|posted on 19-Jun-2002 2:33:07 AM|
|Here again is Ch 1 of Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars, as originally posted on this board. The creators of the show, 'Roswell,' are hereby credited with characters from the show and reference to any events that occurred during the show.|
If anyone wants, I will post chapter 2 and subsequent chapters here a chapter at a time. Let me know. Gerry
Awesome artwork by cosmicdream=http://cosmicroswell2.homestead.com/fanart.html
"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry Carr-
Chapter I "That Haunting Past"
It was one of those warm, blue and rose-colored afternoons, and Max looked out over the Antarean landscape from the upper window of the spacious and comfortable living chambers of his palace. He did not see the pleasant dwellings of the nearby city, nor were his eyes enjoying the view of the calm golden sea just beyond... his mind was a million light years away from this pleasant Antarean summer day. As he stared lost into the space beyond, a gentle touch caressed him from behind. Max turned, smiled, and embraced Liz. Their lips touched... lightly at first... then passionately. Max pulled Liz more tightly against him, enveloping her in his arms. He felt her left hand run up through his hair, caressing the back of his head; her right hand was against his chest, as though to feel the beat of his heart. Max's heart was full and happy. Time, it seemed, could not encroach on this moment. Then the image of Liz began to fade. Soon, like the morning's mist, it was gone. A tear coursed slowly down Max's cheek... He was alone again.
"What good is all this!"
Max didn't care that he was shouting, his voice betraying the pain and anguish he had been holding back for so long... much too long.
"It's all so freakin' wrong..."
As if just waking, Max realized that someone was knocking at his chamber door.
"Is everything alright, Max? I heard yelling!"
It was Michael, Max's best friend, confidant, and General of his armies. Michael and Max had been friends since childhood, had shared secrets, knew each other's hearts and souls like no one else on Antar ever could. They were far more than friends and closer than most brothers.
"Michael," said Max hesitatingly, "Do you remember when Liz told us about being visited by a future me. You remember that the future me told her that she had to turn me away, because our being together would keep me from marrying Tess and that my powers and Tess' would both be needed when it came time to save the Earth, and that the Earth was being destroyed in his future timeline because I had married Liz and not Tess... you remember what I'm talking about?"
"Yeah," Michael volunteered cautiously, wondering where this was all going.
"Well, you know, of course, that Tess and I never married; you know why. And after graduation, Liz and I eventually got married anyway."
"Yeah." replied Michael. He laughed, but it was hard to tell if it was an amused laugh or an "Okay-spill-it-what's-this-all-about kind of laugh.
"Well," Max started rather slowly, cautiously, judging the effect of his words, "I think I know you better than anybody, and you know me better than anybody on this planet."
"Yeah. That's a fact," said Michael.
Max continued, "I've been noticing that since, well, since Liz and Maria haven't been in our lives, you know, there’s just no ‘joy’ in our lives anymore. We saved Antar, but what about our own happiness? Am I making any sense to you?"
"Yeah. I think you're making a lot of sense, pal. You know I do."
"Well," said Max, "It just seems to me that instead of saving the world, everything just kind of went wrong after that. Earth isn't even there anymore! Maybe future Max was right and Tess' not being with me was the reason Earth got destroyed. Maybe it was something else; but when our enemies destroyed Earth, everything you and I lived for died that day or was already dead: Liz, Maria, Isabel... every freakin' body! Cripes! You almost didn't make it out alive yourself!"
"Don't remind me, Max! I'm not likely to forget that if I live to be a thousand! Sheez! I almost didn't live to be 19!" Both Michael and Max laughed, but it was a subdued laughter affected by a long sadness of heart.
"I know! Sometimes, though, I wonder if we did ourselves any favor by escaping."
"Common', Max, I know how you feel. I loved... love! ...Maria as much as you've always loved Liz, and we always will, we both know it, but Antar wouldn't be here now if we had died there!"
"Yeah, we saved Antar," agreed Max. "Michael, listen, I've been thinking.... You know the granilith, the machine my future self used to go back and warn Liz to stay away from me, not to marry me."
"Well, think about this... what if we built another one, went back to before Earth was destroyed, and saved Earth... or at least Liz and Maria and Isabel... Do you think it's possible, Michael?"
Michael was silent. Max expected him to say that he was dreaming, that the past can't or shouldn't be changed, or more likely, that he couldn't put himself into harm's way like that. After all, Max was the king of Antar, and his whole future and the future of Antar itself hung in the balance. Max couldn't just run off acting with reckless abandon on a whim! Michael was ever-faithful, but he was also blunt, and most of all, he was very protective of Max.
"Do it! ... Let's do it!" blurted Michael, revealing far more emotion than Max remembered ever seeing in Michael. This sudden and seemingly uncharacteristic lack of caution caught Max by surprise... caution with Max's life, that is. With his own life, Michael was known to be reckless and bold. He was a good soldier... an excellent soldier... and an excellent friend. Yes, above all, an excellent friend!
"Mikey! What's that on your cheek?"
"My eyes are just a little... you know, these Antarean summers. I'm still not quite used to them... freakin' rose-aromaed humidity makes my eyes water. And don't call me that! You know..."
"Yeah, you hate it!"
Both of them laughed. It was a refreshing laugh, a heart-cleansing laugh that seemed to wash away some of the depression both of them had been holding in.
"Uh, Max, tell me you're not thinking of going back and changing history and marrying Tess to save the Earth!" said Michael.
Michael ducked quickly as all six pillows came flying in his direction from Max's oversized Antarean sofa. "Bite your tongue off, Michael! I said save the Earth! Some things are worse than death!"
Both of them laughed again! It was a good day, a fine day! Max breathed in the freshness of the Antarean rose-aromaed light misty summer breeze coming through his open window, and his heart felt joy, something he had almost forgotten. Michael felt it, too. Michael turned and walked briskly to the door. "I'll see what I can find out about the granilith. Maybe the plans for it are here on Antar somewhere. I think I know where to start looking, too!
--------------------------------- End of Chapter I
[ edited 4 time(s), last at 16-Oct-2002 10:46:02 PM ]
|posted on 19-Jun-2002 6:13:19 PM|
Here are Chapters 2 and 3. Enjoy! Gerry
|posted on 19-Jun-2002 6:14:27 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry Carr-|
Chapter II "The Trip Ahead"
"Michael, you're a genius! I don't know how you found the plans and got a team together to work on this and got it all done in just 3 months!"
"I aim to please, Maxwell! I aim to please!"
"It's hard to believe that less than 3 months ago our whole world was so different. You know what I mean, it was like I had nothing to look forward to, no plans, no hopes... But hey! Look at it! Just look at it! So this ship is going to take us back to Earth, back in time, and then bring us back here and back to our time again?"
"You got it, Maxie! Hey, it better! I'd hate to go to Earth and not go back in time or something... We'd just run into an asteroid field of Earth debris! But trust me, these guys are the best engineers and scientists on all Antar! You know that motorbike I got that can break the sound barrier in 14 seconds and disappear and reappear a thousand miles away in less than a minute, Max?"
"Hunh! Do I know! It's the only one like it in Antar! I don't think those longhaired shebble herders in the Chanesio Division will ever forget it either! When you came out of hyperspace or whatever the shifuzzle it's called on that bike of yours the first time in that mountain pasture, the royal accounts department spent a considerable sum to recompense those shebble herders for all the hair their shebbles lost!"
"Yeah," snickered Michael. "Well, I've learned to control it a little better since then. Cripes! Who knew that the wind rush from reentry would blow all the hair off of a shebble! That was an awesome sight, though, Max, a whole field full of shebbles, all of them bald as a newborn baby's butt!" Michael and Max both were laughing. "But the shebble manure market in that area was flooded with an oversupply for weeks afterward," Michael added.
At this, Max and Michael both collapsed in hysterics.
"Yeah, well, that was quite some gift!" grinned Max, after regaining some of his composure. "They gave you that bike for your work in helping to restore Antar's university system of linked science laboratories, didn't they?"
"Yep! Well, Max, you just saw the guys that invented that bike and built it. I'd say these guys can do just about anything they put their minds to!"
"So how soon can we go, Mister Genius, Michael?"
"Any time, really, Max, your kingliness," replied Michael with a bit of friendly sarcasm and a touch of smugness. "All our affairs here are taken care of. We can get a good night's sleep, have a good breakfast, and hit the road, as they say!"
"Awright, Michael! I've got to tell you, this is kind of awesome! I feel like… like we’re going to Disney World or something. I can’t remember when I’ve been this excited about anything!" Michael smiled and nodded knowingly.
It was 5 AM, a half hour earlier than Max had planned to get up, but he was ready as he would ever be and didn't want to wait any longer. As he walked into the dining room of the royal residence he found Michael already there.
"Couldn't wait, either, huh?"
Michael didn't answer, just poured another quarter of a bottle of Tabasco sauce on his Antarean blue hen egg omelet. "Next to Maria, the best thing about Earth!" said Michael, holding up the bottle. "Thank God and McIlhenny..." Michael mumbled with a mouth full of blue hen egg omelet and Tabasco sauce.
"What's that?" asked Max.
"Nothing. Just that I'm glad I had these cases of this stuff stashed away on the ship before we left! I would be freakin' in withdrawal now! We both would!" Both Max and Michael laughed for several minutes. Clearly, the atmosphere in the royal residence was a changed atmosphere, a happier more cheerful one all around. Even the maids, the cooks, and the other royal residence staff seemed more cheerful seeing Max happy again. It had been a long time.
Having finished breakfast, Max said goodbye to his staff, promising to return before they even missed him if their ship and everything worked the way it was hoped. But just in case, he left detailed secret instructions with his trusted Chief of Staff on what to do in the event of his failure to return to Antar. “I’ll put this in a safe place, Max. I’m sure I won’t ever need to read it,” replied his Chief of Staff, placing the neatly folded piece of paper into his breast pocket. Later, in his own chambers, he took the paper out and placed it on a shelf. Then he set the little Buddha statue on top of it.
Michael and Max walked together down the tree-shaded lane from the royal residence toward the nearest linked science lab, where their ship was waiting for them to board it for the flight. For a time, neither one spoke. As they passed a light blue and red-wine-colored pond on the right, Michael noticed a couple sitting under a shade tree kissing.
"You know, I've missed Maria a lot..." said Michael. "I can't wait to bring her back here and show her all the things on Antar! She'll freak!"
"Yeah," replied Max. "I'm looking forward to bringing Liz here, too. You know, Michael, Liz belongs here. She was such a great student of physics and science and space and all that. She just belongs here with me! Don't you agree?"
"I do." said Michael. "Maria, too. I mean, Maria wasn't all into physics and stuff or the honors science student like Liz, but she was, kind of, you know, a free spirit, a sort of explorer, looking to find her space. Well, now I can give it to her!"
Max chuckled, "yeah, but you're really going back because the Tabasco sauce is about all gone, aren't you?"
Michael grabbed Max in a playful bear hug, threatened to throw him into the blue-wine lake they were walking past. Both of them laughed as they acted like two high school truants skipping a day of school.
"That, too," added Michael wryly. "That, too. But I wouldn't trade Maria for all the Tabasco sauce on the planet Earth."
Max looked at Michael and smiled knowingly. He knew exactly what Michael meant, exactly what he was feeling. They walked on for a while, passing the far edge of the lake and the quaint little houses at the edge of town. They walked down the old cobbled Valdresina Street three blocks to Shebblefieldtree Lane. Four blocks down Shebblefieldtree Lane and they had arrived at the Jantoo-Bandy Science Lab, part of the Jantoo-Bandy University system. The door opened. Eight men in smocks stood inside.
"Come in," invited the elderly man who had opened the door. "Come in. We've been waiting for you."
"Thank you," replied Max politely as he and Michael stepped through the door to the inside.
It was beautiful. The ship stood in the middle of the huge hangar-like lab. It shone a bright gold with silver trimmings on the inside of the window's edges. It somewhat resembled a classic flying saucer in shape, but it sported multiple decks like a cruise ship. It had no landing assemblage. Instead, it relied on an anti-gravity lock system that held it solidly in place without any part of the ship actually touching the ground. The interior lights shone through the windows with a bright white light, accenting the silver interior trim of the huge fore window and the gold of the outer plating. The propulsion system emitted a soft purring hum. It seemed perfect in every way.
“It’s beautiful!” said Max. But it’s nothing at all like the original granilith.”
“New and improved, Max... not your father’s Oldsmobile.”
Max looked at Michael. “Michael, you watched way too many commercials on Earth. Didn’t your TV remote have a mute button?” Max and Michael both laughed, then they boarded without further delay.
"How long to reach Earth at the timeline we are returning to?" Max asked the chief scientist.
"We figure it to be seventeen days, three hours, twenty minutes, and three seconds, but that's a rough estimate," replied the chief.
"Yeah, right!" mumbled Michael to Max. "He means it could be three and a half seconds or maybe three and a quarter seconds..." Max and Michael smiled a knowing smile at each other. They knew that they could bet their lives on these guys... and they were! Once in the pilot and co-pilot seats, Max and Michael powered up the propulsion system to one third, enough for a gentle lift-off. One of the engineers pressed a button that opened the roof of the lab as though it were the astrodome (which it actually somewhat resembled), and they lifted their craft out of the hangar, up through the atmosphere of Antar, and off into the void of space. They were bound for Earth. Eight uneventful hours later, Max decided to get some sleep, and Michael took the pilot's seat. "This machine flies itself!" said Michael. I don't think it needs either of us." Max laughed his agreement and soon had gone off into dreamland.
------------------End of Chapter II
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 23-Jun-2002 6:38:29 AM ]
|posted on 19-Jun-2002 6:15:38 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry Carr-|
Chapter III "The Island of the Jah-ee"
Max was almost to the river. If he could make it there, he might be safe. The dense, deep forest of Nan-torel on Antar was not a friendly or pleasant place to be in the hottest part of the Antarean summer. In fact, it would have been downright dangerous even without Kivar and a few dozen of his mercenary soldiers close behind bent on putting an early end to Max's short life. He had been on the run for five days, hiding wherever he could in the deep forest, always staying one step ahead... just one step ahead. His body was covered with welts from encounters with the ever-present poison Guma plants that abounded in the Nan-torel. On three occasions, Max had had to fight off wild pawgors, a large, cat-like predator that hunted in the deep forest. At night, Max slept covered under deep piles of Ama leaves from the Ama trees. Not that he was worried about Kivar's mercenaries finding him at night, but this was the only means of protection from the bat-like rob-jeta that descend on any living thing in the night like flying piranhas. The rob-jeta can devour a shebble down to the bones in under three minutes, attacking the shebble as it sleeps. Fortunate for shebbles, shebbles ---and most people--- do not normally venture into the deep Nan-torel at night.
It was day now. And it was hot. If Max could get to the river, he might escape downstream before Kivar's mercenaries found him. Max hurried through the trees, jumping over logs, leaping nimbly over obstructions, occasionally looking back to see if he was still alone. That's when it happened. As he jumped over a large log, it rose off the ground several inches, enough to catch Max's foot. "Cripes!" thought Max as he sprawled forward and headed toward the ground. He had tripped over an inoffensive Wiffer, a large turtle-like animal that had decided to move just as he leapt over it.
It might have been a bruising fall, but Max never hit the ground. Somewhere in mid-fall, he felt something tighten around his body like a vise, and he saw the ground start going down... No, he was going up! There was no denying now that the vise-like object gripping his body was a talon, a bird's claw... one large enough to go all the way around Max's body. But no bird on Antar was so large! The only bird near this size was the jah-ee, also known as the lightning hawk, the last-sight vulture, or a dozen other names in various Antarean mythologies. But that's just what the jah-ee was: A myth! Max looked up. It was a huge bird, black for the most part, with a head like an eagle's. All the mythologies said that the jah-ee was black... but Max noticed that the feathers underneath the huge wings were a rainbow of colors, as beautiful as any parrot's plumage. Of course, this would not be common knowledge, as anyone who had ever seen the underside of a jah-ee's wings had likely just seen their last sight ever. Max remembered another fact about the jah-ee that most mythologies shared: it's talons were hollow, and deadly poisonous... One scratch was fatal... always! No medicine, no herb, no cure known existed that could change that. As the jah-ee rose upward for the sky, Max reached up with his hand toward the treetops, and a large branch fell toward the bird, striking it on the left wing. The bird plummeted, with Max still firmly gripped in its right talon. As they hit the ground, the jah-ee lost its grip. Max got up to run, but he couldn't.
Pain… in my wing. "My wing? I'm losing it!" Max thought. "The poison from the talons has affected my mind." Max put his hand over one of the scratches made by the massive poison talon. A greenish light glowed briefly at the sight of the scratch. The scratch was still there.
Pain! Sadness! Liz!
Liz? Liz had flashed in his mind. What was that all about?
She's sitting at home with the children. She'll be devastated when I don't return. Sadness! She'll die. She won't leave the nest to eat or drink until I return to guard our children. Can't now... Wing... Pain... Broken...
Max sat down on a nearby log and shook his head to clear it of the poison's effects. He tried again to use his healing powers to heal his poisoned wounds, but it wasn't working. "I'm losing it! I'm really losing it," he thought out loud. Then Max slowly raised his head and reality began to dawn on him. He looked at the jah-ee. The jah-ee lay on its right side with its massive left wing outstretched. This one wing must have measured 30 feet in length, Max judged. And Max could see that either the tree branch or the fall had broken the wing near the middle.
"Yes, I understand now," said Max. These images and sensations in my mind... they're coming from you, aren't they? But how do I talk to you? Can you understand?"
The jah-ee did not respond in any way to Max's question.
"No. I guess you wouldn't understand my words, would you? You seem to communicate with images and emotions. Let me see..." Max closed his eyes and concentrated. He created a series of images and emotions in his mind: Liz... love... sadness... loss... danger... escape... enemies... friendship. That one was a little hard. How does one communicate the desire for friendship to a bird?
The jah-ee stood up on its feet and seemed to be searching Max's thoughts.
Max nodded. " Yes. I think." He approached the massive wing at the point where it was broken and placed both of his hands on it. The broken area began to glow with a greenish aura. After a few moments, Max removed his hands. The jah-ee stretched its wing out to its full length, then its other wing, too, testing the breeze under them. The jah-ee then folded both wings back against its sides.
Gratitude. Joy. Happiness. Urgency.
Urgency? Max placed an emotional image in his mind: Confusion!
Talons. Death. Scratches. Max. Death.
"Me? You’re telling me that I'm going to die?”
Talons. Death. Scratches. Max. Death. Waterfall.
Max again responded with "Confusion."
Fly. River. Waterfall. Scratch. No scratch. Urgency.
The poison was beginning to affect Max significantly now, and he was having trouble thinking, much less communicating. He tried to stand up but it was impossible. He could not move a single muscle. The world around him began to spin and then everything faded to black.
When Max awoke, he found himself again in the claw of the jah-ee, and the jah-ee was flying high above the golden sea... on its way to feed him to its babies he guessed. Oh well, nothing he could do about it now. Max was totally unable to move so much as a little finger. This poison was powerful. Two little scratches! That's all he had received from the jah-ee's talons. And he was totally paralyzed. Max relaxed his mind and determined that at least he would die without fear. He was unable to speak or move and could not form a coherent image in his brain. Max could only watch as they flew across the golden sea and later across an island... then another island... and two more. Finally, the jah-ee began to descend toward a far away island on the horizon. As they approached the shore, Max saw the beach, then trees, then a large plain. At the far end of the plain, the jah-ee alit upon the branch of a very large tree. And a very large tree it was, too! In fact, Max noticed that all around them there was a forest of these trees... massive trees that reached hundreds of feet into the sky above.
"I'm in the claw of a giant bird on the limb of a giant tree at least 300 feet above the ground! Totally paralyzed and about to be eaten." Max tried to laugh... but he couldn't even do that. His giddy mind saw humor in the ridiculous situation he was in. The jah-ee moved toward a large hole in the tree near the branch it had landed on. Then it went inside, carrying Max in its claw. Leaping into the void inside the tree, the jah-ee folded its wings and dived straight down. "Awwww-riiiight! thought Max, giddily! Roller coaster!" But it seemed like it took a bit long to drop to the bottom, even if they were 300 feet up. They continued to plummet for what must have been close to a whole minute. Suddenly, the inside of the tree shaft disappeared and the ground opened up below into a giant cavern. As the jah-ee dropped into the cavern, it spread its wings out to their full majestic span and settled into a graceful glide above a small sea. Max could not see the ends of the cavern. There was a whole world here... a whole different world. They were underneath the island of the jah-ee. As the jah-ee swooped gracefully across the underground sea and arrived at the far side, it flew toward a large cliff. On the edge, near the top of the cliff, was its nest. A nest as big as a house! And its mate was there with three baby jah-ees hungrily bobbing their heads up and down.
"Supper time, children! Come and get me!" Max tried to say, laughing giddily. But he could only think it. He couldn't even form a coherent picture in his head now. The jah-ee did not stop at its nest, though. It flew right over it and on about another thousand yards to the edge of a high underground cataract. Perching deftly, as though it weighed no more than a feather, on a ledge of the cliff by the waterfall, the jah-ee released Max from its claw and nudged him toward the edge. Max felt the water splashing on his face. Soon, he felt it on the rest of his body, too. At first, this seemed insignificant, until he realized that moments before, he had been unable to feel anything. The water was counteracting the jah-ee's poison!
Max may have lain under the edge of the underground waterfall for two hours, or it could have been three. It was impossible for him to tell time here under the ground. He felt great well-being here! The water of the falls had been miraculous! Max felt like his old self again. There was no pain left, no stiffness, nothing. Even the welts that the poison Guma plants had made on his body had healed. The jah-ee stood nearby. His mate and babies were in the nest a thousand yards back. "Funny," thought Max. "I'm far underground in some kind of cavern, but there is light." He realized that the walls of the cave were giving off luminescence, providing a soft light throughout the cavern.
For the next 30 days, Max remained in the cavern with the jah-ee. He learned to communicate with it and with its mate quite effectively with mental images and emotions that often were clear enough to be considered almost as sentences. And the jah-ee shared with Max their knowledge of the islands and landmasses of Antar and many secrets of this underground world never before seen by any Antarean.
"Max... Max! You were dreaming again." It was Michael.
"Oh... yeah! I guess so," Max replied. I was dreaming about my first encounter with the jah-ee back when we were fighting Kivar's mercenaries in the battle for Antar.
--------------End of Chapter III
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 23-Jun-2002 6:39:30 AM ]
|posted on 20-Jun-2002 6:56:20 PM|
Here is some more to keep the ball rolling! Hope you like it! Gerry
|posted on 20-Jun-2002 6:57:54 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry Carr-|
Chapter IV "Travelers in Time"
Max and Michael headed to the galley to get a bite of breakfast. Michael had actually been quite accurate when he had said that their ship could fly itself. It was programmed to arrive at the place and time desired, with or without their assistance. As pilots, Max and Michael were only needed for emergencies or changes in plans or some unforeseen glitch that might arise.
In the galley, Michael and Max settled into comfortable high-backed leather-styled dining chairs at the table and placed their breakfast requests with the onboard diner droid. This "droid" was not meant to look like an Antarean or a human. In fact, it was really utilitarian, somewhat resembling a flat console with a recessed top used to transfer meals from the place where they were prepared to the table. The droid rolled quietly over to the table, and Max and Michael both told it what they would have for breakfast. The droid was capable of taking verbal commands, preparing the meals, returning with them to the table, and placing each order in front of the person who ordered it.
"I'll have an Antarean blue-hen egg omelet, toasted pashita bread, a cup of Earth-style coffee, and a bottle of Tabasco sauce," Michael told the droid.
Max ordered two Aluzian golden eggs, scrambled, with grits and Earth-style coffee. "I'll share Michael's bottle of Tabasco if he can spare some," he added.
A small red light on the droid blinked, and the droid intoned, "Unrecognized. Please specify. Grits."
"Aw, cripes!" Max laughed. "That's it, buddy! No tip for you!" Michael and Max both laughed. "Uh... southern food, kinda like... I don't know, mushy, white, little bits of corn or something..."
"Southern Chanesio Division?" queried the droid. "No such Chanesio food has been programmed into my memory."
"Not Chanesio... New Mexico, Texas, Georgia. Forget it, I'll have a taco with my eggs."
The red light blinked.
"Don't tell me! You aren't programmed to know what a taco is!" said Max.
"Southern food?" queried the droid.
"Real southern!" said Max. Max and Michael both laughed. "Muy, muy southern! ...Forget it, I'm sure it's not in your memory banks. "I thought these guys that made this thing were geniuses, Michael?"
Michael shrugged and chuckled. "I guess I might have forgot to tell them some things. Looks like we'll just have to make our own tacos. I don't think we've got anything like grits onboard, though. Sorry Maxie!"
"Just bring me two Aluzian golden eggs, scrambled, and whatever Michael's having with his blue-hen omelet."
"Thank you," replied the droid, courteously, as it turned and rolled smoothly and quietly toward the food preparation area.
Max and Michael settled back in their high-backed chairs.
"Michael, the timeline that we are going back to in Earth time... it's one week before my future self appeared to Liz, right?"
"Yeah. That's what was programmed into the ship's data banks."
"So... we haven't planned out how we are going to change what happened on Earth really. We just stated what our goals are."
"Yeah, to bring Maria, Liz and Isabel back to Antar with us so they will be safe and so they'll be with us."
"Yeah, but hopefully, to save Earth from destruction, too, if we can," added Max.
"And if we can't, to bring Maria, Liz and Isabel back to Antar," insisted Michael.
Michael's assessment of their goals wasn't intended to exclude the possibility of saving Earth. Michael was single-minded in setting his goals and determining the goals' positions on a list of priorities. He saw goals as just that, a highly prioritized list. It was the mark of a good General. Max looked at the goals in a broader sense, not really different than Michael's prioritized list, but perhaps with a broader starting perspective. In the final perspective, the two friends were really of like mind on this, as they were on most things.
Michael had grown since they had left Earth. Oh, he was the same size as he always had been since he had reached the age of fifteen. That hadn't changed an ounce or an inch. But in confidence, emotional makeup, and leadership, he was almost totally a new Michael now. He was a true and confident leader in every sense. Though he still had not reached his twenty-fifth birthday, he was already a general, an accomplished and decorated one, in the Antarean forces. And not just any general, but the number 1 general of all Max's armies. He had come a long, long way from the boy who had been raised by a no-account drunk in a trailer in the woods of Roswell, New Mexico; the boy who had grown up being beat, abused, cursed at, and emotionally trampled; the boy who had built an emotional wall around himself in order to just survive; the boy with a good heart who had fallen in love with Maria and loved her more than life itself but always seemed to find the wrong way to say it or show it. No, Michael was confident now, successful, and a true leader in every sense. But he was still Michael, too. And he and Max were still capable of acting like a couple of truants who had just ditched school. The king and his general! A couple of highly decorated, highly experienced cut-ups! They could be that, too! Oh, yes! That they could!
"So, Michael, what do you think?" asked Max. "Have you given it any thought?
