posted on 16-Sep-2001 3:13:22 PM
The Other: Centre Stage
By: Chrystalkay
Conventional couples plus Kyle/Doris and Tess/Luke
Rated: PG general audiences
Summary: The Centre comes to Roswell and leaves with two of our gang. Remember this is a Ros/Pretender X-over, and a sequel to The Other. Lots of new powers and power sharing.

(Here is the link to the first story. f=repost-fan-fiction&t=763 )

Please remember that writers run on feedback!!!!!!!!!!
(That was a hint, plea, whatever you want to call it!)

The Other: Center Stage

Part 1
Tuesday, Nov. 14, 00: The Crashdown Café:
Liz felt, rather than heard, Maria behind her as she washed down the coke machine. Maria had been watching her all day. Other than that, Maria had seemed perfectly normal.

Without turning around, Liz spoke. “That peculiar bird in front of your eyes all day is called a Liz. Lizzes are known to get nervous when watched too closely.” Then she turned around smiling at Maria, and cocked her head. “Okay what gives?”

Maria looked down, then out the window then smiled sheepishly at Liz. “I’ve been trying to…you know…connect.” She hurried on before Liz could say anything. “I know we have this whole group thing and I have this great mind to mind thing with Michael and all…” * You called sweets?* *Not now Spacehoney * “.. but we’ve been friends for years… and I thought if there should be ANY connection that is easy to make, it should be between you and me. Besides, there’s been something going on with you all day, and I wondered if I could…you know pick it up. So I can’t. So ‘what gives?’ right back at ya.”

Liz shook her head grinning and turned to fill two cokes for her and Maria. The lunch room was empty for now, they could snatch the time to just sit and talk for a minute.

Max and Michael walked in right then. Michael gave Maria a quick kiss on his way into the kitchen. *Spacehoney? Isn’t that gonna make you Mrs. Spacehoney someday? * Maria threw a kitchen towel after him. * That’s Ms. To you brother. *

Max settled down next to Liz after pouring himself a soda, and Maria sighed. Liz looked at her understandingly. “No we are not going to interrupt our talk.” She said. Then she looked at Max. “I just think it might be better if Max knew too.”

“Knew what?” Maria and Max said at the same time.

Liz set her chin on her hand, and considered where to begin. “You know how you can get a feeling? Like something is wrong, or going to be wrong?” Max and Maria both nodded. “Well I had a dream last night that I couldn’t remember, and ever since I got up, I’ve had one of those feelings.”

Max put one arm around Liz. “Well it’s not one of our gang, we’ve seen everyone today, I even saw Jim on patrol on the way over here, and everything seems okay.”

Maria waved her straw for attention. “Oh I bet I know what it is! I had this really yuck dream once, but I couldn’t remember what it was or anything. But I kept looking under beds and behind doors for days before it went away. Not the dream, the feeling. Is it…you know… like that?”

“I wish it was. I was just thinking of the one member of our group that isn’t here to check on.” Liz looked from Max to Maria.

They both answered at once. “Jarod!”

The Center:
Ms. Parker was pacing back and forth in front of Sydney’s desk. “You received a call from Jarod that routed through from Anchorage Alaska, of all places. One we couldn’t unscramble before he hung up. I want to know what he said Sydney. Exactly what he said.”

Sydney leaned back in his chair, and considered the look and temper of Ms. Parker before answering with a question of his own. “You haven’t had any luck tracing down all the cars from that area have you?”

Ms. Parker turned and slammed her hand loudly down on his desk. “What I ‘don’t’ have..” She purred low, “ is your complete co-operation. You know that anything he says… everything he says, might be a clue to where he is heading, or what he might be working on. Now. What. Did. HE. Say.”

Sydney touched his fingertips together and tilted his head. “He spoke of finding his family. That is all.”

Ms. Parker stared him right in the eye for a moment trying to pry out of him, by sheer will power, what he ‘wasn’t’ saying.

At that moment Broots came running in, hands full of papers. “Ms. Parker, I think we found where he went! Oh.. uh.. hi Sydney.”

“Broots.” Sydney nodded.


Roswell, Michael’s digs:
All the friends but Jim, who was still on duty, were to meet here. Max, Michael Maria and Liz had put out the message to gather there after the Crashdown closed.

Kyle and Doris were among the first to arrive, and it became apparent that he too, was feeling something. Liz followed him with her eyes as he walked back and forth or stood running his hand down the back of his head. “What is it Kyle?” She asked.

“It’s nothing I guess. I’ve just had a feeling like … I don’t know. Forget it.”

“Like something has happened or is going to happen?” She prompted.

Kyle turned to her, surprise on his face. “You too?”

She nodded. “That’s what this meeting is about.”

“What is? Hi all.” Isabel said as she and Alex came through the door.
Alex added his hellos, but they weren’t as exuberant as usual.

Maria went over and pulled him down on the couch by her. “Okay, give. You look worried.”

“Well I wasn’t until this meeting was called. Now I am.” He looked up at Isabel and then around at the others. “I think I dreamed about what this is all about!”

“Okay, how many others have felt anything today!” Tess said as she and Luke entered. “Hey!” Luke greeted everyone.

It turned out that Kyle and Liz had the feeling of foreboding, Alex and Liz had dreamt something, and Luke and Tess had felt a building up of something. “Like a pressure in the atmosphere.”

The only clues they might have gotten would be from the dreams and neither Liz nor Alex could remember them. One thing they felt certain of… something was coming and it had to do with one of their group or all of them.

They all looked at each other and all came up with one answer. ‘Lets contact Jarod.’

Everyone sat around comfortably; there was no longer the need to touch each other to form a connection. Max gave the signal to cast out their noose to reel Jarod in. Alex added a caution this time. “Hey don’t forget what our boy is. He could be flying or race driving or whatever. So lets take it slow!”

Jarod was driving at a good clip when he felt the gentle touch of the group and pulled over. *Hi guys. I’m glad you contacted me. I’ve been trying to get to you for a few hours. *

* Are you alright?* Maria sent. * We’ve been getting these awful vibes.*

Jarod’s sudden feeling of dread flooded the group. * Maybe this would be a good time for the ten of you to take a vacation. *

*Jarod what is it? *

* The Centre is coming to Roswell. *


Part 2
Maria jumped up and began to pace. * Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!*

Michael got up and wrapped his arms around her and pulled her back down onto the couch. “Don’t loose it now doll. We can figure something out. Wait. Okay?”

Maria snuggled into Michael’s side and tried to control her shaking. It felt so ‘good’ to have him hold her. *Okay, I’m back and I won’t freak again. *

Liz was holding on to Max’s hand so hard it almost lost circulation. * Jarod, could they be here already? I mean if they found out about Roswell today, ‘wouldn’t’ they be?* The tension running through the group was almost unbearable.

*They found the car. Backtracking to Roswell by tomorrow is as inevitable as sun up in the morning. Though we can hope it won’t be that early. I’ll be there in another couple of hours. *

That brought a number of responses from the gang.
Doris- * You can’t come here! It’s too dangerous!*
Luke- * He can help us and we can keep him safe. *
Kyle- * We’ve got to tell my dad! He can hide you at our place. *
Michael- *No way, Jarod. I’m with Doris, you stay away from here! *
Maria- * But we need you Jarod. Guys, he’s the only one that knows the Centre!*

Max looked at his watch. 11pm. *So you’ll be here about one? We’re at Michael’s right now, but some of us will have to leave pretty soon. Kyle and Tess can tell Jim what’s going on and Michael, Luke and Doris are free agents, but the rest of us have parents and it’s a school night. You’ll have to talk to them. The rest of us can meet here before school and you can fill us in then. *

* Listen, all of you. It’s important that you find a way to stay connected. Really connected. So what one of you knows, the rest knows. Do you think that this group connection could be kept going even when you are all in different places?*

The eyes of the gang were on Max. * I don’t know; we haven’t tried yet. We’ll try to keep this one going and see what happens. *

*Good I have to concentrate on driving right now, or I won’t get there at all. * Jarod felt the close caring of the group and he grinned broadly. He sent back feelings of support and love and an echo of his joy and backed out of the connection.

Once back on the road he gripped the steering wheel with determination as he pushed the separating miles behind him. ‘No one’ was going to mess with his family!

Alex looked around at the group. Everyone was looking thoughtful. There had been fear coming from Jarod. Fear for them! “We can do this. Right?” *Isabel? * She squeezed his hand. *I think we better! *

Liz nodded emphatically. “You bet we will! Or figure out something else that can work! “

Max gathered the group together with his eyes and sent determination through the connection. *Alright. We start by holding this one as best we can. If it keeps up long enough for Jarod to get here, we can discuss it more. Don’t fall asleep if you can manage it. I’m sure that will drop you out of it if you do. Everybody set? Okay lets go. *

As Max drove Liz home, they each felt along the thread that stretched behind them. There were many little thoughts thrown out into the group. Mostly along the range of…*Still there? * * Can you still hear me?*

Liz was reluctant to get out of the Jeep once Max got her home. Max was just as reluctant to let her go. They held each other. Liz snuggling her head in his neck and Max nuzzling her hair. “It will be okay Liz. We’ve gone through a lot more than this before and we’re still here.”

She sighed and snuggled even closer into the comfort of his arms. “I know you’re right. It’s just…”

“Oh Max…If anything should happen to you…” Max pulled his head back and lifted her chin. He answered her feelings of love and worry the only way he could right then. With his love. His lips found hers in a gentle kiss meant to reassure but which soon became deeper and more demanding by both of them. He gave her flashes of some of the harrowing escapes they had all had and the triumphant feelings that followed. Liz answered with her need of him and such an overwhelming love that it took both their breaths away. Every precious moment, every tender kiss.

*Wheew! Do that again! *
* So that’s what flashes are like! *
* Hey are you two going to neck all night? Cause if you are, I’m turning around right now and heading back to be with Michael! *

Liz and Max broke their kiss and laughed, a little red faced at forgetting their audience. *All right guys. Show’s over. *

Max gave her one more little kiss on her nose. “Pick you up at six?” *Right *
Kyle called his dad in the conventional way and filled him in on what Jarod had said. Now he and Doris sat on the front steps of Michaels place with their arms around each other.

“Uh Doris…” Kyle didn’t know how to continue with what he needed to say, but Doris could feel him through the group connection and hugged him gently. “Me too.” Kyle turned to look into her eyes, being drawn deeper and deeper and their faces drew closer until their lips met in their first kiss. All their growing feelings for each other came flooding through, filling the link and overflowing to the others.

*You know, * Came Alex’s thought, *A group link is just NOT going to work if each of us are going to have to live with every one else’s hormone attacks! *

Kyle thought back at him. *Give me a break buddy. We aren’t linked like you other three love birds. The connection is a special time for us. *

Isabel chimed in. *We could fix that if you really want to be together. Can’t we gang? * * Definitely * *Oh yeah! * * Go for it! *

Doris and Kyle smiled into another kiss. * ? * * ! *

Tess and Luke stood in the doorway behind them. “ I was wondering what was taking you guys so long.” She said and smiled at Luke tenderly. “ But then, you didn’t get to know each other before you ever even met!”

Kyle smiled, his eyes only on Doris. *Tomorrow morning? *
*Tomorrow morning! *

Part 3
The connection held until Jarod came, but it was obvious to everyone that this was not a good solution. The strain of keeping it going when they weren’t in close proximity to each other was telling after only two hours. Only those that held the deeper connection with each other, felt no strain.

Once Jarod was brought back into the connection, Max spoke to all of them. * It’s clear that this is not going to work. Jarod, do you think tomorrow morning, early, is soon enough to get together? *

* I hope so. There will be no way of connecting the car to Roswell until the car lot is open. But there will be precious little time after that. You don’t know how fast they can work. How early can you all be here? *

*About six? Is that okay with everyone? * Agreement was sent back and everyone sent their goodnights to Jarod and the rest of the group before thankfully letting go.

Tess and Kyle went home and Jarod, Doris, Luke and Michael settled down to get some sleep out of what was left of the night.

Doris was the last to say goodnight to Jarod, and she took his hand smiling up at him. “I don’t know why you had to come back. You could have stayed away and just warned us. “

Jarod gave her a quick hug, warmed again at the feeling of someone caring about him. “You are all my family. If there is trouble, this is where I belong. “

It was a sleepy group that gathered at Michaels the next morning, but everyone had arrived by a couple minutes after six. Tired as they were the night before, thinking about the Centre coming today made for a sleepless night.

Of course Kyle and Doris had something else to think about too and Kyle was the first to broach the subject.

Jim had joined the group too and now laid a hand on his son’s shoulder. “I don’t really think this is the time to worry about that.”

Kyle however was not going to be put off. “Listen, if we have to split up, hide, whatever, if Doris has to be somewhere I’m not, I have to know she is safe. And if she is in trouble, I want to be there! If we don’t have the connection, I won’t let her out of my sight until we are all safe! And that’s a Period! “

Liz jumped in. “ Listen everyone. We don’t know if we are going to be able to make a strong enough group connection that can last without making everyone exhausted. So the more one on one connections we make now, the better it will be for all of us.” She nodded her head solemnly, “I think joining them should be only the first step.”

Alex saw what she was saying but he had some misgivings too. “Uh I hate to broach the subject, but what happens if we make an incomplete connection like you, Maria and I had to start with. I can’t see us going into some kind of coma every time one of our more gifted members have to use their powers.”

“More gifted members!” Michael chuckled.

“Alex is right,” Luke put in. “Alien to alien should work alright, but if one of us connects to a human…Well let’s face it, any powers we use now will have to be because we really need them bad. And strong powers will knock out any human connected to them.”

Liz had an idea. “Could a connection be made between humans? Would it work?”

Everyone started talking at once. The idea had never been thought of before. If it ‘was’ possible…

Maria felt a surge of hope. To be connected to Liz!!! Each were having their own thoughts about how they wished to be connected, but in the end, it was Max who made the choices.

“First we can get these two lovebirds connected, then I think we should try connecting Liz and Maria. If closeness can help, then Liz, Alex and Maria have been friends for the longest.” *Oh Max! Thank you! * * I wouldn’t dare try anyone else first! * Everyone agreed and joined hands this time. The group connected as easily as breathing. Having made this type of deep connection three times before, it didn’t take much time or effort to join Kyle and Doris. Their happiness and warm loving feelings for each other were felt by all.

Alex was poised and ready to start on his two best friends. * Alright everyone, lets be ‘very’ careful!* He was sending out such a mixed basket of emotions that Maria and Liz both hugged him. He was almost more excited than they were and a ‘lot’ more scared. * It’ll be alright.* *You bet it will! *

Isabel was having misgivings. “Max, do you think a lighter link would be okay? I mean, having two links at a time… It could get confusing or they could short circuit or something. “

“Wait a minute..” Michael put an arm around Maria. “If this could be dangerous…”

Max held his hands up, speaking through the link. * Listen. Remember how we looked into Liz when she was… unconnected from herself I guess you could call it. Okay, first we study how each of us fits into the circle. Then find the strand that connects Maria and Liz, and gradually make it stronger. When they can feel the new connection strong enough, we will break the circle and try it out.*

It took a couple of moments for everyone to quiet their thoughts before the circle once again concentrated on making a connection. Jarod and Maria had the most trouble suppressing their excitement, but it was high in everyone.

Part 4
High in the sky, a Centre jet was making it’s way towards Clovis, New Mexico. From there Ms. Parker’s agents would have to take a helicopter to Portales. They were ordered to find out everything they could about the man who sold the car to the lot. And where to find him. And heaven help them if they didn’t come up with answers!

Down on the ground, just on the outskirts of Roswell, a different pursuer was closing in on the group. He had traveled hard, once he had made access to a car. He had kept himself closed in tight. No need for anyone to guess he was near.

Back at Michael’s, the curiosity of every one was up. They had never really looked at the group connections before. Now as they studied it, they discovered that everyone saw it in different ways.

