Title: Hail Jing-Bang – 44
Author: Red the Mighty
Email: red⊕ctepc.com
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Roswell belongs to 20th Century Fox and UPN and not to me.
Category: Other (CC)
Summary: Secret bases, conspiracies, evil aliens, truth, lies, betrayal, and things not being as they seem. All that good stuff.
Spoilers: Could be anything up to To Serve and Protect I guess.
Feedback: Yes please. I love feedback; it makes me so happy.
Archive: Hey, it’s all yours, just drop me a line telling me where so I can visit.

http://www.geocities.com/redthemighty/library/fiction_red_hjb.html

******

"Morning, Liz."

Liz nodded her head at the soft greeting but didn’t look away from her deep contemplation of the sunrise.

"Hey, Maria."

Maria walked over to her friend slowly, the gravel of the motel’s parking lot crunching loudly under her feet in the bitter early morning air. She stepped up onto the jeep’s bumper carefully and sat down on the cold hood next to Liz.

"It is damn cold out here, Liz," she observed quietly.

Liz shrugged. "It’s not that bad."

"Right."

"If it bothers you that much, go back inside," Liz suggested evenly.

Maria tugged her coat around her body and tucked her hands under her arms. "Nah, I’m tough, I can take it. So how’s it going?"

"Fantastic."

Maria waited for a moment to see if Liz would elaborate and shook her head slightly when it became apparent that she wouldn’t.

"Where’s Max?"

"Getting coffee." Liz finally pulled her eyes from the sky and gave Maria a small smile. "So how is it having Michael back?"

Maria grinned. "Fantastic."

"How fantastic?"

Maria brushed her hair back from her face and glanced furtively back at the motel. "Can I tell you something, Liz? Something you have to swear to me you won’t tell, Max?"

"Is this something I’m going to have to eventually lie to Max about? Because I’m so tired of doing that I can’t even begin to tell you."

"No, no, it’s nothing like that. This is just girlfriend to girlfriend stuff. Not really alien related, well except for the alien part of it, but it’s not a save the world alien deal, it’s more like just our regular FREAKISHLY BIZARRE lives and the aliens in them."

"Maria, babbling."

"Michael asked me to marry him," she said in a rush.

Liz nearly slid off the jeep as she felt an almost physical shock go through her. "He what?"

"He asked me to marry him."

"Michael Guerin? Michael, the guy who doesn’t want anything tying him down to this world? That Michael?" Liz asked in disbelief.

"Yeah, him."

"Pod people," Liz murmured with a shake of her head. "What did you say?"

"Well first I told him he was insane."

"Right."

"Then I told him I was only 17 and still in high school."

"Also right."

"Then I told him my mother would kill him."

"So very scary right." Liz shivered.

"Then he got that look on his face, you know the one where he’s all hurt and shutting down? Well I can’t stand that look, Liz," Maria said defensively. She felt her earlier excitement at the news fading at Liz’s cool response.

"You said yes?"

"I said someday," Maria clarified. "Well, okay, actually, if you want to get all technical, in the end I did say yes."

Liz wasn’t sure what to say, the news was such a shock. She glanced over at Maria’s somewhat crestfallen face and realized that her own melancholy mood was casting a dark shadow over what should have been a happy moment between two old friends.

Liz realized what she was doing and shook herself out of her funk, giving Maria genuine grin. "Wow. I mean wow. So you’re like engaged."

Maria gave her a smile that said she couldn’t believe it any more then Liz could. "Yeah, I guess I am."

Liz slipped an arm around Maria’s shoulders. "Congratulations. Wow. Well, that’s a shock, but for once a shock that’s totally awesome. So, I want details, give me details."

"What kind of details are we asking for here?" Maria asked with an arched eyebrow.

Liz made a face and laughed again. "Not those kinds of details. How did he ask you?"

