Title: Hail Jing-Bang – 45
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.

All previous parts can be found here
http://www.geocities.com/redthemighty/library/fiction_red_hjb.html

Hey everybody. Thanks so much for the all the fantastic feedback. It's much appreciated.

******

The sun was just clearing the horizon when Liz, Max, Michael and Maria pulled out of the motel parking lot and headed west along the highway. Liz had insisted on driving, brooking no refusal and even going so far as to steal Max’s keys out of his jacket before he could react. Max looked for a minute as though he’d like to argue but Maria gave him a warning shake of her head and he let the moment pass. Twenty minutes later they were well out of town and speeding down the mostly empty highway.

After a short while the drone of the vehicle and the ridiculously early hour left Michael and Maria dozing in the back seat. Max let his head lean back against his seat while he stared up at the sky, lost in his thoughts. Liz drove on, enjoying, as much as she could, the silence.

She inhaled deeply, drawing the cool morning air into her lungs. She shook her head sharply, as if to clear it from a fog and darted a quick look in the rearview mirror. She couldn’t get over the feeling of apprehension that lurked at the corner of her mind. Shifting restlessly in the seat she pushed the accelerator to the floor.

Max lifted his head and turned to look curiously at Liz. Bending forward slightly he looked over her arm to the speedometer, his eyes widened in amazement but he didn’t say a word. He dropped his head back again but didn’t take his eyes off of her and he watched as her brow furrowed and her eyes narrowed in concentration. He was thrown forward suddenly against his seatbelt when she slammed on the brakes and shifted gears impatiently. He glanced out the front and noticed she was tailgating a minivan, weaving in the lane as she tried to determine if she could pass them. She jerked into the oncoming lane, the jeep growling as she pushed it to speed ahead. She pulled back into the westbound lane just before the rise of a hill, narrowly missing a head-on collision with another car.

Max grabbed the wheel, holding it steady, and growled through clinched teeth. "Pull over."

"Max, let go of the wheel," Liz hissed.

"Liz, pull over," he shouted, clearly panicked by her recklessness.

"We don’t have time," she argued angrily.

Max took a deep breath when she wrestled the wheel away from him and darted around a slow moving RV. "Pull over now or I will kill the engine."

Liz jerked the wheel once again, this time pulling the jeep onto the shoulder. It skidded to a halt in a cloud of dust and flying rocks. She slammed the jeep into park and glared at Max.

"Get out," Max ordered tensely. "I’m driving."

"What’s going on?" Maria asked in a sleep heavy voice.

Max ignored her and leaned over Liz to turn the engine off and take the keys out of the ignition. He jumped out and walked around the jeep to stand by Liz.

"Liz. Liz, get out of the jeep."

Liz took a deep, angry breath and without looking at him unbuckled her seat belt and drew up her legs, then she climbed over to the passenger side where she sat sullenly staring out the window.

Max closed his eyes for a moment before getting back in the jeep and starting the engine again.

Maria, who’d watched the entire scene play out in silence, finally couldn’t keep it in any longer. "What the hell just happened?"

"Nothing," Max said. "Liz is just in a little too much of a hurry."

"What do you mean? What aren’t you telling me? Something happened, didn’t it? What? What was it? Did we just almost die and I slept through it?"

"Never mind, Maria," Max snapped. "You’re alive. We’re all alive. It’s over."

Maria’s lips tightened in annoyance. "Whatever. How much longer?"

"Forty-five minutes. Maybe. Go back to sleep."

"Right, like that’ll happen," she mumbled.

Maria glanced over at Michael who was lounging with his back to the jeep’s metal frame. His eyes were closed but a small smile danced at the edges of his lips. She nudged his leg with hers and watched as the smile turned to a grin. He reached out blindly and grabbing her arm pulled her to him.

"Don’t worry about it, babe."

"You’re kidding me right? We almost died."

Michael opened one eye and peered down at her. "You don’t know that."

Maria huffed in irritation and tried to sit back from him. He held on more tightly. "Don’t push your luck, Guerin."

"Wouldn’t dream of it," he drawled quietly then he opened both his eyes and gave her a lazy grin. Maria couldn’t help but smile back.

Liz’s tense voice broke their small moment. "We’re being followed."

"By who?" Michael asked.

Liz turned in her seat and gave him a look that told him just how utterly stupid she found that question. "Still not a mind reader."