To Liz, there was a fine web of glowing electric blue lines weaving back and forth across the circle, connecting each person to every other person.
Isabel saw it as overlapping bubbles. As if everyone’s personal space had spread to encompass everyone else’s.
With Max, it was a wheel with a ball of pink energy at the center and one spoke connected to each member.
Jarod saw it as a ring of overlapping strands that went from each person and returned forming a separate ring of connections for each.

In each point of view, the special connections between the four couples were the most distinctive. They shared their individual visions, letting each see it as they saw it. Alex’s was the most fascinating with a complex computer circuit of connections, that was only clear to him and perhaps, Jarod. And Liz’s looked the most confusing but made the most sense for what they wanted to try.

Max decided to use it. * Okay, Liz, concentrate on your picture of the group connection. Make it clear. Everyone have it? Good. Now pick out the strand that connects Liz and Maria. See it as glowing brighter, thicker, stronger. Not too much, there that ought to work. Now draw out of the circle and let’s see if it worked!*

* Liz? * * ------ * * Can you hear me? *
*Maria? * * ------ * “ I can feel you there but I can’t hear anything. How about you?”
“Same here. I can feel you but that’s all.”

“Okay once again. We’re doing something, let’s try some more.” Max reformed the ring and they strengthened the lines, until they were nearly as bright and strong as Max’s to Liz and Maria’s to Michael. This time the connection between Maria and Liz was clear and effortless.

*Liz? * Maria?* *Yes! * *!!! *
“Oh Maria! “ *Hey Chica! WE ROCK! * *Oh yeah! *

The girls hugged and cried, so happy to be able to connect that they forgot the more sober reason for trying this.

Kyle looked around at the grinning group, with a grin matching theirs. “Now what? Do we see if we can make some more, or what?”

Isabel stopped grinning and looked at Max. “Does it effect your link to Liz?”

Max nodded to Michael, “Do you want to try first or should I?”

Michael cleared his throat and looked at his feet, at the ceiling, anywhere but at Maria. ‘God,’ He thought, ‘I don’t know how this is going to effect Maria if she has to choose between a connection with Liz or one with me. I’m scared. There I admitted it. I don’t want to loose what we have. I feel alive with her as part of me. How could I live without her?’ He nodded to Max, “You try first.”

Suddenly Maria was hit with a wave of fear. She looked up and saw it in Michael’s eyes. *Michael! What is it! * The fear left, followed by the greatest relief and joy she had ever seen in his face. His reply sang all through her. The feeling of being held, the feeling of love. *Nothin’ baby, absolutely nothin’! * But almost as if he had said it aloud, she picked up what he had feared. * Uh uh, you ain’t getting rid of me that easy, Spaceboy.* She sent flippantly, then more gently…*You are my life… Don’t you know that yet? * Michael grabbed her and held her gently like she was the most precious and delicate thing in the world. And she was…In his world anyway.

Liz put her arm around Max and laid her head on his shoulder. *I bet I could guess what ‘that’ was all about. He was scared wasn’t he? *
* Did you hear anything when they talked? *
She shook her head. *Could you hear me and Maria? *
*Nope. So we still don’t know if this will work or how. *
*You mean the chain of links? Stay connected to me. ( * Maria! * ) ( * Hmmm? * ) ( * Come back down from cloud nine and try to connect to me and Michael at the same time. * ) ( * I am…Uh… Michael, meet Liz, Liz, meet Michael. -giggle- * ) Max, try it! ( * Michael? Can you hear me? * ) ( * Yeah… hey yeah! It works! * ) Max, do you think it will work without close proximity? *
* I know a way to try it out. *

“Michael, you and I are going to take a little drive. Liz, Maria fill everybody in.“

Excitement was high and Alex enthusiastically hugged his friends. He had been scared that it wouldn’t turn out right or that it might effect their personal links with Max and Michael. Alex loved those girls in a special way; closer than sisters, more than just friends. Anything that could hurt them was just totally unacceptable. He had wanted to be the guinea pig, and was relieved it had turned out alright.

Fifteen miles later, the Max/Liz/Maria/Michael link was as strong as ever.

While everyone waited for Max and Michael to return, Jarod and Jim raided Michael’s kitchen and made a pot of coffee. Jim broached a question that had been strong on his mind. “You know, of all of us, you and I are the only humans not paired with an alien. Do you think that will make a difference? You know…connecting? “

Jarod grinned at the sheriff, “Not if I know these kids Jim. They will figure out a way.” He looked sideways at Jim. “It’s a lot to take in, isn’t it? Any second thoughts?”

Jim washed a couple cups before answering. “The only chance for second thoughts was before that first time. Once I was invited into their connection, once I experienced the …‘humanness’ for lack of a better term, of these kids, they became part of me and I part of them. Wherever this goes, whatever it takes, I’m in. You?”

Jarod clapped Jim on the back. “I’m thinking you and I would make a good team. What do you say, partners? “ Jim clasped his hand. “Partners!”

Part 5
Luke came sauntering into the kitchen and gave Jarod a brief hug, slapping him on the back. “Glad you came back Jarod. I wish you could stay here with us.”

“I’m back because of the trouble I caused coming here in the first place. All of you could get caught because of me. If I stay, the trouble stays, and I can’t let that happen.”

Luke sighed, got a glass, poured some orange juice and added a hefty dose of Tabasco. He smiled and held it up. “To Liz! You know, I will never be able to enjoy this without thinking of her. That was pretty sneaky of her, it scared the shit out of me, but she did it because she wanted to help.“

Jarod grinned, appreciating the change of subject. “And I noticed your love of Tabasco isn’t confined to orange juice.”

The sheriff winced. “You wouldn’t believe some of the things I’ve seen this crew pour that stuff on. It’s like the ultimate alien condiment!”

Tess joined them and wrapped her arms around Luke from behind, putting her chin on his shoulder. “If you’re going to think of Liz every morning, you should lay off that stuff.” He turned around in her arms and planted a big kiss on her lips. “Baby, YOU are my Tabasco from now on.”

Alex came in looking worried. “Jarod, what do you think we should do? I mean, besides the connection thing. How soon do you think the Centre people will really get here? Do you really think we should leave, or should we just hide out, or what?”

Isabel came sailing in and joined the conversation. She grabbed some water for herself and snagged a root beer for Alex. “The answers to any of the above will do for me too. “ She sat down at the kitchen table and ran her hands up through her hair. “All I’ve been doing is thinking around in circles.”

In the front room, Doris and Kyle were still exploring the depths of their new link. Kyle could not believe some of the things he was learning about Doris’ past. Doris envied Kyle the more than normal life he had led. He nuzzled her neck murmuring that his life had just been waiting for her to happen to him. She felt the same way.

Liz and Maria were thinking up ways to explore the possibilities of practicing each other’s powers and wondering how far the sharing of powers could go if the group could really get this link thing going.

Maria thought the healing Max and Liz had and power blast thing that Michael could do would be the best ones for everyone to learn first. “You know, if something happened, nothing will, but if it did, then anyone could heal everyone else and we could blast anyone who came after us! Oh I can not believe I’m talking about blowing someone away, but if I could and it was Michael, or you or Alex or... well any of us, or them, I wouldn’t blink an eye. I wouldn’t!”

Liz laughed and hugged Maria. “I hope it won’t ever come to that, but you are right. We should see how many can learn to heal at least. And that trick of moving molecules around to open things like rock, I’m sure since Michael learned it, that others could too. It might come in handy if someone gets caught and needs to open up a wall or something. Oh, I wish we had started this link thing before this. We are just not ready for anything yet! “

Kyle and Doris joined in the conversation, and the girls wanted to know what Doris thought about teaching others the opening rock trick. Doris looked thoughtful for a moment then picked up a big glass ashtray and held it out to Kyle.

“It’s not just rock. Anything that has molecules that aren’t too dense can be moved. * Link up with me Kyle. Okay? * * Uh are you going to do what I think you are? * * Darling it won’t hurt. Just watch and learn. *

She put her finger into the center of the ash tray and concentrated. A hole began to open in the bottom and spread for two inches, then she closed the hole , first just the top of it, so they could see the rest of the hole under it, and then closed the rest of it. She handed the ashtray to Kyle. “There now you try it.”

Kyle took the ash tray and held it like it was a time bomb. “Umm… I’m not sure I’m ready for this. This stuff is still a little way out there for me.”

Before Doris could think of something soothing to say, Liz sat down in front of Kyle, laying her hand on his. “Kyle. You have to do this. This is not a time to get squeamish. We are all, going to have to learn how to do as much as we can. Not just for ourselves, but so we can pass it down the link. Luke, Doris, Max, they can all pick up how to do some of these things from each other in the group link. It’s us Kyle, you, me, Maria, your dad, Alex and Jarod. All of us need the strong links to learn this stuff.”

“Come on there hot stuff. Put one in for the team!” Maria quipped. She grabbed on to his arm and shook it lightly with both hands. “Come on. You know you really want to.”

Kyle ran his free hand through his thick shock of hair and sighed in defeat. “Okay, but where do I start?”

“Just remember what Doris did and remember how it felt. It’s like… finding someplace inside yourself that you didn’t know you had. Just remember and feel for it.” Liz looked him right in the eyes. “You can do this .”

Kyle put his finger in the ashtray and squinched up his eyes trying hard to make a hole appear. Doris gently massaged his back and shoulders. “Just relax and let the glass move away. You remember how I did it. Now relax and let it flow.”

Kyle felt the tension drain out of him at her soothing touch, and found the right way to look at the glass. A hole opened easily and closed again. He put it down carefully, slightly hyperventilating when he realized what he had done. Then he let out a whoop and high fived Liz and Maria. “I did it didn’t I? I really did it!”

Maria banged him on the back. “You really did! Welcome to the Honorary Aliens of America!”

Doris gave him a big kiss. * I’m so proud of you! *

*Hmm…With that kind of positive feedback, I might be willing to learn a lot more! *

By the time Max and Michael got back, bearing donuts and breakfast sandwiches, the whole group was gathered in the kitchen. Kyle excitedly showing what they had done. Max slapped Kyle on the shoulder in congratulations. He and Michael had gotten the news first hand from the girls.

Michael rubbed his hands and looked around. “Alright who do I link to?”

Alex. Maria and Liz all answered at once…”Isabel!”

Just down the street, the stranger lurked. It had been easy to spot her after all. She had used her powers. Just a little it is true, but it was enough to locate the exact house she was in. He noted the house carefully and went in search of a place to stay. There were at least two others there right now. He would come back later. When she was alone. As he drove slowly down the street towards the downtown area, a deep hatred seethed in him. He would get his sister out of there, and then they would all be sorry!

Part 6
Everyone filed back into the front room as Max gathered the group for the next step. Max had asked Jarod to address the group with all he could give them of the methods of the Centre. Most of the group wanted to continue with the one-on-one links. Several were convinced that sharing of powers was just as important, but Max disagreed. Know thy enemy seemed the best next step, because until they did, they could not see what had to be done.

Jarod felt the best way to explain would be by group connection. He wanted them to feel, see, and understand, the true seriousness of their situation.

What the gang found out, was dismaying to all of them and gave them a bigger dose of respect for Jarod and his ability to avoid them. Those people were thorough!

This type of scenario where the Centre had no specific location, just a general area, would call for a troop of sweeps. Some official looking, some looking like town citizens, they would fan out, giving descriptions and showing pictures, finding out everything they could about the object/s of their search.

* Besides my picture, they will have descriptions of Michael and possibly even pictures of Liz, Maria, and Alex. They will hit every store, gas station, and restraunt, even people on the street will be approached using one method or another.
The license number of the Jeep and the name and address of its owner are theirs.
They will have a description of the car I used and will check every motel for recent registers using that license plate. (One of the reasons I park away from any motel and register as a walk-in.)
By this afternoon or evening at the latest, they will have located Liz, Alex and Maria, and contacted their parents, as well as Max and Isabel’s. * He paused for a moment to let the full import of this settle in before continuing.

* Jim, you are versed in how far the law can go in this respect. Do not expect such restraint in the Centre. If they come across Liz, Maria, or Alex, the least they will do is take them someplace near-by and fill them with drugs, wring everything out of them they can, and put them back without any of them even knowing what they said or where they were.

If they get their hands on Michael, and he does or says anything under the influence of the drugs that would lead them to expect he is more than what he seems, he will disappear into the Centre. If I am found, I will disappear the same way. If they are led through questions to think there is anything strange about Max, Doris, Isabel, or Tess: they will disappear. The only one who they only have a vague description of, is Luke, but they will have him too if one of you are captured. You can see why it is vital that you all, each and every one, can contact each of the others. *

Jarod looked around at the ashen faces of each member of the group. Saw them looking at their worst nightmares and feeling their emotions. He felt fear, of course, but each one was feeling fear for another, or guilt. Liz and Luke both felt that they were responsible for starting this whole thing. Max felt that he should have started working with the group connections as soon as they got back, that he should have seen this coming. All the aliens felt that they shouldn’t have left Liz, Alex and Maria alone. Then at least they wouldn’t be sought after. Jarod was the only one that accepted the danger as a force of nature. What-ifs and could-haves never changed the now. And he had to deal with the now. He didn’t have time for guilt.

Then a new dynamic arose in the group; determination, and the willingness to fight or die resisting the Centre, whatever methods they used. There was a growing
feeling that united, there was nothing they couldn’t fight or handle.

The thoughts and emotions wove back and forth among the group, weaving not despair, but the connected, organized, determined resistance of a single multiple entity.

Without prelude or pre thought, without the group even consciously knowing they did so, the single-mindedness of the group forged deep indelible links from each member to each other. When the shock wave of the deep connecting ran its gauntlet around the ring, they, as a group, fell unconscious to the floor, so many living rag dolls.

Part 7
Shortly after eight, Ms. Parker’s agents sent her the information she was looking for. It had been verified by the owner of the car lot, that Jarod, accompanied by a young man, had been the one who brought the car in. They received the makes, models, and license plate numbers of the truck and car Jarod had taken in trade. Of the young man described by the car seller in Flagstaff as the purchaser, there was no sign.

Ms. Parker walked around a table spread with maps of New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. The car he chose wasn’t the sort that Jarod usually went for, but it would blend in almost anywhere. And the truck would stand out a mile in a big city, but look at home in a small rural area. What was he up to?

“Broots, get Angelo working on news sweeps. I want every story in every newspaper and news internet program run by him ASAP. I want correlations made of the direction and distance from that car lot to every story in the three states that might have drawn our boy genius. I want to know where he is going and why.”

“Yes Mam. “ Broots said as he started for the door.

“I also want an APB put out for the car and the truck in the three state area.”

Broots stopped and looked at her to see if she was done.


“No...nothing. I’ll get right on it. “ Broots said, once more heading for the door.


“Yes Ms. Parker?”

Ms. Parker lit a cigarette as she considered her next decision. “Get someone else to do all that. Change all search areas to Texas only, and make sure one of Lyle’s snitches hears you doing it. I want you have three jets ready and order all my available sweeps to meet me at the airport. And ‘that’ you won’t let ‘anyone’ hear. Then collect all the surveillance photos, reports, everything we have on the whole Canyon fiasco, and bring them with.”

“Uh…Ms. Parker? Are you going to Portales?”

Ms. Parker folded her arms and looked at the map of New Mexico, there was a self satisfied look on her face. “Just do it. You and Sydney will be coming with me.” She turned to look at Broots with a challenging stare. “Do you think you can do all that? Or do I need to send Sydney along to hold your hand?”

When Broots left, she bent over and blew a plume of smoke at a little spot on the map called Roswell. ‘There is something that my instincts are telling me about that place, and I intend to find out what it is. I’m following my instincts…and the jeep.’

