Chapter 52

It was a long day, followed by an even longer night.  I hadn’t been able to sleep, in part because I was afraid that as soon as lowered my guard and fell asleep, the nightmares would attack, after everything I had gone through during the day, I knew I couldn’t let myself vulnerable to my own mind.  But I also stayed awake because there was a lot of work to be done, I needed to supervise all the activities that my men were doing all around the Dominion.  The army, working under my command, thanks to a few well positioned contacts, was in control of all the important government locations around the Dominion, and in some parts, they had also taken some of the most important streets, making sure there were no one able to protest or fight me.  The rebellions we had contacted during the last years had agreed to stay quiet, and let us take control, they would only act if we did something to affect their people of if the situation got out of control.  So far, people had been either too surprised or too afraid to do anything against me.

I had an important meeting early next morning.  I had chosen that time to give the other two time to rest, but as soon as I saw Fatima and then Sofia through the video conference, I knew neither of them had been able to sleep.

“Good morning Sofia,” I greeted the old Queen, once we established communication with Aquarium.  Without Emily and Faakhir we had felt comfortable enough to relax some of the security protocols around Aquarium, and Kimball had agreed to open all communications between us.

“Good morning Kaiserin, it’s a pleasure to be able to talk to you again,” Sofia said, but I couldn’t be sure if she was as sincere as she seemed.  It was the first chance I had to directly talk to her since I had killed her daughter.  I had been able to send her a message telling her what had happened and asking her to have a meeting with me, but I haven’t been able to explain.

“I’m so sorry about everything, I know this is not how things were supposed to happen,” I sincerely told her, “I feel guilty for not being able to keep my promise, you were supposed to be with me when I faced Emily, and I couldn’t wait for you, I had to act before you were able to arrive.”

“Don’t worry Kaiserin, I understand.  I know you wouldn’t have done it if there was another way.  A part of me regrets not having a last chance to talk to my daughter and try to make her understand, to change her mind, but another part of me knows just how pointless it would have been, and that maybe it was better this way.  I even prefer it, maybe I’m being a coward, but I’m glad my daughter didn’t have another chance to hurt me like she did so many times before.”

“Even so, I’m sorry for your loss, I know this is not how you wanted it to end.  I would like to tell you that you lost your daughter to Faakhir’s manipulations, and that it was his mind control that changed her, but I know that you wouldn’t believe me.  He did give help her become the woman she was, but it was something that would have happened with or without him.”

“I know that, and that’s why I don’t want you to feel guilty about what happened.  I always knew she would end like this, no matter how much I wished for a different ending,” she said, and I felt a weight I didn’t realize I was carrying, lifting from my shoulders.

“Now that we cleared things up, I think it’s time to discuss our next steps.”  I still was having trouble with the fog of the future, that’s why I needed them.  I did my best not to let them know how worried I was, but I knew that if anyone would be able to help, it was them.  They were both experienced Seeress, and they had proper training behind them.  “First of all, I need to confess that the reason I was taken by surprise by Emily and Faakhir was that my powers are not working properly, I haven’t been able to read the future in a while.  The last few times I even tried the paths were changing so fast that I couldn’t see a thing, and it was almost impossible to move in there.”

“We are approaching a critical moment in our history.  It’s not the first time something like this happens, every time the world is reaching a turning point, the future becomes hard to read.  Right now you can’t go into the fog alone, you need a guide or a helper if you want any chance of walking the paths,” Sofia explained.  Her words reminded me of another time I had been unable to read the future on my own, only that time I had assumed it was because I was inexperienced, and since Melchizedek had been there for me, I hadn’t realized the two situations were the same.

“I can still see the near future,” Fatima said, “but it’s not as clear as usual.  I think that for now, we should just let Kaiserin to keep going, to take over the Dominion and act as always.  I think we should keep Sofia and William out of the spotlight for a little longer.  They are safe, as long as they stay in Aquarium.  Once Kaiserin takes control, officially, a lot of things can go wrong, it’s better if we keep best cards hidden.

Fatima’s words made sense, I knew we still had a lot of enemies hidden in the shadows, and it was the perfect chance to bring them out in the open.  It was in our best interest to keep their targets contained, so when they decided to attack, their focus would be on me.  It would be also good to not let them know just how many allies I really had.

“I agree with Fatima,” Sofia said.  “I think that for the moment we should wait.  I know I’m asking too much of you, but if you could keep pretending to be that person, and take over my daughter’s position, I would be grateful.  I hope you can start working on healing all the damage Emily did, I know you are the only one who can do it.”

“I will do my best to keep things in order, and to get rid of our enemies, but remember, the plan has always been for you to take back the power, you are supposed to be the savior, not me.  Sooner or later you and William will have to take back your rightful positions.”

“Kaiserin, you were born to rule, just like me, maybe even more.  Your place is at the top, you are supposed to rule, either the Empire, or the Dominion, and you are here right now.”

We kept talking for a while, we still had some things to define, actions that would have to be taken the next days, but there was something very important that I had to do that day, and soon the time to officially take control of the Dominion was approaching.

My meeting with the Representatives and Ambassadors was approaching fast, I had to see them at noon, that meant that I didn’t have much time to prepare before I had to face them.  I didn’t want to go to war with any of them, and I hoped that all of them would recognize me.  I knew that their words that day wouldn’t guarantee that they wouldn’t fight me in the future, but it would give me time to try and fix things before they had the chance to attack.

Before facing them, there was something else I had to do.  I called Connor, the guard in charge of the school.  I had been able to communicate with Ethan using my powers, so I knew he was ok, but I needed to know how the rest of the kids were before I spoke to their parents.

“Connor, report.” I asked, as soon as he answered my call.

“Some of the parents of the kids tried to get them out of the school yesterday, but as you asked me, I made sure no one left the building.”

“Good job.  How are the kids?” I asked, I needed to know if the situation had affected them and how.

“All of them are ok, some of them are scared and most of them are worried, but in good health.  Most of them are familiar with the hostage procedure and know what is expected of them.  They are more worried about their parents than their own well being.”

“That’s the problem with war kids, they lose their innocence too soon, and learn to face the cruel side of life,” Kimball said, I hadn’t noticed he was there and that he was listening to my call, but I was glad to have him there, I always appreciated his support.  “Those kids are smart enough to know that if they are being held it’s because something is required of their parents, and they are being used as to force their parents to do something they don’t want to do, and they feel guilty because of that.”

“It’s a necessary evil,” I said, “if we can convince their parents of accepting me as the new leader of the Dominion and swear their loyalty to me, we will be saving a lot of lives that would be lost in a war.  They all think I’m a monster, a demon incapable of showing mercy.  They think I could kill their kids without a second thought about it, and that will help me keep control, at least for now.  Soon their parents will recognize me, and then we will be able to let the kids go back to their lives.  In the meantime, I trust you to keep them under control, Connor.”

“I won’t fail you, you have nothing to worry about,” Connor said.  “I will be waiting your new orders.”

I left the room, and Kimball followed me as I made my way to the Congress.  Once we arrived at the public part of the palace, Kimball moved away from me so he could pretend that we were enemies and that he didn’t want to be by my side.  I knew that it was just part of the act and that it was in our best interest to pretend we weren’t in good terms.  The idea behind the act was that Kimball could become the bridge between me and the rest of the Dominion, a friendly face they could trust.

I took the same path I had taken the previous day, and I arrived at the same place where I had faced Emily, and was glad to see that it was full, it looked like they were all there.  In a monitor I could see the faces of some of the leaders of different countries around the Dominion.  For the next few hours I heard the Representatives and Leaders of the different countries pledge their loyalty to me and my new government.  They were all there, and I was glad to see that things were going according to plan.

I was reminded of previous occasions when I had been in the same or similar situation, it reminded me especially for the day I had taken my place as Empress of the Dark Empire.  That had been a day that had filled me with pride and satisfaction.  Having the Dominion under my command didn’t feel as good as that, for some reason I didn’t feel as happy.  I was glad I had been able to do my part, and I couldn’t deny that I was glad to be back at the top, but I felt like I still had a long way to go.

Chapter 51

I felt all eyes turn to me as soon as I walked in.  Emily had been expecting Faakhir and by her face turning from surprise to anger, I could tell she didn’t welcome me.

“What are you doing here?  Faakhir was supposed to take care of you,” Emily said, and I realized that she knew exactly what had been happening, she knew that Faakhir was going to get rid of me, even if she didn’t realize how he was going to do it.

“Are you saying he was supposed to kill me?  After everything I did for you, that’s how you repay me?” I asked, my voice controlled and leveled, but threatening at the same time.  I was playing a role, showing them the person they needed to see.

“Where is Faakhir?” Emily asked, finally noticing that he wasn’t there.

“Where do you think?  Did you really believe that he could attack me and not suffer the consequences?  You made a big mistake the moment you decided you could play me.  The rules have changed, and I’m in charge now, you are no longer the Queen, I will take over your functions,” a roar of whispers started from the Representatives at my words, the volume growing as time passed.

“I am the one in charge, I am the Queen, my word is the law.  Now tell me, where is Faakhir?” She asked again, I could see how she was losing control as she started to understand the situation.

