Chapter 41

I was standing in front of the living room’s windows.  The vision I had earlier that night had me worried.  I had gotten up from bed without waking Kimball up, something that didn’t usually happen, but something I was grateful for, since I needed a moment alone.

When my mother had died, I had been in charge of her protection, and had failed.  When my father had died, I had seen his death, but had failed to stop it from happening, even if I had since learned that some deaths were inevitable, I still considered that as my failure.  Now I had knowledge that my brother was going to die, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.  I knew that what was to come couldn’t be changed, but still it hurt me.  His time was running out and I had lost years hiding from him, thinking that I would have time later, always later, to be with him again and recover our relationship.

The color in the sky was changing, it was almost dawn.  I felt someone next to me, and I turned, expecting to see Kimball, but it was Ethan who I found, moving closer to hug me.  A wave of serenity descended over me, and it wasn’t until that moment that I realized how affected I was by the vision.

“What happened?  I could feel your pain and sadness all the way to my room.”

“I had a vision, something very bad is going to happen.  My brother…” Ethan didn’t say a word, but I felt the peaceful sensation vanish and the brush of his mind against mine.  I didn’t want to talk, I wasn’t prepared to talk about my vision out loud, so I let Ethan get into my mind and see the vision that had affected me so much.  His arms wrapped around me tighter and the peacefulness returned.  “Thank you, but you shouldn’t worry about me.”

“I know you like to pretend you are untouchable, but I know you, mom, and I know that this situation is hurting you for more than one reason.  If you are here sitting in the dark, instead of gathering your forces, then you must know there is nothing you can do to prevent what is going to happen, am I right?”  He didn’t wait for my answer, he must have seen the answer in my face, or my attitude.  “What can you do?”

“I think I can go to the Empire, I want to see my brother one last time, at least have a proper goodbye.”

“I’m sure that won’t be a problem.”

“I have taken a lot of time off, we just returned from the Light Kingdom a couple of months ago.”

“After your help with Camil, I’m sure they won’t say no to you leaving to see your brother.”

“I don’t know,” but even as I said that, I knew that I would find a way to go, even if there wasn’t much time left.  “First, I need to go into the fog, take a look, make sure that what I saw was accurate, and see how much time we have left.”

“I’ll go wake up my father, and then I will help him cook breakfast, don’t take long.”

Ethan left, but even if his power was going with him, I was already feeling better.  In part it was because I had a plan of action, and the feeling that I was actually doing something kept me calm.  I had made a lot of mistakes in my life, and I had a lot of regrets, leaving my brother behind was one of them, and I knew that I needed to be with him one more time, no matter what happened after, no matter if I couldn’t change his future, just being able to talk to him, to see him face to face one last time, would help me deal with his death.

Kimball didn’t come to talk to me right away, I heard him talking to Ethan and then the noise from the kitchen as they cooked.  When I went into the kitchen there was a feast already waiting for me.

“Do you want me to start arrangement to travel to the Empire?” Kimball asked.

“Frist I need to go talk to Fatima, maybe even Sofia, to have a better read on the situation, and depending on the time frame we get, I will have to work on some plans.”

“As you wish, but you know I’m here for whatever you need.”

“I know.”

Breakfast was delicious, and both Kimball and Ethan gave me the space I needed to think and let my worries go, at least for the moment.  Since I couldn’t just ignore my responsibilities, even less if I planned to go away for a while, I went to my office and started working.  I asked for Fatima to be go see me in the first available space in my schedule, and then I asked her to join me on the walk through the fog, to help me keep track of time and direction.

From what I could see in my short walk, I just had a couple of weeks, it was longer than the time frame I had gotten from other visions.  I also confirmed that there was nothing I could do to avoid that outcome, any try would only make things worse.  While I was in the fog, and before I had a chance to exit it, I was hit with a flurry of visions that gave me a glimpse into what would happen in the next few years.  I could avoid being trapped by the visions, thanks to Fatima’s help, but in the meantime I got some useful information.

I worked alone for the rest of the day, not even going to eat, instead asking for my meal to be taken to my office.  During the afternoon William arrived, at first I got worried that there was a problem that could affect my plans, but I should have already guessed that Sofia knew about it, and she had warned William what was going to happen.

“How long will you be gone?” he asked, right to the point.

“I don’t know.  A few days, maybe a week.”

“Take as long as you need, I’m sure that everything would be fine here, we can handle the Dominion without you for a few days.”

“How is Camil?”

“It’s a little difficult for him to assimilate everything, but other than that, he is fine.  He knows a lot about how to rule and care for people, and his moral compass is very good.  Even if he is a little young, I’m sure he could take the throne without issues.”

“And how do you feel about it?  Won’t it be hard to leave your position?”

“I don’t know.  Truth is, I’ve grown used to the position and I like what I do, at the same time, I know Camil is the true heir.  You could say that I’m happy with the work I have done, but if people decide it’s time for me to let go, then that’s what I’m going to do.  I won’t cling to the throne knowing it’s not mine, that’s what my sister did and I won’t be like her, I won’t do something that could harm my country or my family.”

“That’s good to know, but I don’t think you will have to worry about that for a while yet.”

“That’s right, but anyway, it’s not something you should worry about, just focus on your family that I will take care of things here.”

“Thanks, William,” despite our difficulties, or maybe because of that, I knew I could trust William to do his best to help me, but that didn’t help me feel better about leaving for an extended period of time.

I stayed in my office, going over all my current projects, trying to do as much as possible before having to leave, at least until Kimball arrived and dragged me away.

“We have to prepare to leave in three days,” I asked Kimball once we arrived at our home.

“Ok, I will start working on it tomorrow.  Is there someone you would like to take with us?”

“I was thinking… we have talked about what could happen once I stop being the Prime Minister, and after my vision last night, I think we need to start working on having a representation in the Empire.  I haven’t talked to the Mzansi’s rulers, but I think we should make the Shadow Clan part of the Empire.”

“Is that even possible?  We keep away from them as much as possible, most of them don’t even know or believe we exist.”

“We can make it possible.  First step is to get at least three allies that are already part of the Empire.”

“We have a few alliances with people on the coast.”

“Yes, but for what I’m planning, we need better ones, I was thinking maybe we could send Ethan…”

“What?”  Kimball interrupted.

“Ethan is the closest you have to a Shadow’s heir, at least you want to take the position yourself, so I was thinking of sending him to talk to Dendro, and maybe another few clans, about the possibility of an alliance.”

“Isn’t that dangerous?”

“Dendro would never hurt him, not if he knows he is my son.”

“And what about the others?  Who are you thinking about?  No, it would be better if I go myself.”

“I think this is a great opportunity for Ethan, a way for him to connect to his imperialist’s roots.  Besides, he wouldn’t be alone, we would send a group of people capable of protecting him.  I think Ethan is ready, and it would be good for him.”

“I don’t want him at risk.”

“He needs to test himself, and we need to show him we believe in him.  I have a few ideas of who could be potential allies for the Shadow Clan, but you know that if I go myself it would only cause more trouble, not just for me, but for you.  I know it won’t be easy to convince Kgosi of this, but if I can, it will help us a lot in the future.  This way I wouldn’t have to go back to the Imperial Clan, we could go as the Shadow’s representatives.  I’m not sure why, but I feel that this is something we have to do.”

“And as always, it’s better to listen to your instincts than to suffer the consequences later.  If you think that’s best, then you should talk to the King and the Elders Council, and talk to Ethan, after you make sure it’s a good idea.”

Luckily, everyone liked the idea.  Kgosi resisted at first, but then the idea of having some kind of representation in the Empire ended up winning him.  The Elders not only liked the idea, but they fully supported me sending Ethan, and despite Kgosi resistance, they accepted, and even expanded my list of reasons for why it was a good idea to have Ethan represent them.  I knew that Zola already considered Ethan one of the future leaders of Mzansi, she had invited him to Council’s sessions a few times, and I knew she liked to spend time with him when he visited.

Once they had accepted, I only had to talk to Ethan.  I was aware that he knew I was planning something, but I was sure he thought it was all related to what was going on with my brother, and didn’t suspect he was involved in my plans.  When I finally decided to talk to him, I had him sent to my office, so Kgosi, who was connected via conference call, and I could talk to him officially.  He was absolutely surprised by this, and I could see how he thought he was in trouble, and was going over everything he had done the last few weeks looking for something that could have landed him in trouble.

“Did you call me?” he asked, and I had to recognize his strength, even if I could feel his fear, his voice and attitude didn’t betray any of it.

“That’s right,” I said, “we have something we want to discuss with you.  As you know, tomorrow I will go to the Empire to speak to my brother,” Ethan nodded, letting us know he was aware of that part of my plans, “what’s happening with my brother, among other things, had made me realize that we need to have a presence in the Empire, but not one that depends on me, but one that has more to do with Mzansi and the Shadow Clan.”

“Your mother convinced us that it was a good idea, and since she knows the procedure we need to follow to become recognized by the Empire, we need to follow her suggestions.  The first step is to be recognized by other clans and form alliances with them,” Kgosi explained.

“I don’t think is a good idea for me to forge those alliances, if we want a true and lasting relationship between them and the mzansiers, or the Shadows, then it can’t be me who goes there.  That’s why we decided that the first contact should be done by someone they can recognize as an heir,” I had been feeling Ethan’s confusion, but at those words, I felt his hope, not that he let it show in his face.  “That’s why we called you.  I think you are the right person to take that first step, you represent something they will recognize and you have the strength to represent your clan appropriately.”

“Of course I would like to do that, it would be an honor,” Ethan said, “but what about school?”

“You will lose only a few days, and we all know you will have no problem making up for lost time.  Of course, we can’t force you to do this, so you have to decide if you want to do it or not.  I’m pretty sure that you won’t have any trouble, and this could even be a good opportunity for you to test your powers and how far you can stretch them, even so, you have to decide if you want to take that risk.”