Julius was parked in front of the “Drop-Inn” motel, about ready to go in and register, when he felt the most incredible surge of power being used. The person would have to be very strong and very close to let him feel his power that strongly. Julius gunned his car and took off as if his life was at stake. They knew he was here. They must be after him right now! ‘Ah,’ he grinned to himself. ‘But they were too eager. Now I know they are after me. They won’t catch me now!’ But how, he wondered did they even suspect he was here? She did it! She must have felt him. If she was against him too, then damn them all and just wait. Just wait!

Tess was the first to come to, but not by much. Shortly thereafter, there were groans and moans all around. Most of the human part of the group came to with a loved one leaning over them. They tended to be hit harder than their alien mates, and were greeted with kisses and great relief.

Max held Liz tenderly. * Lie still until your head clears up, doll. * Across the room, Isabel answered irritably, * I’m already up! But thanks anyway. * Luke looked up in surprise. * Thanks for what? Were you talking to me? * Maria looked up from holding her head in both her hands and asked, * So…What hit us? * and got eleven *I don’t know *s.

Part 8
Confusion reigned for a while in the group as each tried to sort out the eleven separate links that each member had. Excitement was high and not a little awe was felt at what had happened. They needed time, and a lot of it to sort out their feelings and work with this new gift. They had none.

Jarod was totally overwhelmed by the links. There were so many things running through his own mind that he had to practice stern self control, to police his thoughts into some sort of coherent order. He pulled himself up into a chair and ran his hands through his hair. Trying to straighten it and his thoughts. Priorities. They had to get the priorities straight. And they differed for every person.

“Max.” Max looked up at him from where he was cuddling a grinning Liz. “Max, you have to take charge now. Bring them together, they can adjust later.” Max looked around at his friends. All were talking to each other underneath. Jumping back and forth from connection to connection. All had varying degrees of awe, delight or concentration on their faces, but not a word was being spoken out loud.

Max stood up, helping Liz up beside him, and cleared his throat. “Alright everyone, we have to get our collective mind back on our little problem.” There was no response except from Jim and Luke, who put their attention on him. He held up his hands and spoke more forcefully. “Everybody, listen up!” Same result. *ATTENTION! * His wide band mental shout brought everyone’s immediate wide eyed attention to him. “That’s better.”

It was time for school and the decision had to be made now. Should they go to school and work on this through their links, while trying to look like ‘business as usual’? Or should they stay here or go home, and try to work out a more aggressive plan of defense? Time, oh damn, they really needed more time.

Max and Isabel’s parents would be gone for the day. But it would take no effort at all for the Centre sweeps to find them at work and question them about the Jeep. Number one priority for Max and Iz then was to get to their parents and find a way to explain this whole thing. A neat job when you haven’t an idea how to start.

The names and homes of Alex, Liz and Maria would be found out quickly enough with a few inquiries. Alex’s dad was out of town for the week, but his mom was at home. Alex didn’t want to tackle her on his own. How could he make it convincing enough for her to take him seriously?

Maria’s mom would be around town all day, at her shop or making deliveries, and both Liz’s parents were at the Crashdown. Both easy picks. Liz’s parents would wonder if she was having delusions of some sort or working too hard at her studies, and Maria was sure her mom would freak first and disbelieve her second. That being the easiest thing to do.

Max sorted out the biggest problems and started handing out decisions. Tess, Luke, Kyle and Doris, would go to school as usual. “Better get going.” * And stay in touch!* * Michael, you and Jarod stay here and out of sight. With luck, you will be getting a lot of company. *

Max gave Michael and Jarod the job of coordinating the group. Rather than having messages going back and forth among everyone at this time, Jim would report each time he called one of the parents to Jarod, and Michael would relay progress to the others. Doris had art for her first class so she would be the sounding block for the others. Any trouble, and she would relay it to Jarod or Jim… depending on its nature.

By hook or by crook, his plan was to get as many of the parents as possible to come to Michael’s. Jim would try to give it an official sounding request, without telling them any more than he had to. Alex would go home, and Maria, Liz, Max and Isabel would go to their parent’s work places to await the calls. Diane and Phillip would have to be gathered in first, as the Jeep license plates would make them an early priority.

Isabel gripped Max’s arm, holding him back, when they got out of the Jeep. “Oh Max I can’t stand it!” Max noted the look of pure panic on his sister’s face and squeezed her hand gently. * Sis, we can do this.* He sent, sending her the feeling of being hugged. She took a big breath, trying to calm herself, but her face was still drawn and pale. * Max…* * ??? * * Don’t let go. Okay? * * You bet Sis. * Together they entered the law offices of Evans and Evans.

Maria dropped Liz off at the Crashdown before going on to her mom’s shop. “Thanks Maria, mmm…have you figured out what you are going to say yet?”

“Not yet. I’m going to try to stall as long as I can and wait for Jim’s call. You?”

Liz shook her head. “I better think of something convincing. They expect me to be at school about now. See you at Michael’s...I hope.” She got out of the Jetta and started towards the door, and Maria’s suggestion came after her. * Oh! How about being sick? You know, cramps or something.* * I don’t think so. Don’t worry about me. You have to think of something yourself! * * Oh God Liz…my mom is sooo going to freak! Stay close huh? You know, a sort of mental hand to hold? * * You got it! * Liz returned as she unlocked the front door. She straightened her back, took a deep breath, and entered.

Alex walked up on his front porch and sat down on the wicker chair. He kept looking up and down the street and cast furtive glances at any passing cars. He knew that he most likely had the last call coming from the Sheriff. And it only increased his nervousness. Not a small part of it, was the near panic exuding from Isabel. Alex wanted to keep a small connection open to offer moral support, but the emotions coming through were rather overpowering. Regretfully he banked it down and…gathering his own lagging courage, he opened the front door and went in search of his mom.

Maria’s mom was right inside the door of her store when Maria got there, and opened the door before Maria even got out of the car. Maria shook her head. ‘I’m not ready for this.’

“Well are you going to just sit there? Or are you going to tell me where you’ve been, and why you are here and not at school?” Maria put her forehead on the steering wheel. This was not a good start.

Part 9
Diane was leaning over the desk of her secretary, discussing some paperwork. They caught her eye the moment they stepped in the door. Isabel was pale and looked scared, and Max had that solemn look that spoke of something important. All in all, she took it to mean there was trouble. Big trouble. “In your father’s office.” Was all she said but they could see the apprehension and offer of support on her face. Isabel silently prayed that look would still be there when she knew the truth.

Phillip stood up when they and their mother walked in, Diane closing the door behind her. He didn’t waste time on stupid questions like why aren’t you at school, but motioned them to chairs and sat down himself. “What’s on your mind son… Isabel?”

Isabel’s grip on Max’s hand tightened a couple of notches. It was clear she wasn’t going to say anything. Max cleared his throat, looking from his mother to his father. “There is something important that we have to talk to you about.” *Max! Wait for the Sheriff’s call! * * Hang on Iz. * “The Sheriff will be calling you in a couple of minutes, and we didn’t want you two to be worried that it was something bad. At least we hope you won’t think it’s something bad.” Max stopped and swallowed again. ‘This is not…I’m not saying it right. Mom looks scared.’ He turned to Diane. “Mom, Isabel and I have found out something about our past. Our heritage. We…we’ve known for some time. But didn’t want to tell you.” At the immediate look of hurt on his mom’s face, he stumbled on. “That is we did want to tell you but…”

Phillip stood up and came around his desk, pulling up a chair in front of his son and daughter. Max and Isabel were clearly scared to talk about whatever it was, and he needed to reassure them. “Isabel, Max,” He said gently, laying his hand on their joined ones. “Your Mom and I love you. There is absolutely nothing you should be afraid to tell us.”

Isabel couldn’t help speaking. “What if it makes you stop loving us?” There was a crack in her voice as she finished the question. It was the greatest fear she had.

Her mom immediately came over and wrapped her arms around Isabel. “Oh honey, nothing could make that happen. Now tell us what this thing is and we’ll deal with it as a family!” She said decisively. Phillip gave her a nod of approval, and they both looked expectantly at their children. Max opened his mouth to speak and the phone rang, making all of them let out the breaths they had been holding.

Phillip answered it and replied. “Certainly Sheriff, we will be right over.” He hung up and turned to them. “Are you going to tell us now? Or should we wait?” Seeing the looks on their faces, he sighed, “Well then we better get going.”

Liz walked back and peeked into the little office off the kitchen. Her dad was bent over some paperwork, a tape of the Grateful Dead wailing from the top of the filing cabinet. She smiled and shook her head, before going up stairs. The sound of the vacuum cleaner led her to her parent’s bedroom. “Mmmm… Hi Mom!” She called just as her mom turned off the machine.

Nancy jumped as if she had been shot. “Liz! You scared me doll. Where were you off to so early?” She looked at the book bag Liz was holding. “Forgot your books hmm? Well you better scoot, you’ll be late. Oh, and Patty can’t come in till five, so would you mind filling in right after school? She said she would make it up to you on Saturday.”

Liz took a deep breath, smiled at her mom and went on to her room. She dropped her bag inside the door and plopped down on the bed. ‘Alright Liz Parker, how do I start this?’

Nancy came in a moment later and stood looking at Liz. “Alright, what is it ?” She came over and sat down beside her. “Come on. When you don’t go to school the world is ending. Let me in on it.”

Liz took another big breath and slowly let it out. “Mom, I’m going to need you and Dad to come with me for a little while. There is something really important going on and we need to talk to you both.” She looked sideways at her mom, waiting for a reaction.

Nancy nodded her head slowly trying to guess what was going on. “Okay…now drop the other shoe… Does this have to do with…you and Max?” If she wasn’t gripping the edge of the bed with white nailed grimness, Liz might have fallen for her calm manner.

“Oh, no Mom, no! She shook her head seriously, “I mean it has to do with him, but also Michael, Maria, Isabel, Kyle, Alex, and Jim. Uh, Sheriff Valenti. In fact he is going to call in a little while and ask you to come.”

“Hmm…and can I ask what the nature of this little talk is? Why does he need to talk to us?” Still taking it calm…and the hands were in her lap. Good sign.

“It’s not just you and Dad. Max’s parents, Maria’s mom and Alex’s mom are being asked too.” There went the grip again.

“Liz, are you and your friends in really big trouble? Or is this something that we can all get over and laugh about one day?” Okay, she was saying, is this something BAD?

Liz put her arms around her mom and hugged her. “We haven’t done anything you would be ashamed of me for. That’s a promise. But it ‘is’ too important to put off any longer than we have to. And Mom, it has to be right away. This morning. Okay?”

Her mom stood up and started out of the room, then stopped and turned. “Well come on, we might as well get started now. Lets go get your father. Bring your phone.” Liz closed her mouth and jumped up, with a warm feeling. Her mom would be the high jump in this, and her dad the easy one. It was starting out good!

Down stairs, Nancy told Jeff to come along, they had something important to do. The Sheriff is calling a meeting of some of the parents and it’s this morning. We might as well go on over to the Sheriff’s office now.”

“Oh it’s not at the Sheriff’s office! It’s at Michael’s.”

“ “ Michael’s! “ “

Part 10
*Doris? * Liz told her that she and her parents were on their way to Michael’s, and Doris relayed that Jim had just called the Evans’, and they were leaving too. * I’ll relay your message to Jim. Two down and two to go! *

Amy came out of the shop and leaned in the window of the Jetta. Maria was frantically diving into her purse for her cedar oil. Her mom observed the finding and using of Maria’s security blanket with a somber face. “Maria… if you need that to tell me where you’ve been, then I will probably need to sit down to hear it. Come inside girl. Now!”

Maria nodded and climbed out of her car, wondering if faking cramps would help the situation or at least delay it. She shook her head, took a deep breath, and marched into her mom’s shop. ‘I can do this!’ She said to herself, but still kept the vial of cedar oil ready in one hand.

“Alright spill!” Amy said, pointing to a chair pulled up by the one she had taken. The phone rang and Maria jumped gulping. ‘Thank you thank you thank you’ she said silently. Amy made no move to answer the phone.

“Uh Mom, don’t you think you should get that?”

Amy watched Maria through two more rings, and shook her head. “We talk first. Sit.”

Maria approached the chair like it was her last walk; three more rings. “Okay, Mom. It’s not like I’m in trouble or anything. You know…big trouble.” The phone quit ringing and Maria thought her heart would stop too. ‘Come on Jim, call back!’

Amy never batted an eye, “Okay, then you tell me what has you so scared to talk to your own mother. You look like I’m going to kill you, or ground you for the rest of your life…which I may.”

Maria uncapped her oil and took another sniff to hide the frantic call she was making to Jim. * Jim! Was that you calling? * * Yes, there is no answer. Are you two at the shop? * * She’s giving me the third degree here. Just call and let it ring until dooms day if you have to! * *You got it! Hold on! *

“Okay Mom, it might take a while to explain…” RING! Maria sighed.

“Damn it! “ Her mom said, “Forget the phone. Talk to me. When have you ever been afraid to do that before? It doesn’t make it any better waiting to hear what it is.”

Maria put her most sincere face on and leaned close to Amy. “Mom I really want to tell you all about it. But it’s really hard with the phone ringing and all. Couldn’t you pick it up and see what they want and then you could…you know keep it off the hook while we have our little talk?”

Amy didn’t trust Maria’s sudden sincerity but the jangling of the phone was getting on her already edgy nerves. She answered it with less than her usual grace. “What?” After listening for a moment and casting suspicious glances at Maria, she told him she would be there in a while. She stood there, one hand on the phone, and one on her hip. “You knew who that would be didn’t you?”

Maria didn’t have any words, just nodded.

“Well we will go. In a minute. First you are going to tell me what it is all about.”

“What did Jim say?”

“Hmmm…not the Sheriff or Sheriff Valenti, but Jim? Since when?”

“Uh since me and the gang got real close to him. That’s part of it too. Mom, our lives are on the line here, and he’s helping out. But we really need you to be on our side too! Please?”

Amy grabbed her keys and walked over to Maria looking down at her daughter. “Since when do I deserve you looking at me like that; like I won’t be there for you? If someone is after you or your friends, they are going to have to go through me to get to you…..any of you. Now let’s go so I can find out what this is all about before it drives me crazy!”

Maria jumped up and surprised her mom by hugging her tightly. “I…thanks Mom. You all need to know what we have to tell you. It is sooo important.”

“Huh.” She replied as she locked up the shop and moved to the Jetta. “And who is ‘you all’? And why Michael’s? Never mind,” She added with a negative wave of her hand. “Just get us there. ….On second thought, I’ll drive.”

At the Whitman home, Alex found his mom in the kitchen, sitting over a cup of coffee and the morning paper. He decided to dive right in. One thing he could always rely on was his relationship with his mom. It kind of made up for the lack of connection between his father and him. In answer to his mother’s question of why he wasn’t at school, he grabbed a glass of milk and sat down with her.

“Mom, you know my friends, Liz, Maria, Isabel, Max, and Michael. And I‘ve introduced you to Doris and Luke.” He stopped and took a drink of milk. How to proceed? “ Well we have a situation that Sheriff Valenti knows about and has been helping us with. There are some people coming to town, today most likely, and they are a danger to my friends. How this involves me, Liz, Maria and the others is hard to explain, but we need to explain it to all our parents.” Another sip of milk. “So…Jim, Sheriff Valenti is having all of you and us meet him at Michael’s as soon as possible and we can explain it to all of you at the same time. You see, without all of you understanding and helping, one or more of us could be in real danger.” Now he watched his mom digest this information as he downed the rest of the glass, and waited.

She sipped her coffee and stared at the table, casting small glances up at him, before answering. “So…you wish to wait until we are all together to tell us what? Who the people are, why there is a danger, and what we can do to help that the sheriff can’t?”

Alex nodded smiling. “Exactly! Everything! You will all know everything we know, and can help us figure out where to go from there….Would you? Come I mean, to the meeting?” She didn’t ask if it could wait until his father came home, or why Michael’s, or what was going on with him and his friends. He had covered all the bases, letting her know it wasn’t illegal, that it was time-urgent, and that he needed her help.