“Faakhir thought he could take advantage of me,” I said, refusing to confirm her fears, playing with her.

“Where is he?” She asked again, she was trembling and I could see she already knew the answer, even if she refused to acknowledge the truth.

“I’m afraid you won’t see him again,” I said.

“You are lying, there no way… You couldn’t… Where is my husband?” She asked, but not to me, she was addressing her question to the guards behind me.

“I’m sorry Your Majesty, but the King is dead,” Lim finally answered her.

Once her fears were confirmed by Lim, Emily lost control, a blood-curdling scream tore out of her throat, and she started falling apart right before my eyes, but I knew that was only the beginning, the battle was about to start.  People around us stopped whispering and started talking and screaming, some of the Representatives tried to leave the room, but the guards posted on the doors weren’t moving, they were following their instruction of not letting anyone leave, until told otherwise.  When they realized they were still trapped, some of them went back to their seats, others moved to the back of the room.  Meanwhile, Emily was calming down, but her face was a mask of hate and anger, and I could taste her need for revenge.

“Your time is over,” I said, “I am now in control of the Dominion.  You can accept that and recognize my claim to the throne, and I will let you live, you will be comfortable for the rest of your life, or you can oppose me and forfeit that life.  Make the right decision Emily, there’s no need for you to die.”

“How can you even suggest something like that?  I am the rightful Queen, I am the one in charge, and you will pay for your crimes.  What the hell are you waiting for?!” She asked her guards.  “Kill her!”

I heard the sound of guns being drawn, a sound so familiar that I could hear it over the sound of the Representatives.  But I didn’t hear any shooting, I only heard the voice of my men letting Emily’s know that they were outnumbered.

“You are wasting your time, I have more men than you,” I explained the situation to her, in case she missed it.

“They are mine, my guards, my people.  What are you waiting for?  I told you to kill her.  Don’t just stand there!  Do something!”

“I’m afraid you don’t understand.  You seem to know that I was never truly under Faakhir’s control, I just faked it so I could get close to you and be in a better position to take over.  You are no the first ones to think that you could control me and then regret it,” I turned my head and looked straight to Kimball, letting people think I was talking about him.  “You were so sure you had everything under control, you never noticed that I had been freeing some of your guards from Faakhir’s control, you didn’t realize that their loyalties were switching to me.  You may think you have control, but right now, my men are taking over all the key points in the Dominion.  You already lost Emily, there’s nothing you can do about it, all you can do is accept your destiny and accept me as your new Queen.”

For a moment nothing happened, but then Emily reacted, taking a dagger and running towards me.  One of his men tried to help, I could see, from the corner of my eye, I could see darkness gathering around him as he prepared his attack, but he never had the chance, Zhou shot him in the head, killing him instantly.  Emily reached me and tried to stab me, but the dagger hit my psychic wall.  Emily screamed her frustration and him my wall again, then he pushed her hands to it, and I felt her power, I could feel my wall barely holding her out, and I knew she was capable of breaking through my defenses.  I had never before experienced Emily’s power, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

“You still have a chance, all you have to do is surrender,” I tried to reason with her.  I knew that Sofia wanted another chance with her, but as time went by, I knew that the fight would end with one of us dead, most likely her.

Emily just kept screaming and I felt the place was starting to get affected.  I focused on keeping my defenses up, but I could feel her power building up, and I knew that soon I wouldn’t be able to keep my wall up, her powers was getting too strong.  The people around us was getting scared, some of them were using their own powers to keep Emily’s powers at bay, and I noticed that my men had also moved between us and the Representatives to help keep them safe if Emily’s powers got out of control.  I focused on her again, and noticed that her nose was bleeding, as her powers grew more and more out of control, the furniture around us was breaking.  She had crossed a line of no return, I knew what was happening, she had pushed too far and was having a psychic headache.  I felt my defenses crumbling and I knew that Emily was going to get her chance to reach me, but I couldn’t allow that, so I let my wall collapse and reformed my power as a sphere around Emily, to keep her contained.

I had just witnessed a person getting a headache a few times in my life, most people didn’t push her powers so far unless they were Maximas.  The main problem with getting a psychic headache was losing control, there was a point where they just couldn’t stop, their powers kept growing in strength reaching unbelievable highs, but there was a price to pay, the highest price of all: death.  I knew she was close, the first sight that she was gone was that her brain was bleeding, and it was so bad that I could see blood getting out of her nose, ears, and even eyes.  I needed to use all my power to contain hers, and for a moment I thought that wouldn’t be enough, I knew I needed to stop her before she could hurt all of us.  I pushed against her power, shrinking the sphere around her until it started to press against her body.  Our powers fighting each other were so strong that it pushed her up in the air, and I heard the screams and cries and knew everyone was able to see her.  Her body was contorting in impossible, unnatural ways.  Suddenly, the screaming and yelling stopped, everyone was just staring at Emily.  I kept pushing until I heard her bones breaking and knew she was gone.

As soon as I let my powers go, the energy that was holding her up disappeared and her body fell, she hit the ground as is she was a broken doll, her limbs twisted in unnatural angles. She was still bleeding, and I could see a small blood pool forming around her head.  The short, but intense fight had left me feeling drained, but I pretended I was ok, moving towards the platform Emily had been using before and taking her place at the front of the room.

“The King and the Queen are dead,” I told them.  “From now on, I am your new Queen.  Right now my men are taking control of the Dominion, the army is under my control.  It’s in your best interest to accept that I am in charge now.  Anyone who even thinks of opposing me will share Emily’s fate.”

“Kaiserin, you can’t do this,” Kimball interrupted me.  “It’s not right.”

“Since the first time you dragged me to your country, all you could talk about was how horrible they were, and now that they are gone you are complaining?” I faced him, still pretending that we weren’t on the same side.

“I don’t know if things would be better with you in charge,” Kimball said, he moved out of his seat and started walking towards me, his attitude was aggressive, and his advance was cut by two of my guards.

“Things don’t have to be worse with me in charge.  If you want, you can help me, it would be easier with you by my side.  You once said that things couldn’t get worse, maybe together we could make things better,” I said, coaxing him to my side.

“Are you really willing to listen to me?  Would you accept my suggestions?” He asked, his tone clearly showing skepticism, his acting perfect.

“You know what I want.  I am not vain like Emily, I don’t need luxury, I just need power.  Faakhir thought he could control me, Emily thought she could humiliate me, and now I will show everyone who is really in control.  If you want to help, if you think you could do a better job than Faakhir, you are welcome to try, all you have to do is remember who is in charge,” I signaled my men and they let Kimball move closer to me.

“I won’t let you make things worse for everyone, of that, you can be sure,” he warned me, in a tone low enough to pretend to be private, but low enough that some people could hear and repeat what he had said.

“You will be here to help and suggest, but I am the one who will have the last word,” I warned.  He had his back to the rest of the room, and no one saw his smile.  I did my best not to smile back, controlling my face, keeping it cold and threatening.  “Things don’t have to get complicated,” I signaled Onyesha and she activated the monitors behind me, showing images of the army walking through the streets of the most important cities in the Dominion.  “Right now my army is taking control of the dominion.  Your options are limited, you can either join me, or share the Queen’s fate.  No one can stop me now.”

I could hear the protests, but I couldn’t understand the words as the volume increased and the people got angrier, but I wasn’t going to let them take control of the situation.  I used my powers to send a wave of energy that pushed them away, just enough to show them my intentions, but enough to drain my energy reserves.  I felt Kimball grabbing my arm, the action could seem like a threat to others, but as he pulled me towards him, I knew he was only showing his support and giving me a chance to gather myself.

“Are you ok?  If you need energy, you can use mine, I’m here for you,” he whispered in my ear.  I knew that for the rest of the people the action would seem like a fight, not a show of support.

“I know that the actions today have taken all of you by surprise.  I will give you time to calm down, and go talk to your leaders.  Tomorrow we will gather again and make this official,” I signaled my men and a couple of them took Emily’s body and dragged it away.  “I hope that by tomorrow you will be ready to accept me as your new Queen.  I expect all of you tomorrow at noon, Representatives and Embassadors.  Those who don’t show up, will be assumed to be against my rule and will be hunted down, your guilds or countries will also face the consequences of your actions.”  I didn’t wait to see if they understood and agreed with my directions, I walked our of the place, with Kimball following me.

“We did it,” Kimball said once we were away from their ears.  “Emily and Faakhir are finally gone.”

“We already took the first step, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” I said back.

Chapter 50

As soon as Yoweri left, I went to take a quick shower, I knew it wouldn’t erase the memory of their hands on me, no one but Kimball could help with that, he was the only one capable of replacing bad memories with good ones, but until I could go to him, a shower would have to be enough.

When I went back to the room where Faakhir was, I felt the group coming my way, I wasn’t worried about it, I could feel their minds and I recognized Mbali’s among them, what surprised me was the anger I felt from her when she entered the room, I didn’t understand why she could be mad.  I turned my attention to the rest of the group and I saw they were just a few of my men, I quickly realized that they had decided to arrive in small groups, so they could move without attracting attention.

