Chapter 73

“I still think we should go to the Light,” after spending a few days with the Amazons, Ethan, Yoweri and I had gone back to Aquarium. Kimball and Mbali had arrived before us, even if they had to take a detour to take Greca back to her post.

“I’m sure they will be fine, Melchizedek and Camil are taking care of that part. You don’t have to do everything,” it wasn’t the first time that Kimball said the same, but I couldn’t help feeling like I should be with them, helping them.

“I know, it’s just…”

“It’s just that you feel like you should be there, with them, making sure that everything goes according to plan, you can’t be sure things will turn out fine if you are not there to supervise,” Kimball said, as always, he knew exactly what was going on in my mind.

“It’s not like I think they are unable to do their work, it’s just that I’m used to doing these things by myself.”

“It’s just the first step, if something goes wrong, they will have another chance, and if that’s the case, I’m sure you will be there, offering your help. For now, you have done enough, so give them some time.”

“I still don’t know what will happen with the Empire, I still think there is a good chance that Pompeyo will decide to accept the Dominion’s offer, but still, the temptation the Kingdome of Light represents might be too strong.

“Then we need to start thinking what we will do about it, as one of the leaders of Mzansi there’s not much I can do, I have been too involved with this already and I’m sure that some people will disagree with my actions. You on the other hand, despite being a Dominion citizen, have the advantage of being part of the Empire, that gives you more flexibility to act.”

“But if my goal is to help the Light, and the Empire is the one going after them, I can’t use the excuse of being part of the Empire to help them, not when it’s clearly against their interests.”

“Because of that, we need to look for alternatives. Right now the problem is that the people holding the power in the Light don’t want to let go, and the people under their control wants to be free of them and their control.”

“As always, people want freedom, or at least they want to believe they are free. Most of the people fighting, won’t see a real change, they will only follow a different boss. The change will come from those who will lose their power, and the ones who will gain it. Change will depend on what the people in charge is willing to give. At first it will be ok, people will demand the changes they fought for, but some people is able to pretend is giving them what they ask for, when in reality they are only giving what they want to.”

“That’s true,” Kimball agreed, “but it won’t be easy with Melchizedek and Sofia working on it. At least in the near future, there will be people around making sure things are done properly.”

“Ethan says that at least this generation is ready to fight to make things right.  I really believe that in Ethan’s and his friends’ case it might be true, those kids have ideals to fight for, but they are not the only ones in the game, there are others that might come into play, people we are not aware of just yet.  So many things could happen.”

“Have you seen something?”

“I haven’t gone so far into the future, I know the probabilities for the near futures, but the farther away it is, the harder it is to know what will happen.  Ethan will be a key element in the future, and it’s probable that most of what happens will depend on his decisions and the paths he takes.  We both know he will end at the front of the Dominion, the only things that’s not clear is when and in which position he will be at.”

“What about Malkia and Greca?  What’s their role?”

“They are also key elements, and again, the question is when and how.”

“But we are getting away from what’s important right now.  The next step is to make sure the every nation in the world is connected again, just as before this all happened.  In the old world we had many examples of institutions created to try and control the countries and monitor them, created to stop wars.”

“Which didn’t work, that’s the whole reason we are in this situation to begin with.”

“The problem is that as long as the individual countries have freedom and independence, there are things that can’t be controlled.  You know about it, you were the first one to let the countries break out of the Dominion without retaliation.”

“At least not directly,” I reminded him.  We had economic sanctions and trade barriers put into place for when a country decided to leave the Dominion, it was nothing that would affect them directly, just something to make their lives a little more difficult.

“Anyway, that’s one of the dangers of freedom.  And this gets us back to the start, what’s next?  What’s our goal?”

“We can’t just impose the Dominion values to the rest of the world, and we know that the way the Dark Empire and the Kingdom of Light are run is quite different, that’s not taking into account the fact that we have no idea what shape the Light will be once their conflicts are done.  What we know, and we need to consider is that we need some kind of group that kind mediate between the different groups, someone who speaks everyone’s language and who can be able to find the middle ground between all of them,” even if I couldn’t read Kimball’s mind, and I wasn’t as good as him reading body language, I knew what he was thinking, thanks to everything we have gone through together.  “And before you say anything, no, I’m not that person.”

“You would be perfect,” Kimball said.

“But it would be very hard with my job as the Governor of Aquarium and Queen of Mzansi.  I’m pretty sure I will be dragged into the politics of it one way or another, but I will try to stay out of it as long as I can.  How long are we staying here?” I asked, trying to change the subject, but also aware that we couldn’t stay long in Aquarium, Kimball had responsibilities to attend to.

“According to the reports I got from the office, we can stay here a couple more days, after that, it would be impossible.  Things have been stable, but with everything that’s going on in the Light, there are a lot of discussions about how to act.  Once we open our doors for trading, I know a few countries will be eager to start on it, and you know some of the countries in our zone are worried about how it could affect them.”

“I think this agreement will be the best for everyone.”

“But not everyone thinks the same, many people think only about their own benefit, not the common one.  When we started these talks about reconnecting with the rest of the world, everyone was thinking about what they had to gain, but as soon as they realize they also have something to lose, this whole situation will turn extremely complicated.”

“Every change requires some adjustment, but everything will turn out well at the end,” I had to trust that was true, to believe that our actions would take us to something better for everyone.

“You look tense, I know about a couple of ways to help you relax,” Kimball said, and by the spark in his eyes I knew he was planning something.  “Which option do you prefer?”

“You haven’t said what are the options,” I lied, because I knew exactly what he had in mind.

“Option number one: we can go to the gym and spar for a while,” he said as he moved from his seat to be next to me, “or we can…” one of Kimball’s hand went to the back of my neck, the other on my waist, pulling me until he could reach my lips.  That was something I never got tired of, being with him was refreshing.

“Which one do you prefer?” he asked, ending the kiss, it took me a minute to get my breath back.

“I think it’s time to move this to our room.”

It was comforting to know that even after all the problems we had, and the ones we still had to face, I had someone like Kimball by my side.  Our roles had changed a lot during our time together, most of the time he was the one supporting me, and even if I had every intention of supporting him in his role as King of Mzansi, I still felt like I was the one getting most of the attention.  I was always trying to find the right moment to finish my work and get rid of the weight over my shoulders, but it was easier to say it than to do it.

What many called a gift, my clairvoyance, the power so many envied, was a hard to carry weight.  How could you glimpse at the future and not want to work at getting the best possible result?  I was convinced that once this last step was taken, I could step back and stop fighting on the front lines for the better future, but it was easier said than done.  For the moment, all I could do was enjoy the time I had with my family, I knew that by the next day we would have to move again so that Kimball and Ethan could go back to their jobs and their responsibilities.

As soon as we arrived at the capital, Kimball was surrounded by his advisors and aids, all of them fighting to get his attention on the subjects that worried them the most.  More subtle, one of my assistants came to my side to let me know I had a message from the Elders Council requesting a meeting.  As Queen of Mzansi, even if my position was more of a symbol than a real job, I still had some responsibilities and had to follow certain rules.  Even if my job as Governor of Aquarium gave me a whole different kind of responsibilities, none of those jobs required me to interact directly with the Elders Council, so a meeting request was something odd, usually when they wanted something, they sent Zola to talk to me, but a meeting was going to turn whatever they wanted to talk about into something official.

The Elders Council was in another city, and since the message didn’t say anything about meeting in person, I had to assume they were asking for a videoconference.  I told my assistant to schedule the meeting, I knew that it wouldn’t be fast, so I went to rest for a while while the others got to work.  I knew that I had things to do, but I also knew that I needed some peace before starting my new mission.

Kimball and Ethan were busy, so neither of them realized I had a meeting, by the time I had to get to the meeting with the Elders Council, I had managed to rest for a while.  Even if I hadn’t had a chance to get into the fog, I didn’t get a bad vibe from the situation, and I was fairly certain that whatever they wanted to talk about, wasn’t something bad.

“Good afternoon,” Zola’s hologram greeted me, I could see the rest of the Council around her, but as usual, Zola was the one talking, “thank you for agreeing to this talk.  We would have liked to talk to you earlier, but we know you had an important mission to take care of.”

“Greeting, honorable Elders.  It’s true that I have been busy lately, but, how can I help you?”

“I guess you already know Sofia’s plans, right?”

“It’s been a while since I talked to her.  The last time we spoke was when she visited me in Aquarium with William and Camil, to let me know about their plans for the Light Ones.”

“Sofia and Camil have been talking to many nations, trying to get them to agree to intervene in the conflict in the Light, but you know better than anyone how that would look, any intervention by a country will be bad seen by the other members of the Dominion.”

“Yes, we talked a little about that.”

“We have been talking about this, and we found a loophole,” Zola said, glancing at the rest of the Council, as if she was making sure no one was going to protest her words.  “It’s true that we can’t get involved in the conflict, we can’t send weapons, much less troops, but we can send help, and we think that it is within our power to send you as a mediator, maybe even as a trainer for their armed forces.”

“Are you sure that’s allowed?  I think that many countries will argue that this is the same as sending some of our troops.”

