Chapter 11

“Is everything ready?” I asked Fatima, who had been with me all morning.

“Everything it’s ok,” she said, but I could tell she was a little distracted.

“What’s wrong?”

“Something weird was going on in the fog, I couldn’t get a good reading as to what was going to happen today, and I couldn’t contact Sofia to see if she could see something different.”

“I haven’t had a chance to get into the fog, but I talked to Sofia yesterday and she told me that everything would be fine today.”

“I haven’t seen William yet, did you?”

“No, I’m afraid he is late, he decided to go to the old house outside the city where he used to live, he asked to spend the night there.  He should arrive soon, but that’s ok, in a way it will be better if he arrives and surprises everyone.”

“It’s time to go,” David announced, opening the door just far enough for us to hear him.

I just waved Fatima goodbye and stepped outside to head to the Congress room, where all the Representatives, Ambassadors and other government people was already waiting.  As we expected, the universal translators had arrived on time and everyone had one, Kimball had tested them and said they were working perfectly, with their help nothing would be lost in translation.

I could feel the weight of everyone’s stares as I walked inside the room, Kimball was already there, wearing his gala uniform, as general of Mzansi’s army, a look that only helped to keep the idea that he would be the next King of the Dominion.

“Thank you for being here,” I said in a tone just loud enough to be heard.  “I believe that most of you know why I called you here, but for those that don’t know, I want you to know that my mission from the start was to reestablish the old system.  Right now I have the titles of Queen, Prime Minister and President of the Dominion, but today I will relinquish one of those titles and I will return the title of King to its rightful owner.”

“Kimball is not the rightful heir,” someone yelled from the other side of the room.  I couldn’t see who said that, I could easily find out who had, but I wasn’t worried about it.

“Before, the King or Queen was also known as the High Judge, that person was also in charge of applying the law and giving justice.  Emily was not the right person for that position, and all she did with it was abuse the power it gave her and corrupt it.  The new King won’t be like that.”

“Kimball has been covering your crimes for years,” Kozak said, “that makes him an accomplice and the worst person to fill that position.”

“As you know, or should know, when Queen Sofia left her position, she left it to her son Charles, going over Emily.  As Charles died and no one ever found out what had happened to his son, the crown went to Emily, and after Emily’s death, who didn’t have any heirs, the next in line is her brother William.”

“It will take a long time to go over all the succession line until we reach Kimball,” Representative Arctander protested.

“It’s not necessary to go that far,” I said, acknowledging for the first time one of their comments.  I gave David the signal and he opened the door.  William walked in and the room fell into complete silence, only to erupt in noise a second later as people started screaming protests and accusations.  I hit the podium with my palm, using my powers to amplify the noise and with that the room went back to silence.  “Let me introduce to you your next King, the son of former Queen Sofia, and younger brother of Charles and Emily.  The rightful heir of the crown, King William III.”

“William is dead,” someone yelled, breaking the silence.

“Good afternoon everyone.  I know that you are probably surprised by my presence, and I know that most of you heard from my sister that I died in the same accident my brother did.  The truth, that most of you know or at least suspect, is that my sister killed my brother, but left me alive, not because she felt bad about killing a relative or because she liked me, but because she used me, for years, as a tool to control my mother and force her to help her with her nefarious plans.  Once my sister decided my mother was no longer useful, I lost my usefulness too.  I should have died years ago, but Kaiserin saved me, and now she is giving me back my rightful place as King of the Dominion.”

Again the noise went up as people talked and questions were asked all at the same time.  The translators were doing its best to work, but there were too many voices and most of what was being said was getting lost.  A question managed to rise above others.

“Are you willing to work with the woman who killed your mother?”

“I know that Kaiserin is accused of a lot of crimes, and I know that as the Judge it’s my job to go over the evidences and judge if a person is innocent or guilty based on the laws that as King I swear to follow.  Because of that, my first action as King of the Dominion will be to judge Kaiserin and decide if she is fit to keep her position.”

“What the hell are you doing?” I asked William, that was not what we had agreed on.  “This is not part of the plan,” my men looked confused and didn’t know how to act, but a few people weren’t surprised by the turn of events.

“I have a file with all the crimes you have been accused of.  According to the old laws of the Dominion, no person is fit to rule over us unless she is innocent of any crime.”

“I offer my services as a lawyer to defend Kaiserin,” Jean Dupont, Madelaine’s brother-in-law offered.

“Agreed,” William said, and another wave of furious yelling started.

“Are you going to defend the woman who destroyed your brother by killing his wife?” one of the Ambassadors asked.

“Why do you assume she was involved in the death of my sister-in-law?” Jean asked, his voice full of suspicion.

“Maybe because he was involved in my kidnapping,” Madelaine answered, her physical aspect changing in front of everyone, her skin and hair getting lighter, morphing in front of everyone to the aspect we all recognized.  “I’m sure he is still mad that Kaiserin ruined his plans with me when she saved me from Faakhir.”  Madelaine’s presence caused a bigger reaction than William’s.  “Some men can’t take no for an answer, and he helped Faakhir, hoping that once he was done with me he would get his turn.”

“Madelaine, what are you doing?” I asked, still feeling out of control and a little lost.

“I won’t let them blame you for something you didn’t do, you saved me, and I won’t let you try to punish you for my kidnapping, or my supposed death.”

“I will wait until the preliminary trial to present the motion to dismiss the charge for Madelaine’s murder,  and I will present another 54 motions to dismiss other murders.  Some of the murder charges, I will ask to be changed to self-defense,” Jean said.

“Enough!  This has gone too far.  Who do you think you are to do something like this?  I won the right to rule this place, and this game of you is unacceptable.”  I told William, trying to understand what was going on.

“You gave me the right to judge you when you named me the King.  This is the best for everyone.”

“This is not part of the plan, you can’t do this,” by then, most of my men were placed around me, and Kinball had moved to my side.

“It wasn’t part of the plan to kill my sister either, you were supposed to give me the chance to face her.”

“I won’t accept this.  Did you forget who is in control?  Did you forget who saved you from death?  Is this how you pay me?”

“You asked me to come here and do my job.  This is me doing my job, it’s my duty to make sure that no criminal is in charge.  You are not the only one who is going to be facing trial, I will clean this place.  It’s like with the man Madeleine just accused of wrongdoing, he will be charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping and any other charges that my people can find.  But I’m going to start with you.”

“This is for the best,” Sofia said.  I realized that she was being escorted into the room by a very confused Yoweri.  In that moment I understood that Sofia and William had conspired to fool my people, and that only helped to fuel my anger.  “This is the best way to proceed,” she said, her voice so soft only I, and people close to us, would be able to hear her.

Sofia walked to the podium I had used a few minutes ago, and that her son was using, and put her hand on his shoulder, so he would give her space.  Sofia’s sudden appearance had rendered the room silent once again.  Most people in the room had attended her funeral, cried for her, heard the stories of how I had murdered her in her garden, with her daughter’s blessing.  Her death was one of the main reasons people hated me, because even if Sofia had been by her daughter’s side, they didn’t forget how good she had been to them as a Queen, and they all considered her another victim or her daughter, not an accomplice.