Michael was not one for excess words, but the truth is, he really had given quite a bit of thought to how they might save the Earth from Kivar. Michael was a thinker and a planner, and a top-rate general, he just didn't talk about it much. ...unless he was prodded.
"And?" Max queried.
"Well... we will have the advantage of surprise, " Michael offered. "Kivar will not be expecting us to know about his plans. I figure we can end his plot by compromising it at two critical junctures: when he set us up with that FBI guy, what was his name? 'Dumb Ass,' or something… and then when he used the excitron device to wipe out the army. I don’t think Kivar realized that the excitron device was going to set off a chain reaction in Earth's core and result in eruptions, tidal waves, and natural disasters that would blow Earth apart. I mean, not that he cared, you understand. Except for losing a lot of his army and a few dozen "skins" that were faithful to him."
"Have you thought about how we might compromise his plans at these junctures?"
Michael just gave Max that what-do-you-think look.
"Sorry, Michael! I shouldn't even have asked!"
"Kivar betrayed us to the FBI, which took us out of action without his having to deal with us. So we can use that to our advantage. We know that he set us up to be discovered by the FBI guys, so we can set him up first. We know where he's going to be and where they're going to be. It shouldn't be that hard. That's step one. Step two is for us to find and destroy the excitron device before he or any of his people can use it. Advantage, us, here, too, because we know when he is going to use it, what it is, and what it will do. We don't know where he had it hid, but at least we will know what to look for this time."
"You make it sound easy."
"Don't count on it, Max. But it will give us a fighting chance."
The droid had returned now and was placing their orders on the table. Michael picked up the Tabasco sauce and poured some onto his Antarean blue-hen omelet. Just to be sure, he poured a little onto his plate as well, then handed the bottle to Max, who mixed a little in with his scrambled Aluzian golden eggs. Both of them washed this down with synthesized coffee, which actually wasn't too bad. Before leaving the table, Michael took a little swig from the Tabasco bottle, then put the cap back on. Max looked at him and just grinned. "One for the road," said Michael.
Back in the control room, Max and Michael stood looking out into space through the large fore window. It really was beautiful out here in its own way, stars streaking by in the distance, an occasional comet, here and there a planet. One could watch this and enjoy it, especially with some music.
"Music! That's what we need!" said Max.
"Got it covered, Maxie boy," replied Michael. "Had 'em put in the best system available. It'll play any of the three types of Antarean crystal rings, and... ta da! CD's!"
Max laughed. "No joke? CD's! You're kidding, right?"
"Not at all, my king, sir!" Michael added with some friendly sarcasm in his voice. "Not at all! You remember about six months before Earth blew up, Maria signed a deal to cut a CD for this major recording label. Well, I just happen to have right here her CD. And I'm dying to listen to it again! Haven't heard her voice since we returned to Antar.
"Put it on, Michael! I don't believe this! Earth is destroyed and you save two things: Tabasco sauce and Maria's CD. Incredible!"
"Well, I had already placed them on the ship well before the end came. Of course, I'd have brought Maria if I could have found her," said Michael forlornly.
"I know, pal. And I'd have brought Liz… if... And Isabel, too. Put the CD on. Let's hear it!"
Michael and Max stared out at the passing stars as they listened to Maria sing eight songs that she had written and four that Alex had written. The CD had been dedicated as her tribute to Alex.
Not so long ago
That a heart could not remember...
Like a spark in drying timber...
Or a rose no longer grow
In the garden of a soul...
I always find you in my heart
Through shadows holding us apart...
You're the river that can never cease to flow...
Max and Michael listened to the CD twice all the way through and quietly watched the stars and planets zip by in their celestial brilliance.
"Max," said Michael after the second playing, "If you don't need me for awhile, I think I'll go to my room and be alone."
"Sure, Michael. No sweat. I'll be here."
Michael retired to his private room. For a time, he lay on the bed thinking of Maria. He didn't realize that he had embraced his pillow tightly against his chest. Soon, he had dozed off.
-----------------------------End of Chapter IV
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 23-Jun-2002 6:40:56 AM ]
|posted on 21-Jun-2002 10:21:38 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry Carr-|
Chapter V "Betrayal"
Maria's body felt warm, and soft, as Michael embraced her passionately against his heart. She held him, too, embracing him with both arms around his neck, each hand interlocking with the opposite arm. Her blonde hair was soft, and Michael liked the feel of it against his face. And he adored Maria's big brown eyes, the way she would look into his eyes with that look that could always just melt him away. Their lips touched... it was the touch that Michael hoped would never end. And for a very long span of time, it didn't. Somehow, Michael felt that if he could hold Maria there long enough, she would understand, she would feel what he felt coming from his heart. God knows, Michael hadn't been able to express it with words! By some wondrous and fortunate miracle, Maria happened to be one of the very few people who really could, and did, feel what was coming from Michael's heart, though. She was able to see through the walls Michael had built around himself. She was able to leap the hurdles that Michael had long ago placed there to keep anyone from getting this close. Michael would tear the wall down now, get rid of the hurdles, if he could... But that was the rub. He had tried, and it just wasn't that easy. Michael wasn't raised with the love and affection that Max and Isabel had received from their adoptive parents growing up. It was hard for him to deal with such emotions. But one thing he was sure of: one way or another, he would, even if it killed him. Somewhere in his heart and soul, he needed it; and he knew, too, that Maria was the one. Of this, he was absolutely certain. He could feel Maria's heart beating against his and its pace quicken as their lips touched. He felt... feelings he had never felt before Maria had come into his life but now needed as much as life itself. The world would cease to exist for Michael when Maria was kissing him. He was merely floating somewhere in a vacuum. At these times, the universe was made just for him and Maria. Nothing else existed or mattered.
An explosion. Michael barely heard it. Then another, closer this time. Michael's instincts came back to him. "What was that?"
"Awful close is what it was!" replied Maria. "Maybe we better check it out."
As Michael and Maria ran outside, the ground heaved, chunks of pavement from the road thrust up into the air. A great roar was coming from the distance.
"I've gotta get Max!" said Michael. "I've got a bad feeling about this! Stay inside, Maria, and stay away from the walls!"
"Screw that! I'm going with you!" replied Maria.
Michael looked at Maria for a very brief moment and smiled, "On second thought, why don't you come with me!"
"Good idea! I think I'll take your advice!" replied Maria. They were already running toward the Crashdown Cafe, where Max had last been seen with Liz. The earth around them was gyrating, like a hula dancer, at the same time making strange growling and rumbling sounds. Michael ran into the Crashdown with Maria right behind. Max and Liz were running toward the front door from the back of the Crashdown, trying to avoid the chairs and tables sliding across the floor around them.
"What in the name of Earth and Antar is happening out there?" shouted Max at Michael, as they all ran out the door. The rumbling was subsiding now. So was the heaving of the Earth. Things were returning to normal except for the huge chunks of pavement standing upright against each other. And a number of buildings had suffered extensive damage. People were pouring out into the streets to see what had happened.
"I don't know," said Michael. "Maybe an earthquake. I just thought... you know, that Kivar might have done something. But..." Neither one spoke for several moments; they just surveyed the scene around them.
"I think that's something we need to check out," said Max at end. "Come on. First, we’ve gotta check on the spaceship. Then we're calling on Kivar."
"You know where he is?" asked Liz.
"Not exactly, but I think I know who might."
The four of them arrived at the desert hideout of their new spaceship. They had acquired this ship by "confiscating" it from some "skins" who were faithful to Kivar. In any case, these particular "skins" weren't likely to be needing it anymore. They were dust now. Kivar isn't particularly forgiving of those who lose his spaceships. The ship was still there and undamaged.
Back in town, the four met Sheriff Valenti. To be totally accurate, Valenti was the ex-sheriff; but Max, Michael, Liz, Maria, and Isabel still viewed him as the sheriff. And in a real sense, he was. Whenever anything significant happened, it was Valenti who stepped in and solved it or fixed it or set things back right. The guy who had replaced him as sheriff was a nice enough guy, but as the sheriff, he was a joke. He wouldn't have been able to see an alien if it waved at him in his face. Michael knew that for a fact! He had done it! Valenti had long ago learned the secret Max, Michael, and Isabel had never shared with anyone but Liz, and later Maria... and Alex. To Sheriff Valenti's credit, his honor was more important than outing a trio of teenaged aliens so that the special ops guys could dissect them to find out what made them tick! Sheriff Valenti became the protector and a sort of father or big brother figure to the three Antareans and their friends. It was this fact that had led to his dismissal as sheriff. Although he had solved an attempted murder and rescued the victim from her kidnapper, he was unable to reveal certain facts that would have compromised Max, Michael, and especially Isabel. Facts like how he knew where to find the victim. He could not reveal that Isabel's visions had helped him locate her in an underground coffin prison and saved her life. For withholding information, which his superiors never did learn the whole truth of, they fired him.
"Whoa! Where are you guys going in such a hurry?" asked Valenti. "I'd like to ask you if you know anything about this..." he gestured in the direction of the slabs of street pavement standing upright in the air. "But I'm hoping it was all just a really bad earthquake."
"We don't really know ourselves," replied Max. "But we are going to find out right now." We're on our way over to Ben Johnson's house."
"Ben Johnson's? There's something strange about that place," Valenti commented. "Weird stuff goes on over there, I've heard. What would you guys be having to do with Ben Johnson?"
"Uh huh! That's the place," said Michael. "Johnson's... Johnson's a "skin."
"A what? What's a 'skin?'" asked Valenti.
"Britney... without her makeup crew," Liz whipered privately to Maria.
"What was that?" asked Valenti, who had overheard the whispered comment. Liz just smiled that impish little smile she had and shook her head slowly. Maria quietly snickered and also said nothing.
Michael spoke for them all, "'Skins' are aliens from Antar who are living on Earth but who were not born here and cannot survive on Earth except by growing a biological skin that they are... well, put into. We call them 'skins' because of this and because they are always peeling and losing bits of skin everywhere. They use a lot of hand cream and makeup and stuff to try to hide their peeling or prevent it. Most of the 'skins' here on Earth are loyal to Kivar, but a few are not."
"And Ben Johnson's one of these... 'skins?' How long have you known this?" asked Valenti.
"A while," offered Max. We didn't want him to know that we knew, because we've been watching him. I think he can lead us to Kivar."
"I'll go with you," said Valenti.
The five piled into Valenti's vehicle. Ten minutes later, they were standing at Ben Johnson's door. Max knocked. The door opened, and Ben Johnson stood in it. His face was dour, but otherwise devoid of most expression. "He looked at (or was it through?) the five companions without changing his expression at all.
"Come," he said after a moment... nothing more, just "Come." Ben turned and walked slowly and deliberately back into the house. Max, Michael, Liz, Maria, and Sheriff Valenti followed.
Maria shuddered. "He gives me the creeps," she whispered to Liz.
"Yeah," Liz agreed. "Me, too."
Ben walked slowly through the living room and into a back room of the house. The five companions followed. When the last of them had passed through the door of the back room, the door closed. They looked back, alarmed; that prickly feeling of impending disaster was coursing through each of them and growing stronger by the second. And not without good cause! From behind a floor-length curtain that had covered the west wall of the room, seven special ops agents stepped out with guns all pointed directly at the five companions. From the other side of the room, a smaller figure who had been sitting in a chair behind a dresser stood up and stepped into the light.
"Kivar!" said Michael and Max, almost as one.
Kivar made a shallow, and transparently smug, bowing motion toward Max,
"In the flesh... more or less."
Turning to the special ops agents, Kivar said, "Gentlemen, I have delivered as promised. These are the aliens you are looking for; they're also the ones who caused this morning's, mmm, shall we say, catastrophe. And... they have a spaceship hidden in the desert. I'm certain that you have methods to convince them to tell you where it is."
Recognizing the danger they were in, Michael and Max reacted as one, each thrusting his right hand out, releasing an energy bolt that blasted all seven of the agents backwards into the wall. Three of the agents were knocked out by the blast. The other four recovered quickly. Max and Michael again released a bolt of energy, this time blasting the back off of the house in the process. But the agents had split up, two of them diving behind the dresser. Sheriff Valenti pulled out his own gun, which he still carried for protection, and kicked open the door to the living room, yelling at Maria and Liz to run. They did. But it was in vain. Ben Johnson stood in the living room, his shotgun pointed at their hearts. He fired. Maria's heart stopped for a moment, maybe several moments. She checked herself, then rechecked, to see where she had been shot; then she turned around to look at the others. The agents and Kivar were gone. Sheriff Valenti lay face down in the doorway of the back room. Maria ran to Valenti to help. She started to turn him over. "Don't," said Michael, laying his hand gently on her shoulder. "It's too late." Indeed, Valenti had taken the full blast of Ben Johnson's shotgun. He had no pulse. There was nothing that anyone could do. Unless, Max...
Maria looked around, then looked at Michael even more alarmed, "Where is Max... Where is Liz?"
----------------------------End of Chapter V
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 23-Jun-2002 6:41:55 AM ]
|posted on 23-Jun-2002 6:47:04 AM|
"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry Carr-
Chapter VI "The White Room... Again"
Michael woke up suddenly. He was covered in sweat. How many times had he dreamed this dream? How many more times would he dream it before he would be free? Maybe he would never be free. But if there was any hope at all, it lay in this journey that he and Max were undertaking. Michael decided to take a quick shower, then he returned to the control room.
"Those dreams again?"
Max had always been able to read Michael like an open book. If it were anyone else, Michael would be seriously concerned.. and seriously annoyed. But he had learned to accept this from Max.
"When Kivar set us up and Valenti got it and you and Liz disappeared..."
Max's heart quickened; he grimaced.
"I'm gonna get a cup of coffee," said Michael. "You want one?"
"Yeah, sure. I'd like that, Michael. Thanks!"
Michael left and went to the galley to get the coffees. Max stared out the control room window into deep space, but his mind wasn't seeing the stars. He was remembering that day... the worst day of his life...
Max had regained consciousness slowly. His head was killing him. That wasn't surprising, considering that the back of his head had been deeply grazed by a bullet fired from one of the agent's guns. He almost certainly had suffered a concussion. He wondered how long he had been unconscious. To add to his pain, his back was peppered with some stray buckshot from the blast that had killed Sheriff Valenti. Max realized that someone had removed all his clothes. He tried to get up but found that his arms, legs, and body were strapped down. He looked around him. Then he laid his head back down on the gurney and groaned. He recognized this room. He had been here once before. It had not been a pleasant experience.
The door opened. A technician entered pushing another gurney. Something covered with a white sheet, except the sheet wasn't white. It was bloodstained. Max looked away. The technician left, and a special ops agent came in. Max recognized him. It was Dumas Zwolinski. Agent Zwolinski had pursued the Roswell trio since, well, since they could remember. They didn't know he was even still in special ops.
"It's been a while," said Zwolinski smugly. "Too long, I'd say. That's alright, everything comes to those who wait. You're mine now. I'm going to enjoy taking that alien body of yours apart piece by piece. Don't worry! I'll let you watch! We'll find out everything there is to know about you. See, some of us are patriots. And we don't especially care for outer space garbage. You know... I could have retired three years ago! Yeah! That's right! Full pension... everything. I could be sittin' in some nice bar in Baja with some cute little Mexican señorita, or dancin' with the hula girls on Maui or lying on a beach drinkin' a beer in Tahiti. But I'm not. Want to know why? Because of you! Yeah, that's right! You! Somebody had to save this country, this world. The president's a dimwit... just like all the people around him. But there are a few of us who are patriots! Real patriots! The kind who stay until they get the job done... whatever it takes... until all the trash is bagged up, booted out to the curb, and dispatched to the dump. That's what you're lookin' at... a real patriot!"
Max grimaced and looked toward the wall. The technician came back and wheeled Max into the operating room. Max noticed that the room had been heavily damaged, and things appeared to have been put back in place hurriedly. There were large scorch marks on two walls, and some equipment had been destroyed by some kind of blasts. Above Max was a mechanical arm-like gizmo with a small, rotating saw at the end of it. On the table beside him were a number of scalpels of different sizes and shapes. At the foot of the gurney was some kind of reciprocating saw... and a powerful taser gun. He also noticed an X-ray machine and various other specialized pieces of equipment. Much of it, Max had never seen before. One machine had what appeared to be an arm bone held between two clamps. On a table by the far wall were various large jars containing organs in alcohol or formaldehyde... a heart, a liver, lungs... a hand?" Max shut his eyes and shuddered involuntarily. He turned back toward Agent Zwolinski, who was installing a new rotating blade in the saw arm. "The other one got a little dull this morning," he commented dryly. Max knew that, barring a miracle, his organs and bones would be in similar jars and machines soon, to be studied by these perverts in uniforms.
Agent Zwolinski centered Max's gurney under the saw blade and turned on the saw. It sounded like a dentist's drill. Max shuddered again. Zwolinski motioned to the technician to leave. The technician, who had been extremely nervous, seemed oddly relieved and quick to comply. Then Zwolinski began to lower the saw. He felt compelled, somehow, to explain to Max just what it was he was going to do to him. "This saw will open you up from the collar bone down to your belly button. You do have a belly button, don't you?" Zwolinski glanced at Max's naked body on the gurney. "Yeah, I guess they gave you one; didn't want you to look different." As Zwolinski lowered the blade to Max's chest, Max turned his right hand over so that it was palm up, but he discovered that his hands had been heavily wrapped and bound in asbestos. He would not be able to use them to blast Zwolinski with a power wave. Suddenly, the room exploded with a blinding bright light, and the ceiling collapsed inward into the room with the force of the explosion. Max looked up at a gaping hole where the ceiling had been only a moment before. A face was looking down from the roof. It was Michael... and Kyle was with him!
Agent Zwolinski, knocked to the ground by the implosion, jumped to his feet and made a dash for his gun, which was in his uniform on the table by the wall. Michael didn't give him time to get there. A strong bolt of energy smashed Zwolinski against the wall. Max heard several bones break. Zwolinski lay on the floor. He would not be rising without a lot of help. Michael leapt from the roof into the room with Max. Kyle followed him in. Someone else was coming in... It was Maria.
Michael had released Max from his constraints, and Max had just managed to wrap a white sheet around himself when Maria appeared through the opening. She dropped through the hole as nimbly as had Michael and Kyle. Michael was impressed, but he wouldn't have admitted it. Maria looked around the room. Michael and Kyle were busy preparing a knotted rope that they had dropped through the opening in order to climb back out. Kyle heard a muffled sound, like a gasp or a sob.
"Where did Maria go?"
They all ran into the room where Max had been held before being brought into the operating room. Maria stood over the other gurney, holding the bloodstained sheet in her hand. Her face was contorted, pained, colorless; then it went to bright red and finally dark ashen. Tears were flowing freely, like waterfalls, down her cheeks.
"Bastards! Stupid, bloody, dog-eating bastards!" Maria sobbed, as loudly as she was able, but she could barely speak. Then she sat down on the floor and cupped her hands over her face and sobbed convulsively. All the color had gone out of Max's face, too. He put his hand against the wall to steady himself, because he felt sick to his stomach and dizzy. Kyle stood motionless as though struck by lightning, then quickly left the room. Michael came in holding one of the large jars in his hands. He was pale. He put his hand on Max's shoulder and spoke quietly, "I'm sorry, Max. I'm just... so sorry, you don't know."
Max took the jar from Michael and read the hand-scrawled label, "heart, female, L. Parker Evans, Determination: human-alien hybrid."
----------------------------End of Chapter VI
|posted on 23-Jun-2002 6:48:42 AM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry Carr-|
Chapter VII "A Time for Everything"
Max stared at Liz's face. She was so beautiful, even in death. Her dark hair was shiny and soft. Her face was angelic. He thought that she must be sleeping, but he knew better. What had been done to Liz was barbaric. Max wrapped her in the sheet that had been over her and gently, lovingly, lifted her into his arms. He kissed her lips, still and always the most beautiful lips he had ever seen. Max followed Michael and Maria from the room, cradling Liz in his arms. As they reached the rope, Max noticed Agent Zwolinski lying on the floor. Zwolinski was begging for help… and compassion. Max lifted the palm of his right hand, no longer covered with heavy asbestos wrappings, from under the sheet that held Liz's body. As hard as it was, he fought the desire to vaporize Zwolinski. Max turned and started to climb the rope. Suddenly, a shot whizzed by him, missing by a scant centimeter. Zwolinski had managed to get his gun after all. He had been feigning wanting help in order to get them to come near him, because he couldn't come to them. As Max climbed the rope with one arm, holding Liz cradled in the other arm, Zwolinski lifted his gun to fire off another shot. Max was half way up the rope now and helpless to avoid Zwolinski's shot. Zwolinski aimed carefully, his finger squeezed the trigger... but before he could finish this action, a bolt of energy left nothing where he had been but a pile of ashes. Michael, at the top of the rope, lowered his hand and reached down to help Max.
"Come on, buddy. I'll give you a hand."
"I think you just did, Michael! I think you just did."
-------------------------End of Chapter VII
|posted on 23-Jun-2002 6:50:43 AM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry-|
Chapter VIII "Paradoxes and Parallels"
“Here’s your coffee, Max, said Michael. “What were you thinking about so intensely just now?”
“Thanks, Michael! Just why it is so important that we make this trip… and that we succeed. You know, besides Liz and Maria and Isabel, there’s another person that we need to be sure to bring back with us, too…”
“Valenti,” nodded Michael.
“Yep. Kyle’s been our friend since we were kids. He’s a great chief of staff, too! How do you think Valenti’s going to take it, Michael?
“Oh, you know, when we just casually lay it on him that his son has been living on the planet Antar for the last five years!”
Michael snickered and almost snorted his coffee. “Well, I’d say I’d like to be there to see that, but I guess I will, won’t I!”
“Yeah. It should be interesting… You know, Michael, I have done a freakin’ lot of reading at the capitol library on Antar about physics and space-time continuums, and all, and I have a theory about why everything seems to have gone to Hell on Earth after my future self showed up.”
“Why’s that, Max?”
“Well, I believe that the future me upset the timeline. He didn’t mean to and probably never even knew that he had done it. But I believe he altered time, as it were, when he came back to our time. Here’s why I say that… the granilith that existed at that time traveled through time in a linear fashion. That’s the only way anyone knew time existed back when that machine was built. But now we know that time is not linear. The universe is constantly traveling in a huge spiral, and timelines follow the spiral. It's like aiming a spaceship at another planet and flying in a straight line toward where you saw the planet. By the time you get there, the planet may be a lightyear away from where you arrive at. You have to figure for that and calculate a corrected trajectory. By going back linearly, as it were, the future me, I think, altered time as we knew it. Literally, our whole future became skewed.”
“Interesting theory, Max! If that’s true and your theory is correct, won’t our going back skew the timeline and alter time further?”
“No, because our scientists worked the universal spiral algorithm into the equation when they programmed our ship. That’s the difference in what we know now compared to what we knew back then. And that is why we must return to Earth before the future me arrives. Only by returning before he arrived will we be in our own true timeline, the one that we were supposed to be in. And another thing, Michael… The future me said that Earth was being destroyed in his timeline because I had married Liz instead of Tess, and Tess’ powers were needed together with mine to save Earth. But that might never have been true. It became true, because he altered time in our timeline and redirected our timeline into a different space, which in turn altered the time that he would experience in his future, resulting in the catastrophe for Earth that he referred to.”
“Whoa! That’s a mouthful, Max! If I understand what you’re saying, though, then the very thing ‘future Max’ came back in time to prevent only occurred at all because he came back in time. Whoa! Paradox!”
Max laughed. “Yeah! Just whatever you do, Michael… never, ever, ever ask me to repeat what I just said!”
Max and Michael both laughed for a good minute. It was refreshing to be laughing again. The coffee was good, too.
“Put on some music, Michael! What have you got there?”
“Let’s see, Max.” Michael placed a crystal music ring on the spindle, and the name of the ring and artist appeared as a holographic lights display above the spindle. “This one is by Luvain Soongo and the Gungi Boys, Vui Gungi Chombos. They’re kind of an Antarean N’Synch. Gungi means "New Wave" or something like that.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard ‘em. What else is there?”
Michael put another ring on the spindle, and the holographic lights display read, ‘Jarfelle Sereli.’
“Sereli is Antarean for spears. You don’t think Jarfelle…”
“…means Britney?” Michael laughed. “Not a chance! Jarfelle is more like… well… let’s see… She’s more like Diana Ross… her style is kind of like... early Motown music... only Antarean, of course, not Motown! She's good! I love it. It rocks, Max!”
“What else you got?”
“Um, let’s see... ‘Daneela Varel.’ I’d say she’s like our…”
“Dido,” offered Max. “I’ve seen her on the HoloVision Screen. She could pass for her easy!”
“Yeah, but she sounds more like Sheryl Crow, I think. Nobody sounds quite like Dido. She's pretty unique. Okay, let’s see… we’ve got ‘Vui Zoombor J'koozzeen Chombos.’ Come on, Max! What group would they be like back on Earth?”
“Hmmm… Let me think. How about…” Max thought a moment, “Oh! Oh! You know who? ‘The Beach Boys! Remember 'California Girls,' ‘Fun, Fun, Fun,’ ‘Surfin’ USA,’ ‘Help Me Rhonda?’ Beach stuff!”
“Yeah, I could go along with that. They sing a lot of songs about the j'koozzeen -the beach- and about wave-riding on their zoombor boards, so Beach Boys is good…”
Michael put another ring on the spindle. The holographic display said, 'Maryk Varsno.' Michael said, "Play song." A song began to play.
As one, Michael and Max both said, "Sense Field!"
"Yeah!" added Michael, "Sounds kind of like 'Save Yourself.' Awesome! I like this one!"
"Here's one for you, Maxwell!" The holo-display came up, 'Var Juma.'
"Oh! I know 'Var Juma,' said Max. "You remember the song, 'Edge of the Ocean?' ...Ivy! That's what Var Juma sounds like. That's another good one!"
Michael put another ring on the spindle. The display said, 'Terenlucit.'
"Coldplay," said Michael before Max could answer. Sounds like 'Brothers and Sisters.' Remember that one? Kind of a little like 'Ash,' though, too... in a totally different way."
Michael put another crystal ring on the spindle. The display read ‘Vui Chanesio ShebbleOnessinje.’ Both Max and Michael were silent for a few moments.
“Come on, Max… Whozit?”
“I don’t know, Michael. 'The Shebblegirls from Chanesio?' Have I ever heard them?”
Michael said, “Play song,” and a song from the ring began to play.
“Dixie Chicks!” Both Max and Michael shouted as one. Max laughed so hard that he snorted his coffee and had coffee dripping from his nose. "You (sniff)... you remember...(~trying to sing~) cough... "there's your Trouble... There's your trouble..." This amused Michael so much that he fell off his chair laughing. Both of them excused themselves to go to the bathroom and throw some water on their faces. Just the king and his general… A couple of royal cut-ups!
After a ten-minute break, Max and Michael both came back to the control room, and Michael chose some music. It was Maria’s CD.