“The Dominion is thinking about sending people to instruct them in alternative forms of farming, medicine and construction, basic needs.  We were studying the alternatives and we concluded that sending people to help them solve their conflict was in line with these.  You mentioned you had a contact with those people, and if he accepts you as a mediator, there nothing to stop you from doing it.”

“I’m not sure if that’s an order or a suggestion,” even if I respected the Council, especially Zola, whom I knew better, I wasn’t too happy at being told what to do.

Zola started laughing, with the freedom of someone who doesn’t care what other would think of her.  “My dear Kaiserin, we know you enough to know that it is impossible to tell you what to do.  From what we know of you and your relationship with the Light Ones, we thought you would appreciate to have the option.  Let’s say this is us giving you permission to act, if that’s what you want.  Think about it, sleep on it, and if you feel the need to step in, at least you will know where the lines are.  If you act between these limits, you will have our full support, if you go further, I’m afraid there’s not much we can do for you.”

“I appreciate the option, but I still don’t know if I’m going to act on it.”

“Just let us know what decision you make, so we are prepared.  Any decision you make, we know it will be the best for all of us, your people, and the people from the Light.”

The Elder Council’s offer surprised me, but I had to admit I felt a lot better knowing I had a choice, and especially knowing I had my people’s support in case I needed to interfere.  I hadn’t considered the option of going in as a mediator, I always thought that the only one capable of that was Melchizedek, maybe Camil, but the option did look interesting.  I knew that I had to visit the fog and study the new possibilities.

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Chapter 72

It was more complicated than I first expected to get the logistics for the meeting between the Amazons, Militaries and Dominion people ready. I would have liked to have the meeting ready the day we arrived, but it took a couple of days to get everyone’s schedules aligned.

“It’s all ready,” Ethan said after a while. Molpadia and the rest of the Council had been waiting in the hallway, none of them had wanted to be in the room while Ethan was setting things up, I wasn’t sure if that was a sign of trust, or a precaution in case something bad happened.

“Perfect. What do we have to do?” Molpadia asked, walking into the room, followed by another five Amazons.

“These places,” Ethan said, signaling the seats to the right of the table, “will be occupied by the guest’s holograms. You, Molpadia, need to sit here so they can see you. The others can take any seat, they won’t be able to see you, but they will be able to hear if you want to talk.”

“You know them, what can I expect from them?” Molpadia asked me, a little uncomfortable by the lack of information.

“They are good people, they’re fair. You can trust whatever they tell you. None of them wants to hurt you, and if they did, I wouldn’t allow it. So you can believe whatever they say to you.”

“Everything is ready, the transmission is about to start,” Ethan said, and as soon as he stopped talking, Spike’s hologram appeared sitting next to Molpadia.”

“Greetings, sister, what do you think about this little surprise they got us?”

“Hi, brother. I must say I didn’t like that they dropped by unannounced, but Kaiserin’s visit has been quite nice, and just because of that it was worth it.”

“Talking to Kimball about the old times has been entertaining. What do you think about this Dominion people?”

“I can’t say until I meet them in person,” Molpadia said, just as the image of William started to form.

“Greetings, esteemed leaders,” William said. “I must say it’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Kaiserin has told me so much about you. Just like you, I was taken under Kaiserin’s protection as was trained by her. I must admit I wouldn’t be the leader I am not if it wasn’t for her and my mother.”

“It’s good to know we are not the only ones Kaiserin experimented on,” Spike said, but before William could answer to that, the President’s and Prime Minister’s holograms appeared.

“I see we are all here. Allow me to start this meeting by introducing you all. I’m here with Queen Molpadia, the leader of the Amazons. Next to her is Supreme Commander Spike, leader of the Militaries. Molpadia, Spike, here we have the leaders of the Dominion: King William, the Justice Chief, President Yu, Executive Chief and Prime Minister Stone, Legislative Chief.”

“Thanks for agreeing to this meeting…” Yu started, only to be interrupted.

“Are we just going to ignore this again?” Stone asked. “What is Kaiserin doing there? Are we going to allow her to be involved in something this big?”

“We already talked about this,” William said. “Both the President and I put our trust in Kaiserin and her intentions, therefore she is acting as our representative, no matter if you like it or not.”

Both Molpadia and Spike’s hologram turned to me, the question was clear even with their silence, but I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to answer or just ignore the situation.

“As I was saying, we are very grateful that you accepted our invitation for this meeting.  I trust that both Kaiserin and Kimball, who are there as our representatives, already told you a little about who we are.”

“Kimball told me about the Dominion, how it had moved away from their initial goal and about how Kaiserin got involved and helped them get it back on track, but right now I’m not so sure if all that was true.  I mean, if things got as bad as they told me and Kaiserin helped you save the situation, then I think you should be a little more grateful, and the attitude I’m getting from your Prime Minister is not the kind you would expect towards a savior.”

“That’s part of human nature,” Yu said, “few people are really grateful.  Everyone claimed for a savior while they were suffering, but as soon as they were able to stand on their own again, they forgot all about the hand that helped them up.  Most people admires and respects Kaiserin, William and myself included, but there are people, that just like you said, doesn’t appreciate what was done for them, and some people resent or fear the power that she has.”

“There were a lot of campaigns against me during my time in the Dominion, many that wanted to make people afraid of me, making them think I was worst that the evil I had taken down.  Some are still waiting for me to prove all those rumors true and turn into the monster they all think I am.”

“That doesn’t inspire confidence,” Molpadia said.  “We haven’t had the chance to talk to Kaiserin in a long time, but that doesn’t change the fact that our positions wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for her and her help.  It’s even possible we wouldn’t be alive without her interference.  Our trust in her is full, even if is not blind.  We won’t make any deals with you just because she says we should, and so far, you haven’t do anything to make us think we can trust you.”

“Why don’t we start again?” William suggested.  “The Dominion was founded on the principle of separations of powers, we are three people that are in charge of the government, we all have a vote, we all have our own voice.  Two of us need to be in agreement for any important decision to be made, so if one of us doesn’t like something, but the other two do, then we respect what the majority wants.  Is true that one of us doesn’t fully trust Kaiserin, but as long as the other two are on her side, then you can be assured that the Dominion is on her side.”

“That sound similar to how the old Free Clans Alliance used to work, when the New World Clan still was here,” Molpadia said.

“It’s not a proper comparison, that clan spent most of its time trying to compromise what our parents wanted to do, they were always at each other’s throats.  The New World Clan could have managed to get them to work together, and offered on several occasions the deciding vote, but what the Dominion people are talking about sounds a lot more civil.”

“What we can take up from that is that both work under a tripartite system, both use a third power to try and break ties when making decisions.”

“Interesting,” Molpadia commented, it was as if she was analyzing her brother’s words under a different light, seeing his point.  “Then we should keep going with this and then decide what we are going to do about it.  It was mentioned before that your people’s main goal is to be known by others, but Kaiserin assured me this is not an intimidation attempt, but a cooperation offer.  You want to trade with us, but I don’t know what we could possibly have that you might be interested in, and I don’t know what you have to offer that we could want.”

After that the leaders started to discuss their needs and wants, and what they had to offer.  William and Yu were the ones most interested in the talk, therefore doing most of it, with Stone just sporadically adding something.  It was all going much better than I expected, especially if compared with the meeting we had with the Imperialists.

“All of this has been very interesting, but no matter what people might think, we don’t speak for the other clans, we just represent them, so we will have to talk to them before we can make any promises to you,” Molpadia said.

“That’s totally understandable, and in fact we were thinking that might be the case.  A good leader always listens to others before making an important decision.  As a show of good faith we will be leaving you the equipment you need to make contact with us, and we will be waiting for you to contact us once you speak with the other clans,” the president said.

“I’m sure that Kimball and Kaiserin will be able to stay with you for another couple of days, long enough to explain how you can contact us again, and answer any doubts you may have about the Dominion,” William added.

“Thanks,” Molpadia accepted.  “We have a lot to think about and to discuss with the other leaders, but I believe we can all find an agreement that can be beneficial for all of us.  It’s been a pleasure to talk to you and we hope we will have the chance to do it again soon.”

The holograms started to fade out, first the Prime Minister, then the President, but William’s image lingered a while longer, enough to say his goodbyes.

“That was certainly interesting,” Spike said.  “Would it be possible for you to leave this system open a few more minutes?  And to have some privacy?”

“Of course,” I said immediately, “Ethan and Kimball can explain how to turn the equipment off, and then we will leave you to talk in private, you can take all the time you need and turn it off once you finish talking.”

“Thanks,” Molpadia said, but didn’t add anything else, just waited for us to leave so she could talk with her brother.

After giving them the instructions they needed, Ethan left, leaving just Molpadia with Areto in the room.  From what I could see, Areto had become her right hand woman, her weird power allowed her to make sure that what other people was saying was true or not.  Besides, if my intel was correct, she also had an intimate relationship with Spike, because of that I wasn’t surprised she was the one to stay behind.

“I must point out that that went better than I expected,” Ethan said.  “You old disciples are much more accessible than the Imperialists.”

“Their path has been very difficult, they were born in conflict and forged in war.  Their experiences have taught them how things can be when you are the one in a vulnerable position, when you have everyone against you.  That made them appreciate certain things in a different way.”

