Chapter 3

The vision I had that morning returned to me with incredible clarity, and I was afraid that if I didn’t act fast, Ethan would die.  I knew that his injury was bad enough to cause his death in a few minutes.

“It’s a pity you’re still on the other side of the barrier and can’t stop me,” the man mockingly said, as he finally let Ethan go and he fell on top of the machine.

I was moving before I realized what I was doing, all I cared was getting to the other side and the damage I could receive didn’t even bothered me.  I was already working on something to minimize the damage, when I noticed something missing, the low key buzz of the machine was gone, and realized that despite having his throat cut, Ethan had kept working on disabling the power blocker, and only once he had completed his task he took his hand off and moved them to try to stop the blood.

I jumped from the stage and as soon as my feet touched the floor, I let a strong energy wave loose, pushing the people standing up to the floor and getting doors and windows out of their hinges, creating several exit points.

“Get out of here!” I yelled to the hostages, I needed them gone or I would have trouble fighting without hurting them.  Luckily Ethan’s friends had been working on freeing the hostages and most of them were able to move to the exits.  A few were still tied up to their chairs, mostly the teachers that had been at the front, but Oliver and his brother were already working on them.  Most haven’t even noticed what had happened to Ethan, but after my order they were paying attention, and I could see Ethan’s friends looking for him with their eyes, it wouldn’t be long before they realized what had happened to him and things would only get more complicated.

“Queen Kaiserin,” the man who had attacked Ethan said, the bloody knife still in his hand, “good thinking, trying to get the hostages out, but I’m afraid I can’t allow it,” he said, just as doors and windows started moving back to their places, blocking the exits again and creating chaos at the back.  Some of the guards that Ethan had freed had moved to block the exists and were working on recapturing the hostages, while the others were working on getting the guards that Ethan’s friend had tied up, free, one of them had moved behind me and was trying to wake the ones I had attacked.

“You can’t tell me what to do, you are no one,” I said, while I used my powers to hold him and throw him to the ceiling, trying to harm him, but also trying to buy some time.  ‘Ethan, can you hear me?‘ I asked, using telepathy to communicate with him.  I was just a few steps away, and I wanted to run to him and take him into my arms, but I restrained myself, knowing that I needed a cold mind if I wanted to help him.

Mother…‘ I could hear his voice in my mind.

I need you to pay attention to me,‘ I said, bending over him and letting my hand rest over the hand he was using to try and stop the blood, ‘I know that you are afraid, but I need you to calm down‘, I explained, as I used my powers to connect with him and try to take control over the flow of his blood.  On many occasions I had used that trick to stop hemorrhages on myself, but I had never tried it on someone else, not that I had any options, I needed to make it work.  ‘Can you feel what I’m doing?  I need you to copy my actions, I need you to feel the blood flowing inside of you, and make it remember where it should go, you need to keep the blood inside your veins.’

I don’t know how,‘ Ethan said, but my power was making the blood flow like it was supposed to, and I could feel Ethan’s power around me, trying to replicate my actions, his Vlad heritage helping him copy my actions and learn.

You do know how, you just have to do the same thing I’m doing,‘ I opened my mind and senses to him, so he could understand better what I was doing, so it would be easier for him.

I felt Ethan’s power taking control, and could see that the hemorrhage had already stopped, but Ethan had already lost a lot of blood and I knew that he needed medical attention as soon as possible if he was to survive.  I had been so focused on Ethan that I didn’t notice what was going on around me, and the only warning I got that I was being attacked was the hit on my back.  There were still fire guns on play, I had missed one, but the bullet had hit me, and the only thing that had saved me was my cape, the shot had hurt, but haven’t penetrated, still, the hit had thrown me away from Ethan.  I got up as fast as I could, and faced my attacker, the same man that had almost killed Ethan.

“Worried about your son?  I knew your speech was nothing but words,” said the man that had pretended to be a captive.  “Faakhir had his faults, but he was right about moving all the kids of the Dominion more important people to the same place.  The parents of these kids are going to do exactly what I say as long as that keep their children safe.  For years I have been in charge of the security of this place, and even when you tried to take my job away, I was able to fool your people, I only convinced them that all I cared about was the safety of little brats and they believed me.  The truth is that I wanted access to them, so I can use them in this game.”

“You should have run away while you had your chance, not that it would have helped you much, but it would have bought you a little more time to live.  I hope you understand that you forfeited your life the moment you decided to go against me, I can’t have something like you opposing me and threatening my control over the Dominion,”  I said, trying to focus my attention on my enemy, even as I still had my connection to Ethan and was working on keeping his blood flowing.

“I thought it would be better to get rid of you once and for all.  I know you Kaiserin, I know your limits,” he lifted his gun, letting me see it, it was a design I didn’t know, one that I couldn’t connect to or disable.  “I got this gun specially for you, I’m sure this is a design you have never seen before,” he pointed the gun to me and I knew he was about to fire, so I used my mind to move the barrel up, diverting the bullet, but at the same time I was doing that, the floor under me moved, making me lose my footing, while another guard attacked me.  Since one of my mind was still connected to Ethan, and my focus had been on the gun, I was defenseless.