By the time Jim called, they were already on their way.

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 18-Dec-2001 12:35:23 AM ]
posted on 16-Sep-2001 3:26:02 PM
Pts 11-20

Part 11

By nine thirty, all the parents had gathered at Michaels. Doris, Luke and Tess had been asked to jump school and get over there, as well. Boy, talk about a crowd! Eighteen people in one small apartment! Jim greeted each family group and asked them to wait with patience until all had arrived, and by the time all were there, there was a feeling of expectancy so thick you could cut it with a knife.

Jarod, Doris and Luke were introduced to those who hadn’t met them yet, and Max Jarod and Jim conferred silently about how to proceed. Max was as nervous as the other ‘special’ members of the group about how everyone was going to take this. Aliens, the Centre, Jarod, the connections…It was a lot to dump on everyone at one time. Jarod smiled and gave them his idea. It was perfect! Jim and Max set about organizing it right away.

Centre jets are nothing if not fast and efficient. The Roswell airport was already giving the pilots their final approach instructions. The local car rental agency had already been told to ready a small fleet of cars for their use, and Ms. Parker was talking back and forth on her cell phone with the sweep teams preparing for immediate action upon arrival. Armed with pictures and descriptions, what names they had, and maps of the town, they were ready.

Down the street, there had been a witness to the gathering in. Julius stood leaning against a tree, and thinking hard. It looked like his enemies were getting re-enforcements. He slipped around the block and approached the house from the alley. As the group gathered in Michael’s front room, there was an interested listener outside the window. A power started to build within, that first surprised, then alarmed him. Unable to participate, he hung around, to glean if he could, the gist of the meeting.

Ahh…The group felt itself in danger. Good. If he could find out who was after them, he would help. Not the gang, but their enemies.

If it wasn’t for Jim giving some semblance of official sanction to the whole strange gathering, some of the parents might have just walked out. All had come in some stage of anxiety for the safety of their children, and what they were asked to do made no sense at all. The furniture was pushed back to the walls and all were asked to join hands. The Evans did it with misgivings and the Parkers were willing to go along if only to get to the bottom of the mystery. Amy held Jim’s hand and whispered that if this was all a joke, he would never get his lips near one of her pies again. Mrs. Whitman stood nervous and feeling thankful that her husband hadn’t been home to join them. He would never have stood for ‘such nonsense’.

The group had been talking underneath since their arrival. If the parents noticed any quietness they probably took it as nervousness. Now the silent commune was used to set up their parents.

Max-* Look, don’t connect through the circle right away. Let me talk them through it first. Or Jim. We’ll play it by ear. Doris, you seem to have the most aptitude for picking up people’s feelings, if you feel any overload coming, pass it along. Jim?*

* I think I should handle the beginning, sort of get them receptive. If anyone else has something to add, give it to Max and he will handle it. I don’t think it will help if everyone is adding on verbally. Is that all right with the rest of you?*

There was a general giving of agreement by all. * You bet, I sooo do not want to jog any elbows. If I open my mouth, someone stick my foot in it before I do.* * It’s okay Maria, you aren’t the only one that lacks people skills. Suits me Max you lead we’ll follow.* * Michael speaks for me too.* * Thank you Luke, Michael, let’s do this.*

Jim cleared his throat and began. “Please bear with us for a moment. I want all of you to reach for an inner quiet, like you are listening for something. It might help if you close your eyes but don’t if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Can you all do that for us? “

* Jim, Mrs. Whitman is very nervous and her throat is dry. She is scared. * * My fault. I told her we’re in danger.*

Luke was closest to the kitchen, he slipped out and brought her a drink. “Excuse me, Mrs. Whitman, would you like a drink before we start?” “Why thank you, I’m sorry, I get thirsty when I’m nervous.” “Anyone else like a drink before we proceed?” The others shook their heads, and the circle closed again.

“Okay, “ Said Jim, “Now reach for that inner quiet.” *Everything go Doris? * *Go for it! * * Okay Max, you take it from here.*

Max let a small trickle of linkage go through the circle. At first just a feeling of peace, then he urged for each to let their parents see how they feel about them. * Just feelings right now, nothing verbal.* Emotions were given and accepted; a closeness began to weave itself around the circle. Each parent accepted that they were in the middle of something exceptional and the whole tone settled down into a quiet mood of anticipation.

Max began to open the circle more, strengthening the ties, letting memories and thoughts trickle through.

First his and Isabel’s beginning; what they were feeling, the aloneness and fear, until they were found by their ‘parents to be’. Then he showed the first stirring realization that they were different. Their fear of being found out and their fear that their parents could not or would not accept them as they were. The Evans felt the fear there in the link, the near panic as Isabel wished she could undo this whole link thing and go back to just hoping. The flood of love and reassurance from her parents nearly undid her on the spot. She broke the circle long enough to hug each. The tears of happiness kept running down her face as the circle link continued.

Max backed up to the pods then, showing Michael with them and his hiding out in the rocks when the Evan’s car stopped that night. Michaels story went on and the hearts of all the parents went out to him as they relived his life. Both the Evens and Amy were surprised as they saw themselves through his eyes. The Evans as the parents he always wanted and Amy as someone he wanted to protect, along with Maria.

The whole story of the beginning of the group, from the shooting, (shocked gasp from Liz’s parents) to Maria and Alex finding out, then Jim and Kyle; Tess and her story. Shock after shock ran through the circle as all the fears and dangers, the courage and sacrifice, all that they had faced together came out.

Next was Liz’s story, Future Max and all that it had brought about. There were more than a few sniffles from the women as Liz relived the feelings of that last night. Then the group following her to the canyon, where Jarod and Luke came into the picture. How they found Doris, and the trip home.

Next the Centre came into ‘center’ focus. The danger to Luke, with Jarod adding the remembered tapes. Jarod himself being in danger for different reasons with pieces of his life, his search for himself and his family. The group shared the wonder and closeness of their connection, like the one being shared with their parents. Shocked but now receptive parents found out about the gifts their offspring were developing.

Now the pieces of the story were put together to bring the Centre there to Roswell, and the danger to each, if any of what they had been told was revealed.

With the parents brought up to the time of the meeting, Max let the connection remain until each parent was comfortable talking to and sharing with each member of the group. Each family unit was fused into a tighter understanding of each other. Amy and Jim were warmly aware of the feelings that each had for the other. The parents accepted the strange beautiful relationships their children had formed; the depth touching each in its own way. There were no secrets or fears left when Max relaxed the circle and let the connection fade.

All the parents world had been shaken and stirred. Molded into a new shape with unbelievable possibilities…and frightening ones. And it had only taken fourty-five minutes!

Part 12

The clock was ticking. Jarod knew that it was probable that someone from the Centre was already in town. Now it was necessary to make sure all the parents had the same story for Liz, Alex and Maria. That Liz had gone to stay with a friend for a couple of days, (Elsie) and that Alex and Maria took a trip and offered to take Liz along; that afterwards, they all came home together. Max had loaned the Jeep to Alex, with his parent’s consent, and had used Alex’s car around town while they were gone. Reason? Alex’s car wasn’t dependable for long drives. They were not to bat an eye if Michael was described.

Luke, Jarod and Michael would stay out of sight till it was all clear.

With luck, except for finding that Jarod stayed here for a few days at a motel, there would be nothing to further connect the gang to Jarod. If they weren’t lucky, like if they ran into someone who had seen Jarod with them at the Crashdown, well Liz’s parents could say they had seen him there, but not for the last couple of days. Anything that looked like the Centre people might be getting too close, and they would tell the nearest member of the group and they would broadcast it through the links. Hopefully anything that came up could be headed off…Hopefully.

When Max and Isabel’s parents got back to their office, there was a man and woman waiting for them.

“Good morning.” Diane said, and introduced herself. “May I help you?” While her husband casually picked up the mail from his secretary and went on into his office. Business as usual.

“Yes… I understand a Jeep registered in your name was nearly involved in a trucking accident last week. We were wondering if you could give us any information on who was driving at that time. If there were any passengers and if anyone was injured…” From the connection, Diane recognized Ms. Parker and Broots. She, in good lawyer protocol, reassured Ms. Parker that there were no injuries and if she wished to leave a name and number, she would be glad to pass it on to her son’s friends and their parents. They would get back to her if there was any problem. It was a frustrated Ms. Parker that stalked out of the offices of Evans and Evans.

After they left, Diane shook herself muttering, ‘what a cold fish’ and went in to Phillips office and sat down. She put her head in her hands and sat that way for a couple of minutes, before looking up at her husband. “If it wouldn’t look too strange, I would take the day off and just take time to react to what we learned this morning. Then she shook her head. “No make that a week.”

His secretary brought in two cups and a pot of coffee. “Patty, please hold all calls until I tell you, and see if you can transfer my lunch appointment to tomorrow. Thank you.” He sighed and moved from his desk to the couch, drawing Diane with him. “Come on hon.”

She slipped her high-heels off and curled her legs up under her and sat leaning against Phillip. “Our poor babies. All the things they have gone through, all the fears they have been keeping inside and we never even knew. Did you feel them? Like I did? Was it all real?”

He nodded and held her closer. “I felt them. God, Max and Izzy were so grateful for our love! I can’t believe they have been living in fear of our finding out for so long. It was hell for them. Did you feel the release when we accepted it…them? It was like …well relief isn’t the word I’m looking for.” Diane nodded and hugged him, tears in her eyes. “It was beautiful!”

As the sweeps worked their way down the streets of Roswell, consulting with shop owners and citizens, there was an interested observer. It was hardly unusual that they should stand out. They were the only people wearing suits, and hardly looked like brush salesmen. Julius sat himself down on a park bench in their path, and waited for the sweeps to come to him.

Amy was unsure of herself. Of her control over her reactions to these people. She was both scared and outraged at this sort of man hunt. She felt she might either show unusual anger, or stutter and shake. Either way, she decided to be unavailable. The sign she usually put up when making deliveries or going out of town to pick up products was put on the window and she went home.

A few minutes later two men stopped briefly and gazed at the sign; a colorful picture of an oversized green alien, pulling a human figure up into a small hovering flying saucer. “Sorry temporarily abducted!” Was printed below.

“Huh, this alien shit is everywhere. Kind of clever though, I’ll give them that.” One said and they went on to the next shop.

One of the sweeps obtained Liz’s name and was directed towards the Crashdown. The sweep immediately passed the information on to Ms. Parker, who decided to handle it for herself.

Part 13

Liz and her parents had just gotten home a few minutes before. Nancy went down to check on how things were going and Jeff stayed upstairs with Liz. There was so much to talk about and he wasn’t about to let her go to school just yet.

Broots, and Sydney followed Ms. Parker into the Crashdown. While she went straight for the nearest waitress, Broots looked around with a big grin, enjoying the way the UFO theme had been used. As far as he was concerned, the trip to Roswell was worth the trip just to see all the Alien stuff.

Ms. Parker asked for the owner and was directed towards the back. Upon meeting Liz’s mom, Ms. Parker introduced herself and her companions.

“Ms. Parker, this is Broots, and this is Sydney.”

Sydney and Broots shook hands with Nancy. Broots gave her a big smile, “ Great place you have here. Great place.”

Nancy smiled back, enjoying his appreciation. “Thank you but please call me Nancy. Ms. Parker sounds so cold and formal.” She turned back to Ms. Parker. “And what is your name?”

“Ms. Parker.”

Nancy waited a couple of minutes for her to continue. “Yes? You were going to say…?”

“My name.”


Broots was watching this back and forth with a puzzled look on his face, and Sydney was trying to hide a silent laugh behind his hand, while Ms. Parker was loosing what little patience she had.

Nancy was enjoying herself tremendously and not showing it one bit. Of course she knew this was the Ms. Parker she was shown in the connection, but she wasn’t supposed to know that.

Sydney finally broke the extended pause. “I am assuming your name is Mrs. Parker?” Nancy nodded. “This is Ms. Parker.”

“Oh! So nice to meet a namesake! What is your first name?” Nancy gushed with a big smile.

Ms. Parker’s smile was forced and her eyes held a glint. Perhaps a hint that Nancy was playing with her. “If we can get to the business I came for…”

“Oh certainly! Would you like to sit at a booth? Perhaps you would like something to eat or drink?” Nancy blithely cut across Ms. Parker and grabbed three menus.

“ ‘Mrs.’ Parker, we understand you have a daughter named Liz? Would this be her?” She showed Nancy a blown up picture of Liz’s laughing face as she turned it over her shoulder looking at Maria.

“Oh what a marvelous picture of her! Do you think I could get a copy?”

Ms. Parker answered with clenched teeth. “One can be arranged. Now, I was wondering if you could tell me about a trip your daughter went on with some friends, a week or so ago.”

“No, she went by herself. She came back with friends.”


“That’s about it. Four days tops. We have a great Men in Black-berry pie, if you’d like to try some.” She walked over to the end booth and laid the menus down, followed by Broots who sat down and started perusing a menu. Ms. Parker stayed where she was. This woman was either very simple, or playing a game with her. The glint in her eye was positively steely.

”Mrs. Parker….”

“Nancy,… please.”

“Mrs. Parker, is this one of your daughter’s friends?” Ms. Parker showed her another picture. This time of Jarod.

“Oh, I like that face. He has such nice eyes and smile.” Nancy said and stopped.


“What? Oh, no, she came back with Alex and Maria.”

“Have you seen this man around here recently?” Sydney asked, to keep Ms. Parker from sputtering.

“Yes, I call him the Pez man, he came in here a couple of times. He just loves the ‘Unidentified Frying Objects’ with ‘Abduct-tea’. Would you like to try some?”

Ms. Parker crossed her arms and glared. “I’m sure it is delicious. When is the last time you saw him here?”

“I wasn’t down stairs last night or Sunday night, so I have to say Saturday night. Are you sure there isn’t anything I can get you?” She asked brightly.

“Can you tell me who was here last night,…and Sunday?” Ms. Parker purred.

“Oh I’m sure the usual crowd was here. Mostly high school kids, a few outsiders. You know we get a fair share of sightseers around here.” Nancy leaned in conspiratorially and murmured. “It’s the crash, you know. People are so curious!”

Ms. Parker turned on her heel and stomped out of the Crashdown. “Sydney! Broots!” She called on her way out.

Sydney smiled at Nancy and took her hand. “Delightfully done.” He said. “Charmed to have met you.”

Broots jumped up from the booth looking disappointed. He muttered to Sydney on the way out. “I thought we were going to get to eat something. Hey, if we stay over night, how about coming back and trying some of the Men in Black-berry pie? Huh?”

Nancy watched them disappear down the street and dusted off her hands. ‘That went pretty well, if I do think so myself!’ And turned grinning to join Jeff and Liz upstairs.

Part 14
Two men walked into the school and headed for the administrators office. Tess and Doris had just come out of the admittance office where they had been signing in late for school, and spotted them.

*What do you think? * *I think we better follow them. * * Oh great! Just, let’s don’t get caught. Okay? *

*Guys…we have company. * Doris announced. And sent them all a picture of the two men. * We’ll follow and report. * Tess added.

Max sent a warning. *It’s better to leave them alone. They haven’t seen you and we don’t want them to connect you to this mess. *
* Don’t worry. They won’t see a thing. * Tess replied smugly. * Doris and I are going to do a disappearing act on them! * (* Do you think I can?* * I’ll lead, you follow what I do, and learn. Come on! They’re inside!*) They held hands and Tess concentrated on making them unseen by anyone inside as the two of them slipped inside the door. *Hey this is neat! * *Don’t jog my elbow Doris. Come on, we have to get closer. *

The people in the office were most helpful. Especially the office monitor, Patty. She thought that first man was so charming. Patty could just not say enough about who the three kids in the photos were, who their friends were, and oh yes, that description of that one boy just fit one of them to a tee….Michael Guerin. When the handsome man took her hand in his and smiled, asking for her help, it was a flustered Patty who obtained the addresses of everyone involved. She was ‘so’ flustered that she hardly even noticed that he had only one thumb.