“But you know it could have gone in a different direction.  After Molpadia was bullied and underestimated by her equals for years, she could have become a tyrant obsessed with putting everyone in their place and humiliating those who had looked down on her.  And Spike, being Ace’s favorite and then falling as low as to become a slave, he could have gone back to enslaving everyone to take back control.  Both of them decided to learn from their experiences and they went, not to punish their opponents, but to help those under their control so they wouldn’t have to go through the same experiences they did.”

“That’s what differentiates a good leader from a bad one.”

“And that’s why you are such a good leader,” Ethan said, “it’s good you taught those two the same principles, because they became good leaders.  I just wish that Pompeyo will see beyond his personal desires and see what’s really best for everyone.”

“It’s not just about the leaders, but the people around them.  Areto is part empath and understand people and their needs and desires, that makes her a great advisor to both Molpadia and Spike.  Pompeyo on the other hand has some advisors, like Alukah, that are more focused on gathering power than to make sure their people is fine.  I’m not saying she is a bad person or that her advice hasn’t been good for Pompeyo in occasions, but the path she wants him to follow, is not the best.”

“What do you think will happen now?”

“I still trust everything will turn out right.  There are still good probabilities that they will all agree to start trading with the Dominion, and maybe, in time, with each other.  That will significantly decrease their need to fight each other.  I really hope that once this is finished, we will have some stability in the world.”

“That sound good, but you have to consider that two countries already asked to be out of the Dominion, and with the guerrilla problems we have in the Light, it doesn’t look as if world stability is right,” Ethan said.

“Human nature is not compatible with stability.  All we can do is our best to make things happen and hope that human nature won’t ruin it.  The problem is that people forgets too fast, the new generations didn’t live through the horrors of the Emily’s and Faakhir’s Dominion, so they don’t get that things could be worse.  The people from the Empire that didn’t fight through the old battles only know the stories about their ancestors’ glory, and they forget how much blood was spilled to get it.  The Rebel Clans, or Free Clans as they call themselves still remember the war from before Molpadia and Spike formed their alliance and started this new era, so they are in a different frame of mind.  The same way that the Light is just learning what war really is, it will take them a while to find peace, and a lot longer to get tired of it.”

“It depends a lot of the people in charge,” Ethan comments.  “The new generations are ready to take the Dominion to the next level.  Like me, I won’t let things get out of control again as long as I can do something to stop it.  Some day I will be in a power position in the Dominion and I will follow your example to make sure everything is well,” Ethan said.

Part of me felt like Ethan was just thinking out loud, he wanted to be part of the government, but part of him wasn’t so sure about his future.  But I knew that his dreams were not just a possibility, there was a high probability of that being his future.  Some day, Ethan would follow in his father’s footsteps and then mine at the front of the Dominion.  He was going to be a great leader, just like his sisters, all three of them had great futures ahead of them.

Chapter 67

I felt the punch coming, even if I hadn’t seen or heard anything moving, and was able to dodge in time.  The next one hit my psychic wall, it was another move that I hadn’t been able to see.  Franz’ powers were getting even better, it took me a while to break his illusion and see what was really going on, and I did it just in time to see Tatyana trying to break the wall.  We both knew she wasn’t strong enough to get through, but her attacks were having an effect on me.

I felt the psychic punch just as Tatyana was about to hit the wall again, they were trying to distract me so Tatyana would be able to get past my defense, but I changed tactics, dropping my wall and using my powers to hit both Thalia and Tatyana, and then and changed target and got to Franz.

“Good job,” Kimball said, entering the arena.  “Do you think that’s enough warming up?”

“You know I’m always ready to fight, no warming up needed,” I said.

Without hesitation Kimball attacked, as always my psychic wall was ready for him, but he was much stronger than Tatyana and my wall started crumbling from the first hit.  I could use my powers to strengthen it, but I knew that wouldn’t help for long, I needed something else.  I collapsed the wall, moving it until it was skin tight, I was going to use it for to help me endure his attacks.  We started a melee fight, knowing that even if he managed to connect a hit, my defenses were going to keep me going.

The fight between Kimball and I was like a dance, after a while it didn’t really look like we were trying to hurt each other.  I knew that I could have used my powers to get an advantage, but that wasn’t really the goal of training.

“I have to say I’m a little disappointed,” Geb said, breaking me out of the trance I had fallen into during the fight.  “I find it very hard to believe that the mighty Kaiserin is unable to fight off a simple mutant.”

“Let me tell you there’s nothing simple about this mutant,” I said, still trying to stay focused on the fight.

“I’m not impressed so far,” Geb said.

“I think that’s enough,” I told Kimball as I let my wall drop and used the energy to push him against the wall, just like I had done with my guards, but with Kimball the trick wasn’t as impressive, I was only able to push him back a few steps.

“I was only getting warm,” Kimball said with a smirk.

“If you need someone to spar with, maybe I could help,” a warrior that had been watching us offered.  She was a young General that seemed to be rather curious about me.  She was an Amon and from what I could tell, there was no blood relationship between us.

“How curious, I was about to offer the same,” another warrior said, one that had an insignia that marked him as a Colonel.  He was a Vlad, he looked younger than me, but older than the General.

“I really appreciate the offer, I usually fight two or three opponents at a time, it’s better for my training.”

“Like she was training before?  But you don’t have any powers, I really doubt you would be able to last more than a few seconds against in a fight like that,” the woman said.

“We were only training, you haven’t seen what any of us is really capable of.”

“Do you really think you would be able to face three Imperial warriors of our level?”  Geb asked.

“Yes, I really do,” Kimball said.

“Then let me join those two, and let’s see if you are as good as you think.”

“Alright, bring it on,” Kimball challenged them.

As soon as he issued his challenge, the ground under him started to shake, thanks to Geb’s powers.  The ground started to open under him, but Kimball was able to travel through the rough terrain as if nothing was happening.  He reached Geb and tried to hit him, but a wall of rock raised in front of him to protect him.  Kimball was able to break it with a couple of punches, but Geb took control of the fragments of rocks and threw them at Kimball.  The General was trying to sneak by Kimball, but she was hit by one of Geb’s attacks, Kimball took another rock fragment and threw it at the Colonel.

For a couple of minutes it looked like Kimball was in control, Geb’s attacks weren’t all that coordinated and he was helping Kimball more than hurting him, it was clear they hadn’t thought out a strategy before attacking.  The moment they noticed what Kimball and I had already noticed, the problems started, they had anticipated an easy fight and haven’t been paying attention to their actions, but once they realized it wasn’t going to be easy, they started thinking about their actions.

The three of them moved around Kimball, the ground started shaking and when Kimball started to move, he lost his balance.  He usually had enough control to avoid that kind of problems, I couldn’t understand how the trembling was affecting him so much.  When the ground started morphing and encasing him on rock, Kimball wasn’t fast enough to move away, it wasn’t until I noticed the focused look on the Colonel’s face that I realized he was doing something to mess with Kimball’s equilibrium.  With the Colonel affecting his senses and Geb keeping him trapped, the General was able to finally reach him and put her hand on Kimball’s neck.  The look of pain in his face was the only thing betraying that something was happening to him.

For a moment I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I knew it was something bad, very bad.  Kimball was about to pass out, I could tell, and I started to panic.  Just as I was thinking of going to help him, his rock prison exploded.  Kimball took the General by the neck and gave her a couple of heavy punches to her face, I could hear her bones breaking and see the General’s inert body falling down.  The rocks around him were moving again, his prison starting to build back up.  Kimball was constantly coughing, but that didn’t stop him from taking a knife out of his belt and threw it at Geb.  Geb was able to build a wall to defend himself, but Kimball reached him and broke through it, punching him in the neck.  The Colonel was the only one left.  Kimball started moving towards him, the Colonel was doing his best to affect Kimball, but even if he was walking as if he was drunk, or high, he was still moving.  The Colonel was a Vlad, and didn’t have a double mind, if Kimball reached him, he wouldn’t be able to defend himself.  At the end, the Colonel decided to drop his attack and change tactics so he could fight Kimball, but he was already tired of the game and attacked him without mercy, in just a couple of seconds his enemy’s body was unmoving on the ground.

“Are you alright?” I asked as I approached Kimball.

“I think that woman gave me a heart attack,” Kimball said, holding his arm, at first I had thought he had hurt it during the battle, but now I realized that wasn’t the issue.

“Soriya!” I called my healer desperate, I knew that she was the only one who could help him.  Zhou could have helped him, but he wasn’t there, and I felt guilty about not having included him.

“What happened?” Soriya asked as she reached us.

“Heart attack,” Kimball said, extending his hand to her.

There was nothing I could do to help them at the moment, I wasn’t sure what to do or how to help.  My powers were useless at the moment and that made me feel so helpless and angry.  I moved my attention from Kimball, I had to trust Soriya to help him, instead I focused on the people who had hurt him.

Both the Colonel and Geb had been part of it, but the one who had really hurt him was the General.  I still didn’t know her name, and I didn’t really care, the only thing I wanted was to punish her.  She was still on the ground, she hadn’t recovered from Kimball’s punch, but she was still breathing, still moving.  Using my powers I got her on her feet and while I was holding her in the air, I used something that I hated, something I tried to avoid, I gathered the static electricity in the air and shocked her.

