Chapter 20

“This is more complicated than I expected,” I complained to Kimall.  “I thought it was just a matter of telling them to choose a person to lead them, and they would take care of that.”

“You need to establish the process and…” he started to explain.

“I know!” I interrupted him.  “It’s just that I would like this to be more direct and quick, this whole vetting process and the action we need to do to prepare and everything that has to be done before we even give it to them…” Kimball looked at me as if he wanted to discuss, but he didn’t.

“It’s almost ready, soon it will be out of your hands, and you will be able to go back to your other concerns, and the congress will be another person’s problem.”

“If you think that having another person in charge of congress will ease my mind, then you don’t know me that well.  Even if the person they choose is someone I trust, I will still be worried.”

“There’s nothing to worry about, you still have veto power over laws that can affect us.”

“You said it yourself, that is a power I can only use in a few occasions, and William has to back me up, we need to overrule the vote.  Everything is much more simple in the Empire, you give an order and everyone follows, if they don’t, you kill them, end of story.”

“I really doubt things are that simple,” Kimball challenged my words, but I didn’t want to discuss that with him, especially because things weren’t really that simple, it was just that they were simpler than in the Dominion.  “Anyway, I think we already did everything we could, it’s time for rest, tomorrow you will need to face the congress and I know how much you hate that.”

“You’re right,” I closed the files in front of me and went to my room, not bothering to wait for Kimball, I knew he would be with me soon, and that he would help me forget all my worries.

Even in our most difficult times, I couldn’t help but recognize Kimball’s devotion to me.  I knew that things would have been very different for me if it wasn’t for Kimball, he was my reward for surviving the most difficult parts of my life.

Before falling asleep, I usually tried to spend a few times in the fog, or to take a walk through the astral planes, but not that day, I needed a clear mind and lots of rest.  I knew that it had always been part of the plan to give the power back to them, but I felt like I was losing control.  When we had first discussed the tripartite government, I had thought I would have William on my side, and that I would have him by my side, still in control, but I couldn’t count on that anymore.  I knew that it was the right step, but I couldn’t help but fear what a new player would do to our future plans.

I woke up well rested, but not less worried.  What would happen that day would start a complete change in the dynamics of the Dominion.  After eating a breakfast that I couldn’t even taste, and going to my office where I couldn’t do any work, the time for facing the congress finally arrived.

“Are you ready?” Kimball asked.

“As ready as I’m going to be.”

Kimball walked by my side to the congress hall, where I had scheduled a meeting half an hour before, I liked to ask them to be early, as a power play and to make sure everyone would already be there when I arrived.  Even if most of them had changed their minds about me, and I wasn’t hated by everyone, I still could feel the atmosphere in the room changing at my arrival.  Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I had killed Emily in that place.

I took my seat, the seat that the President of the Congress usually took, but I didn’t talk, they still needed to wait another fifteen minutes, until William was scheduled to arrive.  They were clearly uncomfortable with the waiting, but no one talked, which surprised me, they usually were more willing to confront me.  After only ten minutes, William arrived and took the seat to my left.

“Now that King William has arrived, we can start.  As I understand, most of the countries in the Dominion, and the Dominion itself, worked under a three power system.  Even if the Dominion was created to act a supervising entity, it still had the same system, until Emily took control of the Dominion and took all three powers for herself, then extended them to her husband, and together, they worked on taking the freedom and independence from the countries, taking all the power and control for the Dominion.  When I took Emily and Faakhir out, I assumed the same power they used to have, but I know that this is not how things are supposed to work.”

“The reason why Kaiserin called me today, is because she is ready to restore another of the old powers, and as an act of goodwill, she will let you elect a President of the Congress,” William explained, just as we had agreed.  “After all these years, I know that electing a new President will be a crucial and very important task, but I trust you will be able to do the right thing.  I want you to think of this announcement as the official call for elections, as the old statutes establish, you have two months to choose the candidates and vote one of them as your representative and President.”

“The old statutes establish that both William and I will have the power to veto the candidates that you choose.  William will interview each one to make sure there are no connections with my predecessors.  I want you to choose carefully and wisely.  You need to choose the person who will be better for the position, don’t try to choose whomever you think will please us, or worse, the person you think will be able to fight against us.  Remember that this new Dominion is a work in progress, and I’m prepared to change the rules if I see that the progress is not going well.”

“I think that is all I had to say.  You have a lot to think about, and I’ll let you to it,” William said, getting out of his seat and walking away, as the people in the room erupted in questions.

“Those who have questions or are not familiar with the old statutes, all the files will be sent to you this afternoon.  If you still have questions, those will be answered in another reunion here, in a week.”

“Are you really going to respect our choice?” one of the representatives asked.

“I need you to understand this.  I’m trying to do what’s right for the Dominion.  If you choose the person you think will be better for the people and for you, someone capable of helping us with this new project to restore the Dominion, then I will respect your decision, but if you take this opportunity and waste it trying to screw me over, then I will make sure you won’t have the chance again.  William and I have had our issues, but I know that his heart is in the right place, that’s why we have let our problems behind us.”

“I find it very hard to believe that after everything you did to take control of the Dominion, you would be willing to let go of it.”

“This has been the plan from the start, it’s something I talked about with the people who supported me.  As long as I have one of the positions of power, and I’ve been told that Prime Minister is the most important one, I’m satisfied.  Ruling is not an easy task, I don’t have a problem sharing the burden.  Any other question?”  I gave them a few seconds, when no question was asked, I left the room.

As soon as we crossed the door, I could hear the voices raising, and I knew they had already started the discussions to select their president.

“That went well,” Kimball, who had been by my side the whole time, pointed out.

“You think so?  I’m not so sure, I’m losing control of the situation, and about to lose even more.”

“I thought this is what you wanted, things with William are better than before, none of your plans had been affected lately.”

“I know that, and still… Maybe is because I’m reaching the end of my mission.  Soon I won’t be necessary, and I have dedicated years of my life to this project, and don’t know what to do anymore.”

“Everything will be fine, and no matter what happens, I will be here with you, to help you in any way you need.”

“I know I can count on you.  I’ve known since that day with the Amazons, when I woke up after being sick, and found out you had been taking care of me.  Before that I never thought I would be able to trust or depend on someone again.”

“We have come a long way since then,” Kimball said, putting his arm around my shoulders.  “What’s going on? What’s really bothering you?”

“I’m not really sure, I have a bad feeling, and I really hope it has nothing to do with what we have been doing today.”

“Everything is going according to plan, we have left Emily’s and Faakhir’s problems behind us.  Maybe it’s time for you to talk to Sofia and mend bridges with her.”

“Please, don’t even try, you know how I feel about that.  Did I tell you I had a vision about Malkia?” I said, trying to change the subject.

“No, you didn’t mention that,” Kimball said, interested.

The trip from the Congress to my side of the palace was fast, so I waited until we were there to talk to Kimball about my vision.

“It seems that Dendro is going to make Malkia’s and Antrax’s relationship official.  Once the announcement is made, Malkia will be the only recognized partner for Dendro, and her children will be the heirs to their clan.  It will be as if they were married.”

“But Malkia is too young,” Kimball protested.

“You know things are different there, most women in the Empire have their first child around that age.”

“You were much older when you had Malkia.”

“But that wasn’t my choice.  I wanted to have a child when I was Malkia’s age, but my partner at that time, Cervo, didn’t think he was the right person, and refused to make me pregnant.  After he taught me the importance of choosing the right person, it was hard for me to try again, mostly because I was afraid of being rejected again by one of my partners.  Did I mention that I got pregnant when I first arrived at Sector 32?  It wasn’t my choice, and I lost the baby not long after because of one of the beatings Agmong gave me, after that I thought I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant again, I only could because of Ilum’s sacrifice, and I didn’t realize I could until I found out I was pregnant with Malkia.”

“Malkia arrived at the right time, when you were in the position to protect her, once you had healed enough to face the situation.”

“Ilum was the one who healed me.”

“I’m not talking about your physical scars, but the emotional ones.  But I get the point, things are different here, you aren’t even considered an adult until you turn twenty here, so forgive me for thinking of Malkia as a child.”

“At least she is where she wants to be, and with the person she wants to be.  That’s good for her.”

“If she is the partner of the clan’s heir, does that mean she will have to travel with them to the Empire’s reunions at the palace?”

“I don’t think Dendro will risk taking her there, not for the moment.  As soon as they see her, they will realize who she is, so I don’t think he will take that risk until he is sure she will be able to defend herself is she needs to.  Anyway, I will try to pay attention to the astral planes in case she needs to talk to me.”

“Kaiserin, are you happy?” Kimball asked, looking at me with concern.  “I know this is not what you expected when you agreed to come with me.”

“Everything is fine, I have you and I have Ethan, and everything else helps keep things interesting.  It’s just that now that we are at the end of our mission, we will have to make new plans for our future.  For a long time all our focus was on saving the Dominion, and getting things back to what they used to be, now that things are on its way, it won’t be long before I’m no longer needed to keep things on track.”

“The plan was to force people to chase you out of the Dominion and go back to Aquarium or return to the Empire.  Now that you can use your powers while you are having a vision we can go back without fear of your clairvoyance putting you at risk.”

“If we do that I will be able to see my daughter again,” he didn’t say it, but we both knew that was the only reason I would even consider going back.  “But there is another option.  Your people has been asking for you to go back to Mzansi and taking the position of King, and we need to think about that.  I know that’s something you want, even if you deny it,” Kimball didn’t say anything, the fact that he didn’t immediately dismissed my words was very telling.

“I think we need to see all our options and find the best one for everybody, not just for me, or you, but for our children as well.  You always say that there are multiple paths in front of us, we just have to find one where all our paths cross together.”

“And that’s what we will do,” I say, even if I didn’t have any interest in walking the fog at the moment, all I wanted was to live in the moment for a little while.