“Good choice, Michael,” said Max. Max and Michael were feeling good. They were happy. The music was great. And Max had got them both refills on their coffee while he was out. They sat back and watched the stars streak by, listened to the music, and just smiled for the next three and a half hours.
Gonna find my way
To a sunny day
Though the rain may fall
Or the skies be gray...
Climb every wall
And laugh and play
Through it all
Like the fairies gay,
Knowing rainbows all
In the sunshine stay.
-----------------------End of Chapter VIII
|posted on 24-Jun-2002 6:42:53 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry Carr-|
Chapter IX “Jaht-Roo-Antar”
After dinner, Max and Michael played a game of Jaht-Roo-Antar, an old Antarean board game that might best be described as a cross between checkers, chess, and battleship. "Jaht-Roo-Antar," in Antarean, means, "Antarean Galaxy Board." The board resembles a checkerboard, but it has three times the number of squares. The regulation playing pieces are disposable miniature flying-saucer replicas. Each one is slightly larger than a standard checker, and the pieces are actually baked in a mold before the game from an extremely light Antarean sugar dough that shreds when it receives a good puff of wind. Alternatively, some players bake playing pieces that look like wild animals, oceanic vessels, or mythological monsters. The possibilities are limited only by the players' imaginations.
Each side begins with sixteen UFO’s. As in checkers, the goal is to be the last one left. In tournament playing, there is a small laser light under each square, but that is only for the special effects. The stringy sugar used in the pieces makes a rather spectacular high whooshing flame when it is laser-blasted, and this always draws plenty of "oohs and ahs" from the tournament spectators. Max and Michael’s board, like all standard Jaht-Roo boards, used air blasts instead of lasers. Each square has a ‘pinhole’ in the center through which a blast of air is directed from below. Before the game, each player programs sixteen spaces on the board to be "mined;" eight of these can be programmed to be "safe" for the side programming them. A beginning player might program his or her squares in a simple circle or star pattern. A more advanced player will program his or her spaces to move around, either changing patterns or according to a programmed sequence. Tournament players program their blasts according to complex algebraic and trigonometric formulas.
Any spaceship that reaches the other side is designated a "Galaxy Ship," which is immune to enemy fire and can travel both ways on the board, like a “king” in checkers. And moving one's ship to any space directly next to an enemy ship is deemed a "crash," destroying both ships.
Max won the toss and made the first move. He moved ship number 4 (4th from the left). A blast of air from below immediately destroyed that ship, blowing it into several shredded pieces. Michael snickered and tried a bit futilely to keep a “poker-player’s face.” The General was not at all bad at strategy; in fact, it was one of his strong suits! It was now his turn to move. Michael moved the ship on his far left, ship number 1, forward right one space. It was safe. Michael knew that it would be; he had designated this as one of his “safe” spaces, which would make it safe for him even if the other side had designated it as a “mined” space. Most players try to use their “safe” spaces further away from their own territory, where they expect to feel the most threatened, but Michael preferred to maintain his “strength” at the start and take chances when the enemy was weakened. Not that he put all of his safe spaces here, but he always started with at least a few near his own territory.
It was Max’s turn again. Max moved ship number 7 (the second from the right) forward left. It was safe. Max smiled slightly. He had been studying Michael’s strategies and had designated this as a “safe” space for his ship. Michael did not fail to notice the change in Max’s usual pattern, and he made a mental note of it. It was now Michael’s turn again. He had designated the space forward right of his third ship from the left as another “safe” space, but because of the formula he was using, three-six-three-five-three-four, with a spiral pattern, that "safe" space would now be located three spaces to the right and three spaces forward of where it had been. However, the “safe” space that he had designated three spaces forward left of his number 3 ship should now be located directly forward left of his number 5 ship. He moved that ship. It was safe.
Max studied his options. He had used a moving and changing pattern strategy. With each move, the pattern of “safe” spaces would change, alternating from a small rhomboid to a large five-point star to a wide oval, then to a small eight-point star. Following the expected pattern, he should be able to move ship number 7 forward left. But that one had already been moved. He would have to choose another move and take his chances. He decided to move ship number 2 forward right. Another blast of air; another ship shredded. Now he had fourteen, and Michael was looking pretty confidant. Max thought Michael seemed to be getting just a little too much enjoyment, popping the shredded sugary pieces of Max's ships into his mouth and commenting how tasty they were.
It was Michael's turn again. He decided to move a ship out of his back row. He had already moved number 5 out of the front row, so he could now move another ship into that space from his back row. He moved number 12. A blast of air shredded it, catching Michael so by surprise that he nearly flung the shredded pieces into the air. He had not expected this space, totally inside his own territory, to be "mined." In fact, it would have been impossible for Max to "program" a blast to occur inside Michael's personal territory. Max had taken advantage of the protruding characteristic of the arms of a star, one of the patterns he was using. As the star moved, rotated, and changed size, any of its arms might potentially penetrate a vacated space in the enemy's territory, and this is exactly what had happened. Max smiled that slight wisp of a smile that he was somewhat famous for.
At the end of a little over an hour, Max had lost thirteen of his sixteen ships; Michael had lost twelve. Thirty minutes after that, Michael was down to only two ships. Both were Galaxy Ships. Max was down to one Galaxy Ship. Immune to enemy fire, the only way any these ships could now be destroyed would be for the "enemy" to force them into their own non-safe designated fire or for the player to make a mistake and miscalculate where his own booby-trapped spaces were ...or to provoke a deliberate "crash." With two ships to Max's one, Michael might be tempted to do this, Max knew. Max would have to be alert.
Michael was ready to put an end to chasing Max's ship all around the board. Max had a photographic mind and was extremely sharp at calculating his safe moves. It was unlikely that he would make a mistake. It was almost equally unlikely that Michael would make a mistake. Michael did not have Max's photographic memory, but he more than made up for that in tenacity and planning. Michael planned to back Max into the corner by positioning his two Galaxy Ships behind Max's ship and forcing him toward the corner with each successive move. Then he would provoke a "crash," sacrificing one of his ships to end the game. It was a simple and usually successful strategy in this situation. Michael moved the ship on his left forward to block Max in. Then Max moved his ship forward, placing it directly to the right of Michael's two ships. In checkers, this would have been suicide; in Jaht-Roo, it normally would be, too, albeit for a different reason. By placing his ship in the square directly next to Michael's ship, Max had provoked a "crash," something Michael never expected Max to do, since Michael should then have been the winner with the only remaining ship. But what happened was totally unexpected. All three ships were destroyed in a chain reaction. Michael sat mute, somewhat studiously gazing at the board, trying to figure out just how this had happened ...and what it meant. By placing his ship in the space beside Michael's two ships, Max had somehow provoked a "crash" of all three ships.
They would have to get out the rule book. Both of them poured over the rules for anything that would address this situation. It was there. On page 31, "In the event that a "crash" occurs, any ship in an adjoining space will also be destroyed by the "crash" if any of the rival's "mined" spaces is simultaneously located underneath that ship. This applies to all vessels." That explained why it had happened. Obviously, one of Max's roving "mined" spaces had just happened to rotate under Michael's adjoining ship at the same time as Max moved his ship up beside Michael's other ship. Michael wondered if this had been coincidence; but knowing Max, he had a gut feeling that it hadn't. Further along, on page 54, they found, "In the event that a game ends with multiple (more than two) ships being destroyed as the result of a single move by either side, the game will be declared a statistical tie, with 'advantage' to the side having had the greater number of ships at the end." This meant that this game was officially a tie. If they had been playing in tournament play, though, Michael would have enjoyed 'advantage,' meaning that he would have received the accolades afforded to a winner and would then be able to choose who went first in the next game of the series. Michael was satisfied. It had been a tough game.
"I guess we had better catch some sleep," huh Michael? "Tomorrow's gonna be a big day for us!"
"Yeah! That's right! If all goes as planned, we'll be sayin', 'Hello, Earth!'"
-----------------End of Chapter IX
|posted on 24-Jun-2002 6:44:37 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry Carr-|
Chapter X “Back to The Blue Planet”
Max walked into the galley relaxed and refreshed after his morning shower. Michael was just arriving, too. They enjoyed a breakfast of scrambled Aluzian golden eggs with pashita toast, synthesized coffee, and something that they had thrown together that did somewhat resemble tacos, made of shebble meat, Ama leaves, and Tabasco sauce. After breakfast, they hurried to the observation room at the top of the ship. Michael sat in the observer’s chair and pulled the remote viewing goggles down over his face. After scanning the vast regions of space for several minutes, Michael focused on one area and sat up straight suddenly.
“I see it! A little blue dot at about two o’clock!”
Max sat down in the companion chair and pulled on his remote viewing goggles. He rotated the observation deck to the right so that it pointed directly ahead; the tiny bluish dot now lay directly ahead of the ship, exactly where it should be.
"Well, that's a good sign," said Max.
"Earth appears to be there; we won't be coming out in an asteroid field or a bunch of Earth debris. It appears that we actually did go back in time."
A smile slowly stretched over Michael's face. Visions of Maria were flooding back into his mind... he could feel her hair against his face, smell her perfume, hear her voice, see her eyes looking into his.
Michael hadn't known where else to turn. He had climbed through Maria's window, shaking, distraught, half in tears, after being abused and beaten by his foster father again and wanting so badly to do something about it... but not being able to. Maria jumped out of bed. She started to say something, but one look at Michael's tormented face told her all she needed to know. She asked no questions, just held him, caressed his face, gently laid him down in the bed beside her and hugged him as they slept through the night. It had all been very innocent. In the morning, Maria's mother had walked in and turned on the light. It was not a sight that she had been prepared for. Michael had been forced to make a quick exit out the window through which he had entered. Maria had had to do a lot of quick explaining. Michael could laugh about it now. But the memory of Maria understanding him without even speaking a word had endeared her forever in his heart. He would never love another girl the way he loved Maria.
And then there was "Snowflake." It was Isabel's idea. She had given Maria that name. Liz was an elf, too. Her name was "Candycane." And two more adorable elves there had never been! Of that, Michael and Max were quite certain! Isabel had coordinated the Christmas festivities and had drafted Liz and Maria to be elves. Michael had never really participated in Christmas events himself; his foster father didn't celebrate it. But he loved Maria and loved being around Maria more than anything in the world. And more than anything right now, Michael wanted to be the Santa Claus in this year's festivities. Isabel relented only after Michael begged her. Michael told Maria that he was doing it because Isabel had begged him. Maria couldn't get over Michael as "Santa." But there was no denying, just by looking at Maria, that Maria thought Michael was the cutest Santa she had ever seen. After talking to some of the children, "Santa" sent his "elf" (quite against the "elf's" wishes, to be sure) to get him a Snapple; when she didn't return right away, he went to check on her. Inside the privacy of "Santa's play house," he kissed her. It was only meant to be a quick kiss, but Michael's Santa belt became entangled on Maria's elf costume, and the two wound up on the floor together, much to the delight of one young boy who peeked in and then ran around screaming that Santa was "doing it" with Snowflake. An embarrassed Isabel had had to find a new Santa and a new Snowflake.
But not all the memories made Michael smile. His thoughts jumped ahead to that day... the fateful day they had left Earth for Antar... The special ops men of the FBI were finally onto Kivar. They were tracking him day and night. To rid himself of them, Kivar had just unleashed his "super weapon," the "excitron device," on the army. The results were disastrous for the Earth. Earth's core melted and began a fusion reaction. The Earth began shaking violently. Chasms were opening up everywhere. Michael, Max, Isabel, Maria, and Kyle realized that there was no time to get back to town. They took Max's jeep into the desert, avoiding the chasms that were opening all around them, feeling the heat from the flames shooting out of the Earth's bowels through every newly-opened fissure. They were driving for their lives to the only salvation they knew now, the spaceship they had hidden in the desert. Arriving at the site, all the companions jumped from the jeep running. Max stepped up into the ship, Michael and Kyle followed. Maria was right beside them. They turned to look for Isabel. She had been trapped by a flaming fissure that had opened up between them. Maria and Michael ran back to help, but they could not get around the fissure. Then the ground opened up into a huge chasm. Michael was running toward Maria as fast as he was able to run, but Maria and Isabel had disappeared. Michael climbed over the edge of the chasm, looking into it, screaming, crying out for Maria... for Isabel... for anyone to answer. But there were no answers. Max and Kyle hurried to Michael's side.
"I've got to find them, Max! I've got to! You don't know... I've got to!"
Michael tried to climb down into the chasm, but it was too steep, too deep, and too hot.
"No! Max, No! I'm not leaving them, cried Michael, his voice in deep agony, but he knew it was futile. He would never be able to find Maria or Isabel. They were gone. Max and Kyle gently helped Michael back to the spaceship. They took one last quick look around for Maria, for Isabel, for the Earth they had known all their lives... They weren't here. Max closed the door to the spaceship, climbed into the pilot's seat, and placed his right hand over the control panel. The instruments glowed, and the ship lifted off the Earth bound for Antar... and whatever awaited them in their new futures.
"My God, Max! I never realized the memories Maria and I have made together. And after all that has happened, before the sun sets tonight, I'm gonna see her again! Alive! Smiling! Happy... It's... It's all just too totally awesome!"
Max grinned, "And I'll see Liz again." The smile faded, "God, Michael! After what Zwolinski did to Liz -because of me- how can I even ever face her again! Tell me that! How do I ever get that out of my head, Michael?"
"Yeah, well, just remember, Maxwell, none of that has happened yet in the time in which we are arriving. And we must make sure that none of it ever does happen!"
Max nodded his total agreement, and both of them smiled. Max flipped his remote vision goggles down over his face again and peered into space ahead. It was definitely there, about the size of a pea now --a little bluish pea-- as seen through the remote vision goggles, but still too far away to see with the naked eye. In the nearer distance, he could see Saturn and its rings quite clearly. Through the remote vision goggles, Saturn, including is rings, was about the size of a bottle cap. Jupiter, still further away than Saturn but many, many times larger than any of the other planets, had already become visible even to the naked eye. Yes, it definitely would not be long now! Max leaned back and closed his eyes.
"Okay, I have one Sigourney Weaver. That's for you..."
Max looked over at Liz, who was bringing an order to a young couple attending the UFO convention going on in town. "and one Will Smith," she said, placing an order in front of the first tourist's companion. "Can I get you guys anything else? Green Martian shake...?" She was so cute, even dressed in that hokey waitress dress with the alien face on the apron and wearing alien antennae on her head. ...but so cute. Maybe it was her smile. Liz turned and went back toward the kitchen. Two men at another table began arguing over a debt. One of them wiped all the dishes off the table, breaking them. Liz turned and looked back. The man stood up, took out a gun, fired... He missed the one he was shooting at. But Liz fell, bleeding, to the floor, wounded fatally... Max rushed to her side, looked into her eyes. He knew she had only seconds to live. Max had to do what he had to do. He and Michael and Isabel had all agreed that they would live normal lives, never reveal their powers to anyone, never use them... but... Max ripped the dress open and placed his hand over the bullet wound. A greenish light glowed under his hand. When he removed it, the bullet wound, and the damage it had caused, were gone. Max hastily broke a ketchup bottle and poured ketchup on Liz's dress.
"You broke a bottle when you fell, spilled ketchup on yourself. Don't tell anyone please."
Max smiled at the memory of how it all started... of Liz... and her wonderful journal entries.
********* "It's September 24th, I'm Liz Parker and five days ago I died. But then the really
amazing thing happened. I came to life."
"I said, I see a light!"
Max shook his head, "Huh?"
I see a light!" said Michael, excitedly. I can see Earth without the R-V goggles on. Look! It's that little, really tiny dot right... there!"
"That's awesome, Michael, but look over here on our left!"
"Oh yeah, that's Jupiter. We passed Saturn a little while ago. "
"Look at all the moons around Jupiter, Michael. How many were there supposed to be?"
"I don't remember, 14 I think, but I counted 43... just that I could see! That's a lot more than we were taught there were when we went to Roswell High."
"Some of them are really small moons! You know, Michael, if I weren't in such a hurry to get to Earth, I could really enjoy taking a break and exploring one or two of these little moons!"
"Cool idea, Max! Maybe on the way back, huh? You and Liz and Maria and I could explore one!"
"Mark it on our social calendar, Michael," said Max with a touch of irony.
Michael laughed, "You got it, Maxwell!"
"We're 483.6 million miles from Earth. That's... let's see... about what? 25 minutes?"
"Well, we'll have to slow down a bit before we get there, so about 35 to 40 minutes I'd say, Max."
"We'd better start getting ready! You know?"
Max and Michael took the glass ascensor chamber down four levels from the observatory, which was on the top level, to the control room, on the third floor from the bottom. Max sat in the pilot's seat, and Michael took his place in the co-pilot's seat. Both of them pulled remote vision goggles down over their faces. With the R-V goggles on, they could almost read the highway signs on Earth now. As they passed Mars, Max followed the instructions programmed into their computer and throttled back on the speed, slowing the vehicle to about half of it's interstellar cruising speed. He also engaged the light-warp accelerator, which afforded at least a partial invisibility to the ship by distorting the light so that it passed around the ship instead of bouncing off it... a sort of advanced "light" stealth technology. Eight minutes after they passed Mars, Max cut the speed back to one fortieth cruising speed, and the ship skimmed across the top of Earth's atmosphere. Coming in over the Atlantic Ocean, the ship entered the atmosphere and rapidly approached the coast of Florida at an altitude of approximately six miles. In Homestead, Tampa, and Pensacola, alarms were going off like crazy, jets were scrambling, men were running, trying in vain to see anything on their radars or by looking up into the sky. There was nothing to be seen. After a brief time, the jets were recalled, and the higher-ups-in-command ordered a complete overhaul of the alarm system.
The new granilith sailed as gracefully as a gliding pelican in over Florida, across the Florida Everglades and Lake Okeechobee, across the Gulf of Mexico, over the lower tip of Texas at Corpus Christi, then made a wide right arcing turn up across Coahuila and Chihuahua, Mexico, into New Mexico, circling to the right toward the southeast and Roswell. They brought the ship down toward the Pecos River northeast of Roswell. As they glided down to an altitude of about 3,000 feet, they were surrounded by fighter jets. The pilots were talking a lot and seemed to be looking in the sky all around them for something that they could not see.
"Uh... red leader, this is Pitbull. I don't see anything here on my radar... or in the sky. Do you have a fix?"
"Copy that, Pitbull. No, no fix here either. Anyone else out there see anything?"
"Negative, red leader. Nothing over here. Swordfish, over."
"Base control! Come in! Any word down there? What's happening with those alarms? You got anything on the radars yet? Red leader, over."
"Nothing, Red leader... come on home... bring 'em in. Over."
Alright guys, let's go home. Red leader out."
"Copy that, Red leader. Swordfish out."
"Copy that, Red leader. Pitbull out."
"Copy, Red leader. Weasel out."
In the new granilith, Max and Michael were watching the fighter jets all around them very closely to make sure that they did not collide with them by accident. They dropped down another 2,000 feet to an altitude of 1,000 feet.
"He, he! That was close, huh Max?" They were right there beside us and couldn't see a thing!"
"Yeah! You were right, Michael! The scientists who built this ship really are the best on Antar... maybe in the galaxy! I am really impressed! I gotta tell you... I thought those fighter pilots would see us for sure! Cripes! I could read Swordfish's control panel!"
"I could read the names of all of them on their helmets! That's close, Max! Too close!"
Max brought the new granilith down over the Pecos River and gently set it on top of the water. He moved his hand across another control on the board, and the ship submerged then began to cruise beneath the water. Ten minutes later, Max found what he was looking for, a deep overhanging ledge with a submerged cave under it. He guided the new granilith carefully under the ledge and into the mouth of the cave then set it down on the bottom inside the cave.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Max announced, in his best imitation of a commercial pilot, "Welcome to Roswell, New Mexico. We have arrived at the gate and will be deboarding shortly."
Michael snickered. Both of them gathered up what they needed and took the glass ascensor down to the first floor. There, they went to the room marked, 'Underwater Pod.' In this room was a small submarine. The room, which was watertight, could be flooded and the submarine piloted out through a tube in the bottom. Max and Michael boarded the submarine, which Michael apparently had had them name 'Maria Mia,' as that name was etched onto its bow in bold lettering. It was small for a submarine, but large enough for maybe a dozen people to cram into it; half that many comfortably. There were six seats, but each was almost double width. The two front seats were individual, bucket-type seats, and were for Max and Michael, the pilots. Max engaged a coded sequence in the computer, and the submarine and pod room both sealed themselves tight, then water began to flood the room. Soon, the 'Maria Mia' was afloat. Max engaged the engines, and the craft moved forward toward, then through, the pod tube, emerging into the waters of the cave, then out into the river beyond.
"Sheez, Max! Look at the size of that catfish!" said Michael, looking out the forward window. I heard that flathead, or 'yellow,' catfish could get that large, but I didn't believe it. That sucker's gotta be seven feet long!"
Max grinned. Ten minutes later, they surfaced in a bay near a dock. Max had been here before... with Liz. He tied the 'Maria Mia' up to the dock, gave the surprised dock-keeper two twenty dollar bills, and asked him to keep an eye on the sub for him, explaining that he was a college student studying marine engineering sciences and the submarine was his team's entry in the small submarine races that are held yearly off Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
"You think he bought it?" asked Michael when they were out to the road.
"Yeah." said Max, plainly. "I think so. Let's get us a cab and go find Liz and Maria."
"Right behind ya, Max!"
------------------End of Chapter X
|posted on 25-Jun-2002 7:58:11 PM|
|Hey, Angelic! Welcome back! I missed you! I'll post a few more chapters for you. Hope you like them! Gerry|
|posted on 25-Jun-2002 8:02:30 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry Carr-|
Chapter XI “Old Haunts”
“Here it is, right up here on the left… the Crashdown,” said Max, handing the taxi driver twenty-five dollars to cover the $21.75 tab. Max and Michael got out, and the taxi left.
“What are you gonna do, Max, just walk in and say, ‘Hey, I’m here! Future Max II, at your service?’”
“Ha… ha… funny, Michael… No, I told you I’ve been studying up on time continuums and so forth at the library on Antar. According to the most eminent Antarean and other known theorists, if we are in the right timeline, I will be me and you will be you. We will be… well, us… sort of instantly upgraded to the new and improved versions or something.”
Michael chuckled, “Oh, yeah, so who’s playing the jokester now, Max! And if we’re not the only ‘us’ here, how will we explain it?”
“One thing at a time, Michael. And, by the way, I would be future Max I; the other future Max isn’t supposed to get here until tomorrow night.”
“So how come future Max II, or the original, or whatever he is, didn’t take your body or something when he came the first time? And how do you know he won’t take your body when he gets here this time?”
“Well, like I said, I think he was in the wrong timeline. The original granilith went through time in a linear fashion… you know. At this point in time, right now, the timeline hasn’t yet been corrupted, so we should be in our own true timeline… and in our own true bodies.”
“You look the same to me, Max.”
“ Yeah, well, I haven’t changed in the last five or six years.”
Entering the Crashdown, Max and Michael sat down at the corner table where they had been sitting the day Liz was shot. Liz was waiting on a couple at another table. As she looked up, she noticed Max and Michael and smiled. Max returned the smile. Liz put the order in and then returned to Max’s table.
“What are you guys doing hanging out at the Crashdown on a Saturday afternoon?” asked Liz, pleasantly. “I thought you guys were going out to the reservation today to do some fishing with that Indian guy… the one who led you to the old guy who saved Michael.”
“Uh, yeah, well… we… got finished a little early. You know how I hate being away from you,” said Max.
Liz grinned. “Well, I’m off right… about… now! So why don’t we go for a walk, Max. I need to talk to you.”
Max looked at Michael then at Liz.
“Hey, no problem, Max! Go! You guys get out of here! I’ll be fine. I’ll hang around here for a while and check out… whatever. You guys go!”
Liz removed her apron with the alien face and the antennae that were part of her waitress costume and hung them in the back… then she and Max left the Crashdown, walking toward the river. As they walked along the river’s edge, Max noticed Liz looking at him intently.
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know, just that you’re looking at me like that.”
“Well, I don’t know, Max, but somehow you look… well, like I said, I don’t know… a little different or something, kind of like you aged a year or two overnight. And anyway, Max, you’ve been staring at me, too, almost like you hadn’t seen me forever! What’s going on, Max? Are you, like, changing or something? Is this some ‘alien’ thing I need to know about?”
Max smiled. “Naw. Well, yeah, I guess we’re all aging, aren’t we, but no, I’m not changing all of a sudden. …Liz, I… I guess this is as good a time to tell you as any…”
Liz looked concerned, worried. “About what, max?”
“I… I’m not… well, I am… but I’m not the Max you know, Liz.”
“Oh, thanks for explaining that, Max! I feel so much better now that I like totally understand! You want to have another go at that, Max? Lay it out so I can understand it?”
“It’s like this, Liz… I’m… I came back in time from almost six years in the future… and… and from Antar.”
Liz stared at Max in silence for a moment, then looked at him closely.
“No… I can’t buy that, Max. I mean… even with the ‘alien’ thing and all, do you realize what you’re saying? I mean, you do look a little older, maybe a year or so, or maybe… I dunno. But…”
“Liz, it’s just that a year from now, we wind up having to leave Roswell suddenly… you, me, Michael, Maria, Isabel, and Kyle, because the special unit guys found us and were going to murder us --shoot us all down in cold blood-- at our graduation.”
“Our graduation? All of us… I mean, me, too, Max?”
“Yeah. Well… you don’t know it yet, but you will be getting some ‘alien-type’ powers soon as a sort of side-effect of my bringing you back to life... same with Kyle.”
“Kyle and I will get 'alien' powers? When does this happen, Max?”
“Well... I don't really know when exactly... Anyway, it does... or will... we think. The special unit didn’t know about Kyle, but he figured that when he started getting powers, they would get him then, so he came along with us. To make a long story short, Kyle’s Dad, Sheriff Valenti helped us get to Arizona, and we headed north from there, you and I got married…”
“Whoa! Stop right there, Max! You’d better repeat that!”
“We got married. Hey! It was a beautiful wedding, Liz! Michael, Maria, Isabel, Kyle, they were all there.”
“And my Dad... and Mom?”
“…No, I’m sorry, Liz… they couldn’t be there. We couldn’t risk letting anyone know where we were. Our lives depended on it. But you sent your Dad your diary and a message to explain everything so he would understand.”
Tears were streaking Liz’s face. She was shaking. “Did I ever see them again, Max?”
Max looked at Liz in silence for a moment then started to speak. Liz interrupted him, “I don’t think I want to know, Max! Is this… is this ‘future’ unchangeable?”
“That’s the reason I’m here now, Liz! You see, one year after we got married, Kivar unleashed a weapon on the Earth that… that… that destroyed the Earth.”
Liz stood mute, unable to speak or to digest this information.
“Liz, we want you and Maria and Isabel to go with us to Antar.”
Liz looked at Max and just shook her head slowly, silently.
“Max, I… I’ve got to think about all this, digest this information… it’s more than I can handle right now, you know?”
“Yeah, I understand. I’m sorry, Liz... I wouldn’t ever have done this to you… you know that.”