“Then yes, I will be ready to leave as soon as possible.”

“Not so fast.  As you will be representing our clan, there are a few things I would like to discuss with you first,” Kgosi said, “privately if possible,” I knew there were some things they needed to discuss, and I wasn’t offended that he wanted me gone, not coming from Kgosi.

“I will give you some privacy then.  Ethan, you know how all of this works, so I leave it in your hands, and I’ll see you later.”

I left Ethan to his meeting and went looking for Kimball, who was working on getting everything ready for our trip.  As time went by I was getting more nervous, and also madder.  I had told myself that all I needed was to talk to my brother one more time, but as I was preparing everything to go to the Empire, I wondered if that would really be enough.  I had let many years go by, and even if I couldn’t regret all I had done in that time, I could feel bad for everything I had turned my back to.  Trajan had always been good to me, he had supported me and been by my side to the end.  How would it be to see him again?

I didn’t have time to think about that, I had a trip to prepare for, and that included going to Fatima and Sofia and having another walk through the fog, not only because I needed to find a safe way to reach Trajan, but because I needed to make sure that the mission I was sending Ethan to, was safe, I couldn’t allow something I was asking him to do to cause him harm.

I had known for a while that Ethan felt less than his sisters, that he felt he needed to prove himself, and that mission was going to help him show what he was capable of, and it would also be a way for as to recognize how far he had gotten.  But no matter how much I trusted him or how much I respected his power, I knew that even the strongest of warriors could have problems, and I wasn’t going to allow my decisions or actions to cause him harm, no matter how minimum it was.

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Chapter 39

The trip back to the Dominion was very different, we all could feel Sofia’s happiness, but Camil emotions were harder to read.  One moment he was happy, then worried, then angry or even scared.  His face didn’t betray any emotion, and because of that Sofia didn’t see them, or chose not to, anyway.

“Do you want me to use my powers to calm him down?” Ethan asked mid trip.

“No, he is too used to Melchizedek’s influence, it will be good for him to be able to experience his emotions freely.”

“Your friends are very nice,” Kimball said.  “I’m glad to know you had them to help you through your hard times.”

“You have no idea how grateful I am for having Melchizedek and his family in my life.  Some of the best memories I have, are from the time I spent with them.  I have no idea what I would have done if Melch hadn’t been there to teach me how to use my clairvoyance powers.”

We spent the rest of the journey sharing memories, even Sofia and Camil joined us at some point.  Even if the chat was light and happy, Camil was getting more nervous as we approached our destination.  We knew it wasn’t a good idea to take him directly to the Dominion, so we were taking him to one of his family’s castles, Sofia was going to be with him, teaching him about our society and giving him time to get used to the Dominion.  At first we had considered taking him to Aquarium, but he didn’t need a secure place like that, there were no longer any threats against him.

We stayed at the castle one night, in part to make sure Camil felt at easy, in part to make sure everything was ok, but at the next day we continued our way to Capital City.  As soon as we landed, a car approached the plane, and William came out to greet us.

“Black lady, it’s good to have you back.”

“William, what a surprise, I didn’t expect you to come welcome us.”

“You know I didn’t want to leave the Dominion with just one of us here, but now that you arrived, I think there won’t be a problem if I go visit my mother and nephew.”

“No, I don’t think it will be, take as long as you need.”

“Thanks, Kaiserin,” I could tell he had a lot of questions, but instead of asking, he turned around and went into his car, without even bothering to greet Kimball or Ethan.

“I’m surprised he wasn’t at the castle to greet his family,” Ethan said, coming to where I was standing.

“Someone had to be here, one of us gone is no problem, but two of us is another matter,” I said.

“It’s not like your work intercedes that often, you all have different tasks to do.”

“Still, we always have to be prepared in case something unexpected happens, the Dominion is a huge place, and there are many scenarios that need the attention of all of the Dominion’s leaders,” Kimball explained.

“We have been lucky, there haven’t been any crisis lately, but that’s not a reason to neglect our responsibilities,” I said, but I couldn’t help but recall all the occasions I had left the Dominion to take care of personal problems, or just because I needed some rest.

We didn’t wait to see William leave, we went directly to the Palace, back to real life.  Even if I wasn’t officially back until the next day, I couldn’t help but go to my office to check my messages and make sure nothing had happened while I was gone.  Even if it had been just a few days, I couldn’t help but feel unease, I wasn’t sure if I was just feeling guilty about leaving, or if it was something else, but I knew that it was better to make sure everything was fine, instead of taking unnecessary risks.

Ethan had been more and more interested in my work, and anything related to the government, so it didn’t surprise me when he asked to go with me, and I didn’t bother trying to tell him no, I knew that any training he could get by my side would be useful for him in the future, no matter what path he decided to take.

Everything was just as I expected, the reports and files were what I would normally find on my desk, nothing out of place, mostly just routine work, but still, that didn’t make me feel better.

“What are you worried about?” Ethan asked.

“Nothing specific, I just had a feeling something was wrong, but maybe I’m just feeling guilty for all the time I was away, leaving my people unattended.”

“Isn’t the Dominion’s advantage the fact that it is just a regulatory body?  Once all the rules are set and the programs are running, most of the work is done by the different countries, you only have to make sure everything is going as planned, just supervising work.”

“That’s a rather simplistic way of explaining it, but you are right, if our work is done well, then sooner or later we reach an equilibrium where everything is fine.  Of course, we still have to be on our guard in case something unexpected happens, like a conflict between nations or a natural disaster, that’s when we really need to work.”

“But right now, everything is fine, right?”

“That’s right.  I think I just needed to make sure by myself to be calm, we only were away for a few days, still the trip was not something planned, and we had only returned from Aquarium, so I feel like I’m not doing my job, that I’m leaving my responsibilities.”

“Have it ever occurred to you that you take on too many responsibilities?” Ethan said, and I could tell he was serious, and even if his words were sincere and his worry was real, I couldn’t help but laugh.

“If you want to rule one day, you can’t think like that.”

“You know I’m not talking about that, I know your main responsibility comes from being the Prime Minister, but still, you worry about things going on in other places, first it was only the Empire, but sometimes is what’s going on with the Allied Clans, and not what happens in the Light Kingdom.”

“I’m a Seeress, Ethan, if I have a vision about something going on in any of those places, then I’m going to worry, but you know that most of the time I don’t even have to interfere.”

“I really admire everything you do, still I think you could take it a little easier.”

“I’ll try,” I said, mostly just to calm him, but in part I knew he was right.

We went back to our side of the Palace and I went to rest, but the next morning I was still feeling uneasy and I knew that it wasn’t my imagination, I couldn’t keep telling myself it was just guilt, what I was feeling was a premonition, and that meant something bad was about to happen.

While we were having breakfast the feeling got worse, and then I noticed that Kimball was receiving messages.  My fears were confirmed when one of my assistants arrived, followed by a couple of my guards.

“I’m so sorry for interrupting your breakfast,” Keith apologized, “but there is a situation that requires your attention.”

“No need to apologize,” I said, as I took one last bite, and got up from my seat, I looked at Kimball, waiting to see his reaction, he didn’t hesitate, he said goodbye to Ethan and got up after me.  “Can this wait until we are in the office?  Or do you want to explain what’s going on right now?”

“I think it would be better if I can explain at the office,” he said.

It didn’t take long to get to the office, and as soon as we arrived, I took my place at the desk, with my guards, who had followed us from the moment we left the Suite, taking their places around the room and outside of the door, while Kimball took his position behind me.

“I think that you can tell me what’s going one now.”

“We got some reports that one country is not paying taxes, when we asked about them, the King said that they are tired of the Dominion taking everything from them, and decided to declare their independence, and war to us.  Everything is here,” he added, giving me a stack of reports with a detailed explanation of everything that had happened.

“Just when William decides to take a few days, this happens,” I said.  “I suppose we will need to call the President, she will want to discuss about what to do, and we can’t agree on a course of action, then we will have to interrupt William’s family reunion, but not until it’s necessary.”

“Do you want me to call the President?” my assistant asked.

“Please, as soon as she can come,” he left the room right away and I was sure that it wouldn’t be long before the President arrived.

“We knew something like that would happen sooner or later,” Kimball said.

“But I didn’t think it would be in such an aggressive way.”

“What are you going to do about this?”

“You know that I had already been thinking about giving them the choice to leave the Dominion if they wanted, so I think I will give them what they want,” I said.

“Something tells me it won’t be that easy” Kimball said, his voice suspicious.

Not long after someone knocked on the door, and a moment later, President Yu walked into the office.

“Good morning,” she greeted me formally.

“Good morning.  I guess you already know what’s going on.”

“Of course, I was informed about it early this morning, in fact, I already programed this issue to be discussed in the Congress.  I know it’s your job to deal with this directly, but we also need to go over the situation and see alternatives.”

“We had already talked about this, when you took over Dante, even if it was superficially.  I think it’s time to change the law to open the possibility of countries leaving the Dominion if they want.”

“Do you really think that’s a good idea?  The Dominion’s power resides in our union.”

“Before Emily took charge, not every country was part of the Dominion, and even those who were, had more freedom than they have now, as far as I know.”

“You’re right, but despite all the problems Emily caused, there were a few good things, and one is that as long as everyone is under the Dominion, they have to follow the same rules as everyone else.  If a country gets outside of the Dominion, then they will be able to do whatever they want and we won’t be able to do anything about it.  All they want right now is independence, but, what would happen if they decide they need more territory?  Or if they start taking what is not theirs?”

“If they do, then they will get exactly what it means to fight the Dominion.  Any aggression against their neighbors will be dealt with all of our force.  Besides, after a while they will realize just how hard it is to be without our support.”

“You might be right, but I don’t like this situation.”