"It was actually really sweet. He just said that he knew he was going to screw up someday and he wanted to make sure that I was around long enough for him to fix the screw up. He looked so adorable. I could tell he was freaked about something. And then he said all this stuff about not having much to give me and that he was sure there was a better guy out there for me."

"How long did you let that go on for before you decked him?"

"Not that long. Then, Liz it was so heartbreaking, he told me he needed to know that I wasn’t going to leave him."

"Oh my god. I can only imagine."

"Well, then he asked me to marry him and I freaked out," Maria admitted with a chuckle.

"Wow."

"You keep saying that."

"Geez, can you blame me? I’d always kind of thought you were going to have to propose to him."

"What, you don’t think he’d want to get married?"

"Well I didn’t think he ever really thought about those kinds of things."

"You mean in all those midnight chats you two had it never came up?" Maria asked in mock surprise.

"No, it never came up. And they weren’t midnight chats," Liz muttered.

"Never came up? You never talked about me?"

Liz sighed in exasperation. "Of course we talked about you. And if it makes you feel any better, we talked about everybody else too. He just wanted relationship advice from time to time. You confuse the hell out of him sometimes."

"I confuse him," Maria said flatly.

"Maria, I’m sure you know this already, but Michael doesn’t have clue one about relationships. You have seen his relationships with Max and Isabel right?"

"Yeah, okay, point taken. But you really never talked about this before?"

"Well not getting married and stuff. That’s, you know, future stuff. Michael never seemed to like to go there."

"So what do you think about this?" Maria asked almost hesitantly.

Liz glanced over, a slight frown on her face. "About you being engaged to Michael?"

"Yeah."

"Does it matter what I think?"

Maria glared at her. "Yes, Liz, believe it or not it matters."

"Let me ask you a question then. How do you feel about it?"

"Um, I guess I feel a little freaked still, but overall? Happy. I guess I feel pretty damn happy. Bordering on ecstatic and I may burst into song at any minute."

"Then there you go. I want my best friend to be happy. If I thought Michael was a total scumbag who was going to break your heart, I’d be the first to let you know. But, I know how he feels about you. If it’s what you want I say go for it."

Maria accepted that with a happy grin and the pair fell silent. They watched a couple of trucks rumble down the highway past the hotel and the early morning crowd milling about at the Denny’s next door for a few long minutes.

Maria broke the silence. "So how are you doing?"

Liz opened her mouth, automatically prepared to state she was fine but she stopped before the words got out. She thought for a minute and then answered with the simple truth. "I’m scared. No, I take that back, I’m not scared, I’m terrified."

"Of what?"

Liz turned to face Maria. "I’m supposed to protect the Granolith but I don’t have any idea what I’m doing and if I screw this up, we’re all dead. Or as good as. I don’t know what to do, Maria. I just don’t know what to do. I feel helpless and stupid, and just so scared."

"Wait? You’re supposed to protect it? How?"

"Yeah, that would be my problem. God Maria, this is all so weird. First these powers that keep popping up, then that whole being chosen by the Granolith deal."

Maria cut her off with an impatient wave of her hand. "Okay, we’ve already gone over that one. You totally need to get over that."

"No, no, I am. More or less. But my point is I’m tied to this thing nobody understands. Least of all me. How should this be possible? I’m from Earth. This is some bizarre alien artifact that’s been here for more then fifty years. Not even the aliens it belongs to can totally explain it. Of all the people in this universe . . ."

"If you say ‘why me?’ I’m going to leave," Maria warned severely.

"Well. Anyway, now these dreams."

"So tell me."

"I’ve had them a few times now. It’s always more or less the same. The Disciple is after me because I have the Granolith. Though in the dreams he called it the Oracle."

"Didn’t Michael have a dream about the Oracle?" Maria asked.

Liz nodded. "Yeah, but that was from the Prophet and Sef. They were trying to warn him. I don’t know where my dreams are coming from. And the thing is, in every dream, he just gets closer and closer to me."

"Could it be the Prophet trying to warn you now?" Maria suggested hopefully.