Chapter 19

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Kimball asked while a group of makeup artists worked on me.

“No, but you know that as long as that woman is free my people is in danger.”

Finally, after days of research, we had finally found out that the same person that was requesting an interview with me, was the one that had been walking into the palace.  With the help of a few walks in the fog, I also found out that she wasn’t only after an exclusive interview, she wanted to kill me, and that was something I wasn’t going to allow.  After a heated debate between my security, Aziz, Kimball and I, we eventually decided that we were going to play along with her so we could expose her plans.

“The risk is too big,” Kimball replied.

“Are you saying you won’t be able to do your part?” I challenged him.

“Of course not, if things are as you say, then I won’t have any problems.”

“It’s time,” Aziz said, he was looking uncomfortable and guilty, as he had been ever since he found out about Merce’s real plans.

“Don’t worry, everything will be fine, try not to look so nervous, we don’t want her to realize we are on to her.”

In a few minutes we were in one of the living rooms, with a group of cameras around it, all pointing at us.  We had agreed that she was going to film and then the interview was going to be reviewed before being aired, to make sure that nothing classified could be leaked to the general population, but I also knew that one of the cameras was on a live stream, transmitting to a clandestine channel, where some of the people who was still against me could view it, looking for anything they could use against me.

“Thanks for agreeing to this interview,” the woman in front of me greeted me.

It was hard to believe that Merce was using her own daughter for this mission.  Merce was a quadriplejic woman that could project her mind, not many people knew that the woman in front of me wasn’t the original, because she had been using her daughter as a vehicle for her mind for years.  When she needed, she could jump to other people’s minds and take control of their bodies, and that people got no recolection of the time she used their bodies.  That was how she had been able to get inside the palace, using visitors, innocent civilians from the lower floors to gain access to the palace and get to my employees.

“I was told this was a good idea,” I told her.

“First of all, let’s talk about your background, we all know that you don’t come from anywhere in the Dominion, you are one of those savages that live on the other side of the ocean, and you were raised in a very different way from the rest of us,” she started, and then paused, as if expecting something from me.

“Is there a question there?”

“My question is, how was your education in the Empire?”

“I was raised as a warrior, I learned to fight, and to survive.”

“You were taught to be a merciless killer, weren’t you?  How old were you when you had your first kill?”

“I was about to turn eleven,” I said immediately, but then I paused.  I hadn’t said a lie, or something I wished to hide, but the speed and confidence in my response made me realize that I was far too comfortable, was it her power affecting me?  “One of my superiors was in a bad mood and tried to kill me, so I fought back and was forced to kill him.”

“And I bet you did it again very soon, people like you feel no remorse taking lives.”

“Actually, it was years before I found myself in a similiar situation, but you are right, I didn’t feel remorse for Hoshi’s death, he attacked me.  I feel no pleasure killing people, but I don’t see anything bad in using lethal force to defend myself.”

“Since you became, I mean, since you killed the previous rulers and took control of the Dominion by force, you have claimed you are working for the good of the Dominio.  Do you really believe that the killings and army enforced control of the Dominion is in our best interest?”

“I do,” I said, without bothering to elaborate.

“As many of us realized a few months back, most of the killings that we thought you had made in the name of the old rulers, never happened, most of the people that was prosecuted by the them returned after years out of the spotlight, under your ‘protection’.  Do you really wants us to believe that during all those years you didn’t mess with their minds to ensure their loyalty?  That their minds weren’t tampered with in all that time away?”

“That’s what I want you to believe, because that was what happened.  The people under my protection was free to join my cause, or not, but there was never a threat to force their cooperation.  I think that William’s actions are a good example of that, since he became King, his actions haven’t been exactly aligned with my plans.  I must admit he has acted in the Dominion’s best interest, and that’s what I asked of him when I offered him the position.”

“All you have said sound lovely, but the truth is that it could be all an elaborated plan to make us believe that he is not under your control, to make it look as if he can go against you.”

“I think you just insulted your King by implying he is my puppet, isn’t there a law that punishes those who talk bad about the royalty?”

“Is that a threat?” Merce asked, and I could tell she would be happy if I said it was, that would give her ammunition against me.

“I’m just pointing it out, it’s not my job to observe or enforce that, it’s William’s.  Anyway, just let me tell you that I never liked controlling people’s minds, it’s a very invasive activity, and one that requires a lot of energy, it’s not really worth it.”

“Well, I will have to believe in your words, not that those are very trustworthy.”

“I always try to tell the truth.  If used correctly, truth could be one of the most lethal weapons.”

“Is everything a weapon to you?”

“Of course, that’s what my barbaric childhood taught me.”

“Many people changed their minds about you after the earthquake, is there some truth behind the idea that you caused the catastrophe to help clean your image?”

“I’m really flattered that you think I’m strong enough to do something like that, the power required to do something like that is beyond imagination.”

“It’s hard to imagine a single person could hold a building from collapsing, yet you claim you did it.”

“And still, there no comparison between one and the other.  The most important fact to consider is that during the rescue efforts, I wasn’t alone, I had a lot of people helping me.”

“And I supposed you did it all for the Dominion.”

“I did, but it’s obvious you don’t see it the same way.”

“I found it unbelievable that a merciless person like you could be fit to rule us.  We had enough of power hungry people, we don’t need someone who doesn’t care how many bodies she leaves on her path, as long as she gets what she wants.”

“Don’t you find that a little hypocritical?  Aren’t you planning on blowing this place in the off chance of killing me, no matter how many innocent people die in the process?”  For a moment Merce didn’t talk, she didn’t know what to say, but then her face transformed into a mask of fury.

“You went inside my mind?”

“It wasn’t necessary, besides, we both know that I wouldn’t be going into your mind, but your daughter’s, the one you use as a vehicle to move around,” I knew I had caught her by surprise, but she masked her expression fast enough.  “I know what you are planning, and let me tell you, you are mistaken.  Your bomb will not only damage his wing of the palace, it will weaken the structure and make it collapse over the lower floors, destroying the employees rooms and even affecting the offices further down.  Of course my power will allow me to survive, but I’m afraid that my employees and many innocent civilians won’t be so lucky.”

“You are lying.  There is no way you can know what’s going to happen, you are only trying to stop me from doing what I need to do,” her voice had a touch of insanity creeping into it, and I knew that there was no way I could make her change her mind.  “If other people gets hurts in the process, is still a worthy sacrifice to rid the Dominion of you.”

“And what about your daughter?  Is it worth it to sacrifice her in the name of this insanity?”

“She knew the risks,” she didn’t even bother to deny my words.  “I’m doing what needs to be done, what no one else dares to do.  I will be remembered by future generations as a martyr.”

“You will be remembered as the stupid woman who killed her daughter, and I told you, I won’t die.  It wouldn’t be the first time a building collapses on top of me, I know how to use my powers to protect myself, and even a few of my guards.  But the rest of the deaths will be on your conscience, if you even have one.”

“Stay away!” she yelled when she noticed some of my guards getting closer to her.  “If you try to touch me, I will detonate the bomb.”

“Give her some space,” I told my men.  “We don’t want her to do anything she will regret.”

“You and I will die here,” Merce repeated, and I had to stop myself from pointing out that her mind would survive, only innocent people would be affected.

“You still have a chance to change your mind, you don’t need to kill anyone.  You could give me a chance to prove that I’m not trying to make things worse, I want to bring the Dominion back to its former glory, to take it back to what it was before Emily took control, you just need to accept me.”

“Everyone believed that Emily was a good person, and at the first chance she got she became a monster.  You are a demon, and all you know how to do is destroy everything,” by the conviction behind her words I knew there was no chance of getting her to see things my way, she would keep thinking the same no matter what I did.  “This is your end, I won’t let you harm anyone else,” she pulled up her sleeve and I would see a gadget embedded in her arm.  “Goodbye, Kaiserin.”

I could hear the people around us holding their breaths, waiting for the explosion.  Even after telling the people around us that everything was under control, they were still worried about it.  But as the seconds went by and nothing happened, Merce started fidgeting with the gadget, trying desperately to make it work, pushing different buttons, but it was obvious by then it wasn’t going to work.

“I have to give it to you,” Kimball said, entering the room with a bunch of circuits in his hand, “the bomb was really sophisticated and hard to disarm.  If I hadn’t been aware of what I was looking for, I wouldn’t be able to do it in time.”

“No, that’s not possible, they told me there was no way they could mess with it without causing it to explode,” Merce still refused to acknowledge what was happening.

“Maybe you were willing to sacrifice innocent lives for your purposes, but I wasn’t, I couldn’t stand by knowing people was going to die, not if I could help.  I knew what your plan was before agreeing to this interview, and I thought that maybe we could talk and resolve this like civilized people, but I realized that there is no way to do that, you are so convinced of your own beliefs that nothing I could do or say will change your mind.”

“This can’t be happening,” she was murmuring, not even listening to my words.

“Right at this moment a group of policemen should be arriving at your house, and your physical body will be taken into custody, your powers sealed.  You will be charged with kidnapping, because of all that people you took control of without permission, and for trying to blow this place up.  If it was in my hands, I would kill you, but William says there is a protocol to follow before executing someone, so now you are in the hands of the judicial system.

“This is not over,” Merce threatened, and a moment later I felt her mind invading mine, I didn’t try to fight her off, I opened the doors into my mind, because I knew it would be much easier to contain her like that, and stop her from hurting someone else.

Her power was different from Agata, even if both of them could jump from mind to mind, Merce’s power expanded inside the mind, covering everything in her path, and freezing it.  Like I usually did in cases like that, I pushed Merce’s psychic body to the dark part of my mind, and then I locked her in there, so she wouldn’t be able to move outside.  The advantage of having a double mind was that I was able to fight her and deny her the control she was looking for.

“Are you ok?” I asked the other Merce, the one left behind.

“Mother?” she asked, looking around.

