Helena was silent the entire way back to the base as she thought; Kara waved to her as the hoverfly landed and the ramp lowered. “Don’t wait up for me; Klen’s funeral won’t be ready for at least twelve hours, and Belesis won’t be awake for a few days. You should go sit in the spa and clear your mind; I know your little brain is spinning.” With one last encouraging smile, Kara exited.
Taking a deep breath, Helena buried her face in her hands. What’s really changed though? I keep coming back to the same answer. I’m weak … shockingly weak; I didn’t think there was this much of a gap and there’s so much more connected to it. For my family to hold their land, contending against WITCH, Tech, and the Deities from taking over their territory … we must hold enormous power.—my parents must hold massive power … even Drake. So, why am I so weak?
She sat back against the cushioned seats of the hoverfly; her eyes following the pilot leave; he gave her a stiff nod that she returned, trying to keep a passive expression. Drake’s experiment is the answer … I know that I’ve been operating near zero Focus for the past four years. My Focus reserves will start filling up again, and I can function at a level of Focus that no other Esper can; it’s amazing, but I still feel empty. Drake didn’t explain it to me or even give me the option to opt out and to top it off; he sent me to this hellhole without so much as an explanation.
Staring up at the ceiling, she slowly cracked her neck. There’s no getting around it; I’m trapped in WITCH, and if I want to get out, I need to get stronger. I have to stay in Kara’s faction and use what resources I can get to their fullest. It only took Kara a few years to rise to the point of a Prime; I have the capability. There is a genuine danger though; my control is dangerously low. I need to strengthen my control within the next three years to a point where I can handle the release on my Focus tap or else I’ll be vaporized. Kara can’t always be there to save me in that two-year awakening range; I need to gain control over my Focus.
Helena straightened, arching her back. She sighed before walking down the ramp, head turning as her name was called out. A woman with a medical coat came jogging up to her. “Lady—Lady Helena.” She dashed over to Helena, panting. “I’ve been—looking everywhere for you.” The woman straightened, trying to present herself. Swallowing nervously, she did a deep curtsy. “Lady Eizea told me to get here as soon as possible—it is an honor to serve you.”
Her actions seemed to be causing a halt among the Hoverfly Bay workers. Helena sighed, as she appraised the kneeling woman. I bet Eizea has told her entire faction to treat me as a Noble. It’s all wrong though; she could have taught them the proper way to address a second born heir to the Main Family of a Great House—she’s acting like a second cousin. She initiated contact and casually called out my name—of course, that would take ages; a non-royal approaching a Noble is unthinkable … it would be in a formal setting, planned for hearing the common folk’s very brief and thought out requests. Common healers are nowhere near as proficient as the Branch Family healers, in any case; this situation would never arise. My desires would never trump Eizea’s in this girl’s eyes; I’ll have to play along with this weak facade.
Keeping her thoughts clear from her features, Helena nodded. “Lady Eizea made me aware. Proceed.”
“Excuse my impertinence,” the girl muttered as her fingers wrapped around the scar on her leg. Shock crossed her face. “Who did this to your body? There are active stem cells throughout your system, and your body mass is extremely condensed.”
Pain flashed across Helena’s face. “Belesis.” In only a few days, she’s done more than I can ever repay.
Astonishment filled the doctor’s face. “The General—as expected of a Noble—the work she did was massive—marvelous!” Helena didn’t answer as the memory of Belesis’ exhausted frame appeared in her mind. The doctor swallowed as she examined her face and cleared her throat. “I apologize, my Lady. Yes, I’ll remove the blackened skin and accelerate the process to the point of knitted tissue.”
Helena waited for several minutes as she worked, going over the last hour’s events. If only I knew about Belesis… then what? It still wouldn’t have changed the fact that I’m weak and she gave up everything to make up for my inadequacies when I was her subordinate. An abrupt shiver ran down her spine, breaking her concentration. It goes against everything I’ve been taught … I was the servant; she was the master.
The woman lifted from her position. “I’m done Lady Helena. Thank you for allowing me to examine such an extraordinary body.” She curtsied again.
Sighing, Helena left the woman standing in the bay without a second glance and made her way to the medical bay. She was told Belesis was in a secure location and Kara made it clear no one was allowed to visit and when she arrived to direct her to the spa. A little frustrated, she made her way to the spa by her room. Am I this predictable? Grabbing a robe and towel, she removed her clothes and threw them in the hamper before setting her towel and robe by the water. Entering the steaming liquid, she sat, back against the wall and tried to relax. Slowly, she cleared her mind and drifted off to sleep.
