A new story when I don't even have five parts for my first one...*tongue* sorry, hehe, this storyline just got stuck in my head and chattered in my ear like a deranged monkey, so I had to write something.

TITLE: A Good Courage
Author: ecclesiastes
Category: M/L AU
Summary: At the beginning of this story, Max is an eight-year-old boy living on Antar. Antar is not a different planet, per se...it's more like a world not unlike Narnia, except that you don't enter it through a wardrobe and there are no talking animals. Trouble looms on the horizon for Antar, and it is ominous and forbidding. Is the magical world doomed? There is one on Antar called the Speaker, who is a prophet of sorts. She commands Max to go to Earth, where he runs into Liz. Liz is sixteen years old at the start, a teenage girl who is normal in every way...or is she? It turns out that Liz just might be the key to Antar's survival...
Bits 'n Pieces: Liz and Max obviously do not know each other. Max is friends with Michael, Isabel, and Tess (who is nice in this story even though I couldn't stand her on the show). Liz is friends with Alex, Maria, Kyle, and Sean.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Oh yeah, and in all fairness I should add that I got the title from a book by Stephanie Tolan. Don't worry, the storylines are completely, utterly non-related. *tongue*

Author's Note: You might be wondering about the eight year age difference in the beginning of the story, but don't worry...remember how different worlds often act on different timelines? Let's just say that Antarian time moves quicker than Earth time.


PART ONE


"Maxwell can't possibly embark on such a quest by himself. He is only eight years old."

Philip Evans held his son's shoulders tightly as he said the words, struggling to keep his face impassive. Only his eyes, bright and hot, gave off any indication as to what the man was truly feeling.

Serena gave an audible sigh. "Philip, you know that the Speaker is never wrong," she said.

Philip remained still, the only movement being an occasional slight twitch of his jaw. He couldn't give up his only son. Yet there was truth in what Serena was saying. What would happen if he refused to allow his son to carry out the Speaker's prophecy? He couldn't begin to comprehend the possible consequences.

Serena saw the uncertainty in Philip's eyes and felt a rush of sympathy for the poor man.

"I know," she said gently, "that this is all very overwhelming. For you and your family." She turned toward the King and Queen, who remained seated on their thrones behind her. They had kept silent until this moment, but now the King stood up, gliding forth and down the steps until he stood at the same height as Philip. Serena moved respectfully out of the way. Philip had a crazy urge to bow in the traditional fashion, but forced himself to remain upright, knowing that there was no time for foolish obeisances.

"The Court realizes that this situation is extremely unusual," the King said gravely, his voice resonating throughout the room. "And," he said more quietly, fixing Philip with a steady gaze, "we sympathize with your plight, Philip Evans. However, the Speaker is a staple of our community. She is held in the highest regard. Her words speak truth. She tells of things that we do not understand, nor are we supposed to understand. And for whatever reason, she has singled out your son."

For the first time, King Mhi'teo looked down at the chosen one. Max Evans. The boy stood silently in his father's desperate clutch, having not spoken a word. A child of average height and weight with slightly large ears, he looked unremarkable enough. Until you looked into his eyes. They were dark and wide and solemn, a bottomless pit of something that transcended understanding.

The King was a bit unsettled, although he didn't show it. Saying that the situation was unusual to Philip Evans had been a bit of an understatement. It would have been more accurate to say that this had never been heard of, period. The only ones who had a Meeting with the Speaker were members of the nobility. It was a rite of passage into adulthood, and had been so for centuries. When the Speaker had summoned Max Evans unto her, it had been a cause for great consternation. Max Evans was not a member of the Court; he was a commoner. His ancestors had been commoners. His parents were commoners. His friends were commoners. He had a common name, unlike the King's own name of Mhi'teo or his wife's name, Qaxya. Anything and everything known about Max Evans contradicted the notion that he, of all people, should be called forth to see Antar's prophet!