Liz looked at Max intently… then she stepped forward and kissed him. Stars streaked through her mind, galaxies swirled… Liz stepped back. She looked at Max again…
“It is you, Max. It really is… I had to know.”
Max walked Liz home. He told her he would see her in the morning at the Crashdown.
“No, I’m off tomorrow,” said Liz. I’ll meet you tomorrow afternoon in front of the library.”
Max turned and walked back to his old house. His parents were out late, no one was home, so he went to his room. He was very tired; it had been a long day. He went to sleep quickly.
In the morning, Max awoke feeling uneasy, as though someone were watching him. He rolled over and caught a glimpse of someone in his room. Max jumped up from the bed, faced the intruder, who was sitting quietly in a chair.
“Oh cripes! It can’t be!”
The intruder sat silently for a few moments then spoke,
“Who are you? Why do you look like me? Are you a shape-shifter?”
Max explained his entire mission to his other self, his doppelganger… or was it Max who was the doppelganger? This was a question that might have kept theorists and philosophers arguing for years to come. When he had finished, both Maxes stood looking at each other. The younger Max reached up and pulled a small hair from the ‘King’s’ head.
“What’s this? …you getting white hairs already? You not taking care of my body, Max?”
“That hair was a fluke! That’s the only one. And of course I take care of myself! You should know that Liz thinks I only look about a year older, but it’s been almost six years since I was… well… I was you!”
“Oh! You’ve seen Liz already.”
“Should I be jealous?”
“I’ll leave that to the philosophers,” said Max of Antar.
“What about the other Michael? Where is he?” asked the younger Max.
Zan paled momentarily. “Oh my God! I can only guess! We didn’t think that there would be two of each of us. We’d better get over to the library to meet Liz then try to find Michael.”
Both Maxes rode over to the library to wait for Liz. They didn’t have long to wait. Liz arrived and walked up the steps. Zan was waiting at the top. The other Max was standing back in the shadows.
“Liz,” said Zan, “I have something else to tell you… I don’t know how you’re going to take it.”
Liz looked at Zan.
“After yesterday? I don’t think anything could surprise me anymore,” said Liz.
The younger Max stepped out from the shadows. Liz was again momentarily speechless. But then she regained her composure.
“Okay… I stand corrected, Max. You’ve done it again. I’ve got a headache now! You want to explain this? What does it mean? Which one of you is the real Max?”
“We both are,” said Zan. “I’m just him six years in the future. Michael and I thought… well, I thought… that there would only be one of me here, but I see that it didn’t work that way.”
“I’m glad you noticed,” said a voice behind Zan. It was Michael. No, it was Michael and …Michael. But which one was which? Even Zan wasn’t sure. And Maria was with them.
Max looked at both Michaels, then at Maria.
“That must have been some explaining you did, Michael! I’d like to have been a fly on the wall! But I’m really glad that I wasn’t there to have to help you explain it!”
“Aw, thanks, pal! Yeah, I’m not gonna let you forget this one, your kingliness! You can count on it! So what happened, Max? Did we screw the timeline like future Max did?”
“I don’t think so, Michael. There was another part to that stuff I was reading in the library on Antar. Some of the theorists speculated that the time-traveler going back within his own timeline would appear in the body of his or her former self, but there were others who believe that the time-traveler might only replace his or her other self if the other self were to die or be at the end of their natural life.”
“Well, don’t go getting any ideas,” said the younger Michael.
All of them laughed. Then they walked back to Max’s jeep and drove out to the desert where they could talk for a while without anyone seeing them.
Michael of Antar bumped the younger Michael as they were getting out of the jeep. The younger Michael had a few things to say and a few choice words.
“Watch what you’re doing, you old fart!”
“Yeah? Well, I don’t look a day older than you, and you’re just a punk! I know you better than anyone. That’s what you are. Maybe I really should knock you off.”
Max couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“Hey! Hey, guys! Stop it!”
“I’d stick you in an old folks home and be done with you!” said younger Michael to his older self.
“Yeah, well I’d turn you over to the sheriff for being a smart-assed punk!”
Both Michaels grabbed each other, fell to the ground, and rolled in the sand, struggling. Max was beside himself.
“Stop! Stop! You can’t do this. This is not going to work! We have a mission, Michael!”
After a short time, the two Michaels stood up and brushed themselves off. They were laughing and slapping each other on the back. Max was perplexed, then red-faced.
“I told you I would get you back, Max, for what you put me through having to explain all this to Maria and… this guy… by myself! We cooked up this little show for you.”
For a moment, Max didn’t say a word. Then he said,
“Michael, you’ll never change! I can’t even tell which one of you is the old fart and which one is the young punk!”
Liz walked over to Max of Antar and unbuttoned his shirt, revealing his sculpted chest and stomach muscles. She did the same to the other Max. Then she ran one hand over each of their chests and looked over at Maria…
“I don’t know, Maria… I think this could be fun!”
Maria’s lower jaw fell about three inches.
“Kinky, you mean!” Then she looked at both Michaels…
“But on the other hand, Liz, I can see your point!”
Both Maxes and both Michaels looked a bit uneasy; they looked at each other as though to say, ‘What have we done?’
---------------End of Chapter XI
|posted on 25-Jun-2002 8:03:44 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry Carr-|
Chapter XII “Reclaiming the Timeline”
Max and Michael, together with their alter egos and Liz and Maria, arrived back in town at just after suppertime. Liz and Maria sneaked them all into the back of the Crashdown and fed them hamburgers, fries, and tacos. They didn’t forget the Tabasco sauce, a bottle of which was quickly consumed by the four guys. Liz also brought in a couple of Snapples apiece for Max and Michael and their space traveling doubles. After they had eaten, they all walked over to Liz’s house. Max and Michael of Antar had disguised themselves with baseball caps, jackets, and dark sunglasses in an effort to avoid starting some kind of panic or rumor in Roswell.
The younger Max had privately confided in Max of Antar that he had something planned for this night and still had every intention of carrying it out, so they left Liz at the door and said their goodbyes; however, they did not go home. The group stayed out of sight in the shadows and watched. Shortly, a small Mariachi group arrived and spoke with the younger Max. They took their positions in front of Liz’s balcony and began playing. Liz appeared on her balcony. She slowly shook her head and grinned as the younger Max serenaded her and threw a bouquet of roses up to her.
Liz’s father appeared in the door, “What’s all the racket out here? Do you have any idea what time it is!"
Seeing Max and his Mariachi group and realizing that Max was serenading Liz, Jeff Parker grinned slightly and just shook his head…
He turned and left the balcony; younger Max dismissed the Mariachi players and rejoined his companions.
The group returned to the shadows to wait. After a short while, they saw someone climb onto Liz’s balcony. Michael threw a small pebble that bounced off the intruder’s right shoulder. The intruder turned and looked at the five companions. After pausing to assimilate this new information, the intruder climbed down again to the ground and faced the five companions. It was Future Max; he had come to convince Liz that she would have to turn Max away and to ask her to encourage him to marry Tess for the sake of saving the world.
Though obviously perplexed and confused by what was going on, Future Max was smart enough to know that this new situation was something that would require his attention, even if it was unexpected and not part of his plan.
Liz walked up, having secretly let herself out of the house; she stood beside Maria. Maria looked at Future Max, then at the younger Max, then at Max of Antar…
“Now that’s just soooo not right, see! That makes three for you already, and I only have two.”
Liz grinned, “Who’s counting, Maria? Who’s got time?”
“Well, obviously you don’t!” Maria snickered. “I’m gonna have to start wearing dark glasses so people won’t recognize me when I’m with you! You’re bad, girl!”
Max of Antar raised his hand to ask everyone for their attention then stepped forward and faced the new Max from the future.
“I know this must seem strange to you…” he began.
Future Max interrupted, “Why did I not know it if there was another set of us besides those New York goonies? This should be part of my past, too.”
“Well,” Max of Antar continued, “That’s really part of what we are all here about, you see. That’s all the more reason why I believe that my theory about the timeline is correct.”
“New York goonies?” queried the younger Max.
“You’ll find out very soon; you don’t know about them yet,” said Max of Antar. Then to Future Max, he added, “But no… We are not misfit duplicates; we are time travelers like you… but we returned from Antar.”
Max of Antar explained to Future Max why they had returned to Earth and why he believed that the original granilith that Future Max had returned in had skewed the timeline and may actually have been the cause of the Earth’s destruction instead of saving it. Future Max was silent for a time.
“It’s a paradox, huh!” added Michael of Antar. “Earth is being destroyed in your time. You come back to save it then find out that your time travel may have been the cause of its destruction.”
“It sounds crazy,” said Future Max at end, “…so crazy that it just could be right. In any case, it is clear to me from the information you have given me that my mission did not succeed, or will not succeed… And that means that the wisest thing for me would be to adopt an alternate plan.”
Max of Antar spoke again, “I think that the longer you are here, the greater is the chance that you will alter this timeline and… well, who knows what that will bring in the future.”
Future Max nodded slowly. “Yes. You’re right, of course. I must return to my own time immediately.”
Future Max actually seemed relieved, as though he had just had a great weight lifted from his shoulders …as though he had been carrying out a mission that was ripping his very heart out … as though he had been on the verge of selling his soul and had just been spared. He seemed oddly at peace now… even happy. He looked at Liz. “Liz, I want you to know… our marriage has been the single best thing that ever happened to me. I have loved you more than life. If my world comes to an end, now, if that is to be my destiny, it will not have been in vain, because I have known your love. You are my everything.”
Liz’s eyes teared up. She took Future Max’s hands in hers and kissed him lightly on the lips. Though it was only a light kiss, she saw stars and swirling galaxies. She knew in her heart that this was her Max, just as Max of Antar was her Max and the younger Max was her Max. They were, somehow, some way, all one and the same. This she could feel strongly.
“Go, Max. Go back to me in your time. I need you there. You are my life, too …my everything. I know that if our world is ending in your time and that is the way it is to be, I -my future self- does not have any regrets either. You can believe in that, Max. Believe in it!”
Future Max nodded, smiled slightly, then turned and walked away into the night.
----------------End of Chapter XII
|posted on 25-Jun-2002 8:04:52 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry Carr-|
Chapter XIII “Goodbyes and Decisions"
“I hope he makes it back okay,” said Liz.
“Why wouldn’t he?” asked Maria.
“Well… it’s just what Max said about the granilith traveling in a linear fashion but time not being linear…”
“yeah,” said Max of Antar, “but going back is kind of like… well, returning to a point of origin. It’s like one of those paddles with the little balls that are attached with a long rubber band. If you move the paddle up or down after you hit the ball, the ball is still drawn back to it…”
“But sometimes it misses,” interjected Maria.
Everybody looked at her.
“Well… it’s just that sometimes it does, you know…”
A shooting star passed over their heads in the night sky; the companions all looked up to watch it.
"I've got a feeling he's going to be just fine," said the younger Max.
Max of Antar turned to Liz, “I have to know, Liz -I have to know from each of you- are you coming with us? We will need to leave soon.”
Liz remained silent for a long time as they walked; Maria watched Liz to see what she would say.
“Max, I… I can’t. We have our graduation next year, and what happens to this Max and Michael here? What happens to my parents, Max? I mean… you said that the world doesn’t end until a couple of years from now. Is it right for us to… I don’t know, like, just forget those years that we would still have had here… leave everything behind? Max, I love you, I want to be with you, but we have to consider whether or not we are doing the right thing. I mean, consider this, Max, what if by our sending Future Max back and my not breaking up with you -that is, with Max here- we have already changed the future? What if the world isn’t going to end at all now? We don’t know the answers to these things. We only know that we have -at least hopefully- changed the things that were not supposed to have been part of our timeline… but we don’t even know what those things are for sure.”
Max thought for a few moments then spoke…
“I expected you to say that, Liz. I wouldn’t have expected anything else. That’s why we -Michael and I- spent a great deal of time during our journey formulating a plan. Michael and I will return to the new granilith and travel forward in time to a year after our graduation, to the day before our world, this world, ended. Will you do one thing, Liz? Will you return to Roswell on that day and meet us here -all of you- together?”
“Meet you where, Max?”
“You remember the dock where we went swimming at night sometimes…”
“Yeah! I remember!” said Liz, turning slightly red.
“Can you… that is, would you… meet us there when that day comes? I… I’ll understand if you don’t.”
“I’ll have to talk to the others, especially Isabel… she's not here to speak for herself. I’ll try, Max. Really, I will, but... I'll have to be sure...”
Max smiled slightly, “That’s all I want to know."
"You know I'm not going to let anything bad happen to Liz," said younger Max. "If going with you is the right thing to do at that time, you know you can count on me... on all of us."
Max of Antar nodded, "Yeah, I know... somehow, I feel like I can trust you almost as much as myself!"
Max smiled slightly at his own little joke.
"Michael and I have to go now. You two (pointing at the younger Max and Michael)... we’re going to need you two to come with us somewhere.”
Liz sneaked back into her house; Max and Michael of Antar and their current doubles escorted Maria home.
At the door of Maria's house, Michael of Antar took Maria's hands into his, looked into the beautiful brown eyes he had missed for so long, then put his hands on each side of her head and kissed her. Maria put her right arm around Michael's head with her hand on the back of his neck and submitted to the kiss, perhaps a little more readily than the younger Michael was able to accept, even if it was, in some way, himself she was kissing...
"Ahem! Cough! ...Hadn't we better be going if you guys are gonna get where you're going?"
Michael of Antar released his hold on Maria. Slowly, gently, his hands slid down her arms and over her hands as he pulled away. For a moment he gazed into her eyes, trying to get enough for a lifetime of memories. Maria, too, seemed unusually captivated by Michael's eyes and handsome, rugged looks. She choked back a slight 'bye,' her eyes misty; then she turned and went into the house.
Max and Michael and their local doubles left Maria's house then drove together in Max's jeep to the house of Sheriff Jim Valenti.
Max of Antar knocked on the door.
“Me… Max Evans.”
“Max? It’s 1 AM! …just a minute; let me throw something on.”
The door opened. Sheriff Valenti stood in the doorway; he looked at the two Maxes and the two Michaels…
“Okay, I know I’ve gotta stop staying out late dating younger women... I’m seeing two of both of you.” Valenti quickly, cautiously, glanced around outside then hurried the group inside, “Sit down... Coffee?”
“Sure,” said Max of Antar. The others indicated their agreement. Valenti returned momentarily with four coffees.
“…just on the chance that you guys split into four people or went alien schizoid on me and I’m not totally smashed or hallucinating, I brought four cups.”
“ I assume there’s a story behind this, Max; so what is it?”
Max told Sheriff Valenti the whole story. He explained who they were and where they had come from. He told him about their having been with Liz and Maria earlier and what he had asked them to do. He explained to Valenti some of the things that were to come: the end of the world, graduation, Ben Johnson and Kivar.
“Oh, and there’s one more little thing…” said Max. “It’s Kyle.”
“Kyle!” Valenti sat up straight. “Kyle’s asleep upstairs. Does something happen to Kyle in the future, Max? If it does, I want to know!”
Max smiled slightly. “He’s fine, actually. He’s my chief of staff on Antar… has been for the last five years…"
"...and a darned good friend he’s been, too!" added Michael.
Valenti rubbed his face with his hand, rubbed his brow, then his eyes, as though he thought he might need to wake up from a strange dream.
“You’re serious! You’re not bull-shittin’ me? Kyle went to Antar with you guys… in the future... and he’s okay? I mean… can humans, like, survive on your planet without gas masks or something? Is Kyle happy living on Antar?”
Max smiled again. “Yeah, he’s happy; but he would be a lot happier if his father were alive -you know what I mean- and if his father could be there with him.”
“So this is all supposed to happen one… no, a little over two years from now, the end of the world, that is?”
Valenti ran his hand through his hair and shook his head slightly in disbelief.
“Alright, Max. I get your meaning. You can count on me.”
“Thanks, Sheriff; I knew I could! Michael and I will have to be going now. We’ll… expect to see you in two years.”
“I’ll give you guys a ride to the dock,” said the Sheriff. “Our Max and Michael can get home in the jeep you all came in.”
Forty-five minutes later, Max and Michael of Antar stood on the dock. They shook Valenti’s hand warmly, thanked him, and climbed into the ‘Maria Mia.’ Soon, they were back on board the new granilith. Max programmed the computers, and the new granilith’s engines purred as they came to life. Seven and a half minutes later, the computer indicated that their travel had ended. They had skipped quietly through time into the future.
“You ready, Max?” asked Michael. “...to see what awaits us?”
Max appeared pale.
“Yeah, Let’s go.”
---------------End of Chapter XIII
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 1-Jul-2002 3:34:19 AM ]
|posted on 28-Jun-2002 6:38:48 AM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry Carr-|
Chapter XIV “The Great Escape”
The ‘Maria Mia’ surfaced and moved gently up beside the dock. The dock was deserted except for a drunk sitting on the end and holding a bottle of wine close to his body underneath a tattered old overcoat. Surprised by the unexpected appearance of a submarine in Roswell, even a relatively small one like the ‘Maria Mia,’ the drunk took out his bottle and looked at it… then looked back at the ‘Maria Mia.’ He teetered at the edge of the dock, appearing for a moment that he might drop the bottle into the water. Apparently, he decided that the ‘Maria Mia’ either hadn’t been a hallucination produced by the bottle or that, if it had been, his drink was worth a few hallucinations. He took another quick swig then put the bottle back under his coat.
Max and Michael climbed out, and Max secured their sub to the dock. Max looked around quickly and, seeing no one there but the drunk, began to walk with Michael toward the road. As the pair rounded the corner of the boathouse, red and blue lights started flashing in front of them. Max and Michael froze. A figure stepped out of a Jeep Cherokee and turned off the lights. It was Sheriff Jim Valenti.
“Welcome to Roswell, gentlemen,” said Valenti with his usual jovial demeanor.
“Sheriff!” exclaimed Max, smiling broadly, “I see you survived the showdown at Ben Johnson’s!”
“Yea-up! -Thanks to you, Max… and…” Valenti unbuttoned a couple of buttons on his uniform shirt, exposing a heavy-duty bullet-proof vest underneath.
Valenti smiled, “Made sure they didn’t get any of you this time, Max… I had Liz and Maria safely hidden away, like you said, so they wouldn’t be there. I had a few deputies hiding outside to back me up. Forewarned is forearmed, you know. Kivar escaped anyway, but the agents found out that Ben Johnson was an alien… one of them ‘skins’ you call ‘em. Anyway, they were pretty happy to get themselves a bona fide alien, and I was able to get you and Michael out of there safely… and myself, of course, as you can see.”
“How’d they find out about Ben?” asked Michael.
“Oh, I dunno, they might have got an anonymous phone call, I guess.”
Normally, Max and Michael wouldn’t have wished Ben’s presumed fate on their worst enemy, but considering that Ben had blasted Valenti to death with his shotgun in the previous timeline and helped Kivar and the special agents to capture Max and Liz, and… what had happened to Liz in the white room -Max couldn’t even bring himself to think about that- neither of them was very inclined to dwell on Ben Johnson’s fate. And now, finally, Max could be free of that memory. What had happened to Liz… never happened. Max smiled.
“Where is everyone?” asked Max.
“Well, Max, we got a little bit of a problem.”
Max’s smile disappeared. “They didn’t come back, did they?”
“Oh, they’re here alright… all of ‘em. They came, Max! It’s just that they’re… well, hiding, because things have been very, very hot just now. Hot for them and hot for…”
Sheriff Valenti paused without completing his sentence.
“for whom, Sheriff?” asked Max.
“For Liz’s Dad, Jeff Parker, and her Mom… and hot for your Mom and Dad, Max.”
“Why… what could anyone possibly want with them?”
“Yeah, well, it seems some agent on that alien task force -the one that ‘doesn’t exist’- decided that if he couldn’t get the aliens he was after, he’d do almost as well to dissect the people that raised them and see if they had been changed like Liz. They know about Liz’s powers. …Some agent named Zwolinski.”
Max blanched. “Have they done something to our parents, Sheriff?”
“Nothing yet, Max, as far as I know. They’ve got ‘em over on the base. There’s still some kind of debate going on over there between those that think that killing American citizens is taking it a bit too far and those, like Zwolinski, who think everything is part of the game, I guess.”
“Sheriff, can you take us to the others,” asked Max.
“I think I can get you there. Get in the car.”
Max and Michael climbed into Sheriff Valenti’s Cherokee, and Valenti drove toward the desert. They hadn’t made it two miles when they saw a blockade ahead on the road. As they got closer, they could see that it was Zwolinski and his agents.
“Lie down in the back there, guys, and cover up with that blanket.”
Valenti turned on his lights and slowed to a stop.
“What can I do for you gentlemen,” asked Valenti. “I’m kind of in a hurry; got a call about a bad accident over on the other side of town.”
“Get out of the vehicle, Sheriff,” said the agent.
“Well, now, I think you’d better tell me just what it is you’re lookin’ for, agent,” said Valenti. “I told you, I’m on official business here, and I’m in a hurry.”
Zwolinski walked up to the window. “You are what we’re looking for, Sheriff. See… we just found out a real interesting little bit of information. Seems someone saw you save a kid over on Elm Street a couple o’ weeks back by putting your hand up and making a branch that was about to fall on him fall somewhere else. Now I call that a little suspicious, Sheriff, so I did some checkin’ up on you… found out you got shot once and one of them aliens brought you back to life or healed you or somethin’. So I just put two and two together and figured you’re like that Parker girl that they saved when she was dyin’… you got some kinda alien powers now. You’re going with me, Sheriff; I’m takin’ you back to the base.”
Valenti put the Cherokee in reverse and pressed the accelerator to the floor, spun the vehicle around, and headed back toward the river. at least one of the agents' shots had blasted his windshield out. He didn’t think this was the time to obey speed limits; in fact, within sixty seconds, he had the Cherokee up over 110 miles per hour, bouncing over the dirt road. As they arrived back at the dock, they all jumped out running.
“Run to the sub!” yelled Max.
The three of them ran fast down the dock, Michael untied the sub, and all three jumped into it and quickly closed the hatch. They put the sub into motion and pulled away from the dock. Already Zwolinski and his agents were closing in on the boat yard, dirt flying as they raced to catch Valenti before he could escape.
“There’s no time to submerge,” said Max. “They’ll shoot us out of the water.”
Michael reached over and inserted a small crystal into a recessed space on the console. The sub rose from the water about ten feet into the air, trailing water from its fins and propellers as it shot off down the river at a remarkable speed.
The old drunk sitting on the dock sat stupefied as he watched the sub rise from the water and fly away. Then he pulled the bottle out of his coat, tossed it into the river, and tottered off the dock as the agents swarmed onto the dock around him. But they were too late. The ‘Maria Mia’ was gone.
-----------End of Chapter XIV
|posted on 28-Jun-2002 5:58:24 PM|
|Thanks, Angelic! Here's some more! Hope you like it! Gerry|
|posted on 28-Jun-2002 6:00:12 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry Carr-|
Chapter XV “A Rescue to Remember”
After they had gone about three miles, Max set the ‘Maria Mia’ gently down on the water and submerged beneath the river, traveling to the bottom and another quarter of a mile downstream underwater. Arriving at the ledge, max guided the ‘Maria Mia’ into the cave then up through the pod tube into the new granilith. The ‘Maria Mia’ came to rest on the floor inside the underwater pod chamber, and Michael initiated the command for the room to be cleared of water, sealed, and reoxygenated. Then the hatch opened, and the three stepped out of the sub into the new granilith.
“This is amazing,” said Sheriff Valenti, looking around him. “I thought I’d seen about everything in my life in Roswell… but a submarine that flies and a spaceship that parks itself in a grotto under the water…” He shook his head in moderate disbelief. “I’m gonna have to forget all the laws of physics or whatever I thought I knew!”
Michael smiled. The three companions left the underwater pod room and took the glass ascensor chamber up to the control deck on the fourth level. They showed Valenti the control room; then the three of them had a bite to eat in the galley dining room on the second level as they discussed plans.
“Zwolinski’s agents are going to be waiting for us back at the dock,” said Valenti. “They’ll have men posted, so there’s no going back to the dock now. We’ll have to find another way.”
“General Guerin,” Max said, addressing Michael, “You’re the expert on strategy. What are your suggestions?”
Michael smiled slightly. “Well, let’s think about this logically; first of all, we have to consider that now that they know that we escaped down river, they’ll be covering this area looking for us.”
“You think they’ll find us under here?” asked Max.
“Probably not; but it would not be safe to take the submarine now. The ‘Maria Mia’ doesn’t have invisibility capability like the new granilith. There is a significant danger that they would see us, and then they might eventually find the new granilith, too. But even if they didn’t, we can’t leave in the ‘Maria Mia’ without probably being spotted. That means that an alternate plan is called for. And if we can’t take the sub…”
…We take the new granilith,” Max completed Michael’s sentence for him.
“Where are Liz and the others hiding out?” Max asked, looking again at Valenti.
“In the desert, where you had the old granilith hidden before.”
“Then that’s where we go,” said Max.
Michael agreed. Valenti nodded, too. After another half hour of planning, the three left the galley and went up to the control room. Max and Michael took their pilot and co-pilot’s seats, and Valenti sat just behind them. Max moved his hand over the console, and the new granilith purred to life. Michael initiated the invisibility factor and placed his hand over the console, too. The computer screen displayed a message in Antarean, confirming that the pilot and co-pilot’s identities were recognized and the new granilith was ready for departure. Max took it out of the grotto and up through the water to the surface. As the new granilith rose above the surface of the water, they noticed several boats converging on the area.
“Well,” said Michael “This is a good thing, I’d say. If we keep them looking over here, they won’t be as likely to be looking over where we’re going.”
Max raised his eyebrows slightly and seemed to be getting a spontaneous brainstorm. He took the new granilith back under the water then rose underneath one of the boats, capsizing it and throwing the agents into the water. Unable to see anything but a huge bubble of water rising up from below, the agents were convinced that there was something hidden below the water that had caused the bubble.
“That should keep them here for a while,” said Max.
Michael nodded and smiled.
The new granilith rose into the air and turned in the direction of the desert.
Arriving at the place where the original granilith -and later the spaceship that they had taken from Kivar- had been hidden, the team set the ship down gently on its anti-grav repulsors beside the rock formation that had surrounded the older granilith when it had been there. They left the invisibility factor engaged in the new granilith for protection and walked down the forward ramp to the desert below.
Sheriff Valenti knocked out a short code with his flashlight on the rock formation. Shortly, the rock opened. The younger Max stood in the entrance. He motioned them in, and they walked to the back of the room and around a corner. Liz, Maria, Isabel, Kyle, and Michael all stood there, smiling, as Max and Michael of Antar entered with Sheriff Valenti.
“Well, we’re all here,” said Valenti. “…and Michael’s got some pretty good ideas for saving the hostages. So you guys listen up… here’s what we’re going to do…”
One hour later, after all the discussions and questions were finished, Max and Michael of Antar went back onboard the new granilith to remove some equipment that they would need. As the others watched, a rather sleek-looking car appeared and drove down the ramp to the desert below. It was green and looked like one of the new Corvettes, except that it was slightly longer and more roomy… a sort of lime Corvette mini-limo. Liz and Maria just shook their heads.