“Are you alright?” Mbali asked, but I knew she didn’t really care about the answer.  ¿What happened here?  How did you manage to kill all of these people?  Forget the how, why?  Months of planning gone down the drain because you couldn’t control your temper,” she said, angry at me as if my actions had actually hurt her.

“Why?  Because he found out I wasn’t under his control, and he found some memories that I didn’t want him to see.  He was angry and wanted to make me pay for lying to him.”

“And you thought only about yourself and your anger ant attacked him without thinking of the consequences,” she accused.

“I attacked him because he gave me no other choice, he went inside my mind and he wanted to find what else I was hiding from him, all he knew about was that I was faking being under his control, but if he had found out about the rest of my plans, no one would be safe, not our allies or our cause.”

“Don’t pretend, you are too strong for that, if you really wanted to, you could have kept that information from him, just like you have been doing for the last few years,” she said, she was clearly angry but I couldn’t understand why, and by the reaction of the others with her, I wasn’t the only one surprised by her attack.

“I’m sorry Mbali, but I my loyalty to the cause is not so big that I would allow him to bring Sklave back and abuse me just so others wouldn’t be inconvenienced,” I said, taking the clothes out of her arms and marching to the bathroom where I could dress without them watching me.

“What does Sklave has to do with this?” Mbali asked.

“Faakhir found out about Sklave, and liked what he saw, so he decided to bring her back.”

“Who’s Sklave?” Ivan asked.  Mbali and I had been using one of the least known languages of Mzansi, but Ivan knew enough to understand what we were talking about.

“She is my worst nightmare, and someone I don’t want to have to deal ever again,” I said, switching back to the common language used in Capital City, so everyone could understand.

“Are you ok?” Soriya asked once I got out of the bathroom, fully clothed and feeling so much better for it.

“Yes, I am.  Faakhir focused on attacking me mentally, and as you can see, I was able to fight back just fine.”

“You did all of this alone?” Onyesha asked.  “It seems impossible for a single person to do this much damage,” she said, moving closer to where the bodies of the guards were and examining the wounds.

“You do amazing things at desperate moments,” I said.  I haven’t been easy, but she was right, stoping that particular group of elite warriors wasn’t something easy to do, and all I could think was that the energy I had stolen had helped me, that and the fear and adrenaline running through my body, there was no other explanation of how I had managed that particular feat.

While they were trying to understand how I had managed to do the impossible, and Mbali was trying to control her anger, a new group arrived, their focus turning immediately to Faakhir, who had passed out while we were talking.  Some of them looked horrified, but others enjoyed what they were seeing.

“Is he dead?” Gina asked.

“No, not yet, but the pain must have been more than he could deal with, so he passed out,” I said.  Gina nodded and then crossed the room, she took a water pitch and proceeded to throw the water to Faakhir, waking him up.  A sound that must have been a scream, but sounded weird thanks to the branch in his neck, filled the room, his body started shaking, until he could control it enough to stop it, doing his best to minimize the pain he was feeling.

“What are you doing?” Mbali asked.  “Do you have any idea of how much he is suffering right now in that thing?”

“No,” Gina said, “but I’m sure he is in a lot of pain, and that’s the least that monster deserves, so the least he can do is suffer every second of it.  People like him don’t deserve an easy or calm death.”

Mbali was getting out of control, but I finally understood what her problem was, when she saw the tree of pain, it wasn’t Faakhir who she saw there, it was her cousin.  Kimball had almost died in one of those, and it was clear that it still bothered her.

“I get it, you see the tree and it reminds you of your cousin, but look at it, it’s Faakhir who’s there, and he deserves every bit of pain he is feeling.  And don’t you dare fight with Gina about this, if someone deserves to see him suffer is her, she deserves this after everything he did to her.” Mbali didn’t say anything more, she was quiet, thinking about what I said.

“I think that if someone deserves a death like that, it’s Faakhir.  After all the pain he inflicted, I think he is actually having it easy,” Konstantinos said.  “You can’t judge others if you never experienced the horrors of being under his control, we can’t just ignore all the damage he caused.”

Mbali was speechless, because she knew they were right.  Some of Faakhir’s guards were with him because they wanted, but if Faakhir really wanted someone, he didn’t give a choice.  He had kidnaped Gina when she was a teenager, and the only reason he let her go after years of abuse, was because in a fight, while she was protecting him, she got injured, and the scars she got in the fight made her unattractive in Faakhir’s eyes.  He had sent her to protect Nysa when she didn’t want her anymore, and it wasn’t until after her death that I found her and was able to clear the programing that Faakhir had put in her mind.  Konstantinos had also suffered because of Faakhir, he had taken his lands, his position, his family and even his freedom.  He had brainwashed him and made him into one of his elite guards, just like he had tried to do with me.

They were not the only ones that were loyal to me because I had given them their freedom, almost 20 of the 45 elite guards that had joined me, had done so because I had freed their minds.  They were people like Konstantinos, who had every reason to hate Faakhir, but that were forced to obey him because of his powers.  They were people who would follow me without question because I had given them their lives back.

Mbali stayed silent while more people arrived, most of them glad to be able to have front row seats to Faakhir’s death.  A few were affected by his pain, but most of then enjoyed his punishment.

“Is everything ready?  Did you notify our contacts in the army?” I asked my men.  I could feel that Faakhir’s end was close, and once he was dead, we would need to act.

“Everything is ready, we are just waiting for your orders,” Thalia said, she had arrived with the last group.

“Connor, I need you to take some men with you and take control of the school, we need to keep the Representative’s children under control.  That worked for Faakhir and with my reputation it would be an effective threat, they all will believe me capable of killing their children if they don’t obey me,” I said, “but your main mission is to make sure that Ethan is safe.  Make sure no one notices that you are there for him, but make sure no one hurts him.”

“As you wish,” he said.

“Ivan, Lim, Onyesha and Gina, you will go with me to face Emily,” they were supposed to be my enemies, and I knew that the impact it would have on them to realize they were my allies would be big.  “I think that Zhou, Weza, Youseff and Sefina are guarding her, right?”

“That’s right,” Thalia said, “I already contacted them and told them that they had to be prepared.”

“That’s perfect, with those four and the four that will go with me, would be more than enough to control the other guards with Emily and take control of the Congress.  For the rest of us, I need you to move and go take control of the army, and contain anyone you think could cause of trouble, any way you need to.  You all know your roles, you know who to contact and who you can trust.  This will work, only if we work together.  We are doing here not just to take Emily down, we need to take control of the Dominion with as few casualties as we can.  At first, they won’t know what’s going on, and that will give us time to act, but things will change once our enemies realize that Faakhir and Emily are no longer in control, they will believe they can move in and take over.  If we don’t want that to happen, we need to take control as soon as possible and establish our rule.”

“What about Sofia?” Ivan asked.  “Shouldn’t she be here? She could help us take control.”

“There is no time to bring her here, besides, plans had changed.  We can’t bring Sofia out and risk one of her enemies attacking her, we need to identify and neutralize all the people that is loyal to the current power.  And the risk is not only with those that truly believe in this government, but those who are still under Faakhir’s control, we don’t know what kind of programing he could have prepared against something like this.”

“Everything is going to be alright,” Fatima said.  “It’s true that things got complicated, but we have been working towards this for a long time.  We are ready.  Everything is going to be alright,” she said again, I wasn’t sure if she was trying to convince us or herself.  The fog of the future was still closed to me, so I had no choice but to face things as they came my way.

“What are we going to do about Emily?  It’s lunch time, she will be getting out any moment now,” Ivana said.

“No, she won’t.  The representatives are still discussing her new demands, and she won’t let them get out until she gets her way.  You know how she likes to play with them, let them think they still have some control, just to see them crack and fall to her demands.  I’m pretty sure that right now she is getting something to eat while the rest of the people just watch her and try to work on something she can accept,” Mbali said.

“It wouldn’t be the first time she keeps them there, starving, as if they were kids being punished for not doing their homework,” Ivan agreed.  “The only problem is that Faakhir is usually by her side, trying to find a middle ground between her demands and what the countries can give her, trying to bring some balance to her demands.  Sooner or later she will want him there and she will send someone for him.”

“We still have time before that happens,” Fatima said, with the certainty that only her powers could give her.  That reminded me that I needed to talk to her about my problems, maybe she could help me understand what was going on with my powers.

There were a lot of things that had to be done, but I couldn’t send them away, I knew some of them needed to see Faakhir’s death.  It was a grim spectacle, I knew that, it was one of the reasons I used that particular technique.  Watching Faakhir like that wouldn’t change the years of abuse and oppression they had experienced under his rule, but it would make them feel better.  Even some of the people that wasn’t directly affected by him were enjoying his suffering, and I knew that more than one wished that Emily was right beside him.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with Emily, Sofia and William were supposed to be there for that moment, they were supposed to handle her, but the situation had changed and I wasn’t sure what to do.  Emily was unstable, and I was sure she was going to explode once she knew what had happened.  I was afraid I would have to kill her too, because, even if I offered her a deal to spare her life, I was sure she was going to fight back, and it was very likely that I would be forced to kill her too.