The new attack sent me back to the floor, but I was able to move in time to dodge a new bullet and another hit by my new opponent.  Another attack hit me, a mental one, going after my mind and breaking my concentration.

I’m ok mother,’ Ethan said to my mind, ‘I think I get it now, I can keep my blood flowing on my own, you don’t have to keep helping me, I can do it on my own, focus on your fight.‘  Ethan was right, I needed to focus on my fight, but I was afraid of what could happen to him if I let go.  ‘I will be fine, I promise,‘ he added, maybe feeling my worry and my fear.

I needed to trust him, or I would be in danger too, and I knew that I wouldn’t be of any use to Ethan if I got hurt too, the best I could do was to take care of them as fast as I could so that I could help Ethan.  I sent another expansion wave to stop my enemies and buy some time.  I returned the mental attack and saw one of the guards that Ethan had freed falling to the ground.  I took the knives Kimball had given me a few years before out of a pocket on my cape.  The knives were as sharp as a scalpel, and I knew they were going to be useful in the fight.

I remembered that only five guards had been tied up in front of the stage, I looked around and saw that one of them was helping Draco, while another was still trying to wake the guards that had taken me there, with the one I had taken out with my psychic attack, that left only two, because the guards that had fought Ethan and had been already freed again, were focused on trying to capture the hostages that Ethan’s friends had freed.

Connecting to my knives I prepared my attack.  They were familiar to me, like an extension of myself, and it was easy making the connection.  I looked at the number of enemies and prepared an equal number of knives, then I sent them after my enemies.  Most of them were distracted, but even those that had seen them coming were too slow to dodge them.  The knives went through their necks, cutting their jugulars and causing them to bleed.  The only one who was able to get out of my attack was the man that had attacked Ethan.

“You really take an eye for an eye seriously, don’t you?  I’m sure you would love to be able to do that to me.”

“I will,” I said, but no matter how fast I moved the knives, he was able to dodge it.  I added a few more knives, but I wasn’t able to touch him.

Draco was one of the few that had been only grazed by my attack, and even if he was panicked by the cut on his neck, the injury wasn’t lethal.  I knew that he wasn’t the mastermind behind the attack to the school, the man I was fighting was, but he was a key piece and I knew he would have information I would need, so I couldn’t let him get away.  With a little effort, I sent another wave out, taking the doors out of their hinges once again, but then using them to make a cage around Draco, to make sure he would stay in place until I could get to him.

My opponent was moving closer and closer to me, and his attitude showed that he wasn’t afraid of me, he really thought he would be able to win, and I didn’t trust that attitude, he was hiding something.  Before he could use his gun again, I used my mind to try and pluck it out of his hand, but he took advantage of my actions to move even closer to me.  I managed to lift my psychic wall in time to stop his attack, but I knew that having him so close to me was dangerous.  I saw him drop something around me, and I thought they were stunt grenades, and they kind of were.  With a movement he activated them, and energy arcs started to run between them.  My psychic wall was acting as an insulator, but I knew that the protection would stop as soon as my wall fell.

My enemy seemed to know me well, even if I couldn’t place him among Faakhir’s or Emily’s forces, but he still was missing a key element of my power.  He was trusting that once he activated his trap I would have to keep my wall up and would be unable to move, or would be forced to let it drop and would be hit by the electricity, what he didn’t know was that I had a double mind.  Letting one of my mind focus on maintaining the psychic wall up, I used the other to grab my enemy and pulled him to his own trap, using the energy to stop him.  Once he fell to the floor, I connected to the floor under me and used the carpet to wrap him up, so he wouldn’t be able to move, even if he regained consciousness.

The guards on the stage had escaped my knives attack, but they were stirring, and I knew there wouldn’t be long before they got back into the fight, so I went back to the stage, and putting my hands on the ground I connected to it and used the floor boards to trap them, so even if they came back, they wouldn’t be able to attack me, at least not immediately, and it would buy me the time I needed for my backup to arrive.  I saw that Yoweri was also starting to move, and I felt better knowing he would be ok.

The scene around me was pure chaos, the hostages were running, doing their best to escape, all but Ethan’s friends who were moving closer to him, I heard the blood curling scream escaping from Hye Ki’s throat when she saw Ethan lying on a pool of his own blood, and another one of his friends moved to the side so he could throw up, the image of Ethan too much for his sensibility.  The other were a little stronger, and were already moving to Ethan’s side to help him, but I needed to stop them, knowing that Ethan needed to focus on his blood flow, and couldn’t be distracted, and whatever help they wanted to give could distract him and affect him.  So I used my mind to move a section of the seats to their path, blocking them from getting closer.

“There’s nothing you can do for him,” I told them, “it would be best for you to leave.  I will take care of my son.”