“Mother?” William asked, not just confirming her identity, but prompting her to speak.

“Things are not always what they look like,” Sofia said, breaking the silence.  “When my daughter started seeing me as a threat to her rule, she decided to get rid of me, but she sent the wrong assassin to do the job.  She asked Kaiserin to kill me, but instead, Kaisern offered me protection and a second chance.  She also gave me my son back.  I know you all expect this trial to show how unfit she is for the position she took from my daughter, but it will only show how right she is to rule the Dominion.  I’m grateful for the offer from Dupont to represent Kaiserin, and I offer my testimony to prove her innocence in most charges.  And I want to add, that I’m as guilty as her for those charges she is guilty of, because we worked together for years.”

“That’s not possible, she has to be controlling them,” a voice yelled from the back of the room, “they are trying to trick us.”

“No, we are here to try and fix what my sister broke,” William said.  “Kaiserin,” he said, turning to face me, his voice full of power.  “Could you tell me…” he started to say, but I used my powers to grab his neck and cut his words.

“How dare you use your power against me?  Did you forget who taught you to take advantage of your powers?”

“Kaiserin, calm down, we are together in this,” Sofia said, moving closer to me, but I was beyond mad at that point, mad at her betrayal.

“We were,” I said, and as soon as she was near me, I slapped her and sent her to the floor.  “We had a deal, and you broke it when you decided to go behind my back.  Remember that this alliance between us, it’s only valid as long as you are useful to me, when your usefulness runs out, so will our alliance.  I promised you would get to be King, so I will keep my word and let you play your games.  You have a week, in a week I will take control once more.  If this doesn’t work out in my favor, then I will just grab control by force once more, and I will make sure that no one will dare to get involved in my business again.”

“I’m sorry, but that’s not how things work.  I’m afraid that I will have to put you under arrest.  But I promise I will take care of this as soon as possible,” William explained.

“An who is going to arrest me?” I asked.  “The soldiers still loyal to the crown are not match to the ones loyal to me.  Are you going to start a war just a few minutes after assuming your new role as King?”

“Don’t make this more difficult.  You know you need me by your side.”

“That’s not true, I could do what I should have done years ago and kill you and your mother, and take the crown back, keep being a tyrant.”  I moved closer to William and whispered to him.  “Or I could go looking for your nephew, your brother’s son, the true heir to toe crown, I’m sure I can make sure he remains loyal.”

“What? But… What are you talking about?” William asked, confused, waiting for an answer I had no intention to give him.  “Come back here!” he ordered as he noticed I was moving out of the room.

I could feel him moving after me, but my men surrounded me, creating a barrier he couldn’t break, and making me feel better, knowing I still had people on my side.  I couldn’t get over the fact that I had been betrayed once again by people I trusted completely.  I stepped out of the room and found Reka and Konstantinos waiting for me, both of them looked worried and that only made me realize that there were more problems to deal with.  I could hear Kimball discussing back in the room, but I couldn’t focus on what he was saying, I needed to find what had them so worried.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m not sure how it happened,” Konstantinos said, “but we were just informed that the people from Aquarium it’s arriving at the Towers, most going to their old homes or to their relatives.”

“This can’t be happening,” I said out loud, even as I realized that William’s and Sofia’s betrayal was even worse than I originally thought.  “The army is still under my power, that means that we can still act, we need to declare Martial Law immediately if we want to keep control of the situation.  I want the army on the streets, no one gets in or out of the city and I want increased security around the Towers, it’s possible that with the arrival of the refugees some our enemies decide to act, we can’t allow that.”

“Understood,” Reka said, “we will start working on that right away.”

Ivan,‘ I called with my mind, ‘I need you to go pick Ethan from school.  Things can become dangerous and I need to know he is safe.‘  I read an affirmative answer on his mind and I moved to the next step.

“Kaiserin?” Sofia called.

“No!” I yelled as I turned to face her.  “You don’t want to be near me right now, it’s hard enough to control myself right now, all I want right now is to break your neck.  For your own safety, stay away from me.”

“It’s for the best, Sofia, your action today did a lot of damage,” Fatima said.  “We trusted you and you fooled us, you hid your plans from us.  We are supposed to be a team, and you manipulated the situation to stop us from seeing what you were planning.”

“My son thinks this is the best way, the trial will show that all the action taken these years have been for the good of the Dominion, people will see you for who you really are,” Sofia said.

“That was never the plan and you know it.  We looked at all the options and decided that that was not the best way.”

“You said it yourself, plans change.”

I wasn’t in the mood to hear her excuses, so I signaled my people to follow and walked away, heading to my suite.  I knew that I was partly to blame, experience had already taught me that I should trust no one, that no matter how close people were to you, no matter who they were, people could betray you any time.  Even people you could swear would give their lives for you, could change their minds any moment and stab you in the back.

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Chapter 9

It was dark by the time I got out of the fog and I was hungry.  I was used to have something to eat waiting for me, but I wasn’t at the palace, and the guard that Kimball had left behind to take care of me wasn’t used to me and didn’t know my habits, it was my own fault for not thinking of ordering food or asking for something beforehand.

I checked the time and decided that food would have to wait, it was early enough that Mbali could still be awake, and I wanted to talk to her and see if she had any news from Kimball.  The call took a while to connect, but eventually I was able to talk to Mbali.

“It’s everything ok?” I asked as soon as he picked up.

“Everything went according to the plan.  Greca is great, I don’t think Kimball had trouble making her believe she had captured him, she put a good fight.  It’s been a while since she got him, I think they should be in their territory by now, he may be even working on saving Malkia by now.”

“So you haven’t had communication with him yet?”

“It’s still too soon for that, he has work to do first, but I expect to hear from him tomorrow.”

“Perfect.”  As time went by, the future where Malkia was alive was getting clearer and becoming the better possibility, I didn’t think I needed to go back to the fog, I knew she would survive, the only difference was how.  I just needed Kimball to know the risks he would be facing, especially from Ivy.  “When you talk to Kimball, tell him not to trust Ivy, if she starts acting weird, or if she gets involved in any way, then it’s time to get out of there.  His powers will catch Ivy’s attention, and that’s not a good thing, she will find the way to take advantage of him, no matter what Dendro or her son promised him.”

“Don’t worry, I will pass your message.  You already told him to be careful with her.  What’s her problem exactly?”

“She never liked me, and I’m sure she will find a way to make my life more difficult.  But, anyway, everything seems to be fine for now.  I will be here if you need anything, just keep me posted.”

“I will.”

We ended the call, and I felt better, even if I hadn’t gotten any new information or learned anything relevant about my daughter.  I decided I needed to find something to eat, and with the help of the guard we found the kitchen.  He apologized for not thinking of getting me something to eat, especially since he had gotten something to eat earlier.  He stayed by the door while I prepared something to eat, I just needed some sustenance, nothing fancy so I could keep my strength and calm my hunger, but my head was already moving on to more important things.