It took hours for Faakhir to die, and even if some people feel better knowing he was dead and wouldn’t be able to hurt anyone else, ever again, some people were disappointed that his pain was over.  It was over, and time to finally act.  The groups I had previously prepared were ready to act and take over the Dominion, all I had to do was give them the order to act.

The four guards I had selected went with me to face Emily.  As soon as we left the residential area, we found a couple of guards that I knew were loyal to Emily and that were heading our way.

“Is Faakhir already done with her?” One of them asked, thinking that they were there to contain me, not to protect me.  “Where are you taking her?”

“Are you looking for Faakhir?” Ivan asked, ignoring their questions.

“Yes, Emily wants to talk to him, and she asked us to tell him that she needed his help with the Representatives.  Their excuses are bothering her, and she thinks that the King can help them see things her way.”

“I’m afraid the King can’t go meet her,” Ivan said, looking at me, a silent question for support or maybe guidance.

“Their loyalty is for Emily, but I don’t know if it’s because of her, or what she represents, I don’t know if they follow the position or the person.  Remember, we are supposed to minimize casualties,” I reminded them, hoping they would get the message.

Neither guard suspected us, from where they were standing I was surrounded by my worst enemies, so when Onyesha and Ivan moved to attack, they didn’t react fast enough, and that few seconds were enough for my people to contain them.  By the time they tried to react, they were already under Onyesha and Ivan’s control, with Lim and Gina pointing their guns at them, in case they needed further proof that they were defeated.  Once Onyesha was sure they wouldn’t try anything, she took a couple of syringes and injected them with a sedative that was supposed to take them out of combat for the rest of the day.

“Mbali gave me the sedatives, so I’m pretty sure they will work just fine.  I will send a message to the other so someone can come and take them to the cells,” Onyesha said.

“We can’t leave them here, if someone finds them, they could alert others of our attack,” Gina said.

“They were looking for Faakhir, and we all know how he was, he did things on his own time, we still have time before someone misses them.  Right now we have to get to Emily and finish this, that’s our priority,” I said.

After sending a message to inform the others of the two guards, we kept going.  I knew that at that moment, all over the city, those loyal to me were fighting the people loyal to them, those who could cause trouble for us later on.  We were constantly receiving reports of what was happening in other places as my men took control of the city.  The best news was when Connor informed me that he had taken control of the school where Ethan was, and that he was safe and under supervision.  Knowing he was safe helped me feel better about the situation.

By the time we arrived at the doors of the Congress, I was sure that everything was going to be fine.  Things were going my way, and soon, everything would be over and the Dominion would be under my control.

Chapter 49

I was almost sure that I was going to be safe from Einar and Jacob while Faakhir was in trance, inside my mind, they usually waited until Faakhir had the chance to abuse his victims, he was always the first to take them.  Despite knowing that, I still didn’t want to turn both my mind to the inside, I felt like I needed to keep an eye on them to make sure they didn’t try something against me.  I was already too weak because of the electric attacks, and I needed to be alert and at least be aware of whatever else they tried.

Not many people knew about my double mind, and even among those who knew about, few understood exactly how it worked.  None of them were among the group, so they were unaware that I was hearing and watching them.

“I can’t wait for my turn,” Einar said, “every time I watched that haughty bitch, walking around feeling so sure of herself, I felt this overwhelming need of teaching her her what her place really is.”

“Faakhir will be the one who teaches Kaiserin her place, we just will have to wait until he gets bored with her before we can take our turns,” Jacob reminded him.

“If Faakhir doesn’t know about it…” Einar said, grabbing my hair and pulling my head back, until my neck hurt because of the awkward angle, I felt his smelling my hair, while his hand started touching my side.

“Cut it out, if Faakhir gets out of his trance and catches you touching her, he will be mad.  Just be a little patient and you will have your turn.”

“You know I’m not very patient.”

“I also know that Faakhir is not very forgiving, like you can see from the situation we’re in.”

“You’re a killjoy,” Einar complained, but he let me go and moved away.

“I get you, I do, there’s nothing better than the forbidden fruit, and Kaiserin, always so untouchable became irresistible, but we will have our turn, and from all of Faakhir’s men, we will be the first ones to get to have the new and improved Kaiserin, once Faakhir is done with her.”

“I don’t get why it’s only the two of us, if it had been me, I would have chosen a bigger audience for her fall from grace.”

“Faakhir suspects that she has a few allies among us,” Jacob said, and that caught my attention because I thought that my allies were safe from Faakhir’s attention, but maybe I was wrong.  “There’s no proof, just a hunch, but he couldn’t risk anyone trying to help her.  No one suspects anything yet, and that makes it easier for us to make her disappear before someone notices she is gone.”

“No matter what she is hiding from him, she will pay her betrayal.”

They were so sure about it, and the fact that Faakhir had gone so far to stop me was making me unease, but I had to trust that I had an advantage over them, they thought I was alone and had no help, but I had the necklace that Kimball had given me, and I was sure it would save me.  I trusted the necklace to do its job and free me from the powers suppressor, and once I was free, I would be able to fight back.

I had time to think about everything this attack would mean, and how nothing would be the same again.  After what he had done, he couldn’t stay alive, I couldn’t forgive his humiliation, and he would pay for putting his hands on me and taking my powers again, the only problem was that it would cause me a lot of trouble.

It was only a matter of time, of holding on for long enough.  Things were going well, Jacob and Einar had moved away, and were talking to each other about nothing important, and I felt safer while they had their attention elsewhere.  It was bad enough to fight the memories after the electric attacks and being naked and vulnerable, but when Jacob decided to go check the Suite and left me alone with Einar, I knew things would only get worse for me.

“Faakhir told us about you, you know?  About who you used to be, who you will be again,” he whispered in my ear, before licking my cheek.  “I can’t wait to have you on your knees, just thinking about it,” he pressed his body to mine, and I could feel exactly what thinking about it was doing to his body.  “Always so haughty, so untouchable, and all this time you were nothing but a whore.”

He grabbed my hair again, pulling my head back until my neck hurt.  I kept my eyes half closed, still pretending to be in a trance, and I could see his face moving closer to mine and I wasn’t sure what to do, how to act, it I should let him kiss me or try to push him away.

Just as his lips were about to touch mine and I was running out of time and out of ideas, I heard a metallic sound and I felt my powers getting back.  I let him kiss me, and I used the connection to connect with him, and I started stealing his energy.  I felt him trying to pull away, but I wasn’t going to let him, not until I had my fill.  He was going to pay for touching me with his energy, and eventually with his life.

“What the hell are you doing?” Jacob asked, pulling Einar away from me.  “Faakhir will be furious if he learns about this,” he said, but once he pulled him away, he noticed that something was wrong.  He let him go and took a step back, making the mistake of putting his hand on my shoulder, making the connection I needed to drain his energy.

Einar was too weak to be a threat, and I was connected to Jacob, he was reaching the same point fast.  I decided to completely drain Jacob, and then take care of Einar.  At the same time, I was dealing with Faakhir inside my mind.  I attacked him and pushed his mind outside mine, his cry of agony after receiving my attack echoed in the room.  I finished with Jacob and used my newly acquired energy to break free of my bindings, then I took control of all metal in the room and started building a tree of pain for Faakhir.  I started with a spear through his stomach, then it started to branch out, going through his vital organs, touching his nervous terminals to maximize the pain.  I moved closer, touching him so I could connect with him and made sure I could do the maximum damage without going over the top and making him pass out or die faster.  I even heated the metal so it would cauterize the wounds and slow his bleeding.  Another branch went through his vocal cords, to shut him out to avoid his screams to alert the rest of the soldiers.  By the time I finished, Faakhir was in a world of pain, his agony so strong I could almost touch it, I knew it was enough to drive anyone crazy.

“What’s going on here?” I heard someone asking from the door.  I felt the intention to attack and I threw an energy wave, before even registering who was there.  The guard recovered fast, and she was drawing a gun by the time I turned, but I used my powers to grab the gun and then I used it to kill her.

Jacob was already dead, but Einar was still breathing, I put a metal spear through him to make sure he wouldn’t get away, it was only a matter of time before he died, and he was so little energy left that it wasn’t worth it to take it.

I was watching what I had done in there, when I felt another group heading in my direction.  I wasn’t sure how many there were, but I was sure it was more than four.  I used my mind to grab my cape and put it between me and the group, they started shooting at me, but the cape stopped all the bullets and gave me the time I needed to connect to their weapons and disable them.  Once they stopped shooting I took the cape and put it around me to hide my naked body, and faced the group.

Without the cape in the way they finally got a good look at the scene, one of them looked like he was going to get sick.  I felt nothing but contempt for them, they were weak and couldn’t even face what had happened there.

I felt the room getting colder and I felt another change in the room that I couldn’t identify, but before they could start their attacks, I took the gun I had taken from the other guard and shoot them.  One of them managed to dodge my attacks and I knew he was going to attack me, so I let him get to me, and as soon as he made contact with me I started taking his energy for me.