For a moment I thought they wouldn’t obey me, but then Ethan managed to turn enough so he could face them, and let them know that it was ok for them to leave.

Some of the enemy guards had already passed out from blood loss, other were stumbling around, trying to get to the exits and look for help, but I knew they wouldn’t get far before my men or Kimball’s could stop them.

I went to Ethan’s side and noticed how pale he was, it was more evident because of the dark blood around him.  I felt sick, and even knowing that there was a good chance of him being ok, I couldn’t help but think that everything was my fault.

Stop worrying mother, I’m fine,‘ Ethan said, but as soon as his mind touched mine to deliver his message, I noticed some blood getting out of his wound and remembered that Ethan wasn’t like me, he had a double mind, but for him it was almost impossible to maintain two psychic tasks at the same time.

“Stop worrying about me and focus on yourself,” I scolded him, while I took notice of all the blood he had already lost.

“What happened here?” I head Kimball’s voice asking from behind me.  I looked over my shoulder and noticed that the scene before his eyes had frozen him.

“I’m so sorry,” I said, ‘don’t say anything Ethan, save your strength,’ I added to my son, knowing he would try to defend me.  “I tried to help as soon as I could, but he lost a lot of blood, his jugular is severed,” I got up and went to Kimball, touching him and getting him out of his trance, “he needs your help, you need to fix him.”

Kimball looked at me for a couple of second, and I wasn’t sure what I saw on his eyes, if he was blaming me too or not.  Kimball went to Ethan’s side and took him in his arms.  Without a word he stormed out of the place, I knew he was taking him to the hospital or somewhere where he could save our son.

There was nothing I could do for him, so I just stayed on the same place, waiting for the rest of my men to arrive so we could take care of the mess that the fight had left behind.

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Bonus 5

Ethan knew something bad had happened from the moment the soldiers started to arrive to school and they were called for a student assembly.  It was normal for students to stay late for extracurricular activities, but as the day progressed and they weren’t allowed to get out, most people started to get worried.  He wasn’t worried like the others, he could recognize that some of the soldiers were loyal to his mother, and that made him feel safe, unlike his friends or the rest of the students.

The announcement that they would have to stay there the night was received with surprise, but mostly with fear, so much that Ethan had to block his empathy because he was starting to feel sick by all that fear.  It only got worse when the rumor that both Faakhir and Emily were dead and that his mother was to blame for that.  Like it usually happened, most people started to get mad at him, blaming him for his mother’s actions.  Luckily for him, his friends stayed with him, acting as human shields against the rest of the school.

“What’s going to happen now?” Oliver asked.  “What do you think your mother is going to do?”

“Probably take over, which I guess she is already doing, after that, I’m really not sure,” Ethan said.  He wanted to say more, to explain that they were going to be safe, but he couldn’t do that and betray his mother’s secrets.  “I wouldn’t worry so much, I’m sure things are going to be better with her in charge, she is not a fan of killing indiscriminately like Emily, she is tough, but just.  Most of the horrible things she did, were because she was following orders, not because she enjoyed doing them.”

“I don’t think she will change that much now that she is in charge, I think she will get even worse now that there is no one to control her,” Dymtro said.

“Don’t be so pessimists, you may be surprised by her, besides, my father will be there to keep her in line,” Ethan said, thinking that a reminder of his father would help ease their minds, after all, they all liked and respected him after he had rescued them.

“Do you really think your father will be able to help?  He doesn’t seem to be able to control her that much,” Hye Ki said.

“I get why you would think that, but believe me, everything is going to be ok now that my mother is in charge.”

Chapter 30

I got a message from Kimball saying that Ethan was safe, but that he was injured.  I knew that was going to happen, Jonas was a psycho that liked to hurt people and make them suffer, and I knew that he was going to get a taste of his own medicine, he wouldn’t get away with hurting my son without facing the consequences.

“I’m sure this is the route he took,” Fatima said.  She had been traveling to the past to reconstruct Jonas’ actions after taking Ethan.  So far she had guided us outside the city, and I knew we were getting closer to the place he had taken Ethan.

“I think it will be better to stop for a moment, I would like to take an astral walk and explore the place.  If we are getting closer to where Jonas is hiding, I want to be prepared.  We need to be ready to take him by surprise.

“That’s a good idea,” Kulap said, “but make it fast, so many stops are wasting our limited time, I don’t think Faakhir will like that, he likes when we take care of things fast.  He likes us being efficient.”

“Do you have any experience in astral projecting? Have you walked the fog of the future? If you don’t know what you are talking about, then stay silent.  These things take time, and I’m sure Faakhir would prefer a job well done over a fast one.”  Kulap didn’t talk back, but I could see she was angry at my answer.

Our car stopped so I could go into the astral planes.  That was something I could do even while moving, thanks to my double mind, but it was easier and safer if my body was immobile.  I got out of my body and traveled the material plane.  We were close to our destination, I recognized the place.  I saw a group of helicopters moving closer, they were on route to the bodega.  Kimball had told me he had called the kids’ parents, so I was confident that the Representatives were on those helicopters.