The General screamed and starting shaking.  The instinct to kill her was strong, but I preferred to punish her using her own methods.  I went into her mind, not bothering to be careful about it, and went through her memories looking for what she had done to give Kimball a heart attack.  Usually biokinesis was hard for me, and in any other circumstances, it would have been almost impossible to give her a heart attack without causing one for me too, but my getting into her mind and borrowing her memories, I had find a way to do it without risk for me.

The woman dropped to the floor as I let my control over her go, her face was a mask of pain.

“What did you do to her?” Geb asked, getting closer to where the woman was.

“The same thing she did to Kimball.  No one hurts him without facing the consequences.”

“We were just training!” Geb complained.

“Exactly!  There was no reason to try to kill him.  Now she must face the consequences of her actions, if she really thought she could get away with trying to kill my husband without suffering for it, then she hasn’t understood who she is dealing with.  Any attack against him is an attack against me.”

“I’m fine,” Kimball said, he had a better face, but was still pale and sweaty.

“Are you sure?” I asked, using my empathy to try to see what he was really feeling, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he was trying to lie to spare my feelings.

“It’s all right, I just need some rest and something to eat,” he said, and I knew what he was trying to do and decided to play along.

“Then it would be better if we go back to our rooms,” I said, and went back to his side.  Together we left the arena, I didn’t bother saying goodbye to the others and I knew that my guards would be following us.

“You didn’t have to attack her,” Kimball admonished me.

“She hurt you, that’s reason enough for me, they need to learn not to mess with me or mine.  You had already proven your point, I needed to prove mine.  That was only training, she could have killed you, a clan leader, that’s not correct.”

As soon as we got out of the arena, I started sending energy to Kimball, I tried to be discreet, but after a few steps Kimball realized what I was doing.  At first he just stared at me, a warning in his eyes, but he didn’t say anything until we reached our destination.

“I don’t need your energy,” he said as soon as the door closed, “the damage is not as bad as you think, even without Soriya’s help my body would have been able to heal it,” I was getting ready to reply, to tell him it was nothing and that he did need my help, but I didn’t get the chance.  “Remember the last reunion between Pompeyo and his generals will start shortly.  You said you wanted to be there, and for that you will need all of your energy, since I won’t be with you and I really doubt he will let you take your guards with you.  Even if things are getting better, you can’t let your guard down or be at less than your full capacity while in his presence.”

“Pompeyo and his people won’t be a problem,” I said automatically, but I could tell that Kimball wouldn’t be convinced by that argument.  “In case I need it, I could take energy from people around me.  I will be fine, you don’t have to worry about me.”

“And you don’t have to worry about me,” Kimball countered.

I knew it was useless to argue with Kimball, so I stopped using my powers on him, he already looked better anyway.  Soon it was time to go to where the reunion was taking place, and even if I didn’t want to leave Kimball’s side, I knew that he would be fine by himself, and I had a mission to finish.  I went to the meeting with plenty of time, but I found Pompeyo and Alukah already waiting there, it was clear they weren’t going to give me a chance to choose my place again, and they were ready to fight me if needed, luckily they had given me a place close enough to Pompeyo, so I decided not to cause trouble, yet.

One by one all the generals in the Empire arrived, and soon enough the place was full.  I saw the General that had attacked Kimball walking in, she has been one of the last ones to arrive, and she looked awful.  As soon as she saw me her face changed, and I was glad to notice she was afraid, and that meant she wouldn’t be a problem anymore.”

“What happened to you, Hygea?” Pompeyo asked.  “You look bad.”

“Nothing,” she said shyly, glancing in my direction.

“What did you do to her?” he asked me, he sounded angry, but I could tell he was also feeling apprehensive, I knew he didn’t want another confrontation with me.

“Nothing,” I said.

“I don’t have time for this, I won’t allow you to go around attacking me people without reason.”

“But I had a very good reason.  I think I had already been very clear that I won’t allow anyone to attack me or my family.  She offered to spar with Kimball, and then tried to kill him.  It was supposed to be a good faith fight, but she crossed a line and that’s unacceptable.”

“So you saw Hygea winning the fight and you decided to step in?  Does your man is incapable of fighting his own battles?” Alukah asked.

“Kimball is more than able to finish his own fights, the damage you see, the broken nose and cheekbone are his handiwork, I just made sure she got a taste of her own power, so I gave her a heart attack.  Her attack is strong enough to kill a normal person, and since I’m pretty sure she wasn’t aware of what Kimball could do, I’m certain she was trying to kill him, that’s not right, not in that kind of fight, not with a clan ally.”

“That doesn’t justify what you did,” Pompeyo said, as always, trying to recover the control of the situation.  “You shouldn’t have interfered, especially if like you said Kimball had already repelled the attack.  It’s not honorable to attack two against one,” I couldn’t stop the smile on my lips, I haven’t been meaning to explain the circumstances of the fight, but the chance to do so have fallen into my lap, and I couldn’t let it pass.

“By the time I got involved, the original fight was over, Kimball had been able to neutralize his enemy, besides, even if I had been involved in that fight, it would have been three against two, not one against two.”

“Now what the hell are you talking about?” Alukah asked.

“Kimball and I usually prefer to spar against several opponents at the same time.  Hygea offered to spar with Kimball, and when we mentioned this preference, a Colonel I don’t know, and Geb, offered to participate, the three of them attacked Kimball.”

“That’s really hard to believe, if Hygea and Geb were working together, and trying to kill him as you imply, then he would be dead,” Alukah said, as always trying to cause trouble.

“I’m embarrassed to admit that is true.  Gallu, Hygea and I attacked Kimball, and he was capable, not only of defeating us, but he did it while having a heart attack.  Truth is I wasn’t aware of Hygea intentions at the time, but I was part of the attack,” Geb said, and I couldn’t help but glare at him reminded of the fact that he had contributed to Kimball being hurt.

“All of that is irrelevant,” Pompeyo finally getting tired of the discussion.  “None of us should have collaborated to that ridiculous situation.  And you,” he told me, “you shouldn’t have attacked my people nor react that way.  In the future, I expect better from you, I won’t accept that kind of behavior in my clan.

I just nodded, letting Pompeyo win that battle, after all, I had already made my point and I knew that the rest of the people there would think twice before going after me or mine again.

The rest of the meeting went without trouble, it was the last meeting between the Generals and the Emperor, and they had already set the plan for what they would be doing the next few months.  I would have loved to get involved, but I knew it wasn’t time yet, soon it would be my chance to affect the path of the Empire, for the moment, what was important was to make others see me as part of the clan, to make sure that my presence and my comments wouldn’t be questioned.

Chapter 66

Once the reunion was done, we went to the throne room to see how the meeting had gone for Ethan and Greca.  I knew that it wouldn’t be easy for them, they were the new guys and, besides, their relationship with me would put them in a difficult position.

As soon as the doors opened, my suspicions were confirmed.  I could see the floor moving back to its original position while Ethan was trying to walk away from the throne in what was supposed to be a careless manner, while Greca was still standing next to the throne with a smile on her face.

“Already causing trouble?” I asked Ethan.  I could see most of the other attendees looking at him with a mix of fear and respect, while others looked at him with hate and resentment, the defeated I guessed.

“Of course not, you know me.”

“That’s exactly why I’m asking.  I hope you didn’t kill anyone,” I said, looking around and looking for possible victims.

“You offend me, mother,” Ethan said, trying to look all innocent, “you know I wouldn’t hurt anyone.”

“We both know that your cousin would say otherwise.  Do I have to remind you of the time you almost killed two of them?”

“First of all, they attacked me first, and second, they are fine.”

“Just because your mother arrived in time to keep them stable and because I was able to use my medical knowledge to save them.  I don’t think it’s a good idea to start making enemies, so fast, you shouldn’t be starting fights,” Kimball said.

“We didn’t start them,” Greca said, defending her brother, “we just finished them.”

“I’m surprised you have a problem with this,” Inionri told me, “you were always causing trouble, you tried to kill many people during these reunions, you even managed to kill a few.”

“If it was only me there wouldn’t be a problem, like you said I would have done much worse, but Kimball is a pacifist and he is trying to teach Ethan more control.”

“A pacifist that threatened to destroy a whole clan?” Inionri asked.

“I don’t have problems acting when it’s needed,” Kimball said, “but I don’t think my son has to prove anything to them, we already know who are the most powerful warriors in this room, no one here is really a challenge to them, and if they know what they are capable of, then I don’t see why they need to fight or prove anything to anyone.”

“You seem to have a lot of confidence in your son, but he has never been in a real fight in the Empire,” Inionri pointed out.

“I’m pretty sure that Ethan could handle any of your children, Ratu included,” I said.

“Don’t be so sure, my kids are pretty good, I’m sure they could take yours,” she said.

“My three kids against your five, I’m sure they will beat them without problems,” I said.

“What is she doing?” Greca asked Ethan.

“She is most likely organizing a fight so she could prove to her cousin that we are stronger.  I’m used to my mother making others agree to fight me, it’s her way of teaching them a lesson.  It’s always fun to see how someone who thinks can defeat mom is defeated by me, the humiliation they feel is increased that way.  She already defeated Ratu, but I think that making one of us fight her, is her way to really show her she is not that big a deal.”