The battle lasted less than a minute, and it ended with every one of them dead, only Faakhir and Einar were still alive.  I felt tired, the energy I had taken already burning away.  My body was feeling every ache and pain caused by the electric attacks, and I found that I couldn’t move without pain.  I knew my mind was also at its limits, so I decided to take a moment to rest, I grabbed the chair I had been tied to and moved it until it was facing Faakhir, then I sat down.  I was sure that the pain was bad enough that it was affecting his ability to use his powers, but he was still aware enough to know what was going on around him, he could see his dead soldiers, and he could see me, still alive.  I felt his fear amidst his pain, and I felt his desperation and hopelessness, knowing he had lost.  Just like all my past enemies, I needed Faakhir to realize the situation he was in, and to know it was his own fault that he had ended like that.  If he had left Mzansi alone, if he hadn’t tried to control me and worse, if he hadn’t tried to rape me or taken my powers away, if he had acted differently, then he wouldn’t be dying.

His eyes were moving around frantically, for moments they even looked clear, and I noticed the moment he saw the person walking inside the room, a person capable of moving undetected, and his hope of salvation.

“Are you ok?” Yoweri asked, taking in the scene around us.

“I’ve been better,” I said, exhausted, but feeling a little bit better knowing that I had an ally with me.

“Did he hurt you?” I knew what he was really asking, he knew me well since the day he had been trapped in my memory and had experienced my past, he knew exactly what could break me.

“He tried, but as you can see, he failed.”

“One of the maids warned us about Faakhir’s plans.  I’m sorry I couldn’t get here faster, but we needed to make sure her intel was good, and then plan accordingly, we thought a frontal attack could be dangerous and counterproductive,” he said, and I heard the apology in his words.

“It’s ok, I understand.  Who else knows about this?”

“Ludomir and Mamadou were the first ones to be informed, they contacted Thalia and I was with her.  By now Ivan and Fatima should have been contacted, at least, but we are getting as many people as we can, we guessed that after Faakhir made his move, you would want to counter and start your mission of taking over.”

“You did well, and your actions saved me a lot of time.  We need to move fast to minimize damages.  Pass me my jacket,” I asked him, pointing to a bunch of rags that used to be my clothes, and where my secure phone must be, I needed it if I wanted to establish a safe channel to the Mzansiers.

My plan depended on their army, at least a big part of it, and I needed a safe way to contact other groups that had agreed to join us when the time came, people from all over the Dominion.  It all depended on how well we could coordinate the forces, Faakhir was going to die, and we would need to face the consequences of his death, the only way we could face the problems that would be generated by his death, was by staying one step ahead of everyone.

Yoweri gave me the phone, but my hands were shaking.  I hated being weak, and even if I knew I could trust him, and knowing it wasn’t the first time he had seen me like that, it still felt awful to be vulnerable in front of anyone.

“I can help you with that, you need to rest and get your strength back,” Yoweri suggested, and I had no other choice but to accept his help.  I unblocked the screen and gave him the phone.

“Kimball must be busy, we can’t get him out of there without alerting others.  Call Mbali, she has all the information and contacts that we need and she will be able to call the generals of the army of Mzansi.  We will need to talk to Kgosi, but maybe once everything is ready.

“Understood,” Yoweri said, calling Mbali and then holding the phone close to me so I could talk to her directly.

I didn’t want to waste time explaining everything, so the call was short and to the point.  First of all I needed clothes, preferable something that had no connection to the Dominion.  I was sure that Mbali could contact the army, and get my the right clothes.  Yoweri suggested moving to one of the conference rooms in the lower levels, he said the others were already gathering there, but it wasn’t the right place, I needed to stay there until Faakhir took his last breath.  I knew he was in a lot of pain and his body wouldn’t hold much longer, but as long as he was alive, my place was there, so I decided it was best if the others moved up.  Besides, I couldn’t think of a better place to plan their end, that in their own rooms.

Yoweri went to look for the rest of my people as soon as we finished with the calls.  By then Einar was already dead, his energy too low for him to last long, and only Faakhir and I were left.  I touched my necklace, I knew that I should activate it as a suppressor to help with the headache that I felt building, that way my power would be fresh and whole by the time I needed it to face Emily, but my body was too weak after the electric attacks, and after what had happened I didn’t want to be in a situation where I couldn’t defend myself.  I knew that I needed my powers if I were to face another of Faakhir’s elite guards, and there was always the danger that one of them would come looking for him and found out what I had done.

I knew it was the virus fault’s, being sick for so long and losing my focus had allowed Faakhir to have access to memories he should have never been able to see, and it had weakened me.  My carefully built plans were falling apart and the next few hours would be critical for our future.  I felt like I had already failed, if only because I was breaking some of my promises, I had promised Sofia and Willian that they could be with me when I took Emily and her husband down, but Faakhir was already dying and there was not enough time to bring them in before I would be forced to face Emily.  Emily was crazy, and unstable, but there was one person she loved as much as herself, and that was Faakhir, the one dying, the one whose death was on my hands.  I knew that as soon as she found out what I had done, she would lose her mind.

What I really needed was Kimball, but I knew that I couldn’t call him, I had to focus on the tasks at hand, stop wondering what could have happened, be thankful that the necklace has worked as it was intended to, and that I had been able to neutralize Faakhir without compromising the mission.  Things were moving faster than I wanted or expected, but maybe it was the way it was supposed to happen, maybe I needed the motivation to set my plans in motion, to stop planning and start executing.  A new world was waiting to emerge, and I just hoped I could make it a better world.

Chapter 48

I knew that I had made a huge mistake, I knew I was in a precarious situation, and still, my lack of judgement had gotten me into trouble.  I didn’t fear for my life, I was sure that I would be able to get out of the situation, the problem was that I wasn’t sure if I was going to escape without damage, and I feared for what they could do to me.  I knew what Faakir wanted from me, he had never denied his intentions, but I had promised myself that I would never be used for someone else pleasure, and I wasn’t sure how far I would go to avoid that situation, all I knew was that if he raped me, the damage would be greater than any damage I had received while fighting for him.

“I’m very disappointed in you,” Faakhir said, with fake sadness.  “I can’t understand why would you betray me.”

“I didn’t betray you, I just wasn’t willing to participate in your orgies or sick fantasies,” I said, trying to make him focus on that, so he wouldn’t think of questioning what else I was hiding from him.  “I have a very strong mind, I could have destroyed you, but I didn’t, I joined your forces and worked by your side, just because I don’t want to sleep with you, doesn’t mean we can’t work together.”

“I am the King, and there’s nothing you can deny me.  You belong to me and I can do whatever I want with you.”

Faakhir made a signal and I felt something in my back, that’s all the warning I got before they tasered me again, as the electricity ran through my body I lost control of my limbs.  Before I could recover, Faakhir’s guards got rid of my uniform, leaving me just in my underwear and they they tied me to the chair.  Faakhir kept eating his breakfast as if nothing was going on in front of him.

“You made me believe you were sleeping with me, you lied to me, and I can’t help but wonder if what else have you lied to me about,” Faakhir said, his eyes going over my exposed body, another sign and one of his guards cut my bra off, leaving me even more exposed to him.  His leer made me feel sick.  “After this betrayal I can’t trust you anymore, I have no option but to go into your mind and see by myself all your secrets and make sure your loyalty is still in the right place.”

“Don’t do this, you will regret it.  If you go into my mind it won’t matter if I have a suppressor, I will be able to fight you back, and you could get hurt.  Stop now and let me go, we can just pretend this didn’t happen, I will still work for you and fight your enemies.”

“You have done a lot of good things for me, your work has been exemplary, but you already did your part, I don’t need your powers anymore, I need your body.  You will be more useful in my bed than guarding my back.”

“You will regret this.  I won’t let this go, I won’t forgive you.  If you keep doing this I will fight back,” I threatened, but they only laughed at me, believing that they had covered all their bases and that I wouldn’t be able to do anything to stop them, when all I needed was time.

Faakhir threw his napkin on top of his plate, signaling the end of this breakfast, and with a sign, his men moved the table away and then pushed me closer to him.  Faakhir smiled at me, just before they electrocuted me again.  My heart was beating too hard, but it wasn’t just because of the torture, it was because I was afraid, the situation was affecting me and I was close to losing it.  Faakhir had seen my memories and he knew my fears, using electricity and stripping me naked were his weapons to break me, reminding me of my days under Agmong’s rule.  I had been able to remain calm, but if he kept going, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to stay calm.

“After I finish with you,” Faakhir said, his hand going to my neck and then down to my breast, he started kneading it, his eyes on it, “you will go back to being the same obedient and submissive girl that I saw in your memories.  You will do everything I say, you will give me everything you have denied to me.”

“Never,” I challenged him, but I knew that at the moment he was winning, the feeling of his hand on my body calling memories I had no desire to remember.

“You don’t have a choice, this is going to happen, and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.”

He moved his hands to my thighs and moved even closer, our faces just inches from each other.  I considered butting his head, but before I got the chance, I felt hi entering my mind and he fell back, deep in trance.

I knew that the easier, faster way of defeating Faakhir was turning both minds’ focus inside, but I couldn’t do that and leave my body without protection.  Einar and Jacob were dangerous and I knew that it wasn’t a good idea to leave them unchecked.  Besides, I just needed one mind to keep Faakhir occupied as I prepared for my next step.