*It would have to be Patty who had monitor duty this morning. The little witch. * Tess muttered, as she and Doris followed them out. *Heads up gang! The bad guys have names and addresses. All of them. What do we do now? * Jarod had picked up on the girl’s view of the men and answered grimly. *Whatever we can, as fast as we can. *

Amy rattled around her home for a while but couldn’t settle down. She needed to talk to someone about the events of that morning. Maria had gone on to school. It would have looked too strange for her to stay at the store, and Amy hadn’t wanted her to be home alone or go to Michaels. Now Amy wished she had let her stay home after all. She knew the Parkers and Evans places would be ground zero for the day, no good going there. Amy picked up the phone to call Jim, then changed her mind and grabbed the phone book, turning to the ‘W’s.

“Hi, Colleen? This is Amy, Maria’s mom. Are you busy right now? Yes I would love to. Okay, about five minutes. Thanks.” Amy picked up her keys and purse and took off for the Whitman’s house.

I doubt if she noticed the car following her.

The two sweeps started across the street toward the park. Julius had been waiting impatiently, deciding just how he would slip the information. Should he be subtle? Did they have the brains for that? How to spill the beans without getting any on his own shirt? A woman down the road a short ways called to them, and Julius ground his teeth in frustration as the men turned away.

Ms. Parker pointed the sweeps toward the Crashdown. “I want you to stand there and show Jarod’s picture to every person that goes in there. He has been there a couple of times. I want to know every person that has seen him and who he was with. If he smiled at someone I want their names!” The men asked no questions; the look in Ms. Parker’s eyes was not the sort that you argue with. They went.

She flipped open her communicator and opened the channel to all the sweeps. “Jarod ‘has’ been here. May still ‘be’ here. I want every hotel, motel, boarding house, and recent room-to-let checked now. Use the same town quadrants you were working on. Watkins, get over to the school, I want to know where the Alex kid and the girl Maria live. Get going.” She closed it with a resounding click and glared at the boy across the street that was staring at her, before turning away and returning to her car.

Broots was looking towards the park too but trying not to be too obvious. He turned his head a little and looked out of the corner of his eyes for a moment before running after Ms. Parker.

“They are here. I…I saw two, a minute ago.”

“Saw who Broots?” Ms. Parker asked, reaching for her lighter. “Little green men?” She lit her cigarette, hardly listening to him.

“Mmm…Mr. Lyles men.” Now he had her undivided attention.

She swirled looking around the street. “Where?” She breathed.

Broots pointed to the park, towards a bench where the boy had sat staring at her. “Two of them were there, talking to a boy…Well I guess technically, you could call him a young man. But they were there I swear it!”

“So much for the wild Jarod chase you were supposed to send them on.” Ms. Parker flipped open her communicator again. “Heads up boys. We are not alone.”

Part 15
Colleen Whitman handed Amy a cup of coffee. Their opening conversation had been way off the subject that was dearest to their hearts, ‘polite conversation’ it’s called. Now Amy sighed and set her cup down. “Did you have any idea at all about what we learned this morning? Any hint, of any of it?”

Colleen shook her head. “Not a whisper. How could the kids keep a secret like that for so long? All I can say is I’m so glad Carl wasn’t here to be invited!”

“Why on earth? Have you any idea how hard it will be explaining all this in mere ‘words’? I don’t think you have a prayer of getting him to understand without help.”

Colleen gazed at Amy over her cup for a minute before answering. Not sure what or how much to tell her. “I’m not going to tell him. Not a word. And I will have to get everyone else to swear not to leak a thing around him.”

Amy looked at her with her mouth opened. “Again. Why!”

(An interested listener wanted to know the same thing. He made minute adjustments on his microphone antenna and turned up the gain.)

“I shouldn’t be telling you…..Some of it is speculation and some, are little facts I’ve ferreted out over the last ten years. Just understand that any whisper that any of you even ‘know of’ a real non-terrestrial, is all that it would take for him to do some serious ferreting of his own. Trust me. You don’t want that to happen.”

“God girl, what is it? Is he connected to the FBI or something?”

Colleen put her cup down and ran her hands through her hair. “It’s worse than that. He’s with the military. The same ones who had control of the crash site. They are very straight forward in their approach. They would just quarantine the town and test everyone in it. I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to find someone with a strange ‘disease’ that had to be taken away…..for everybody’s own good of course. It’s that kind of trouble we don’t want. Right?”

The listener waited a while longer until a name on his list was revealed. The one called Michael Guerin. He took off to find Mr. Lyle immediately. This might put a genuine smile on Mr. Charm’s face. And he wanted to be there when he told him.

The gang at school had split from their classes and gathered under the stands in the gymnasium. The one thing they had all hoped to avoid, by telling their parents, had happened. All the kids were linked as friends, and the Centre had their names and addresses. Now it would be necessary to hide until the Centre people left. And no one knew how long that would have to be.

Maria hugged herself wishing Michael were there to hug instead. “What are we going to do now? I don’t think hiding in the bathrooms or under here is going to be a lasting solution. It’s not like we could all disappear like Tess. I mean seem to disappear.”

Tess smiled and looked at Doris. “Doris did. Didn’t you? “ Doris smiled and winked out. “Yep, I shore did!”

Alex jumped and looked around then grinned, “I think I’m getting to like this alien stuff more and more! We can all learn it! Right?”

Kyle shook his head and sighed. Doris was looking at him with a ’you will too!’ look and he hadn’t even opened his mouth yet. *Hen pecked! That’s what I am. * * You complaining? * She asked softly. He just wrapped his arm around her and nuzzled her neck by way of answer.

Maria chuckled. “Kyle, aren’t you the one that thought all that lovey dovey stuff was corny?” “Only when it was Max doing it. I have a different perspective now!”

Luke, Max, and Isabel were just as excited as Alex. Doris and Tess started linking and giving demonstrations. If anyone had been around to see, the sight of kids silently popping in and out would have sent them running. Everyone but Tess was in awe of this new ability.

After a while, Max asked them all. “Okay we have the how down, now we need to decide the where. We can’t go driving around invisible, so I suggest deciding on a place to hide out for a while. Alex’s is closest. We could leave our cars here and walk there. Pick them up later?”

Isabel crossed her arms and shook her head. “It would look too funny to have our cars here, when they can’t find us here.”

Maria piped in with a little sarcasm, “Well I think it would sort of call attention to wherever we are if we took all our cars there. Don’t you? Hmmm?”

“I agree with Isabel…and Maria.” Doris was quick to add at Maria’s look. “All our cars left here or parked at one place would be too much. I have an apartment that I’m supposed to move into tomorrow. It’s just about six or seven blocks from here. No one knows the address yet, and I already have the keys. There is a shopping center on the block behind it, and a bowling alley a block from that. We could park there.”

“Yeah, “ Added Tess. “Trust me, even after doing this for awhile you ‘do not’ want to keep it up for too long. And six or seven blocks of walking is waaay too long!”

“There are alleys, from the parking lots, we can walk to my back fence most of the way. Less people to hide from too.” There was a general agreement by all, so Doris gave everyone the address, and directions to her place from the parking lots.

Kyle took Doris, Tess and Luke. After he brought his car around to the side entrance of the school, they hid by the simple means of keeping their heads down. Kyle took a long way around to make sure no one was following him.

Max took off to pick up Liz. * Liz honey? * She already knew about all of them being ratted on. He told her that they were going to split and hide at Doris’ new place. Liz agreed to slip out the back and meet him at the end of her block in the alley. *Something else is up. What is it? *. * I have something to show you that you are going to love! *

Part 16
Maria was terrified about Michael getting caught. She wanted Michael to know how to do this ‘now’! Before leaving the school, she linked up with him and showed him how to disappear. *Michael? How are you doing? I mean are you seeing what I’m doing and doing it too? * * How can I see anything when I can’t even see you?* *Michael!…. * *Yeah. * * Well? * *Yeah, I can see. How about it Jarod? * * There isn’t a whisper of Michael showing! How about me trying that?* * Great! You show him Michael, but don’t show him this!* And she sent him the feeling of being kissed very thoroughly. *Whew! Wouldn’t dare! * And she felt the sensation of a cold finger running up her back. *Yipes! *

Doris doubled up with Kyle most of the way from the bowling alley, keeping them unseen, while watching carefully in all directions. Kyle was a little nervous about the whole disappearing thing for a while until he thought of a few interesting ways it could be used. That kept him occupied for most of the short walk there. Not that he would do anything like ‘That’. But it was fun thinking it!

Jarod went to get his car, parked two blocks away. He would come up behind the house in the alley and pick up Michael. “Won’t be too long. I have a bad feeling about all this. Be waiting for me? Good. Be right back.”

Shortly after he left, two cars came up from front and back. This time not stupid enough to park in plain sight. The sweeps in front spread out on either side of the house. Their job was to wait and not let anyone leave, in that direction.

At the rear of the house, two men sneaked up, each with a dart rifle. Their prey, they were told, was potentially ‘very’ dangerous. One stood covering the back door, while the other got near enough to a rear window to see inside. Michael had been peering out the back waiting for Jarod when the men came in through the fence. The one that peeked through the window was met with a power blast that threw him halfway across the back yard.

Michael wasted no time. He jumped out the side window and reached out mentally for the other man. Cloaking himself from his sight, he began to inch his way towards the rear of the house. There was a rustle behind him and he turned….too late.

Five minutes later, when Jarod returned, there was no sign of Michael.

Ms. Parker, having come up blank on locating Jarod, had only her instincts to guide her. She and Sydney sat in the back seat of a car, while Broots drove.

Sydney had been silent for most of the morning, watching Ms. Parker work. There had not been a single sign that Jarod had been here since last seen two days ago. “Ms. Parker, why do you persist in believing Jarod is still here?”

She blew smoke out the window and threw her cigarette after it. “I can feel him. He’s here Sydney. Don’t ask me to explain it. I just know he’s here.” She lit another cigarette up, and watched the road go by. ‘You are out there Jarod, I’m going to nail you this time.’ But she was troubled by a feeling that gnawed at the edge of her perception. Did she really want to catch him?

Ms. Parker’s phone rang three times before she opened it. “What?” She listened for a moment. “That’s fine, I’ll meet you at the airport.” Her voice was emotionless and her face was stone as she put the phone back in her pocket. Then she turned to Sydney, “I was right. We have him. Broots, the airport.”

She crossed her arms and stared at the floor for a moment, not believing that it was over, then looked up at Sydney. She put a broad fake smile on. “Smile Sydney, your fair haired boy is coming back into the fold. You should be very pleased.”

Max looked out the window. *Hey Michael, did you guys stop for some pizza or Or something? * *Michael?….Jarod?…. *

Max turned to look around at the others. A feeling of dread filled him. Liz caught the look. “What is it?”

“Something is wrong, I can’t reach Michael or Jarod.”

* Michael? Michael! MICHAEL! * Maria’s mental yell could be heard up and down the group connection. All of them reached for Michael and Jarod both, and met….nothing.

Part 17
Everyone knew what had happened. The Centre had Jarod and Michael! There were various reactions; ranging from hysteria, to Jim’s considered worry and speculation. Every link was wide open and the emotions ran their gauntlet before settling down into coherent thought. One thing was clear. Jarod and Michael were on their way to the Centre. There was only one action required…Go to the Centre and get them back!

* Way right! We’ll show those bastards what kind of trouble they just bought! *

* We have to work on some more powers…don’t we? *

* We can work on them on the way. I am ‘not’ staying here one minute longer than I have to. *

*Okay…Everyone who wants to come, get home, get your things together and meet back here as soon as you can. When everyone’s here we leave! *

That was Luke, Alex, Maria, and Max. There were no dissenters, just ten very mad and determined members of a family that were not going to stand for their ‘brothers’ to be taken from them.

But as each went their different ways, the feeling of anxiety came back. This was the Centre they were going up against! Jarod had shown them too much or too little. Too much to make it an easy decision to dare it’s depths. Too little to let them feel they had a real chance to succeed. Each alone faced their fears, and found the courage to conquer them. Nothing that they knew or didn’t know mattered with two of their family captured. They would do whatever had to be done.

Colleen Whitman walked back and forth in Alex’s room as he threw things into his suitcase. “You ‘will’ be careful won’t you? I know you have to go…but oh Alex!” She stopped and put her hands to her face, ashamed of her tears.

Alex dropped a pair of pants into the case and went to put his arms around her. “Mom don’t worry, I’ll probably just mind the getaway car. There is no way that Isabel is going to let me get into trouble, and I couldn’t stand her nagging if I did. We’re just going to go out there, get Jarod and Michael, and ALL of us are coming back. I promise!”

He went back to his packing and Colleen thought that she had never been so terrified…or so proud in her life.

* Alex? *
* Yeah Jim. I’m almost packed.*
* Leave your car there, I’ll pick you up. Okay? Any problems with your mom? *
* Just water works. But she’s taking it pretty good. *
*Okay, see you in a bit. *

Max and Liz thanked their lucky stars that their mom and dad knew all about the group. What would have been an impossible tangle of lies or evasions, turned into a simple show of determination.

“Here son.” Was all his Phil said as he handed Max a credit card. Max took him in a hug. “Thanks Dad. It will help a lot. I only have about four hundred saved and I don’t know about the others. We are planning on pooling our resources.” He gave his mom a warm hug and a kiss on the cheek. “Don’t worry Mom. We’ll get them back okay. There is too much they don’t know about Michael and our group. Iz and I will be back before you know it.”

Isabel came down just then with a suitcase, night case and makeup case. “For petes sake Iz! We aren’t going for an extended stay! How much room do you think the jeep has?” Isabel looked from her luggage to Max’s small duffle bag, and sniffed. “How do you expect me to put all my things in something that small?”

Diane turned Isabel around and pushed her back upstairs. “Let me teach you a little lesson in making do.”

Max sighed and shook his head, and Phil gave him a pat on the back. “Your mom will straighten her out. She’s great with that kind of thing.”
* Max! *
* What’s up Jim?*
* I’d like to propose an exchange.* Jim told him what was on his mind and Max was stunned.
* Wow! You really mean it! *
* I can’t come Max. It will be my way to help. *
* But my jeep can hold five of us. *
* I’m hoping you’ll be coming back with seven.* Jim gently reminded him. *If you use my Suburban, and Kyle takes his car. There will be room for all of you to come back, and only two cars to worry about. I’ll meet you over at Doris’ and can drive your Jeep back, okay? Oh and I’ll pick up Alex. *
* Jim…thanks.*

“Liz I’m so sorry about your friends. Really. But I can’t see what help you could be, and I ‘can’ see you would be in danger. Liz…I don’t want you to go.”

Liz stood staring at her mom for two whole minutes before she even opened her mouth. “Mom…I am not staying here while my friends go after Michael and Jarod. We all go. As a group. Can’t you see we are stronger as a whole? What good would it do for only one or two of us to go, if it resulted in getting caught? All of us together can’t loose. We can’t Mom. And we won’t.”

“What if I just tell you I won’t let you leave?” Nancy demanded. The fear in her eyes made that more of a plea than it sounded like.

Liz picked up her backpack with tears in her eyes and said softly, “I don’t think you could do that.” And walked down the stairs. Leaving her mother with two ways to take that.

“I’m coming with you.” Amy had her arms folded and a no nonsense look on her face. “You are not gallivanting halfway across the United States, and leaving me here to worry about you. I’m going.”

Maria put an extra bottle of cedar oil into her oversized purse and dumped her makeup in. “No way. You stay here and I won’t have to worry about you storming the Centre and demanding that they give them back!” She peeked at her mom out of the corner of her eye and saw a smile threatening. She turned and hugged her. “Really mom. Noooo way is this babe going to get into trouble.”

“I’m still coming.”