“Did you hear the helicopters?” I asked when I got back to my body.

“Yes, and we saw them moving northwest from here,” Yoweri said.  I had forgotten he was in the car with us, but that was to be expected, it was his power, he could go unnoticed in any setting thanks to his empathy and emotional mimetism.

“I think those were the Representatives, and that could affect our mission, we need to be careful, we can’t let them ruin this for us, but we can’t attack them either, we need to make things better between them and the King, it needs to look like we are on the same side.  We need to move.  Go ahead and drive a couple more miles, then take the road on your right,” I told the driver, “keep going for another three miles and stop in the first clearing you find.  We will walk the rest of the way, I don’t want them knowing we are there until is too late.”

No one spoke for the rest of the trip, but it was obvious everyone had questions, even as they prepared for the mission.  We arrived at the clearing and got out of the car.  Another car stopped behind us, and the rest of the team joined us.  Without any questions, everyone started following me, with just one person staying behind to take care of the cars.

I took the direct route, I knew where the bodega was and how to arrive there faster, and I needed to take the short route, I had to get to where my son was.  Once we were close to the bodega, and could actually see it and the group of people standing outside, I used my powers to bring their conversations to us, so we could listen to them from the protection of the trees.

“Your children are safe, that’s all you need to know,” Kimball was saying.

“I think we deserve a better explanation,” Representative Burgos replied.  “How did you find them?  What happened to the people who took them?  “What happened to our children?”

“Do I have to remind you that my son was also taken by them?” Kimball’s voice hardened, and it was clear that the Representatives were on thin ice.  “I was just as worried as you were, so I decided to look for my son, and I found him.”

“And how did you do that?” Representative Jeong asked.  “None of our trackers were working, we couldn’t find them, I don’t get how someone like you could do what we couldn’t.”

“What do you mean by ‘someone like me’?”

“Let’s be honest, what we think is that you and your wife are involved in this.  It’s just too suspicious that you were able to find the kids so easily after we failed to find them, is even more suspicious that you refuse to let us see or speak with the people responsible for the kidnappings.  As far as I know you and your corrupt family could be behind this, maybe ‘saving’ them is just a way for you to try and look good in front of us,” Representative Kozak said.

“That’s enough father!” The voice sounded like Dmytro’s, but there was something weird about it.  “You don’t know what you are talking about, this is Jonas’ fault, not Kaiserin’s.  Jonas wanted to use Ethan to make Kasierin look bad, and we are safe only because the Mzansiers rescued us.  None of them hurt us, but if they hadn’t arrived when they did, the others would have hurt us, badly.”

“Please, stay out of this, this is an adult discussion,” his father tried to calm him down.

“But he is telling the truth,” Hye Ki said, “Ethan helped us while we were there, and his father rescued us, if he hadn’t arrived when he did, Carmina would have hurt me.  They saved us!”

“Daughter, please, let us deal with this, there are things you don’t understand yet.  We can’t trust these people, remember what happened with your brother.”

“I called and told you where to find your children as a favor, but if you think I will just stay here and let you question me and my motives, that I will let you insult me, then you are mistaken,” Kimball’s voice was cold and threatening, and I wasn’t sure if it was part of the act or if he was truly angered by their attack.

“Dad,” a pathetic voice interrupted the discussion, and the silence that followed that simple word was absolute, the shock was clear in the middle of the silence.  “Can we go?”

“Of course, give me a minute.  Just go back inside and rest,” Kimball’s voice changed to warm and calm while talking to Ethan.

“Time to move,” I tell my men, cutting the power that allowed us to hear them, and moving to where the group is gathered at the front of the bodega.

As soon as my group steps out of the cover of the trees all the eyes move to us, a few of the Representatives’ guards get their weapons out and point them to us, but using my power I take them out of their hands, leaving them weaponless.  At the same time my group takes their own weapons out and point them to the people there, warning them not to try something like that again.

“It seems I wasn’t invited to the party,” I said to the people there.

“You just sounded like a villain in a fairy tale,” Kimball said, and I had no idea what he was talking about.

“What are you doing here?” His comment managed to cut the tension, but his words confused me, and even if I was grateful for helping ease the atmosphere, I don’t like not understanding.  “I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that I find you here, in the place our investigation of Jonas’ actions has taken us.”

“You are late, just like I thought you would be,” he said.  “I knew that your priorities were different than mine, so I decided to put my energy on finding Ethan.  And it was a good thing I did that, if I had waited for you to find you, you would have been too late,” as he said the last word, he moved to the side, giving me a clear view of the van behind him, next to which Ethan was standing.