Faakhir’s mental representation appeared in the same place as his shadow used to be, since that was the part of my mind he had used for the last few years, I knew it was familiar territory for him.  My own mental representation moved to the same place, close enough to see what he was doing, but not close enough for him to be able to fight me directly.

‘I was very surprised when I was able to see these memories,’ Faakhir said, ‘I had never imagined that you were one of your clan’s whores from the way you act, you made me believe that you were really a princess.’

‘I have always been and will be a warrior, one of the best.  What you saw here is just a short period of time that I won’t repeat ever again.’

‘I liked who you used to be,’ he said, using his powers to open the doors around us, waking the memories inside.  I tried to stop them, but all I could do was close the doors he was opening.  ‘Open your eyes, remember your past, embrace who you are.  Once a whore, always a whore, get used to the idea.’

‘That’s not me anymore!’ I yelled, fear almost taking over.  I couldn’t go back to being Sklave, I couldn’t go back to that life, without control or freedom, I didn’t want to feel powerless and vulnerable to others.  I couldn’t go back to being an object for their pleasure.

Faakhir used his powers to attack me, making the labyrinth shake and my mind hurt.  Momentarily blinded by pain, I didn’t notice he was opening the doors again, faster than before.  I tried not to pay attention to the memories and closed the doors as fast as I could, but by the time I was done, Faakhir was gone.  It took me just a second to find him again, he had gone to the main part of my mind, looking for more information and my secrets, but before I could go after him, I needed to make sure there were no other surprises left by him.  I had already decided that I was going to kill him, the moment he put his hands on me he had forfeited his life, bus still, I couldn’t allow him to find any incriminating information, I couldn’t risk him sending anything to his allies.  Once I was sure everything was ok in that part of my mind, I went to where he was.

I needed to buy some time.  If I had been able to activate the necklace that Kimball had given me, then I would have been able to recover my powers, but that wasn’t the only way to make it work.  In the years since he had given me that, Kimball had added many new characteristics to it, at first it was only able to deactivate power’s suppressors, but then it became a power’s suppressor, something I could use when I had a psychic headache and needed to rest my mind.  Then he modified it again so it could monitor my powers and detect if something was blocking them.  I knew that it would take it no more than half an hour to activate, and once activated it would start working on the suppressor.  Not all suppressors were the same, some were easier than others, but Kimball had assured me that it would deactivate any kind, it was configured in a way that if it wasn’t able to deactivate it in half an hour, it would produce an EMP and disable any electronic that was in contact with my body.

One hour, tops.  That’s all I needed, and despite the actions of Faakhir’s guards, I knew they wouldn’t go too far, as long as Faakhir was inside my mind, so all I needed to do was keep him busy.  So all I needed was an hour, and after that I would have my powers back and I would be able to escape and kill the bastards that had dared take my powers away, the beast that wanted to turn me back into Sklave.

Faakhir was my main concern, I needed to keep him in my mind, and at the same time stop him from finding something or hurting me.  I found him trying to pull some crystals from the ground, but I wasn’t sure why he wanted to do that.  A memory of my father doing the same came to me, and I wondered if Faakhir knew how to hide memories and reprogram a mind.  I didn’t like that possibility, and I wasn’t going to allow him to do it.  Faakhir’s actions also reminded me of something else my father had done, the one memory I had never been able to recover, that was hidden inside a chest, one I had used as a weapon ever since I found it.

I needed to trick Faakhir, and I knew it was going to be easy, he could feel my presence, and he had to know I was close, so I called the chest to my hands and moved closer to where he was in one of the labyrinth open areas.  Once I was sure he had seen me and was aware of the chest on my arms, I started to run.  Faakhir tried to tear the walls of the labyrinth down, but no matter how strong he was, there was no way he could change my mental landscape while I was conscious, so he had to follow me.  I tried to keep away from the areas where most of the memories of my plans for the Dominion were, but at the same time, I needed to keep him close, and distracted long enough to set a trap for him.  I knew that I needed some time so I could set a trap and as soon as I got some time and distance I went to a dead end in one of the labyrinth halls.  The strongest element in my mind was the memory crystals, and I used some of them to set a cage, using some of my best memories, happy memories, where I was strong and in control, images of my children, memories of Kimball and everything he had done to help me and keep me safe, showing me how much he loved me despite our problems and misunderstandings.  I saw Faakhir’s mental representation turning the corner and looking at me, but then he started to walk backwards.

‘Do you think I’m that stupid?’ He asked me, keeping his distance.  ‘This is your mind, you would have never brought me to a dead end if you didn’t have something already planned, you know this place better than anyone.’

‘I have to recognize that you are smarter than you seem.  You are right, I’m not here by accident, I have a plan, and despite your awareness, you fell into my trap,’ Faakhir took another step back, stepping into the cage I had set up, I used my mind to close it, trapping him inside.  ‘Did you find anything interesting in my memories, if you want I have a few others you may like to see while we wait.’

‘What are we waiting for?’ He asked, but his attention was focused on finding a way out, looking for a weak spot he could use to escape.

‘We are waiting for the power’s suppressor to be deactivated, I’m waiting until I can get my powers back so I can kill you and your guards, then I will kill your wife and I will take over the Dominion.’  Faakhir started to fight me back, trying to get out of my mind, and I was surprised to see that he was taking my threats seriously.

‘My men won’t let you do that, you can’t escape, no one knows you’re here, no one is coming to your rescue, no one knows you need rescuing.’

‘You are wrong, someone is already helping me, I have all the help I need.  I gave you a chance, you could have let me go and I wouldn’t be forced to kill you.  That was a promise I intended to keep, not because I had promised you, I promised someone else I wouldn’t kill you, but you had to do this, you changed everything, and I have no other choice.  Are you still interested in my memories?  Why don’t you start with my memory of Agmong’s death, so you can see what happens to men who think they can use me.’  I moved the crystal with that memory to a place where Faakhir could see it.  At first he tried to ignore it, but his curiosity made him see.  ‘That’s the first time I did something like that, that I impaled someone and left him to die, but then I modified that technique and used again, until it was known as a Tree of Pain, the worst punishment I could think of for my enemies, the worst fate I could think of.  Congratulations Faakhir, you are one of the few chosen ones that will die in one of my trees, experiencing one of my most feared techniques, you will have a slow and painful death.’

‘I am not afraid of you, my guards won’t allow you to hurt me.  Your rebellion won’t end well.  I’m the one in control, and you will do what I tell you to do.  Before this day is over you will be mine in all sense of the word, and when I get tired of you, I will let my men use you until they are tired of you.’

‘And that’s why you have to die.’ Everything was under control inside my mind, but outside the situation was getting complicated and I wasn’t sure how much longer I could resist.  Before I had the chance to panic I heard a metallic sound and felt my powers coming back.  I started to act immediately, inside and outside of my mind.  ‘Would you like to see what I have in this chest?’ I asked him, trying to sound innocent, but Faakhir knew it was a trap, he wasn’t stupid.

‘No matter what your plan is, it won’t work.  You are done.’

‘You are not the first person to try to destroy me or control me.  Once they were able to hurt me, but not anymore.  There is a reason I am this strong, I became this powerful so I could end people like you.  Goodby Faakhir.’

I opened the chest, letting the light and the energy consume my mind.  As always the chest’s power consumed everything around me, consuming Faakhir and destroying his mental representation.  Faakhir’s cry reached me from outside my mind, and I knew that the agonizing pain would keep him occupied long enough for me to finish him, after all, my body was full of energy and I was back in control, I felt like I could defeat anyone who dared cross me.  The fear that had been pushing me was gone, all feeling of powerlessness was behind me, and once again I felt confident that everything was going to go according to plan.

Chapter 47

It was hard to open my eyes, I felt like I had been in the middle of a battle, one that I had lost.  The situation reminded me so much of my time under Agmong’s rule, that in any other occasion I would have gone into a panic attack, but I felt calm, because I could recognize the hands that were holding my hand, Kimball was with me, and as long as he was there, I knew I was safe.

“I’m glad to see that you are finally awake.  How are you feeling?” Kimball asked.  I could feel his relief at knowing I was waking up, and I wondered what had happened to me, I couldn’t remember any fights or anything that explained why I felt like crap.

“I felt like I was beaten, everything hurts.  What happened to me?”

“I’m afraid we made a mistake, we underestimated our enemies.  At some point, while we were investigating about the virus, one of them infected you.”  When he said that, I remembered feeling tired, and realized it was one of the symptoms, one I didn’t pay enough attention.  “You passed out last week while you were watching one of the parades Emily likes so much.  Fatima knew it was something bad, so she called me to help.  I managed to arrive just in time, the virus had already caused some damage, but nothing we couldn’t fix.  I’m afraid you will have to rest for a while, your body still need to recover.  I told the King and Queen that you won’t be able to join them in their tour, and that you will stay here as long as you need to fully recover.”

“And where is here?”

“I moved you to Mzani.  I thought it would be better for you to be here as long as you were sick.  Some of your allies stayed with you until I arrived, Soriya used her powers to keep you alive, and even Kgalefa helped a little bit, but it’s hard to explain, since both of them are supposed to be your enemies.  I know it’s not a good idea for any of them to stay paying you attention, Fatima managed to explain the situation, but still, we decided that it was best if I took you away from them.”