I started to go over my options as soon as I got back to my room.  Despite everything being under control, I felt uneasy, and after trying to find a good options, I decided it was best if I went to the astral planes for a while.  I wanted to try and get inside the Assassins’ territory.  I knew that they would have sentries, after all they were one of the most important clans in the Empire, but I could go higher, and lower than other people, and that would allow me to move undetected.

The distance I had to go was very large, and it was dangerous to go that far, but I didn’t care, I had an objective and no one would be able to stop me from going there.  The Imperialists and Assassins weren’t the only clans with sentries in the astral planes, so I moved to one of the upper planes so they wouldn’t see me.  Time and space were different in the astral planes, and reaching the Assassins’ territory didn’t take as long.

I started going down, looking for a good spot to get inside the territory, but the lower I moved, the more I felt something pulling me down, I knew I had enemies there and that I shouldn’t go there, but there was something about the pull that made me realize someone else was calling me.  I moved fast, crossing the planes as fast as I could.  I felt the pain and desperation and I saw a group of lower beings circling a figure that was becoming smaller and smaller.  I realized they were forcing her to move even lower through the planes, to where the demons and other strong creatures lived.

I thought I had warned you not to come here,‘ I told Malkia’s astral representation.

I wanted to go to the light, but I got lost,‘ she said.  It was clear she was at her limit and she needed help.

Follow me,‘ I told her, and I started moving up, but the lower plane beings noticed me and started moving around me.  I realized that Malkia was running low on energy and it was hard for her to escape.  ‘Keep moving, don’t stop, no matter what,” I warned, letting a little of my own energy out to attract the dark beings that feed on the energy of those that managed to move that further down.

I finally lost Malkia and realized she had moved up, so I did the same, moving to the next plane, but I dragged some of the dark beings with me.  I moved closer to Malkia and helped her move to the next plane, and the next until we arrived to the upper planes.

Thanks,‘ Malkia said, once we reached the second upper plane, a place of light and comfort.

I get it, you felt bad and were in pain, and that dragged you down, but you need to be more careful to avoid that.  Your body is suffering, and you need to mind to be strong or you won’t recover.  Being down there only makes the pain worse, because it takes away the energy you need to recover.

I won’t survive this anyway.  I’m really sick, I don’t think I will make it,‘ Malkia said, and I realized she had already gone over it, and decided she needed to make peace with the idea of dying.  ‘I’m glad that I had a last chance to see you.  If you ever have the chance, could you tell my sister how much I love her and that this wasn’t her fault?

Don’t worry Malkia, you will be fine.  You will feel bad for a few days, and it will take time to go back to your top condition, but you will live.

How can you be so sure?

Because I saw you.  Did I tell you I’m a Seer?  I can see your future and I know you will live a long life, a good life.  But you need to be more careful, what you did was incredibly irresponsible, you could have died.

So… you know what happened?’  I didn’t bother answering, I just stared at her.  ‘We got caught up in the moment, but it wasn’t the first time we kissed and I had never felt that bad afterwards.  Antrax thought I was getting immune to him.

You both should have known better.  You need to be careful, before doing something like that you need to make sure you will be fine.  And you need to understand that the Royal Family’s power is to consume and transform different venoms and toxins, besides, Antrax is a carrier, he doesn’t get sick, but can make others sick.  His system is constantly changing, you can’t become immune to him, you would need to be like him, capable of fighting everything he can give you.

Maybe you think I’m silly, or weak, but I can’t stay away from him.  I guess I will have to ask for a transfer, move away to avoid temptation.

Don’t worry, you may still be able to find a way to be together,‘ it all depended on Kimball, I knew he had the power to change her future, he could give her the power to be with Antrax, to keep exploring the attraction between them, and give them the chance to fall in love.  I knew that if Kimball managed to make her compatible to Antrax, she would be able to be considered as his partner.  Dendro had always resented the fact that his power limited his ability to decide who to be with, and I knew he resented being paired with Ivy, I knew that if Antrax had the option to choose, Dendro would support him.

Are you sure I will be fine?  I felt like my body was falling apart.

Just have faith, everything will be just fine,‘  I couldn’t add that she needed to trust Kimball, a man who loved her as if she was his own daughter.

I spent a while talking to Malkia in the astral planes, but I knew that I needed to return to my body eventually.  I decided I needed a good night of rest after the last few days, I needed to give my body time to recover from everything.  I was still hurt from my last battle and even if my body had been resting, my mind had been overactive, and that left me without energy.

I ended up getting up later than I intended, but I had to admit I had really needed that rest.  At least I woke up to find the guard had remembered to order breakfast, and I had a bowl of fruit waiting for me.  I had a lot going on in my mind, my daughter’s wellbeing my main concern, but I knew there was nothing I could do for her, she was in good hands.  I decided to call my allies and asked for a video conference for later, meanwhile I called Sofia.

“How is your daughter doing?” Sofia asked as soon as the call connected.

“Everything seems to be going just fine.  I’m expecting a full recovery.”

“Glad to hear that.  Fatima and I were working on tomorrow’s attack.  As far as we could see nothing of importance changed from the last we saw.  We expect tomorrow to be a success.”

“It’s good to see you kept working on that, I have been distracted.  I will be talking later with my men to see how is everything going.  I wanted to talk to you first because there’s something we need to talk about.  You know that once things calm down there are a few things we will need to change.  Some groups are getting restless, they think that now that I tasted power, I won’t be able to let it go.  The idea always was to make the transition as fast as possible, and I think the first step will be to give the crown to someone else.  You know I’ve been acting as the sole ruler, but it’s time to start introducing new players.  I only want to know if you are ready to take your old position.”

“You know I don’t want to go back, I think that William is the best choice to take the crown.  Besides, he is the heir, when his father died, he was supposed to take his place.”

“Maybe, but I’m worried that people won’t recognize him, if he just shows up now, people may think he is just a puppet I’m using to impersonate the real heir.”

“I wouldn’t worry about that, you didn’t get the chance to meet him, but William looks exactly as my son, people will recognize him.  Many people still remember my son as a symbol of the good times, I think having William will give them hope, they will symbolize the return to the good old times.  By seeing him, and thinking of his father, they will trust things to get better.”

“If what you say is true, then maybe it could work.  I do know he wants to get involved, he seems affected by the fact that he couldn’t participate in the battle for the Dominion after my hand was forced.”

“He is, but it’s a good lesson for him, things not always go according to plan.  I will talk to my son and prepare him for what’s coming.  Don’t worry, he will be better than his sister.”

“I really hope so.”

I trusted Sofia, so I had to follow her suggestion.  I had always considered William an important part of my plans, and I had worked with him during my visits to Aquarium to make sure he was a good man and that he was ready for the position, but things had changed and I preferred someone like Sofia by my side, not her son.  But I had to adapt.  I needed to focus on other, more pressing issues, so I prepared for my next reunion.