“You really think highly of yourselves,” Ratu said, she had followed her mother into the room, “but even if I have to recognize that the stories about you turned out to be true,” she said, “there is no way that your son or daughters would be able to fight me, I’m older and more experienced than any of them.”

“I think you are underestimating us,” Malkia said, “you have no idea what we are capable of.  But it’s not worth it to discuss this with you, as Kimball said, we don’t have to prove anything to you.”

“It looks more like you are afraid to fight me, maybe because you don’t want people to realize how weak you really are.  So many people talking about your mother and what she is capable of, it must be very frustrating to be compared to her and know you can’t live up to the expectations,” another warrior entered the room and stood next to Ratu, there was something familiar about him and it took me a moment to place him as another of Inionri’s children, looked like Ratu’s older brother.  “It’s better for them if they don’t fight, it will save them the public humiliation.”

“You didn’t see what those two did, Nanjue, I don’t think it’s a good idea to make them mad.”

“Don’t be a coward, Shinatobe, maybe you are impressed by a few cheap tricks, since you are fresh out of the Burrows, but we have enough experience to face even strong enemies.”

“So now we are enemies?  Every moment I become more convinced that this fight is a good idea,” Ethan said.

“Enough,” Kimball interrupted.  “I don’t think this is the time for this.  You said you were going to spend some time with your family,” he told me, “I will then spend some time with our children, try not to collect more enemies in the meantime.”

“You are the one who came here trying his hardest to make everyone your enemy, don’t try to tell me now that I’m the one with the problem,” I complained.  “You know that things here are different,” I started, but Kimball wasn’t listening, he had already signaled Ethan to move to his side, and I could tell that even if they weren’t sure it was a good idea, Malkia and Greca were also following him.

“Do you really think they can take my kids?” Inionri asked while staring at the three of them standing there.

“I’m pretty sure they can, but we can organize something to prove it,” I suggested.

“I’m not sure I want to participate in any plan you come up with, if I wanted to do something about this, I would challenge them myself,” Ratu said.

“I guess that you would have to face Greca and the little one would have to fight Ethan,” Nanjue said.

“No thank you, after watching what he did to Fergus’ group the last thing I want to do is face that crazy guy,” Shinatobe complained.

“And what exactly happened?” I asked.  “Because I remember his father strictly forbidding him from fighting any of his cousins unless it was a life or death situation.

Shinatobe stayed silent, glancing at his siblings, but without any intention of talking to me.  I couldn’t help but smile at that weird show of loyalty.  Inionri was also smiling, doing your best to keep your partners out of trouble was part of a non-written code among young soldiers, and the fact that he was including my son in it made me happy.

“Well, I wanted to introduce my kids to you officially, and I think that part is covered, want to go elsewhere to talk?” Inionri asked.

“Who else is invited?” I asked, knowing that the reunion wouldn’t be just between the two of us, but that was a good thing, I wanted the opportunity to talk to the others.

Just as I expected, Inionri guided me to a big room, where soon some of my other allies would arrive, but before that, both of us noticed that Ratu was following us.

“I would like to talk to you for a moment,” she said, the respectful tone she was using was the first clue she wanted something from me.

“We can do this two ways,” I told her, “I could take care of it myself, going into your mind and setting a series of instructions that would let your powers know what to do in order to protect you when you have a vision, or I could teach someone you trust how to do it,” Ratu was surprised by my words, I wasn’t sure if she was more surprised by the fact I knew what she wanted, or because of the options I was giving her.

“What are you going to ask in return?” she asked, I could tell she didn’t trust me and that she was expecting me to demand something drastic out of her, like for her to kill Pompeyo or something like that.

“I will ask you to stop seeing me and my daughter as enemies, and that you keep out of any crazy plans that Pompeyo comes up with against us.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s all I need from you.  I don’t need you to stop anything they try against me, but it will be much better if I don’t have to worry about you too.  I know exactly what you are going through.  You would have been a great Empress, but you weren’t even given the chance to try, so the least I can do is help you keep being part of this clan.”

“I told you that you don’t have to worry,” Inionri said.  “We are family, and Kaiserin and I have been allies from the beginning, so everything will be fine.  We won’t let that cursed Fedelm to get her claws into you, all you need to worry about is Pompeyo and whatever he has to say about this.”

“My brother told me he would support me, he knows it’s better for him to keep me by his side instead of leaving me to rot in those caves.”

“I see that you understand exactly how I felt when I was in your situation.  People insist in saying that I betrayed the clan, but the truth is that the clan was going to betray me by stealing my life.  I refused to be part of that game in the past, and until your brother does what needs to be done to change that, I will do my best to help whomever needs it.  Sooner or later your brother will realize that I came here to help, not to make things worse.  I’m pretty sure most of you won’t like my ideas, but you need to understand that I have the best of intentions.”

“Sometimes good intentions aren’t enough,” Ratu said.

“I know, I have lived it.  But for now, we have time, so think about the options I gave you and decide which one is best for you.”

“I will, thanks you.  I’ll leave you to your talk.”

More people arrived in the room, most of them I recognized, but there were a few new faces.  Thanks to my visions I had a good idea of how my family had expanded, I knew some faces, some names, but I wasn’t always certain how they were related to me or what their position in the Empire was.

Something that had most of them worried was my reasons for being there.  For them it was hard, if not impossible, to understand that I had no intentions of taking over the clan.  I knew that I needed to establish my presence there before the true changes started.  Both the North and the South had already started to change and the Empire was trapped in the middle.  It was necessary to find a way for them to adapt to those changes.

I knew that I would have to pay a visit to Melchizedek soon, he would have a better idea of what was going on with his people and how it could affect mine.  I knew that he had realized he had been overly optimistic about his revolution.  Even if the Light Ones were known to be peaceful people, once their basic instincts had been awakened, the consequences had been bad.  Those people had been trapped in a masked tyranny, and as soon as the blindfolds started to fall, the consequences became clear.

I knew that it would be very difficult to avoid the bloodshed if the young people in the Empire insisted on keeping their tradition of conquering and taking things by force, but I hoped I could convince them there were other ways to reach the prosperity they wanted.  I wouldn’t be easy for them, but I had never gone for the easy path in my life.

 

Chapter 65

The reunion that was scheduled for that afternoon could only have two representatives from each clan, Ethan had wanted to be one of them, obviously, but as soon as I gave him the option to be part of the Heirs Reunion he had accepted the change, so only Kimball and Zola would be there with me.  Greca was also going to the Heirs Reunion as representative from the Assassins, while Antrax and Malkia assisted to the same reunion as me.

I knew that it was usual for the Emperor to be one of the last to arrive, so I went early and took the seat that I knew belonged to Alukah, Maddan was also early and had already taken the seat to the other side of the Emperor’s.

‘Alukah won’t be happy that you are sitting in her place,‘ Maddan told me using telepathy.

I’m sure she won’t be, but I’m trying to prove something, and I hope those impulsive youngsters are smart enough to take advantage of the opportunity I’m giving them,‘ I said, using the same method.

I knew, or at least I expected that my words would make Maddan act, and that he would talk to Pompeyo about my actions, warning him about the situation.  When Pompeyo entered the room, he stared at me, but said nothing, he didn’t ask me to move, not even because of Alukah’s obvious anger at being displaced from her seat.

“Thank you all for coming here,” Pompeyo greeted the leaders in the room.  “I know it has been a couple of difficult days for all of you, and I appreciate your cooperation with our investigation about the Death’s Clan’s actions.  I’m glad to inform you that our investigation determined that they were acting alone.  The Death’s Clan is now under the Imperial Clan’s control, and right now we are going through their people and eliminating threats, so we are sure they won’t be a problem anymore.”

“You must know, Your Majesty, that even if they had succeeded with their plan, that most clans wouldn’t have recognized their claim to the throne, but right now, some of us are wondering, who is representing the throne?  The fight the other day showed who really is the most powerful warrior in the place,” said one of the leaders I didn’t know, but I could tell from his uniform that he was from the Guerrilla Clan.

“I think it is obvious who is representing the clan, after all Pompeyo is the one sitting in the place of honor, a seat only the leader of the clan can take,” I said, jumping into the conversation.  “If at any moment we decide to change that, I’m pretty sure you would be able to tell.  So let me give you a piece of advice, if a clan you are dealing with has such clear ways of depicting their power structure, don’t try to mess with it, you may get in trouble.”

“I’m sorry if my words caused any offense, I thought it was a valid question after everything that happened.  There are a lot of rumors about you.  And I have to say, it’s not normal to see someone like you sitting by the Emperor’s side, especially since you have such close and obvious ties to at least another two clans.”

“It really seems like you are looking to cause trouble, that’s never a good idea,” I told him directly.

“There is true in his words,” someone else said, and I was surprised to see it was someone from the Gatherers’ Clan, a minor clan that was under the Imperial Clan’s control, “there are a lot of rumors about you, many stories are being told and we have already seen a few truths.  It’s hard to believe that someone like you who was supposedly been an Empress, can be by the current Emperor’s side.”