From the moment I realized that Jonas had Ethan, I had been worried about the things he could do to my son, but watching the damage I felt sick and angry, and I knew that I would have a hard time controlling my anger once I had my hands on Jonas.  Ethan’s face was a collection of colors, from red to black and blue.  He was full of bruises, one of his eyes was swollen shut, and a cut on his lips was still bleeding.  By the way he was standing I could tell his torso was also full of bruises, maybe a few broken ribs by how hard it was for him to breathe.  One of his arms and his wrists were bandaged, and from the blood that was showing in the bandages I could tell that his arm had a cut, and his wrists had been hurt, most likely rubbed raw by the rope used to bind him.  I felt my anger boiling, I had hoped that Kimball could arrive before Ethan could suffer that much damage, and I was furious that I had been unable to save him from that pain, furious that I had failed him again, and furious that Jonas had dared to hurt my son.  But despite the emotions burning inside me, I kept my face cold and detached, making sure no one could see how I really felt.

“He’s alive, I don’t see what the problem is,” just as I spoke I could hear the surprise and disapproval coming from the Representatives and their guards, they were getting angry at me for not caring about my son like a mother should.  I turned to where Ethan was standing, and I saw a tear falling from his good eye.  For a moment I thought my words had affected him, but when I expanded my powers to explore his feelings I realized that it was just part of the act.  But I could see his pain wasn’t fake, and I did my best to connect with him so I could ease his pain.

“I don’t know why I’m still surprised by your attitude,” Kimball said.  “If you are unable to see the problem, then I don’t know what to say.  You won could have died today, and you just don’t care.”

“I can see he’s alive, that’s what matters.  And I expect Jonas and the others to be alive as well, I need to question them.”

“Is that all you can think about?  You know what? I don’t care, Jonas and the others are inside the bodega, go and do your work.  I will take Ethan to Mzansi so he can recover in peace.”

“I’m sorry, but you know the rules, you can’t take Ethan outside of the city without the King’s permission,” Kulap said.

“That’s right, the hostage system.  Don’t worry, I’m taking my son, but I’m leaving my wife, that should be enough,” Kimball answered.

“Still, you need his authorization…” Kulap kept going.

“And who is going to try and stop me?” Kimball interrupted her.  “You?”

Kulap turned to me, waiting for me to continue the discussion.  All the attention was focused on me, so most people didn’t realize that Yoweri was moving towards Kimball.  For a moment I thought that Kimball wasn’t aware of him and was trying to find a way to warn him, but then I saw Kimball’s hand move to his gun and I knew that I didn’t have to worry about him.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Kimball warns, pointing the gun directly into Yoweri’s face, that is just a couple of steps away from him.  I hear a few surprised gasps, no one had realized that Yoweri was moving.

“Kaiserin, do something!” Kulap demands.

“Kimball, you know the rules as well as I do, don’t make this more difficult that it has to be.”

“I want you to think about what you are about to do,” Kimball warns, “you can try to stop me, and things will get ugly really fast, or you can let us go, so you can finish your mission and find out why Jonas took your son and the other kids.”

“I think you know what will happen if you try to stop him,” Fatima said, in a voice that pretended to be just between the two of us, but that I was sure everyone could hear, “we will only lose valuable time, and your victory will come at a high price.”

“Listen to your friend,” Kimball suggested with a smile.

“Please don’t tell me you are afraid of him,” Kulap tried to goad me into fighting.

“Kimball is right, I can defeat him, but it won’t be easy and won’t be fast.  Our mission is to find Jonas and questions him, then take him to Faakhir.  If he wants to go against the rules, then he will have to face the consequences.  Think about your actions, because if you leave and Faakhir sends me to bring you back, you won’t like what I will do.”

I wasn’t sure why Kimball was forcing the confrontation, he could have gone without alerting us of his plans, but by declaring his intentions in front of the others he had put me in a difficult situation, but I trusted he knew what he was doing.  With a last look at Ethan, I went inside the bodega, followed by the rest of the group, even if they weren’t happy with the way things had gone.

Once we were inside, it was easy to find Jonas and the rest of his people, they were locked in cages, and they seemed to be drugged.  I guessed that Kimball had used the drugs to subdue them and avoid a fight, and I was glad, because the drugs would make my job easier, their minds wouldn’t be able to repel my attack and it would be easier to get what I wanted.

“Now you are in serious trouble,” I told Jonas.  He was awake, but seemed confused.  “The Representatives were furious because of your actions, and that caused trouble for Faakhir.  You made him look like a liar, you made it seem like he didn’t have control over his own people, you made him look weak.  As you can imagine, he is not happy with you at the moment.  Now, tell me, why did you do something so stupid?”

“You have been lying to us, and I will prove it, then you won’t be is favorite any more, and you and your family will be punished, like you deserve.” Jonas explained, he sounded like he was drunk, but I knew it was because of the drug in his system.

“I will go inside your mind, and I will see the truth behind your actions.  I would recommend not to resist, resistance will only make it painful for you,” I warned, but in reality he was going to feel pain one way or another, he was going to pay for causing Ethan’s pain.

“Shouldn’t we take him to Faakhir?  He can question him himself,” I heard someone saying.