“Good thinking.  I will have to talk to them later and thank them for their help.  For the moment, I’m still not feeling well, I know I won’t be able to do much.  I hate to feel this weak and powerless, but at least here no one will see me like this,” I tried not to think about my collapse during the parade, I needed to focus on getting better.  “How long do you think it will take for me to get better?”

“Well, it depends, I think you need at least a week of rest before you even think about getting back.  Since both of them are still in their celebration tour, they won’t be back at Capital City for a long time, and that should buy you even more time if you need it.”

“Where’s Ethan?”

“He had to stay behind, I couldn’t find a good excuse to take him out of school again.  It seems that the headmaster is not happy with Ethan’s absences, and to be truthful, I was more worried about getting you out of enemy territory than of getting Ethan a few days off.  Mbali and Tau stayed behind with him, so I’m not worried about him.”

“I’m hungry, and sleepy,” I wanted to make an inventory of my body, but even something so basic was proving to be hard to do, I was too tired, and I was sure that my body was full of drugs that weren’t helping to my feeling of tiredness.

“I will go and grab something for you to eat, you can sleep for a while, I can wake you up once I return with food,” Kimball said, getting out of the room before I could protest.

I didn’t like feeling so vulnerable.  I knew that I was in a safe place, but I hated feeling helpless, and not being able to defend myself in case I needed.  I closed my eyes, but not because I was planning on sleeping, but because I needed to focus my powers so I could use them to check my body and try to get a reading of the damage the virus had caused.  As soon as I started, I realized the bigger problem was in my mind, not my body.  I called a mental representation to go deep into my mind to look for the damage, and I was surprised by what I found.  While I had been unconscious, fighting the virus, Faakhir’s presence in my mind had extended at an alarming rate.  Almost every part of mind focused on my time under Agmong’s rule was covered by Faakhir’s presence.

The damage was extensive, and I knew I had to take care of it before I could even think about getting close to Faakhir.  I wasn’t sure where he was, but I was pretty confident that he was far enough for me to be safe of his influence, most of the growth I was watching had to have happened after Faakhir left to continue his travel, which meant that he didn’t have knowledge of what I was hiding in that part of my mind, that would change if he got close enough to make contact with my mind.

I started working on getting rid of Faakhir’s presence in my mind, I knew it was a risk, he would notice I had found his influence and that I had freed myself of it, but I preferred that, to him getting so much access into my memories.  I knew he was going to get his influence back into my mind as soon as he could, and that he was going to get suspicious of me and my powers just knowing I had been able to push him out of my mind.  It was a risk, to show him my strength, but it wasn’t as bad as letting him in.

After a while I noticed that Kimball was trying to wake me up, but I was using both my mind to make sure I could get rid of every trace of Faakhir, so I couldn’t answer to Kimball’s call.  By the time I finished and broke my trance, Kimball was very worried thinking I was sick again.  I had to explain to him what had happened, what I had done, and why.

“You say that Faakhir was gone by the time you arrived, that he had to move to keep with the schedule that Emily had established for the celebrations,” I reminded him, I was trying to ease his mind, but also mine.

“That’s right, but we don’t know what he was able to see before leaving.”

“I don’t think he had a chance, an invasion like the one I found takes times, and it’s possible it even happened after you arrived.  I will be careful around him, when I finally see him again, and I will see how he reacts to knowing his presence is no longer in my mind.  There’s not much we can do right now, so there’s no point in worrying about it.”

“You need to be very careful, if you feel, even for a moment, that your mission was compromised, then we will change the plans, we can’t take any risks.”

I took a couple of weeks to get better, but it felt like much longer, I felt like I was never going to recover my strength.  It was thanks to Kimball that I was able to get better so fast, his energy regeneration was faster than mine, and he let me take his energy to feed mine after we had our training sessions.  Kimball said that a normal, non mutant person would take at least twice as long to recover, and I was happy I was able to get better faster, but still, it had been too long for me.

When I went back to Capital City, the King and Queen were still out, traveling, and that was fine with me, I had a lot of things to do that would be easier to do with them gone, like contacting my allies in the elite forces and getting information on what had happened while I was recovering.  The only problem was that as soon as I arrived at the palace, I had a feeling that something very bad was going to happen, a feeling that only got worse as time passed.  I wasn’t sure if the feeling was getting worse because of the imminent arrival or the King and Queen, or if it was something to do with time.

I tried to go into the fog of the future to see what was going to happen, but for the first time, I wasn’t able to find any answers, the fog was hard to read and I couldn’t travel any road in front of me, I could see them in front of me, but I couldn’t step into them.  I wasn’t sure if it was because of my sickness, or if something else was affecting me, but I knew I needed help to understand what was going on.  Melchizedek was, as always, my first thought, but he was too far away to help me, the next best choice was Sofia, but she was at Aquarium and establishing a safe communication was very complicated, and just not possible at that moment.  My other choice was Fatima, she was part of a family with a long tradition of seers, one that passed their knowledge from generation to generation.  Fatima was traveling with Emily, and I had to wait for her to arrive before I could ask her what was wrong with me.

One of the disadvantages of my powers was that I depended on them too much.  I was getting stressed by not knowing what was going to happen, and I couldn’t allow that, I needed to focus, I was just getting my strength back and I couldn’t waste it, but the feeling of unease was very taxing, and was making me feel out of control.  I knew that all I could do was to be careful and try to avoid dangerous situations.

The day Faakhir got back, I was immediately called to his presence.  I knew that early that day, or at least early for her, Emily had gone to the Congress to discuss new taxes and budgets, or how to steal more money from her people.  After the money she spent during the celebrations, the royal coffers were empty, and Emily didn’t care if the people was broke too, she wanted more and she was going to find a way to get it.

For the first time since I knew them, Faakhir wasn’t with her while she tried to squeeze more money from her people, he was usually by her side to keep her in check, not because he cared about the people they were taking money from, but because he was more aware of how much they could push without crossing the line.  But instead of being by her wife’s side, he had called me to his room with an urgent mission, he said that a problem had arisen during their trip and he needed me to take care of it immediately.  I had no idea what he needed, but I knew it couldn’t be anything good, and the whole situation had me worried.  The fact that he was rushing it, had me on edge, especially since I couldn’t go into the fog to try and see what was going on, I had to work blindly, and I didn’t like that.

“How are you?” Faakhir asked me as soon as I entered his room.  He was on the balcony having breakfast, and he looked very relaxed, not what I expected after he called for the emergency meeting.

“I’m much better, Kimball said we caught it just in time for the treatment to work.  A little later and I wouldn’t be here.”

“Then it was a good thing that you passed out when you did, that helped find the virus on time.”

“You could say that.”

“Are you sure you are feeling well?” Faakhir insisted, and I noticed that I wasn’t feeling well, I felt tired and slow, almost as if I had been drugged, but no one had touched me and I hadn’t eaten or drank anything since I arrived.  I watched Faakhir and I noticed his cold, satisfied smirk and I knew something was really wrong.  “Maybe you should take a seat,” he suggested, but there was a double edge in his words that I couldn’t comprehend.

I thought about refusing the seat, but before I could speak something pinched my arm, in the part that wasn’t covered by my cape, followed by the familiar feeling of electricity coursing through my body.  The electricity caused me to lose control of my body and I started falling, but before I hit the floor, Einar moved in front of me and caught me, moving me to the chair that Faakhir had told me to take.  I hadn’t even noticed that Einar was in the room, but that explained why I felt like I had been drugged, I was under the influence of his power.  Maybe it was because of that that I wasn’t thinking clearly, I knew that I could have used my powers to stop them, even after being paralyzed, but I didn’t, and that gave them time to put a power suppressor on me.

“All set, Your Majesty,” said another voice, one I recognized as Jacob’s.

“After your unfortunate accident, I realized you been lying to me.  How do you think it made me feel to discover that all our hot encounters were nothing but illusions you set for me?” Faakhir asked, and I realized that he had managed to get inside my mind after all.  I was afraid to find out what else he had found out, and if my plans were already compromised.  “It made me feel like a fool, and that’s something I won’t allow.  Don’t worry, we will make reality all those illusions you made for me, but first, we have to find out what else you have been hiding from me.”

I managed to overcome some of the paralysis and moved my hand to my necklace, I needed to try and activate the device Kimball had made for me so I could deactivate the suppressor, but before I could reach it, one of Faakhir’s guards took my hand and stopped me.

“Don’t even try, there is no way you will be able to take off the collar blocking your powers.  There is nothing you can do to escape,” Jacob whispered in my ear, and I knew he was right, at that moment I was at their mercy, there was nothing I could do but wait and hope that they wouldn’t have a chance to hurt me.

Chapter 46

My assignment had been an easy one, I had just gone to talk to Sofia’s loyal guard in his prison cell, then faked his death, taken him to a safe place, and then talked to Sofia to ask where she had sent the jewels that Emily wanted, and she had given me all the information I needed.  Most of the jewelry that I found was hundred of years old, and Sofia had thought that someone like Emily didn’t deserve them, she had taken them away, thinking of using them to pay for the rebelion efforts against her daughter, but she never had the chance.  Talking to her, we both concluded that it would be less dangerous to people, if we just gave Emily what she wanted, or she would keep going after people loyal to Sofia, trying to get the information she wanted.