“You said you are going to discuss this on the session today, tell them about my plans, lets see what they say about this.  Give me some time, and I will go and present my point of view directly to them, and if they decide to support me, I will present a series of proposals on how to proceed.  Obviously we can’t use the same rules that were used before Emily, because we are no longer in the same situation, and we need to make sure what the advantages and disadvantages of being part of the Dominion are.”

“That seems fair enough.  I will leave you to your work, I will tell you at what time you can address the Congress.”

“Thank you.”

“Have you talked to William?”

“Not yet, but I will, soon, for the moment he is with Sofia, dealing with some family issues.”

“We don’t need him right now, but we need to keep him updated.”

Yu walked left the room, and Kimball moved to the other side of the desk, to the place that Yu had just left.

“While we work on the situation, we should move our troops to the border, to keep the situation under control,” Kimball suggested.

“That could be taken as an aggression and cause things to escalate.”

“Maybe, but they already declared war, and just the act of leaving the Dominion could be taken as an act of aggression.”

“Not necessarily.  But you are right, we need to take precautions.  Sent some people to make sure they have no surprises waiting for us, they shouldn’t have any weapons, but it’s better if we check on that.  If they want to leave the Dominion, then we will make an example out of them, they will help us show that we won’t force anyone to be part of us, but they will also help us highlight the advantages and disadvantages of the Dominion.”

Chapter 38

Sofia’s words caused a deep silence.  For a moment I wasn’t sure if I should speak up, or wait for her to keep talking, but Camil was the one who broke the silence.

“I really need you to start at the beginning.  I don’t understand what’s going on.”

“You know why the Higth Priests are interested in you, there are some rumors running around about you being related to them, that you share the same lineage.”

“Do you mean Camil and I are related?” Mistral asked, alarmed.

“No, that’s what they think,” I assured her, “but they are wrong.  Camil has royal blood, but from a different royal family.  In fact, he is from a place on the other side of the sea.”

“There’s nothing on the other side,” Camil said confidently.

“When the Great War started, communication between the old and new continents was cut.  Once things stabilized again and a new society emerged from the ashes of the old one, they decided that there was no reason to resume communication.  But we knew about you, even if you forgot about us,” Sofia said.  “In our land things are very different, but at the same time very complicated.  I think that is best if I start from the beginning.  When the world was destroyed, new societies started to rise again using extinct systems, many societies went back to follow ruling monarchies…”

“Is it really necessary to start from that far back?” I asked Sofia.

“Our royal blood wasn’t the most pure,” she kept going, ignoring my interruption, “but our family was well known, and our nation didn’t hesitate to follow our lead.  As time went by, many countries started with the idea of the Dominion, it was supposed to be a bridge between all of us, to be a mediator between all of us.  We tried to copy the system that most countries had adopted, and we mirrored their ruling systems, but even if many had gone back to have a ruling monarchy, our family moved to be the Dominion’s monarchy, but in charge of justice, mostly because of our family gift, because we were not only well known and loved, we had also doubled as human lie detectors, that made us good judges, capable of knowing if people was telling the truth or trying to fool us.”

“Human lie detectors?” Camil asked, he was realizing that was an ability he was very familiar with.

“Every generation, from the moment our family became the Dominion’s main monarchy, had had an ability related to that.  My son William, the current King can use his powers to make sure that any question he asks is answered with the truth and nothing but the truth, my son Charles, your father, could hear the truth hiding behind the lies he was being told,” Sofia explained, staring at Camil, waiting for his reaction, but he wasn’t the first one to react.

“You always say you can see when someone is not telling the truth,” Mistral said.  “What does this means?”

“That means that Camil is Charles’ son, and that I’m his grandmother.  This means he belongs with us in the Dominion and he was to come with us and takes his rightful position as King of the Dominion.”

“No!  You can’t just come here and decide for him, he belongs here with us,” Mistral protested.

“This was going to happen sooner or later,” Melchizedek explained, “his place, no matter how much I would like otherwise, is with his family and his people.  But none of us would make him do something against his will, he is the one who needs to decide what he wants to do with the rest of his life, he needs to think about what he wants to do with the information he is going to learn today.”

“Mistral, you saw what happened today, it’s not safe for me, or for you, if I stay here,” Camil said, “still, I would like to know how is that I ended up here if I’m supposed to be  from a far away place.  And if I’m some kind of prince, why no one came for me?  Where are my parents?”

“Those are valid questions,” I said, “but I’m afraid you won’t like the answers.  The first thing you need to know is that your parents are dead.”

“My son Charles died before you were even born,” Sofia added, “and as far as we know, your mother died giving birth to you.  And the reason you and your mother were in this kingdom, and not in ours, is because of my daughter Emily.  Your father was a great person and a good leader, Emily on the other hand was a greedy, damaged woman.  She was my first born, but I knew she wasn’t the right person to sit in the throne, so I abdicated in favor of your father, because I knew he was going to be great.  The problem is that Emily didn’t accept that, and she decided to kill her own brother so she could take back what she thought was hers.”

“That’s horrible!” Mistral said, putting her arms around Camil, in a show of support.  I could feel how affected she was by the revelation, and I knew she thought that if something not related to her was affecting her so much, that it would be even worse for Camil, and her first impulse was to comfort him, like the good girl she was, she was giving him what she would have wanted in a similar situation.

“Are you saying my aunt killed my father?” Camil’s voice was strong, and at first glance you would think he wasn’t affected by the revelation, but I could feel that inside him his emotions were all over the place.

“And she would have killed you if she had known about you.  Your mother managed to escape and reached this place, but she knew that if she went back, then you would be in danger, so she took refuge in this place and then left you in the care of the Light ones.”

“That sound like the truth, but the Hight Priests are convinced that I’m the son of one of the princesses, why?”

“The woman who took care of you your first years, was my cousin’s maid.  When my cousin became pregnant, out of wedlock, and to a man her parents, both High Priests, would never approve of, she knew she was destined to end up in the Shadowlands, with her daughter sharing the same fate, if not an even worse, so they came up with a plan to make Luzian pass as the maid’s daughter.  She pretended to be pregnant, the plan had been to pretend she was her daughter, but then you arrived and the plan changed, she took you in, because she knew that if the High Priests decided to come looking, she could pass you as my cousin’s son, and keep Luzian safe,” Melchizedek explained.

“Are you ok?” Mistral asked, worried, because even if she wasn’t an empath, she could feel how Camil was being affected by the revelations, no matter how stoic he was acting.

“Everything I thought I knew about myself, my past, even my identity has changed, everything has been a lie, and I don’t even know who I am anymore.  I feel like the ground under me is collapsing and I can’t find something to hold on,” Camil said in a tone that didn’t betray how affected he really was.

“I understand how you feel perfectly,” Mistral said, and Camil showed emotion for the first time, he was surprised for a moment, until he realized that Mistral was going through the same thing, both had the blindfolds taken from their eyes and were facing a new reality, one very different from what they had believed up until then.

“You’re right, I’m sorry, you just learned a lot about yourself, it seems we are in the same boat.”

“I get this is difficult for you and if the situation was different…” Sofia started, then cut herself.  “All these years I tried not think of you, not because I didn’t love you or cared about you, but because I wanted you to be safe. When Kaiserin finally stopped Emily and punished her for all of her crimes, my first impulse was to go looking for you, but my visions let me know that you were well, and happy, and what right did I have to take you from the only life you have known?  But things have changed, and I couldn’t stay away knowing you were in danger.”

“We both got a vision, that I’m sure Melchizedek also shares, letting us know you were in danger.  We are here because of that.  I know I told you we are here to take you with us, but it’s your choice.  After what just happened, you have to know that the High Priests consider you a threat and won’t stop with anything to keep the status quo.  Our goal is to make sure you are safe, and well, but there are more than one way to achieve that goal.”

“I don’t want you to leave,” Mistral said, breaking the silence that had fallen over us, “but if you really are in danger, then you have to do what’s best for you, no matter what.”

“You thought different a few days ago,” Camil said.

“A few days ago I didn’t know what I know now, a few days ago, no, a few minutes ago my whole life was different.  Things are no longer white and black, everything has changed and now I see all shades of gray, and I don’t like this new picture.”

“I’m really sorry this is happening to you,” I said sincerely, “I would like to tell you we have time, but all I could do was a short time memory wipe of the man following you, and sooner or later he will find another thing to blame Camil for.  We need to make a decision about what to do, and make a plan on how to proceed.”

“I know that leaving is my best bet, not only because of me, but for the safety of those around me,” Camil said, “but even after all you have said to me, I still feel like I don’t have the whole picture, and that everything is even more complicated that it seems.  Still, I can’t just leave, I need at least to talk to Luzian first.”

“Of course, that’s totally understandable,” Sofia said, “and we can wait for you to do whatever you have to do.  We don’t want to make this even more difficult for you, we would do what we can to make things easier for you.”

“How long do you think we have?” Camil asked.

“That’s easy to find out,” Sofia said, and I knew what she was talking about, and Melchizedek too, since he was the first to answer.

“A walk through the fog of the future could give us what we need, let us know how much time we have left and what we can expect.”

“You just got out of a vision, are you ready to go back?” I asked Sofia.

“Yes, I’m ready.”

It was much easier to walk through the fog with the three of us.  It was even easier now that Camil knew about the situation and was able to make an educated guess as to what to do, because that eliminated several paths.  We had fewer options, and that made it easier to know what paths to avoid and which we could follow.  Camil and Mistral had accepted their pasts better than I expected, so far.  Camil could accept it because he could see the truth in our words, for Mistral it was because she was still trying to fit the pieces of a puzzle we had given her.  Once she had time to go over everything we have told her, things could change.  No matter how much it hurt me to cause Mistral any pain, I knew it was time for her to learn the truth, it was part of her future and what she needed to open the doors she needed to be able to face her future.