Maria crossed her arms and stuck out her hip. “We have nine people going in two cars as it is. Where are you going to sit. On the roof? Really mom I’ll be fine. I’ll call you every three or four hours. ‘It’s the next best thing to being there’.” She quoted from an old commercial.

Amy looked at her daughter and shook her head. “Okay, I know when I’m licked. But I’ll take you over to your friends house and I want to know just where this Centre is and how you guys are getting there. Deal?”


Part 18
Kyle took Doris, Luke and Tess to get their things and got them all back to Doris’s new apartment just after Max, Isabel and Liz showed up. “I thought you were going to use Pops Suburban. How come you brought the Jeep?”

“We sort of made a trade. He will need to get back home. Will the four of you be okay in your car? We still have room. At least until we bring Michael and Jarod back.” Max said as he heaved bags out onto the driveway.

“Always the optimist.” Kyle sighed. “You really think we have a chance at this hair brained scheme?”

Liz raised her eyebrows at Kyle. “You don’t mean you are having second thoughts, do you?”

Kyle put his arm around Doris and grinned at Liz. “No…I just really want to hear that someone else thinks ‘we have a chance at this hair brained scheme’!”

Jim and Alex showed up shortly after that, with Amy and Maria right behind. Maria slipped out of the car with an amused look on her face. Liz helped her put her bag in the Suburban. “What’s up with your mom coming?” She murmured.

“It’s the deal I made to get her to agree to let me go. She wants to know where and how, all that stuff. Besides that, I have been given chapter and verse about everything that I could possibly need to know about going ‘out there’!”

Liz giggled at the all suffering look on her friend’s face. “Like what?”

Maria ticked them off on her fingers. “Where the most painful spots on a man are to hit, how to not jack a tire off the ground until you have loosened the nuts, how to call log distance collect from anywhere, how to stop at the police station when we get there and ask where the ‘don’t go there’ neighborhoods are, how to, where to, when to.” She shook her head grinning. “Moms are really special people aren’t they? Mom is just being a mom, and trying so hard to be cool about me going. How did it go with yours?”

Liz shook her head. “Don’t ask. I’m just glad it didn’t come to a showdown. Dad’s okay with it. He just looked at me and said, ‘I suppose you really need to go’. I nodded and that was that. Except he gave me his gas card and a debit card to help out.”

“No way! That’s great! All I could come up with was my emergency stash. And every time there is a sale on at the mall…it’s considered an emergency. All I have left is a whopping fifty-nine bucks.”

Max came over and put an arm around Liz. “We shouldn’t use any cards at all for gas if we can help it. The Centre will be looking for traces of who came after them when we get away. Card trails are a dead giveaway.”

Luke and Tess came up and joined the conversation. Luke nodded his head. “That’s right, they won’t have any idea who might have helped them or where we came from.”

Tess pinched him under his arm. “Do I detect a hint of sarcasm there? What makes you think there will be anyone left to wonder where we came from?”

Luke blinked at the steel in her voice. Something told him he was going to see a side of Tess he hadn’t been introduced to yet.

Jim and Kyle were leaning over Kyle’s car, planning the route and Amy was busily copying it down on a map of her own. Jim gave her an indulgent smile. “Amy, you don’t need to do that. I’ll be in touch with them the whole way and I can tell you where they are at any given moment.”

“That’s nice dear.” She murmured absently as she kept carefully tracing the route. Suddenly she must have heard what she said, because she blushed hard.

*Dear? * Kyle sent to Jim with an upraised eyebrow. Jim just shrugged a shoulder and grinned. *One can hope. *

Jim wished everyone a safe trip. The gang all gave him a mental hug. *You’ll be there with us Jim. We might need a little coaching in a tough spot. *
* Naw, you kids are beyond needing my help. * He sent back. But they could sense his warm feeling of pleasure.

When the gang had taken off, Jim asked Amy if she would like to get a bite to eat.
“No thanks Jim. My mind wouldn’t be on it. Besides I have a ton of things to do that will keep me too busy to think for a while.”

Jim looked her in the eye, and smiled. “Maybe we could talk about that ‘dear’ some time. Hmmm?” Then he turned away and jumped into Max’s Jeep, leaving her sputtering behind him.

Amy put her hands on her hips and glared after him, but there was a smile hiding in her eyes. Then she opened the map, folding it so the first part of the trip was showing and, setting it on the seat beside her, she started off after the kids.

Part 19
The small cavalcade wended its way toward the Centre. Kyle following the Suburban and Amy bringing up the rear by about half a mile.

In the front car, Maria was just getting off the phone with her mom. “You know I think Mom is being sooo cool with this. I mean she wanted to come and all I had to do was promise to call her and let her know where we are, and it was cool! My mom can do such a great job of protective wacko behavior.”

Behind them, Amy ticked off another piece of the rout. ‘Maria, bless her soul, is keeping her word. Every three hours like clock work.’ Amy used the contacts to help keep on track. Occasionally she would spurt ahead a little to get them in site…just in case…But so far, Maria had been right on the nose.

When Jarod started to come to, he became aware that he was on a jet. Without moving or opening his eyes, he listened to his surroundings. It didn’t take him long to figure out who had him. Ms. Parker. Well it could have been worse…it could have been Lyle. * Max? Michael? Anyone home?*

* Jarod! * Max and Kyle both brought their vehicles to the side of the road. * Where are you! Does the Centre have you? Is Michael there too? * The questions started popping in from everyone at once.

* Hey, one at a time huh? My head hurts as it is! What’s this about Michael? *

Max: * Yeah we couldn’t reach him or you. Do you know if he is on the plane with you? *

Jarod felt a cold fear in his gut. He was sure Michael wasn’t on the jet with them…maybe on another one? * Look, I’m going to let them know I’m awake. Maybe I can get them to spill something. Meanwhile, you guys just sit tight and I’ll get back to you. *

Maria chimed in. * No way, we are not loosing contact with you again! Keep the contact open with one of us at least and we won’t jog your elbow. Deal? *

* Deal. I’ll keep in contact with Max. * * Uh better make that with me…Max is sort of busy right now. * *? * * We are on our way to the Centre right now and Max is one of the drivers. *

Jarod didn’t know how to feel right then. They were coming after him! He had never been part of a group before, always having to depend on his own efforts and wit to get him out. * Thank you.* was all he said but his feelings came over loud and clear.

* Did you think we would just let those bozos take you without a fight? * Luke sent. *They won’t know what hit them! Right gang? * ******** RIGHT! ******** Everyone sent back. Jarod let the connection with everyone except Maria fade and started to move slightly.

“Ms. Parker! “

Jarod opened his eyes and saw Ms. Parker followed by Sydney and Broots coming toward the back of the Jet.

“Wellll, our boy awakes. Headache Jarod? “ Ms. Parker purred. There was a satisfied gleam to her eyes as she stood over him.

Jarod tried to sit up but discovered he was tied across two seats. “Forgive me for not rising in the presence of a lady. “ He jibed. Her eyes flashed an angry spark at his sarcasm.

Before she could respond further, Sydney pushed his way to the fore and looked Jarod over. “ You surprise me Jarod. “ He murmured.

“How so? “

“You are here.”

“Yes and he is going to remain here all the way home.” Ms. Parker added. She leaned over him and looked him in the eye. “If you think you are ever going to get away again….think again.” Smirking, she turned away and went back to her seat.

Broots shuffled his feet and looked over his shoulder before murmuring. “Gee Jarod, I’m sorry this happened. If we had been there when you were caught we might have been able to do something. You know….something. “ He shrugged. “I don’t think Ms. Parker is bluffing about not letting you go again.” Then he put a half grin on, realizing he wasn’t making Jarod feel any better, and added. “But hey, you never know. Anyway… I’ll be going back.” And he also returned to his seat.

* Too bad you can’t tell him you have an ace up your sleeve. *
*Not Broots. Ms. Parker would know as soon as he did. *
*I thought he was on your side? *
*He is, he is just too scared of Ms. Parker to keep a secret from her for long. And she can read him like a book. *

“ Is something wrong Jarod? A headache? “ Sydney asked.

“Sydney, was anyone else brought with us from Roswell?”

“Why no. Why should there be?” Sydney looked puzzled.

“Sydney, level with me. Is there any chance someone else was picked up or…hurt when they caught me?” ‘What happened to Michael?’ “ What aren’t you telling me? I have to know! “

There was a furtive look to Sydney’s eyes as he thought about the other Centre personnel. “ Lyle’s men were also in Roswell, Jarod. Looking for you also, we thought. But his plane took off before we got to the airport and that isn’t like him.”

* Lyle? This Lyle character you told us about has Michael?!!! * Maria was ready to panic all over again.

* Maria, if he does, then we will get him out. Nothing has changed except who is bringing him in. *

* Oh God Jarod. This has nothing to do with what they want you for! This part of that sick alien testing they were working on! Oh God, Oh God, Oh God. *

Maria didn’t know Lyle as well as Jarod did. She had just cause to be scared. Jarod was sure he wouldn’t get a chance to talk to Michael for quite awhile. If Lyle was anything, he was cautious. Michael would be heavily drugged until all the physical tests were over. He would never have a chance to regain consciousness if Lyle had anything to do with it. Jarod felt the Jet coming into land. * I will find out what I can. How long before you get to the Centre?*

* We should be there by tomorrow night. * Maria could sense unspoken thoughts running around in Jarod and a tightening of his feelings. * What are you not telling me Jarod? *

* I’ll talk to you later, they are going to move me now and I want to act normal. * ‘God, I hope they get here sooner than that. Because I think Michael is going to need all the help he can get!’

Part 20
Mr. Lyle sat back in his seat gazing out the window of the jet. Once in a while he would look back at his guests and smile. One horizontal, unconscious and strapped in and the other taking nonstop sips of a soda. It had occurred to him that this Julius seemed unusually nervous. Looking around again, he caught the eye of his young guest and motioned that he should join him.

Julius came cautiously forward and sat on the edge of the seat facing Lyle. “Uh…nice plane you have here.” He offered.

Lyle lifted a glass of wine from an offered tray and motioned Julius to do likewise. “Actually it is a jet.”

Julius looked from the wine glass to Lyle, and cleared his throat. “Uh… no thank you. I don’t drink.”

Lyle’s eyes flashed with interest. “I will be offended if you don’t join me. This is very special stuff. I keep it for my own use.”

Julius started to decline again, but saw something more dangerous that interest flash in those eyes, and took the offered glass. “Thank you.” Lyle kept watching him until he took a miniscule taste and smiled. “Very good, I can see why you prefer it.” He cleared his throat again. “I really don’t understand why you needed me to come along. I just wanted to get an undesirable out of Roswell and help you at the same time. Just being a good citizen.”

“Ah, but surely this ‘undesirable has friends. We could hardly leave you there after you were such a big help. Now could we?” Lyle took another drink of his wine and motioned to Julius, who took another tiny taste. Julius was worried, and with cause. Anything alcoholic gave him troubles. And sitting right in front of an alien hunter, was big enough trouble to deal with. One slight slip and…

Amy was keeping the two cars in sight now. There was enough traffic to not make it obvious and there was little likelihood that they thought they were being followed. She had nearly over driven them when they had pulled to the side, and afterwards, she noticed an increase in speed. ‘They must have found out something.’ Amy wasn’t happy with that thought, because a need to speed up couldn’t be the result of happy news.

Once again the two cars slewed to the side, and she was forced to pass them or give herself away. ‘Damn!’ Now she searched for a place where she could wait unseen until they started up again.

In the Suburban, the back seat was lowered and Isabel laid down on it. Alex sat next to her and held her hand. Max and the others looked on silently as Isabel tried to dreamwalk Michael.

Isabel slipped easily into the dream plane. Dream bubbles of every size, color and musical tone floated around her, but there was only one she was searching for. She opened her arms and hummed to Michaels bubble. If he was conscious they should be able to contact him, if he was unconscious, then she should be able to find him here. Turning slowly in each direction, she peered into the darkness, humming his unique tone. Shortly there was a disturbance in one direction and she could see a bubble coming closer, pushing aside others as it came to her. Faster and faster it approached until it stopped before her quivering.

Isabel looked at it in surprise for a moment before reaching out to touch it. It was certainly the most co-operative that Michael’s bubble had ever been. Usually it eluded her, needing coaching before it would allow her to approach. At her light touch, she could see what was within.

Another surprise. She had come expecting …what? A dark brooding atmosphere, …a fiery anger, …a brown gloomy woods? What she found within was her own street! She caressed the bubble larger, touching it on both sides and spreading her arms. When it was big enough to admit her, she stepped inside and walked towards her house. There, Isabel found Michael sitting on her front porch, head in hands, staring at the ground.

At her approach, Michael leapt up and approached her, flinging his arms around her, he gave her a huge hug and she could feel him shaking. “I knew you would come.” Was all he said, but he surreptitiously brushed a tear from his cheek.

Isabel held him for a brief moment while he collected himself. At a slight tightening of his shoulders, she let go and pretended like nothing had happened. “So, you decided to go off and conquer the Centre all by yourself, huh?”

He gave a light laugh and stuck his hands in his pockets. “Yeah, well somebody had to break the ice.” He led Isabel through a door into ‘his’ house and flopped down on the couch. “I can’t wake up Iz. And I don’t know where I am. It’s like there is no connection with my body at all!” The tremor in his voice betrayed the depth of his fear.

“Well just hold on Michael, the Marines are on their way.” Isabel went on to tell him about their trek to the Centre and that Jarod was captured too. “Jarod seems to think they will try to keep you under for a while. The last alien , hybrid actually, that they know of, killed several doctors while under a power reducing drug, and they might not want to take that chance again.”

She felt fear well up again as he contemplated what they could be ‘doing’ while they kept him under. She put her hand out to him. “Michael, we will be there as soon as we can and we won’t let you stay there one minute longer than we have to!”

Michael smiled back at her, “I know you will get me out of this. If I can get just a little consciousness back, I’ll make them wish they had never even thought of grabbing me or anyone!”

“That-a-boy! We will get in touch with you again tonight. I can’t concentrate enough while we’re driving, and I want to spend every moment we can, getting there!”

Michael hugged her again and ushered her back out to the front of ‘her’ house. “Thanks Iz, I’ll hang in there and try to think of something. It will give me something to do.” He added with a shrug, and a smile.

posted on 16-Sep-2001 3:29:18 PM
New Part!

Part 21

The first person Isabel told was Jarod. * Jarod, you’re at the Centre right? Look, I dreamwalked Michael! He says he can’t wake up and can’t feel his body. Whatever it is they are putting in him must be very strong. Have you had any sight or word about where Michael might be yet? If he’s not there with you, I don’t know what we are going to do!*

Jarod could feel her panic at the thought that Michael might have been taken someplace where they couldn’t find him….until too late. Jarod pumped a feeling of calm reassurance and relaxed good humor through their link. * Yes, I’m back at the Centre, and they really laid out the red carpet for me. Something tells me they really want me to stay. Don’t worry, I believe Michael ‘was’ brought here, I sort of feel him near, even though I can’t reach him.*

* Can you find him by following the feeling? You know, closer, equals stronger?*

* Maybe I could if I could move around. You might say my movements are somewhat restricted right now. By the time you arrive, I hope to know more. I have an idea I would like to talk to you about later. I’m still working out the details, but I will need to try something with you.*

* Anything we can do Jarod. And a lot we don’t know we ‘can’ do…yet!*

The two cars went whizzing by Amy so fast she nearly missed them, and just as she was about to swing out into traffic, her cell phone rang.

“Mom, I am sooo psyched, we just got hold of Michael, he’s drugged! That’s why we can’t talk to him. But we did…that is Isabel did…get hold of him. He is scared of course but she says, he sounds better now that he knows we’re coming for him. Oh I was sooo scared that he was dead or something and I didn’t feel it! Look I’ll call you in a bit and tell you where we are okay? Love!…click”

Amy shook her head and moved out into traffic. “Yeah, I love you too doll. I would just like to enter the conversation once in a while.”

