“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.
“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.
“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.