“She is contained for the moment,” I explained.

“That’s not possible, I felt her jump to your mind, there’s no way you could fight her off and still function.”

“You can look into my eyes and confirm for yourself, she is not here.  You are certainly not the first ones to underestimate me.  I need to ask, where you aware of your mother’s plans?”

“I think the more pertinent question is if she agreed with them,” William interrupted, he had come to make sure that everything went according to plan, also to present a unified front against Merce.  “Tell me, were you complicit in your mother’s activities?” William’s voice was full of power, and I knew she would be forced to answer him.

“At first I agreed with her goals, but as time went by, I wasn’t sure anymore if she was doing the right thing.  There are a few things that made me question if Kaiserin was really the monster my mother was painting her to be, especially after she used me to interview that little girl that said that an angel that looked like Kaiserin helped her get out safely.  I want to think that at least, she cares about her people.”

“Like I have said before, I have no interest in ruling over a bunch of corpses, what’s the point of being the queen if there is no one there to follow my orders?  I plan to bring the Dominion back to its old glory, and I don’t need the same useless luxuries Emily did, nor I care about power the same way Faakhir did.  I’m a simple person, as long as people recognize me as their ruler and obeys my orders, I will do my best to make sure they are happy.”

“I think I believe you, and I’m sorry about the problems my mother caused.”

“I hope that you understand that your words don’t change the fact you will go to trial as your mother’s accomplice,” William said, “we need to prove in court that you weren’t following her on your own free will.”

“I get, and I accept, I won’t resist.”

I watched as William took Merce outside, while Kimball and Aziz came closer to me, Kimball taking a seat next to me, Aziz taking the seat Merce had just left.

“So you have Merce locked up inside your mind?” Kimball asked.

“It’s ok, it’s not that hard to keep her there.  Once they have their body I will give her the chance to go back to it, with a suppressor on hand to keep her contained.”  I could see that Kimball wasn’t that happy with the situation, but he accepted it, so I turned to Aziz.  “What do you think?  Is there anything we can use from the interview?”  I knew that everything that had happened had already been transmitted, but pretending we didn’t know was part of the game.

“I’m not sure, the truth is that there is very little that can be used without it looking as if we are trying to manipulate the situation.  Maybe we could use some of it as evidence for Merce’s trial, and use her daughter to confirm the information, and only let it out as part of the trial process, it will make it more credible.”

“I would prepare something, to be on the safe side,” Kimball suggested.  “Once people learns about Merce’s arrest, they will make their own conclusions and think that Kaiserin is just trying to get rid of the people speaking against her, they will say she is just like Emily, eliminating anyone who opposes her.”

“Someone knows Merce’s daughter’s name?” Aziz asked.

“Merce, just like her mother,” I said.

“That will only complicate things,” Aziz said.  “Anyway, I will collect the cameras…”

“Don’t,” Kimball cut him off, “let’s wait for William’s people to do that, we need to make sure everything is done according to protocol, that way they won’t be able to accuse us of tampering with the equipment.”

“Well, if that’s all, I will go and check on Merce’s arrest, I need to go to where her body is so I can return her mind to it.”

“I’ll go with you,” Kimball said, “I want to make sure they have everything they need to contain her.”

We both walked outside, leaving just a couple guards to keep an eye on the room.  I knew that the cameras were still recording, and at least one transmitting everything.  I wasn’t sure if what would happen with that, it was a risk to let it, there were a lot of people who could be able to record the transmission and then edit it in a way that made me the villain in the story, but at the same time I was hoping that at least a few of those watching it would change their minds and be convinced there was no need to fight.  Things were just calming down, and I wanted peace to finally arrive to the Dominion, we all needed that.

Chapter 18

“We have a problem,” Thalia told me the next day.

“What kind of problem?” I asked, not even lifting my eyes from the reports in front of me.  Being in charge of the Dominion was very different from being an empress, but there were a few things that were the same, the reports in front of me a clear example.

“Someone has been messing with the minds of some of your domestic employees.  We don’t know how, but someone has managed to get pass the guards and get into the palace.  I was able to confirm that several of them, Alondra included, had altered memories.  I don’t know how extensive the damage is, I didn’t want to go too deep for fear of hurting them even more.”

“Maybe I can take another look,” I said, wondering, my mind going back to when a telepath had messed with some of my mother’s guards, myself included.  My mother almost died that time, and I had been the only survivor among the guards under mind control.  “Our priority is to identify and stop this person.”

“It won’t be easy,” Thalia said, clearly uncomfortable.  “The problem is that each person remember a different face, we don’t even know for sure if that last clear memory they have had something to do with the person behind the attacks, or if we are facing a group working together.”

“There is another possibility, that we are facing someone like Agata.”

“That’s not possible, she is a unique case,” Thalia protested, thinking about the unique power that the ex-assassin possessed.

“I would like to think the same, but there is always the possibility.  I’ll call Agata, maybe she would be able to tell us if there is someone like her out here.”

Finding Agata’s mind was easy, her psychic fingerprint was easy to identify, and she was close by.  As usual, she accepted my orders without question, and a couple of minutes later she was walking into the room.

“Greetings, how can I be of service?”

“We have a problem, and maybe you can help us, it seems that someone has been messing with my employees’ minds, and Thalia and I came up with a few theories of what could my happening, mine is that we are facing someone with the same kind of abilities as you.”

“What makes you think that?” she asked, surprised.

“That almost all of the people affected has been suffering from blackouts, and the last memory before them shows a different person each time.  If they were all thinking of the same person, it would be easy, the problem is that each employee remembers a different person.”

“You think someone is taking over their minds, do you think it’s me?” Agata replied.

“Of course not, but we want to know if you know of anyone else with the same powers as you,” Thalia said, but Agata was still mad.

“Agata, you know that I trust you, you wouldn’t be here otherwise.  We have a security issue we have to resolve as soon as possible, and we need your help for that.  Now tell me, do you know of anyone else with the same power as you?  Someone who can go into a person and take over her body?” I asked, trying to calm her down.

“I have heard rumors of people who can move between minds, but no one with the exact same power.  I could try to stay alert in case I can find a person with the same power.”

“Thanks, that is enough.  Just keep your eyes open for any suspicious activity.”

“What do you think we should do?” Thalia asked.

“So far the only people affected are employees, no guard.  We need to make sure that’s the case, check the guards and make sure they are ok, and if that’s the case, we will have to pair them so they can protect those who can’t.”

“I don’t think either group will like that,” Thalia said.

“I don’t care, it’s for their own safety and they will have to adapt.”

Once Thalia and Agata were gone, I tried to go back to work, but it was near impossible, Thalia’s news kept distracting me.  How could someone infiltrate my territory like that without being identified?  We were supposed to be better than that, and I was worried about Alondra, if they had gotten to her, who had developed such strong defenses while dealing with Faakhir, then it was bad.

Later, I got a visit from Aziz, the last person I expected.  I wasn’t sure if his arrival was good or bad, after all, his interview had seriously affected how people thought of me, and I wasn’t sure if that had been for my benefit.

“Greetings, my dear Kaiserin.”

“Greetings, Aziz.  How can I help you?”

“Actually, it’s me who wants to help you.  I want to offer my services as your spokesperson, I want to be in charge of your press releases, and basically, help with the public perception of you.

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” I said, trying to sound nice.

“I know you are not happy with me, but let me assure you it wasn’t my intention to act behind your back, William told me to give that interview, and that it was what you wanted, that’s why I did it, I never imagined he could be lying.  Still, I think that really helped your image, and I would like to keep working on that.  If the people stop thinking of you as the enemy, things would be easier for you.”

“I’m not used to think about that kind of things, I just need for a few people to know the truth and follow my orders, other than that, I don’t really care what people think about me.  And my predecessors didn’t care about that either, so…”

“On the contrary, they cared, that’s why they were doing their best to get rid of people like me, they hated anyone who said anything negative about them, as if filling the news with positive things would make any difference.  Still they tried to repeat over and over how perfect things were with them, and it kind of worked at the beginning, but it’s hard to keep believing the fantasy when you don’t even have food to eat.”

“And what are your plans?”

“First of all, I would like you to give an interview, let people get to know you.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.  Couldn’t you just work in a way I wouldn’t have to be involved?”

“There is a person who is very eager to interview you, it’s a person that haven’t been quiet about her hate to you, and if you manage to face her and turn her, then the rest of the people will follow her, people who still think you are just an assassin.”

“If she is so convinced I’m bad, a little talk won’t change her mind, and if I do manage to convince her I’m not that bad, then her followers will just assume I’m messing with her brain.”

“I’m afraid that people still think of Faakhir as the strongest telepath of this generation, and he wasn’t able to control her.  She is a very powerful telepath, and very respected because of that, she can make people be open with her.  Her power is similar to William’s, but it works in a different way.”


“Well, William can command you to tell him the truth, he can influence you, but you know what’s going on, you feel his dominance over you, but her, on the other side, makes you feel so comfortable that you end up telling her anything, her power is more like hypnotism.”

“And you want me to talk to her? I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“I really doubt she would be able to control you, and still I think it would be worth it, we could even ask for a delay in the transmission of the interview, that way, if things get out of control, we can cut it.”

“That’s something I will have to think about.  But if you want the position as a spokesperson, I think that can be arranged, that doesn’t sound like a bad idea.  I’ll confirm after I have some time to consider the implications.”

“I appreciate your trust, you won’t regret it,” Aziz said, and I could tell he really mean it.  He had been one of my most vocal opponents, but once he got to know me, he had changed his mind.  Still, I needed to be careful, I couldn’t trust blindly again, not after what had happened with William.  I couldn’t allow anyone else to betray me like that.

When I finally ended my working day and went back to my suite, I found Kimball and Ethan ready for dinner.  As soon as Ethan saw me, his face showed concern.

“What’s wrong mother?”

