The problem with having the message broadcasted to the whole Dominion was that everyone knew what was going on with Ethan, and soon I started to get calls from people who had mostly good intentions, but that were making my efforts to find and rescue him more complicated. Most I could just ignore or at least have Karl, my assistant, take care of, but when the leaders that had yet to leave Capital City requested a meeting, it was harder to ignore, and I ended up receiving them.
“Thanks for seeing us,” Natasha said.
“Where’s Kimball?” Kgosi asked. “What are you doing to find Ethan?”
“I’m glad to see you care,” I said, not bothering to hide the sarcasm in my voice.
For a couple of minutes I heard their questions and good wishes, but then a voice started to intrude on the conversation, a mind that seemed to be screaming and that I chose to listen carefully. I could tell that the person was worried about someone, the image of that person kept showing in his thoughts, it was an image that seemed familiar, and it didn’t take me long to recognize that person, since he was part of an image that would take a long time to disappear from my own mind.
“I hope it all goes well and that you can find your son in good health,” the man whose mind I had been listening said. I noticed that it was the same president that had started the whole election debacle.
“I’m sure I will find him soon, and when I do, I’ll do my best to get you your advisor back, but I don’t promise he will be in good health.”
“What are you talking about?” he asked nervously, letting me know he knew or suspected something.
“Did you know what he was planning?” I asked, moving menacingly closer to him. “Were you his accomplice?”
“I think the situation has affected your mind,” he said, but his mind was open and I could see things that only condemned him further.
“You will tell me all you know,” I said as I used my telekinesis form a psychic wall around us, in case someone tried to interfere, and used my telepathy to invade his mind and see what information he had on what was going on.
It didn’t take long to realize that the man, the one who was supposed to represent his country and its people was only a coward that had been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right moment. He was so worthless that he hadn’t been able to realize he was being used. The idea of calling for an election wasn’t even his idea, he had let fear blind him to reality, allowing other people to manipulate him and tell him what to do. He had realized that his advisor has other plans that didn’t include him a while ago, but he had believed he could handle the situation, right until the moment he recognized one of the masked men as his advisor.
Once I got all the information I could out of him, I got out of his mind and let the psychic wall drop. I hadn’t been careful while invading his mind, and the president fell to the floor in a catatonic state once I was out and my powers were no longer holding him. I heard the screaming and could feel the fear around me, my actions, which they didn’t understand, had only made them recall their fear of me, and worked on supporting what the man on the ground in front of me had said all along, I was nothing but a savage.
“Guards!” I called, getting the attention of the guards that were working on containing the situation. “Call William, and let him know that I need a warrant for the president for helping and protecting the terrorists that kidnapped my son.”
“He was working with the kidnappers?” Kgosi asked, his voice equal parts incredulity and anger.
“He knows at least one of them, it’s one of his advisors,” I said as I turned around and went back to my office, while I gave my guards a telepathic command to get those people out of my meeting room, I suspected I would need it for another reason soon enough.
“What have you found?” I asked Fatima when I felt her entering the office behind me, followed by Thalia and a few other of my personal guards.
“I’m afraid nothing good,” she said.
“What you just did in there is going to cause you trouble,” Morgana said, she sounded worried.
“I don’t care, that man had important information that he decided to hide out of fear, well, now I’m going to make sure all his fears become reality.”
“That’s another reason to stay in your good graces,” Razak said, but his joke fell flat.
“Does anyone knows where Kimball is?” I asked, desperate to share with him my findings. I wasn’t sure how long it had been since the attack on the president, but I knew that my men must have sent a message to him as soon as the attack started, I had been almost expecting him to be in my office when I got there.
“He must be on his way,” Yoweri said, confirming my suspicion.
I let myself drop on my chair and started to go over the information I had found. Knowing that my enemies had been hiding under the protection of the government of one of the countries under the control of the Dominion had me worried, the fact they had managed to move under the radar and get that kind of resources had me worried.
“What happened?” Kimball asked, entering the room and ignoring everyone but me.
“One of the kidnappers is the advisor of one of the presidents. I think that he was behind the plan to get me out of the government. I don’t know if their only goal was to get me out, but I suspect they were planning on ending me once I was out of here.
“I have reason to think they are Merce’s followers,” Fatima said.
“Are you sure?” I asked, my mind going back to the woman that had tried to get rid of me already, and that I had forgotten until that moment.
“Everything points to that,” she answered.
Once the name was mentioned my mind started to go over everything that had happened with her. There was a thought that was stronger than others. I dropped back to my chair and concentrated, thinking about the bombs Merce had set in the Palace while trying to get rid of me, no matter who else got hurt. I extended my senses as far as I could, going through hallways and rooms looking for the same feeling I got from those bombs, and soon my fears got confirmed.
“There are five bombs in the levels under the Palace,” I told them. “Kimball? Other than you, who could take care of the bombs?”
“I could go…” he started.