“I was forced to leave that position a long time ago, and it was my brother who assumed that position after me, up until he died, and as you can see, it was his son who inherited the role.  For the moment, I have no interest in the position, and as I said, if I ever change my mind, you all will know about it.”

“Who are you really?  Not every story can be true,” a young woman from a clan I didn’t recognize asked.

“It would be better if we talk about this before, or we won’t be able to have a real conversation,” Pompeyo said.  “I think it will be better to take a few minutes to answer the leader’s questions, before we leave the subject behind.”

“I think that’s a great idea.  First of all, for those of you who don’t know already, I’m Kaiserin from the Royal Families,” I started, taking back my old tittle, confident that all the families leaders would recognize me, “I’m the daughter of Empress Sultana and Emperor Kamose.  I was born here and I spent my first years of service right here.  After my mother’s death, one of my brothers decided I was a threat to what he considered his right to the throne, so between him and my father, my memory was erased and I was sent to Sector 32, where they expected me to disappear.  A couple of years later a few of my old subordinates found me and helped me remember who I really was.  I stayed there for a few years, getting my memory back and recovering my powers, until I became the Sector’s General, and after my father’s death, the new Empress.”

“And then you left.  What reason could you have to leave the most important position in the Empire?” the woman that had talked before asked.

“Just before becoming the Empress, I became a seeress, and also got pregnant, which proved to be something very complicated for me.  My pregnancy feed my clairvoyance, and I spent weeks having visions in which my daughter was being murdered by my own clan, mostly because they considered her lineage impure.  I decided to go looking for advice, but I was betrayed by one of my closest allies in the way.  Being away from the Palace opened my mind to other kinds of visions, and I found out that the war between Amazons and Militaries was going to bring problems to the Empire, so I decided to head that way and try to affect the way that war was going to develop.”

“Do you really expect us to believe that anything those clans could do would have hurt us?” the leader of the Guerrilla Clan asked.  “The Empire was capable of crushing them.  They Rebels Clans didn’t become a problem until a few years ago.”

“If the Militaries had won that war, they would have attacked with all the power of the North, they would have been drunk on power and wouldn’t have cared about anything but winning.  They would have been defeated at the end, but a lot of lives would have been lost in the process.  As the current Empress it was my job to find a way to protect my people’s lives.  If the Amazons won, the danger to our people was considerable lower, because they would have been more cautious in their approach, and because of that my focus was on making sure they won their war.  Once there, I also found a way to avoid a conflict with the Empire, making sure that the next leader of the Amazons wouldn’t want to fight my people.”

“And you did it,” Flora from the Naturalists said.  “But you never came back to claim your throne.”

“Even if I had come back, I wouldn’t have been able to claim my throne, not as a seer, I would have been taken to the same place the other seers are taken, I would have been hidden and protected from the rest of the Empire, I would have lost my influence and my freedom.  I saw every possible scenario, my futures, and I knew that coming back was not an option for me.  Luckily, by then I had already met Kimball, and being with him opened more opportunities for me.  My path by his side was not an easy one, his own people was at war back then and I joined their fight.  The enemy they were fighting was very strong, and at the end, we realized we wouldn’t be able to defeat him directly, so we faked our surrender and I moved to work with him while I was building a resistance, after a few years I killed the leaders of the Dominion and took control of all the territories.  Little by little I gave back what I had recovered, and just a while ago I finally gave up the last piece of power I was holding.  That’s why I’m here now.”

“Are you here to take control?” Alukah asked.

“The world is changing,” I started my explanation, my voice changed a little and as I remembered I knew my eyes were turning foggy and I would fall into something resembling a trance.  I knew that a little show would help make my point, so I tried to remember what I had seen in my visions.  “A shadow is growing over the Light, and those who were hidden before are coming out.  The change is coming and it will affect every person in this world.  Those who embrace the change will enter a new era of peace and prosperity, those who hide from it will choke on the ashes of their own ego.”

“What does that mean exactly?” Pompeyo asked.

“You should know that is pointless to try to get a straight answer out of a seer,” Alukah said.

“A couple of years ago a revolution started in the Light Kingdom, things are changing in the South and sooner or later, those changes are going to affect the Empire.”  Kimball said.  “Also, our presence here is a proof there is a whole world you know nothing about.  The change in the North started years ago and the Amazons and Militaries are living proof that things can change and evolve.  Soon it will come the time for the Empire to change and adapt.”

“Soon I will get tired of your cryptic words and superiority complex.  We want answers, not more questions.”

“You don’t always get what you want.  But you can be sure that we are here to help.  Despite what you think, our missions is to help and guide you in the challenges that are coming your way.  It’s nothing bad, you are not in danger or anything like that, but it’s always a good idea to have a guide when you are in unfamiliar territory.”

“How can we be sure you are here for our best interest?” Felinae from the Beast’s Clan asked.  “I don’t trust you, and the others shouldn’t either.  It’s easy to talk, but the truth is you left your clan, you turned your back on your own people and sold yourself to our enemies.  Like they already said, you have ties to at least a couple more clans and you also accepted having ties with the Light Ones.  How can we be sure you won’t betray us to them?”

“Kaiserin is a force of balance, she doesn’t believe in favoritism, it’s not in her DNA.  What you are accusing her of, is something people in the Dominion also tried to prove, but no matter how many times she was accused of having her ties with one of another faction affect her decision making, the truth is that it never happened.  One of the reasons she was able to hold onto her power for so long, was because of people’s loyalty to her.”

“And are we supposed to just believe you?  You’re just a decrepit old lady that it’s not even a warrior of this Empire.  There is no proof that anything you say it’s true, and I don’t believe anything you say,” Felinae said.

“I would be more careful of whom I insult, Zola can look old, but she is practically indestructible, and if you make her mad, you will regret it,” I warned.

“I think we are getting away from our objective,” Maddan interrupted.  “This reunion if to discuss the Empire’s problems and talk about the actions we will be taking for everyone’s sake.  We can be distracted by Kaiserin or her family, we need to focus on what’s important.”

“If everyone’s curiosity is satisfied, then we will continue,” Pompeyo said, trying to regain control of the situation, “and if it’s not, then you can wait and ask your questions at another time.  We already lost a lot of time because of the attack the other day, and I’m sure you are all eager to return to your own territories as soon as possible.”
It was clear that the people there didn’t want to change the subject, but I could also tell no one was willing to go against the Emperor.

The rest of the reunion continued with Pompeyo doing his best to ignore me, and with most of the clans staring at me, eager to know more.  I could tell I had won most of their respect, but there were still a few that didn’t like me.  I had done my part for the moment, I had done my best to establish Pompeyo as the rightful leader and I had explained what I could about who I was and where I had been.  I knew that there was still a lot left to explain, but I had done what I could at that time.

I could tell that Pompeyo was angry about the situation, he didn’t like knowing that he didn’t have all of their attention on him, luckily he had realized that fighting me would only make him look bad again, and for the moment it was better to play along and pretend we were all working together.  I knew and understood that the situation wasn’t the best, and that my presence was causing more questions than answers, but I couldn’t worry about it, I needed to reestablish my presence in the clan and get all the clans to trust in me.

No matter what happened for the rest of the day, my goal had been reached.  I knew that I would need to have some private meetings with some of the other leaders, but for the moment things were going according to plan, and what was better, it looked like Pompeyo had left alone his campaign against Malkia.

Chapter 64

The vision vanished as soon as it had come, leaving me with a lot of questions and almost no answers.  I knew that I would have to go back and find more about what I had seen, but that would have to wait, I was exhausted, really tired, and already feeling what felt like the beginnings of a psychic headache, it took me a few seconds to understand what had happened, a few seconds until I fully processed the destruction in front of me.  The table was in pieces and the people that had been there for breakfast had been pushed against the wall, some of the soldiers looked in bad shape, and I could see a broken body to the side, and by his position, I could tell he was no longer alive.

Kimball was by my side, helping me stand up, because he knew how tired I was.  I saw Ethan standing with Pompeyo and his group, only one them looked hurt, the others were fine.  My daughters were standing to the side with another group, all of them unharmed.

“Are you ok?” Fatima asked from behind me.

“I little tired.  I see these idiots didn’t get the message the first time and kept trying to attack, without luck, but that made me spend a lot of energy.  It was very unfortunate that the vision came to me when it did.”

“It was no accident,” Fatima said, “it seems the local seeress put you into a trance, which surprises me, she is not even half as strong as you are, you should have been able to stop her.”

“What are you talking about?  Fedelm can make me have visions?”

“Didn’t you learn about that with your teacher?  Did he ever force you into a vision to teach you how to control your powers?”

“You must remember that my teacher was a Light One, a very considerate and polite person who taught me without forcing me into anything.  I never thought you could be forced into a vision like that.”

“Maybe you should ask Queen Sofia to teach you how to avoid falling into the trap again.”

“I’m pretty sure that Fedelm sent that vision because she thought I would be at her people’s mercy while in trance, now that she has seen how wrong that assumption was, I doubt she will make the same mistake again, especially if we consider that she won’t always be able to hide behind someone from my family to avoid damage.”

“What you did was impossible,” Fedelm said, “you are not supposed to be able to use your powers while in trance, that’s against everything we know.”