The day wore on and Amy was wondering if they were ever going to stop for food. ‘I never saw teenagers go so long without eating!’ Lord knows she was starving herself! Finally, about eight, they took an off ramp and went down into a town. ‘Thank goodness!’

She followed them to a pizza house. One person from each car jumped out and ran in coming quickly out bearing pizza boxes and jumped back in. The next thing she knew, they were headed back to the highway. It didn’t take her long to figure what they had done. One of them had phoned ahead for take out! ‘Why those clever little devils!’

Well nothing for it, she would just have to grab what she could and run to catch up. A quick stop at a Gas station found her running after them while munching on a stale sandwich.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the last disappointment she was to have. She didn’t catch up to them at all! After a couple of hours, she finally got off and found a motel. She would catch up to them tomorrow. Right then she needed sleep! Once in her room she called Maria.

“Hi kid! I’m getting ready to call it a night and I thought I’d see if you were stopped for the night, and where?” Amy had her map out and was ready to figure out how far behind she was.

“Mom! No heavy date with Jim tonight huh?” Maria couldn’t help jibe her a little. “We decided not to stop. We are taking turns driving and sleeping. Isn’t that great? We will be there faster that way!”

“Yeah that sounds great.” Amy didn’t feel it was all that great! “So you will call me in the morning and let me know how far you got? I’ve been following you on the map. It sort of makes me feel better, ya know?”

“Sure Mom, why don’t you call me when you get up. Okay? Luv ya. Night!”

“Yeah, g’dnight doll.” ‘Oh my aching backside!’

Deep inside the Centre, Angelo moved through his own unique ways. There was something new going on in one of the deeper levels and his special senses led him to find it. All day he had had a troubling feeling. And he had felt it when they had brought Jarod in. Now there was something else that he had to check out. Someone who was somehow connected to Jarod.

Using his senses as a guide, he finally stopped outside a grating in a hall. There opposite him was a steel door, two guards standing outside. He was in there, the one connected to Jarod. “”Got to wake up, can’t wake up, got to wake up, got to!” It came off of the figure inside like a mantra, like a purpose for living, or a forlorn hope not easily given up. Angelo moved silently away back to the levels where he could find Jarod. “Got to wake up, got to!” He muttered. Then he paused and looked back grinning. “Big party if he does. Big one!”

Mr. Lyle stopped outside a steel cage. Thick strong grating crisscrossed in every direction and there was only one small door. Within there was a pallet on the floor and a soft plastic, pitcher and glass. Oh and one other item. A reasonably calm Jarod. That really troubled Mr. Lyle. That ‘reasonably calm’ part.

“Well, look who’s come back to the fold? Looks like Ms. Parker outmaneuvered me this time.” He said in mock cheerfulness. When Jarod didn’t acknowledge his presence, he shook the wall of the cage, and tried again. “Are we comfortable? Better, more ‘permanent’, accommodations are being prepared, I’m sure. Think of these as a temporary inconvenience.”

Jarod looked up at Lyle with thinly veiled contempt. “Temporary is, I believe, the correct term.” He grinned with out humor. “I understand you had a bit of luck of your own. Good hunting? Bring back any trophies?”

Lyle absently poked a finger into the grate. Jarod had hit a soft spot. He thought; ‘Alright, what do you know and who leaked my business?’ “Well, I can see you are tired after your long trip. Pleasant dreams.” And with a bitter smirk, he moved off. ‘If that bitch Parker is sticking her nose in my business again, I’ll cut it off! She doesn’t queer this one. Not if she wants to go on living. No one! No one gets in my way this time!”

He stalked by Sydney without even acknowledging him. And Sydney paused looking after him, an amused look on his face.

“Hello Jarod. I see you have been baiting Lyle again.” He rubbed a finger along his nose. “You know it’s not wise doing that right now. There is something going on with him that no one has been able to figure out. And the Triumvirate has been acting very favorable towards him.”

“So. Lyle is their new fair haired boy, is he?” Jarod came up to Sydney inches from the grating. “Sydney, I know what he is up to and I have to stop him.” He put his hand up on the grating and smiled. “Would you believe me if I said I ‘will’ stop him?”

Sydney looked into Jarod’s eyes, what he saw there gave him much to ponder. No fear, no despondency, just calm expectation of achieving exactly what he said he would. “Jarod, nothing you could say or do would surprise me.”

posted on 22-Sep-2001 6:29:36 PM
Thank you Angela and Ursa! Having a hard time with this right now, but I'll think of something for the next part. (Knock on wood!) At least when I get blocked on this one, I can still work on If I Could Save Time in a Bottle. I know what I want to do, or at least where I want to get to, I'm just having a hard time getting there!
For the rest of you, if you are reading this then drop me a line. It gets lonely over here!!!

Part 22

Jim drove by Amy's house for the third time in the last hour. It wasn't like her to be out this late. He had called her earlier to ask her to go to the Evans' house with him. They had been asked to dinner, but she wasn't at home. Perhaps she had gone back to Alex's house. She and Colleen seemed to be getting better acquainted. Colleen probably needed someone to talk to anyway, what with her husband being away.

It wasn't until he had said goodnight to Diane and Phil, and still found her gone, that he began to worry. A stop by Colleen's and a drive through town, failed to show her car anywhere. Could she have done what he suspected she had?

* Maria, are you awake?*

* Yeah Jim. What's up?* As she listened, she got a feeling that he was right. Her mom was following them!

*Uh guys? Guess what? *

Amy's phone rang and she fumbled around the table next to the bed looking for it. Then she realized…not her bed not her night table. With a groan, she got up and went into her coat pocket and retrieved it. "Hello?"

Max and Liz were snuggled up against each other, sleeping, and Isabel sat with Alex in the front seat. Maria, alone, didn't feel at all like sleeping. She was too mad. "How could you go kiting off alone like that? How many times have you lectured me about traveling alone to strange places? Following us on the map huh? Makes you feel better huh? Where are you!"

Amy put her head in her hand and groaned again. Just what she needed, lectures by her own daughter. "Okay, the jig is up. I throw myself on the mercy of the court! Now let me get back to sleep. I don't have anyone to drive for 'me' you know!"

"Whoa Mom. You are going to tell me where you are. It works both ways babe. I tell you and you tell me. Any trouble and you let us know real fast!"

"Babe? I rate a babe? Alright alright. Let me get some sleep and I'll call you and compare notes in the morning. It has been one long, very long, long day, and I was wiped out before I started this little trip. Night! And don't call your mother Babe!"

Angelo watched the area of Jarod's cage until he was sure he could approach without being seen by any of the cameras. "Glad you're here." Me murmured. "Friend can't wake up."

Jarod resisted the urge to jump to his feet. He shifted around on his mattress until he was facing towards Angelo. Angelo was careful not to be seen, no need to give him away now. "You've seen my friend? You know where he is? Where is he Angelo?" He asked softly.

"Down, way down. All alone. Can't wake up!"

"I know, Angelo, he is drugged. Can you get to him? Can you get into where he is?"

"Can't. No holes. Can't get in. Glad you're back Jarod. Glad." Then Angelo turned and shuffled away, back into one of the vents that were his own super highway through the Centre. Leaving Jarod much to think about.

Ms. Parker had gone home. Rather she had fled home to get away from the Centre. Now she paced her front room and smoked one cigarette after another. Jarod had been her job for a long time. The pressure to get him and bring him back had been a constant companion. Now it was done and she had the chance to turn her back on the Centre. Her father had to let her go now, and live her own life at last. Now she found she had no direction except away. On her own at last. Alone at last. Alone….

The phone rang and she moved over to the hall table to answer it. "What!"

There was a large mirror over the table; it showed the blood drain slowly out of her face as she listened to the voice on the other end. She answered with lifeless voice and finally hung up.

It had been too good to be true. She had known it even while she was feeling aimless. They weren't going to let her go. She was never going to escape the Centre. Once they owned you, they owned you for life.

She stood looking at the image of herself for a long while. This apathetic excuse for a woman, with tears running down her cheek. 'Where's your fight? Where's your guts?' She felt an anger come up to fight for her. An anger born of frustration. She smashed the phone into the mirror. "You stinking wimp!" She yelled at her self. "You will get your own life and until then you won't let them see what they can do to you! You can never let them know they can make you cry!" The angry woman that looked back at her from the shattered mirror was much more like it. "They want to keep me! They will pay for it. I'm not going to be their puppet forever. Oh no I'm not!"

posted on 21-Oct-2001 8:42:43 PM
See page two!

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 12-Nov-2001 12:42:00 AM ]
posted on 21-Oct-2001 8:42:45 PM
Well hello! I finally found myself! Half of me anyway, I'll be back soon with more. Thanks for staying around! My member area said I had no threads on this board. Go figure!

Part 23
Max woke up and felt the warm presence of Liz cuddled next to him. Having had a good two hours sleep he was refreshed and ready to drive again, but it was sort of nice to just sit for a while. He was used to having a lot of alone time to think and had had precious little of that lately. Besides, it would wake Liz up if they changed places now…and I know you believe he wasn’t just enjoying having her cuddled up asleep next to him. Max let his thoughts stray ahead to Jarod and Michael, their situation, and possible ways to help. Storming the Centre wouldn’t be possible. Stealth and cunning helped by their combined powers had a chance, but it was time to gather more information.

Max settled back and reached out for Michael first. At meeting a blank wall again, he sighed and reached instead for Jarod. * Jarod, can you talk now?*

* Max! It’s good to see a friendly voice. Have you stopped for the night?*

* No we’re still driving. There are enough drivers to trade off. We’ll get there that much sooner. How are you holding out?*

*It’s not me I’m worried about. I’ve been making plans, but a lot depends on learning something new… for me…for all of you. *

*What are you thinking about Jarod? We’ll help any way we can. What about Michael, can you get to him? Is he still okay? *

* No. I’m pretty well confined right now, but I still feel him near. Do you think Isabel could teach me how to dreamwalk? I need to reach Michael, let him know what is going on. Also, I want you to put your heads together and see if you can combine in some way and give Michael the strength to counteract the drugs at the right time. Also, when you are here, get a room at a motel and let us all connect. I want to give you all a visual map of the Centre and work out where and how you can get in. Does that sound doable?*

Max felt a deep admiration for the way Jarod’s mind worked. With him on the inside, and the combined powers of them all, the Centre didn’t seem as daunting as it was. * It all sounds doable! Can you talk to Isabel now? Are you private enough?*

Jarod looked around his new room. * Outside of having my every move recorded, I still have the privacy of my own mind. They haven’t figured out how to invade that yet. Now would be fine.*

* Okay, let me change places with Alex and Isabel, and she can join you. Give us a minute….And Jarod? I don’t think the Centre is ever going to want to come after you when we get finished with it!*

Jarod chuckled at the determination in Max’s ‘voice’. ‘I bet they won’t either!’

Shortly thereafter, Isabel called to him and they slipped into rapport. * So you want to learn dreamwalking huh? Okay, let’s try it. It just takes concentration and if there is one thing I’m sure you can do, it’s concentrate!*

* Okay. How do we start?*

* Well usually I hold the person’s hand and take them with me. I haven’t taught anyone how to do it before. Guess we’ll just have to play it by ear. Since we’re already in contact, I’ll just slip onto the dream plane and you try to come with me.*

A couple of minutes later, * Jarod? I can’t see you. What do you see?*

* The back of my eyelids. It didn’t work. What next?*

* Well Since it’s all a matter of mind, there has to be a way. Look…picture the room you are in, and picture yourself standing in the middle of it. Then picture me standing next to you.*

* Like this?*

* Perfect! Wow, not much to look at is it? Looks like the inside of a bank vault! Okay, now we both picture me holding your hand, then I want you to picture a vast open plane of blackness with glowing bubbles of different colors and brightness floating in it. Picture you and me standing in it still holding hands. Ready? Here we go!*

This time they were successful, and Jarod got his first look at the realm of dreams. *Oh it’s so beautiful! I never dreamed it could be like this. Uh, no pun intended. What now? I assume these bubbles are the dreams? *

Isabel showed him how to contact a dream and look in without entering and gave him a feeling for calling to one by sensing and humming its note. After letting him try peeking into a couple, she taught him the particular note of Michael’s bubble, and helped him call to it. * Now I’ll show you how to get in. You can’t talk to him unless you do.*

Under her directions, Jarod placed his hands lightly on its surface and started spreading his hands while picturing it growing in size. This whole experience was so fascinating that he almost lost it a couple of times. At last the bubble was large enough for them to enter. Jarod almost expected to hear a little pop as they walked through the glistening side.

* This is your street! Why are we here, and how do we find Michael. Will we have to search for him?*

Isabel told him how Michael was waiting for her at her house last time. * That’s where he probably is now.*

Michael got up off the steps of her house and came bounding down the street when he saw them coming. He gave Jarod a clap on the back and Isabel a hug. * I thought you guys would never show up! Are you ready to spring me? Where’s Maria? Am I still there or did you already get me out?*

Michael was disappointed by their news but intrigued that Jarod was learning dream walking. Soon the three of them were sitting in his house discussing Jarod’s plans. Michael looked at Isabel with a ‘don’t give me any crap ‘ look and asked if she thought it was possible. * God Michael, we have already learned how to do sixteen other impossible things. Why not one more? If we can use the group to connect to you here, then get Max to use his healing powers on your body, while everyone else concentrates on you being awake, I don’t see why it can’t be done!*

* Then let’s try tonight! If we can do it, I can just let myself out. I’ll find Jarod and we can meet you outside! How about it?*

Jarod shook his head. * I’m afraid I’ll have to get out of my little hole first.*

* How come?*

* Because of the cameras trained on you, the guards outside your door, and the twenty or more armed men that will be there as soon as they see you move. Right now we don’t know how the room is rigged, whether you are on an IV that they can increase by remote control, or if they have a room flooding gas for emergencies. I know one thing Michael. The records of Luke’s brother scared them into some very creative thinking. There will be fail safes and backups that will have to be disengaged or countered before we can pry you loose from their clutches.*

Isabel saw the sort of things he was visualizing, they both did, and she felt a surge of fear. ‘How are we going to do all that?’ Jarod felt the fear and put his arm around her. * Anything, that can be done, can be undone. We’ll get him out. I promise!*

Isabel taught Jarod how to make himself wake up and sent him on his way. * Michael, you stay here for a minute. There is someone who wants to see you!* Shortly after, Isabel gave Maria a ride into Michael’s dream. What happened after that is none of our business.

posted on 12-Nov-2001 12:39:21 AM
The Other Centre Stage pt. 24
Part 24
Amy woke up at four, called Maria and was on the road by four thirty. About eight, she stopped at an Ihop. She felt the need of fortification before making her next phone call. One breakfast and a pot of coffee later, she dialed Jim’s number.

“Amy I just want you to turn around and come on home.” Jim couldn’t see anything good about her getting into the gangs fight with the Centre. He had an inkling of what they were up against and didn’t want Amy within a state of the explosion when it happened.

“I am not letting my daughter go kiting off across the country alone! If she needs help, I want to be there! What’s so hard to understand about that? Now why don’t you go back to sheriffing and let me go back to being a mother!” She felt she was on firm ground here and was not going to let Jim back her down. Clearly, her place was with Maria.

“ First off, she is not alone. She has all her friends with her. Second, unless you have been keeping secrets from me, you don’t have any powers that can contribute to the fight. And last, they don’t need someone that they can’t connect with that can be hurt or made captive. Amy…you are going to gum up the whole thing!”

“click…bzzzz.” Jim called back. “Ring…click…buzzzz.” “I think I might have said the wrong thing.” Shortly, he was on his way to the airport headed for Delaware.

Ms. Parker made an early appearance at her father’s office. “Angel! Come in. Thought your old dad wouldn’t need his little girl anymore, hmmm?”

“My job was getting Jarod back here. I did. So….what? Why do you need me.”