“Kimball caught five of them, but we need to make sure there’s no more people involved, and we have to find out why they were involved, if they were willing participants or if Jonas somehow fooled them into helping him with his plans.  We need to see who is a traitor and who is a fool.  We can’t go to Faakhir without the whole story.”

No one said anything else, they stayed in silence as I moved closer to the cage in which Jonas was trapped.  I used one of my mind to get inside his mind and look for the information that I wanted.  I needed to know who was on his side, who his allies were, who I needed to worry about.  With my other mind I connected to his nervous system, attacking his nerves so they would get irritated and cause him to be in pain, in just a few seconds he was drowning in pain.  With me inside his mind, there was nothing he could do, but feel, he experienced an agony like never before.

Between the pain and the drugs, he couldn’t stop my search, and I was able to get the information that I needed in a short time.  I knew that Faakhir would look into his mind, just like me, so I went even deeper and made sure that there was nothing there that could affect me.  That exploration took me longer, about a couple of hours, and by the time I finished with him, he was barely conscious, he was exhausted by the pain.

Moving even closer to him, I made a complete connection to his system, and instead of just irritating his nerves to cause him pain, I attacked them, damaging just enough for him to be unable to move without feeling pain.  Damaged nerve terminations would mistake sensations, sending pain signals with any stimulation.

By the time I finish with him I’m exhausted, and even if the effort is not enough to cause me a psychic headache, it drained my energy and I knew I was reaching my limit and since I still had things to do I needed to be very careful with what I did.

“Did you find what you were looking for?” Fatima asked.

“Yes, it seems like besides Fidel and Carmina, the others had no idea what was going on, they were just following orders, they thought that Jonas was acting under Faakhir’s orders.  The problem we have is that Faakhir tried to recruit a few others, so there is more people who knew about his plans, and even if they refused to help him, they failed to alert Faakhir of Jonas’ plans.  Yoweri, I will give you a list with these people’s names so you can go pick them up and take them to Faakhir, I’m sure he will want to question them.  Kulap, take the two soldiers that helped Faakhir to the hospital so they can be checked, I’m sure Faakhir will want to deal with them, even if they were acting in good faith, I’m sure they will be punished for their involvement.  The other three, I will take care of them personally.

Chapter 27

I was at the Palace’s training facility, surrounded by Dominion warriors, most of them loyal to the King and Queen, a few loyal only to themselves.  I was isolated, in a meditation posture, but I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings, I was paying attention to the people around me.  In the center, in the arena, some people were in a mini tournament that was supposed to help them train, but it was just a competition to prove who was better.  On the other side of the gym, Carmina was practicing her knife throwing, hitting the wooden target in a rhythmic pattern.  But my attention was on Thalia, she was talking to Ivan, something I was sure haven’t happened before.  I haven’t had a chance to talk to her since Madelaine, and I wasn’t sure what she knew of what she thought she knew about what had happened that day.  I was worried because I wasn’t sure if she was an enemy or a possible ally, and watching her with Ivan was making me worry.  Then she moved, directly to Fatima, and I was even more worried, but Fatima received her with a smile and I decided to take that as a good sign.

I moved my attention from Fatima and Thalia to the other groups in the place.  After a while I felt a mind trying to enter mine.  There were just a few telepaths in the place, and it was easy to identify the mind as Thalia’s.  She was still with Fatima, and it was easy to see her in trance, and I knew she was focusing only on me, her full focus on communicating with me. I opened my mind to her, I was sure I would be able to fight her off if I needed, after all, my father had given me a powerful weapon that no one could resist.

‘Thanks for letting me in,’ Thalia said, ‘Fatima doesn’t want to go to you, she doesn’t want to attract attention, but she saw something that will happen in a couple of hours that you need to know, it has to do with your son.’

‘What’s going to happen?’  Even if Fatima had declared herself my ally, the fact that it was Thalia talking to me made me suspicious.  Was she trying to threaten me using my son?

‘Fatima says that if you walk the fog of the future, and move just a couple of hours ahead, you will see what you need to see.  Or you can go inside her mind and see what she saw, but you may miss something if you limit yourself to what she saw.’  I wasn’t sure about her, was she trying to get me to go into trance so I would be vulnerable to an attack?  ‘You don’t have much time, you need to decide if you are going to see the future first hand or trust in Fatima’s memories, but you have to do it now before it’s too late.’

I didn’t waste my time answering, I just cut the connection between us.  I needed to find a quiet, safe place, so I could go into the fog.  I was going through my alternatives when I noticed something changed, the background noise changed, the thump I was expecting never came and my instincts made me lift and strenghten my psychic wall, just in time.  I felt Carmina’s knife hitting the wall in front of me.

“I’m sorry,” she said, with faked concern, “I didn’t mean to hurt you, I think the throw went a little bit wide.”

“More than a little.  It’s good you spend so much time practicing, it’s obvious you need all the help you can get.”

I wasn’t sure what Carmina was expecting from me, but my words made her angry, and in just a few steps she closed the distance between us.  In the time she took to get to me, I got on my feet, ready to face her.