In Camil’s case, his options were limited, and once we got out of the fog we explained them to him.  One was to leave at that moment and don’t look back, another for him to stay and wait until the High Priests decided to send him to the Shadowlands and take him from there, but the one he chose was to spend one more night with his family, to have the chance to say goodbye to his sister and the rest of Melchizedek’s family and other proteges.  We decided to wait for him at the camp, we couldn’t risk going into the city, but once night fell, Melchizedek, Soturi and Mistral found their way to us.

Meeting with Soturi was nothing like what I expected, the strong, confident woman I had known had grown small in her time living in the Light Kingdom.  I could feel Melchizedek’s regret, he knew that her change was mostly his fault, since she had followed him there, but Soturi didn’t regret her decisions, and as the night went by, I could feel the old Soturi coming back.  She was happy to be there, glad to meet my husband and son.

Mistral’s blindfold was off, and despite her father’s influence, I could tell she was barely holding together.  Her whole world had changed and she was still going through her memories, looking at them under a different light.  There was a moment in which she decided to walk away from our group, and after giving her a few minutes, I followed her.

“How are you?” I asked, waiting to see is she was going to admit her feelings.

“For years I was happy, I blindly believed in everything I was taught in the temple.  My father did his best at teaching me to be more open minded and to be empathic, to put myself in other people’s shoes, and still my faith was absolute and my obedience complete.  Now that I know the truth behind my father’s past, and the about the High Priests actions, I finally see that the world is not how I imagined it.  I have been so wrong, and I don’t know what to believe anymore.”

“The place we are going to, the place Camil is from, was created to help hold peace and order between the different nations.  It was created based on good and just principles, but it took only one person to take that and corrupt it until it became a nightmare.  Most of the beliefs you grew up with are good, with pure intentions, but some people can twist that for their own benefit and turn something good into something ugly.  From what your father told me, not everyone is bad, there are good people, even in the government, don’t let the bad seeds poison your faith.  You are smart enough, and have the tools to be able to interpret the teachings on your own, so you can find the path that is best for you.”

“I don’t know what to believe anymore,” she repeated.

“You can believe in yourself, you can find a way to be true to yourself and what you have been taught.  Your father is a good example of how to do it.  His world also collapsed when he went to the Shadowlands and found out how things were there, and then the way his family reacted to his relationship with your mother changed everything.  And even after all that, he remained true to himself and his beliefs.  You are not alone, you have your family and you have me, even if I’m away, you can trust me.”

“I know.  I know I can trust you and my parents.  I get it now, what I asked you to do wasn’t fair, and even if I didn’t realize that at the moment, now I see it, and I know I was selfish asking that of you.”

“Not selfish, it was one of the most selfless things I could think of.  The truth is that you sacrificed a lot for your parents and the people of this kingdom.  I know you made a difficult choice.  You don’t regret it, do you?”

“No, my father needed me, and now I can see why it was so important to him.”

“And what are you going to do now?”

“Support my father and move forward.  I just hope I can see Camil again.”

“Everything is possible, my dear, there are many paths in front of you, it’s your choice which one to choose, and I’m sure at least one of them will take you back to him.”

Chapter 37

We were in the middle of an unknown territory, among enemy forces.  From what Melchizedek had told me, the Light ones weren’t as good and sweet as they pretended to be, and I knew that they could cause trouble for us, even if I wasn’t concerned about them hurting us.  I knew that this was not only and important mission, but a chance to see Melchizedek for the first time in years, and even if I couldn’t pretend that this was only a meeting between old friends, I decided to bring Kimball and Ethan with me.

“You should wait here, but if you think there might be trouble or if you think everything is under control and there’s no problem with getting closer, then you can come here, but for now, just try to be discreet,” I asked them.

“I don’t think you can be discreet in this place, there’s no way you won’t be noticed using that uniform.”

I ignored Kimball, mostly because I knew he was right, and kept walking to a point from where I could watch the couple moving through the temple’s gardens.

“There must be another choice,” Mistral was saying, “you can’t leave.”

“You don’t see what I see, every time they speak, I can see the fakeness twirling around their words.  I’m no longer sure this is a good place, and I’m afraid if I stay you could be also in danger.”

“But you can’t leave, where would you even go?  How would you survive?”

Both of them had been distracted while they walked, so none of them had realized they were not alone any longer, nor that they were being followed, but eventually they got too close to me not to notice me.  Charles’ son moved in front of Mistral, trying to protect her.  “Who are you?” he asked, as he started to move back, trying to put more distance between us.

“I don’t recommend moving back, there’s more danger behind you than in front,” after hearing my words, and recognizing the truth in them, they both looked over their shoulders and finally noticed the man that had been following them

“What is going on here?” Mistral asked, to no one in particular, I could see her fear and confusion, but her partner was doing his best to keep her protected from all the threats around them.

“The High Priests asked me to follow you, they are worried about your faithfulness and obedience, and the fact that you are consorting with a Dark one is a sign that they were right to doubt you.”

“Dark one?” Mistral asked, a note of hysterics coming to her voice as she looked at me with distrust and confusion, maybe even a hint of recognition.

“Now it won’t matter who your father, or your protector is, this is enough to send you to the Shadows, maybe even to offer you to the Goddess as a sacrifice.”

“And you call my people barbarians,” I said, “at least we don’t make elaborated lies to justify our actions.  We all know you are only looking for an excuse to do what you already were going to do.”

“Camil?” Mistral was looking at her companion asking for an explanation.

“Everything she says is true, but when he talks his words are full of half truths or outright lies.”

“And how do you know that?” the Light one asked, “Are you being helped by demons?”

I couldn’t help but laugh at his words, the situation was ridiculous, the guy knew the truth about powers and their nature, and still he was buying into his own lies.  “Your hypocrisy is outstanding,” I finally told him.

“My powers come from the Goddess,” he said.

“And why are you so sure his don’t come from the same place?  You know what? I don’t care about your answer, I just want to fix this.  I will give you the chance to leave this place, so you can see I’m not so bad, but if you stay here, I won’t guarantee your safety.”

“Sinners and infidels, I won’t let you get away with this,” from somewhere between his clothes he managed to get a knife out and moved to Camil and Mistral, but using my powers I threw him in the opposite direction, making him hit a column with enough force to knock him out.

“You killed him!” Camil said.

“No, I didn’t, he is still alive, and I think you should remember that if he had gotten away with it, he would have killed you.”

“Who are you?  What do you want?” Mistral asked.

“I thank you for your help,” Camil said, more diplomatically, “but I think it’s time for you to leave here, you are not welcome.”

“I’m afraid I can’t go, not unless you come with me.  You are the main reason I came here today.”

“I won’t let you take him,” Mistral said, turning brave as soon as someone she cared about was threatened.

A feeling of peace and calmness fell like a blanket over us, and I immediately knew that Melchizedek had decided to join us.  After taking a moment to search the surrounding area I realized that he was getting closer, but he wasn’t coming from the same place as Camil and Malkia, he was coming from the other side, from behind me.  I turned around just in time to see him getting out of the tree line, and noticed he wasn’t alone, Ethan was with him, smiling, but also looking a little confused.  Without thinking about it, I started moving towards them, only to have Mistral appearing between us, holding the knife the other guy had used against her, blanding it inexpertly.

“Not another step,” she warned me, but I ignored her, using my powers to take the knife from her and throw it away, then to hold her still while I moved passed her and into Melchizedek’s open arms.

“It’s been so long since I saw you!” I greeted him while I lost myself in his embrace, feeling the safeness and peacefulness that I had missed so much.

“It’s good to see you again, darling,” Melchizedek told me.

I let go of my hold over Mistral, allowing her to turn and see what was going on.  I couldn’t see her, but still I could tell she was confused and even a little bit mad, even with Melchizedek’s influence.

“Sir?” Camil asked, moving closer to where we were.

“Are you ok?” Melchizedek asked him.

“Confused, do you know this… Dark one?  She is a Dark one, isn’t she?”

“Yes dad, what’s going on?”

“I think that deep down, you know what’s going on, my dear.”

“She is getting her powers back, that means her memories must be coming back too,” I agreed with Melchizedek, she had to know more, even if she was refusing to believe it.  “I see you already met my son Ethan,” I said, changing the topic and trying to figure out why they had arrived together.

“I found him on my way here, and he agreed to come with me.”

“You knew who he was,” I was sure, Melchizedek’s powers were far superior from mine, and I was sure he knew all there was to be known about Ethan already.

“He even called me by name,” Ethan confirmed, “but I’m sure I would have known who he was, just by looking at him after all you told me about him.  What I don’t get is why you call him the most powerful empath there is, he has strength, but he lacks control.

“Maybe he doesn’t have the same kind of control as you in how he affects those around him, but he has a lot of control over his own feelings.  Just imagine the kind of damage someone like him could do by being angry or scared and projecting those feelings, imagine the chaos.  You know I’m always going after you to control your emotions because of the kind of damage you could do by projecting all those feelings without control.”

“You may be right,” he accepted.

“Could someone explain to me what’s going on?” Mistral asked, some traces of frustration going over her father’s influence.

“I would also like to know who she is and what’s she doing here.”

“This is Kaiserin, former Empress of the Dark Empire,” Melchizedek introduced me, “and she is here to take you with her.”

“What? No!” Mistral said, moving in front of Camil as if she could protect him.

“You know who he is,” Melchizedek nodded, but I didn’t need the confirmation, I expected him to already know everything about the young man he had taken under his protection.

“I know, and I have done my best to prepare him for his future.  And you arrived just in time, for the High Priests are already suspicious of his powers, and they don’t trust their ability to turn him to their side, they know he is a good person, and one that is not fooled by their lies.”

“He has become a risk, they no longer want to have him around in case he could turn against them or betray their secrets,” I said, getting a better understanding of the situation.

“There’s nothing they fear more than truth, since all their teachings are based on lies and secrets.”