* * *
Blurred shapes echoed across her vision as if she were watching a sheet show and dull voices resonated in her ears; she couldn’t make out what was said. That’s Drake’s voice … but it seems a lot younger than anything I remember … is that my father’s voice? What are they saying … I can’t breathe! Kicking upward, she exited the hot water and breathed a gulp of thick air. She sputtered, clutching her throat. I fell in the water while sleeping … I could have killed myself!
Calming her racing heart, she sat back against the wall and reflected on the incident. Drake was talking to our father about something. I don’t remember any events like that.
Rising, she sat at the pool's edge and stared down at the very faint scar along her left leg. It was now pink, but visibly evident. Rinsing the previous thought from her mind, she returned to her reverie. Belesis couldn’t have killed me from the start. She’s a victim of circumstances—her world was ripped apart, forced to use her abilities in a way she despises. Not only for WITCH, but she went against her principles to protect me from Fatchna … she almost died because of my weakness. Some Noble I am … Eizea would have ripped Fatchna to pieces.
A burning sensation filled her nose as her stomach dropped and stirred. I completely ruined her life. A sharp intake of breath filled her lungs and tears gathered at her eyes. Me—a pathetic—helpless child cost her everything. There has to be more, something I could have done or can do … no, nothing. She has everything already … she’d normally never be in that kind of situation.
A fire kindled in her heart as the bolstering feelings consumed her emotions. I will become stronger—it’s a necessity. For the sake of the Branch Families that have been trodden upon for over a millennium; I’ll destroy the Vandred Family Principles. I’ll protect the Branch Families with my own power. Head Milnor had the right idea, but the wrong approach. The House needs to be strong and absolute, not just cared for. Also, the House shouldn’t rely on the Branch Families to bring power to the family. It’s the duty of the Head to take care of everyone under their charge, not the other way around.
I will become the Head, even if I need to kill my father, mother, Drake—if he gets in my way … anyone. I’ll destroy any obstacle for Belesis alone … I owe her everything. Even if my immediate family gets in the way, I’ll remove them for the sake of the whole, but first, I need strength. I need to get rid of WITCH, including Phantasm, especially Phantasm, and finally take over my House, making us the most powerful Great House. No one will harm my family; no one will hurt Belesis again … I will not cause her further pain. She thought about her family—maids, healers, guards, and many others she’d seen as throughout her short life. The Branch Families have taken care of me; what has my parents done? Nothing but bring me and those that cared for me pain.
Lifting her legs out of the water, she dried herself off and went to the ladies room. Combing out her hair, she robed herself. Stopping off at the Cafeteria, she forced down some food and rehydrated before going back to her room. She picked out an all-black outfit as customary for Noble funerals—a black v-dress, undergarments, and black flats; simple and appropriate.
Sliding her hands over the material, she reflected. Belesis picked out these clothes for me. Klen could be considered family. I entered Kara’s faction; he was an equal … he was nowhere near strong enough to handle his opponents, but he still came to my rescue. He was stupid … courageous. Who am I to say his choice was wrong … he truly wanted to save me; he even challenged Fatchna before his death. Stupid... Tears started to gather in the corners of her eyes, but she pushed them down. She placed the clothes on the desk, climbed up her bed, snuggled under the new sheets, and fell asleep.
* * *
She was awoken, by the HCID’s alarm and a message popped up. Get dressed and meet me outside. I’m right around the corner.
Helena eased the tension in her neck before getting up. Dressing, she did a once over with her comb and walked outside to greet Kara. She was dressed in a similar outfit, except she had black tights and a black non-reflective belt around her waist; her hair had been cut shorter.
They traveled to the Hoverfly Bay in silence. An iron coffin was clasped underneath the vehicle. Walking inside, Helena found Eizea and Colin present. Helena’s lips turned into a slight frown at the two Primes and sat across from them; Kara followed shortly after, sitting next to her. The Hoverfly lifted off the ground when the doors shut and began to move.
Her eyes shifted between the two Primes. Would it be appropriate for me to ask their reason for coming? No, I’m sure they understand my thoughts and will answer if they desire.
Eizea was expressionless, but her lips lifted slightly as her eyes rested on her for a short time before returning to Kara.