“Well…we’re just getting started. We have a whole program of tests for our Jarod, now that he has returned to the fold, and you are going to help him re-adjust. It is your job to talk to him, make him feel at home….and see that he doesn’t get away again. After all, I don’t think anyone knows Jarod better than you.” He looked down at his desk, moved some papers, an obvious dismissal. When she didn’t move, he looked up in annoyance. “There was something else?”

“No. Well, maybe just one thing. How long do you expect this assignment will last? Or should I ask?”

“Of course you can ask! Now run along. I’ll send some paperwork over to you in a bit. Meanwhile, why don’t you go pay a visit to your new job?” Mr. Parker watched the back of his daughter as she stalked out of his office, and shook his head grinning. He knew about how long she would remain alive if she didn’t stay ‘in the family’ as it were. Be a shame to loose all that talent. There was no mirth in that grin.

There were visitors to Jarod’s new accommodations. Lyle came to gloat again, checking out the facilities with two armed guards at the door. “Quite a little place you have here.” He said as he sauntered around, eyeing the speaker grills in the wall, the mic pickups and cameras, and stopped to adjust his tie in the two way mirror that covered four feet of one wall. The only place of visual privacy left to Jarod was the bathroom, though there were extra sensitive mics in there as well. “They are treating you too nice. If I had you, you would regret ever even thinking of escaping.” Lyle stopped his rambling around and turned to Jarod, hands in his pockets. “But then again…perhaps I may still get the opportunity to teach you regret.”

When he left, Jarod spent some time in thinking of the possible meaning of Lyle’s closing shot. He had seen him in too many compromising situations, had seen and shown up the ‘nicer’ side of his personality on more than one occasion. Jarod knew that Lyle didn’t want him caught… he wanted him dead. From the things Jarod knew about Lyles tastes, it wouldn’t be a fast or pretty death. Jarod could figure out what Lyle had up his sleeve, only by getting into his head. ‘Ugh! No thank you!’

Ms. Parker was the next to visit, though she stood in the visitors room just watching him for a long time before switching the mirror into a window.

“Ms. Parker, how nice of you to drop by. To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?”

Ms. Parker looked at the cameras trained on them both from his room and the talk room, and noted the speaker that reported to other ears than Jarod’s. She crossed her arms and smiled, but only with her lips. “I just came to see how you are settling in. Your accommodations seem comfortable enough.”

“You might say they are suffocating me with kindness.” Jarod pointed to a door opposite the mirror. You wouldn’t happen to know where that leads would you? Just curious.”

“Certainly. Here, allow me.” She pushed a button beneath the window and the door opened.

The door led to a large room, basically empty. There was a desk, a computer, and a chair. Most of one wall was glass. Unbreakable, he was sure, and Ms. Parker was beyond it. “An this is?”

“Where you will work out your simulations of course. They will put whatever is needed in here for you to work on.”

“How kind of them to put it so close.”

“Well now they wouldn’t want you to get lost on your way now would they? It has been a while since you were here.” She crossed her arms, looking not at all like the cool Ms. Parker he knew. “How about going back in your room for me. I have to go now. Jarod…”


“I just…” She gestured at the rooms. Starting to say what, he didn’t know, but she folded her arms and her face shut down again. “Nothing. I would like to come back later and see you again…if you don’t mind my company.”

Jarod looked out of the corner of his eye at her. Where was all that magnificent cutting she could do with her tongue? She was being positively friendly. He saw her glance again at the cameras. So that was it hmmm? She was following orders, and letting him know it too (Probably against orders). Again not like her.

“As a matter of fact, I would like you to come again. Maybe we can get to know each other a little better.” Translation: I got the message and I’ll play along.

Jarod returned to his room and watched as she reached around the end of the glass wall. The door closed. Okay, one control in each place, more walls that could be breached, and no cameras in the bath room. He had recognized his location in the Centre by the area beyond the glass wall. Now he could lead the gang right to him!

posted on 13-Nov-2001 8:44:32 PM
Part 25
Mr. Parker sat back in his easy chair and flipped off the monitor. Lyle sat down on the corner of his desk. “So… what do you think?”

“I think you are right. She is not going to co-operate. Keep an eye on her.”

“You know what this means.”

“She’s my daughter God Damn it! Just watch her.”

“And if it’s necessary?”

“Then I’ll order what I have to. Now leave me.”

When Lyle had gone, Mr. Parker opened a drawer and looked briefly at a picture of his daughter then closed it again, clasping his hands on the desk. ‘Don’t let me down Angel. Don’t make me do what will have to be done.’

A motel a few miles from the Centre became the project central for the group. Maria called Amy and gave her the address. Afterwards, she talked to Jim. *What did you say to Mom? She’s as mad as a wet hornet! * When Jim recounted his conversation, Maria groaned. *Great…now we’ll never get rid of her! She’ll be trying to come into the Centre with us. *
* You are not thinking of actually going into the Centre are you? That wasn’t the plan!*
* Don’t worry, we won’t go unprepared and we won’t all go….At least I don’t think we will. We’ll let you know what we decide.*
*Maria, I think you kids should try sharing as many powers as you can before going near there. At least how to open walls. All of you been practicing that mind fooling thing? You know, making someone see what isn’t there or visa versa. *
*Haven’t really needed to but yeah, I think learning that wall opening thing would be good. I think we should teach Jarod how to too. Did I tell you that he learned to dream walk? Isabel’s teaching me too! That is going to be sooo cool! Look I’ll have Mom call you as soon as she gets here. That is, if we aren’t already over there getting Michael and Jarod out. Anyway…bye, and don’t worry! *

After the link was closed Jim ran a hand through his hair. ‘Don’t worry she says!’

The kids were laying on beds, floors and draped comfortably in chairs. All trying to clear their minds and concentrate on Jarod’s images. The plan was starting to come together. There was no end to the ways they could enter the Centre. Since they could make their own entrance. All that was necessary was to memorize where there was empty enough wall space to enter without setting off alarms, being seen, or getting electrocuted by wall circuitry.

The specific places that were most desirable were where conduits and work spaces met the outer wall. From six of these, Jarod led them through the maze that was Centre and gave them a firm mental understanding of the layout. Within that, he showed them his location and the approximate direction from him where he sensed Michael.

Two besides Michael could open the walls. That was good, but he urged them to share it out among more of them. They all had the gift of making others see …or not see…that would be invaluable when encountering actual people but not in fooling cameras, where they could not know the mind of the watcher. There was one who might help them in those back spaces, but could Jarod get to him and receive some assurance of that? Not known. As far as they knew, they were on their own.

The plans and timing were worked on for some time, and the hour of action was set for that night. There was much to be done by all and they broke the group connection with a sense of satisfaction.

Alex, and Tess were the pupils of Doris. She ran them through the opening and closing of matter and had each practice on wood, glass, and metal. Then she connected with Jarod and taught him. It was necessary for him to practice in the bathroom and he couldn’t spend too much time in there without it looking funny, but he got enough of the basic feel that he thought he could do it fairly quickly.

* How is it coming with Michael? *
* They are still working on it. *

Max, Isabel, Luke, and Kyle worked on some preliminary tryouts of how they were going to reach and heal Michael. Isabel connected them to Michael through dreamwalking and they felt out how much of a group effort it might take to connect Max’s healing with Michael’s body. After a few tries, Michael was still unable to feel his body or regain consciousness, so either there needed to be more of them to boost Max, or they were going to have to wait until they actually reached Michael.

Max had hoped that by trying to heal Michael while linked to Isabel Luke and Kyle, that he would be able to teach them to heal as well. With two or more healers in the link it should be easier. But there was no actual healing and it didn’t work out that way.

Isabel saw his dejection. “Hey brother mine, we can try it again with more people. If we still can’t do it then we’ll just have to do it when we get to him.”

“It’s not that, I…I thought if I taught someone else how to heal, the two of us could, you know, do it.”

“Then why didn’t you bring Liz into the group? She sure knows how to heal, after the number she did on you.”

“Izzy, sometimes I can be so stupid.”

“Are you just finding that out?”

Maria was working with Liz, trying to show her how to throw power like she did that day with the kitchen fire. Michael had worked with her a little since then and she felt she could teach at least the basics. Liz would only be using it for dire emergencies and wouldn’t have to use much control. Just direct it and stand back. “We’re going to transform you into super-chicka!” Maria quipped. “Liz the invisible bomb shell!”

“I need to borrow the invisible bombshell for a moment.” Max said behind Maria’s ear.

“Shit Max! You scared me into next year! Okay kid,” She said to Liz, “Go with him and put a bell on him or something.”

“What’s up Max? I think I have the gist of that blast thing Maria learned, but I think I better not have anyone on our side in front of me when I let go.”

Max led her back over to Isabel, Kyle and Luke. “We want to try healing Michael again but I need another healer. That’s you, ‘super chicka’.”

[ edited 3 time(s), last at 18-Nov-2001 1:30:14 PM ]
posted on 14-Dec-2001 5:43:39 PM
Hey guys,
Sorry to be taking so long on this one, but I have some developements I am working on.

Jarod, as you know, has a plan to bust Michael and himself loose.

Lyle finds out about a plan of Ms. Parker's. She, fed up with her own captivity, and with the help of Broots and Sydney, is planning on busting Jarod loose.

Lyle plans on killing Ms. Parker, and foiling the escape plan.

His plan, as well as Jarod's and Ms. Parker's are all to play out on the same night. Whew!

Jarod's plan, I have pretty well mapped out, and Ms. Parkers is at least tentatively planned out. BUT I am up in the air about what Lyle has in store for her.
Also, I have left Julius at loose ends, lying unbeknownst to the others, in the same room as Michael.I'll have to do something about him as well.

Jarod finds out about Lyles plan and intends to use the group to help Ms. Parker.

These intentions are as far as I've gotten with the rest of this story.

Feedback at this time is critical!!!

If your guys aren't interested in more then I will just leave it at good intentions. So a little brainstorming please!*bounce**bounce**bounce**bounce**bounce**bounce**bounce**bounce*

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 14-Dec-2001 5:45:53 PM ]
posted on 18-Dec-2001 12:31:01 AM
Part 26

*Maria! Get your booty over here! * Maria jumped and came over. *You and Max are going to make me an old lady if you keep scaring me like that. What’s up? * *Going to try and heal Michael. * “I’m in!”

Isabel did her thing and they were all once again with Michael on the dream plane.
After a few frustrating moments, Max asked them to all visualize holding hands with Michael. Again nothing. “I can’t connect! I can’t feel any connection to you at all Michael! It’s as if you aren’t even here!”

“Well of course he’s not here!” Maria snorted. “He’s lying in that stinking white room.”

Isabel shivered. “Oooh. That name put a chill up my back. Max?”

Liz was looking down at the floor thoughtfully. Finally she smiled and looked at Michael. “I think I know a way. We’ll be back soon Michael.”

Isabel dropped the dream and they all looked expectantly at Liz.

“I think we’ve been going at this the wrong way. Remember when we visualized the links between us? Maria, visualize the link between you and Michael, then close your eyes and point in the direction it goes.”

Maria squinched up her eyes and then pointed to the left and behind her. “He’s in that direction. I can see it! I could find him anywhere!”

“We don’t have to ‘try’ to link with him Max, we already are. We just need to reach out to him…his body, not his dream presence.”

Max put his arms around Liz and kissed the end of her nose. “I knew there was a reason for having you around, besides being good to kiss.” He rubbed his hands together and looked around. “Okay lets do this the right way!”

They all held hands. *Okay find the link to Michael, Maria, all of you, visualize it. Feel it! *

At the end of the visual link they could all see a ghostly image of Michael lying there. *This is creepy! * * Shut it Kyle, concentrate. * * Alright Maria, but it is! *

*Can you feel him yet Max? * *Not yet. Lets try strengthening the link. See it as thicker, stronger. He’s there, concentrate on that. *

Breakthrough! * I’m in! Come on stay with me. * * Michael! * Maria’s pain at ‘seeing’ him that way ran through the group. *Hang in there ‘Ria, help us and concentrate. *

*Whew…look at the junk they have pumped in him! Do we clean it out? * *Not yet, feel for I.V’s * *There’s pressure points on…I count six places….patches? * *Sensors, most likely. * *You mean they are monitoring him? * * That’s my guess. * * No I.V’s. * * Okay follow my lead. *

If they had not all been linked, it is doubtful that Max could have done the delicate dance with Michael’s blood chemistry. He would have fallen out of the link from the drain. As it was, there was hardly any feeling of strain.

*Michael *
*Hey! I’m back! No I’m not. I can feel my body but I can’t move it. *
*That’s our doing. You move a muscle and the jig’s up. *
'*You bet Spaceboy! You are hooked up like a Christmas tree. *
*Yeah, you should have seen the fancy footwork Max did! *
* Michael, I neutralized the chemical that keeps you from using your powers. When we get there, one of us will neutralize the rest and you can come up shootin’ “
*What happens if they decide to take a few pieces of my hide in the mean time? *
* Same thing. You yell and we’ll neutralize it. *

The others dropped out of the link and left Maria and Michael their privacy.

Now it may seem that with all these powers trading back and forth, there would be no need to worry. But…there is always a ‘but’… each of these things take power. The personal kind. Energy if you will. And anyone expending too much power at any one time would be useless for the rest of the trip and a liability to the others. The jobs had to be shared around and two or more had to be in each group to lend their energy if need be to make sure there weren’t many more ‘guests’ of the Centre at the end of the caper.

So Jarod would have to wait for a back-up connection to one or more of the others when escape time came, or he would be so wiped out that he couldn’t run if he ‘did’ make a hole big enough to walk through.

With all they had going for them, there could still be some serious problems.

Sydney and Broots arrived at Ms. Parker’s house together. Neither one had a clue about why she had asked them there.

“Ms. Parker.” Sydney said as he entered.

“Ms. Parker, uh… did you want to see us?” Broots asked.

“Get in here, sit down, shut up and listen.”

So they sat and watched her pace back and forth in silence. Finally she stopped and turned to look at them. For a moment she doubted the sanity of asking them there. Even if she didn’t follow through with what she was going to say, just this one act could be highly dangerous.

“I need your help.”

Mr. Lyle was an interested observer to the meeting at Ms. Parkers house. The monitor in his office was big enough to make him feel almost a member of the little party. He smirked at the calm reasoning voice of Sydney as he asked her to wait a couple of days until she could look at her reason for dong this. And he could have laughed out loud at Broots stuttering near panic as he contemplated the consequences of such an act. Lyle himself felt a serene feeling of accomplishment as he popped the video disk out of the recorder.

Lyle pressed a buzzer on his desk and two men entered. He outlined the plans he had for Ms. Parker and gave them their orders. All in all, he felt pretty satisfied with himself. With the tape of the house meeting, he could go over Mr. Parker’s head to justify his actions, if he had to. This should put the Triumvirate right in his pocket and Mr. Parker out in left field. Just where he wanted him.

On the other side of his office wall, Angelo sat rocking himself and muttering. “Must tell Jarod. Must tell……………But how?”

Okay, some progress anyway...
I have been given a request for Michael to blow up Lyle.(Mimi) Has my vote. I don't like him at all. Any other takers?
Also about Julius...I think it goes without saying that the group would not leave without taking him. But I have one input for letting him get killed in the escape, in the act of throwing himself in front of his sister to protect her.( Mimi) And one for helping him and maybe bringing him into the fold. (Ursa) Personally I think he is really far out there and don't know if even the group connection could bring him back. Anyone else want to comment?
I don't know how to get Broots and Alex together, but I think it would be a hoot for them if I could. Just imagin the possibilities! Think I'll try to get the time lines of the different plots closer together than I thought to. That way they might get a chance to meet.
Wish I had never started with the whole Amy thing. She is a giant pain in my asterisk! I'm stuck between getting her out of there or vindicating her being there by having her contribute big time. Oh boy.

You guys are helping me get more questions to work in as well as ideas to further my nefarious plot. Keep it up! And thanks big time!
Chrystal *wink*