“Daddy, I don’t get what’s going on.  Please, explain to me what this is, how do you know her?”

“Could we have this conversation in another place?” Kimball’s voice reached us.  “A group of people is heading this way.  It would be better to move this conversation to a place where there isn’t a risk of people walking into a Dark one.”

“Of course, that’s a good idea, let’s more to a more secluded place where we can talk without problems,” Melchizedek agreed.  “I promise to explain everything, even if I think you already know the answers, you just have to accept them.”

We walked in silence for a while, with Kimball in the front, guiding us to the place we had already prepared just for this reason, and where Sofia would be waiting for us.  Despite the lack of words, there was plenty of communication going on around us, Camil and Mistral giving each other looks and gestures meant to reassure each other, while Melchizedek’s smile was all I needed to know how glad he was about our meeting.  Kimball also was looking at me, letting me know that everything was alright, while Ethan just looked around, absorbing as much information as he could.  We finally arrived to our destination, an improvised camp with a group of warriors watching us just from out of sight, while Sofia waited in the center.  When we moved closer, I noticed that Sofia was in trance, and I actually felt the vision that had her trapped calling to me.

“I think this is the first time that the three most powerful Seers in the world had been in the same place,” Melchizedek pointed out, “usually this kind of power is placed in different parts of the world.”

“With Sofia and me in the same place, the balance must have been seriously affected a long time ago,” I pointed out.

“Not that much, the Dark Empire has a lot of seers, that helps to keep the equilibrium.”

“Is that how you know each other?  You meet in the Fog of the Future?” Camil asked.

“Not really, in fact, it was Melch who taught me how to walk the fog, he was my teacher.”

“Can we start from the beginning?  I really need to understand what’s going on here,” Mistral asked.

“Of course, that’s only fair.  But I’m pretty sure that you at least have an idea of who I am, deep down.  I saw how you appeared in front of me, that means you are using your powers again, that wouldn’t be possible if you didn’t have at least part of your memories back.”

“How do you know so much?  Who are you?  Tell me, no more evasion, or mores questions.”

“You know that, I’m your godmother.”

Mistral stayed quiet and silent, she didn’t deny my words like I expected her to do.  I could see her going over my words and her memories, trying to find something to confirm or deny my words.

“Sometimes I remember a woman’s voice, but when I try to see her face something else distracts me and I can’t focus on her anymore.  There are some memories, some things and feelings that I can’t get a hold on, like the feeling of getting lost in time, the feeling of moving from one place to another in the blink of an eye.  Sometimes I even see myself in another place with different people.”

“Those are suppressed memories, from a past you no longer remember,” I tried to explain.

“Why can’t I remember?”

“Because a long time ago you asked me to block your powers, and the only way I knew how to do it, was by hiding some of your memories.”

“Are you going to do that again?”

“The first time I did it because you asked me to, and I may do it again if it’s something you really want, but the first time it was because you were too young and impulsive and we were afraid you wouldn’t be able to hide your powers from other people.  But now you are all grown up, you are capable of hiding your powers, and of knowing when it’s ok to use them.  What happened before was your reaction to what you perceived as a threat, but once you have the right tools, you will be able to control that kind of thing from happening if you don’t want it to.”

“I want my memories back,” Mistral asked, “I want to understand what’s going on and see for myself what’s going on, right now I feel like everyone knows something I don’t, I feel I don’t see the whole picture and I hate that.”

“If you are sure about it, then I can help.”

“Wait a minute,” Camil asked, “are you sure you can trust her?  She is a Dark one.”

“You can answer that question better than I can.  What do you see?  Is she lying or telling the truth?”

“She seems to be telling the truth, but I don’t know if it’s a good idea to trust her, besides, she wants to take me with her, and she hadn’t explained why.”

“What do you know about your origins?  Your past?” I asked him.

“There are a lot of rumors and guesses about my past, and something tells me you know more about it than me.”

“There is so much to talk about that I don’t know where to start,” I said.

“What about the beginning?”

“I will, but could you give me a few minutes first?  I would like to work a little on Mistral, try and free some of her memories about the Shadowlands, that way she will understand better what we have to say.”

No one objected to my suggestion, so while Camil and Melchizedek had a private conversation, and Kimball and Ethan moved away, either to give us privacy or make sure we were safe, Mistral and I took some of the free chairs near Sofia.

“What do I have to do?” Mistral asked, looking a little nervous.

“Nothing special, you just need to relax and try not to fight this.  The only reason this worked so well the first time was because you trusted me, and didn’t put any resistance to my influence, and I need that right now.”

“You must be telling the truth, because I feel like I can trust you, sure, my first reaction wasn’t a good one, and all my teachings tell me to run the opposite direction from you, but deep down I feel like I could trust you.  If not in you, at least in my father, he had always guided me in the right direction, and I trust him.”

Feeling a lot better after her words, I went into her mind.  What I had done with her was different from what my father had done to me, he had hidden my memories behind closed doors and inside protected chests, I had gone for a less painful option.  Mistral’s landscape was also different, she wasn’t a telepath, and because of that her mental landscape was very basic, without visual representations, still, a lot of time had gone by since the last time I had been in there, and what I found was very different, I was hard to find my way to where I had hidden her memories.  Instead of locking them up like my father had done, I had put them behind other memories, masking them and distracting her from looking into them with the brighter, happier memories before them.  The attractiveness of those memories had lost its power with time, and I could see some of the memories shining from behind them, trying to get out.  Recovering those memories was extremely easy, all I had to do was move them from behind and leaving them in a place where they could be easily accessed.  She had already been trying to reach them, and some had escaped in their own, making the whole process extremely easy.  The fact that I didn’t find any resistance was a sign that she did trust me.

Hiding her memories and locking her powers had been a long process, but freeing them had taken just a few minutes.  I finished my task and got out of her mind.  She opened her eyes and stared at me for a moment, I could see her wince in pain and realized that despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to shield her from all the pain, having that much memories dumped on her, had still affected her.  I knew there wasn’t much I could do, so I just waited, and just a moment after her face lighted up in recognition and she threw herself into my arms.

“Nina!  I can’t believe I forgot who you were.  Well, I do, I asked you for this, after all, but it’s incredible someone can forget someone like you.  There are so many things I have to ask, things I need to clarify.  I feel like a big part of me had been hidden, and I feel complete for the first time in forever.”

“That’s exactly what happened, those secrets were necessary, but left you with only half a picture,” Melchizedek said.  “But it’s good to see you have them back and that we can talk freely now.”

I saw the same painful wince in Mistral, and then she looked solemnly at her father.  “You weren’t accepted as a Priest because of your powers, you are not a Blessed one that was guided to them, you are part of that family, you were destined to be a High Priest,” she said.

“That’s right, they are also your family, our family, but their hypocrisy made them reject us and put us to the side.”

“I see everything so differently now, is like the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place, but I don’t see the image I’m putting together,” Mistral said, and I could see she was sad because of that.  “What I still don’t get is why you are here and why are you interested in a Light one,” Mistral said.  “Why do you want to take him away?”

“I’m afraid I’m the reason for that,” Sofia said, finally out of her trance.  “Kaiserin is only helping me getting reunited to my grandson.”

Chapter 36

Aquarium was officially part of the Dominion, even if it was also considered just an extension of Mzansi since it wasn’t big enough to be a nation of its own.  But it was still mine, my refuge when I needed time, or a safe heaven, where my allies and I could get together and just be ourselves.

For a whole weekend I was going to host our allies and enjoy some peace and quiet, even if the assistance list had gotten longer than I anticipated and I was having to deal with logistic problems I had not expected.

“I think that everything is settled,” Kimball said, “we had to ask for some of the permanent residents to let us use their homes, since we didn’t have enough space for everyone.

“This place is huge, I never thought we would be able to fill it like this.”

“It’s not that unexpected, since we are hosting almost all of your old refugees and their families, plus a few new allies.”

“I never that many would accept the invitation.”

“A lot of people love you and respect you, some day you will realize that,” Kimball said, moving closer to me and wrapping me in his arms.  “And this is just because some of them already had previous commitments they couldn’t get out of.”

“Where is Ethan?”

“Where do you think he is?”

I was to be expected that if Ethan and his cousins, and the rest of the young refugees, got together, they would be in the gym competing against each other.

I didn’t need to tell Kimball what I was thinking, he could always read my intentions, so he just moved to offer me his arm and guided me to the gym.  The organized chaos that greeted us would be surprising to anyone who didn’t know this particular group of teens.

Apparently they had decided to form two teams and they were facing each other.  Just as we walked in, we watch as Ethan raises a flag between shouts of joy and people complaining.

“That is not fair!”  one of his cousins was complaining.  “Everyone wants to be on your team, so we get the bad players.”

“There are always situations where you found yourself at a disadvantage,” I said, raising my voice, “so that’s not a valid excuse.  A good warrior will always find a way to succeed no matter the challenge.”

“But it’s impossible to win against Ethan,” another one from the losing team complained.

“Nothing is impossible, it can be difficult, you may not even succeed the first time, but if you work hard enough, you can do it.”

“Mom, you are supposed to support me, tell them I’m invincible, make them fear me, or something.”

“I’m sorry, but another important lesson, one you have to learn, is that no one is invincible, and that you need to be prepared for anything.”

“Why don’t we try an ‘everyone against Kaiserin?'” Joon Hwan suggested.

“Isn’t that a bit unfair?  There’s a lot of you,” I said, “at least let me have Kimball on my team.”

“Somehow I feel we would be the ones at a disadvantage with that arrangement,” someone said.

“I accept the challenge,” Ethan said.  “Who is with me?”

A choir of voices, some more enthusiastic than others, agreed with Ethan, who immediately started to plan and organize his team.

“This will be fun,” Kimball said, “we will be doing a classic capture the flag setting.  I suppose you are going to defend and I should capture?”