“Max! What the heck is this supposed to be?” asked Liz.
“What does it say on the side?” asked Max.
“Corvette,” answered Liz, but I’ve never seen a Vette like this.”
“Okay, well… we had the guys on Antar make this one a little longer… for practical reasons.”
“Uh… I didn’t know that GM had opened a plant on Antar, Max,” quipped Maria.
“Yeah,” said Max, without so much as a hint of a smile and seeming totally sincere, “It’s right across the street from the ‘Starbucks.’”
For a moment Maria was silent. Then she breathed out deeply…
“Max! Now you’re pulling my leg… aren’t you?”
Max got in his ‘Antarean Vette' on the driver’s side, and the younger Max got in on the passenger side. They drove off in the direction of the base.
It was a fairly uneventful drive; much of the army and most of the special agents were down at the river where they had already called in special divers and even brought in their own small submarine in a C-130 cargo plane. Max drove up to the gate of the base and was stopped by a single guard at the entrance, who demanded to see his ID. Younger Max turned to look out the window on his side so the guard wouldn’t see his face. Max put his hand in his hip pocket as though to get a wallet, then brought his hand out palm up, knocking the guard to the ground and temporarily stunning him with a mild energy bolt. Younger Max jumped out and tied the guard up quickly; then they drove off toward the ‘white room’ complex.
At the complex, they found surprisingly little resistance. Max had to subdue three guards. He didn’t find any agents present. Entering the building, the two Maxes made their way to the holding room and yelled, “Move away from the door!”
Max counted to five then blasted the door open.
“Max!” exclaimed Phillip Evans and Jeff Parker almost as one when Max stepped into the room. Phillip’s wife Diane, Max’s adoptive mother, rushed up to Max and hugged him. Liz’s mother said nothing, appearing to be in mild shock. "Thank God you're here!" said Amy DeLuca. Then they noticed the younger Max standing in the door. For a moment the four captives all seemed at a loss for words; then they seemed to simply accept that the unexplainable was probably going to be the norm in any future life that they might have.
“I guess you’ll explain things when you can,” said Phillip, looking back and forth at his ‘two sons.’
Max nodded. “Let’s go, quickly, I have a car waiting. The five ran outside and climbed into Max’s Vette. As they started to drive away, a van drove up fast in front of them. Six special agents, heavily armed, jumped out and began firing. Both Maxes directed energy bolts at the van, destroying it, but the agents rushed them, managing to pull Liz’s mother from the car. Younger Max was able to dispatch four of the six agents with an energy blast, but two others holding Liz’s mother dragged her back toward the building. Jeff Parker jumped out and tackled the two agents with a football tackle, knocking them to the ground. He yelled at Nancy to get back in the car and then yelled at Max while pinning the two agents to the ground…
“Go, Max! Get out of here! I said get out of here! Go! Now!”
Max started to get out of the car and assist Mister Parker, but three more vans of agents were arriving fast. Max jumped back in the car. He knew Jeff was right… For the sake of all the others, he would have to leave Jeff Parker. But Liz…
Suddenly there was a tremendous explosion, like a sonic boom. A motorbike appeared from a wormhole, sliding over beside Jeff Parker.
“Jump on!” yelled Michael.
Jeff Parker glanced up only for a scant second then quickly obeyed, jumping on the bike behind Michael.
“Hold on tight. I mean, really tight!”
Jeff Parker had a feeling that this was excellent advice. He did. Michael spun the bike around and ran straight toward the oncoming vans. Suddenly, the bike disappeared into a tear in the fabric of space, as though the sky had just opened up a hole for it to rush into. The resulting sonic boom, as the bike went into alternatespace, blasted all the windows out of all three vans. The agents tumbled out, falling over each other, trying to find which end of their guns they were supposed to be holding. By the time they were able to recover, Michael and Jeff Parker were gone… and so were Max and the others.
-----------------End of Chapter XV
|posted on 28-Jun-2002 6:01:02 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry Carr-|
Chapter XVI “The Last Day”
Exactly two seconds later, Michael Guerin and Jeff Parker came out of alternatespace in the desert about two hundred feet from the new granilith. As they rode over to the still-invisible ship, Sheriff Valenti and Michael quickly escorted everyone onto it. The younger Michael was still gone, and Max had not yet arrived with the others. They waited on the lower level, with the ramp down. Thirty-five minutes later, Max and his double arrived with their rescued captives. Max drove straight up the ramp and onto the ship, parking the vehicle at the back of the room beside Michael’s bike. Everyone emerged from the car and looked around at the inside of the cargo bay on the lower deck of the new granilith.
"Where is Michael?" asked Max, referring to the younger Michael, who had not yet returned.
"He went out when you did -didn't say where- but he hasn't returned yet," said Maria.
"I think I know where he went," said Max. "Michael, lend me your bike. I'll go get him."
"Uh, Max... I don't mean to sound ungrateful and all, pal, but you've never ridden this bike before; you sure you can handle it?"
"You did... the first time you rode it! Why shouldn't I be able to?"
"Yeah, that's true, but I also seem to remember something about a field full of bald shebbles that were as butt-ugly as those bald chickens somebody created here on Earth. You haven't forgotten about that have you, Max?"
Max smiled, "I'll be careful." Mounting the bike, Max started the engine, drove smoothly down the ramp, then put it into hypergear as he accelerated. The fabric of space split, swallowing the bike with a bang. Six seconds later, Max brought it out of alternatespace. The bike skidded to a stop on a long, wide sidewalk that appeared to go around a lake. He looked around but didn't immediately recognize this place. It certainly wasn't Roswell; and it was certainly crowded with people! And he had just become the absolute center of attention. Max looked at all the people who were gathering approvingly around him and Michael's amazing bike. Max grinned a sheepish sort of grin, straightened up slightly, nodded to the crowd. All the guys were blown away by Michael's bike, but the girls seemed more interested in its handsome rider.
"I think I overshot my target slightly," he said quietly, almost shyly, with a little grin. Ladies, if you'll excuse me... I'll just be on my way." Max smiled at one of the girls standing closest to him, then turned the bike around and roared down the walk. The crowd parted to give him room and applauded wildly as the bike disappeared spectacularly into a hole in the fabric of space with an awesome bang.
"That's the first time I ever saw that here!" said the girl Max had smiled at.
"Yeah, me too! I think the show at Disney’s International Lagoon just gets better and better! Oh my God! Did you notice he looked straight at you and smiled? Didn't he look kind of familiar?"
"Did I notice? Was he hot or what! And yeah... he looked just like my first husband!"
"Oh, I didn't know you were ever married before, Nina?"
At the new granilith, the group watched as Max came out of alternate space and rode up the ramp onto the ship a half hour after he had left.
"Did you find Michael?" asked Maria.
"Sure," said Max. "Piece of cake!" He handed Michael of Antar back the bike. Michael looked at him, but decided not to ask.
"I found Michael at the Crashdown. He should be back very shortly. There was something he had to get."
Ten minutes later, the group heard something coming; it sounded like a truck... It was a truck! It drove straight to the new granilith and up the ramp into the ship.
Maria gasped, "A Snapples truck, Michael?"
"Hey, that's not all I got in the back there... there's also thirty-eight cases of Tabasco sauce and five cases of grits... Oh, and some taco fixings... that's besides the twenty-nine crates of Snapples."
Michael of Antar walked over to his younger double and slapped him on the back. "You're a good man, Michael! Yes, sir! I think I might just get to enjoy having you around!"
Max and Liz laughed, then everyone began to laugh, even Maria. She walked over and kissed Michael and gave him a playful slap, "You're incorrigible, Michael!"
"If you don't mind my asking," said Jeff Parker, "Where'd you get the money to buy all this?"
"Well," said the younger Michael, "We kind of cleaned out the back of the Crashdown, then when the guy with the Snapples truck showed up, I offered to buy his truck from him with the money in the register."
"There wasn't that much money in the register," said Jeff Parker.
"I know, but he accepted credit."
"Whose credit, Michael? …Never mind."
"I found a couple of your credit cards in the safe. Didn't think you'd mind... I mean, you won't be needing them anymore."
This, at least, was true. All of them knew that they would have to leave Earth or go into deep hiding and be on the run for the rest of their lives, and each of them had already made the decision -and stated- that going to Antar was their choice. And besides, this way, they could see their children whenever they wished; and they wouldn’t be always on the run from the Special Unit… they had seen what the Special Unit guys had in mind for them! There was only one thing that they needed to wait for now… to see if the Earth was going to end or if they had succeeded in changing the future.
“Michael,” asked Phillip Evans, “You said that the world is supposed to end tomorrow?”
“Yes, sir, we’ve tentatively scheduled it for tomorrow…” answered Michael.
“What!” Liz’s mother exclaimed.
With his most serious look, Max said, “Michael, I’ve told you about teasing the earthlings.”
Everyone laughed. They knew that Michael and Max were both joking. All of them were doing whatever they could to ease the nervousness of not knowing. They were leaving Earth… but nobody wanted the Earth to come to an end tomorrow.
-------------End of Chapter XVI
|posted on 28-Jun-2002 6:01:58 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry Carr-|
Chapter XVII “Cornucopia: The Reunion Feast”
Max and Michael of Antar escorted all their guests to the glass ascensor chamber, which they rode up to the living quarters on level three. There they assigned each couple or individual a room. After an hour break for each of them to freshen up and take a shower or a bath if they wished, they all met back on level 2 in the galley dining room. Sheriff Valenti, his son, Kyle, and Jeff Parker were the first guests to arrive in the dining room.
“What do you think, Jeff?” asked Valenti. Pretty awesome, huh?”
Jeff shook his head slowly and smiled. “You know what’s really awesome, Sheriff? It’s seeing Liz again… after thinking I might never get to see her again. That’s what’s awesome, Sheriff. So is this ship and all the crazy things we’ve been through lately; but nothing that has happened or ever will happen will compare with getting my Lizzie back again.”
Sheriff Valenti smiled, and his eyes misted. He knew exactly what Jeff Parker was feeling. He had felt exactly the same when he saw Kyle again. It was a life-altering moment.
Liz had walked into the dining room with Maria just in time to hear what her father said. She walked over to him and hugged him tightly with both arms around his neck. She didn’t speak, but Jeff could tell by the sniffs that she felt the same.
Isabel was next to enter the dining room, and with her were Phillip and Diane Evans. All three were smiling broadly. Liz’s mother came in right behind them.
A couple of minutes later, Max and Michael entered with their doubles. Everyone applauded.
“Hear! Hear!” said Phillip Evans. “Let’s have a toast to Max and Michael… and uh, Max and Michael!”
Everyone laughed. They held their glasses up in the air for a moment, and all the guests said, “To Max and Michael!” Then they put the glasses back down on the table.
“Let’s order,” said Michael of Antar as he and Max and their doubles took their seats. Michael was slightly embarrassed by the unexpected attention… but at the same time, deep inside, he loved it, too.
The diner droid rolled over to the guests and asked Mrs. Evans what she would like for dinner. A bit surprised at the appearance of the droid and at it’s having spoken to her, Diane gazed at the droid…
“Oh… uh… well, I don’t know… What have you got?” she finally managed to ask, somewhat unsure if she should be addressing a robot directly or not. Several of the guests chuckled.
The droid answered her question, “There is fillet of shebble, which can be served flame-broiled or wrapped in Ama leaves. There are blue hen eggs, which can be served poached, fried, scrambled, or in an omelet with a sauce of detoxified Guma fungus with pashita toast. There is Grelligo soup, which is the specialty of the Grelligo region on Antar. There is fillet of Golden Sea Rosy Pargi fish, or there is a platter of broiled Golden Sea pink-ringed crustaceans, called Jarlagos-Droozeen. With any of these entrées, you can have…”
“Never mind!” Diane interrupted. Just bring me whatever you think is good… maybe the ‘JarJar goes drooling’ things you mentioned. That sounds kind of like shrimp maybe… at least, I hope that’s kind of what it is.”
The droid went around the table taking orders from each guest in turn.
“What’s a shebble?’ asked Jeff Parker when the droid came to him.
Michael answered, “It’s kind of like a weird cross between a longhorn steer and a yak, but it has really long hair that reaches almost to the ground, and you don’t want to know what a field full of bald pink-skinned shebbles look like.”
Max turned his head away from the table, because he was afraid he might start laughing and snort the drink he had just taken. Jeff just nodded and indicated to the droid that he would have that. Liz’s Mom said she would have whatever Diane Evans was having; Maria's Mom said that she would, too. Isabel chose the blue hen omelet. Liz decided to be adventurous and try the Grelligo soup, and Maria asked for the Rosy Pargi fillet. Max and his double both chose the fillet of shebble, and Michael and his double both chose Pargi fillets. Sheriff Valenti chose the shebble broiled in Ama leaves. That left Kyle.
“What have you got that’s vegetarian?” asked Kyle.
The droid answered, “There are fried or baked Bada tubors, Harlat spears, detoxified Guma fungi, Green Orb Gojos, boiled crushed Ama leaves, kernels of Een-Gelish Yyers, and purée of Japo-Bala.”
“Uh… huh…” said Kyle. “Just let me try a little of them all, I guess.”
The droid turned and glided quietly back to the food preparation room.
Max spoke, “Well, we just have one more mission, then it’s off to Paradise… and I guarantee you, it is Paradise where we’re going! At least, it will be now!”
“Yeah,” agreed Michael. “It is! But to give the Earth a little extra needed insurance, Max and I are going out tonight to try one last time to find and destroy the excitron.”
“Isabel,” said Max, “Whatever happened to Jesse? I see he didn’t come with you. Did he take that job in Boston or wherever it was?”
Isabel looked puzzled. “Jesse? You mean that guy I dated a couple of times… the Hispanic guy who was a lawyer or something?”
“Yeah, sure,” said Max. “What happened to him?”
“I don’t know, Max. I don’t keep up with everyone I ever dated, even Alex.”
Max sat up straight. Michael suddenly showed extra interest, too.
“Alex!” exclaimed Max. “Is Alex alive? I mean… Tess didn’t… kill him?”
“Max, what are you talking about?” replied Isabel. “Alex is fine! And Tess… Nobody knows where she went or what became of her; but right after our graduation, there was a big explosion on the base, and there were rumors that they had shot an alien. We… well, we always wondered, you know…”
“But Alex didn’t go with you guys after graduation, when you had to leave Roswell?”
“No. We never saw him after we left, and we haven’t heard from him, of course, because we haven’t been in touch with anyone… for their safety as well as ours.”
Max was silent for a moment; then he said, “Michael and I will pay Alex a visit tonight when we go to look for the excitron.”
The droid returned with the dinners. One by one, it placed each dinner perfectly in front of the person who had ordered it. All the dinners were stacked inside the core of the droid. As each dinner was removed from the top, the next one would come up, and the droid would pick it up, place it in its proper place on the table, and say ‘Enjoy your meal, sir (or Ma’am)’.
“Looks like you’ve got labor problems licked on Antar, Max,” said Phillip Evans. “Does this little guy belong to a Union?”
A few people laughed. Max just smiled. “Yeah, well, there are some things droids and robots are good for, but most work still requires people, even on Antar.”
“Polite little bugger, too!” added Max’s father. Then, to the droid, he said, “Listen, little guy, just remember, if they don’t treat you right, I can help you start a Union. I’m a lawyer.”
(More chuckling from the others)
“Thank you, sir.” Answered the droid plainly. “What’s a Union, sir?”
Phillip Evans actually began to explain it to the droid, but his wife, Diane, interrupted, “Phil! You are talking to a robot, you know!” Phillip seemed slightly embarrassed. “Yeah, of course, Diane! I was just joking around!”
“You were explaining law to a robot!”
Everyone laughed, and Jeff patted Phillip on the back. “That’s okay, Phillip! I always brought my work home with me, too. Heck! The Crashdown was my home almost!”
One by one, each person tried his or her entrée, cautiously. Before long, they were all eating hungrily, as though these had been their favorite recipes their entire lives. Without an exception, each guest had nothing but compliments for the food… and for the little droid that had prepared it. Diane Evans proclaimed it the best shrimp dinner she had had in her life. Maria and Liz’s moms were in total and complete agreement. Jeff Parker had nothing but praise for the fillet of shebble steak. Sheriff Valenti told him he should try it wrapped in Ama leaves, which were simply delicious.
“You know, I’ve gotta tell you, Max,” said Liz, “the Grelligo soup is just awesome! It tastes kind of like French Onion but with something more that I can’t quite put my finger on… just really good!”
“Well, I don’t know what I ate,” said Kyle, “but whatever it was, I recommend it. It was kind of like a mixture of potatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, peas, turnip greens, corn, and creamed spinach all mixed into a kind of… sauté or something -really big on the ‘creep factor!’- but surprisingly delicious, I’ve gotta admit it!”
"Yeah, well," said Maria, "You guys don't know what's really good till you've tried the Rosy Pargi fillet! Oh my God, was that ever delish!"
“If you ask me,” said Michael of Antar, “there’s nothing that can compare to a good Rosy Pargi fillet." Younger Michael agreed wholeheartedly.
“What did you have, Isabel?” asked Phillip Evans.
“The blue hen omelet. Delicious, Dad… you’ll have to try it!”
“Maybe for breakfast,” said Phillip.
“Okay, listen up, everyone!” It was Max speaking. “I suggest that, since all of you have had a very long and grueling last few days…”
“Last month!” Phillip Evans corrected him.
“They had you locked up that long?” Max shook his head.
“Anyway, I think most of you would probably appreciate the opportunity to just relax and then get some rest in a real bed tonight, so any of you who wish to may return to your rooms for the night. We also have an arboretum, a small arboreal park, on level 6 above. It is a great place to take a relaxing walk. The trees in the arboretum supply all the oxygen needed for our interplanetary travel. On level 5, we have the gardens, where many of our vegetables are grown. You may also visit the gardens at your leisure. Besides vegetables, you will find some beautiful flowers and walking paths there. Level 3 is where the living quarters -your rooms- are. At the end of the corridor on level 3, there is also a lounge with games and other things that you might find enjoyable. Level 2 is the galley dining area, where we are now. The only levels that I would ask you to not go to -at least for now- without Michael or me present, are level 4 -That’s the control deck- and level 1, which is nothing but storage and the off-ship vehicles… Oh, and the underwater pod room …nothing there of interest to anyone. Besides, if you accidentally engaged the pod room’s systems and the exit tube were to open, you would be sucked out into space.”
“Okay, that’s one level I’m avoiding!” said Liz’s Mom.
There was some laughter and a lot of agreement. Everyone said goodnight to each other and went to their rooms.
--------------End of Chapter XVII
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 29-Jun-2002 1:13:10 AM ]
|posted on 28-Jun-2002 6:02:46 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry Carr-|
Chapter XVIII “Alex and The Excitron”
After everyone else had retired for the night, Max and Michael of Antar went down to level 1 and unloaded the Snapples truck. Then they opened the bay and drove the truck down the ramp and away in the direction of town. They had decided that the Snapples truck would be the least conspicuous way for them to get around in Roswell. Their first stop was to be the residence of Alex Whitman. As they arrived, they noticed that the light in Alex’s room was on, so they parked the truck a few houses down then quietly made their way back to Alex’s house and beneath his open window. It was 11:30 PM, and someone was playing a guitar…
“Alex!” Max called out softly through the window.
Alex continued playing, apparently lost in his thoughts and music.
“Alex!” Max called out a little louder.
This time Alex looked around. Seeing Max and Michael at the window, he smiled slightly and set the guitar down.
“What are you guys doing here?”
“Can we come in?”
“Yeah… yeah, sure!” said Alex, hurrying to help them through the window. Both Max and Michael were in, however, before Alex could reach the window.
“Max, it’s not safe for you and Michael to be here… in Roswell, I mean. The feds are looking for you guys like big time! And people have been disappearing -getting arrested, and no one knows where they’re taking them… your parents -I guess you know that already- and Liz’s Dad and Mom. They even arrested Maria’s Mom, just because Maria and Liz were like best friends, you know? I mean… a couple of us maybe knew that Liz was getting some kind of powers during the last year, but Maria… Her Mom was really freaked out when they came for her. She didn’t even know that you guys were (Alex looked out his window both ways briefly), uh… Czechoslovakians, you know! And she sure didn’t know about Liz; nobody did but you and Michael and Isabel… and me and, I think, Kyle and Sheriff Valenti. That’s it. I think Liz may have told her Dad after you guys all disappeared right after graduation… he seemed to know something after that, and so did your Mom and Dad.
Oh man, Max, but that was just the weirdest graduation! They won’t be forgetting the class of 2002 I don’t think… ever! It’s already like a legend or something. I mean, agents bursting in with machine guns to kill you guys… and Michael getting you out of there just in time on his motorbike… the lights all going out just when you went up there to speak. Everything! It was just like so majorly weird and outrageous! We had UFO freaks from all over the world around here for at least six months after you guys left. I guess it was great for business… but really, really weird!”
“Yeah, that’s what we heard,” said Michael.
“Alex,” said Max, “What I’ve got to tell you is going to sound even more weird. You might ought to sit down.”
Alex looked at Max then at Michael quizzically; then he sat down.
“After we left Roswell, a lot of things happened. We came back to Roswell secretly after fifteen months to try to see our parents, and the Special Unit guys got Liz and me, and… they killed Liz. Sheriff Valenti got shot to death. Our enemy from Antar, Kivar, used a device called ‘the excitron' against the army, and the excitron set off a fusion reaction in Earth’s core that destroyed the Earth. Michael, Maria, Isabel, Kyle, and I tried to make it to a ship that we had hidden in the desert, but Maria and Isabel didn’t make it. Michael and Kyle and I have been living on Antar for the last five years.”
Alex looked at Max in silence then just kind of raised his eyebrows.
“You’re right, Max; that was weirder. Assuming I believe all that, as crazy as it sounds, and I'm not saying I do, how do you explain that it’s only been a year…”
“Fifteen months,” Max corrected him.
“Yeah… fifteen months, since you guys took off and left Roswell. And… and… how do you explain that I’m still here, and you’re here, and the world out there (Alex gestures out the window) is still there?”
“We traveled back in time for the purpose of trying to save the Earth and the people closest to us. That’s why we’re here now, Alex, to ask you if you want to go with us. Liz, Maria, Isabel, Sheriff Valenti, Kyle, Liz’s Mom and Dad, my Mom and Dad, and Ms. DeLuca are already on the ship.” Max didn’t think that mentioning his and Michael’s doubles would help right now.
"Oh, wow," Alex said softly after a short silent pause. So you're saying that the world is going to end tomorrow?"
"Well, we aren't really sure now, because we've already changed some events that happened in the other timeline. The world may be going to end tomorrow; it did before... or it may not this time."
"What's this 'excitron' you mentioned? If you find that and destroy it, will the world still end?"
"No… I can almost guarantee that it wouldn't, in that case, at least not right now."
"Then," said Alex, "Let's go find us an 'excitron,' whatever the Hell that is! Do you have an idea where it is?”
“Unfortunately, not a clue,” said Max, “but we figured a good place to start might be around the military base. Kivar used the excitron, in the other timeline, to wipe out the army, and we think he may have done it from within the base itself.”
Alex made a slight whistling sound, “That’s going to be some feat, getting onto the base with them looking for you guys already.” Then he picked up his guitar and set it in the corner; the strings buzzed slightly as he set it down. He waited for the buzzing to stop, but it didn’t.
“That’s odd,” said Alex. Then he moved the guitar to the other corner of the room, and the buzzing stopped.
“Well, lead the way, Max!”
They started to climb out the window, but Michael paused then walked back over to Alex’s guitar and picked it up. He turned it in the direction that it had been sitting before; the buzzing returned. He turned it around in several other directions, but the strings didn’t buzz. He turned it again toward the southeast, and the strings once again began to buzz.
“That’s odd,” said Alex, “It never did that before.
“What’s in that direction… southeast?” asked Michael.
“Not much… mostly just fields and woods, I think,” answered Alex.
Michael and Max looked at each other. “What do you think, Max?”
“I think maybe we just found a better starting place to look!” said Max. “The excitron has to be primed for twelve hours before it’s used, and the resonance waves that it would give off might very well cause the strings on Alex’s guitar to buzz. Alex, bring your guitar with you.”
Alex picked up the guitar, and the three of them climbed out the window and quietly made it back to the Snapples truck together. Then they turned the truck around and drove off in a southeasterly direction.
“Turn your guitar until you hear the buzzing,” said Max. “Then tell me what direction it’s coming from. We’ll follow it like a homing signal.”
“Cool,” replied Alex. “I always thought my music was destined to go places, but I didn’t figure on it saving the world!”
Max and Michael laughed. “Alex, if you only knew! Your music has already been to Antar and back… on Maria’s CD!”
Alex seemed momentarily stunned, “…Wow! That’s… that’s, like, mega-cool! I’ll have to put up a banner whenever I play now that says, ‘The Music of Alex Whitman - totally and really out of this world!’”
“You do that, Alex!” said Michael with a laugh.
“Whoa guys, look, the buzzing is coming from that direction now.” Alex pointed to the right. Max turned right at the next street he came to. “Now it’s coming from… straight ahead… no… it’s moving around to the left a bit.” Max turned left onto a dirt backroad that was coming up.
“Uh, Max,” said Michael, “You do remember what lies up here in this direction, don’t you? …Ben Johnson’s old place.”
“Yeah, I think you’re right, Michael. We’re coming at it from a different direction than the way we know, but that does appear to be where we’re headed.”
Five minutes later, they arrived at the edge of the woods they had been driving through for the last ten minutes. Max stopped the truck and turned off the lights.
“There’s Ben’s old place right up there. Let’s leave the truck here just in the edge of the woods so they won’t see us if anyone is there.”
The group carefully sneaked up to the house and around to a back window. Peeking inside, they noticed two people working with some kind of machine. It looked quite a bit like a huge, fancy telescope. It sat on a computerized base, and the top almost reached the ceiling. Its length was almost twenty feet, and it occupied most of the back room of the old farmhouse. It was painted entirely black. On the side, it had a fair-sized laser pointer that was being tested as they watched.
Max and Michael could feel the resonant vibrations coming from the machine now that they were this close; and they knew with absolute certainty that what they were looking at was none other than the infamous excitron -the machine that had once destroyed the Earth… the machine that was now being primed to destroy the Earth again. Michael and Max didn’t have to speak. They already knew what they had to do. Max nodded to Michael, and the two stepped back several steps and raised their right hands toward the back room of the house, palms out. Alex, too, stepped back… much, much further back. Then a powerful blast of energy blew the entire back of the house apart.
Pieces of what had been the infamous excitron rained down from the sky along with pieces of what had once been the back of Ben Johnson’s farmhouse. But before the trio had any time to celebrate their success, more men -undoubtedly more of Kivar’s ‘skins’- began pouring out of the front of the house. Michael counted a dozen before the three companions made a hasty retreat back to the woods and their waiting truck.
