I arrived at the hall where Faakhir and Emily were holding court. It was lucky that I already had a meeting with them scheduled, I just needed to arrive a little early to make sure I was there when Jonas arrived to talk to them. I wasn’t sure how Ethan had managed to knock him out, I suspected that it had more to do with the fact that Jonas trusted his illusions blindly and couldn’t even consider that someone could get pass them. I was glad I had trained Ethan to fight against people with illusion powers, there were a few ways to do it, either using his other senses or if he was facing a multi-sensorial illusion, then by using his double mind.
While Faakhir and Emily wasted their time playing games with the Representatives, either ignoring or questioning them, Jonas stormed into the room, going directly to Faakhir, not waiting to be acknowledged by him.
“You have been fooled!” Were his first words. “Kaiserin’s son is a highly trained warrior.” At those words I forced myself to laugh, as if his words were the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.
“What are you talking about Jonas?” Emily asked, but I could see that it was Faakhir who was more interested in an answer.
“I found a couple of spies in the servants’ area, I was about to stop them when Kaiserin’s son arrived and fought me, before I could do anything to fight back he knocked me out, by the time I woke up they were already gone. We have to find them, I don’t know what they were planning on doing, but it can’t be anything good. I think she betrayed you.”
“Kaiserin?” Faakhir asked, and I could see his interest in what Jonas was saying.
“I have never heard anything more ridiculous in my life. I mean, I know that Jonas is a pathetic excuse for a warrior, but to be defeated by an eight year old? I would die of embarrassment if I had to admit to something like that.” When I stopped talking I watched as Jonas realized what I was implying.
“I’m sure you had something to do with this, somehow. I’m sure she is looking for a way to take power away from you.”
“And you think I would use an eight year old to do that? I don’t know if I should be offended or flattered that you think I could do something like that.”
“You have to accept that it does sound a little ridiculous,” Emily said, after realizing that Jonas’ arguments were too silly to make sense.
“You said he wasn’t alone, who else was with him?” Faakhir asked, and I realized he was considering Jonas to be telling the truth.
“I first ran into Dmytro Kozak and Jeong Hye Ki.
“Are you saying that my son was defending the grandchild of the Kozak couple I killed last year and the sister of the boy I let fall out of the airplane a few months ago? If that’s true, he is the only traitor here, not me. But I can’t understand how they would be with my son, usually the family of my victims tries to get away from me and my people.”
“It is certainly a weird combination. All I can think of is that Kaiserin’s son hates her as much as the family of her victims. But I don’t think Kaiserin is involved in whatever happened here, and we still have to confirm that the guy you saw was her son,” Faakhir said, but I could see he was considering all the alternatives. “Kaiserin, where’s your son?”
“Isn’t he at school?” I asked.
“School is already over for the day,” Faakhir said.
“Then he should be at home, I don’t know.”
“I tell you, he’s here, somewhere in the Palace, he couldn’t have gotten far, especially if I interrupted their plans. I’m telling you, they were up to no good. I’m sure they had some internal help, and I’m sure that Kaiserin had something to do with it.”
“Do you not hear how ridiculous your argument is? If you want we can ask my son, I’m sure Kimball will know where he is, I can call him and ask.”
“I will be making that call,” Faakhir said, and I knew that he was taking Jonas’ words seriously, even if he appeared to be taking my side.
“As you wish.”
Faakhir asked for his phone and it took just a minute for Kimball to answer. I hoped that Mbali had had the chance to update Kimball on what was going on, I couldn’t risk to contact him directly, I had to be careful so they couldn’t trace anything to me and avoid suspicion. Faakhir made a few questions, but I couldn’t hear Kimball’s answers.
“Jonas, the person who attacked you, are you sure he was Kaiserin’s son?” Faakhir asked, and I couldn’t feel that the tide was moving my way, his tone when talking to Jonas wasn’t as friendly as before.
“I’m hundred percent sure it was her son. He managed to break free of my illusion, not many are capable of doing that, Kaiserin is one of the few. I’m sure she somehow taught her son how to do it.”
“What I don’t get is how he managed to knock you out, did you fight? Did you manage to hurt him at least?” Faakhir asked.
“No, he took me by surprise. By the time I noticed what was going on and tried to fight him back it was too late. And he wasn’t fighting how you would expect a kid to fight, it was like fighting an adult. That’s why I suspect Kaiserin is somehow involved on this.”
“If you say he fought like an adult, wouldn’t it be logical to think that you were fighting a morpher? Maybe one took my son’s appearance thinking it would grant him access to more places,” I suggested, and I was happy to see Faakhir thinking about it.
“The both of you and I will take a quick trip to visit Ethan. I just want to confirm that the information I was given is accurate.”
Jonas was just realizing that he had acted prematurely, by running to accuse me to Faakhir he had put himself in a difficult situation. Now he was looking like a wimp by openly saying he was defeated by a kid, or like a liar if what he claimed couldn’t be confirmed. Jonas’ hate was so strong that I had to block my empathy because his feelings were causing me actual physical pain.
After a short trip in the car, where no one spoke, we arrived to the Black Tower, and went to the apartment I shared with Kimball and Ethan. Mbali opened the door, and it was clear from her attitude that we weren’t welcome, I wasn’t sure if it was part of the charade or if she was really angry at me.