The screen started filling with the faces of my trusted allies, Fatima was in the control center, she was going to coordinate the activities for the different groups.  Ivan, who was in charge of the main group, was already in the field, just like Zhou and Matthew with the two support groups.  Thalia was in charge of the last group, the one who would make sure there were no loose ends, and that no one could escape the first groups.

“Thanks for agreeing to this meeting, I know how busy you are right now,” I greeted them.

“As always, we are ready to serve you,” Ivan said.  “So far, everything has been going according to plan.  The people we posted around the place has reported no changes, and if everything goes according to plan, we will take them down tonight, before they even have the chance to attack.”

“So they are still preparing to attack the palace?  No one has noticed I’m not there?”

“So far no group seems to have noticed that you left,” Thalia said, “but Representative Jeong might suspect.  He has been asking for you, since you asked for the Tech Committe to have a meeting with you, we think he is trying to talk to you about it, even if we had insisted he has to wait for the day of the meeting.”

“Thanks.  I know that me leaving put you in a difficult position.”

“Don’t worry, we have everything under control,” Matthew said.  “After all, family should always come first, none of us is going to question your need to help your family.”

“I know, and I’m grateful for that.  I couldn’t have done this without your support.  I am very thankful for your support, and your work.”

“Remember, we share the same objective,” Ivan said.  “We all want things to go back to how they used to be.  Things weren’t perfect before, but at least they were better.  The problems we had, were our problems, not caused by the whims of a couple of people, but by our own mistakes.  We will finally have the chance to rebuild our countries and recover our freedom.”

“We still have a lot of work to do before we can reach that point, but at least we have taken the first steps.  I wish you good luck in your mission, and I trust you to emerge victorious from it.”

After thanking them again for their help and making sure they had everything under control, I ended the call.  They didn’t have any new information for me, but at least I felt better after talking to them.

After a brief visit to the chief of the base, or more accurately, to the leader of the Shadows Clan, I went back to my room so I could make another astral walk.  I needed to make sure Malkia was ok if she was still there.  I knew it was unfair of me to ask her to go back to her body while it was hurt, but I needed to make sure she was anchored to her body, and keeping to the safer planes.

Bonus 1

Hello

The previous chapter was the last chapter of book 3.  I will take some time off before starting with the new book.  Right now I’m working on getting book 1 ready to be published as an e-book, and it will take me some time, but I will try to get back to regular posting as soon as possible.  In the meanwhile I will try to publish a few bonus stories, mostly about what happened the night that Faakhir and Emily died.

–  –  –

“I can’t understand how you can be so ok with all this,” William said.  “Kaiserin betrayed us, she took things under her own hands and took the Dominion for herself.  She broke her promises once, how can you be so sure she won’t do it again?”

“Kaiserin did what she did because she had no other choice.  And we are here for our safety,” Sofia said.

“I’m not so sure about that.  You can’t keep closing your eyes to what’s in front of you.  It’s just like before, Kaiserin took a taste of power and she doesn’t want to share it with anyone, just like my sister.”

“I think you are misjudging her, you are wrong about this.  You just need to give this some time, you will see, everything is going to be fine.”

William knew it was pointless to keep discussing with his mother, she trusted Kaiserin and nothing he could say would change her mind, but he wasn’t so sure that trust was placed in the right person.  Kaiserin had promised them that they would be part of her effort to take the Dominion back, but she had moved without them, leaving them out of the loop.  He couldn’t help but think she had done that to keep them out.

After living with his sister’s betrayal and all the pain he had to endure after that, William had trouble trusting people.  His power helped him know if a person was being truthful or not, all he had to do was ask a question and the person would be forced to tell him the truth.  Some people avoided him for that reason, but Kaiserin was different, even when he was using his power against her, he had the feeling she wasn’t telling him everything.  That, and the fact that she was avoiding him, told him that she had something to hide, and he wouldn’t be at peace until he knew what had really happened.  For the moment, all he knew was that he couldn’t trust her, but he had no choice but to stay there, because Kaiserin and his mother agreed that he needed to stay in Aquarium, like when he was a prisoner of his sister.

They all thought that Kaiserin was their savior, and that everything would be just fine, just because she was in charge, but he wasn’t sure about that.  But no matter what he thought, only time would show who was right, if him for not trusting Kaiserin, or his mother for trusting her.

 

Chapter 52

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 22

In the morning, by the time I woke up, Kimball was already gone and talking to Ethan.  The only reason I had not woken up on time was that a vision I had during the night had kept me awake for a long time.  I knew Malkia was having problems, and that Dendro had arrived in time to help her.  I felt terrible knowing that two of my children were going through a rough time and I couldn’t do anything to help them.  I had been able to offer a little help in Ethan’s case, but I was powerless to do anything in Malkia’s case.

I got up and went looking for Kimball and Ethan.  They were talking, and I could feel Ethan’s guilt was still strong, and Kimball was also feeling guilty about the whole thing.

“Good morning,” I broke into their conversation.

“Good morning mother,” Ethan didn’t have his usual cheerfulness.

“Good morning Kai.  I’m sorry I didn’t wake you up, but you looked so tired that I didn’t want to bother you.”

“What were you talking about?”  I already knew it wasn’t a pleasant topic, the atmosphere was so heavy that I knew it was something serious, most likely something about Angile.

“Ethan and I reached an agreement.  He already promised not to use his powers to fight.  At least not without a really good reason, and when having a responsible adult around.  If we are going to Capital City we can’t afford another accident.”

“I still believe that’s too much, now that he knows what can happen, he won’t be so careless again.”

“I’m sorry, but the decision was already made.  Ethan is no longer under your supervision, he is my student now and I’m deciding what’s best for him.  Besides, this will also help to keep him under Faakhir’s radar.  Anyone that sees him fighting can see your influence.  If we want them to keep thinking you care nothing about him, they can’t see how much you have invested in training him.”

“We have been talking for a long time now, and I think my father is right, this is for the best mother.  Forgive me, but I think this is good for me, I will learn my lesson and won’t repeat the same mistakes.”

“I don’t like this, things won’t be easy for you in Capital City.  I can’t guarantee that people won’t come after you.  You have to be able to defend yourself.”

“If that happens, I’m sure we can find a way to keep him safe without using violence.  I know this is my fault as well, I trained him and motivated him to get stronger, but I know that yesterday could have been worst.  If the hit had been a little bit stronger or higher, it could have been fatal.  It’s too dangerous, he needs to learn self control and be more aware of other people’s limits, for now, is best if he abstains from fights.”

Neither of them knew just how true that was.  Without my help, Andile would have been dead, and I knew that would have been terrible for Ethan.  I decided not to press the issue, sooner or later they would realize that they were overreacting.

While Ethan and Kimball were preparing their stuff for the move, I decided to visit some of the refugees that were living at Aquarium.  Most of them had made peace with their situation, some of them still rebelled about being there.

“You shouldn’t worry about them,” Sofía said.  “We both know that you are doing what’s best for them, and us.  I understand some of them are angry about it, but once you free us all from my daughter and her husband, people will understand why you did what you did, and they will love you for that.”