“Making the impossible possible is just one of my many abilities.  All my life I have worked on that, many people has underestimated me, but everyone who has make that mistake has suffered the consequences,” when I said that, I used my powers to grab the young Emperor and drag him over the destruction until he was in front of me.  Several of his guards moved to attack, but I threw them against the wall once again to remind them what would happen to them if they attacked.  “I don’t usually like to kill members of my family, but if you insist on crossing me, I will make an exception,” I threatened.

“I won’t stand still while you come here and take what’s mine,” he answered as he tried to attack me with his powers.

I knew that the situation was going to escalate very fast, I needed something drastic to make him stop his attacks, if I didn’t we would just end up fighting every time we met, so I used my powers to drag his mind into mine, while I kept his body frozen outside.

I locked Pompeyo’s mental representation inside some crystals that had my memories of my fights with the Amazons and the Dominion, and I even showed him how I had taken control of Mzansi for a while, just to show him how every time I gave that power back, how I had refused to take control of the Amazons, even after defeating the War Council, how I had given Kgosi control of Mzansi and how I had given up control of the Dominion little by little so its own people would be in control.  Once I made my point, I let him out of my mind.

Outside, my people had surrounded me to stop people from attacking, but there were several that were staying out of the conflict, and once I let Pompeyo go, I realized that the people supporting me was bigger than Pompeyo’s group.

“I hope that this doesn’t happen again,” I told Pompeyo, who was still angry at me, but at least I hoped he could understand what I was trying to tell him.

“How did you do that?” Ratu asked.  “How did you avoid being vulnerable while you were in trance?  That’s why seers have to hide from the world, the reason why they have to stay always at the Palace, because it can be dangerous to have a vision and be unprotected in case someone attacks, but you were able to defend yourself.”

“That’s a trick I learned, believe it or not, in the Shadowlands.  A person there was sick, and used his biokinesis to keep living, but it required constant concentration, something that didn’t work as soon as he was distracted of fell asleep, so a group of them found a way to make his powers work constantly, using hypnosis to teach his body how to work.  It’s the same principle of what I do, I make my body follow a series of instructions when I fall into trance by using auto-hypnosis.”

“Is that how you are able to keep a seeress as one of your guards?” Ratu asked.  “You go into her mind and put some orders so she can keep working even when she has a vision?”

“Fatima didn’t need my help for that, she is a powerful technopath, and one of her many abilities is creating gadgets that connect to her and are able to protect her while she is in trance, she has everything, from shields to attack weapons.”

“Then there is a way for me to keep being a warrior,” Ratu said, and it was impossible not to notice the hope in her voice.

“Don’t even think about it, Ratu,” Fedelm threatened, “your destiny was written a long time ago, you will soon have your third vision and as soon as you are reborn as a seeress, you will belong to the seers.  Despite your tricks, you must know that you belong with the rest of the seers” she continued talking to me directly, “that’s your destiny, and your duty, and you shouldn’t keep denying your place with us, no matter what fancy tricks you have learned.”

“There is no way you can force me to go with you, you already saw what would happen if you try.  Ratu, I completely understand your position, it’s very frustrating, for every seer in the Empire, to know they will spend the rest of their lives locked up.  The seers are some of the most powerful seers in the world, always, and the fact that they have such an obvious weakness is what drove our people to come up with this system, instead of looking for other alternatives.  I didn’t leave the Empire because I was a seer, but that is the reason I never came back, even after I found a way to fight that weakness.  Part of me doesn’t have any problem helping you, but the other is not that happy with the idea of helping someone that is so eager to ruin my life.”

“This is the way the clan had worked for many generations, you can’t come here and change everything.  We are powerful, we are invincible.  Don’t think this is finished.  I’m the most powerful seer in the Empire and sooner or later I will find the way to defeat you.”

“If I were you, I wouldn’t insist so much for me to be part of your group.  As you know the most powerful seer in the group automatically becomes the leader, and if you take me there, I will be the leader.  Haven’t you wondered why no one knew I was a seer?”
“You were lucky to be far from the rest of the seers when you awakened, I’m sure your potential was so low no one noticed you.”

“There are two clear errors in your words,” Fatima said, “and you should know that yourself.  As leader of the seers, as the strongest of your group, you should know that the weaker the seer is, the most people will notice their birth, you must feel the echo of every seer being born in the Empire, no matter how far they are, but the biggest error is to think that Kaiserin’s birth as a seer was away from here, as far as I know, her third vision took place here, in the Palace’s hallways.”

“That’s not possible, someone would have noticed,” Fedelm said.

“Do you remember the day I was found in the hallways badly hurt, after my father threw me out of the General’s meeting?”

“I remember,” Maddan said, “the bodies of your attackers were trapped in the spikes you have filled the hallway with, but I always thought it weird they had been able to hurt you in the first place.”

“The only reason they were able to reach me was that they caught me while I was trapped in a vision, my third vision, the one that marked my birth as a real seer.  Melchizedek, the Light Ones’ seer, and the most powerful seer in the continent felt me and was able to help me understand my new role and my new powers.  There was only one more person that knew about my awakening, and that was Queen Sofia, a seeress that lives on the other side of the world.  They were the two most powerful seers in the world at that moment, and I became the third.”

“You’re lying, that can’t be true.”

“There is a simple way of proving it,” Fatima suggested.  “Go into the fog, there you can prove who has the most control over it.  Kaiserin is able to see more and walk more paths than anyone.  Her control and command over the fog is undeniable.”

“I don’t want to go inside right now, not after the vision I was just forced to see.  I will need more time before I’m able to face it.”

“What did you see?” Kimball asked, concerned.

“I’ll tell you later.  Now, I think this breakfast is ruined, and I haven’t even had a chance to eat, so if you excuse us, and even if you don’t, my family and I will take our leave.”
We still had a lot to talk about as a group, but I needed some time for myself, besides, I needed to be in a safer environment so I would be able to rest my mind so I could avoid the full headache that was threatening me.  Luckily, not much had changed in the time I had been away, and I was able to find a small dining room where I could request some breakfast for us.

“What you did was incredible,” Malkia said once we finally got our breakfast.  “To be able to do something like that is amazing, especially since you were in a trance.  For a moment I feared we would suffer the consequences of that attack, but it never reached us.”

“My power is constantly adapting.  After an accident when I had a vision while Ethan and I was sparring, and I ended up hurting him, I looked for ways to avoid something like that happening again.  My power is capable of recognizing Ethan’s psychic barrier, and neutralize, or at least minimize the damage done to it.  I’m glad the same happened with you.”

“Ethan warned us that something was about to happen and that we needed to copy what he was doing, it was a little weird, but that barrier seems to be very useful, I just hope we will be able to use it in other circumstances,” Greca said.
“Everything I can do, and everything Ethan can do, you can copy and then learn with a little practice.  We have time, and the chance to practice, you just have to tell me what you would like to learn, and I can teach you.  It’s the same principle you and your sister use to share your powers, there is a lot you can take from me.”
“I had seen you doing such incredible things, I wouldn’t know where to start.  There is so much I would like to learn.”

“And I promise I will teach you everything you want.  I had the chance to teach Malkia about the astral planes and how to use that ability, but I haven’t had the chance to work with you.  We have wasted so much time, and I want to fix that.  Anything you want to learn, anything you want to do, if is in my power to do it, then we will.”

“I think you should teach us all that trick you took from Alukah,” Ethan said, “that seems like a pretty good ability to have.”

“That’s quite a useful ability, but also dangerous, it’s easy to lose yourself in the feeling of all that energy you are taking, you could easily leave the other person without energy, it’s easy to kill and not even realizing it.  I think I would feel better to teach you how to take energy by contact first, and once you have control over that teach you how to take it from a distance.”

“Do you think Pompeyo finally learned his lesson?” Malkia asked.  “I don’t like to be constantly looking behind my back for fear of him trying something.”

“I’m afraid that’s not something that will change any time soon, even if Pompeyo change his tune.  He is not the only one after you, he is only the most obvious one.  I hope things will change, Fedelm’s vision forced me to see a future that’s very far from what we see now.  Many changes are coming our way, I just hope we can keep some control.  What they did make me tired, I think I will have to go get some rest before facing the rest of the clans this afternoon.”

“I think that’s a good idea.  You need to be at full strength, or as close as you can if you are going to face a group that could get aggressive.  And sooner or later, you will have to start letting your people handle them.”

“As long as I can keep fighting, I will.  I have to show that I’m strong, at least for now, any sign of weakness can open the door to new attacks, until they get that they can’t defeat me, I will have to keep showing them what I’m capable of and fight anyone who wants to challenge me.”

Chapter 63

I woke up the moment Kimball put me in bed, I saw we were no longer in the living room and that my children were no longer with us, I realized I had fallen asleep.

“Please, tell me I didn’t fall sleep in front of everyone.”

“Your body can only hold on for so long, you were exhausted and your body required rest, so it took it.”

“My family must think I have become very weak with time, what kind of idiot falls asleep at a time like this?”

“No one was bothered or had anything to say about the fact that you needed sleep.  Everyone understands the need for rest after a fight like the one you just had.  And as your doctor, I think you need even more sleep.”