“That sounds like a good strategy,” I agreed.

A protective bubble around the flag was the easy choice, but Ethan knew me enough to know how to find and attack my weaknesses.  He also knew his father’s strengths and most of his strategies, and that made the challenge a good one.

His plan was simple, he was attacking from different sides, trying to weaken my bubble, as Ethan used his powers to try and distract hard enough that I would lose concentration, allowing them to go through my bubble.  It was a good plan, and in another setting, it may have been effective, the problem was that with Kimball trying to capture the flag, they didn’t have enough time to make it work.

Ethan had been consistently getting stronger as the years went by, and he was capable of keeping his mind alert enough to go against his father, making counterattacks and changing strategies on the fly, while simultaneously sending psychic attacks against me.  Unfortunately for him, I had fought stronger attacks than his without problems.  Eventually Kimball managed to get past Ethan’s defenses and had taken their flag, the exercise had taken more time than I had expected, and I had to recognize that I was tired after it.

I couldn’t avoid turning the game into a learning opportunity, and I went on to point out the mistakes and the successes of the exercise, while Kimball did the same.

We barely had time to go to our next stop by the time we finished with the young ones.  My people in Aquarium had insisted that we needed a banquet to celebrate the reunion, even if I wanted something simple.  After a quick shower and a change of clothes we went to the hall where the party was going to take place, and most of our guests were already there when we arrived.  I had kept contact with most of them, but there were a few faces I hadn’t had a chance to see in a long time, and those were the first to approach me.

The reunion was pleasant and just what I needed to remember why I was doing what I was doing.  My ulterior motive involved talking to the refugees and see if they could help me decide if it was ok to give the nations of the Dominion more freedom.  Before Emily took control of it, being part of the Dominion was a choice, being part of it provided stability and protection, much like what happened in the Empire with those allied to the Imperial Clan.  Once we had reached new levels of stability in the Dominion, it was time to move things a little closer to what they used to be, and that included letting them decide if they wanted to be part of us, or not.  It wouldn’t be an easy task, but I needed to see if it was possible.  I knew that opening that door could open us to a lot of problems, but I also knew how important it was for people to be able to have a choice.  I doubted that anyone would jump to take the opportunity and leave the Dominion, at least not right away, not when being part of it gave them so many advantages, but I knew that with time, some of them would decide it was a risk worth taking, and I wanted them to have the option.

I needed to talk to Dante and present the proposal to the congress, but from what I had gathered, it would be well received.

“This is a celebration, you need to relax, you look too tense,” Sofia said.  Our relationship had improved a lot since her betrayal, and I didn’t feel as angry as before, still I didn’t feel comfortable with her, especially not when she had cornered me while I was alone.

“Sofia, what are you doing here?”

“Still mad at me?  I don’t know what else can I do to show you how much I regret what happened.”

“I expected you to be able to understand where I was coming from, for you to understand how hard it was for me to trust, and how much a betrayal could hurt me.  You should have known how your decisions would sever our relationship.  I trusted you, you know you could have approached me and talked to me about it, instead of going behind my back.”

“I get that, in retrospect, but you know that my children are my only weakness, and…”  Sofia never finished her thought, because before she could, we both got trapped in a vision.

I couldn’t see Sofia, but I knew she was with me inside the vision, I wasn’t sure if it was mine or hers, but one of us had dragged the other inside it.  We were in the middle of an unfamiliar landscape, a pair of figures approaching.  I thought I recognized one of them, and once I heard her name, I knew who she was.

When we got out of the vision I found Sofia crying, something I wasn’t expecting, especially not if we considered the smile that accompanied the tears.

“Did you see?  Do you recognize…?”

“Yes, that was my goddaughter Mistal.”

“No, that was my grandson, Charles’ son,” she said, leaving me speechless.  “When his mother escaped Emily, I tried to ignore her future and what had happened to her son, I didn’t want Emily to know what had happened to them, and if I couldn’t tell if they were alive, then she wouldn’t either.  I lost their trail, but I did that to keep them safe, and now I know he is ok.”

“But not for long.  I could be wrong, but the vision showed us he is in a difficult situation.  We need to go back to the fog and see more, at least now we will have the vision to guide us in the right direction.  And even if that’s not enough, I think I will be able to find him, his path seems to be connected to someone close to me.  Sofia, it’s possible we will meet with Melchizedek, that was his daughter Mistral with him.”

“Melchizedek, the seer.”

“This could become complicated,” I said, more to myself than to Sofia.

“For the moment you have a party to attend, nothing in that vision suggested this is urgent.  But please, as soon as we can, help me find more information about my grandson.”

“I will,” and not just because of her, that vision could also mean danger for her.

Chapter 33

We started to advance to where Ethan was being held, I was in the fog, just a minute in the future, in a place where the possibilities ahead of me were so few I could still keep track of them, and still gave me enough time to act in case it was needed.  As we moved Kimball didn’t have any trouble neutralizing the cameras outside the building and the few traps that we found.  The first problem we faced was when we reached the building.  I could see that as soon as they opened the door something invisible attacked them and caused them to drop like flies before anyone could do something to counter the attack.

I got out of the fog and using my powers I formed a barrier in front of the door to stop them from using it.  At first they didn’t know what was going on and were prepared to fight their way inside.  “We can go through there,” I warned them, “there’s a trap on the other side, something that will affect us and warn out enemies about our arrival.”

“What do you suggest?” Kimball asked.  “Do we need to find another entrance?”  I thought about it, and then I moved to the wall.  I connected to it, expecting to find concrete, reinforced steel, but all I felt was concrete blocks that I knew I couldn’t break, for it would have been too noisy, but that I could get around.

“I think I can find an alternative entrance,” I said, as I put both my hands against the wall.  After I established a deeper connection I started to work on loosening a few blocks, big enough to at least see the other side.  Once I managed to open a hole big enough to put my head through it, I signaled Ivan to move closer.  “Could you teleport to the other side?”

“I think so, all I need is to see where I’m moving to,” he said, putting his head through the hole, like I had done before, and then disappearing.

“What can you see?” I asked him.

“There is a tank with some sort of liquid here,” he said.  “It seems there is a simple mechanism that breaks the opening valve when the door opens.”

“Can you deactivate it?” Kimball asked.

“I think so, it seems pretty simple,” he said.

I leaned against the wall and went into the fog again, making sure we didn’t face any other surprises.  When I went back, Uktam was by my side, ready to carry me again if I needed him.

“I think I will walk for a while,” I said.  “I think we will need a moment to study the place, and I want to take advantage of that time to reach Ethan.  I can move while I do that.”

“As you wish.”

I extended my senses, being very careful, trying to avoid other telepaths from feeling me.  I knew Ethan’s mind very well, and I knew that I would have no trouble finding him, but when I reached his mind I realized he was occupied.  Still, I knew he had noticed my presence, so I waited for him to reach back to me, and I didn’t have to wait long for him to look for me.

What took you so long?‘ he asked.

How are you?  Did they hurt you?

I could be better, but there’s nothing to sorry about,‘ he said, but I could feel he was downplaying his injuries.  ‘I didn’t see you arrive, I have been keeping tabs on the woman in charge of watching the security feeds, I wanted to be able to stop her from sounding the alarm when you arrived, but it seems I didn’t need to worry about it.

Your father is with us,‘ I offered as an explanation, ‘what she must be watching is just a repeat of old feeds.  But you know how it is, if she is good at her job she will notice something odd and will try to check the recordings, then we will be in trouble.  What else can you tell me?

All of them, but two guards and the woman in the control room are hiding in a bunker under us.  They have me sitting on a bunch of explosives.  The idea is to stop you before you reach the room I’m in, but if that fails, they are ready to blow us up.

I suppose the bunker is protected against explosions.

I suppose the same, they seem pretty confident they won’t be harmed even if the explosives blow up.  I also found out that they are keeping an eye on this room using a different camera circuit, one that they are sure can’t be hacked, so they can see if you go through the traps and reach this point, they will notice as soon as you reach me.

Don’t worry, your father will be able to deal with that.

When I found the second system I tried to hack it, but it was a very strong encryption that makes it hard to understand, even my father will have trouble understanding the system.

We will deal with that once we reach that point, don’t worry.

There are some other things you may want to know before moving forward.‘  Ethan shared with me the things he had learned during his captivity, and some of that information proved to be very useful.

I started to explain to Kimball what was going on, and I could see he wasn’t happy with the situation.  The explosives and the second set of cameras made things more difficult for us.  But it was nothing we couldn’t deal with.  For the moment what worried me more is how sure our enemies were that we wouldn’t be able to reach the room where Ethan was being held, and the fact that despite Ethan’s assurance that there were two guards patrolling the place, we hadn’t seen anyone yet.

“I think I will have to go back into the fog,” I said, and Uktam moved to where I was.  Despite how weird it felt to depend on someone else to transport me, I knew that it was necessary, besides Kimball was near.

We started moving again, it wasn’t fast, but at least we hadn’t encountered any other threats.  But our good luck didn’t last forever, and eventually we found one of our enemies.  My vision allowed me to know that they would be able to stop him without trouble, but still, I got out of the fog so I could look into his mind.

I didn’t like what I found in his mind, even if we had only seen him, a psychic connection with his partner allowed him to know that we were there, as soon as we had attacked, the other guy had moved back to his body, and he was on his way to warn the other we were there.

“We have problems,” I said.  “They just found out we are here.  I will try to stop the guy who found us out, but we need to move fast.”

“I will call our people and tell them to prepare the transmission in case we need a distraction, hopefully it will help us buy some time.”

I didn’t wait any longer, I threw my mind after the guy that had been alerted to our presence, at the same time, I moved my mind to the one we had captured.  I found the other guy and invaded his mind completely, to render him immobile, but when I got into his mind, I realized he had already reached the control room, where apparently they could communicate to the bunker.  The woman in front of the screen seemed to be in a trance, and I realized that Ethan had moved into her mind to stop her from calling the bunker, but I saw her hand over a button, one that she had managed to push before we could stop her, and that could be either an alarm or something to warn the people we wanted to avoid that we were there.