“I don’t think so,” I told her.  “I think that they will hate me, and given enough time they will rise against me.  For most people, my image will be too dark to accept.  It will be better if people keep thinking of me as an enemy, and that they unite against me.  Once Faakhir and Emily are out of the picture, I hope people will stop fearing the people in power and use their voices.  I hope my refugees will lead people in a new revolution and create a new world.”

“I don’t know if I like that plan…” Sofia started.

“Go take a walk in the fog, and you will see it would be our best option.  My revolution will give people the strength they need to take control of their destiny and start their own revolutions.  Many countries are building their resistances, but Faakhir is too strong, and those won’t work.  I need to destroy the Dominion first, so they will be able to raise.”

“I know that.  I worry about how many people will fall in the way.”

“Some sacrifices are necessary, but at the end of the day, the lives we save will be more than the ones we sacrifice.  I only wish we could make this happen faster.  I need my family by my side, but at the same time I’m afraid of the risks they will be taking by being in Capital City.  I worry about Ethan the most.  He feels so guilty about what happened yesterday that he vowed not to fight again.  I worry he will be left at the mercy of others.  I know that things are different here than back at the Empire, but I know how vicious young people can be.  I fear for what could happen to Ethan if he is thrown in the middle of people who has reason to hate me and that’s looking for ways to hurt me.”

“But you already proved to Faakhir that hurting Ethan won’t do anything to you, he won’t make that mistake again.”

“But I’m not worried about Faakhir or any other adult.  I’m talking about the kids, the ones who will be attending the same school as Ethan.  They are in a different league, they know I hurt people they care about, and they know they can’t do anything about it, they feel restless, powerless, angry…  Ethan will arrive there being a perfect target for their anger.  They can’t hurt me, but they can’t hurt someone, that for them, will be a representation of me.  I’m so afraid of what could happen, but Kimball doesn’t seem to think the same, and Ethan is so focused on his guilt that just doesn’t care.”

“You can worry once that happens, not before.  Ethan is a very strong and smart boy, he is your son after all, he will find a way to overcome any challenge in his path.”

“I hope you’re right.”  There was much to do and to think, and Sofia knew it, so she left me alone.

I was still shaken up because of the vision about Malkia.  I had thought she was safe at the Fortress, but I didn’t realize that her power and abilities would make her the target of the instructors, the people who couldn’t get a position in one of the armies and had been forced to teach a new generation to go where they couldn’t go.  Someone with a potential as great as Malkia’s was hard to miss and they soon realized that she would be going higher than any of them could dream.  For some of them their jealousy and fear had caused them to seek her destruction.  I wasn’t there to help her and keep her safe, luckly Dendro appeared just at the right moment, and now she was under his protection.  But I knew that the same reason that caused Dendro to be protective of her, would put her in danger.  Dendro would do anything to keep my daughter safe, but Ivy would hate her for the same reason.

I was also worried about Greca, she would be alone without Malkia, and her powers wouldn’t be as strong without the boost from her sister, and that would put her in danger.  Her vulnerability could put a bigger target on her back, or take the attention off of her, but without a doubt, it would be very challenging for her without her sister.  I knew her new situation would force her to grow, but I didn’t like her being in trouble.

To know my daughters were going through a rough time, and to know the dangers and challenges Ethan would be facing once we moved to Capital City were making me feel inadequate.  I just wanted the best for my children, I wanted them safe and happy, but I had failed all of them.  Everything I have done had been thinking of them, but it wasn’t enough.  Just by being their mother, I had made their lives more difficult.

Moving to Capital City and our apartment in the Black Tower was easier than I expected.  For some reason I was thinking the whole thing would be complicated, but Kimball had everything under control and the moving went smoothly.  Our only problem arrived later on the day we arrived.

“Kaiserin, I’m surprised to find you here,” Faakhir greeted me.  I didn’t understand his surprise.

“Welcome to my new home,” I said back to him, not knowing what else to say.

“I was waiting for you at the Palace.”

“I’m supposed to be the leader of Mzansi, I should be living accordingly, and not like one more of your guards in a little room at the Palace.  I think Emily was thinking of that when she asked me to go bring my family here to be with me.”

“Emily had no right to ask this of you.”  Even if his voice and manners were calm, I could feel his fury boiling under the surface.

“The move is done.  Did Emily change her mind?”

“No, she still believes this is for the best.  But I wished you were still at the Palace.”

“It would be weird to bring my family here and then let them alone.  Besides, you don’t need me all the time.  If something really bad was about to happen, then my powers would let me know with enough time to interfere and face whatever threat was there.  For small problems is enough with the people you already have.  Besides, Kimball will have to be early at work, every day, and I will be arriving with him and staying until late, my hours will be still the same.  And if for some reason you need me, I can get there in just a few minutes.”

“And what about your son?”

“What about him?”

“Don’t you need time to take care of him?”

“I don’t have time for him, besides, he is old enough to take care of himself, and if not, that’s Kimball’s job.  I had already told you that, Kimball is the one that takes care of Ethan.”

“I will be waiting for you early tomorrow.  And I’m warning you that you will be joining me on a mission away from him, so tell your husband not to expect you to be here for long.”

“I thought you would be satisfied that I would be spending more time here.  All is going to change is where I’m sleeping.”  I could feel that it was that what bothered him more.  Despite the years I had spent in Faakhir’s service, he hadn’t forced me to have sex with him, yet.  I could see his fantasies about me because of my powers, and that seemed to be enough for him.  Knowing I was under his power was all the satisfaction he needed, for the moment, but by not being at the Palace I had changed the situation, he couldn’t go to my room and watch me sleep and the illusion that he could get me any moment was broken.  He felt he was losing his power over me.

“Your place is by my side, it always have been and will always be.”  I felt Faakhir in my mind, the compulsion to get closer to him growing so strong I couldn’t pretend not to feel it, so I forced myself to follow it, so he wouldn’t find out that I knew what he was doing and was strong enough to stop him.  I forced myself to stay still as he caressed my face.  Before I could think about what I was doing, my mind was reaching to Kimball’s, crying for help.

“Faakhir,” Kimball’s voice broke through just a few seconds later, “to what do we owe the pleasure of your visit?”

“Kimball, I just found out you were moving in and wanted to welcome you.”  With the compulsion gone, I was able to move away without making him suspicious.  “So welcome.  I think I will be going back to the Palace now.  Kaiserin, I hope you are not too tired with the moving, I have a new mission for you and you will be traveling again in no time, probably for a few days.”

“I’m always ready for any mission.”

“Finish whatever you need to do here, because you have responsibilities at the Palace that you can’t ignore just because your family is here.”

“Don’t worry, I will be there first thing tomorrow morning.”

Faakhir got out and I felt wrapped in Kimball’s arms.  Despite trying to look relaxed Kimball knew that Faakhir’s visit had affected me.