"No," Liz said with a tired shake of her head. "I recognize the Prophet now. It’s not him. I . . . I had some time to think about it this morning when I couldn’t sleep, and I think it might be the Granolith itself."

Maria blinked rapidly and let out a long breath. "Whoa. Um, you think that’s possible?"

"Well it’s that or I’m prophecy girl now. As strange as it sounds, I’m hoping it’s the Granolith. I don’t need another unexplainable power."

It was Maria’s turn to put her arm around her friend’s shoulders. "I don’t know that I can tell you anything that will make you less scared, but I can tell you that you’re not alone. You’ve got me, you’ve got Michael, and you’ve got Max. Whatever happens you know we’re going to be right there with you."

Liz managed a small smile. "Yeah, I know. I – I just have this really sick feeling in my stomach now. I can’t shake it."

"What does Max say?"

"He’s really worried too."

Maria opened her eyes wide. "Max is worried? Max? Worried? Can it be?"

Liz acknowledged Maria’s attempt at humor with a tiny chuckle. "Yeah, yeah. He’s great though. He gets what I’m feeling. Mainly because he feels it, too, but he’s there. It’s just for this, whatever this is, I get the distinct feeling that whatever’s going to happen a lot of it rests on my shoulders. Max is pretty used to taking everything on his shoulders and I think he’s feeling almost as helpless as I am."

"Not that he’d ever tell you that."

"God no. We’re both scared," Liz shrugged despondently. "Everything’s crazy."

"I know, babe, I know."

The thud of heavy footsteps announced the arrival of an intruder into their huddled conversation.

"Hey," Michael said quietly.

He got a pair of ‘hey’s in return and handed Maria a steaming cup of coffee. "Uh, Max is on his way with yours, Liz."

"Thanks, Michael," she replied with a watery smile. "Oh, hey, congratulations."

Michael frowned in confusion. "For what?"

Maria rolled her eyes. "For our engagement, Michael."

"You told her?" He asked in surprise.

"Of course I told her, Michael. She’s my best friend. This is the kind of news best friend’s share with each other. Did you tell Max?"

"Hell no," Michael told her with a snort.

"What’s up, guys?" Max asked as he walked up to them. He handed Liz her coffee and put his hand on her back.

Liz and Maria looked at Michael expectantly. He shrugged his shoulders. "Nothing," he cleared his throat. "So what’re we doing today?"

"We need to get to the Granolith chamber," Liz said quickly.

Michael objected immediately. "Why? We could lead the Disciple right to it."

"He’s already too close, Michael," Liz argued. "What are we supposed to do? Run forever? Hope he gets tired of chasing us? Hope we can wear his forces down? Hope he never finds it? That’s too much to hope for, Michael."

"Maybe we can find someway to get it to work for us," Max suggested quietly. "We know it’s active."

"Yeah but we don’t know what it does," Michael replied.

Liz shook her head. "I think it’s trying to protect itself right now. I keep having dreams about it. It needs me there. I can’t explain it, it just does."

"So what? Because of some dream you’re gonna go out there and risk us all?"

"Michael," Maria admonished. "You know dreams like this can be real. What’s your problem?"

"I have two problems. The first is, if you’re right and we don’t go we’re screwed. The second is, if we do go we can’t bring all our guys with us because we don’t want anybody to notice us. It’ll have to just be the four of us. It just sucks."

"Yeah," Max agreed. "But we have to do something. I think the only place we’re going to get answers will be at the Granolith."

"Damn it," Michael muttered and scrubbed a hand violently through his hair. After a moment he heaved a sigh. "Alright. We’ve got teams sweeping the whole area, all the way down to Ft. Bliss. Our, uh, our commanders have orders to take out the Disciple’s forces wherever they find them. Hopefully that’ll take some pressure off us."

"So what do we do when we get there?" Maria asked.

"I don’t know," Max replied. He glanced over at his girlfriend and brushed her hair back from her face. "Liz is the key."

******