“Nothing you have to worry about,” I said, trying to smile, but I couldn’t hide what I was feeling in time, and since Ethan was a natural Empath, he could feel my worries.

“Don’t even try it,” Kimball said, “I don’t need my powers to tell that something is bothering you.”

“Don’t you know?  I thought they would run to tell you, after all you named yourself my chief of security.”

“Are you talking about the person who infiltrated the palace?  We are working on that, but I don’t think that’s the only thing on your mind.”

“I got a visit from Aziz, he wants to be my spokesperson, or something like that.”

“That’s a good idea,” Ethan said, “now that the game changed, you need someone to keep the information flowing, and who can paint you in a good light.”

“I don’t see the point,” I complained.

“Things are managed differently here, if we want things to remain calm, and to avoid more rebellions, then we need more people to trust you, like you said yourself, if more people trusted you, maybe they would have listened to your warnings about the earthquake.”

“True, but the idea was to stay away from the spotlight, just do my job and go back to the shadows, this won’t let me do that.  The truth is that I don’t know what I’m doing anymore, I was so focused on getting control of the Dominion and get it back to its old glory, and now that it got out of my control, I don’t know what to do.”

“You just have to keep doing the same thing you have been doing.  The plan changed, but the goal is the same, we just have to focus on consolidating our power.  You already established the King, now we will have to think about electing a new Prime Minister or a new President.”

“Remind me what’s the difference.”

“Well, the President is the head of the Congress, and he is in charge of the Legislative power.  That’s a key position, and it would be good for you to keep that one, since they are the ones who will make the new laws that we need.  The Prime Minister used to be elected by the people, well, it was elected by the leaders of the different nations to guide them, but since there are many countries that are still trying to define who is in charge, electing one could be complicated.”

“So first we need to bring stability to the countries in the Dominion, and then call for an election.”

“If anyone cares about my opinion,” Ethan, who had been listening to us, said, “the best option is to call for the election of a new President.  There haven’t been significative changes in the representatives, and most of them are the same that were here during Emily’s rule, and most of them are indebted to you.  Even if someone else becomes the President, they will still listen to your “suggestions” if you need them to move in a specific direction.  That way you could take Prime Minister and keep working on restoring the order to the countries, until they are ready to choose a different leader.”

“That’s actually a pretty good analysis,” Kimball offered, “I agree with Ethan, you could influence the Congress without having to be there.  Also, we need to trust them to be able to do their work without having to be guided.”

“It’s a risk we will have to take, I hope that will give us more credibility in our efforts to restore the Dominion.  After all, the end goal is that the countries will be able to choose if they want to stay with us or go independent.”

“Most will want to take that opportunity, especially if you keep taking the resources of the rich countries to give the poor ones.”

“You think they will leave the poor countries on their own?”

“It’s always been like that,” Ethan said, “most people is selfish.  But it’s part of being free, each person can decide if they want to be good or a jerk.”

“But there’s still a long way to go before reaching that point, we will worry about that once the moment arrives.  For now, I will have to search for the procedure for calling for elections,” I also needed to decide if I was going to agree to the interview Aziz wanted, or if I wanted to remain in the shadows.

Chapter 17

I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea, but I had to go to the party, for the twins, for Joon Hwan, with whom I had created a bond of friendship, and for Ji Min, who I needed to make sure was ok, that she was getting used to family life.

The birthday party was at a location outside of the city, and I had to prepare myself, so I wouldn’t be reminded of the last time I had gone to a meeting outside the city, and how things had gone so bad at the vineyard.

When we arrived, we found the parking lot already full of cars, and a security detail was patrolling the area.  My own security force joined them, I wasn’t going to allow anything to interrupt their first party back together, not after all they have gone through.

We arrived at the party, and a heavy silence fell over the room as soon as I people noticed I had arrived, but then, a couple of war cries bloke the silence, and I realized a couple of kids were running my way.  I recognized little five year old, Halid, and little three year old, Emma.  Halid jumped at me, but I used my powers to stop him mid air, and then I turned him upside down.

“Hello little warrior, I see you haven’t changed a bit.  Surrender, and I promise I will let you go unharmed.”

“Never!” he yelled, voice full of conviction, while little Emma was initiating her own attack.

Halid’s parents had been with him at Aquarium, and they knew he was safe with me, but Emma’s father didn’t, her mother and her had been refugees because Faakhir had ordered their murder as a way to punish her father, who was running to save his daughter from me.  I saw Halid’s parents nearby, and after making eye contact and making sure they knew what I intended, I sent Halid flying to them.  Halid was laughing while his parents held him and reprimanded him for his attack, while Emma’s father was getting her away from me as fast as he could, despite the girl’s protests.

“You certainly know how to make an entrance,” Joon Hwan said, as he opened his arms so I could give him a hug.

“It wasn’t my fault, it was theirs.  Happy birthday.  How are you feeling on your first birthday after coming back?”

“I couldn’t be more grateful to you, having my sister with me is the biggest gift you could have given me,” right then Jin Min arrived, and her brother moved aside so I could hug her.

“How are you?”

“I’m good, still getting used to being back, but you were right, my family is not that bad,” she said, but her voice showed doubts, which was normal, after years of being in a bad situation, a person could get a lot of invisible injuries that took a lot of time to heal.

“I’m glad, but you must remember that I’m here if you even need anything.”

“You have done enough, you gave me what I wanted the most, you gave me my family back, and that’s something I never thought I would have,” she said, but I knew that by family she only meant her brother, she still couldn’t include her parents in the same category.

“Happy birthday,” Ethan said, and both of them turned to him so they could hug, then Kimball got his turn.

Representative Jeong also approached to welcome us, and I could tell that he wasn’t happy, he probably didn’t expect us to accept the invitation.  And he wasn’t the only one who looked uncomfortable by our presence, but I saw a few familiar faces, people from Aquarium that knew me, and that didn’t hate me.

I made my way to one of the tables, one where I found a lot of familiar faces, and sat with them.  They all offered me a warm welcome and I could see that people around us was looking at us with curiosity, and distrust.

“It seems that you don’t have that many fans in here,” said Teresa de Burgos, the representative’s mother.  “I told my daughter that she should offer you an apology, but I’m afraid it won’t be soon, she still needs to gather her courage and prepare to swallow her words, it’s not easy for her to admit she was wrong.

“You know that’s not necessary, as long as she stops messing with me, and trying to kill me, I’m fine.”

“I raised her better than that, I expect more from her, she has to do the right thing.”

“Your daughter is a strong woman, with strong ideas, but that’s what makes her good at her job.”

The evening was more enjoyable than I expected, I had the chance to see some of the old refugees, and the opportunity to see by myself that they were all well.  Some of the guests, those who were obviously Jeong’s friends, avoided me, and I could feel they didn’t trust me, I could even feel some fear from them.

The twins were teenagers, still the celebration felt a little childish.  As the evening progressed, some people started to leave, those still in attendance got together for the cake.  I could feel the tension between the guests, and I knew I was the reason for that.

The first ones to receive their slices of cake were the kids, by the time they started handing us our slices, the kids were done with them.  Just as the server was setting the cake in front of me, little Emma climbed into my lap and grabbed my cake.  I could feel how people froze around me, waiting for my response.

“What are you doing?” I calmly asked.

“I want more cake,” she said, full of innocence.

“But that’s my cake,” I said, my voice whining.  “Would you like if I took your cake?”  Emma shook her head.  “And how do you think I will feel if you take my cake?”

“I like cake, I don’t want anyone to take my cake,” she said.

“Well, I don’t want anyone to take my cake either.  Why don’t you ask for more if you already finished yours?”

“My daddy says it’s not polite to ask for more,” she explained.

“Well, it’s not polite to take other people’s cakes.”

“Can we share?” she asked, her eyes so big and her face so sweet I couldn’t say no.

“I guess so,” I said, and she immediately grabbed the fork and took a big bite out of it, then she proceeded to take a much smaller piece and offered it to me.  I couldn’t help but let her feed me, or I risked Emma letting the cake fall all over me.

I could see that Kimball was trying, very hard, not to laugh, but Ethan, who was nearby with his friends, was just laughing out loud.  Many of the guests were staring at me, most couldn’t believe what they were watching, but those who knew me only smiled, I wasn’t sure if they were smiling at me, or the people’s reaction to it.

“I told you you didn’t have to worry about her,” Michelle, Emma’s mother told her husband.  “Kaiserin would never do anything to harm me, much less to harm little Emma.”

“But she is a murderer,” her husband protested.

“You are living in the past, you haven’t even bothered to get to know Kaiserin, she is a good person and a good friend.  You have no idea how much the kids in Aquarium loved her, she is good with them.”

“Could you stop talking?” I asked her.  “You are ruining my image,” but she only laughed as if I was telling a joke, with they were, kind of.

Just as I was trying to seem tougher, little Halid attacked again, climbing the chair from behind and putting his arms around my neck.  The kid was heavy, and if it wasn’t for my powers, he could have hurt me, but with them, he wasn’t doing much damage.

“Halid!” his mother reprimanded, “leave Kaiserin alone.”

“After she surrenders,” the little guy replied.

“Aren’t you going to help me?” I asked Kimball, who couldn’t stop his laughter anymore.

“It seems you have everything under control,” he said.

“Don’t worry mother, I will rescue you,” Ethan said, approaching Halid and tickling him until he let go of me.

“Who would have thought that all we needed to defeat Kaiserin was a bunch of kid,” representative Burgos said.

“Don’t make a mistake, I cannot be defeated.  Some of my enemies already tried using kids against me, thinking that would stop me, it didn’t.  I love the little ones, and I wouldn’t hesitate to protect them, but if I find myself in a situation where my options are limited, I won’t doubt to take any action that allows me to succeed.  I’m a warrior, I serve a bigger purpose, I’m not like you, I was raised to make difficult decisions.  I’m willing to fight for a noble cause, and defend those important to me, but I’m merciless against those who attack me, I won’t stop before anything to destroy my enemies.”