Kivar’s soldiers were not very far behind. They had all run to waiting vehicles that had been out of sight on the other side of the house. Max drove as fast as the Snapples truck would go; he had a fair head start, because Kivar’s men hadn’t spotted him yet and still did not know exactly which way he had gone. It did not take them long to figure it out. Within five minutes, four SUV’s loaded with over twenty of Kivar’s most elite soldiers, were hot on the trail of the three who had just deprived them of their day.
Max drove quickly back to the main road then headed in the direction of the desert and the new granilith. Before he had gone two miles, Kivar’s soldiers had caught up with the truck. One of the SUV’s pulled up beside the truck on each side; the other two blocked him in from behind. Max had a very bad feeling about this. The only thing he could do was drive… as fast as he could. Michael prepared to blast the SUV on his side with an energy wave.
Suddenly, the SUV’s began to drop back.
“What the heck just happened?” asked Max.
“I don’t know,” said Michael. “I was ready to smoke one of them when they all started dropping back.
Max looked in his rear view mirror and saw the reason for the sudden departure… military vehicles were coming up fast behind the SUV’s. It looked like half of the army.
“Yeah! Saved by the army!” exclaimed Alex.
But as the SUV’s split up and fled in different directions, only two military vehicles pursued them. The rest of the army continued behind Max and his companions… and now they were firing on them.
“Well, that’s gratitude for you!” said Michael, “We save their mangy asses from being scalded tonight and this is the appreciation we get!”
Max drove the truck off the road into a dry creek bed. He turned the lights off and drove using only his vision, which was somewhat more acute that the average person’s. Very soon, they were in a rill between two bluffs; fifteen minutes later, they emerged into the open desert. They had lost the military… for now.
Arriving back at the new granilith, Max drove the truck quickly up the ramp and onto the ship. Michael initiated the systems retracting the ramp and closing the bay doors; then all three went quickly up to the control deck. Max placed his hand over the console. Michael did the same, and the new granilith purred to life. The invisibility factor was already engaged. Max lifted the ship into the air just as the army vehicles appeared, churning a huge cloud of desert dust behind them, in the distance. Because of the ship’s invisibility, the soldiers and special agents would be unable to see the new granilith as it departed and would likely continue searching in the desert for the rest of the night… and perhaps even for weeks to come.
-------------End of Chapter XVIII
|posted on 30-Jun-2002 12:19:16 AM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry Carr-|
Chapter XIX “Around the World in Forty Winks”
Max took the new granilith gently up into the sky above its former desert hiding place and headed off in an easterly direction. It was now almost 4 AM on Earth, Roswell time.
“Alex, we have to talk,” he said, turning to Alex and giving control of the ship to Michael. “We have to know if you are okay with coming with us back to Antar.”
“Gee, Max… I don’t know what to say. I think someone’s probably going to wake me up and I’ll find out that this has all been just a dream, anyway, you know? But… seriously, well… I figured I was on the ship with you guys kind of by circumstance, because we had to escape here and all, and I was going to Antar one way or the other; so why, like, fight it, you know?”
“But are you cool with it?” asked Max. “Is it what you want? I mean… the others don’t really have a choice. If they stay here, the Special Unit guys will eventually find them, and their fate then will be worse than death; each one of them knows that, so each one of them has stated that leaving and going to Antar is what they want. But the Special Unit guys aren’t after you.”
“Yeah,” said Alex, “and the world isn’t going to end tomorrow -I mean today- now either, since we just saved it. I’m… I don’t know, Max. One part of me wants to go with you guys… you’re like the best friends I’ve ever had; but another part of me isn’t ready, you know? There’s my parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles and their families, my pals from the band… I would be leaving all that behind. But on the other hand, how many kids from Roswell High get offered a free vacation to Antar, huh? So… gee, what do I say, Max?”
Max nodded, “I say we give you a little while to think about it and let you make your decision… ‘cause once it’s made…”
Alex nodded. He picked up his guitar and strummed on it softly; it seemed to relax him and help him think, losing him in another world, one that existed only inside his own mind.
From the large fore window of the ship, Max and Michael watched the sun rise over the horizon as they drifted east. They had not seen any jets this time, at least so far, perhaps because the alarms were still being overhauled. Max suggested that they all go down to the galley dining room and get breakfast; the others would probably be waking up and coming down about now. Max took the new granilith up into Earth orbit, just in case any jets did come snooping around, so that they wouldn’t accidentally collide with the new granilith.
As Michael, Max, and Alex walked into the dining room, they saw Mr. And Mrs. Evans and Isabel already seated at the table. Isabel looked up and saw Alex and almost choked on her coffee; her mouth dropped open, she stood up then rushed over and gave him a hug.
“Alex, when did you get here? I mean… I didn’t know you were here!”
“Well, I don’t want to seem immodest, but I had to save the world first,” Alex chuckled. “Some of us had to earn our tickets on this ‘E’ ride.”
Max and Michael grinned, and Isabel just looked at them quizzically.
Just then, Maria walked in with Max and Liz Evans. Maria rushed up and gave Alex a hug and a kiss. Alex hugged her, too, but he kept looking back and forth at Liz’s Max and the Max he had been with all this time.
“What’s going on here?” Alex asked. “Why are there two Max’s?”
The younger Michael Guerin walked in at that moment with Jeff Parker, Kyle, and Sheriff Valenti. They all said ‘hello’ to Alex, who by now believed that if this wasn’t a dream, he might ought to have himself thoroughly checked out as soon as possible.
Max and Michael of Antar laughed. “When we came back in time, Alex, we met our… let’s say ‘doubles,’ here in this time. We couldn’t just leave them here could we?”
Alex just shook his head in disbelief. “So which one of you is the real Max, and which one is the real Michael?”
“I guess we both are,” said Max. “This is all new to us, too. We don’t really know what to expect. We only know that it’s sort of me, only in two separate times that have come together. Don’t try to understand it, Alex! We stopped trying!”
The rest of those present all laughed.
Maria escorted Alex to a place at the table. By now, the rest of the group had arrived and were also taking their places at the table.
Just then, the little galley diner droid appeared. Around its middle was tied a skirt and an apron with an alien face on it; a pair of antennae had been attached to the top of what might pass for its head. Jeff Parker turned immediately toward Liz and Maria and gave them that ‘look.’ Liz and Maria snickered and slouched down slightly in their seats, covering their mouths to avoid laughing out loud. Isabel saw the droid and sprayed coffee half way across the table before she could get her hand over her mouth and choke the rest of it down.
“Your Crashdown uniform, Lizzie?” exclaimed her Dad, who in spite of himself, couldn’t help but smile, too. He just shook his head. “Aw sheez!”
“The little guy looks embarrassed,” said Mrs. Evans.
“It’s just a robot, Diane,” said Phil, “Remember?”
The little droid went around the table and took each person’s order as it came to them. When it got to Phillip Evans, it paused momentarily, “Sir, would you tell me again about joining a Union?”
The entire table erupted in hysterical laughter; almost no one was dry-eyed.
Amy DeLuca was wiping tears from her eyes with a napkin. “That’s priceless!” she laughed.
Even Alex was laughing, “I guess this is going to be one of those things that you just had to be there!” he said. “But who would ever believe me, anyway?”
When everyone had settled back down, they finished ordering. Isabel highly recommended the blue hen egg omelet with pashita toast, so most of the guests asked for that; however, a couple of them asked for their eggs scrambled, and Kyle asked for his to be poached, saying that they were healthier that way.
When the little droid returned with the breakfast orders, it placed each one in front of the person who had ordered it and politely said, “Enjoy your breakfast, Sir (or Ma’am),” as it always did.
“I love that little guy!” said Maria.
After breakfast, Max of Antar, the younger Max Evans, Liz, and Isabel took Alex up to the gardens on level five. They walked down a winding path that was lined with flowers along both sides, including some that looked like roses in various hues of red, wine, yellow, white, pink, salmon, and gold. After a short walk, they came to a clear pool under a waterfall. They sat on the bank beside the falls and talked.
“Have you given it some thought, Alex?” asked Max.
“I love it here, Max… and I know that I would love living on Antar; it has to be Paradise… but, I’ve been thinking about my parents, my grandparents, my band pals… you know?”
“Maybe you could bring them, too,” said Isabel.
“No… I thought about it -just for a moment- but that’s not really realistically possible. My Mom and Dad… and my grandparents… they don’t even know about ‘Czechoslovakians,’” he said, making little quotation motions with his fingers. It would freak them out. And besides, they wouldn’t have any reason to want to come. Nobody’s chasing them, the world’s not going to end, they don’t really know any of you except from seeing some of you with me a few times. There’s just no reason they would want to go to another planet.”
Max nodded understandingly. “Then we’ll drop you off before we leave. We’ll miss you, Alex, but I do understand. I’m just glad you could help us save the Earth.”
“And I want to hear all about that before you go,” said Isabel.
“Okay… sure, said Alex.”
“I’ll leave you two alone,” said Max. “When you’re ready to go, Alex, I’ll be in the control room.”
Alex nodded, and Max left the gardens, leaving Isabel and Alex alone together by the falls. Two hours later, Alex came back to the control room. Max glided the new granilith down close enough to the Earth so that they could see Paris, the Alps, China, and the islands of the Pacific as they passed over them, then over the open Pacific, California and Arizona, and on to Roswell, New Mexico. He brought the ship to a hover over Alex’s house.
“Well, here you are, Alex.”
Alex shook Max’s hand… and Michaels; then he hugged and kissed Isabel.
“Drop me an email or something sometime, Max… Do you have AOL on Antar? If you don’t, maybe you could try ‘Earthlink.” Alex chuckled at his own little joke.
“Cute, Alex,” said Isabel, shaking her head but smiling.
“Love the curbside service, Max! How do I get out?”
Max smiled and motioned to Michael to show him.
“Stand right over there in that other glass pod,” said Michael. “Don’t forget your guitar.”
“The ax that saved the world!” Alex mused to himself more than to anyone else in particular. Then he stepped inside the chamber. Max raised his hand to say goodbye. Isabel and Michael did likewise. As Alex raised his hand to wave back, a bright light came on inside the chamber. In a second, he was gone.
“Alex! Where have you been? Is that you in your room?”
Alex looked around. He was standing in his room, and his guitar was still in his hand. “Yeah, Mom! It’s me,” he replied.
“Dinner’s ready, Alex. I would think you’d be hungry! Have you had anything to eat? Where have you been all day?”
“Just saving the world, Mom.”
“Never mind, Mom! I’ll be right out!” A couple of minutes later, Alex walked into the kitchen, hugged his Mom, and gave her an unexpected kiss.
--------------End of Chapter XIX
|posted on 2-Jul-2002 6:23:57 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry Carr-|
Chapter XX “Straight On Till Morning”
If Alex’s surprised mother had looked out the window at that moment, she might have seen something that looked quite a bit like a shooting star or a comet passing over her house then off into space beyond. That would have been the new granilith. Invisible though it was, when it moved fast, the ship left an impressive atmospheric “tail” like the tail of a comet or the vapor trail that flows off the wingtips of a fighter jet… and Max was heading home.
Onboard the new granilith, Max and Michael had invited everyone who wished to come up to the observatory and watch through its 360 degree clear dome as they left Earth and passed by the other planets of Earth’s solar system. They watched as the ‘Blue Planet’ grew smaller and smaller. In less than ten minutes, they were forty-eight and a half million miles away and approaching Mars, the ‘Red Planet.’
Liz looked over at Max. “Max, what’s happening to you?”
“What do you mean?”
You’re… you’re like, glowing!”
Everyone looked at Max then at younger Max; he was glowing, too. Younger Max walked over to Max of Antar and touched his hand cautiously. The hands seemed to shimmer then merge together… then both Maxes also began to merge into one.
“Max…?” queried Liz. “Are… are you…?”
“It’s okay,” answered Max, “It’s still me.”
“Which ‘you,’” asked Liz.
“Me,” answered Max. “I understand now! There never was but one of me… one Max Evans or Zan of Antar. I was just living in separate times. Now those times are coming together into a single future.”
“So… uh, Max,” asked Liz, “Do you remember our graduation and us getting married or do you remember Earth being destroyed and living on Antar without me?”
“Both,” said Max after a moment’s reflection. “I experienced our graduation and marriage twice, once as Max -or Zan- of Antar and once as my other self after we came back. I remember it all now! …and something else.”
“What’s that, Max?”
“I remember coming home to you and holding you and kissing you and both of us crying with just this amazing joy because I had not had to marry Tess and destroy the happiness that we had together.”
Liz gasped, “You did make it.”
“Yeah… thanks to your love, Liz… thanks to our love! …and a couple of guys from the future.”
Max held Liz in his arms and kissed her passionately …until he remembered that they had an audience. He looked around. Everyone was smiling; then they began to applaud. Both Max and Liz turned slightly red, but both of them had smiles that would have taken ten lifetimes to erase.
Approximately 342 million miles and just over an hour later, they were approaching Jupiter. Liz, always keenly interested in the universe and physics, pointed out that Jupiter, the largest planet of Earth’s solar system, lies 483.6 million miles from the sun and has an equatorial diameter of 88,729 miles, compared with Mars, which has an equatorial diameter of only 4,222 miles and Earth, which has an equatorial diameter of just 7,926 miles and lies 92.9 million miles from the sun. Max shook his head. “Liz, you’re amazing! I don’t know how you keep all that information in that cute little head!” Liz just smiled.
As they approached Jupiter, the ship slowed. Max called down to the control room to Michael, who was at the controls.
“Michael, are we slowing down?”
“Yeah! You had me put a memo on our social calendar… remember?”
Indeed, some of the events of the last hour or two had taken Max’s mind away from other matters.
“Uh… by the way, Michael… Did anything… uh… unusual happen to you down there around the time we were passing Mars?”
“No, like what?”
Max was silent for a moment.
“Michael continued nonchalantly, “unless you mean that little thing of my double starting to shimmer all over and then acting like ‘Revenge of the Body Snatchers’ or something… other than that, nothing I can think of, Max. But don’t worry… You know me, I always manage to pull myself together.”
“Yeah, that,” said Max. “That’s the little thing I was talking about. Now what about this memo on our social calendar…”
“On our way here, you said that you would like to explore one of these little moons with Liz. Well, we might be able to accommodate that request.”
“Max? What is Michael talking about?” asked Liz. “He said, ‘explore one of these little moons!’”
“Oh… when we were on our way to Earth, I mentioned that it would be kind of cool to explore one of these little moons… you know, you and I… and maybe Michael and Maria or whoever else wants to. Michael said he would put it on our social calendar, but I figured it was kind of a joke really. I still think it would be a cool idea, though… Don’t you?”
“I can think of maybe a few things,” said Kyle: no air and we die, no atmosphere and we die, it’s freezing and we die, it has a poison atmosphere and we die, it has no gravity and we float away and we die! Do any two words there seem to jump out at you, Max? Because they do to me!”
Max laughed. “Well, first of all, we’ll look for a moon that has the best possible environment… at least a tolerable temperature and some gravity… and no poisonous atmosphere… if we can find one. As for oxygen, that’s not a problem. You take one of these little capsules and swallow it for each three-hour period that you will be in a non-oxygen atmosphere. The capsule has time-released oxygen that is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. You won’t even need to breathe.”
“Ew,” commented Maria, “I don’t know about that!”
“Thank you, Maria!” said Liz.
“Well,” said Sheriff Valenti, “I think it might be pretty awesome. I would do it!”
“Yeah, I guess, so would I,” said Jeff Parker.
Kyle looked at them in amazement, “Alright… count me in, I guess. What the heck! After all the things we’ve been through, I guess a little moon walk should be a piece of cake, huh?”
“Maria and I will go, too,” said Liz.
Maria’s eyes opened wide, and she looked at Liz as though she had just lost her mind.
“Alright! Alright! Hey, what the heck! I guess if you guys want to kill yourselves, I’ll just jump off the cliff with you.”
There didn’t seem to be any other takers. Liz and Maria’s Moms said no way, no how! Phillip and Diane Evans also declined. Isabel decided she would just read a good book. They all said that they would enjoy just watching from the observatory dome atop the ship.
Michael dropped the new granilith into Jupiter orbit and they checked out several small moons as they passed by them. The first one had subfreezing temperatures and a methane atmosphere. Another appeared to be mostly gaseous. Still another looked promising until they discovered that it had an unstable crust and a highly volcanic core. After forty minutes of orbiting, they found a small moon that seemed to have all the necessary requirements. It had a light gravity, about one tenth that of Earth’s. It had a molten, volcanic core that kept the surface temperatures at a constant 78 degrees. The ground crust was solid and stable. There were no poisons in the atmosphere, although there was also almost no oxygen; but this was the one factor that was not a problem. Michael brought the new granilith in and set it gently down just above the surface of the little moon on its anti-grav repulsors.
“Okay,” announced Max. “Everyone going out take two of these.” He handed capsules to Liz, Maria, Sheriff Valenti, Kyle, and Jeff Parker. He took two himself and gave two to Michael, who had just walked in the door after coming up from the control room. The group took the glass chamber down to the first floor cargo bay. Michael sealed the bay off from the rest of the ship, opened the bay doors, and lowered the ramp to the surface.
“Folks,” said Michael, “Let’s go exploring!”
---------------End of Chapter XX
|posted on 2-Jul-2002 6:24:50 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry Carr-|
Chapter XXI “On Top of the Moon”
Maria was the first to notice, “Liz, put your hand on my chest. Am I dead? I don’t think I’m breathing…”
“Max said that we wouldn’t need to breathe,” Liz reminded her. Of course, Maria knew this, but she was still a bit freaked out by it.
“Okay, Liz, this is just really, really weird! I mean… I know Max said that we wouldn’t need to breathe and all, but I thought that meant that if there wasn’t enough oxygen, it just wouldn’t matter. I didn’t know I would actually stop breathing, you know?”
“I think it’s got something to do with the body’s natural autonomic reflexes,” said Liz.
“Well, it’s just that breathing is an autonomic response; you don’t think about breathing, you just breathe automatically because your body senses the need for oxygen. If it doesn’t sense a need for oxygen, I guess, maybe we don’t breathe.”
“Ooo-kay… Great. Now that just freaks me out, you know!”
“Look, Maria, here comes Michael… and Max is with him.”
Michael and Max walked up to Maria and Liz. Michael took Maria’s hand and Max took Liz by the hand.
“Which way do you want to start?” Max asked Liz.
“I don’t know, Max. How about over there… that little hill and valley just on the horizon.”
In actual fact, the horizon was not very far away; the moon had a total circumference of, probably, no more than two miles. Michael and Maria decided that they would go the other direction and the four of them could meet on the other side.
Suddenly, a shape passed over the top of them.
“What the…” exclaimed Michael.
It was Kyle, who seemed to be really enjoying himself since he discovered that he could make 30-foot high leaps that would carry him over a hundred feet.
“Oh my God, Max!” said Kyle, “Would I ever love to play a game of football up here! …or basketball! Can you imagine it! This is sooooo cool!”
“Okay,” said Maria, “There’s one little kid who’s having a lot of fun! And he didn’t want to come!”
“Neither did you,” Liz reminded her.
“Well, I’m not saying I’ve changed my mind yet, either, you know; but I’m getting sort of used to it… I guess it’s not so bad.”
Maria jumped upward and did a somersault in the air, landing lightly back on the ground on her feet…
“Okay, that was kind of cool.”
Liz jumped up and did a triple somersault, landing lightly back on her feet, too.
“Okay, now that’s just showing off!” said Maria, who then proceeded to jump as high as she could and did a total of twelve somersaults before falling back to the ground sitting down.
“Maria, I’m really impressed!” said Liz.
“And I’m really dizzy!” said Maria, “I only meant to do five flips, but I just kept on going! Whoa! Give me a moment…”
Max and Michael were laughing. They took Liz and Maria by the hand again, said ‘See you on the other side,’ and headed off in opposite directions. Meanwhile, Kyle was having fun making 70-foot-high leaps now back and forth over the top of the new granilith, putting his hands in front of himself like Superman as he passed over the observation dome and those watching from within it, who hadn’t wanted to leave the ship. For a while, Sheriff Valenti and Jeff Parker were amused watching Kyle, but then they decided to go off and do some exploring, too. They asked Kyle if he would like to come, and he agreed.
Max and Liz watched the new granilith disappear surprisingly quickly over the horizon as they walked away from it. Once over the horizon, Max couldn’t resist pulling Liz into his arms and giving her a passionate kiss. Liz reciprocated, kissing him as passionately as he was kissing her.
“Max, you could always make me feel like I was on top of the moon,” said Liz. “Now, I really am… and with you with me!”
Max nodded. “I’ve always felt the same about you, Liz.”
“I know, Max. I remember the first time you let me touch you and see inside your thoughts so that I wouldn’t be afraid of you.”
“Yeah, I remember.”
“I saw what you felt -what you really felt- about me. I… I couldn’t believe that anyone actually felt that way about me… you thought I was beautiful… Me! Liz Parker! …small town girl from nowhere! Now look at me, I’m Mrs. Liz Parker Evans! …and I couldn’t be happier!”
Max smiled. “Well, look at it this way, Liz, I had to come all the way across galaxies to find you. You were that precious and rare… And I would do it again in a heartbeat! In fact, I did!”
Liz looked at him and beamed; she kissed him again passionately, and he kissed her.
Michael and Maria had also lost sight of the new granilith over the horizon. They sat down on a large rock together to talk. Maria kissed Michael, and he kissed her. He had not yet gotten over losing Maria in the other timeline and the time he had spent missing her; he probably never would. He pulled her tighter against his body and felt her soft hair against his face, smelled her perfume, felt her lips pressed to his… and this time, it wasn’t a dream. It was real!
“Maria, hold out your hand,” said Michael. He got down on his knee in front of her, just as Max had done long ago with Liz, held her hand in his, and asked,
“Maria, will you marry me? Will you be my wife when we get to Antar?”
Maria gasped slightly then quickly said, “Yes! Yes! …Yes, Michael, I will marry you! Of course, I'll marry you! You're the only one I ever wanted or ever will want to marry!”
Michael turned Maria’s hand over and placed something in it. She opened her hand to look. It was a rock… no, it was a large uncut diamond.
“Michael!” Maria gasped, “Where did you get this?”
“I spotted it among those outcrops back there and picked it up as we were walking here. I’ll always remember this little moon, Maria! It will always be where I found two of my greatest treasures... where you said that you would marry me and where I found this diamond that I give to you for your ring. I’ll have it set for you when we get to Antar!”
Maria wrapped her arms tightly around Michael and kissed him passionately. If it hadn’t been for the capsules that they had taken and the fact that he didn’t need to breathe, Michael might have been gasping for breath; but he didn’t need to breathe… and neither did Maria. And both of them took full advantage of this fact.
Liz and Max had sat down now, too. Liz laid her head on Max’s broad, strong arm and shoulder, and both of them gazed at the impressive vision of the planet Jupiter, which from where they sat, occupied the entire sky on this side of the moon. It was beautiful… and truly, truly rare. Max and Liz would remember this day forever. No doubt, Kyle would not soon forget it either, nor would his father, Sheriff Valenti, or Jeff Parker. In fact, for everyone who had come, this was an occasion that had put them on top of the moon.
-------------End of Chapter XXI
|posted on 2-Jul-2002 6:25:43 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars" -by Gerry Carr-|
Chapter XXII “The Continuing Adventures on Michael’s Moon”
--Mystery on Michael’s Moon--
Max and Michael had been absolutely besieged with requests to remain on the little moon, which everyone agreed would henceforth be called, “Michael’s Moon,” long enough for a second excursion. Even Phillip and Diane Evans, Amy DeLuca, and Liz’s Mom, Nancy, had said that they would like to go out the next time. Of course, some of the changes of heart might have had a little to do with the “rock” Michael had found and which Maria had been showing to everyone as though it were already attached to her finger.
Maria was happier than anyone could ever remember seeing her. And everyone was congratulating Michael, who seemed pretty happy himself, even if he was a little embarrassed by all the attention he was getting.
Max agreed to remain another 24 hours so that they would have time to eat and get a “night’s sleep” before going out again. They could make another excursion right after breakfast in the “morning.”
Onboard the new granilith, days were measured in 24-hour periods, and waking and sleeping hours were regulated accordingly. In space, there is no day or night, and a Jovian “day” is considerably longer than an Earth day; a Jovian year lasts 11.86 Earth years.
Dinner was a very animated occasion this evening, as each person related his or her adventures on the little moon and everyone looked at Maria’s diamond over and over. Kyle couldn’t get over how high he had been able to jump in the light gravity of the small moon.
“Kyle, we all had a marvelous time in here watching you fly,” laughed Ms. DeLuca.
“Yeah,” said Maria, “This is the guy who was worried that he might float off into space; now he’s trying to jump off into space!”
Jim Valenti said that he and Jeff Parker and Kyle had found a cave on the other side that they would like to explore if they had some lights. Michael said that would not be a problem.
After dinner, Jim Valenti, Jeff Parker, Kyle, and Michael went to the game room on level 3 by the living quarters, played some checkers, and watched a couple of football games that Michael had had the scientists on Antar copy onto a disk that looked a lot like a DVD. Maria took a private walk with her Mom through the gardens on level 5, Max and Liz strolled through the arboretum on level 6, Isabel went to her room and curled up with a novel she was reading, and Phillip and Diane Evans joined the guys in the game room after briefly going back to their rooms to freshen up and change into something more relaxing. Fortunately, the scientists on Antar, besides being technological wizards, had also had the foresight to recommend to Michael that he and Max should take along a substantial wardrobe to allow their guests changes and a variety of clothes.
By 11:30 PM, Roswell time, everyone had retired to his or her room for the night, and the new granilith finally sat silent beneath the stars on the surface of ‘Michael’s Moon.’
The next morning, everyone was impatient to get out and explore the rest of the moon. After breakfast, Max met them in the galley dining room and escorted everyone to the cargo bay, where he gave each person two oxygen capsules then sealed the bay from the rest of the ship, opened the bay doors, and activated the systems extending the ramp. One by one, the guests walked down the ramp. Due to the light gravity, some seemed to hop rather than walk, which everyone seemed to find amusing.
Jim Valenti, Jeff Parker, and Kyle wasted no time heading off in the direction of the cave they had found the day before. It was about a mile away, on the other side of the moon. Michael and Maria walked in the direction they had gone the day before; they wanted to relive that day one more time before they had to go. Max and Liz also walked to the place where they had been the day before so that they might again enjoy sitting together and just watching the planet Jupiter fill the sky in front of them. It was an awe-inspiring sight! Maria and Liz’s Moms and Phillip and Diane Evans were walking around, staying within sight of the ship, just collecting unusual rock samples. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely, though no one found anything like Maria’s diamond, which Michael had found the day before.
On the other side of the moon, Jim Valenti, Jeff Parker, and Kyle had located the cave they had found the day before and had already gone into it. The mouth of the cave was accessible only from inside a small valley, and for this reason, it was not readily visible until one was very close to it. Surprisingly, though, the cave was fairly large inside, especially when one took into account the tiny size of the moon. The three intrepid space spelunkers turned on their lights and walked down a shaft that led into the moon’s interior at about a five-degree incline angle. When they had gone about half a mile into the moon, the shaft opened up suddenly into a large room. Sheriff Valenti, Jeff, and Kyle shined their lights around the interior of the room. They were astounded.