“Kimball told me you might be coming, but I don’t think this is a good idea. Ethan is hurt, and he needs rest.”
“He will have time to rest all he wants once we talk to him,” Faakhir said, “it’s really important that we ask him a few questions.”
“Then I will go for him. You can go to the living room, I will be there in a moment.” Mbali didn’t wait for us to acknowledge her words, she turned and went for Ethan while I had to guide our guest to the living room.
Faakhir took the biggest chair and Jonas and I took our places standing by his sides. Mbali was back in just a minute, carrying Ethan in her arms. I had to admit they were giving the perfect image, Ethan looked so small and vulnerable in her arms that I felt the need to go to him and protect him, but I needed to keep my role a little bit longer. Mbali took Ethan to the sofa and helped him to the seat.
“Good evening,” Faakhir said in what he considered a non-threatening tone, “I heard you had some trouble at school.” Ethan looked at me really fast, and then moved his eyes to Mbali, then he just nodded to Faakhir, without making eye contact, as if he was scared or ashamed. “What happened?”
“I stumbled down the stairs,” Ethan said in a barely audible voice.
“And what happened after that?”
“My leg hurt and I couldn’t walk, so Tau brought me here and Mbali went for the doctor so he could fix my leg,” Ethan moved his leg to show the splint on his leg.
“Did you go to the Palace today?” Ethan shook his head, his face showing surprise and curiosity. “I was told you were there,” Faakhir insisted, and I could see Jonas losing his patience.
“No, I was brought here and the doctor said that I couldn’t move for at least a couple of days.”
“You’re lying!” Jonas exploded, and before Mbali could react, he moved to where Ethan was and grabbed him by the shirt, pulling him until he was standing, but as soon as he put weight on his broken leg, he color drained off his face and he started to fall, he was just standing thanks to Jonas holding him upright.
“Let him go!” Mbali said, while she was trying to make Jonas let go of Ethan without hurting him in the process.
“Enough!” Faakhir said. “Jonas, I don’t doubt you, but it’s becoming obvious that someone fooled you. Maybe we will have to consider the possibility of a morpher, there’s no way a kid could get inside the Palace undetected, even less that he could fight you.” Jonas was about to talk, but Faakhir interrupted him before he could speak. “I asked you myself if you had seen something wrong with the kid or if you had injured your opponent and you said that you didn’t, by seeing the kid and the broken leg, that was broken at school, I know that he wasn’t involved.”
“Of course he is involved, I’m sure she planned this,” Jonas pointed his finger at me, and I couldn’t help but think that he was partially right in his accusation.
“You are one my most loyal guards, that’s why I even bothered to check your story, but we need to accept that you were wrong about him. I don’t doubt that you believe what you thought you saw, we need to consider the possibility that you were fooled by someone else in an effort to hide the real culprits.” Faakhir was trying to calm Jonas down, and I could see that he too was running out of patience.
“Will you at least consider the possibility that they were involved?” Jonas asked.
“I will get a group to investigate this, neither you nor Kaiserin will be involved, that way we will have an impartial result. Jonas, it would be best if you take a couple of days off, at least until we can see what really happened. Kaiserin, you too, I don’t want you in the Palace, that way nobody will say you were able to interfere with the investigation.”
“If you think that’s for the best, that’s what I will do, but I think that’s unnecessary. I will be ready to go back to work as soon as you call me.” I had a bad feeling about it, I knew that Jonas wouldn’t let this go so easily.
“Jonas, come with me back to the Palace. I will need you to talk to Fatima and explain what happened, I think she will be the right person to head the investigation, she will be able to see what really happened.” Having Fatima involved made me feel better.
Jonas and Faakhir left me alone with Mbali and Ethan. Once I was sure they were gone, I went to where Ethan was and hugged him. I knew that I had done what needed to be done, but I still felt guilty about causing him pain. I connected myself to Ethan, I had perfected the art of blocking pain at a biological level, and I was going to do the same for Ethan, even if it was harder to accomplish. I found what I needed and blocked his pain, making sure he wouldn’t feel pain for the rest of the day.
“How are you feeling?” I asked, as I helped him get settled once again on the couch.
“Much better, in fact, I don’t feel any pain,” he said, surprised.
“I blocked your pain, but you need to be very careful, just because you can’t feel pain, it doesn’t mean you are not injured, and if you don’t take care of yourself you can make it worse.”
“Thanks mother. I’m sorry for what happened today, I realize that I acted on impulse and made things harder for everyone.”
“You were right, in your place I would have done the same, but before you take any action, you need to think about the consequences of your actions. I don’t want anything like this to happen again, you need to be careful what you do and where you do it. If we are lucky, Faakhir will continue to think that someone fooled Jonas with the intention of making me look bad. At least you were right, there’s no evidence that you or the others were there, but I don’t understand how a little girl like Hye Ki managed to get inside the Palace undetected.”
“I took from her a few gadgets that were really impressive, my guess is that she took them from her father and modified them for her needs. I’m sure that between my father and I, we will be able to decipher how they work and use them to our benefit.”
“Good thinking,” I was impressed that he had thought to take the gadgets away. “Now, even if you are feeling better, you need some rest. Once your father arrives, we will have a lot to explain.”