“That’s what I like about you, my dear,” Teresa said, “you are a woman that is not afraid to get her hands dirty, and you certainly have the power to destroy her enemies, you already showed that many times, I don’t think people will forget anytime soon what you did to Emily.  You are who you are, and no one is perfect.  You remind me of a wild animal, calm and majestic, but lethal if attacked.”

“I’m not sure if you are insulting me, or complimenting me,” I told her.

“I’m pretty sure it was a compliment,” William said.  “I’m sorry for being late.”

“That’s ok, better late than never,” Joon Hwan greeted him.

“It’s an honor to have you with us,” representative Jeong greeted him, and I couldn’t help but feel insulted.

“I’m just going to be here a minute, I thought Kaiserin would leave early and I was waiting for her to be gone, but I should have known she wouldn’t be able to resist spending time with the younglings, the little ones always gravitate towards her.”

“Maybe they like her because she treats them as equals, that makes them feel important,” Kimball said.

“There is no need for you to go,” Jeong said, “if Kaiserin’s presence bothers you…”

“That’s not it, It’s an honor and a pleasure to be in her presence,” William interrupted him before he could offer to kick me out of there, “is Kaiserin who doesn’t want me here, and the last thing I want to do is make her uncomfortable.”

“This is Joon Hwan’s party, and I know you became good friends during your time in Aquarium, if he wants you here, then I can’t ask otherwise.”

“Thanks,” William said, moving to a place where I wouldn’t be forced to see him.

“I still don’t know what to think about you,” representative Burgos said, “but I guess that I have a lot to thank you for, and a few reasons to ask for your forgiveness.  I misjudged you, that’s more obvious every day, for the stories I’ve heard and the way you treat people, especially for the trust the most innocent place with you, I can see that you are a good, loyal person.  But I also get that you can be quite bad for your enemies.  You are both sides of the coin, you show both extremes, and I want to be on your good side.”

“Always looking for a way to survive, I couldn’t expect anything less from you,” I said with a smile.  I could tell that it had cost her a lot just to approach me admitting to being wrong, I would have liked to make her suffer a little bit, but I respected her mother and liked her son, I wasn’t going to humiliate her in front of them.

The representative went back to where the rest of the members of the committee were gathered.  I noticed the air felt different, lighter, and I realized that the perception of the people was changing, they weren’t as afraid, nor they felt that much distrust, some didn’t hate me as much.  They were opening their minds to the possibility that the image they had of me was mistaken.

I still wasn’t sure what to think about William’s actions, but I had to accept that it felt better to be able to present a different face to them, and not to constantly feel their negative thoughts.  I wasn’t sure if we would reach a point when we could all be friends, but at least I felt like the number of enemies I had was suddenly reduced.

Chapter 16

The day following the earthquake had been very difficult, the psychic headache finally hit, waking me up from my sleep and forcing me to block my powers to avoid doing more damage, that had cut me off from the rescue efforts.  I had spent the day with Kimball, helping organize the help, only taking time off to meet with the Prime Minister.  That had been another difficult situation, because I had been unable to hide my anger at his dismissal of my warnings.  The number of deaths didn’t break the three digit numbers, but it had been thanks to the fast response and the rescue efforts, but I knew it could have been worst, I had seen it in my visions.

At the end, we stayed for four days, until we were sure that the local government would be able to take over.  Meanwhile, William’s trial had kept going, even with my refusal to participate, and all that was missing was my presence, and William’s verdict.  The problem is that I had no idea what he was planning to do, and I didn’t know if he was going to declare me guilty or not guilty.

When I finally returned to my office, I found William waiting for me.  I had made my best effort to avoid him, but he had taken me by surprise, and even if my first impulse was to throw him out, I was too tired for that.

“It’s good to have you back,” he greeted me, and his words felt sincere.

“I can’t say I’m glad to see you.  I thought it was clear that I want nothing to do with you after your betrayal,” I said, as I made my way to my desk.  I could see the my guards were ready to do whatever I asked them to do.

“I think it’s time to talk, and leave this silly fight behind us.”

“I’m afraid that won’t be possible.  The moment you decided to betray me, everything changed.”

“You are making this a bigger deal than it is.  Do you need me to remind me that you changed our plans without even telling us about it?  You are a hypocrite, you are mad at me for doing the same thing you did.”

“It’s not the same, my hand was forced by Faakhir, I had no choice but to act once he found out about me, but you, you went behind my back for no reason.  My actions were out of necessity and desperation, you were moved by your need for revenge.  Things didn’t go your way, so you decided to punish me, and by doing that, you risked the lives of the people I sacrificed so much to save.”

“You are wrong,” he protested.

“Am I?  You are supposed to be the guardian of truth, but you are lying to yourself.  You may have managed to convince yourself that you were doing the right thing, but you did it the wrong way, and by doing that, you risked us all.”

“Kaiserin,” his voice was full of power, and I knew what he was trying to do.  “Why did you change the plan?”  his power was wrapping around me, but I was strong enough to resist it, at least for a while.

“I have my reasons, that’s all you need to know.  You should have trusted me, after all I did for you, you have no right to question me like this.”

“Kaiserin, I need you to tell me why you acted like that,” his voice had changed, and it was more a plea than an order.  “You are a very powerful woman, for years you managed to keep my sister and her husband at bay, but suddenly you forgot all our plans.  My mother says that it was because they found out your plans, but I don’t believe it, someone like you could have found another way.”

“I will tell you want you want to know, if you promise that after this you will leave and won’t question me again, you must promise not to even talk to me again.”

“I don’t know if that’s a promise I can keep, we need to work together after all.”

I knew he was telling the truth, for better or worse, we had to rule the Dominion together.  But he needed a lesson.  I didn’t feel like he had any right to my secrets, but on the other hand, he could use a few more nightmares, it would be a nice payback.

I stood up and walked around the desk to where he was sitting.  I sat in the chair next to his and looked directly into his eyes, before he could fight back, I pulled him inside my mind, throwing him at my darker memories, I let him feel the pain and desperation that I had felt with Agmong, and then I showed him the memories of the day Faakhir had told me he knew about my plans, and how he planned to make me into the same girl Agmong had turned me.  Using my double mind, I started to build locks around the memories he was taking, I couldn’t risk him sharing that information with anyone else.  By the time the memories had ended and I allowed him to get out of my mind, William was shaking, and I could see that what he had seen was too much for him.

“Now you get it?  I didn’t have a choice, I couldn’t allow my past to become my future, I couldn’t allow him to turn my nightmares into reality.  Did you expect me to think about you at that moment?  Not everything is about you, everyone has his own problems, and have to face them.”

“Kaiserin, I had no idea…”  William looked sick, but I couldn’t feel bad for him, he has asked for it.

“I promised you I would never mess with your mind, the same way you promised never to betray me, but since you couldn’t keep your promise, I won’t feel bad for not keeping mine.  I left some insurance in your mind, to make sure you won’t share the memories I just gave you, if you try to, you will wish that I had killed you when I had the chance.  Now, get out of my sight.”

“I never meant to betray you,” William said, finally snapping out of his shock, “after you changed the plans my mother said that there were new possibilities for the future, and we knew that we could clean your image and have you play a different role, but we also knew that you wouldn’t accept the change, that’s why we did it like that, we needed to force you to accept the change, but we did it because we thought it was the best for everyone, including you.”

“That wasn’t your choice.  The only truth here is that I trusted you, and you betrayed me.  It’s not easy for me to trust, but I trusted that we were on the same side, and were after the same goal, but you showed me that wasn’t enough.  I know that you didn’t like most of the choices I made, but at least you knew I made them thinking of what was best for your people.”

“Kaiserin, I really thought I was doing the right thing,” William insisted, but I had heard enough.

“That’s not true,” I knew that his intention had been to teach me a lesson, not just to help me like he claimed, and it had all been because I didn’t do what he wanted me to do, “you were so focused on what you wanted me to do, in your own needs, that you never stopped to think of me.  You never even considered the possibility that there was a good reason behind my actions, you assumed I just wanted to screw you over.  Your mother is convinced you are the right person to take over the role of King, she assured me that you wouldn’t make the same mistakes your sister did, and I also believed that, now I’m hoping I’m not wrong.  Now go away, I have a lot of work to do.”

I knew he wanted to keep talking, but he had realized that it wasn’t the right moment, so he left my office.  As soon as he got out, Kimball came in, looking me with curiosity and concern.

“I guess things didn’t go well, but at least he walked out by his own means, so it couldn’t have been that bad.”

“You were right, I needed to explain to him why I had acted the way I did, but it doesn’t really solve anything, I can’t trust him again after what he did.”

“What did you tell him?  He looked bad when he walked out.”

“I told him what he wanted to know, it’s just that he learned more than he bargained for.”

“I thought you didn’t want to share that part of your past.”

“You know that I don’t like people to know how weak, I was, but I made sure that he won’t be able to share what he learned.  I wanted him to understand what he had done and how much he hurt me.  I showed him that there’s no way I could trust him again after what he did.  In a way I’m grateful for what he did, he reminded me that you only can truly trust in yourself, but you need to be on your guard about others.  My work here is not done, but now that the plan has changed, I need to adapt.”

“What’s your plan?”

“First, I need to wait for William to end that stupid trial, after that I need to focus on enforcing the rules and get rid of the bad seeds.  Despite the support of the different rebellions, there are a few people that refuse to let go of their power seats, people that shouldn’t be there.  After we’re done with that, we will need to choose a new Prime Minister and President.”

“That won’t be easy.”

“I know, there’s still a lot of work to do, but once the moment arrives, that’s what we will have to do.  We’re only getting started.”

“I’m sorry to interrupt,” one of the guards said, he was holding an envelope in his hands, “I was asked to give you this, is from Representative Jeong.”