“I know you think you’re untouchable just because you’re Faakhir’s favorite, but you should start showing the proper respect to me or I will show you how things really work here.”

“I only have to be respectful to Faakhir and Emily.  You are nothing, and if you don’t want me to prove to you just how insignificant you are, you will go away and leave me alone.  Just your presence is offensive to me, go.”

Carmina didn’t bother to respond with words, she moved faster that I could follow and grabbed one of the daggers in her belt and tried to stab me, but all she hit was my psychic wall.  Over and over she tried to break the wall and hurt me, while I just stared at her, faking concentration as I made sure the wall didn’t crumble and let her in.  I took advantage of a second of hesitation on Carmina’s part to hit her in the stomach, making her bend over, gasping for air.  She fell to her knees and tried to get her breath back as I walked away, leaving her behind.

“I have more important things to do than wasting my time with you.  Once you are able to hit more than air, look for me again,” were my parting words, as Carmina tried to get on her feet to follow, but I was long gone before she was able to do that.

During Carmina’s tantrum, people had stopped their training to watch us, so I could feel everyone’s eyes on me as I walked out of the place, but no one followed me.  I wasn’t sure where I should go for my trip into the fog, but before I realized it, I was walking towards Sofia’s garden, and I thought it would be the perfect spot.  It didn’t take long before I found what Fatima wanted me to see, and I understood why I had to go there myself, because there were many decisions that could be made, and it was best if I could be there making them and watching how it affected the flow of time.

I had no idea how a couple of kids had managed to get inside the Palace undetected, but I had to do something to stop them before it was too late.  I went inside the Palace, and moved to the area where the help had their living space.  There were just a few ways to get access to the area where the King and Queen lived, one of them was from the guards quarters where I had been training earlier, the other was from the help’s quarters, where I needed to go.  The area was like a labyrinth, with long corridors with doors that looked all the same.  I was lucky I had my powers to guide me, I just needed to focus on who I wanted to find and let my power guide my feet.

I made a turn, knowing that any moment he would turn the hallway on the other side, I didn’t know if he knew he was coming my way, or if he even knew I was in that area, but I didn’t want to warn him, I wanted his surprise to be as genuine as it could.  It only took a few seconds for him to turn into the hallway I was standing in, he was running my way, but when he saw me he tried to go back.

“Run away, get out of here,” he said to the couple behind him, but I couldn’t let them go, so I used my powers to conjure a strong wind that pushed him and them against the wall, with enough force to make them fall and give me time to get near them.

“I just had the most interesting vision, any idea what it was about?” Ethan had managed to get up and was standing between me and the other two, as if he could protect them from me.

“Not really, but if you want we could go to another place and you can tell me all about it,” Ethan tried to use his empathy to calm me down, I hadn’t even realized how angry I was at the situation until I felt his power reaching me.  Ethan was doing what he thought was best, but I wasn’t going to allow him to manipulate me, he had made a mistake, he had crossed a line he shouldn’t crossed and he needed to face the consequences.

“Do you think this is a game?”  Ethan had gone against my orders, and especially his father’s orders, he had endangered not only himself, but all of us.  But the real guilt laid with the kids behind him.  Ethan had been at the wrong place at the wrong time, he had been there when the two kids had been discovered by Jonas while trying to get into the Palace, he had been eager to torture and kill them, just for fun, to set an example.  The problem was that Ethan had been there, he had stopped him, somehow he had managed to knock him out and rescue the other two, but Jonas would wake up any moment and go directly to Faakhir, he would expose Ethan and then Faakhir would suspect me.  “Do you have any idea of what you did?” Without giving it time for second thoughts, without giving it time for regrets, I used my anger and fears and lashed out to Ethan, cleanly breaking his leg.  The sound of bone breaking echoed in the empty hall, and the scream that followed, as Ethan fell to the ground, was even worse.

“Mother!” Ethan complained from the floor.  ‘Was that really necessary?’ he asked telepathically, to avoid the other two from hearing his complain.

“Do you have any idea of the size of the trouble you caused?  Did you stop to think how this would affect me?  What will Faakhir think that my own son attacked one of his men?”  I did nothing to hide my anger from him.  ‘Ethan, our cover could be blown, you could be in danger, and I don’t know how much I can do to protect you.’

“Mother…” I felt Ethan’s change in demeanor when he realized what he had done, when he finally understood how bad he had messed up.

“Jonas is going to the King, he will tell him what you and those kids did, and Faakhir don’t care about age, the punishment for attacking his people is the same for kids or adults.  And what do you think will happen to your father?  With their parents?  It’s not only you who could lose their lives, this could affect your whole families.  I don’t care what your reasons for being here are, I’m sure that Jonas will have some interesting theories that will paint you worse than you can imagine.”  Jonas had been looking for an excuse to make me look bad in front of Faakhir since I arrived, Ethan’s actions had given him the perfect weapon for that.  He would go after my credibility, and then after my son’s life, he would find a way to force me to act.