Helena’s focus shifted to Colin as he shrugged with a short sigh. “Despite what you may think; I was acquainted with Klen. I talked with him every so often.”
“Studying his time with me, no doubt.” Kara’s tone was steel.
“Indeed,” Colin said without shame. “Still, I knew a great deal about the boy. Such is the life of a Mentokinetic.”
Silence fell upon the group; Helena looked through one of the windows, watching the icy scenery below. After several minutes, she asked, “Where are we taking him?”
Kara’s voice was low and held little emotion. “A nice area I discovered a few weeks back. It’s a little out of the way.” She smiled a little as her eyes turned to her. “Belesis is doing great; she’ll make a full recovery.”
Tingles shot across Helena’s Body; she swallowed reflexively before rubbing her shoulder. “Thank you.”
After an hour they flew over an enormous tundra to a large mountainous area. Landing on its flat top, they all exited, excluding the pilot. The freezing wind flowed around them as Eizea manipulated the gravity of the space to cut the force, but the chill remained. Kara produced an electromagnetic field, and the air started to warm as the coffin unclasped from the bottom of the shuttle. Helena followed the group to a large hole in the ground that was partially frozen over.
Eizea produced a gravitational push, and the sheet of ice slammed against the ground, melding with the icy floor. As they neared, rough steps appeared, imprinted by compressed gravity, complete with a rough texture for grip. They descended for several minutes before coming into an enormous cavern with a vast pool of steaming water. The frost ended with dripping stalagmites hanging over twenty meters above them.
Eizea smiled as she gazed around the space. “As you said, Kara.” Sparkling granite glistened across the ground as reflected light somehow shone around the area.
“Can you do it?” Kara asked.
Eizea rubbed her hands together and held out her hands. “Of course.” The walls of the cavern to their side trembled and a massive mansion-sized chunk of ice crushed upward; the integrity of the room seemed entirely stable, likely held by Eizea’s manipulations. The blocks split into four blocks that started to compress. Once they reached three meters by one, she stopped and turned to Kara. “Your turn.”
Kara unsealed the coffin to expose Klen; his clothes had been changed to a customary black suit, fitted to him. His expression was peaceful, and it seemed like his wounds had been healed, leaving his body unscathed.
He lifted from the coffin with Eizea’s manipulations and hovered over to the slabs. Laying him across the compressed ice, Eizea lifted the two compressed chunks and slowly brought them down to insert into the other. She’s preserving him in the ice; did Kara ask Eizea here to help her do this?
The pieces started to form around his body as Eizea perfectly molded it to his shape. The ice fused and the two final constructs lifted to show Klen standing in casual position, frozen in the super dense casing of ice. If his eyes weren’t shut, I could believe he was still alive. Helena felt a ping against her heart. Why do I feel this way about someone I barely met? I don’t understand these emotions … Drake always told me to push them down and burn them. This feeling … isn’t bad, but isn’t good … it’s so mixed. I can’t tell what I’m feeling...
“Quite sad,” Eizea commented while staring at Klen. “It would have been a real tragedy if Belesis had fallen. Biokinetics of her caliber are quite rare.” She sounded sincere, but she couldn’t tell by her heart from all the gravitational interference.
Looking up at Klen’s serene expression, Helena reaffirmed her conviction. I will not let a member of my family die; I will get stronger.
Eizea moved the slab to a granite island at the center of the pool and faced him toward the stairs. The group stood there in silence for several minutes before Colin left, followed by Eizea with the parting words, “I’ll continue to wait for you, Helena. Sooner or later, you will join my cause; in Kara’s faction or out.”
Helena’s throat went dry at her words. Just how far ahead do Primes plan? She left, leaving Helena with Kara. They stared onward in silence for several more minutes. Kara’s serious voice echoed around the cave. “What have you decided to do? I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now.”
“I want to become stronger,” Helena responded in a low and sure tone.
“You leave for New Genesis tomorrow. I’ve already sent word for people to pack up the necessary items to be moved to your room at the new location.” Helena nodded. Now I have a goal and, I will achieve it.
Kara left, leaving Helena to stare into Klen’s closed eyelids, reaffirming her plan in her mind. She didn’t know how long she stood there, but at some point, she decided to leave. Exiting the cavern, she found the three waiting in the Hoverfly. New Genesis ... what awaits me?