“I heard your voice,” Kimball said, “I heard you in my head and I knew you needed me.  How did you do it?  No one is supposed to get into a mzansier’s mind.  What happened?”

“He hadn’t tried to control me in a long time, but he was doing it now, he wanted to kiss me.  He used his powers to plant a compulsion and it was very strong.  I didn’t know how to stop him without letting him know how much I can resist him.  I didn’t want him touching me, but I didn’t know how to stop him…”

“That’s why you called me.  You have told me he wasn’t trying anymore, that he was controlled.”

“He was, but I think that having you here is making him feel possessive of me.”

“I don’t like you being with him.  It’s not good for you, it’s not fair.”

“I just need to find a way to avoid him, a new way of fooling him.  It had been so long that it took me off guard, it won’t happen again.  I just have to prepare a counter measure, some way of tricking him and avoid him getting inside my head.  I can do that, I will have it under control.”

“We need to move forward with our plans, find a way to stop him for good.”

“Thanks for coming to help me.  For a moment I didn’t know what to do.”

“I think we will need to explore what just happened, the fact that you got inside my mind, that’s not something we can ignore.  Do you think we could repeat that?”

“It’s worth a try.  I really thought it was impossible and wasn’t even thinking of trying to do it, but if you really heard me, that means I reached out without thinking, it would be nice if we could replicate that on purpose.  It would be a great way of communicating without anyone knowing about it, no one would even suspect that I could use telepathy on a mzansier.”

“Well, if someone can manage to do the impossible, that’s you.”

Chapter 21

I arrived at Aquarium feeling like I’m too late.  We finally managed to communicate our arrival, and Kimball is at the dock waiting for us, but I don’t even greet him, as soon as I’m out of the submarine I start running, just signaling for Kimball to follow me.  I expand my senses, looking for Ethan, and I find him in one of the common areas, but he is not alone, which means the fight most likely already started.  I try to convince myself that I had the wrong date, that it was a different fight, that Ethan wasn’t about to make a mistake that could follow him the rest of his life.  Mzansiers weren’t like Imperialists, for them killing was not a common thing, it was something you did in the most extreme circumstances, and a killing, even if accidental, would affect Ethan for the rest of his life.

When I ran into the place, I saw one of Ethan’s attackers falling to the ground, but I knew that the hit wasn’t that bad, he would survive to see another day, it was the next attack that could change everything.  When Ethan’s kick connected, I heard bones breaking, even after I had used my powers to cushion the hit, and to help ease Andile’s fall.  Despite my efforts, and knowing that I had avoided Andile’s death, there was a lot of damage to his spine.  The rest of the kids had stopped their fights and were watching the scene.

“I can’t move,” Andile’s terror filled voice said, “I can’t feel my legs.”

“What happened here?”  Kimball’s voice echoed in the place, he was studying the scene, trying to identify the problem.

“An accident,” I said, watching as Ethan noticed, for the first time, that we were there.  “Ethan can’t control his strength yet, and that kick was a little bit stronger than he expected, he broke Andile’s spine.  I’m trying to keep his column intact using my powers, but it’s possible that the damage could get worse if I let go or we try to move him.”

“But he is indestructible,” one of the other kids said, “there’s no way Ethan could have broken his bones, no one can break the bones of someone from our family.”

“A diamond can cut another diamond,” Kimball said, as he knelt beside the kid that was losing his mind, that started crying once he finally accepted the possibility of being paralyzed.  “The fact that Ethan is not a mutant doesn’t change the fact that he is part of the family, and he is stronger than most people.  Using his mind, he can close the gap in strength and be just as strong as any of you.”

“Is he going to be ok?” Lungile asked.  “What about Zuberi? Is he…?”

“Zuberi is just unconscious, I guess he has a contusion, but he will be fine,” I assured them, knowing that he was going to be ok, his brother was the one we had to worry about.

I knew that my intervention had saved him from something worse, but the risk of being paralyze was bad enough.  Kimball was an excellent doctor and I trusted that he would be able to help.

“I can see what is the damage here,” Kimball said, “but I know that we can help him if we move fast.  In occasions like this one his fast regeneration could act against him, if his bones are not properly set and they start healing, we won’t be able to revert the damage.”

“I think that I can keep his spine in the right position, but I will need a better connection to be able to check him.”  I moved closer and took the kid’s hand in mine.  I could see the fear in his face, I knew that being a paralytic was a nightmare, especially for someone like him, a member of the royal family, with so many expectations over him.  Once I had a better connection to his body I used my biokinesis to make sure his bones, nerves and muscle was in the right position, but I knew it wouldn’t be enough, what he needed was an experienced biokinetic or a doctor like Kimball to look at him.  “Kimball, we need to take him to the infirmary.  I did my best, but I’m not sure if that is going to be enough, he needs an expert.  I can move him there so you can check him.”

“Let’s hurry,” Kimball said, “we can’t waste time if we want to help him.”

“Ethan, come with us,” I told my son.  I needed him with us, he needed to see that Andile was going to be ok, but also he needed to see the damage that he could cause.  Ethan was surrounded by powerful people, it was easy for him not to see what he was capable of.  If Andile had been a normal person, it would have been even worse.

“I didn’t mean to hurt him, I just wanted him to stop bothering me.”

“We will talk about what you did later, now we have other things to take care of.”

Using my mind, I moved Andile to the infirmary.  As soon as we arrived, Kimball took him to one of the rooms and called his team to assist him in the operation.  While he worked, I stayed with a very worried and scared Ethan.

When it became clear there was nothing else we could do, I took Ethan back to our apartment and told him to go to his room to get some rest.  I knew that he needed time to understand what had happened, and I needed time to think about what I had stopped from happening.

A few hours later Ethan came looking for me while I was checking some documents.

“I really didn’t want to hurt him,” Ethan said.  “I just didn’t think I could hurt him, not even using all my strength.  He is always saying he is so much stronger than me.”

“You are my son, and Kimball’s son, you have a bigger potential than most people.  If you want to, you can go very far, do things some people can only dream about.  That’s why it is important for you to learn how to control your powers and your strength.  Today you could have killed your cousin, and even if I know that that wasn’t your intention, it could have happened.  When you feel threatened, your powers help you get stronger, and the stronger you are, the more damage you can do.  You need to learn to control it, you need to train even more.”

“Or not at all,” Kimball said, entering the room.  “After the damage he caused, I think he doesn’t need any more training, at least not in combat.”

“How’s my cousin?”

“With the proper care and rehabilitation he will be able to walk again, but it won’t be easy.  And it could have been worse.  If your mother hadn’t been there to help, it could have been worse.”

“I’m sorry, it won’t happen again,” Ethan said, sincerely.

“I know that, because you won’t fight again, from now on you won’t participate in fights.”

“But what if I’m attacked again?” Ethan protested.

“After what happened to Andile I seriously doubt anyone will attack you again.”

“But people won’t know about this where he is going,” I told them.  “Emily authorized me to take you with me to Capital City.  You will be the new Mzansi representative and Ethan will have to attend school with the children of the other representatives.”