However, despite everything, Mhi'teo did not doubt the Speaker's words. No one did. The Speaker was considered holy and omniscient, not one to be dismissed and ignored. Previously, when someone had balked at carrying out the Speaker's commands, Mhi'teo had had no problem enforcing her words. But those people had all been adults, as most people had their first Meeting when they turned eighteen years of age. Max, on the other hand, was a mere child. Mhi'teo knew that it would be within his right to coerce the boy into going on the journey, but he decided to use that only as a last resort.

"Max Evans," Mhi'teo said, "it is clear that you are destined for things beyond our knowledge. You have been marked and chosen for a special purpose. Do you understand this?"

The boy moved his lips. "Yes," he whispered.

"And do you accept the Speaker's prophecy and all that it entails?"

The King waited with bated breath, as did everybody else in the vicinity. Everyone hoped beyond hope that Max would accept, because if he didn't, then...

"Yes," Max said boldly.

And so it was decided. Maxwell Evans, eight years old, son of commoners Philip and Diane Evans, would be journeying to Earth. Alone.

***

Max stood in the chamber before the Speaker, as quiet and solemn as he had been a week ago in the royal palace. It was the day of his journey and tradition dictated that Max see the Speaker immediately before departing upon his quest. Besides Serena, there was no one else in the room.

The Speaker sat, regal and straight, upon a pile of soft velvet cushions. She wore flowing robes of white that enveloped her frail body. She was of an unfathomable age, her face creased with wrinkles. Indeed, the Speaker was well over several hundred years old and had actually outlived several dynasties.

Now the Speaker was looking at Max.

"Max Evans," she said slowly and quietly, drawing out the words like a hiss, "you are the one."

There was a pause. Max knew better than to speak. Serena had instructed him on proper protocol, and one rule was to not talk unless asked a direct question.

The Speaker started talking again. "You will journey to Earth and arrive in the city of Roswell, New Mexico."

Another pause.

"You must purchase a locket. It is a very particular locket and there is none like it in the world. You shall find it in an open-air market that shall be operating that day. The money to purchase the locket will come to you. When you have completed the transaction, you will return."

This was nothing new. Max had heard this all before. But previously he had been too bewildered, too frightened, to pay much attention. Now he stored every instruction away in his brain, willing himself to remember.

Yet another pause. This silence was longer than the others.

"While on Earth, you shall run into peril."

Max nearly jerked in surprise. Where was this coming from? This hadn't been in the Speaker's original prophecy. And from the shifting sound and exhalation of breath behind him, Serena was apparently shocked as well.

"A girl will save you, she will deliver you from danger," the Speaker continued, her eyes closed. "When you look at her, you will be able to see the universe in her eyes, the passion in her heart, the cosmos in her mind. She will have the past, present, and future on her lips, in her hands. You must remember this girl, Maxwell. Do not forget her."

Pause.

"These are my words. This is my vision." The traditional two sentences that always ended the Speaker's speeches.

"I thank you for your guidance and wisdom, Speaker," Max said as he had been prompted by Serena to do so. And then Serena was leading him away.

To the Main Hall, where the portal between Earth and Antar lay.

His parents and sister Isabel came with him. He was glad, although he wouldn't admit it.

They entered the Main Hall.

Max's shoes clicked on the marble floor as he walked towards the portal. It was fenced off, to keep people from getting sucked in. Not that many ran the risk, however. Nobody was allowed in the Main Hall except on business, and besides the guards patrolling the portal, nobody went into the chamber where the portal was located anyway.

The guard on duty nodded briefly, saluting once as he opened the gate and stepped aside. Max, gulping, moved forward. His feet felt like they were encased in lead cement. He turned around to see his family staring at him with pinched, anxious faces, although they tried to smile for his benefit.

And then he turned back and walked forward. The gaping black maw of the portal drew him forth and covered him in inky darkness, transporting him to another world and another life.

To Roswell, New Mexico.


TBC...?