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.