"Pull off the highway in Tinnie," Michael ordered, darting a glance down the road behind them. He noted immediately the dark SUV that hung back behind them a ways.

"What? Why? There’s nothing in Tinnie," Maria argued.

"Yeah but we’re sitting ducks on the open road here. There’re some side roads we can get onto from there if we need to. Might be safer then the highway," Michael told her. Max nodded his head once and grunted in agreement.

From that point on the four traveled in silence. Max concentrated on the road in front of them, Liz scanned the side of the highway looking for possible traps or roadblocks and Michael and Maria kept watch on their shadow.

When they neared Tinnie, Max stood on the gas trying to pull far enough away from the vehicle trailing them that they could duck onto a side road without being noticed.

"Max," Liz interrupted his intensely focused driving. "Get us to the other side of the river then Michael can blow out the bridge. It’ll slow ‘em down for a while."

"You got that, Michael?" Max called over his shoulder.

"Yeah, just do it, man. Fast."

Max started scanning the highway ahead of them for a way to pull off and cross to a southbound road. He saw his chance at an emergency turnaround in the median a short ways in front of them. Seconds before he got to the turnaround he slammed on the brakes, sending the jeep skidding, and wrenched the wheel hard to the right. The jeep jumped and shook, complaining at the abuse with a host of new rattles and knocks. Max expertly guided the shuddering vehicle over the median and across the eastbound lanes of the highway then onto the turn off and from there west again on a narrow, rutted frontage road.

When he was sure he had total control over the jeep again, he chanced a look behind him and saw that the SUV was attempting the same maneuver. Though the early morning traffic was light, the SUV had a case of bad timing and was forced to wait out a trio of semi trucks before proceeding across the highway. Max swore anyway and started looking around again for a road that would lead them south across the shallow river.

"Max, there," Liz pointed out a bridge just as his own frantic search took note of it.

"Got it."

"Michael get ready," Liz called.

Michael grunted in response and primed his powers.

Maria, who had nothing else to do, held on for dear life and prayed to any deity who’d listen.

Max slowed the jeep down as much as he dared, in truth just barely enough to let him still keep control, and turned onto the side road and over a narrow bridge. The tires slipped dangerously on the loose gravel and Max cursed viciously under his breath. A frightening moment later the tires managed to grab hold of the road and the jeep leaped ahead, safely across.

Michael turned in his seat and focused on the road behind them. He took a deep breath and raised his palm letting loose a blast of energy that tore apart the concrete bridge and rocked them violently.

"Wasn’t that kind of overkill?" Maria managed to choke out.

"Whatever works." Michael leaned over the side of the jeep and tired to spit out the dust and grit that had collected in his mouth.

The remainder of the trip was spent unerringly navigating dusty back roads, dry streambeds and narrow washes to the rock formation that hid the Granolith chamber.

Max stopped the jeep about a mile from their goal and turned to look at his companions. "I think we should walk from here. We don’t know who’s out there. The jeep will give us away."

"If it hasn’t already done it," Liz muttered.

Max frowned unhappily. "Liz, talk to me."

Liz turned her head slightly and glanced sideways at him but didn’t respond. Instead she hopped out of the jeep and started walking.

Max bowed his head and rubbed his jaw wearily.

"Max Evans get your ass out of this jeep and go talk to her," Maria hissed in his ear.

Michael coughed uncomfortably. "Uh, yeah, go ahead. We’ll wait here for a minute." After a heartbeat he couldn’t resist adding, "Make it quick though."

Maria rolled her eyes and shook her head at his indelicacy.

Max gave them an exhausted half smile and ran off after Liz.

"Stop. Liz. Come on, please, talk to me," Max pleaded.

Liz stopped and turned towards him suddenly, practically colliding with him as she buried her face against his chest and threw her arms around him. Max froze for a second, thrown completely off balance by her sudden shift in mood. His worry for her increased exponentially and he swallowed down a bitter swell of fear.

"Liz, please, sweetheart," he whispered brokenly.

"The things is, Max, I don’t know what to say," she murmured against him. "I’m so scared I think I’m flying apart. Nothing can hold me together."

"I can. I can hold you together," he told her desperately.