After dealing with the soldier whose mind I had invaded, I moved to the mind of the woman.  I knew that having two minds inside of hers could cause a lot of damage, but it was the best way to establish communication with Ethan, because he couldn’t get out of her mind and risk letting her take control of her body again.  Besides that, with the way Ethan’s powers worked, I couldn’t go to his other mind, because the one behind was his mutant mind, and that meant that it was toxic for me, so I chose to destroy the woman’s mind instead of hurting mine.

I felt Ethan’s presence immediately, and I could see that he could barely hold the woman back, her mental strength was impressive for a non-telepath, and I knew that staying out of her notice, and then invading her mind when needed, had required a lot of strength.

I’ll take care of this, go back to your body,‘ I told Ethan.

You have to get out of here!‘ Ethan warned, he was worried.  ‘She managed to activate one of the defense mechanisms of the place, right now the hallways, the whole place is being filled with the same gas they used to neutralize my bodyguards and to knock me out and transport me here.  I don’t know exactly what it is, but I know it’s bad news.

“They activated a gas,” I told my group.  “Ethan says is the same one they used against them.”

“The suits have anti-gas masks, we just need to put them on,” Lukas said.

“Ethan’s bodyguards also had the same kind of masks, and its protocol to activate them in case of attack,” Mihaela reminded him, “still they were murdered.  We can’t rule out that the gas can work with skin contact or some other way.”

“What can we do then?”

“We need to get out of here,” Ivan suggested.

“We can’t leave now, we can’t leave Ethan,” I protested.

“We can’t stay here, either, we risk being captured,” Ivan said, looking around nervously.

In a way I knew he was right, but I couldn’t turn around and leave my son behind.  ‘Ethan, we will try to reach the room where you are, do your best to stay calm, and don’t worry about us.

Mom, I can wait, but you need to protect yourselves…‘ I cut our connection.  After having two other minds inside hers, the soldier was out, I knew we wouldn’t have to worry about her, she wasn’t a risk, even if Ethan got out of her mind.

I could feel that my own mind was getting tired, suffering from all the effort I had made, I knew I needed to be careful, because even with the energy I had already used, it would be very easy to go overboard and get a headache.  Using my powers I formed an air bubble around us, two air currents running in opposite directions were forming a barrier around us that should be able to keep the gas away from us.

“The other option is that if they have a method to pump this place full of gas, they must have a system to clear it out,” Kimball said, “otherwise they would be at the same risk of being affected, or they would have to be locked up in their bunker for longer than comfortable.”

“Either alternative, I think our best option is to go to the control room,” I said, doing my best to keep my concentration.

We started to walk, as fast as we could and still be inside my protection bubble.  The trip only took a few minutes, but it felt like an eternity.  We finally arrived to our destination and found the bodies of the two guards whose minds we had taken over.  I knew that it was likely that the damage we had caused in them would be permanent, but I didn’t feel guilty about it.

“It will take a while to identify what all this controls are for,” Kimball said, as he pushed the woman off her seat and took her place in front of the computers.  As he worked on that, the rest of us didn’t have much to do.

“Will it take long?  Every minute we’re here, is a minute more than we are at risk of being discovered, or the gas reaching us,” I complained.

“We are worrying too much about the gas, and there is a chance it won’t even affect us if we wear the masks,” Lukas said.

“That’s a risk we can’t take,” Ivan said.

“Not all of us, but maybe one of us,” Mihaela said.  “What if one of us, Lukas since he suggested it, walks outside the bubble with only his mask to protect him?  That way we can be sure if it will affect us or not.”

“It’s too risky,” I said.

“I think that’s a good idea,” Lukas said at the same time.  “I don’t have a problem trying.”

“You decide,” Kimball said from his place in front of the computers, “this system has many security layers, and even if I am making progress, it will take a while.  The good new is that there is a system to extract the gas, but it won’t be easy to activate it.”

“If you are willing to take the risk,” I agreed, “then we can try.  The only problem is that I can’t take the bubble down or we would be at risk, you will need to get out yourself, and it won’t be easy.”

“Understood,” Lukas said.  Without further ado, he ran hitting the bubble walls.  I watched as the air currents pushed and pulled him from side to side, until he finally broke to the other side, at least he looked good, if a little disoriented.  “It seems everything is fine,” he said, but as soon as he finished talking, he started to sway, and then, he fell, as if his body suddenly lost the ability to hold itself up.

“That doesn’t look well,” Ivan said.

I was still trying to decide what to do, since keeping the bubble required a lot of me, when I saw Kimball throw a hook and used it to pull Lukas back to us.  Once inside I could see he looked unconscious, but also in pain, his whole body seized.

“At least now we know,” Mihale said, “that was not a good idea after all.”

“It seems as if we can isolate different rooms in the building and clear the air by sections.  I will start with this room and then I will look how to open a path to Ethan,” Kimball said after a while.

“How can we be sure it’s working?” Ivan asked.  “We can’t risk ending like Lukas.”

“There is a monitor that will let us know once the air is safe again,” Kimball explained.

We all waited for Kimball to give us the green light, we could hear the fans working on extracting the gas, so at least we knew it was working.  Finally, a few minutes later, Kimball told us it was safe to breathe in there, but after witnessing what happened to Lukas, none of us was eager to try our luck.

“We don’t need to risk all of us,” Ivan said, “let’s do another test.”  Before I could say anything, Ivan teleported outside the bubble.  Unlike Lukas, he really seemed to be fine.  “I think it’s safe,” he said a moment later.

Little by little I let the bubble down, still a little worried, but trusting Kimball and Ivan, who still looked ok.

“I’m opening a path to the room where Ethan is, we need to get there fast, because right now the recorded message is being transmitted from the Palace.  They will be distracted for a few minutes while they watch the video, but once they realize Kaiserin is not going to do as they asked, and that she is going after them, their most likely target will be Ethan.”

“Then we cannot waste more time.  Do you know the way?” Kimball nodded.  “Then we will follow you.”

“I’ll stay here with Lukas, and keep an eye on these monitors,” Mihaela offered.

“Perfect.  Let’s go.”

We started to move forward, the path we were following was very close to the one I was going to use, but Kimball knew exactly what way to go to avoid places with gas or traps.  He had cleaned the most direct route to Ethan, and we were moving fast.  Still, I was keeping a psychic wall around me, just in case something happened.

We arrived at the end of a hallway, and Kimball opened a door, on the other side I could see Ethan.  From the way he was leaning on the chair, I could tell he had been another victim of the gas.  My first instinct had been to run to where he was, but I knew what a bad idea that was.  I used all my self control to keep from moving forward, while I used my mind to explore the room.  Kimball was doing the same in his own way, he was moving around the room, starting at the edge and moving slightly closer to Ethan as he circled it around.  It wasn’t an easy task, since we didn’t know for sure what we were dealing with, and we needed to be careful not to set the bomb off, since it would mean all of our deaths.

“This is much more complicate that it looks like,” Kimball finally said.  “I’m afraid that any movement can activate the bomb, and that would not only obliterate Ethan, it would blow the whole place off.”

“What about the rest of the terrorists?” Ivan asked.

“The bunker where they are hiding must be strong enough to resist the explosion, or they wouldn’t be using it,” I told Ivan, as I watched Kimball and got in contact with his emotions, trying to read by them his real thoughts.  “Do you think you will be able to disarm it?”

“I know I can do it, the first step is to block the wireless receptor, so they can’t activate it from a distance, then I will deal with everything else, but it’s a very difficult task, it will take a lot of precision.”

“Would it help if I go into the fog and keep an eye on the possible futures?  Maybe that way I can warn you if something goes wrong.”

“It may help.  Ivan, stay with us and keep watch over us, the rest of us, keep watch on the doors, even if Kaiserin is taking a look at our futures, we can’t let our guards down, we need to be careful.”

I went into the fog, looking for the right spot to see the different paths clearly, and still give me enough time to be able to warn them in case something went wrong.  As usual, it was hard to keep track of time in the fog, but I trusted Kimball to be moving as fast as it was safely possible.  After what felt like hours, but should have been just a few minutes, I saw in the futures the moment Kimball disarmed the bomb and freed Ethan.

I got out of the fog in time to see Ethan being freed in real time, and I saw how focused Kimball was, and how his body relaxed once the danger was over.  He looked at me, a smile in his lips, before finishing opening the locks holding Ethan to the chair.

“Thanks, you did a great job,” I told Kimball, not knowing how to express how relieved I felt knowing Ethan was safe.

“It was teamwork,” he said.  After getting Ethan out of the chair, he laid him down on the floor, going over him to make sure he didn’t have any injuries.

“You should go with Ethan back to the vehicle, we can deal with the rest of the people responsible for this.”

“I would feel better if we face them together,” Kimball said.

“And I would feel better knowing you are with Ethan, but it’s your choice.”  Kimball thought about it for a moment, and then took Ethan in his arms and signaled Uktam to go with him.

I knew where our enemies were, and with the control room under our command, and the explosives disarmed, I knew that they would be forced to get out to investigate, but if they didn’t, then I would go after them, but one way or another, I would make them pay for what they had done.

 

Chapter 28

For the first time since I had gotten control of the Dominion we were having a reunion with all the World Leaders, it was something the old Dominion used to do, the Prime Minister was mostly a mediator between the different leaders in the early days, making sure they were all in agreement.  Some activities, programs and actions were decreed by the Prime Minister, but most countries still had the freedom to adapt or modify them as long as they managed the get the same results.  Reunions like the one I was planning were something usual, and now that we had achieved a new level of stability, I believed it was time to start having them again.