The cave room that the three had found might have measured seventy-five or a hundred feet by a hundred to a hundred fifty feet. The ceiling was at least twenty feet high. As they looked around, they realized something else. Someone had been here before.
Next to the far wall, Kyle found something that appeared to be a bottle; it looked quite old, as though it had been there a very long time. Jeff found a small book, perhaps a diary; but it was so fragile and deteriorated that they dared not open it for fear that the pages would simply crumble into dust. It was Jim Valenti who made the biggest find of all. Around a small corner at the right hand side of the far wall, he found what might have been the remains of something like a backpack; in it, was a camera, and it appeared to be in fairly good condition.
Back on the new granilith, Jim Valenti, Jeff Parker, and Kyle had turned their artifacts over to Max to see if he could determine anything about them. Max and Michael agreed that the diary, or whatever it was, should not be opened until they arrived back on Antar and had the proper facilities available to them; it was simply too fragile. The bottle was clearly just that -a bottle- but a type that they were not familiar with. It was shaped like a small Coca Cola bottle but with a somewhat larger neck and opening. And it had writing on the side in an unknown script.
But it was the camera that Jim Valenti had found that was causing the most excitement and commotion among the companions. Max had determined that the camera was a digital-type. He and Michael had managed to open a small compartment on the bottom, and in it they found three small cylinders that couldn’t have been anything but batteries. Needless to say, they were no longer functional; but they appeared to be almost exactly the size of a triple A battery.
“Does anyone here have any batteries?” asked Max.
Ms. DeLuca, as it turned out, had a new package of six AAA batteries in her purse; she didn’t remember what she had bought them for now. Max put them into the camera and they fit. He turned on the switch. The view screen came to life. Everybody crowded around to see if there would be anything still stored in the memory. Suddenly… there it was.
In the view screen were three girls. They couldn’t have been more than 14 to 16 years old. They were smiling broadly, leaning in close to each other to get into the picture. But it was what was behind them that caught Michael’s attention.
“I know that place,” said Michael. “That’s the Grand Canyon!”
Now, the entire ship was abuzz with excitement and theories about how it could be possible that something like this could be found on a small moon in orbit around Jupiter. Max and Michael went through all the photos stored in the camera’s memory. All the photos were of one or more of the three girls who were in the first picture, but they were taken at different locations. Photo number two showed only one of the girls. She was smiling and standing beside a large cactus in the desert. She was wearing a gold and silver bracelet with a symbol on it that resembled a large “S.” Because of this, Max suggested they call her ‘Sabrina.’ Photo number three showed all three girls standing by the cactus together. Photo number four was of the second girl; she appeared to be standing in a prairie, and in the background was a tremendous herd of buffalo that must have gone on for many, many miles. This girl, too, was smiling, as though she might be a tourist on vacation. She had very long hair, almost down to her knees, and around her neck was a choker with a triangle that somewhat resembled an “A.” They named her ‘Andrea.’ Photo number five was of the third girl. She was sitting on the bank of a river. On the other side of the river were several large black bears that appeared to be catching trout in the river. This girl had a necklace with a symbol that resembled a stylized “L,” so they called her “Lisa.”
All the animals, plants, and locations visible in the photographs were readily identifiable as Earth species and sites. What was conspicuously missing in any of the pictures was any hint of a road, a building, crowds, or any sign whatsoever of civilization. It appeared that for now, at least, Sabrina, Andrea, and Lisa would remain a mystery. Max downloaded the photographs into the ship’s computers for safekeeping then carefully stored all of the items that had been found away where they could be retrieved and examined in detail by scientists when they got back to Antar.
With everyone back onboard the ship and the cargo bay sealed, Max and Michael brought the new granilith back to life, lifted her off of Michael’s Moon, and took her back out into space. They had carefully recorded the location and orbit of Michael’s Moon so that Michael could keep a record of this place that would always be so special to him and to Maria… the place where he had proposed… the place where Maria had agreed to be his wife… and the place where he had found the fantastic diamond that would become Maria’s engagement ring. To everyone aboard, the memories made on Michael’s Moon would forever be special, but to Michael and Maria, they would be especially so.
----------------End of Chapter XXII
|posted on 12-Oct-2002 6:33:49 PM|
|Okay! I'll try to get them on ASAP. You might want to check under "Works by Author" at the bottom of the home page. Everything is there together. I'm so glad you like these stories!|
|posted on 12-Oct-2002 6:35:53 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars"|
“Michael’s Story -The Battle for Antar”
The passengers aboard the new granilith were now in their eighth day of intergalactic space travel. Max had recalibrated the computers after leaving Michael’s Moon to account for the extra travel time so that they would still return to Antar in the correct time… the one in which he and Michael had left.
For the last two or three days, many of the guests had been begging Michael to tell them the story of the Battle for Antar and everything that had happened when Max and Michael had gone back to their planet and Max had reclaimed his throne. It was a story they all wanted to hear.
After being implored yet again by everyone at the table to tell them the story, Michael finally relented. The guests had just finished eating dinner, so Max had the diner droid bring everyone after-dinner coffees and some Antarean sugar cookies, and everyone turned expectantly to Michael to hear the story they had been waiting and longing to hear.
Michael began slowly, almost shyly…
“Max and I, along with Kyle, escaped from Earth by the skin of our teeth, as you all know by now, just as the Earth was being destroyed. Maria and Isabel had been with us, but… well, you all know that story… Anyway, it took us 36 days to return to Antar in the ship that we had taken from Kivar, which wasn’t as fast as the new granilith.
When we arrived back on Antar, we found that everything was in chaos, not only on Antar but also on several neighboring planets in our system. Kathana had attacked Kivar, Kivar had attacked Sero, Sero had attacked Hanar and Zan… eventually, Kivar had gained the upper hand and taken over most of the four realms. That’s why Zan -That’s Max, for anyone who doesn’t know- along with Isabel, Tess, and I were sent to Earth. Kivar killed most of the leaders of the planets he took over. One of the leaders he killed was Zan; he also killed Zan’s second in command -that’s me- and some other members of our families.
Zan had been a very popular leader on Antar… everyone on Antar loved him, and Antar had prospered and benefited from many years of peace and happiness under him. One of our crowning achievements was our system of linked science laboratories. The scientists in our laboratories had succeeded in curing most diseases and giving Antareans a very enviable lifestyle. Eventually, our scientists had found a way to make us virtually immune to all disease; that’s why on Earth, Max, Isabel, and I never had to go to a doctor and never got sick. Our scientists also gave us amazing advances in technology and helped to usher in “the Great Era of Prosperity and Peace” under Zan’s leadership.
Some other planets in our system envied us, especially our prosperity, even though Zan and our scientists willingly shared all our knowledge and did everything that they could to help every planet to prosper as we had. But a planet cannot prosper when its leadership is corrupt. Kivar, in particular, had long plotted to overthrow Antar, but he was afraid of taking on all the planets together. After Kathana attacked him, though, he became bold and just kept going…
After Zan and I were killed, our people were in dispair. Out of desperation, our scientists took the initiative in doing something unheard of ever in our civilization, something never before tried or achieved… they took DNA from the bodies of Zan -or Max- and from Vilandra -that’s Isabel- and from Tess and me, and they sent a ship to Earth to combine our DNA with human DNA in order to make us into totally humanlike clones that could live peacefully and secretly among humans but some day be brought back to Antar to revive the “Great Age of Prosperity and Peace.” They specially engineered our DNA to revive certain memories in us at specific times in our lives and to guide us in our destiny. It was the only thing they knew to do.
When Kivar learned what the scientists had done, he had all the linked science labs destroyed -razed to the ground. The men and women who had brought prosperity and freedom from disease to Antar and tried to bring it to all other planets... Kivar had these people locked up in prisons on his planet or turned into menial laborers there -picking up trash on the streets, cleaning toilets…
This is the situation that we found when Max and Kyle and I arrived back on Antar. The prosperity once enjoyed on our planet was gone, the people were in despair, and Kivar was in the royal residence. Fortunately, when we landed on Antar, one of the first people we saw was Garandev, who had been a loyal member of Zan’s staff, and he filled us in quickly on what had been happening. We knew that we had to go into hiding.
Once in hiding, we developed a plan. Garandev secretly brought in others who were loyal and brave enough to go up against Kivar… and many who weren’t brave but were desperate and had nothing left to lose. We laid out our plans over a period of two months, and finally, we felt that we were as ready as we were ever going to be.
Zan gave the word, and the Battle for Antar began.”
All those aboard the new granilith were leaning forward now in their seats, utterly engrossed in Michael’s saga. As he continued, the story seemed to take on a life of its own…
“The word traveled fast. From Hyrf, Kivar’s home planet, to Teroggel, Kathana’s home planet, to Deshrune, Sero’s home planet, and all across Antar, the word was out. It was time to rise up and throw out Kivar. People arrived… ex-soldiers, construction workers, boat captains, drivers, shebble herders, farmers… from all over Antar and from the other planets… from all walks of life they showed up, carrying sticks, metal rods, ancient guns, anything that they could still find since Kivar had had almost every conceivably useful weapon confiscated from the populace after he took power. But the people had one thing that they had not had in many years… they had hope… real hope!
Garandev, Max, and I had organized a special battalion of ex-space officers and crewmen to capture two of the spaceships at the space field so that we could face off Kivar's ships in space. This battalion was led by General Kobel. Kivar's ships -he had five of them in Antarean orbit at the time- turned tail and ran from our two ships. But then we intercepted a communication ordering them to stand and fight or face Kivar. After the communiqué, all but one of his ships turned around and began firing on us. The fifth ship simply tucked tail and ran.
We were able to overpower Kivar's four remaining ships with our two by employing the 'Delusion Gambit.' Believe it or not, that is a strategy that I had developed to use against Max when we played Jaht-Roo. It doesn’t work on Max any more, by the way, but it worked beautifully on Kivar’s crews! Mmmm… since I may wind up playing some of you at Jaht-Roo someday, I won’t describe this gambit in detail, but suffice it to say, it involves tricking them into seeing what they think they see but it isn’t what they really see. Okay, that was kind of confusing, but… well, let’s leave it at that. Someday I may tell you about it.
Anyway, the Space Battalion was victorious, capturing all four of the ships that had not fled. General Kobel returned to the field with his crew installed and in charge on all four captured ships plus the two we had previously captured at the field.
Although we had been stunningly successful in our battle with Kivar’s space forces, these spaceships are not configured for atmospheric fighting. That is to say, we could not use them to fight our ground battles.
In the royal residence, when Kivar received word of the uprising, he immediately acted to put it down, calling up his entire army, which -small though it was- had all the weapons and advantages that the people didn’t. Also, some of Kivar’s most elite ground forces had died on Earth when the excitron had destroyed the Earth, but many had returned to Antar, as had Kivar himself.
As the crowd supporting Zan, which may now have numbered over a million, poured down all the streets toward the royal residence, with Max and me leading, even women and many children came out of their houses to walk with us. Then Kivar struck.
First, he attacked with laser blasts fired from three subspace atmospheric ram-propulsion slipstream ships, similar to fighter jets. This dispersed the crowd, and many were killed or injured by the blasts. But the crowd regrouped and kept coming. A shebble herder was able to bring one of the slipstream ships down with an ancient slingshot device made of two small cords, a piece of dried shebble hide, and a rock. It was a major victory… the rock had just managed to destroy the ship’s right aileron, crippling its ability to maneuver. It was perhaps fortunate for the people that Kivar had so neglected all scientific and technological things since destroying the science labs and incarcerating the scientists that he had only three functioning slipstream ships left… and now only two.
Garandev, Kyle, and I made our way, without being seen, to the royal residence and entered through the back. Once inside, we made our way to the royal quarters and other parts of the residence where Kivar might have been hiding, but we were unable to find him. We were, however, able to find and capture one of his top sergeants… a not very brave individual. We quickly learned that Kivar had left the palace and sought safety in a small fortress-style residence he had had constructed in the countryside. Kyle and I returned with that information to Max while Garandev stayed to secure the palace.
With this information, Max led his people into the countryside toward the fortress of Kivar. Again, they were attacked by slipstream ships firing lasers. Again, Many were killed or injured. And again, the crowd kept on going.
One of Kivar’s two remaining slipstream ships developed a serious flight disturbance problem and had to return to base. There was no one available to fix it, so it had to be grounded for the moment. The other fired until its laser batteries were depleted and needed to be recharged. Once the slipstream ships were gone, the people advanced rapidly on the fortress. They were within sight of Kivar’s fortress when the worst that could happen did…
Kivar and his soldiers in the fortress fired on us -on the people- with a small, modified type of excitron device that they had prepared. It seemed that the entire field exploded. Bodies were lying everywhere; people were running for the safety of any cover they could find. Max found himself cut off from the rest of us -from his people- by Kivar’s army, which now felt that the odds were again on its side and had come out to fight. As the crowd dispersed into the trees and back in the direction of the town, Max was cut off and forced to escape in the opposite direction… toward the dense forest known as the Nan-torel. Some of Kivar’s elite soldiers followed him to the forest and then disappeared after him into its mysterious depths.
With the modified excitron device at his disposal, Kivar seemed to enjoy an insurmountable advantage. He could literally kill an entire battlefield full of soldiers with just the touch of a button. The Battle for Antar had been changed. A simple uprising, even by a million or more people, would not be enough to win.
Over the next few days, we tried several times to get to Kivar’s fortress without being seen or being blasted by the excitron, but it seemed hopeless; every time, we failed. In the meantime, Kivar had begun sending his soldiers to the homes of residents to arrest them. They would disappear in the night… no one knew who would be next or where they were taken. He would have them executed -men, women, and children- then broadcast the killings on television for everyone to see. It didn’t matter if they were involved in the uprising or not… Kivar didn’t care who was or was not! Most of the people were involved, in one form or another. The purpose of the executions was to demoralize us… to demoralize the people and make them beg to return to what had been. But the people had had enough of what had been under Kivar… returning was not an option that anyone was considering, no matter the costs. No one was going back.
Max had been gone for over a week before we really began to fear that he was dead. Nobody wanted to say it; but we all knew that the Nan-torel was a place from which few returned… and nobody went in there willingly. It just abounds with danger everywhere, from the large tiger-like pawgors to the fierce, bat-like rob-jeta, to the poisonous plants… and things that hadn’t even been discovered… nobody wanted to go in there. Anyone who had been in the Nan-torel for 24 hours was automatically assumed to be dead. Still, everyone wanted to give Zan the benefit of a doubt! It was partly because they trusted and believed in him, but it was also because he was their last hope… their only hope, to finally escape from Kivar’s brutal treachery.
Each day, we made strikes against the fortress. I worked up a strategy. I reckoned that the excitron device -this one was small and maneuverable; it could be shoulder-mounted- could nevertheless only be in one place at a time and also needed to be recharged periodically. The problem was that since it was smaller and far less powerful than the one used on Earth, it could be recharged quickly and could be used several times without recharging. We were never sure if it was charged or not. I worked out a plan to test how many blasts the excitron could make without recharging. We found that the device needed recharging after every five firings.
During the night, I sent four teams into the woods to get into position to attack the fortress from different sides all at the same time on cue. We planned to get Kivar to fire the excitron five times… it would then take about an hour, we had learned, for him to recharge the device. It would have worked… I’m sure of it! …but one of the people in our circle was a spy. When we attacked, Kivar had ‘skins’ posted on all sides of the fortress to pin the attackers down while he carried the excitron to each side and used it in small semi-blasts… enough to easily do the job while not depleting its energy.
After that, Kivar stepped up his campaign of intimidation, executing twice as many people each day. We knew that we had to do something and soon, so after making sure that there were no other spies in our inner circle, I devised a new strategy to get us into the fortress. It seemed primitive, but all we had to fight with were things that Kivar had not foreseen as even remotely being possible to use as weapons against him. He had confiscated everything that seemed like a possible weapon from the people. I sent several key men to obtain three hundred large mirrors. We deployed them in the field near the woods during the night in a semicircle from one side of the fortress to the other. Then we covered them with covers and camouflaged them with sticks and branches.
When the mirrors were all in place, we waited until the afternoon of the next day, when the sun was at the proper angle, then removed the covers from all the mirrors at once. The soldiers in the fortress were totally blinded, unable to tell where we were or from which direction the attackers were coming until we were inside the fortress. We captured all of Kivar’s soldiers. We also captured the hated excitron. Everyone was celebrating; it seemed that we had finally and decisively won the Battle for Antar. I issued a demand to Kivar that he surrender immediately if he did not wish us to use his own excitron on the fortress… with him it. But we had not counted on the worst weapon of all being used against us… our own morality, our own conscience. We never thought that these things could be used against us… until we came up against a sick s.o.b. like Kivar!
Amidst all the noise of the celebration, we realized that someone was trying to get our attention… then others began to point and try to get the crowd’s attention, too. Finally, everyone was looking at the fortress. There stood Kivar, holding a five-year-old child, as one of his soldiers that we had not caught stood over the child with a laser machete blade, prepared to cut off the little boy’s head on Kivar’s command. Kivar just looked at us and smiled that evil grin that he had. He knew that it was a standoff. He could no longer win, but he would escape. His demand was we let him go and the child wouldn’t lose his head. Everyone was quiet. No one wanted the little boy to die… but everyone knew that if Kivar were allowed to escape, he would rearm himself, align himself with some new mercenary soldiers, and return to try to take back the throne. There would be more bloodshed… thousands would likely lose their lives. No one would ever really be free on Antar as long as Kivar lived and was free. The choice… the choice was one child or a whole planet.”
(Michael looked down at the table; there wasn’t a dry eye in the room).
“In the end… in the end… we couldn’t… nobody could… let him kill that one little child. That was the worst weapon anyone has ever used on me in my life… my own conscience!
I told Kivar to release the boy; we would let him go. He knew I was good for my word. And the people of Antar are the most scrupulously true-to-their-word of any people I have ever met. Kivar knew that they would not stop him once they had agreed to the demand.
No one did.
As Kivar and his five remaining soldiers walked away, they smiled; and Kivar made a shallow, sarcastic bow to the people. Everyone knew that he would be back… and there would be more bloodshed. Their struggle was not over.
Just then, there was a piercing scream, a scream that shook and chilled every single person there to the very core. It sounded like
There was a great commotion; people began to run everywhere. Above us were five huge black birds with 60-foot wingspans and heads like an eagle’s. Two of Kivar’s five soldiers seemed to pass out or simply had heart attacks where they stood. Another fell to the ground and covered his head with his hands. The other two ran for their lives. Kivar stood frozen, seeming to be in the greatest fear he had known in his entire life and unable to even move. As the birds dropped nearer, we all saw something that no one could believe. Zan -Max- was riding the lead bird, sitting on its back holding tightly to the neck feathers. The birds circled around the field once; then the second bird swooped down and grabbed Kivar in its talons, sinking the tips of its talons into his body. Kivar opened his mouth as though he wanted to scream, but nothing came out. Two of the younger birds had also caught the two fleeing soldiers, and all three birds continued for now to circle the field with their prey grasped firmly in their talons. Kyle, Garandev, and I stood where we were, and the first bird, with Max on its back, landed beside us. Then the second bird landed beside the first one.
Max slid off the back of the huge bird, as several hundred thousand eyes watched in total abject terror from the woods. But they were in no danger. Max had made friends with the Jah-ee and its mate, and when their three babies were big enough to fly and catch prey, they had all brought him back… and the babies got a little practice catching a meal, thanks to Kivar.
After that, Max -Zan, that is- was recoronated and given a huge parade and recoronation feast. Kyle and I were decorated and honored; and Max made me number one general of his armies. Garandev was made a general. Kyle became Chief of Staff, which was what he chose for himself… I helped the scientists rebuild the linked science laboratory system… The people of Antar have had five years of peace and prosperity -and happiness- with the return of their golden age…
And, ladies and gentlemen, that is the story of the Battle for Antar.
---------------------End of Chapter 23
|posted on 12-Oct-2002 6:36:57 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars"|
“Two Weeks in Space”
The passengers onboard the new granilith had been amazed and in awe of the stories that Michael and Max had told them over the last two weeks about Antar, the Battle for Antar, Max and Michael’s experiences with the Jah-ee, the fate of Kivar, and tales of the Golden Sea and other things that awaited them on Antar. But they were also quite clearly enjoying their journey aboard the new granilith.
Michael stopped Max in the corridor just outside the lounge at the end of the living quarters level.
“Max… Take a look… in there…”
Max peeked through the lounge door. Phillip Evans and Jeff Parker were playing Jaht-Roo… and both men were covered in shreds of sugary ‘UFO’ remains. Max smiled and looked at Michael; Michael snickered and shook his head, trying hard not to break out in laughter and betray their presence. Max and Michael decided to allow Max and Liz’s Dads to play their game in privacy. As they walked back down the hall, they met Liz.
“Just the handsome hunk I was looking for!” said Liz enthusiastically.
Michael looked around. “Huh? Where?”
Max nudged him playfully with an elbow.
“Max, I thought maybe we could go for a walk in the arboretum. What do you think?”
“Sure… yeah, I mean, that’d be cool, Liz. You mind, Michael?”
“Hey, no sweat by me! You guys go do your thing. I was thinkin’ I’d go look for Maria anyway.”
Michael gave Max a friendly pat on the arm. Max smiled then he and Liz took the ascensor up to the arboretum on the sixth level. They stepped out of the glass ascensor chamber onto a neat pathway that led through a small forest of trees. It was a pleasant place to go for a walk; everyone who had been here had commented on how much energy they seemed to have and how well they had felt after walking through the tree park. Undoubtedly, it had something to do with the fact that the air here was saturated with a superabundance of oxygen.
The path through the arboretum began and ended at the same place, so there was no need to turn around and return the way one had come. It had been designed to meander back and forth through the trees, giving the stroller the maximum possible walking distance, about a mile and a half. At a point that lay in the actual center of the arboretum, there was a gazebo with a porch-type swing; but further along on the trail, there was a small clearing where one could lie down by a clear little brook that provided water to the trees, have a picnic, or swing on a two-person swing suspended by vines from high up in one of the trees. This is where Liz had brought Max.
“Have you been here before, Max?”
“Yeah, Michael and I walked the entire path when we were exploring the ship… you know, getting to know it; but to tell you the truth, I don’t remember this place right here being this beautiful, Liz… maybe because you weren’t here.”
Liz smiled. She was beautiful. She looked into Max’s eyes. She found Max irresistibly handsome… and something more, she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. If she hadn’t known better, she might have thought it was some kind of alien mind warp that she was under -or that Max had bought a love potion from Madame Viviane and slipped it to her- but she knew that he hadn’t. What it really was… was love.
Liz put her arms seductively around Max’s neck, kissed him, and pulled him down with her onto the ground. The sounds of the cool, clear water running through the little brook beside them were pleasant… the abundance of oxygen filled them with energy… and their love filled them both with joy.
Michael came across Diane Evans and Nancy Parker and asked them if they had seen Maria. Neither had.
“We’re going up to the arboretum for a walk. We’ll see if she’s up there,” suggested Liz’s Mom.
“Oh… uh… well… I think the arboretum may be closed for the next couple of hours… the ship, uh, does an automatic oxygen sweep sometimes, and it’s doing it right about now.” Michael sort of grimaced… It’s the best thing he could come up with on the spur of the moment.
“Oh, I didn’t know…” said Diane Evans. “Maybe we’ll go up to the gardens and take a walk then. Would that be okay?”
“Sure… That would be fine! You ladies have a nice walk!”
“What’s an oxygen sweep?” Liz’s Mom asked Mrs. Evans.
“Darned if I know. Everything here’s new to me, too!”
“You owe me, Max!” said Michael quietly to himself.
A little ways down the hall, Michael came upon Amy DeLuca, Maria’s Mom.
“Hey! Just the person I wanted to see!”
“Why Michael!” said Ms. DeLuca, jokingly, “If I had known!”
Michael blushed slightly. “I was looking for Maria… I thought maybe you might have seen her.”
“I left her in the observatory. We were watching the stars. It’s peaceful up there.”
“Yeah,” said Michael, “It is that! Thanks! Thanks a lot!”
Michael took the ascensor chamber up to the observatory at the top of the ship. As the chamber rose up to the level the observatory was on, he saw Maria sitting in a high-backed chair by herself, watching the stars. The door of the chamber opened, and Michael stepped out. He walked quietly over to where Maria was sitting, kissed her, and put his arm around her. Maria smiled and stood up then placed her arms around Michael’s neck and kissed him, too. Then they moved to the sofa that was at the back wall. Maria sat down and put her legs over Michael’s lap and her arms around his neck. Michael held her with both arms as though he might lose her if he let her go. Together, they watched the stars and enjoyed each other’s company for the next two hours.
Diane Evans and Liz’s Mom, Nancy, were enjoying their walk through the gardens; Diane, in particular, was in awe of the different-colored ‘roses.’
“These are so beautiful! I wonder what they’re called?”
“Antarean roses, I presume,” Nancy laughed. “They really are beautiful, aren’t they!”
The two of them sat down on the bank by the waterfall together and talked.
“Phil and I were up here yesterday,” said Mrs. Evans. “It’s such a wonderful place! I think I could be happy living here just like this!”
Liz’s Mom laughed, “Yeah, I know what you mean! It’s like being on vacation or on a long sea cruise… only better!”
They both laughed and nodded.
“I wonder if Antar will be as… as pleasant as this trip has been.”
“I don’t know, Diane… I guess we’ll like it. We’ll find out in about two days!”
“Yeah! I don’t know if I’ll be more excited about getting there or more disappointed that the trip is over.”
(Nodding) “Yeah! I think the guys are really going to miss this ship when we get there, too! You see how much fun they’ve been having? Did you see your husband and Jeff in there playing that Antarean Galaxies game, Jaht-Roo or whatever it’s called?”
“Yeah!” Diane chuckled. “They were blowing up so many ‘ships’… both of them were covered in shredded sugar from head to toe!”
Both Liz’s Mom and Diane Evans were laughing.
“That’s a great game!” Mrs. Evans continued, “Great to watch someone else play, I mean! I wouldn’t want to try it!”
(Nodding and laughing) “I agree with you on that, one hundred percent, Diane! That I do!”
Back in Kyle’s room, Kyle and his Dad, Jim Valenti, were enjoying football on a video screen and eating something that they had discovered in the galley, called ‘fluffed een-gelish,’ which, they had found, was a pretty fair substitute for popcorn.
“Dad… What do you think we’ll do when we get to Antar?” asked Kyle.
“Well, they said you’re the Chief of Staff in the royal palace,” said Jim Valenti. I guess that’s what you’ll be doing.
“Maybe they’ll need a sheriff, Dad.”
Valenti smiled and slapped his son on the back.