“Jonas was going to kill Dmytro, I had to do something!” Ethan said, desperately trying to make me understand him.  “I couldn’t let Jonas kill him.”  Ethan opened his mind, he let me see what had happened from his point of view.  It had been an accident that Ethan was there, but it was Jonas’ dark thoughts that had called to him.  Jonas wanted to kill Dmytro, he wanted to make him suffer, and Ethan knew that, but he had gone to battle without taking precautions, he had exposed himself and his powers, not only to Jonas, but to Dmytro and Hye Ki, the children of my enemies.

“Maybe they deserved to die.  They came here with ill intentions.  If not Jonas, then somebody else would have to stop them.” They had been naïve, they thought they could do what others couldn’t.  They intended to install some gadgets that would have allowed them to spy on the King, they wanted to find something that could help their parents stop him.  Maybe even a way to kill the King and Queen.  “It wasn’t your place to interfere, but it’s my place to take care of them.”

“No!”  Ethan tried to get up, forgetting his broken leg, but the pain was a good reminder, and he folded as he tried to put weight on it.  “Please mother, don’t do it!  Just let them go.” He said.  ‘They are innocent, you can’t kill them or let them in Faakhir’s hands.  Let them go.’

‘Do you have any idea of what you did?’ I asked Ethan again.  ‘Jonas has been looking for a way to stop me from the beginning, you have him what he needs to do it.  You know how much it cost me to keep Faakhir’s attention off of you, you just put a target back on your back.  What do you want me to do when Jonas asks for your head?  I will have to throw years of work to protect you!’  I needed him to understand.  “Give me one good reason not to kill them right now.”  I could feel their fear, even Ethan was taking me seriously, and that was a good thing, they needed to fear me, they needed to have me even.

“I know that you are worried that Jonas will make you look bad in front of Faakhir, but what if you could make Jonas look bad?” Ethan asked.  He didn’t have a plan, but he was brainstorming, looking for alternatives, for solutions.  “Hye Ki hacked the cameras, there is no footage of us being inside the Palace.  Just let us go and make it look as if Jonas is lying about us.”  I didn’t say anything, but I was surprised by the fact that it was Hye Ki had hacked the cameras, it was something I had to confirm.  ‘C’mon mother, you know you don’t want to hurt them, there’s got to be other options, you must already have a plan or something.’  From anyone else I would have suspected flattery, but from Ethan I knew it was blind trust, he really expected me to save him.

‘You can’t expect me to solve all your problems.  You made a big mistake this time,’ I scolded him.  Both of us knew that there was no way I would leave him in Jonas’ or Faakhir’s hands, but I needed him to understand the problem he was in.  We couldn’t let it happen again.

‘I’m sorry mother, I know I should have taken better precautions, I should have come up with a plan before rushing in to the rescue, but you and I are wired the same way, you would have done the same, you wouldn’t be able to stand aside while Jonas tortured and murdered a kid, especially not the son of one of the Representatives.’

‘Maybe, but at least I think before acting,’ even if he was right, I couldn’t let Ethan off the hook.

“Mother, please, just let us go,” he pleaded in a pathetic voice, so different from the tone he was using in our telepathic conversation, I felt like laughing at his act.

“Alright,” I could feel the relief on the kids and Ethan’s sense of victory.  “I will give you a chance, but you will have to earn it.  I have a meeting with Faakhir in 10 minutes, I’m sure Jonas will go to him as soon as he wakes up, in about 15 to 20 minutes.  So that’s the time you have to get out of here, if you manage to get out by that time, I think I will be able to convince Faakhir that you were never here.”  Ethan’s mind immediately started to search for possibilities, his brain going so fast that I couldn’t follow him without risking a headache.  ‘I already talked to your aunt Mbali, she will be waiting for you at the service exit in the basement.  Can you get there in time?’

‘I think I can, I will do my best.’  “What about them?”  Ethan asked out loud, looking back at the other two that had not been included in our chat.

“They are not my problem, if they manage to get out, I think my argument against you being here, could be applied to them too.  It all depends on how fast you move.”

“Are you sure you can’t buy us more time?  I can’t exactly walk fast right now,” Ethan pointed to his broken leg.

“That’s also not my problem, if you could stay out of trouble, then I wouldn’t be forced to do stuff like this,”  I hoped he understood that the broken leg wasn’t punishment, but part of the plan.  I needed something to guarantee that Faakhir would buy my lies, I needed something that would help my words have more weight than Jonas’.  “The clock is ticking, I wouldn’t keep wasting time, you have to move, now.”  Without another word I turned around and walked away.  I needed to get to Faakhir before Jonas could reach him, I couldn’t give him the advantage and let him talk to him first.

‘Thank you mother, I’m sorry I caused you trouble,’ Ethan’s words reached me as I turned around the hallway and walked out of his sight.  I felt like I had failed him again, I haven’t even known about his problems until Fatima and Thalia told me about the vision and pointed me in the right direction, if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have been there in time to help him.