The meeting room I was going to be using was not the original one, I had been told that Emily had modified the original one so it would only transmit her orders, but not allow others to talk back to her.  The best tecnopaths in my team, and other tech experts, like Kimball, had worked on getting a new room ready for the meeting.  When the first leaders started to appear, I had to appreciate their work, the holograms were so good that it was almost as if they were in the room with me.

One by one they started to blink to life, until the room had more than a hundred representations ready.  In just a few seconds the place that had been empty was full.  For a moment I worried about the complications of having so many people together for a conversation, but it was a little late to worry about that kind of thing.

“Good morning,” I knew that my voice was reaching them all through the system, each one of them was hearing me in their native language, the same way I was going to hear them in the language I was more familiar with.  “I’m grateful that you all accepted to be part of this meeting.  As I understand it, meetings like this were an usual happening before Emily’s time, and since I’m doing my best to take things as close as I can to the old status quo, I think this kind of collaboration is a good step to take.  I have worked very hard to do what’s best for everyone, but I know that I haven’t always been successful, but I think with your help and your feedback, we can do a better job.  Even if most of you know each other, and I have your basic information, I think it would be a good idea to use this first meeting to introduce all of you to each other.  It would be also a good exercise to talk about the biggest challenges your countries face.  If you all agree, we can use this exercise to try and identify the main problems that affect the most countries so we can start working on that.  Like I said, I have tried my best to face the problems you all are facing, but I know you may have some problems that maybe I don’t see or consider as such.”

“Are you really going to treat this meeting as a kindergarten’s first class?” Kgosi said, his manners derogatory.  “I don’t know how things work in the place you come from…”

“In the place I come from, you would be already dead for daring to speak to me like that,” I interrupted him.  I knew that Kgosi still had issues with me, but I never imagined he would confront me like that in front of everyone.  “You are lucky we are not in the Empire, in fact, you are lucky I’m not in Mzansi, because attitude like that also demands retribution in your culture, and you know exactly how a confrontation between us would end.”

“Is this how you choose to lead these meetings?  With intimidation and threats?” Kgosi said, but I knew many people would be sharing his way of thinking, but with the virtual meeting I had no way of knowing what they were thinking or feeling, I can only go on based on their expressions, and that wasn’t enough at the moment.

“You know how nice and cordial I can be, you are the one who insists on antagonizing me.  Do we need to take this up to Zola?  Do you need your aunt to teach you some diplomacy?  I know she has a lot of experience with that, she helped me a lot.  Now, are you going to keep wasting everyone’s time?  Or can we go on with our meeting?  Does someone else has something to say about the exercise I proposed?  I can take any critic, good or bad, as long as it’s done in a respectful way.”

“In fact,” Natasha said, she was one of my first Aquarium’s refugees, one that had gone out to assume a leadership position in her country, and was doing a good job despite her youth, “I think it was a good idea.  Some of us do know each other very well, and have already built good relationships, but I know most of the others from information I read in a dossier, and a few photos.  Also, if we are going to be working together, it makes sense to track the biggest problems across the Dominion.  If you all agree, I can start with the dynamic you proposed.”

“Thanks, Natasha.  If no one has any objections, I have no problem with you being the first,” as no one said anything, I took that as a confirmation that no one had any objections.  At first, they weren’t that willing to talk, but as most people talked, the others seemed to become more comfortable with the exercise.

It was a little weird, but at the end it was a productive exercise.  I actually knew all of them already, maybe not personally, but I had information, more than some of them would be comfortable with, on all of them.  Still, it was not the same to read about them than to talk to them.  In the same way that knowing the countries didn’t mean that I knew what they needed.  Many of the leaders were mentioning problems that I didn’t consider important or even relevant, but that were for them.  Also, I noticed, by watching them interact with each other, that countries in the same region had a lot in common, creating regions with similar needs, something that was important to take into consideration.

During the interactions among the different leaders it was possible to identify the postures of each country, after a while it became clear who among them was in their position because they loved their people and wanted what was best for them, and who was there only because the prestige the position gave them.  Some of them who took their work seriously already had answers ready, those who didn’t give me incomplete or vague answers.

Another thing that was easy to see who was willing to work with me for the greater good, and who was willing to work against me, luckly the second category was smaller than the first.

The reunion took most of the morning, but I felt like it had been worth it, and I was convinced it was something that would be good for the Dominion.

“How did it go?” Kimball asked when I met with him for lunch.

“Better than I expected,” I said sincerely, “I really think these kind of meetings will be good for future projects.  In a way it wasn’t that much different from the Clan Leaders Reunions that we had every year, and even if people here are more discreet about it, the antagonism and the need to show who’s better is also very similar.”

“How did they receive you?  You didn’t have trouble?”

“Most of them were very good, Kgosi was the one that who caused trouble.  I’m sure that given a chance things would have deteriorated very fast.  I don’t get his need to go against me when we have been working together, and mostly in his benefit for so long.”

“Kgosi is too proud.  What did you do to keep things under control?”

“I talked to him in a language he would understand, with a show of strength, and maybe a threat to tell on him to Zola,” Kimball started to laugh at that, and it was in that moment that Ethan walked in.  He wasn’t always able to join us for lunch, it depended on his school activities, and even if it was hard to remember his schedule, I was pretty sure he wasn’t supposed to be able to join us that day.”

“How did it go?” Ethan asked.

“Shouldn’t you be at school?” Kimball asked, confirming what I already suspected about his schedule.

“I asked to leave early and skip training, I wanted to see how things had gone at mom’s meeting.”

“You worry too much about this kind of things,” I said, trying to suppress my smile.  I had already noticed Ethan’s interest in politics, something that had been encouraged by most of his relatives in Mzansi, and in a smaller scale by his father and me.  I had already seen his possible futures, and it was a good thing he was getting ready for it.

“I’m just curious.”

“Well, then let me tell you that everything went well, a few problems at the beginning, but nothing out of the ordinary, everything worked out after a while.  I would have liked for the meeting to be in person, just to be able to read their emotions and see any errant thought they had.”

“It’s really hard to find any errant thoughts from people like them, they usually train to avoid that, and even if you went deeper to see them, most is capable of feel any mental exploration.  If you want I can be with you next time and see if I can find any expression that suggest they are lying or hiding something,” Kimball offered.

“Didn’t you record the meeting?  If it’s recorded you can go over it and look for people’s expressions.”

“It is recorded, as far as I know, but for the moment I don’t think it’s necessary to do that, nothing really important was discussed and the different alliances are just starting to form.  I expect we won’t face any trouble, at least not for a while.  For the moment, there’s still work to do, but mostly I have to start working on giving them back more power, but at the same time I have to make sure they don’t abuse it.  I don’t want to give them freedom and have that as an excuse for them to lose control.”

“That’s a valid fear,” Kimball said, “but for the moment, everything is still fresh, everyone is full of hope, but also of revolutionary spirit, I don’t think people will start showing their true colors just yet, they will wait until people start to get comfortable again, to when the people is so happy and grateful for what they have that they don’t realize when the government starts taking more or giving less.”

“I just want to think that everything is just going to keep getting better.  And how are things at school?”

“Everything is fine, a few students have been trying to cause trouble, but nothing to worry about,” Ethan said, trying not to make a big deal of it, and not offering near enough information, but he didn’t need to, the people I had posted at school kept me informed of everything that happened there.  It looked like Ethan had named himself the protector of the place, and he had been keeping everyone under control.  No one was able to face him, but I wasn’t worried because he never took advantage of that, as far as the reports said, all he did was make sure that everything was peaceful.

“It’s good to know,” Kimball said.  He too knew what really happened there, but none of us let Ethan know that we knew.  I wasn’t sure if he suspected something and was just playing along, or if he thought he was fooling us.  I wasn’t curious enough about it to go into his mind, but it was something I kept my mind open to.

“Do you want to come with me to the office later today?” I asked Ethan.  “If you want you can take a look at the recording of the meeting,” I said, curious about Ethan’s opinion, I knew he would be a great leader someday, he could take differents paths, but all of them ended with him in a position of power.

“I’m not sure if that’s legal,” Kimball said.

“Nothing we discussed was classified.  If he can sit on the Elder’s Council’s boring meetings, I’m sure he can deal with watching a bunch of people go from talking about how wonderful their country is, to complaining about everything they still need.”

“I guess that there’s no problem then,” Kimball said, and we both turned to look at Ethan, and by watching his huge smile we could already tell what his answer was going to be.

“Of course I would like that, if there is no problem.”

“Usual rules apply, you need to finish your homework, and you can’t share anything you hear, unless we discuss it first.”

“Of course, I already know.”

Once we went back to my office, I didn’t need to explain anything to Ethan.  Most of his powers were a copy of mine, knowledge that I had been able to share mostly because of or mutual Vlad blood that allowed us to share powers.  Only his empathy, that was his natural power, and his technopaty didn’t come from my teachings.  He had been learning technopathy by himself, and I suspected that Jeong’s family had helped with that, but most of it was because of his own curiosity and part because of Kimball’s teachings.  Even if he didn’t spend as much time as before, Kimball liked to go to his workshop and invent or improve things, Ethan had been by his side as much as he could, and eventually his powers started to manifest and adapt to help him with his own inventions.  I knew what Ethan was capable of, and the way he walked into my office and immediately was able to access the recordings, that should be protected under several layers of security, was a good example.  But that wasn’t anything especial for him, and not long after he was already inmersed in the meeting.

My children were growing so fast, Ethan was no longer a little child, he was becoming a man, a great one like his father.  Malkia and Greca had long ago left that part of their lives behind, and that was even more evident with Malkia becoming Antrax’s partner and adquiring many of Ivy’s functions, since she had been forced to step down after conspiring with the Slavers.  Greca was also going to go far, and by her own merits.  Everyone would be great, and somethings I had to wonder if my legacy was helping them, or just making their journey even more complicated.