“I want you to stay here,” I interrupted. “I need you to help me plan Ethan’s rescue mission,” I added, trying to justify my need to keep him close, but the smirk that got over his lips for a second let me know he knew exactly what I was feeling, even if I didn’t say that out loud.
“Besides, those are not the only bombs we have to worry about,” Fatima said, “the attack here is not the only one taking place. I tried to look at all the possibilities, but I’m pretty sure there are a few I missed. So far I know that there are going to be several attacks all over the city, all in public places, at different times. This is all part of a very elaborated plan.”
While Fatima was talking, I noticed that one of the guards went to one of the monitors and turned it on, the screen showing a countdown.
“That’s the time until sundown,” Kimball said, he likely had his own countdown running.
“Do we know where the signal is coming from?” I asked.
“Yes, it was incredibly easy to follow it to the origin, and it matches the information you gave me.”
“Too easy?” I asked.
“That only proves that it is a trap. But it seems we are not the only ones they are targeting.”
“Why I don’t get is why so much. If there are bombs under the Palace, someone has to take care of those, by the way, then why take Ethan? Why give me an ultimatum? Why don’t use the bombs to blackmail me instead of Ethan?”
“Maybe they want to pin the bombs on you,” Kimball suggested. “It seems they are as interested in ruining your reputation, than on getting rid of you.”
“This is one of those instances when a good defense is a good offense,” Aziz said from the corner of the room. I guessed that after my attack on the president he had come here to try and fix my public image, but I wasn’t sure how long he had been listening. “If you allow me a suggestion, a video explaining what is going on to the general population could allow us to be one step ahead and avoid them lying about you.”
“That’s not a bad idea,” Fatima agreed.
“The problem is that our enemies are watching the transmission waiting for my resignation, and any other kind of announcements I make could put Ethan at risk.”
“It doesn’t need to be a live transmission,” Kimball said, “we could record it and get them to transmit it as we arrive to where they are holding him, that way it could double as a distraction tactic.”
“That’s not a bad idea, it may just work,” I said as I looked at Fatima, trying to get a read on her. Her face betrayed nothing, but the calmness in her emotions was as good as confirmation.
“Perfect!” Aziz said. “I’ll start working on something.”
“Kimball, do you have something ready for Ethan’s rescue?”
“I’ve already selected the team that’s going with us. Are you sure you want to go instead of staying? You know the trap is set for you.”
“That never stopped me before.”
While Aziz was working on getting everything ready to record the message, Kimball and I started to discuss our plan to rescue Ethan, and then we started to plan on how to find and deactivate all the bombs our enemies had planted in the city. The planning took longer than I felt comfortable with, but Kimball insisted it was important to cover every contingency with our plan, and have a few backup plans just in case.
Once the meeting was done, Kimball went with a few warriors to work on the bombs under the Palace, he wanted to train them, and Fatima, in how to disarm them so they could take care of the rest of the bombs in the city. I was worried about Ethan, and only felt worse as the minutes ticked by, we were wasting time and I felt guilty about it.
“Everything is ready,” Aziz called, taking me to a room where he had already prepared everything for the recording. A few camera drones were floating in the air, while a few other cameras were embedded in the walls.
“How are you?” William asked, he had been waiting in the room, along with Dante, when we stepped in.
“As good as I could be under the circumstance.”
“I heard about your little fight,” Dante said, and I prepared for his reprimand. “Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter if he is a president, covering up a crime its a felony and he must be punished.”
“Thanks,” I said, surprised by his support. “And thanks for agreeing to be part of this video.”
“I guess that our presence will help the criminals think you are following their orders,” William said.
“That’s the plan,” Aziz said, with too much enthusiasm considering the situation.
Once we were all in our places, Aziz gave the order to start, and turned the cameras on. At first I wanted to stay with a neutral expression, but I decided to try to go for pissed off and resigned, mostly to fool my enemies into thinking I was complying.
“Good afternoon,” I said, talking not only to my enemies, but to the people of the Dominion who would be listening, “I’m sure that by now all of you should have seen the video that was broadcasted this morning. In that video I was asked to give up the position in which I was confirmed by the leaders of the different countries in the Dominion in exchange for my son’s life. Some of you may remember this is not the first time my son’s life has been threatened by my enemies, and even if I can’t change the past, I can do my best to try and protect him from harm in the future. All morning my people and I have been working on a way to stop those terrorists, and we were able to identify a few of them. I also found out that my enemies are not only threatening Ethan, but other innocents, as we found and deactivated a few explosive devices in the public space under the Palace. Unfortunately, these people have been working under the protection of some of the leaders that came to the election. Some of them took advantage of the good will of their employees to hide, other are working with their approval, for the moment we are working on identifying all the people involved. The other targets of these men are the citizens of Capital City, and as some of you should have already noticed, the public spaces have been closed, and that’s because we have reason to believe that the Palace wasn’t the only place they set bombs in, and right now, my people are going around the city looking for other explosives. At the same time another group with my best warriors is looking for my son and ready to rescue him. We are working on finding the rest of the people involved and any government involved.”