“Another reason for Ethan not to fight, most of those children are not like our family, they are weak, and any error could end in a deadly mistake.”

“But he will need to be able to defend himself.  Faakhir had made me hurt a lot of their families, and I don’t doubt that some of them will want to take revenge by attacking Ethan.”

“Then he will have a chance to practice some self control,” Kimball said, but I could feel Ethan’s fear and apprehension raising.

“He will need to at least have something to protect himself.  He will need his psychic wall, it will help him to get out of any fight he could be forced to face without harm,” I pointed out.

“That we can discuss later, if necessary.  For the moment I need some rest.  Tomorrow we will need to decide Ethan’s punishment, and how to move forward.”

“Punishment?  Ethan made a mistake, but it wasn’t on purpose.  He was being attacked by two of his cousins, older warriors, both self proclaimed superior to him.  What did you expect him to do?  Did you expect him to let them hurt him?”

“He should have been more responsible.  For years we have trained him to fight, but I thought we had done a better job at teaching him when to use his knowledge and when to stop.  He can’t go around hurting people, especially not his own family.”

“They attacked him,” I insisted, remembering the vision.  Even if I hadn’t been there, I knew that they intended to hurt him.  Ethan had done what he needed to do, his error was in not knowing the right amount of strength to use against them.

“It’s ok mother,” Ethan interrupted, “my father is right, I made a mistake.  I let myself believe in their words and didn’t trust myself, I thought they could handle more than they really could.  I shouldn’t have used all my force, I should have found a better way.  If Andile is not able to walk again, it will be my fault.”

I could feel Ethan’s fear and guilt.  His empathy made him even more susceptible to other’s emotions, and I could only imagine what he should have felt if he could feel Andile’s fear. Because of that I didn’t think it necessary to punish him, he was going to punish himself enough without our help.  What he needed was for us to tell him that everything was ok, and that his cousin would be just fine.  He needed for us to explain what he had done wrong and how to avoid the same mistake from repeating in the future.  He needed our support.  Kimball was scared and worried, and once again he was letting his incredible intelligence on the side, acting on emotion and not reason.

“We will talk tomorrow,” Kimball said.  “I know that what happened was an accident, but it was one that could have been easily prevented.  That’s what we will discuss tomorrow.  Get some rest, if we are going to be moving to Capital City we have a lot of work ahead of us.”

“Good night,” Ethan said, and I could feel his broken spirit.  He was feeling awful for what had happened, and the guilt was eating at him.  Using my powers I tried to help him relax.  I agreed that we needed to discuss what had happened, but Kimball and Ethan were making it a bigger deal than it really was.

“How come we are going to Capital City?” Kimball asked once Ethan was gone.

“Shouldn’t we talk about what happened today?  I think you are being too hard on Ethan.  Believe me when I say that he already feels awful about it, he doesn’t need you making him feel even worse.”

“The damage he caused Andile was bigger than what I thought he was capable of.  During all this time I thought I was doing the right thing by training him, but after what I saw today I’m not so sure.  He could have killed his own cousin.”  I thought it best if I didn’t tell Kimball that in my vision he had killed him.

“And he knows that.  He knows what happened and what could have happened.  He will be even more careful now.  We can’t take him to Capital City and ask him not to fight back.  I wouldn’t be fair to him.”

“I think that’s exactly what we need to do.  Not just to protect others from him, but for his own protection.”

“You are making no sense now.  How can it be for his own protection?”

“If Faakhir and Emily see him fighting, they will notice that your interest in him is bigger than you are letting know.  You must have noticed by now, even if you can see some of my influence in his fighting style, some things, like his psychic wall are clearly copy of your techniques.”  For a moment I let myself think about his words, and even if I didn’t like what Kimball was saying, I had to accept he was right.

“We have to do something, I won’t send him to the battlefield without weapons to defend himself.”

“We will think about something, but later.  I’m really tired after the surgery and I need to rest.”

There was much to discuss and to decide, but I knew that it was best to let Kimball and Ethan get some rest, and then talk to them.  I was aware that taking them to Capital City with me was a selfish move, but I needed them, even knowing that they were safer where they were.  It was too late to change things, so all could do was move forward and take them with me.

I needed some time for myself, so I went for a walk.  After a while I found Sofia.

“Greeting Kaiserin.  I’m sorry, I didn’t notice what was about to happen until it was too late.  I should have been more aware of what was going on inside Aquarium, instead of focusing on the outside.”

“Don’t worry about it, it was no one’s fault.  It’s just that I know that now I’m putting my son in an even more difficult position with what just happened.”

“Everything will be alright.  Your son misses you, it will be good for him to have you close.”

“I’m not so sure about it.  Sometimes I feel like I have failed all of my children.  My daughters are on the other side of the ocean, where I can’t do anything to protect them.  Sometimes I feel trapped, not only by the situation with Faakhir, but by everything, my own decisions, my own paths.”

“Kaiserin, you are a gift to our people.  You are the answer to our prayers.  You can’t doubt yourself.  Give yourself some time and you will see that I’m right.”

I have no choice but to take her advice.  I needed to move forward and hope that my actions wouldn’t affect my son’s life.

Chapter 10

It was weird going back to Aquarium, it was good to be back in a safe place, with my whole family, but I knew it wouldn’t last for long. I had too many things to do and my time was short. First, I had to go speak to Sofia, I needed to talk to her and go over our plans for the near future. Then, I needed to see William. I felt responsible for him after taking him out of the mansion and then taking off. I knew that I had done all I could to help him, but I needed to make sure he was safe and that he was recovering.

After spending some quality time with Kimball and Ethan, I went searching for my guest. It was easy to find Sofia’s mind in a place like Aquarium, her mind, unlike the mzansiers’ minds, wasn’t blinded against me. It took me just a few minutes to find the place where she was, and a few more to get to her. I should have expected to find her in Aquarium’s gardens, it was the place where she could think and meditate, and she had a lot to think about.

“I see you came back from the dead,” I said to Sofia when I arrived at where she was.

“That’s right. I have to say the experience was not what I was expecting, and I’m happy to be back.” Sofía smiled at me, and I felt only good feelings coming out of her. I was relieved that she wasn’t mad at me for choking her where I was faking her death. “I need to thank you for helping William. I know it wasn’t part of your plans and I appreciate that you went to help him.”

“I think that it won’t be the first nor the last time I will have to adapt my plans. This time it was easy, Emily is very unstable and it worked in my favor, she couldn’t wait to send me after William as soon as she learned that there was a chance he could survive. That and I think she wanted me out of the Palace, which is also in my favor. She supported me when I asked Faakhir for time to fix some problems in Mzansi.”

“You know Faakhir wants you, don’t you?”

“I know that, and Emily knows it too. I think I will use Emily to keep him away from me. It will be a hard few years.”

“But if someone can deal with the problems you will be facing, it’s you. I trust you and I know you will be fine. I wouldn’t have asked for your help if I didn’t think you were up for the challenge.”