I had arrived back with the treasure one day before the celebrations started.  All the city was getting ready for it, it was such a waste of power and resources.  I could see people working from dawn to dusk making sure everything was ready for the celebrations, and I could already see that it was going to be spectacular.  It looked like all Emily could think about was how to make parties and celebrations, and each one I attended was bigger than the last, even if every time it was harder to find the resources needed to make Emily designs come true, people was running out of thinks, soon they wouldn’t be able to produce what she wanted.  Trucks loaded with exotic food were arriving at the Palace, even as people were dying of starvation on the streets, thousands of yards of fabrics and precious furs were being used to upholster the city, even as people were walking around in clothes so old they were falling apart, expensive and aromatic wood was being shipped there to prepare bonfires, in a city where most of the inhabitants were dying of cold, statues and monuments were being built by the same people that didn’t have a roof over their heads.  I knew things were getting worse day by day, and I knew people was not far from reaching their tipping point, they wouldn’t be able to stand their treatment for much longer.

For the first time in months, all of the elite forces were together in the same place.  The Dominion’s army was huge, but the elite part of it was just short of two hundred members.  Most of them were loyal to Faakhir, a few of them were only truly loyal to Emily, but another part was loyal to me.  It had started with Ivan, but little by little I had found more warriors that had the same goals as me.  About a fourth of them were on my side, not much, but they were the most powerful of the bunch, and they represented some of the key territories in the Dominion.

The celebrations were going to last for several days, and, as usual, it was going to start with a parade in honor of the King and Queen, and it was going to include people from all over the Dominion.  Just twenty of the elite warriors were with them, the others were all around the place, making sure there weren’t going to be any issues.  Half of the warriors on the box with us, were loyal to me, and that made me feel safer.  For a long time I had been surrounded only by enemies, but having allies around made me feel like I could accomplish my goals.  I had followers on all levels of the army, but I knew that it was important to have the leaders on my side, when the moment arrived, I needed the commanders to take my side, because they would be the ones that would move the people in the right direction.

“Isn’t this awesome?” Emily asked, to no one in particular.  “People from all over the Dominion is here to celebrate with us.”

“Is what you deserve, it is your right to rule over them, and they know it,” Faakhir said.

I knew that most of the people in the parade didn’t want to be there.  Emily lived under the illusion that only because she was the daughter of the Queen, she deserved everything she wanted, and that the people had to love her for that.  She really believed that the Dominio’s people’s only goal should be to make her happy and fulfill her every whim.  I was getting sick just by listening to her talking, and feeling superior to everyone around her.  People in the Dominion usually referred to people in the Empire as uncivilized and barbarians, but the truth was that we weren’t much different.  I knew that if Caracalla had managed to win the throne, he would have been as bad as Emily, but my brother Trajan was a good ruler, he was tough and unforgiving, but fair and he actually cared for his people.  He was loved by his people, and respected by everyone, not because he was feared for his powers or the damage he could do with them, but because of the way he acted, and for the way he acted.

After hours watching what appeared to be an endless parade, we finally moved back inside for the rest of the celebration.  As soon as we entered, the rich aroma of the different dishes greeted us.  The quantity of food available was impressive, several of the regional rulers were there for the celebration, and all the Representatives and embassadors, but still, I knew that most of the food wouldn’t be eaten, and I suspected that the same waste was going to happen the next day.

“Will you have to stay here until night?”  Kimball asked, when we crossed paths in our way inside.

“I think so, you know how they are, they want to show everyone how powerful they are, and a room full of warriors will do that, that’s the kind of display they like.”

“This is all very impressive,” Kimball said, admiring the place, “and also an insult to all the rulers and the people who had to sacrifice their resources so they could have their party.”  I felt a few other warriors walking close to us, and knowing they were loyal to Faakhir, I decided to play a little and give them something they could take to Faakhir and would make me look good to him.

“This is just another example of the King’s and Queen’s power.  This is to show off how powerful and rich they really are.  This is another sign that Faakhir is superior to any other man in the Dominion.”

“Do you want me to stay here until this is over?  Or do you prefer that I go early?” Kimball asked me, he grabbed me by the arm and pulled me close to him so he could whisper the questions in my ear, I knew that to the others, it would look like we were fighting.  It was all part of the act.

“I would feel better if you go early.  You know how Faakhir is when you are close by, he will feel like he needs to prove something, and he will become more possessive.  It’s better if we don’t attract more attention to ourselves,” I answered, also whispering, before pushing him away and storming to my place behind Faakhir.

I saw Kimball moving away, pretending to be angry, and I saw a satisfied smirk on Faakhir’s face, that luckily, Emily didn’t notice, the last thing I needed was for Emily to turn her attention to me and her good mood to end. I took my place among the rest of the elite warriors.  I had to accept that the image that we presented, all dressed in combat gear, was pretty impressive, and scary.  I could see that we were an intimidating sight, and most people were uneasy by the display.

For a long time, the rulers of the different countries of the Dominion went to present their respect to the King and Queen, it was the perfect occasion to see who was really loyal to them, and who was just going because they had no other option.  Most of them had a pretty good mind defense, and it was near impossible to read their minds, and they were very good at controlling their faces not to betray their emotions, but I could read their emotions, it was something they couldn’t fake or hide. I couldn’t feel some of them approaching them with fear, others with awe, some with envy, some with admiration.  As they paraded in front of them, I read their emotions and recorded them for later, when I could use the information to look for more allies for my cause.

The celebrations went on till midnight, and it was late when the King and Queen finally retired to their room, leaving us free to do the same.  Some of us were going to stay to guard the place, but I was able to retire, which was good since I was exhausted by the end of the day.  It was very late when I finally arrived, but I found Kimball waiting for me.

“How are you?” He asked, as soon as he saw me, and he offered a cup of tea to me, something I usually didn’t like, but that I was grateful for, at that moment.

“I’m exhausted, for some reason.  I think that finally everything I have done is catching up with me, you know, going for Greca, looking for the virus people, then the treasure.  I haven’t been able to stop for a long time and for some reason this time it affected me.”

“I think it must be how stressful this all is.  I know that you are getting tired of waiting, of having everything in its place, but soon we will be able to move and take control of the Dominion.  I think you won’t be able to really rest until this is done.”

“I talked to Sofia and William, and both of them are desperate to move Emily out of the throne and claim their rightful places.”

“Soon.  But for now, you need your rest, you can’t keep going like this without a proper rest.  And tomorrow will be another long day.”

“A long week.  It’s incredible the amount of activities they have planed for this celebration.  There are so many things to do, and they are wasting their time in this frivolous party.  I was expecting some uprisings on the Dominion, since most of the leaders are here, but so far everything is calm.  I even talked to Fatima and she hadn’t noticed anything going on this week, but she says there is a crossroad approaching, one we haven’t noticed, but that was highlighted after we took care of the people working with the virus.  I feel like we are forgetting something important, or maybe we caused some rift with our actions, I don’t know, but I’m too tired to investigate the fog of the future.”

“You once told me that if it’s something big, that’s going to affect us directly, then one of your visions is going to warn you with enough time to take action.  I think that for now, all you need to worry about is getting as much sleep as you can before going back.”

For a moment I thought of protesting, but I was tired, so I finished my tea and went to bed.  I felt like no time had passed between the moment I fell asleep and when Kimball woke me up to prepare for the day.  At least the day’s activities were going to start late in the day, but we needed to go and prepare for the day hours before they woke up.

By the time the week had ended, I was beyond exhausted.  As the week progressed, I was getting more and more tired, but I thought it was just a consequence of all the things I had done, and of having to endure the festivities required by their greed and boredom.  Once the celebrations ended, Emily decided to accept the invitations of many of the regional leaders and local rulers around the Dominion that wanted to make celebrations in their honor, and decided to organize new visits to those places so she could enjoy more celebrations in her honor.  The new schedule wasn’t as bad, since we were going to visit places where the people wasn’t as active against them, mostly because the local rulers being better as suppressing any rebellions.

I wanted to stay behind, because not all of us would be able to travel with Emily and her husband, but they decided that I needed to go, and I couldn’t say no, I guessed that I could take the opportunity to investigate more about the different rulers and try to decide who could be converted, controlled, and who needed to be neutralized.  I was feeling more and more desperate to finish my plans, time was moving too fast, and I was reaching a point where I was going to make do with whatever resources I had at that moment, instead of keep trying to get more.

During the next days we traveled from city to city, attending more parades and banquets, until I had to recognize that I wasn’t well, I was too tired, and that could only mean that I was sick, and getting worse.  I felt like even my powers were getting weaker, and that was something I couldn’t allow, it would put me at risk.  I was looking for a good excuse so I could go back to Capital City and get Kimball to help me, but I never had the chance, during one of the endless parades, I couldn’t endure the heat, and I passed out, but I never woke up, I just went into a coma, unable to recover.