“Thanks,” Kimball said, taking the envelope and doing a quick check before giving it to me.  “Any idea what could it be?”

I opened the envelope and found an invitation inside, it was from the twins.  “It’s an invitation for the twins’ birthday party,” I said as I gave him the invitation so he could see it.

“Are you going?”

“We are going, the invitation includes you and Ethan.  I’m not sure it’s a good idea, but I don’t want to disappoint Joon Hwan or Ji Min, I’m sure that it wasn’t easy to convince their father to invite me, and I’m sure they had to talk him into it.”

“The younglings like you a lot, and I’m sure you’re right that they are the ones who want you there.”

“I guess that we could go for a few minutes, and if the situation is too heavy or uncomfortable, I can always say I have things to do and leave early.”

“I’ll let you alone so you can work, I know you have a lot to do.  I’ll ask Ethan about the party, I’m sure that Hye Ki already told him everything about it, and she may know more about who is going and what’s the plan.”

“Good idea,” I said, trying to smile, but I was sure it didn’t look right, I had a lot going on in my head and Kimball wasn’t an easy person to fool.

I had so many problems, so many responsibilities.  In a way I knew that it was important to have a good image, I had thought that fear was going to be my best weapon, but maybe trust could be better, if more people had trusted me, maybe they would have listened to my warnings.  I didn’t want to face another situation like the one with the earthquake, where I could have helped, but had failed to save people.

Things were changing, and I had to accept that.  It was time to start working on the future, no matter how the situation had changed, I still had a job to do. I wouldn’t stop until I had erased every trace of Faakhir and Emily from the Dominion, until I could allow the countries to choose their own paths.  Once I was finished with that, I would be able to finally consider my own future.

Chapter 15

Nothing had been cleared, and it had been way too long.  William and Dupont were still working on their absurd trial and even if they had managed to drop most of the charges, since the people she was supposedly killed were still alive, there were still some charges that they had to fix.  I was tired of that, and I was definitely done waiting for them, so I decided it was time to keep going with my plans, because of that, I had called a meeting with all the ambassadors and the rulers of the different countries in the Dominion.  It was going to be a video conference, with the ambassadors and me in a conference room, and the rest connected to us.

As soon as I arrived, we started the long task of introducing everyone.  I realized some of the people I had saved had already resumed their positions as heads of their countries.  I hoped that at least they would be on my side, because I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy meeting, as they proved when some leaders started to question my presence there, reminding me that I wasn’t supposed to be there as long as the trial wasn’t finished.

For a while it was entertaining watching the different leaders discuss if I should or shouldn’t be there, but after I while it lost the appeal and I decided it was time to take control.

“Enough!  We are only wasting time with this discussion,” I said, silencing the people there.  “This meeting was called so we could discuss the Dominion’s situation.  As you can see, things have changed, some old faces are back, some rebellions have taken control of their countries, with my support, of course, and it’s time to acknowledge that and put some order to the Dominion.”

There were some mutterings between the ambassadors in the room, and a noise coming from the monitors that sounded like static, and I could hear them voices the different opinions they had about what I had said.  I started to make a list, trying to see who were on my side, and who against, and was glad to see that the balance was in my favor, and at least for the moment I was safe, but still, I knew how fast things could change and I had to be careful.

I was still listening to them when the world around me shifted, I wasn’t in the conference room anymore, I was inside an old building, one that was shaking and falling apart around me.  I ran outside and froze in front of the image I found, all around me things were breaking and people were screaming for help.  I recognized the area thanks to the clothes they were wearing, but I wasn’t sure the exact place.

As soon as I got out of the vision I realized things were still the same, the leaders were too busy discussing to notice what had happened to me.  I took a moment to go into the fog so I could get a better read of the time table.  There was no way to stop an earthquake, the force of nature was just too strong, but there were ways to minimize the damage if we had enough time to prepare.  I didn’t like what I found, there was barely enough time to act, so I got out of the fog and started to reach to my people to issue orders.

“Silence!” I yelled, so everyone could hear me, even the people connected from the different countries in the Dominion.  “I just received important information.  A natural disaster is about to hit somewhere in the Indian Peninsula, and I need that all buildings start evacuation right now.”

“What cities should we start evacuation in?” the Prime Minister asked.

“I’m not sure which cities will be affected, but I think we need to move everyone in the area to open spaces until we have more information.”

“Do you have any idea of the number of people living in that area?  Without more information about this supposed threat, and not knowing the exact area it is supposedly going to affect, I don’t think it’s wise to start a mass evacuation,” the Prime Minister said.

“Believe me, it’s in your people’s best interest to follow my orders and take action now.  And just take into account that this is not a suggestion, it’s an order, if I say that you need to evacuate people and move them to open spaces, then that is exactly what you are going to do,” I warned, trying to make my point and show him I wasn’t going to take no for an answer.  “This meeting is going to be postponed until further notice.  For the moment, it’s more important to start working on the emergency services we are going to need to face the coming crisis.”

I left them at that and went to my office, I needed to start planning.  I didn’t want to contact Sofia or ask for her help, but in a situation like that her powers were needed, still, I wasn’t ready to face her, so I decided to send one of my assistants to talk to her, to get her to start working on going over the different scenarios, so we had a better idea of what we were going to be dealing with, so we could better prepare the rescue teams.

I had just sat at my desk when Kimball walked inside my office, with some of the warriors I had called telepathically following him.

“What’s going on?” Kimball asked, going directly to the issue at hand.

“A natural disaster, an earthquake, I think.  It’s going to be big, but I don’t know how big or exactly where is going to hit.  I already told Fatima to go over it, and someone is going to talk to Sofia, so both of them can work on finding the different scenarios we are likely to find.”

“That area hadn’t been hit by an earthquake in a long time.  The problem with that is that people forget how dangerous those can be and it’s not scared enough to act.  The best right now is that the earthquake hit fast, otherwise the people that is being evacuated will dismiss the threat and go back.”

“I want you to contact our military forces and our contacts in the area.  I have the feeling that the Prime Minister didn’t take my warning seriously and we need to move people to a safe place, no matter what they think it’s best.”

Once the orders were issued and the teams forced, Kimball and I took one of the planes going to the area.  We received news of an earthquake hitting the most of the southern area of the peninsula while we were still on the air.  We kept getting reports on the situation as we approached, and each report was grimmer than the last.

We changed our direction to go to the most affected area.  The view from the plane was desolate, what used to be a huge city was nothing but ruins.  It had been one thing to see the destruction as part of my vision, but it was another thing to get to see it first hand.  When the plane finally landed, we found that half the airport had collapsed.  One of my men walked pass me and went to talk to a man wearing military fatigues, and by the way they were talking, it was clear they knew each other.

“Let me introduce you to General Singh, he is in charge of the army and the rescue efforts.”

“Do you know how many victims there are?” I asked as soon as we were introduced.

“I’m sorry, but it’s too soon to have an official count of death and injured.  Unofficially, we think deaths are in the hundreds, maybe thousands once we finish.”

“Is there people trapped in the airport?” I pointed to the ruined half of it.

“The buildings under our control were empty, so we didn’t have loses there.  As soon as we received our orders, my people started evacuating all government buildings, airports, train station, bus stations and schools.  Unfortunately, malls, markets, offices, homes and hospitals are not under our direct control and not everyone left.”

“So we have working people, families and sick people as the main affected, not the situation I would like.”

“Believe me, we are not happy either, but there wasn’t much we could do at the moment.”

“We need a Command Center to organize the rescue efforts and keep track of everything that is going on.  Do you know what areas have the most victims?”

“So far we only have guesses and broad calculations, nothing official.  As soon as we have something better we’ll let you know.”

“I think you should head to the Command Center,” I told Kimball.  “You are better managing resources and with planning.  I would like to go visit some of the affected areas and see if I can use my powers to get a better read on the situation.”

“Something tells me it’s not a good idea to let you go alone,” Kimball said, “but as always, you will end up doing whatever you want.  I’ll go and try to organize things, but you have to promise to be careful and not to take unnecessary risks.”

“I promise,” I said without doubt, but his definition of unnecessary risks and mine were a little different, so even if I thought I was keeping my promise, he might not think the same.

“Yoweri, please take care of her, and if you think she is going too far, call me,” Kimball ordered.

“As you wish,” Yoweri respectfully promised, and I wasn’t sure if I should feel flattered or angry at the way they were talking about me.  For the moment I had more important things to take care of, so I just ignored them and focused on the task at hand.

First, I needed to get the right team, the people that could face the crisis.  I started choosing the people I thought could be more helpful, based on their powers and the kind of training they had.  Once I had the right people, I asked the general to take me to one of the most affected places.

Most of the rescue efforts were focused on a hospital, most of the people there was already sick, so they were more vulnerable than others and were a priority for many.  There was a group already working there, and some civilians were trying to help, but the damage was great, and their work was moving very slowly, the lack or organization wasn’t helping either.

As soon as my people started to get out of our vehicles the people around started to feel afraid.  Some of the local army started to move around, taking the people away from the building, leaving only the people with me to work on the rescue, that way we could be sure no one unprepared would be there and risk getting hurt.  Once they realized that we were sending everyone away, some of the locals started to protest, I knew that soon more people would know what was going on and start protesting.  No one trusted me to be there to help, so I needed to act soon before they could become a problem.

I went to my knees in front of the building and put my hands on the ground, using my powers to connect to the structure before me.

“Everyone is ready,” someone said next to me, “we are only waiting your orders.”

“I need you to bring a couple of terrakinetics to help me keep the building grounded,” I asked, I wasn’t sure who he was, but I was too busy to care.

“That must weight several tons, there is no way a few of you can hold that,” the same person protested.

“We don’t need to hold it, we just need to strenghten a few places.  I also need you to bring the telepaths so they can start working on finding survivors.  I want a group of kinetics and mutants ready to start digging out people as soon as we can guarantee that the structure is secure, and I need the telepaths to be ready to guide them.”