“How is William?” I asked, looking for a change of topic.

“He will be fine, thanks to you. I knew that he wasn’t good, but I had no idea how bad he was. Emily lied to me about a lot of things. She kept him alive, as promised, but he wasn’t in a good situation. The few times I spoke to him, he told me everything was fine, he didn’t want me to worry about him. And I made the mistake of believing in him, I didn’t look into his past. I was focused on keeping him alive and didn’t pay enough attention to his well being. William was always serious about his role as protector, even if he was the youngest of my children, so having the lives of the people around him depending on his behavior was hard for him. He is still blaming himself for the death of the young man that tried to help him.

“I think that is normal that he feels somehow responsible for what happened, but sooner or later he will realize that he cannot take responsibility for other people’s actions.  That young man made a decision, and it is an insult to his sacrifice, not to recognize that it was his choice.”

“I don’t think that Williams sees things like that.  I was on my way to see him by the way.  Would you like to come with me?  I’m sure he would be glad to have the chance of thanking you for your help.”

“That would be great, thank you.  I was planning on visiting him later, but going with you would be best.”

“Are you afraid of how he will react?”

“He saw me with Emily’s guards, he didn’t see me taking him out of the mansion.  He doesn’t know how I helped in his rescue.”

“Don’t worry.  I already told him what really happened.”

I followed Sofia to William’s room.  He looked even more fragile on the hospital bed.  I knew it would take him a while to get to his optimum body weight, and even longer to get his spirit back, but at least he wasn’t alone anymore, his mother would be there to help him.  Not being alone would help in his recovery.

“William? Are you awake?” Sofia asked.

“Mother…” William saw me and went mute.  His eyes showed first surprise, and then fear.

“This is Kaiserin,” Sofia introduced me, “she is the one I talked to you about.  She is the one that went for you.”  At first he didn’t say anything, he was looking around the room, I could see that something was holding him back, he was hesitating about something.  “It’s ok, you can talk, Emily thinks you are dead, so her rules doesn’t apply anymore, she can’t hurt you.”  His emotions changed drastically after those words, his emotions calmed down and he made a decision.

“I saw her in the basement,” he whispered so low it was hard to hear him, “I thought she was death coming for me.”

“I have been called a lot of names, but never death.”

William blushed, he didn’t think I would be able to hear him and he was ashamed.  I could feel his inner struggle.  I knew something was bothering him, and it wasn’t just my presence or the fact that he thought he had offended me.  There was something wrong with him.  The time under his sister’s control haven’t been kind to him.  His physical abuse could be seen in his lack of weight and his sick parlor, but I knew that the worst injuries were those that couldn’t be seen easily.  Whatever Emily had done to hurt his mind, it would take a long time to be fixed.

“She is a friend of mine,” Sofia said.  “She will be working with our sister for the moment, until we can get enough resources to liberate the countries under her rule.”

“Emily is crazy, her greed is our of control,” William said, “the sister that I knew is long gone.  Mother, she killed Charles, and she will kill anyone who stands in her way,” he was frantic, trying to warn us about something we already knew.

“I know, she tried to kill me too, and I’m her mother, she has no problem killing people, but we can’t sit and do nothing, that’s why we are planning on sopping her.  What Emily is doing is wrong and someone has to stop her, as members of the Royal Family we have to do it, is our duty to protect hose under our care, even if we have to get rid of Emily and her husband to do it.”

“They are blinded by their ambition, they can’t see that the road they’re traveling won’t end well.  Sooner or later the people under their rule will snap and rebel against them, and when that happens a lot of lives will be lost.  What I’m trying to do is find a way to stop them from the inside before things get a chance to escalate.  For the moment they trust their power, they think everyone is under their control, but eventually they will learn that’s not true.”

“Are you going to help us?”  William asked.  “Are you sure you will be able to fight them?”

“They went after my family, they attacked me.  For the moment they think that I’m under their control, but they are wrong.  Your sister and her husband made a grave mistake by fighting me.  If they had left me alone, if their greed wasn’t so big, then I wouldn’t be here planning their end.  But you don’t have to worry about it, you just focus on getting better.”

“I’m part of this.  Emily and Faakhir took my brother and my freedom.  When the time arrives, I want to be the one to judge them, as the King.  I will take Emily’s place and show them how to be a real King.  How a real leader worries about his people, not abuse them.  How a real leader puts the needs of their people over his own.  Emily and Faakhir will pay for everything they have done against our people and against us.”

“When the time comes, you will be part of this, but for now, I’m the one that has to be on the front lines.  None of you can go to the Palace or talk to anyone, especially not any of the other rulers.  You two are dead, and you have to remain dead until the right moment.  If Emily finds out that I lied to her and that you are still alive, then our whole plan will crumble.”

“You cannot ask us to stay here and do nothing,” William said, his fear forgotten and replaced by anger.

“Of course I can.  I’m sorry for this, but I need to remind you that this is my territory, this place is under my control, and no one goes in or out without my authorization, and you won’t be able to get out of Aquarium.  I know this may seem like the same thing your sister did, like I’m holding you prisoner, but what I’m doing is what I think is best for everyone.  By staying here you will help save a lot of people.”

“Staying here doesn’t mean that we won’t help.  There are many ways of fighting and many ways to help,” Sofia added.

“I don’t want more people to die…” What William didn’t say was that he didn’t want more people dying because of him.  I realized at that moment just how much guilt, he was carrying on his shoulders, guilt over things that were way out of his control.

“Dying is part of life.  I can’t guarantee that there won’t be more deaths, but what I can do is promise to work on minimizing those losses as much as I can.”

“I want to help, I want to do something to stop Emily.  I don’t want her to keep hurting innocent people.”

“When the time arrives you will help.  For the moment we need you to heal and get your strength back.  You need to prepare to be a King, because when the time arrives you will take over Emily and you will have to do a good job.  You can’t repeat your sister’s mistakes.”

“I would never do what my sister has done.”

“I know you won’t, but it’s not enough to have good intentions.  To be a good ruler, especially in a place like the one your sister is going to leave for us, you need to be prepared.  My job is to get the Dominion back, yours will be to be a good ruler.

“Don’t worry about that, I will be by William’s side, helping him in everything I can.  We won’t fail our people again,” Sofia said.

“I trust you, I know you will do the right thing.”

I left William and Sofia alone. After years of separation they needed time to be together. And I needed to be with my son.  Despite everything I had done to him, he had no bad feeling for me, the incident with Faakhir was only a bad memory, even if I couldn’t stop blaming myself for my actions and the pain I had caused him.  I knew that I had done what was best for him and myself, but that didn’t change the fact that I had hurt him, he had been in danger because of me, it was my hand that had hurt him.

As I walked to my room I wondered about what things I would be forced to do in name of freedom, how many more I would have to hurt to prove myself to Faakhir and Emily.  I knew that I had to stop them, I needed to find a way to strip them of their power and give it back to the right people, but I knew that I would do a lot of things that I would later regret in the time I would be forced to stay with them.