"I don’t understand any of this. I’m sorry – sorry about what happened on the highway, I just needed to get to the Granolith. Nothing else mattered. I still feel it calling me. And I know the Disciple’s close. I can feel him too. He’s like this greasy film on a beautiful, um, something. Bad analogy. Bad incomplete analogy," she laughed quietly, unsteadily to herself.

Max gave her a weak laugh and threaded his fingers through her hair in an attempt to draw her closer to him. He was scared, too. Scared that if he let her out of her arms she’d fly off out of his reach forever.

"Three weeks ago," she muttered half to herself.

"What?"

"Three weeks ago. That’s when this started. I remember three weeks ago and it feels like thirty years ago. It’s funny how you can look back and see what was and how you thought you knew everything but it turns out you didn’t know anything. How the future looks all skewed from what you thought it’d be. Even the future that’s still the future looks so different now that you’re three weeks this side of it," Liz rambled on in an almost internal monologue, her voice far off, distant.

"Liz," Max murmured. "I’m so sorry."

Liz pulled back from him and stared up at him in bewilderment. "Max, what are you apologizing for?"

Max bit back on the bitterness of self-loathing. "If it wasn’t for me . . ."

"I’d be dead," Liz told him succinctly. "None of this is your fault Max. Sometimes I just miss three weeks ago. Remember then? Back when Torquil was just a freak?"

"Torquil’s still a freak."

Liz leaned her head back against his shoulder. "Yeah, there is that. But he’s our freak now." She quirked a small smile then continued more thoughtfully, "Weird. The whole universe changed in just twenty days. You, me, our friends, our planets. And it’s not done yet. I don’t think it’s going to be happy until it’s changed every single thing we’ve ever touched."

Max didn’t particularly like the direction Liz’s mind was going. He wasn’t sure where she was headed but there was an almost fatalistic tone to her voice he found disturbing.

She kept on speaking before he could get a thought out. "I should be used to this by now, huh? I mean one day there are no aliens the next day I’ve been shot and fatally wounded and not only are there aliens but one of them is my lab partner."

"So are you saying that on a scale of changes these past three weeks have been the same magnitude as when you found out I was an alien?" Max asked cautiously.

Liz made a small sound of consideration then tipped her head back to meet his gaze when she replied. "Maybe more so. See, ‘cause it turns out I’m an alien, too. Alien when defined as something different from the norm," she clarified. "I mean it’s one thing to fall in love with the king of another planet, and it’s something else to find out you’re the queen. And let’s not even talk about the freaky powers." She sighed heavily.

"I’m sor-"

Liz reached a hand up and pressed her fingers to Max’s lips. "Do not apologize again. I’m scared, I’m tired, I’m confused, but I don’t blame you for anything and to be totally honest I couldn’t say that I would change anything."

Liz pulled away from Max and stared out at the desert. "They’re out there now, Max."

"You can feel them?" He asked softly.

"Yeah. But it’s kind of muffled. Almost like something’s hiding them. I can’t tell where they are." She turned to face him. "We need to go, now," she said urgently.

They walked quickly back to the jeep, only to be stunned by the sudden knowledge that Michael and Maria were nowhere to be seen.

"I cannot believe it," Max growled in fury. "I cannot fucking believe it. Where the hell are they?" His voice climbed to a yell.

Liz shook herself out of her astonishment. "I don’t know. I – Max, I’m sorry but we can’t wait around anymore. We need to go."

Max cast one last panicked glance around, then met Liz’s eyes. "Okay."

They hiked their way to the rock formation, stopping just across from it. Hidden behind a jumble of boulders Max scanned the area for any sign of their enemies. He looked down at Liz who just shrugged, indicating she had no information to give him. They waited another minute before making a mad dash from their hiding place to the rock formation.

They were climbing up to where the entrance to the pod chamber was hidden when they heard a shuffling, scuffling sound behind them. Max spun on his heel, tense and angry, and Liz put a supporting hand on his shoulder. Neither of them was prepared for the sight of a bloodied and beaten Michael. He stumbled up to them and collapsed onto his knees.

"Maria," he gasped.

Liz was next to him in an instant. "Max open the chamber," she ordered. She turned back to Michael and pushed his hair back from his bloody forehead. "What happened? Where’s Maria?" She asked gently.

Michael raised his devastated gaze to hers. "We didn’t see them. Too fast. I couldn’t stop them." His voice broke into a muffled howl of anguish. "They took her."

******

Red


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 31-Oct-2001 1:47:56 AM ]