I was too busy focusing on the task ahead of me, so I didn’t bother to see if he was listening, but soon after I felt people approaching and I knew that he had followed my orders when they introduced themselves and told me they were terrakinetics and ferrokinetics.  It took us just a few minutes to find the places that needed to be supported.  After we worked on that, the order to move in was given, and the rescue teams started working.  They were fast, as they didn’t have to worry about the building falling on them.  There weren’t as many survivors as I hoped, and soon the telepaths reported that there were no more people left to rescue.  Once I could double check and make sure there was no one unconscious that had escaped their readings, I finally decided to stop our work and told the others to stop using their powers.  Without our help to strengthen the weak spots, the whole building collapsed, causing people to scream in terror, people thinking their loved ones were still alive and that the building falling was sealing their fates.

“We need to move to the next location,” I told my people, “they only have to work on rescuing the bodies, and that’s something the others can work on, even civilians could help.”

“There is an angry mob outside, the hospital collapsing only enraged them,” Yoweri said, moving closer to me, maybe even using his powers to hide me.  “I think we need to move out of here as soon as we can, the people we rescued is already being treated by the paramedics and the local groups are ready to take over the work here.”

“I agree, let’s go,” I started to stand up, but I lost my balance, Yoweri had to support me.

“Maybe you need to take some time off to rest, maybe go to the Command Center,” Ivan said, “besides, even if you could keep going, the other psychics are burned out, they can’t keep going or they will get a psychic headache, and you know not everyone can survive those like you.”

“Just get a fresh group before we reach the next stop.  We need to act fast if we want to find people still alive.  We can’t stop and rest.”

For the next few hours we used different groups and different power combinations to rescue people from the different collapsed buildings.  At one point Yoweri convinced me to use some of his energy to recharge, and when the soldiers noticed I could do that, they started offering their own energy, those whose powers weren’t useful for rescue, helped by giving me their energy.

After the hospital we went to a couple of malls and an apartment building, the places where more people were trapped.  I was ready to keep going, but it was late and Kimball had gone for me, not giving me a chance to stay, he had appeared at the last location and taken me back to the Command Center with him.

Even in the middle of everything, I couldn’t help but feel like I wasn’t doing enough.  Everyone expected me to be tired, so I took advantage of that and pretended I needed to take a nap, instead I went to the astral planes.

The astral planes were unstable after so many spirits crossing through the planes, it had made the division between them thinner.  I did my best to ignore the warmth of the superior planes, and ignored the lower planes, focusing on staying firmly in the material plane.  I went to the places where I could feel more people gathered and arrived at what looked like an apartment building.  Despite the warnings, most people had been in their homes when the earthquake hit, and even if some had been prepared and had time to run out, there were still many still trapped.  I knew that some soldiers were capable of seeing astral projections, and that if I needed I could find someone to help me, so I took advantage of the intangibility of my projection to move inside the building.  Once inside I started looking, and found a group of children, they were hiding under a table and a cabinet.  Some of them had some cuts and bruises, but other than that they looked fine.

I was happy that they were alive, and my first instinct was to go look for help, but then I noticed one of the girls was looking at me, and it looked like she was talking to me.  I couldn’t hear her, and I tried to read her lips, but it appeared she was using a language I couldn’t understand.  Still, I was pretty sure she could see me, and then I saw her putting her hands to a piece of wall that was starting to move, and I saw it fuse with things around it, making it safe again.  I tried to smile at her, to make her feel better, and started making a plan, looking at the building around us.

I moved away for a moment to look at the building, and found a way to guide the little girl and the other children to a place where the soldiers could help them.  I wasn’t sure what powers the others had, but I was pretty sure that the little girl would be capable of getting them out.

I went back to where they were, and I saw the girl’s face lighten up at my return, using gestures I tried to explain to her what I needed her to do and pointed the places where she could use her powers to build a way out.  It was slow, and while we were moving I realized there was a woman an a baby near them and had to change the route so they could help them too.  Together, they managed to reach an open space the rescuers had already reached.  One of the soldiers noticed the group and went to help them.  I could see the little girl pointing my way and saying something, but the rest of them couldn’t see me.

Once I was sure they were going to be taken care of, I continued my search for survivors.  There was not much I could do, I had already worked on the most affected places, and I could tell that the search and rescue groups were doing a good job, most had adopted a method similar to the one I had used and the work was going well.  I knew that most of the good work was thanks to Kimball’s planning and guidance, he knew how to move people in a way that could help the most.  Since everything seemed to be under control, I decided to go back to my body and take a real rest.

Chapter 14

I was surprised by the forlorn sight that welcomed us when we arrived at our destination, but maybe in a way I should have expected it, Kimball had told me that that area was part of a military zone that had been used by the northern part of the country, back when they were still divided and fighting each other.  The place had been abandoned once both sides had become one country, like most military posts all over the country.

“Anything to report?” I asked Thalia, who was still working with Fatima, who was walking in the fog.

“It seems that nothing has changed and we are in the right time frame to do what we need to do.  We are approaching the point when your vision happened.”

We went to our vehicles and started to move, the idea was to go around the property and approach the place from a point we would be able to neutralize the threats and capture the kidnappers.  We arrived to a point from where we could observe the building I had seen in my vision, and we watched as the couple I had seen in my vision exited the place and went to a car that was parked near the door.  As soon as they got inside the car, I used my powers to trap them inside.  As soon as they realized what was going on, they started screaming and trying to get out.  I knew they had an arsenal of gadgets at their disposal, but I trusted my men to be able to stop them.

“Come with me,” I asked Kimball, at the time I started moving towards the building.  From my vision I knew that they have started a self-destruct sequence, and my priority was to stop it, I wasn’t sure what we were going to find inside and I wanted to have time to check it.

We heard the alarms as soon as we got close, but when we arrived at the door, we heard something worse, people screaming.  I knew that Jeong’s daughter was there, and I had suspicions that there were more, but until then I had no idea how many more people we would find.  Kimball was studying the lock, and even knowing he was a very smart person, there were some situation where he couldn’t compete with a tecnopath.

“There is no time to try and unlock this, we will have to break the door, move back,” he asked, but I let him know that I had it with a gesture, and proceeded to use my powers to open a hole in the wall, next to the door.  I was aware that most traps were designed to attack those crossing through the door.  “I suppose that works too,” Kimball said, smiling at me despite the situation.

I followed Kimball inside, hoping he had a good idea of where we needed to go.  I sent a telepathic message to my people to ask them to be ready to come help us as soon as we dealt with the self-destruct sequence.

It didn’t take long to reach a huge room of machines that I didn’t know or understood, but that looked out of place in a building that was supposed to be the most technologically advanced in the Dominion.

“This all looks old, which could work in our advantage,” Kimball said, as he started taking things out of his backpack.  “Could you help me cool down those tanks?” he asked, and even if I didn’t know why, I trusted him to know what to do.

“Consider it done,” I said, and started working on it.  I wasn’t sure what was going on, all I was sure of was that the place was going to explode if we couldn’t stop it, and that my action would help stop it.

Kimball finished what he was doing in what probably were a few minutes, but felt like an eternity.  He just got up and looked around suspiciously.

“This was too easy, something tells me that we are not done yet,” Kimball said, and I had to agree with him.  I decided not to call for backup yet, and take some time to look around.

We went back to the main area and started to walk to where the screaming was coming from, but when we were halfway there, Kimball pulled me to the floor and covered me just before I felt the heat and realized there were lasers around us.

“Defense system?” I asked.

“This is just the beginning, I have a feeling that a place like this must have some of the best defenses there are.”

“Do you have a plan?”

“Of course, Kimball said, and went back to his backpack.  As soon as he took the little machine out, I recognized the EMP.  Just a few seconds after that the EMP shock wave hit me.  I knew it had worked because of the sudden silence that followed it.  “We still have to be careful, I wouldn’t discount that the tecnopaths had some protection against the EMP built in some of their defenses.  Can you use your power to look for electrical signatures that could pinpoint working traps?”

“Give me a moment,” I said, extending my senses and trying to build a mental map of the place.  I didn’t find any dangers, but I could feel people approaching us, people I was sure was not a danger to us.  “We have company,” I told Kimball, just as the first faces started to show.  “Will the translator work?” I asked, not sure if the EMP had affected it.

“I don’t think so, didn’t even thought about it.  The EMP’s range is not that big, there should be a few working translators outside.”

I used my powers to contact my people and call some of them.  I have a few local soldiers, people who knew the language and would be able to communicate with them.  My main concern was to find Ji Min, I hadn’t even considered what I was going to do with the rest, but I knew I couldn’t leave them behind.  I found a familiar face among the crowd, it was like looking at a slightly sick version of Joon Hwan.

Ji Min watched the group moving our way, and then she looked at us, and moved to the side.  I knew she was trying to escape and I couldn’t allow her to get away.  I called my people and sent them instruction by telepathy, and then I signaled Kimball to let him know I was going after her.  It didn’t take long to reach her, because I was using my powers to track her.  We found ourselves outside and Ji Min ran into a group of my men that were patrolling the building.  She took a gadget out of her pocket, but when she tried to make it work, it didn’t, it had been affected by the EMP.

“Jeong Ji Min? I know your brother,” I said, using one of the languages I knew that Joon Hwan could speak fluently, and hoping she would know it too.  “He misses you and asked me to look for you.  Would you like to see him?”

“My brother?  He is dead, they told me so,” she said, using the same language I had used.

“And you believed them?  People told him you were dead, but he never believed it, he says he knows you are alive because he can feel you.  Can’t you feel him?”

“I do…” she admitted, her eyes going unfocused for a moment, as if she was trying to reach him.

“I came to help you, I promise I mean no harm, I’ll just take you back to your family.”

“My parents don’t care about me, they never came for me.”

