The advantage she has over everyone else is her precognition. She can see what’s about to happen and act accordingly. It’s not exactly the same as Emily’s mother, but her power is there, and is strong enough.”
“Are you sure that’s going to be enough to fight someone like Daisuke?” Ivan asked. “We can’t afford to underestimate someone like him.”
“You have seen what she is capable of. You can’t keep denying her power. Eventually, you will have to accept that she can get the job done faster and better than you,” Faakhir said. “There’s no need to be jealous,” he said, even when I knew he wanted exactly that, to create conflicts between us, “despite everything, you have valuable abilities and that’s enough to keep your place as part of my people. You have nothing to worry about,” but even as his words said one thing, his tone suggested another. He seemed to be saying worry, be better, you are getting obsolete. If I didn’t know that Ivan was on my side, I would have been worried by their talk. As things were, I knew that if Jonas wasn’t a problem before, he would be one after that.
We arrived at our destination and went to the Imperial Palace, a beautiful building, that according to Kimball, had been rebuilt twice, both times worked to look exactly like the original. The Imperial Family had lived there for generations, but since it was in hiding, the Palace was empty, and it was the kind of place where Faakhir liked to stay at, so we would be there, temporarily. I knew that the Imperial Family was safe, because they had the least relationship with Emily’s family among the Royal Families. Emily had ties with practically every royal member in the Dominion, even Kimball, on his mother’s side, could be traced back to her if you looked hard enough at their genealogy trees. But the Imperial Family wasn’t on the succession list, so they were safe from Emily’s craziness. It was one of the reason that neither of them had bothered looking into their desaparicion. I knew that it was possible they had something to do with the uprising, and if that was the case it could be necessary to kill them, or send them to Aquarium, but there was a strong possibility that they had nothing to do with the rebellion.
After arriving at the Palace and went and hide in one of the rooms. I ordered the servants not to bother me, and continued with my plan to avoid Faakhir. I didn’t want him to forget that he needed me as a warrior and tried to give a different position. I could feel him walking around, looking for an excuse to enter my room, he even knocked on my door a few times, but I ignored him and he eventually left. I think that he realized that it was better for him if I was ready for battle, so I could defeat his enemies, than to have me for a night.
Morning arrived faster than I expected, we were already on the move before sunrise. Faakhir’s people had already located where the leaders of the rebellion were hiding, and we were going there. They weren’t hiding in a city, they were at a place deep into the mountains, and it took us some time to arrive. I was traveling in the same car as Faakhir, Ivan and Jonas. There was another car in front of us, and another behind. When we were close to our destination, close enough to see the buildings we were heading to, I had a bad feeling. I was certain that something bad was going to happen.
“Stop the car!” I yelled at the driver, who luckily did as I told him immediately. Just a few seconds after our car stopped, the one in front of us started sinking. A long stretch of ground had opened and I knew that if we haven’t stopped in time, we would be trapped, just like the other car, at the mercy of our enemy, the groups of people getting out of the forest around us.
“Do you see now why she is in charge of the mission?” Faakhir asked, making a difficult situation even worse.
“I’ll go and see what’s going on. Iván, could you go and get one of their weapons? If I can connect to it and figure out how it works I will be able to disable the rest.”
“I don’t follow orders from you,” he answered, with enough venom in his voice that for a moment, even I believed it, I even used my empathy to make sure he wasn’t angry at me.
“For the moment you do,” Faakhir said. “And you too Jonas, whatever she asks, you do.”
“We need a distraction,” I told Jonas, taking advantage of Faakhir’s words. “We need to keep the King safe, the better route is to hide him from our enemies.”
Ivan opened the door and then, in the blink of an eye, he was gone, just to reappear with the gun of one of our enemies in his hands. The weapon wasn’t that much different from others I have used, so it was easy to find a way to disable them, it just took me some time to connect to all the weapons in the field. Little by little the shooting stopped, as more and more warriors found their weapons obsolete. They had no other choice but to fight us without weapons. Outside our car it was chaos, but I needed to go there.
“Those two are master Ueshiba’s son and daughter, his top disciples,” Ivan told me, pointing to a couple standing alone, apart from the rest.
“Go to them, tell them we want to speak with their father, and that we will give them a chance to take us with him without resistance, or their men will start dying.”
“I will try, but it won’t be easy to convince them.”
“I’ll do the convincing, you just pass along the message.”
As soon as Ivan went away, I used my powers to create a tornado. I tried not to make it too bit, I didn’t want to burn my powers before facing the master, but I needed to make it big enough to show our enemies the danger they were in.
A couple of warriors noticed what I was doing and came at me to attack. One of them had a couple of short swords, and I could see electricity dancing on the blades. Before he could get close to me, I used the already broken ground to create more obstacles on their way and slow them down, while I moved the tornado to their path. Before they could dodge it, both warriors were trapped by the strong currents of air, just to be tossed against the trees with enough force to shatter bones. Faakhir’s people were fighting, and I could hear some of our people shooting the enemy.
As soon as they arrived, the enemy started to disappear. Soon the place was empty and the only ones left were the couple I had seen before, along with Ivan and an older man. They moved closer and closer until they arrived to the place we were waiting at. Faakhir was right by my side, Jonas on his other side. The older man started talking, but I didn’t understand what he was saying, he was talking in a language I couldn’t understand.