“Before anything else, let me assure you that no country will be punished for the actions of their leaders,” William said, as he put his hand on my shoulder, a sign of unity and support, “but we won’t let anyone involved to get away with it, we won’t forgive anyone willing to hurt innocent people in order to promote their own agendas.”
“Those terrorists already proved that, no matter what they pretend, they don’t have our people’s best interest in mind. No matter what they say, they already proved they are despicable,” Dante said, his disapproval was clear in his voice. He also put his hand on my other shoulder, an action we haven’t agreed on, but that gesture spoke more than words.
“So you have been warned. Your plans won’t work, I’m sure that before sunset my men would be able to find and detain everyone involved with the kidnapping. The best you can do right now is surrender. If you let my son go and present yourselves to the police, then your punishment won’t be as severe. To avoid danger, I ask the citizens of Capital City to stay in your homes, I’ll let you know as soon as we have secured the city. Thanks.”
Aziz smiled and gave us two thumbs up to let us know everything had turned up as planned. “That was perfect,” he said, “and the best part is that I won’t need to edit anything, and that will make it seem more real.”
“I didn’t know you were considering editing the video,” Dante said, and his voice made it clear he didn’t like the idea.
“Not the content,” Aziz made sure to clarify, “Just the timing and things like that, not the content, but I won’t have to now.”
“Do you need help with anything else?” William asked.
“No, I’ll go with Kimball, he must have the team ready, we will go to where Ethan is being held, and will do everything in our power to come back with him safe and sane.”
“Good luck,” Dante said.
“Be careful,” William asked.
I trusted they would be able to take care of what was going on in the city, I had to take care of Ethan and the people who had dared to kidnap him. I arrived at the basement and headed to the garage, the team was ready and Kimball was waiting for me with the vehicle’s door open, but before I could head in his direction, Konstantinos stepped in my way.
“Can I have a minute?”
“I really don’t have time, can it wait?” I asked, trying not to let him see how much his interruption bothered me.
“I have no task assigned,” he said, and it made me angry that he was holding me for something like that, “in this mission my abilities were not required, but I know you will face many challenges, and if my work and abilities have no use, then I want to offer my energy.” That was not what I was expecting.
“Do you understand what you are offering?”
“I know that some of your most amazing feats were done thanks to your ability of taking other people’s energy. You have already taken a little bit of mine in a couple of occasions, because of that, if that’s all I can do, that’s what I want to do. I don’t have any missions, so you can take as much energy as you want.”
“I don’t think you understand what that implies or how it could affect you.”
“I have thought a lot about it, so please, let me help you this way if that’s all I can do. I don’t care if I end up in the hospital for a few days after this.”
I knew that the challenges waiting for me were big, and he was right, more energy would help me a lot and could allow me to even surpass my limits while minimizing the risks.
“I thank you for your sacrifice,” I said, before putting my hands on his chest and establishing a connection that allowed me to see the energy around him. I started to pull his energy into me, being careful with how much I pulled. When I cut the connection Konstantinos could barely stay on his feet, but other than that he seemed fine.
“Good luck,” he said.
I smiled, thanking him for his help, while I moved again to the vehicle, from where my people was watching with curiosity, even if I could feel some impatience in them. As soon as I got inside the vehicle Kimball closed the door and went around the car to get to his seat, as soon as he closed his door, the vehicle started moving. Kimball looked at me, but didn’t question me, I knew he understood what had happened, and since he wasn’t commenting about it, he approved, knowing that I was better prepared to face the fight.
“I will go into the astral planes,” I told my people. “I’ll be making sure that we don’t find any surprises in our way, and as soon as we arrive I will try to explore the place, so wait for me to return to my body before you make any movement.”
“Understood,” Kimball said. “Be careful.”
Moving in the astral planes was much easier, so I had no problem staying with the car, even ahead of it, making sure there were no ambushes or other surprises waiting for us. The streets were deserted and for a moment I considered the fact that our enemies could notice that something was going on and warn the kidnappers. But there were no reasons to worry, we arrived at our destination without trouble. The vehicle stopped a few blocks from the building, and my astral projection was able to explore freely, since there were no other projections around I was able to identify a few of the traps. I trusted that with Lukas’ powers we would be able to move closer without being seen, and that Kimball would be able to take care of most of the traps, both mechanical and electronic. Whatever he couldn’t control, I hoped I would be able to neutralize. When I went back to my body everyone was ready to move.
“I think I will use one of Fatima’s techniques and will go into the fog to keep an eye on the near future.”
“If that’s the case, you will need someone to transport you,” Uktam said, “I know that I’m not your first choice, but it would be my honor to move you.”
“You are right, you are not my first choice, but that way I can stay in the fog longer and don’t worry about how to move, we will advance faster.”
I let Uktam take me in his arms, and we started moving towards the first obstacle. I knew that inside the building, Ethan was waiting, and I couldn’t wait to be with him and make sure that he was alright.