“They looked for you for a long time, but they were convinced you were gone.  Your brother was also taken away from your parents, and that hurt them a lot.  I’m here because your brother Joon Hwan wants you back, he feels incomplete without you and misses you.”

“How can I know you are telling the truth?”

“You can’t, I know there is no reason for you to trust me, but I will give you the option to come with my by your own free will.”

“And what if I don’t?”

“I really don’t know, I can feel that whatever happened here hurt you a lot, and I don’t want to be part of your pain.  But I can’t leave you alone.  I would probably send someone to follow you to make sure you’re safe, and then I would go for your brother, it wouldn’t be easy or convenient, but if you won’t go to him, he would have to come for you,” the young lady’s face was impossible to read, but I could tell she was thinking about my words, trying to come up with something, wanting to trust me.  “I would prefer if you would come with me, I can take you to a villa near here where you can rest and eat, and of course, we could get rid of that uncomfortable suppressor for you.  I hate them, don’t you?”

“The only ones who can remove them are the bosses, they have the codes.  The EMP that you used didn’t affect the suppressors, and if you try to remove it by force it will explode and kill me.”

“The bosses?  You mean the couple that was trying to run away?”  I asked, thinking about my options.  I was pretty sure that Kimball could take the suppressor off, but I could feel her terror, and since I knew that it was very difficult to fool a technopath about how things worked, I had to believe that those were dangerous.  I used my powers to order my men to bring the couple.  “Do you think they would be able to remove them without danger?”

“I heard them discussing their plan of escape, they were going to destroy the place and leave us there to die.  If you ask them to take it off, they would probably just make it explode.”

“I don’t think so, I can be really convincing.”

The couple arrived a couple of minutes later, and I could tell by their expressions that they weren’t happy and would most likely be against cooperating with us.  I decided that I couldn’t take the easy approach with them.  As soon as they stopped I used my powers to force them down on their knees, then I took a translator that was still in working condition and my men had brought me, and activated it, so we could avoid any misunderstandings.

“I need you to help me,” I said, and could tell that they had no intention to hear me out, much less to help me.  “I will ask this once, and only once.  Will you help me?” None of them answered, and their silence was all the answer I needed.  I used my powers to invade their minds and used a mental attack that had them writhing in pain.

I knew how effective and painful that kind of attack was, and their blood-curdling screams only drove the point home.  I could see the people we have rescued from the building watching in horror from the distance, even some of my people seemed affected.  I stopped the attack and went into their weakened minds to look for the information I needed.  Deactivating the suppressors was easier than I expected, but still I decided to let someone who knew what he was doing take care of it.

“Kimball,” I called using the comm, “I need your help.”  I had just finished speaking when I saw Kimball walking out of the building and approaching us.  I went to the couple and took the control from them.  It had several biometric security measures, but with them there, it wouldn’t be any problem.

“What do you need me for?” Kimball asked, watching the control on my hands.

“I need you to disable the suppressors.  Ji Min said that they had some kind of security that makes it unsafe to remove them by force.  This is the suppressor’s control.  If you open your mind, I can show you how to use it.”

Kimball took the control and looked directly at my eyes, something we knew helped with the mental connection.  I showed him the images I had taken from their minds and Kimball started working on it right away.  A moment later I heard Ji Min’s suppressor unlocking and hitting the ground.  I watched as her eyes went unfocused as she looked around, and I knew she was using her powers.

“Any idea about what she is planning?”

“She is planning her escape, obviously,” I said.  “Ji Min, would you like to come with us to our home?  I think that you and the rest of the people could use some food and rest.”

“I still don’t know if I can trust you.”

“You have your powers back, we gave them to you as an act of good faith, now is your turn to give us some trust.  I just want you to give us a little bit of your time.”

It wasn’t easy to convince her to come with us, but we finally did it.  At first, all of our talks were difficult and full of mistrust, but soon I realized that despite her advance control of tecnopathy, she was lacking on the rest.  She had no idea how to shield her mind, and I was able to read her thoughts very easily.  I pointed that weakness to her and taught her how to hide her thoughts.  Kimball even shared with her some tech designs that could help her with that.

Between the information I had gathered from her mind and the information we had extracted from our prisoners I  finally had an idea of what had happened.  A group of businessmen, supported by one of Faakhir’s trusted men, had kidnapped several technopaths and forced them to work on their factory building some very advanced gadgets that only people with their powers could build, gadgets that they sold to the Dominion.  Faakhir had no idea of how the factory was using slave work to build them, not that he would have cared one way or another, but his ignorance had made things more difficult for me, since I would have been able to find her if he had known.  Ever since Joon Hwan had told me about his sister and how he could still feel her, and how he sometimes felt as if she was sending him messages, I had promised I would do everything I could to find her, and I had finally done it.

She wasn’t ready to face her family, but little by little I convinced her that she had at least to go to her brother, he was the only one who affected her in any way.  After a week I felt like she was ready to go to her family.  I knew that she had a lot of healing ahead of her, but I felt it would be easier if she was surrounded by people that loved her, at least around her brother that she still felt fondly about, and maybe her little sister, who she barely remembered.

Capital City was full of military presence, because of the situation that had caused some people from trying to leave, against my orders.  We arrived to the Yellow Tower and found a group of soldiers posted around it, which only made Ji Min even more nervous and made her doubt her decision to to to her brother.

We went to the floor where her parent’s apartment was located, each floor had four apartments, usually inhabited by people from the same country.  That floor only had three occupied apartments, and I was already thinking about using the spare one for Ji Min and her brother, in case she was too uncomfortable to be in the same one as her parents.

We haven’t even gotten to the door when Jeong opened it and stormed out.  I could see he wasn’t in a welcoming mood.

“What are you doing here?” he asked.  His angry attitude was not what I was expecting after giving him his son back.

“Is that all you have to say to me?” I challenged him.

“I guess I have to thank you for not killing my son,” he said, somewhat chastised.  “Thank you for giving him back.  But I don’t know what you did to him, I’m pretty sure you brainwashed him, because he is obviously on your side, and I don’t appreciate you trying to use him to manipulate me.”

“I have no idea what you are talking about, but I need to see him.”

“No.  I’m sorry, but I can’t allow you to.”

“Again, it’s not about what you want.”

Jeong started to scan the crowd, and I was pretty sure he was looking for Agata, the one I had used to blackmail him into obedience, but she wasn’t with us, his daughter was, and I watched the moment he found her.

“Daughter?” he asked, his voice breaking.  “Is this a trap?  Another trick to manipulate me?”

“Joon Hwan asked me to find his sister, and I finally did a few days ago.  I know his birthday is in a few days, and I thought he would like to have his sister with him for the celebration.”

“Ji Min?  Is really you?”

“You said my brother was going to be here,” Ji Min said, “he is the one I want to see, not that man,” she said with venom.

“What did you do to her?  What ideas did you put in her head?”

“Don’t blame me, I just found her.”

“My daughter…” he tried to talk, only to be interrupted.

“Don’t call me that, you lost the right when you abandoned me.  Don’t pretend to care about me, you never did.  You weren’t there when I needed you, and I don’t need you anymore,” Ji Min was angry again, the same anger I had felt in her when we had found her.

“It wasn’t like that,” Jeong tried to explain.

“I don’t want to talk to you, I hate you,” Ji Min yelled at him, and I could see she was just starting her verbal attack, so I slapped her to shut her up.

As soon as the palm of my hand made contact with her cheek, Jeong tried to attack me, instinctively reacting.  All my guards took their weapons out and pointed them to him, but he didn’t seem to notice them, or care about the danger he was in.

“Don’t you dare touch my daughter!” he yelled at me, before trying to get to me again, but my psychic wall was stopping him from reaching me.  Still, he kept trying to break it to get to me.  “Get away from my daughter, don’t you dare hurting her.”

“Does that sound like someone who doesn’t care about you?” I asked Ji Min, who was staring at me in confusion.

“But he never went for me.”

“Do you think he didn’t try?  I know things weren’t easy for you, but neither were for him, you should give him a chance.  Besides, your brother and sister are here, your mother too.  At least try to talk to him, give it some time, and if you can’t fix things between you, I will come for you and take you somewhere else.”

“Do you promise?” she asked, her hand covering the place where I hit her.  She was a very smart person, and by the way she was looking at her father, who was still fighting my barrier, I thought she understood why I had attacked her.

“I promise, but first, give them a chance.  You know how to contact me, so does your brother.”

“Ok, I will try.”  Ji Min moved closer and then bowed to me.  “Thank you for everything.”

As she was turning away from me to go to her father, Joon Hwan got out of the apartment and saw his sister, he stood frozen for a second, and then ran to her.  Ji Min mirrored him, and I pulled the psychic wall down just in time for them to avoid hitting it.  They hugged, staring at each other and having a silent conversation, and it felt as if the time between them hadn’t existed.  At the doorway, their mother and sister were watching, not knowing exactly what was happening, while Representative Jeong watched the scene, not knowing how to react, giving a few tentative steps toward them, but unwilling to interrupt them.

I turned away from them and signaled my people that it was time to go, but before I could leave, I heard someone coming my way and I looked back to see Joon Hwan approaching me.

“Thank you,” he told me, he knew he didn’t need to add anything, I could feel his gratitude, his happiness, and all the feelings running through him at that moment.

“Just fulfilling my promise to you, when I took you to Aquarium I told you I would find your sister, and I’m sorry it took me this long.”

“What matters is that you found her, and I will be forever grateful for this,” he said, bowing to me.

“Nothing to be grateful for.  I’ll go now, I’m sure you have a lot of catch up to do.  You know how to contact me if you need me.”  Before they could add anything else, I walked away, leaving the building quickly, and feeling satisfied about what I had accomplished.  I wasn’t ready to face William, and even if I wanted to avoid the confrontation that awaited me, I knew that sooner of later we would have to do something about the trial.