Since I had arrived to the Domain, I had encountered a lot of new languages. The main language of Mzansi was very similar to the one used by the Rebel Clans, so I didn’t have problems with that one, and after arriving I had learned a few other languages used there. Some were easy and were actually similar to the ones used on the Empire and other parts of my old land. But the language I was hearing was one I hadn’t heard before. I wasn’t sure if Faakhir could understand it or if someone else was going to translate for us. After a moment I had my answer when one of the them started talking, his son, if Ivan was correct.
“The Sensei asks: What brings you here? If this is a social visit, would you like to come have tea with us?”
“I think you know why we are here,” Faakhir asked. “Your little rebellion is getting out of control, it’s time you stop playing around. My government won’t stand any uprisings.”
Again the old man started talking and then the son translated.
“The Sensei says he doesn’t know what you are talking about, and invites you again to take tea with him.”
“I think it would be a good idea to take this conversation to the inside. Tell your father we accept his invitation,” Faakhir said. The young man translated, and then they guided us to the interior of one of the buildings.
Only Faakhir, Jonas, Ivan and I went in, the rest of our men stayed outside, surrounding the place, and getting prepared for an attack if necessary. We were guided to a plain looking room, I could see that Faakhir was disgusted by the place, he was used to luxury and was offended by the place, even if it was the best they could offer, they weren’t the type to be surrounded by expensive things, they liked things simple.
A young lady came in and started preparing tea. I remembered Kimball talking about a tea ceremony, a tradition that was almost a ritual and was from the time before the Great War, before the world was divided, even before mutations and psychic powers. For a moment a was lost in my mind, looking at the young lady preparing the tea, but Faakhir started talking and broke the trance.
“Are you stalling? No matter what you do, you are in big trouble. You have done a lot of bad things, you have turned against your government, you have spilled the blood of my soldiers. What do you have to say for yourself?”
“The Sensei says that he never did what you say he did,” his son said, after translating Faakhir’s words and getting his father’s answer.
“All over this country people are fighting against the Dominion, disobeying our rules and refusing to pay their taxes. My men say that the fights can be connected to you. Everything points to you being behind this, and I don’t appreciate you trying to make a fool of me.”
“It’s not our intention to offend you,” the man said before his father had a chance to speak. “My father has nothing to do with what is happening. My sister and I have been in a few fights, but we have only tried to protect ourselves, we don’t want any problems, but when we see injustices, we can’t just stay away, we have to help.”
“And what about the men that attacked us just a moment ago?” Jonas asked.
“Those are refugees, people who lost their land and houses because of the conflicts in the country. Some of them lost everything because they couldn’t pay anymore, some just had their properties taken in the name of the Dominion. It’s people who lost everything they had and can’t give anything else. It’s not fair to ask them for more”
“So, what you are saying is that you are not behind the rebellion, you are just hiding and protecting those who are?”
“People come here looking for protection, for a place where they can survive. If they also want to improve themselves by training with us, we can’t deny them. Some have been under my father’s teachings, or even us. We don’t teach them to look for fights, but we can’t tell them not to defend themselves.”
“It looks to me as if you are training an army. I think you are using your reputation to raise an army, using these people to do your dirty work.”
“That is not our intention,” the woman said, the sister of the one translating. “You have to understand, the whole country is having difficulties meeting the Dominion’s demands. Many people are on the streets, incapable of paying what the Dominion demands. These people need a place where they can be safe. We are just providing them with a place where they can be protected. Everything could be back to normal if you could just forget about some of their debts. Give them an opportunity to have their land back so they can work again.”
“Every person have a function in society, their function is to serve me. If they can’t do their job, then I can help them do it better. That’s why we have the camps.”
“That’s unfair, not to mention inhuman.”
“That’s reality. It’s time for you to make a decision. I’m a forgiving person, and I think that maybe you didn’t realize what was happening, maybe you didn’t know what the people you are protecting was doing. I wouldn’t like to punish you the same way I’m going to punish them if this was just a misunderstanding. I have a free space on my Elite Forces, and I think that your father would be a good match.”
The man started talking before his son could translate Faakhir’s words, and that only confirmed what I suspected, he understood every word being spoken. I didn’t know why the pretense, but I suspected that Faakhir knew that the man understood him. What surprised me more was that he let him keep pretending, as if they couldn’t communicate in the same language. Maybe it was a weird way of showing respect.
“The Sensei says that he can’t accept your offer. He is not a soldier or a bodyguard, he is a teacher. He really can’t accept,” the man translated his father’s words.
“I’m afraid that there is only a way to do this. We can’t let his people, this… refugees, keep looking at you as if you were their saviors. Even if you weren’t the one that caused this problem, you gave these people hope, and that made them dare to rebel against me. The only way we can stop them is by destroying their hope, and I can only think of two methods that can do that: Either you come work for me, so the whole world can see you supporting me, or you fight my best warrior so everyone can see their dear defensor being defeated by the Dominion,” Faakhir said.
“And why would I accept to fight your people? What would I gain by that?” The old man asked, using Faakhir’s language, even if heavily accented.
“Because if you defeat Kaiserin, I’ll let you and your people alone, I could even forgive their debts and give them the peace and freedom they want.”
“And how can I trust you? You have no honor.”
“You have no choice, you will have to do this.”
I saw the face of Kimball’s master change the moment he decided to accept the challenge, his eyes turned cold and he looked at me as if he could read in my face how to defeat me. I hated to do it, but I knew that that man had to ‘die’. The people under his protection would be at Faakhir’s mercy. I wondered if I was doing the right thing, but I knew that like him, I had no other choice.