My first instinct was to refuse, but I was really tired and still wanted more sleep.  For a moment I feared they had given me something to make me feel like that, some pain medicine could have that effect, but after thinking about it, I had to recognize that wasn’t the case, my body, and especially my head, still hurt too much for it to be pain medicine.  In fact, because of the pain it should have been impossible for me to be able to sleep, but for the second time, I let sleep take me under before I realized it was happening.

I woke up the next morning feeling so much better, and the first thing I did was to deactivate the suppressor.  I didn’t use it unless it was absolutely necessary, and with the pain gone, it was no longer needed.  Besides, it was better to be free to have the option of borrowing energy if I needed, it would be best to help me fight my tiredness.

Another thing I was feeling at the moment was hunger.  I was surprised Kimball hadn’t surprised me with breakfast in bed, that was the kind of details he had made me used to.  I had to recognize he spoiled me a lot.  With carefulness, making sure not to move too fast so I would not get dizzy and lose my balance, I stood up, and just as I started to move to where the clothes were stored, Kimball walked into the room, followed by Malkia.  I got a glimpse at the living room and saw that there was a group of people already there.

“How are you feeling?” Kimball asked as he looked at me with a critical gaze.

“Much better, my body still hurts, but my head is pain free and I have my powers back.  But I’m starving, did they bring anything to eat yet?”

“We were invited, or more accurately, required, to have breakfast with the Emperor,” Malkia said, she had a couple of envelopes in her hands, she offered one, but I could already imagine what it said, and after looking at it, I confirmed what Malkia said, more than an invitation, it was an order.  “What do you think he is planning now?  Poisoned food?”

“That would be incredibly stupid on his part, I had a food taster and you are immune to most poisons.  If what he wants is to get rid of us, this is not the best way.  I don’t think this is a peace offering either, the young Emperor is definitely planning something, but for my part, I think it would be best if we go see what he wants, there is no point in avoiding him.  Besides, I’m hungry.”

“If that’s what you want, you know we will be by your side, but at least take a moment to consider the consequences,” Kimball said.

“You have nothing to worry about, everything will be fine.  I will insist on taking my guards with me, Yoweri, Agata, Thalia, Fatima and Ivan will be more than capable to face anything they throw at us.  Besides, you, Ethan and my daughters are going to be there, and I’m guessing Antrax too?”

“It’s not clear if he is invited, but as my partner I think his place is with me.”

“I agree.  What time are we supposed to show up?  Do I have time to prepare?”

“Just a few minutes,” Kimball said.  “We were on our way to wake you up, we have just enough time to get ready, unless you want to be late enough to make an entrance.”

“For the moment it will be best if we try to aggravate the Emperor as little as possible.  We will have time during breakfast to find out what he is planning, with luck, whatever he is going to do will be after we eat.”

Both of them offered to help me get ready, but I had to prove to myself I was capable of doing it myself.  It may have taken me longer to get ready by myself that if I had let them help, but I was doing that for myself, and both of them accepted it.

In just a moment we were on our way to the dining room, the one where I had spent so much time in my younger years, where I had spent time as a guest, and also where I had stood behind my mother as a guard.  I had so many memories of the place that I was moving automatically, not even thinking about it.  Once we arrived, I was forced to leave my guards outside, not the best outcome, but I accepted it.

There was a big group when we arrived.  I noticed some of them were part of my family, but it was mostly Generals, Colonels and their families, a group of the most influential people in the Empire.  I noticed an empty seat to Pompeyo’s left, next to it was Alukah, and on his other side were Pompeyo’s siblings.  Then only other empty seats were clearly marked as unimportant places.  It was a very subtle insult, but an insult nonetheless.

There were no places set opposite Pompeyo, so I used my connection to the Palace to create some chairs and then I moved some things until the places were set so I could sit opposite the Emperor.  I also moved some people to make sure my family could sit around me, with Kimball and Ethan on one side and Malkia, Antrax and Greca on the other.

“Just arriving and already thinking you can rearrange things?” Pompeyo said, clearly angry.

“It’s too early to fight, for your own safety I would wait until I have something to eat before you start pissing me off,” I threatened, and maybe it was partly true that hunger was making me impatient.

“Do I have to remind you again that I’m still the Emperor?  If you really want to pretend you are part of this, you need to start showing more respect.  I’m being pretty nice by letting you and your family eat with us, but I can still kick you out if I want.”
“Not until I have a chance to eat,” I said, not bothered by his words or acknowledging his subtle threat for us to move.  Luckily, Pompeyo decided to let it go.

“We are just waiting for a couple more people to arrive before we start eating, but if you are so desperate, you can take some fruit,” Alukah mocked me, and still I followed her suggestion.

There were many fruit platters along the table, and since we haven’t taken the seat assigned to us, and I doubted Pompeyo would have endangered anyone else at the table, I felt it was safe to take an apple without fearing it was poisoned.  I wasn’t sure what Pompeyo’s plan was, but I could tell he had something on his mind thanks to the fear masked as anger that I was getting from him.  I was sure the invitation wasn’t a peace offering, but a trap, I just wasn’t sure what his goal was yet, and diving into his mind would get me nowhere.

I decided to ignore him and started greeting those I knew, I had already talked with a few of them, like Maddan, Inionri, Kozlak and Geb, there were others that I knew, but that were not part of my circle and that were looking at me with curiosity, others like Vikomt were keeping their distance, not knowing what would be best, to support the Emperor or make peace with me.  I didn’t know what to expect from some of them, like Agis, but since he was sitting close to the Emperor I had to assume I couldn’t trust him.  Others were from younger generations and I haven’t had a chance to talk with them, but I at least knew about them, some were even part of my family.

More people arrived, but I knew Pompeyo was waiting for someone in particular, and there was still an empty seat, the one for the person we were still missing.  People started chatting in groups around the table, but only those who had come with me were talking to me, the others were nervous, waiting for something to happen.

We have a problem with Fatima, she just told me the attack was coming and then she fell into a deeper than usual trance, I can’t get her out,’ Thalia told me.

My group had stayed outside the dining room, but that wasn’t something that bothered me, I knew that they were close enough to help if we needed them, and the fact that Ivan appeared just behind me, told me that they had everything under control.

“Pompeyo, I asked for you to hold any attack until after breakfast, but I was just told you are about to launch whatever crazy plan you have.”

“I have no idea what you are talking about,” Pompeyo said, not convincingly enough.
“One of my guards is under attack, whatever you are doing, I warn you to stop before is too late, neither me or my people will hold out if you insist on attacking us.”

“You must be really desperate if you have a worthless seeress as one of your guards.  You should know by know that our kind is not suited for battle,” said a woman from a door on the other side, at first I couldn’t recognize the woman, in part because half her face was covered by a blindfold.  I finally recognized her as Fedelm, Bunefer’s daughter and current leader of the Palace’s Seers.

“You are making a big mistake by underestimating Fatima, she may be a seer, and I have no idea what you did to her, what I know is that she is not the kind of person you can attack without consequences.  What happened to your eyes?” I couldn’t help but asking.

“You need to make some sacrifices if you want to be a true seeress, I gave up my mundane sight to be able to see better in the fog,” she answered haughtily.

“That sounds painful, and unnecessary.”

“I know that you have been playing a seeress for a while, but I really doubt you understand the true calling of one, especially since you hid your gifts and ran away from your responsibilities.  But with time and proper training, you will learn how to be a good seer.”

“So this is your play?  You have no power over me, Fedelm.”

“I heard that Inioniori welcomed you into the Maxima Family, that makes you part of this clan, even if you don’t deserve it, it also means you must follow our rules.”

“Nice try, calling the Rules of Seers into play,” I recognized, “but if you think I will bow my head and walk into my grave, you have learned nothing about me.  I gave my back to that life years ago, and I didn’t come back here to walk into that trap.  Fedelm, sit down and join us for breakfast if you want, but don’t expect me to go with you, much less for me to obey you.”

“Do you really believe you are the first seer that has tried to renounce the call?  As the leader of the seers, I know every method of convincing rebel soldiers to follow their destiny.”

I was starting to get a bad feeling about the whole situation, but I was sure that I could take any of them in a fight, unless it was an unfair fight, but what could I do?  If they had waited after breakfast to attack, I would have expected them to put something in my food, but I was sure that neither my drink nor my apple had anything on them.

“I’ll warn you right now that you will regret anything you do, it would be better if you forget all about whatever crazy plan you have.”

“We have to get out of here!” Ivan exclaimed.  “Fatima just got out of her trance and says things are about to escalate.”

The noise outside the room increased and I knew my people was fighting, I wasn’t sure what they were planning yet, but if Fatima was worried it was because something bad was coming, and not necessarily to me or my children, I knew my actions could affect other people in the room.  I didn’t want to look as if I was running away or as if I was scared, but I didn’t want to spill my family’s blood, so I stood up and prepared to leave.

“I really wanted for us to have the chance to talk, but if this is how you will act, then we will have to talk in another occasion.”

“You still don’t understand the situation, you fell into a trap of your own doing.  You were the one who insisted to be part of this clan, you are not an Assassin like your daughters or a Shadow like your son and your partner, and that means you fall under our jurisdiction.  Like it or not, you will be coming with me,” Fedelm threatened.  I was about to talk back to her when the world around me dissolved and I found myself in the middle of a vision.