“Whatever I do on Antar, one thing I’ll tell you, son… you being back and not on the run anymore where I don’t know where you are or if I’ll ever see you again! …Everything else is icing on the cake. I can take whatever else gets dished out to me.”
Kyle looked at his Dad and smiled, then he put an arm around his shoulders and hugged him.
“Whoa! Touchdown!” both Kyle and his Dad yelled at once, as their home team scored again.
Isabel had come across Amy DeLuca after Amy had left Michael in the hall earlier. Isabel and Ms. DeLuca had gone to the lounge and were enjoying watching videotaped episodes of 'Buffy' on the large lounge video screen and discussing novels they had read.
“You think we’ll be able to get ‘Buffy’ on Antar?” asked Amy, joking.
“Yeah, sure,” Isabel answered. “We’ll have them install cable from Earth and charge it to the Special Unit… those ‘Alien Task Force’ creeps.”
As it was getting to be about 5:15 PM, Roswell time, everyone was returning to their rooms to freshen up and get ready for dinner at six. It had been another remarkable and memorable day… one of nineteen -including the time spent on Michael’s Moon- that they would have during their trip to the Golden Planet… Antar.
------------------------End of Chapter 24
|posted on 12-Oct-2002 6:38:18 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars"|
“The Golden Planet… Antar”
It was just after 5 AM, Roswell time, when Michael first spotted it with his remote vision goggles, glimmering like a tiny gold nugget hanging in space about 1.2 light years away.
“Max, take a look!”
Max flipped his RV Goggles down over his eyes and looked in the direction Michael pointed. He saw it, too… Antar! …The Golden Planet, Planet of the Golden Sea, planet of peace and prosperity… at least since Zan had returned with his second in command at his side!
Max flipped his RV goggles back up and smiled. “Almost there, Michael! What is it… um… about six hours?”
“Yeah, that’s about right.”
“We’ll tell everyone at breakfast… I imagine some of them will want to come up to the control room -and others may want to go up to the observatory- so they can watch as we draw nearer to Antar.”
By 6 AM, guests were beginning to arrive in the dining room and take their seats, and the little diner droid was serving before-breakfast coffees to them and taking their requests as they arrived. Since the galley had run out of blue hen eggs six days before, everyone had been getting used to the Aluzian golden eggs. Actually, most of the guests found that they preferred the golden eggs… they were larger and had a stronger taste; but it was a delicious stronger taste… particularly once one had become accustomed to it.
Max and Liz arrived in the dining room at 6:05, and Michael and Maria arrived right behind them. The conversation quickly turned to everyone’s expectation that today was the day they would be arriving at their destination… Antar.
Isabel was the first to ask, “Max, what’s the word? How long is it now till we get there?”
“About five hours; we should be there before noon -by our onboard time, that is: Roswell time. I’m really not sure what time it will be on Antar… do you know, Michael?”
“Nope! Haven’t got a clue, Max.”
Jim Valenti asked, “Max, when we get there, I was just wondering… since you and Michael went back in time and then returned forward in time again, how long will you have been gone… I mean, from Antar?”
“That’s actually an excellent question, Sheriff! If I remember, I told my staff that I would probably be back before they even missed me; but Michael and I decided that… well, just so it wouldn’t feel too weird… we would set our return for two days after we left. That would kind of allow everyone to have some feeling that we actually had left and returned.”
“So on Antar, you guys have only been gone for two days? Whoa! Cool!” said Kyle. “Weird! But cool!”
“We expect to be approaching Antar very soon,” said Michael. “Within the next hour or so, it will probably become visible to the eye. We want to invite everyone who would like to come up to the control room or go up to the observatory and watch as we enter our solar system and approach the beautiful golden planet. It will be a unique and wonderful experience, I promise!”
Everyone was nodding and expressing enthusiastic agreement.
At 8:15, the first guests arrived to watch from the control room. It was Jim Valenti, his son, Kyle, and Isabel. Max and Liz were already there. Michael and Maria had gone up to the observation deck to “host” the guests who might go there and explain anything to them that they might have questions about as they arrived at Antar.
From the large fore window of the new granilith, the planet Antar had already become visible to the naked eye. Although at this distance, Antar still only appeared about one fourth the size of a dime, it was already beautiful, hanging there in space ahead of them like a small, shining gold nugget dangling at the end of a chain in the darkness of space… but without the chain.
On the observation deck, Phillip and Diane Evans, Amy DeLuca, and Liz’s Mom and Dad, along with Michael and Maria, had also seen it. Diane gasped…
“It’s beautiful! It’s just beautiful, Michael! It looks like a sparkling golden rose just hanging out there far, far away and yet somehow so near… I feel like I want to reach out and touch it!”
Several of the guests were nodding their agreement.
As the ship drew nearer over the next two hours, the planet grew from smaller than a dime into a beautiful golden orb the size of an orange… then to the size of a grapefruit. Everyone aboard was genuinely in awe as they watched Antar floating weightlessly in space, growing larger and larger with each passing minute. The Golden Sea could be seen clearly now; it shimmered, giving the planet a uniquely in-motion appearance.
By 10:45 AM, they were entering the atmosphere over Antar. Max had slowed the ship considerably, but now he slowed it yet again. They dropped down to 5,000 feet, then to 3,000 feet, skimming along high over the Golden Sea. Suddenly, the new granilith was surrounded by subatmospheric, ram-propulsion slipstream ships similar to Earth fighter jets. The ‘slipstreams’ rose up and assumed an honor escort formation along each side of the ship. The pilot of the nearest ‘slipstream’ pulled in front and just to the side of the new granilith. He saluted Max in the control room. Max returned the salute. It was Garandev. Seeing Michael above on the observation level, Garandev looked up and saluted to Michael as well; Michael, too, returned the salute.
On the observation level, the thrilled guests were waving and cheering at the ‘slipstream’ pilots escorting them. In the control room, Jim and Kyle Valenti, as well as Isabel, were also impressed and waved at the pilots whenever they would come into sight. Max, too, was impressed… he was impressed every time the ‘slipstream’ pilots provided him with an honor escort. No matter how many times he experienced it, it would always be new and inspiring to him.
Half way across the Golden Sea, the ‘slipstream’ pilots got a surprise of their own, a surprise that raised a collective gasp from the guests watching from the new granilith. Taking up an outside position, as though they were part of the escort, were five of the largest birds anyone on the new granilith had ever seen or could ever have imagined. In fact, the sixty-foot wingspans of the birds dwarfed the smaller ‘slipstreams.’ Two of the birds assumed positions to the outside of the ‘slipstreams’ on each side of the new granilith. The fifth bird flew ahead of the ship, giving the entire formation a “V” shape. At first, the surprised ‘slipstream’ pilots were a bit unsure what they should do, but they had all been there when the Jah-ee had returned from their island with Max riding on the back of one of the birds. The pilots knew that these birds somehow had a special and unique bond with Max. The birds sensed his presence and read his thoughts, just as Max, too, sensed their thoughts. It was something that was unparalleled in Antarean history, and it wasn’t easy for Antareans to lose that fear and feeling of doom that overcame anyone who saw the incredible bird of mythology, the Jah-ee… but they were learning.
For the next twenty-five minutes, the new granilith skimmed over the Golden Sea accompanied by its six slipstream honor escorts and five immense birds right out of the pages of Antarean mythology. Then they came in over the coast of CoruzAntar, the capitol city and location of Zan’s royal palace. Max took the new granilith once around the city, escorted by his most unusual entourage, then directed the ship toward Shebblefieldtree Lane and the Jantoo-Bandy science lab, the home of the new granilith. As the new granilith slowed to a hover above the open roof of the science lab, the ‘slipstream’ escorts gave their returning king and his guests a final salute, turning on their afterburners and pulling back on their control yokes, roaring straight up into the Antarean sky then breaking in different directions like exploding fireworks before returning to base. The five Jah-ee circled the Jantoo-Bandy lab until the new granilith had safely landed inside the building and turned off its propulsion drives. Then the Jah-ee let out a long, piercing, “Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee,” before turning and heading back out over the Golden Sea towards home.
Once the new granilith had settled on the ground on its anti-grav repulsor locks, Max and Michael escorted everyone to the cargo bay. Michael checked to make sure that everyone was accounted for then activated the off boarding systems. The bay doors of the new granilith opened slowly, and the ramp extended outward to the ground. The passengers walked down the ramp then through a room full of smiling faces. If any of the newcomers had thought that they might be coming to a planet that was hostile and alien, that notion was quickly dispelled. The smiling faces were perhaps… exotic, but the newcomers had seen odder things on Earth: bald chickens, pygmies, sumo wrestlers… Carrot-top!
The Antareans were not nearly as alien-looking as they had expected. In some ways, they even looked like very light-skinned Polynesians with just slightly larger than average eyes. The Antareans did have a jet-black inner eyelid, a nictitating membrane as scientists would call it, that could be closed over the eyes while the regular eyelids remained open, but this would not be noticeable unless they closed the inner eyelid. It is likely that this eyelid was responsible for the reports of aliens with large black eyes on Earth, especially if the ones seen were dead.
Some Antareans had unusual powers: molecular displacement, energy blasting, precognition, mindwarp… some had no special powers at all. In fact, Max, Michael, Isabel, and Tess had been biologically engineered to possess more than the average number of unusual abilities each. There were many different special abilities on Antar. What was unusual in Antarean society was for any one individual to possess more than one of them.
As for the stereotype that aliens are thin, small, and delicate, this group certainly did not support that. As on Earth, there were all body types here… a couple of the guys in this group might even have rivaled Max for his physique. Amy DeLuca, in particular, did not fail to notice one of these, a handsome individual named Varec.
Each of the scientists attempted to welcome their guests in the best English they had been able to master in the two days -which is all it had been to them- since Max had left.
“Well-coom to are play net! Wee are ferry hippy to have your hair! Wee want you to feel well-coom! You are air guesses.”
It was perhaps too emotional a moment for some of the passengers. Diane Evans and Amy DeLuca were crying… not because they were unhappy… quite the opposite… after the way they had been treated by the Special Unit back on Earth for an entire month, they found these sincere men and women to be just too overwhelmingly and disarmingly wonderful.
Jim Valenti stepped forward and offered his hand to one of the smiling scientists. He squeezed his hand and smiled, started to say something, but found it unexpectedly hard to speak. After a moment, Jim regained his voice…
“Thank you! Thank you all! From all of us, I thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We hope to become very good citizens of your planet… of Antar. I… I know I speak for all of us here… we’re a bit overwhelmed right now by all the hospitality you have shown us. It is something that we will always -I mean, always- remember and appreciate more than you can ever know!”
The scientists smiled, but clearly they had not understood much of what Jim had to say. Max, or Zan as he was known here, explained it to them.
“Jim Valenti iter gojugo Roswell… Yed deretis, “Caporji! Caporji yelsik! Iz ej yelsik, jodo gar caporji iz verulnad jereestel. Eje ojala ger yu hart chohartel Antar… Eje hri yu bexeledersinoju iz jivo jolizee. Jivo jolizee her disto eje vo yubo uqawee jin caporetoz!”
Every man and woman among the scientists was smiling. They nodded, and each of them took the hand of each guest momentarily in his or her own hand to say welcome.
The guests of the new granilith were home.
-------------------------End of Chapter 25
|posted on 12-Oct-2002 6:39:29 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars"|
“…And In With The New”
Max’s staff chauffeured Max, Michael, and the newest residents of Antar to the royal palace in the luxurious palace ground car, a solid gold color hover-vehicle that resembled an extra-wide, somewhat flattened limousine with multiple sun roofs that could be opened to give a modified convertible effect. Max told his guests that he would assign each individual or couple a room at the palace until they could find an appropriate house or residence of their own.
“I want you to know that each one of you is welcome to stay here as long as you need or wish to remain here,” Max told them. “No one will be turned out; no one will be asked to leave… you are at home. Also, our friends, the scientists whom you met at the Jantoo-Bandy lab, have kindly offered to make their lab and the new granilith available and functional to you for a period of one month so that any of you who wish to might go there during that time and stroll the paths of the arboretum or the gardens or whatever you wish to do. They thought that some of you might feel more at ease if you still had that tie to the ship and your experiences of the last… almost three weeks. There are many parks and attractions on Antar that you will want to become acquainted with, too, I’m sure. We have something for everyone! In a few minutes, my Chief of Staff, here, will assign each of you rooms.”
The guests turned to look in the direction that Max had motioned. It was Kyle.
Jim Valenti looked at his son standing beside him… his son, Kyle, who had just made the trip with him from Earth… who had shared his adventures… who had only recently come back into his life after having been in hiding for so long with his companions. Then Jim looked at Max’s Chief of Staff. They were as alike as identical twins… and both were his sons. He walked over and hugged Kyle, the Chief of Staff, and with the other arm, he pulled his “other” son to him.
“I guess I’ve got two sons now,” Jim said.
“No Dad,” said the Kyle who had just arrived with him on the new granilith. “I have this feeling… I can’t explain it… just this feeling, that he’s me, too.”
“Yeah, of course,” said Jim Valenti. “I know he’s you! You’re both my sons!”
“No, Dad… I mean… well, yeah… but you don’t understand…”
Kyle stretched out his hand to his double; his double took it. The hands appeared to shimmer, fading in and out, as though passing between two times or dimensions… then both Kyles became one. Within seconds, the shimmering stopped.
“See! It’s me, Dad! Just like Max and Michael and their doubles, there never was but one me. I was simply living in two separate times, and now I have a single future. I remember everything! I remember flying on Michael’s Moon, I remember us watching football and eating Antarean popcorn together, I remember you and me escaping from Earth… I also remember coming here with Max and Michael and helping Max get his throne back… and becoming Max’s Chief of Staff here at the palace. That was me, too! …just me!”
“Yeah… Well… Alright!” said Jim Valenti. “I guess havin’ just one of you around is really best, you know! That way I won’t always have to be tryin’ to convince each one of you that the other one’s not my favorite!”
“No, Dad…” said Kyle, but then he added, “…but I was your favorite, right?”
“Get outa here!” said Valenti, giving Kyle a playful slap on the back. “…Both of you! And don’t think this entitles you to double helpings at meals now, either!” Everyone laughed.
“Max,” said Jeff Parker, “I’d like to talk to you about something when you have time.”
“Sure, Mr. Parker… uh, Dad. …right now, if you’d like. Just let me say a word to everyone first… Guys, it’s 4 PM Antarean time; that means we missed lunchtime here, so I imagine that all of you will be hungry and ready to meet in the palace dining room at… say, 5:30?”
Everyone agreed then Kyle escorted the entire group down the hall and showed them each their rooms. Jeff Parker remained with Max.
“What I wanted to ask you, Max, is… well, I’d kind of like to reopen the Crashdown here on Antar, and I wanted to run that by you… see if there would be any kind of problems or anything…”
“No problems, Dad… No problems at all. It might be kind of nice… the Crashdown being here. I think that’d be a great idea! I don’t think we can find any real genuine Earth foods, though… you’d have to use what we have on Antar, I guess… You know, use shebble instead of beef for the burgers and so on. But I think it’s a great idea!”
“Thanks, Max… uh, Son! Maybe you could help me out finding a place here for the Crashdown. I’ll need some advice on getting started and how things are done around here…”
“Michael and I will be glad to help! There are lots of others here who would be delighted to help, too… with anything you need.”
“Thanks, Max! Really! I mean it!”
Kyle showed Jeff Parker his room then returned to welcome Max back to Antar.
“You know, Max… I think I’ll go to my room for a while, too. I can’t imagine why, but suddenly I feel like I’ve just got back from a long trip!”
Max laughed, “Sure, Kyle! Take a break! You’ve earned it! You’re the best!”
Kyle grinned and retired to his room. Although Kyle owned his own home on Antar, as Chief of Staff, he also had a permanent room in the palace that was always available to him when he was here.
The guests began arriving in the dining room at 5:20. Max and Liz arrived first to welcome the others. They were followed by Isabel and the Evans’, Michael and Maria, Jim and Kyle Valenti, Jeff Parker, and Liz and Maria’s Moms. By 5:30, everyone was present. The staff had set the table magnificently for this very special occasion. The appetizers were Grelligo soup and a small salad of Ama leaves and kelit with a special Antarean dressing called Toro. The entrées were broiled Yeg and Jarlagos-Droozeen (Golden Sea pink-ringed crustaceans) wrapped and stewed in Ama leaves, accompanied by jir-bada (bada tubors), serelish-harlat (harlat spears), and min-jaht-gojosh (green orb gojos). This was to be followed by a dessert of japo-mevanish, which resembled a flaming flan, and serelish-juscasso, which most closely resembled tiramisu. To drink, the guests were offered an Antarean wine, called ‘jubish,’ and coffee or iced tea, both of which the scientists had successfully synthesized and which had become very popular over the last five years among Antareans, who were always looking to try anything new and adventurous. It all looked quite delicious, probably even more so because the guests had not eaten since breakfast.
During the first ten minutes of the meal, hardly a word was heard except, “This is so good,” “Amazing…,” or “delicious!” It seemed that one thing that was not going to be a problem for the guests from Earth was adapting to Antarean food. Antareans pride themselves on their culinary skills… where cooking skills and food preparation are concerned, they are, perhaps, to the universe, what the French are to Earth.
After the meal, the guests talked and had coffee for about an hour before leaving the dining area. Max offered everyone the opportunity to take a tour of the palace or to retire for the evening and get some rest, but the guests were too wound up to retire for the night. To a person, they all said that they would like to see the palace or take a night walk if there was something to see. Max agreed, and he and Michael walked with the guests down to the little blue and wine-colored lake. They walked around the lake and past the quaint little houses at the edge of town, stopping in at a favorite café-pub on the edge of town. There, Phillip and Jeff played a game similar to darts, some had another drink, then they all returned to the palace, where each guest was given a personal tour of the residence.
After the guests had retired for the night, Max and Liz returned to the foyer with Michael and Maria. Kyle had informed Max that someone was waiting in the foyer and wished to speak to them. It was Varec, one of the scientists from the Jantoo-Bandy lab.
Varec was one of the younger scientists and was ruggedly handsome in a unique sort of way, a sort of alien Pierce Brosnan. He had dark hair and a well-toned body. His features were carved and handsomely defined and yet somehow soft rather than harsh. He was perhaps five foot eleven, maybe six feet, tall. His eyes, like those of most Antareans, were 'soulful' and ever so slightly larger than those of most 'earthlings,' just enough so to make one think that there was something different about him but not be quite sure what it was. He had a naturally slight brooding look, but when he smiled, the ladies would melt and the men would feel that he was the best friend whom they had known forever.
“Zan! It’s a pleasure to be here! You know those relics that you gave us to look at from that little moon?”
“Well, we’ve been looking them over. It’s very exciting! Very exciting! Do you know that the image-producing device is similar to a type that was once made here on Antar? The depleted power cells are definitely ancient Antarean! So is the bottle! We are almost certain that the three girls in the images were from Antar! There’s just one thing… an image-producing device of this sort has not existed here in over ten thousand years! I don’t think there is even one in the museum! This is a very valuable find! A very valuable find! What this means to our cultural history is just… immeasurable!”
Max stood there, momentarily stunned.
“Max?” asked Liz, “What is it?”
Max explained what Varec had told him.
“So, then… Sabrina, Andrea, and Lisa… you’re saying that they may have been from Antar, and they may have left that camera there over ten thousand years ago? …on that little moon off Jupiter?”
“Yeah,” said Max. “That’s what they think.”
“Does the diary tell you anything?” Max asked Varec.
“Ah, Zan! That is a much more delicate task! We can’t even try to open the diary, or whatever it is, until it has been atmospherically and chemically treated and acclimated for a period of at least a month, unfortunately. But it will be well worth our time to be patient, I am sure!”
“Yes,” Max agreed. “Yes, we want to do this the right way. The diary was very, very fragile. We didn’t even try to open it…”
“You were correct not to, Zan! You did the right thing bringing it first to us. Thank you! And thank you all for these wonderful cultural treasures that you have brought back to Antar!”
“Wow!” said Liz. “I hope they can get something from the diary!”
“Yeah!” Maria agreed. “This is getting to be a real mystery! This Sabrina, Andrea, and Lisa… who were they? Were they from Antar? How is it they had pictures of themselves on Earth… ten thousand years ago? And what the heck was their stuff doing on Michael’s Moon off Jupiter? I can’t wait for these guys to read the diary, Liz!”
Max and Michael both nodded. Varec dismissed himself, thanking them yet again… He took everyone’s hand into his and squeezed it warmly, thanking each one.
“Meritelji… Caporji!” answered Liz, evoking a tremendous smile from Varec.
Maria, Michael, and Max all looked at her.
“What did you just say, Liz?” asked Maria.
“She said, 'You’re welcome… Thank you!'” Michael answered, obviously impressed. “Looks like Liz has been doing a little studying!”
------------------------End of Chapter 26
|posted on 12-Oct-2002 6:40:52 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars"|
“The Golden Sea”
It was the morning of their third day on Antar. Phillip and Diane Evans had gone for a walk in a nearby park and were enjoying the Antarean nature trails. Jeff Parker had been invited by Varec to go with him and look at several places that might serve as a new site for the Crashdown Café. Max and Liz were in the palace living room when Michael and Maria walked in.
“Michael… Maria! Just the two people I was thinking of!” said Max. “Liz and I were thinking of going diving today. Why don’t you two come with us?”
“I never went diving before,” said Maria. “I don’t know if I would know how.”
“Well, it’s not so hard,” said Max. “Just stay with me and Liz. She’s never dived before either, but you’re both good swimmers, so you shouldn’t have any trouble learning to dive! We use rebreathers… they never run out of air, and they don’t make bubbles.”
“Come on, Maria! It’ll be a lot of fun!” said Michael. “Let’s go with them!”
“Get your bikinis on,” said Max “-not you, Michael!”
“Aw, shucks, Maxwell! You’re no fun at all!” said Michael, joking.
“Ew!” exclaimed Maria, giving Michael a playful slap on the arm. “I’d rather you didn’t wear anything.”
Maria realized what she had just said, as Liz turned and looked at her, smiled, and raised her eyebrows… Maria reddened.
“I… I mean… Well, you know what I mean!”
Liz snickered and the guys both smiled a knowing smile,
“Yeah, we know, Maria!”
“Oooh… you two!”
“I’ll get a car to take us down to the j’koozzeen,” said Max.
Now Maria looked at Liz quizzically.
“Uh, Liz… is this like Texas or something where you fall in a swimming pool and people yell, ‘Don’t anyone flush?’ ‘Cause if these guys are expecting me to go scuba diving in a Jacuzzi…”
Everyone was laughing.
“No, no!” said Michael. “J’koozzeen means beach or shore, you know, in Antarean.”
“Yeah, well, I kind of wondered about that myself,” said Liz. “I didn’t want to ask!”
“I told Kyle to take the day off, so he and Sheriff Valenti went down to the j’koozzeen a little earlier,” Max said. “They wanted to get a sailboat and go sailing on the Golden Sea. Liz and Maria’s Moms went with them to see if they could get a suntan on the beach. Mom and Dad went to the park over by the west end to walk on the nature trails. I think Isabel went to the j’koozzeen with the others. That leaves the four of us… so… let’s go diving!”
“Let’s go!” seconded Michael.
“Well, alright!” Maria agreed. Liz smiled and nodded.
At the shore of the Golden Sea, the staff car let the four companions out, and they walked down to a little shop on the beach that rented dive equipment. Max rented a wrap-around mask, a pair of fins, a rebreather, a buoyancy control vest, a weight belt, and a depth guage for each one. Liz also rented a small underwater image device, like a camera, to capture some memories of her adventure. An assistant from the shop carried the equipment into the water for the four divers and handed it to them as they sat on the edge of a submerged platform in chest-deep water. The platform was there specifically for the benefit of divers. Max and Michael showed Liz and Maria how to put the rebreathers and other equipment on and how to use it then rolled off the platform into the water. Liz and Maria put their mouthpieces in their mouths and followed the guys in.
As they turned over and leveled out into a swimming position beneath the water, the girls noticed that the Golden Sea was quite clear beneath the surface, not very different than the clearest waters back on Earth. The visibility was fantastic, though. They could easily see for two hundred feet or more all around them.
Max and Michael were waiting for them and motioned for them to come. Both Max and Michael had waterproof watches with built-in compasses and directional transponders that automatically activate at a depth of three feet. The transponders free the divers from having to pull a buoy and flag behind them as they dive. All motorized boats and most sailboats on Antar are equipped with a device that picks up dive transponder signals and notifies the boaters to watch out for surfacing divers or avoid the immediate area because divers may be present.
Max and Michael looked at their compasses and watched the direction of the sand ripples on the bottom, which told them that they were headed away from the shore. Liz and Maria were right beside them. The water, which had been ten feet deep at the end of the submerged platform, was now just over twenty feet deep and getting deeper as they swam further away from the shore.
After about ten minutes, they arrived at a reef in 65 feet of water. They found that the reef rose 30 feet off the bottom, to a depth of 35 feet on the top; but on the outside edge, the side farthest from shore, there was a drop-off that went down to 150 feet. The reef was about 300 feet across at the top; its length was unknown to the four and went on for probably several miles parallel to the coast.
Liz spotted a cute lobster-like crustacean sitting below a coral outcrop. It had unusually long antennae and a pink, ringed body with a series of long, forward pointing spines in a single ridge along the center of its back. It was larger than a shrimp but smaller than a grown lobster. She took a picture of it. Maria gave her an “OK” sign; she had seen it, too.
The four companions swam over the top of the reef, following the valleys and peaks, checking out everything they saw. They heard Max making a noise to get their attention. Looking up, Liz and Maria found themselves face to face with a couple of playful bottlenose dolphins. Both Liz and Maria were surprised to see anything so much like an Earth species on Antar; in fact, it seemed highly doubtful that anyone just looking at them could tell them from Earth dolphins.
The dolphins came right up to the girls and put their noses playfully against them, prodding them to play. Maria ran her hand over one of the dolphins, caressing it on the head and back. Liz took a picture. Then Maria held onto its dorsal fin and the dolphin gave her a ride around the top of the reef. Liz held onto the other dolphin and followed, trying to get a picture of Maria and Maria’s new friend as she held onto hers at the same time. Max and Michael were swimming furiously trying unsuccessfully to keep up. Fortunately, the dolphins simply circled around and brought Liz and Maria back together with Max and Michael.
Max ran his hand over the head of Liz’s newfound friend and smiled. Michael held onto the other side of Maria’s dolphin, and he and Maria got a ride around the reef top together. Liz was wondering how many pictures she could get on this camera without reloading or downloading or whatever one had to do with it when it was full, because she was taking pictures of Michael and Maria, of Max, of the dolphins… She hoped it would not run out! There were so many memories to record.
After a while, the dolphins nudged the girls as if to say, “goodbye, we’ve had fun!” Maria removed her mouthpiece from her mouth and kissed her new friend on the nose. Liz took a picture, then handed the camera to Maria and kissed her newfound friend on the nose, too. Maria snapped the picture for Liz. Then the dolphins turned and sped toward the surface, leaping out of the water and doing several somersaults each before falling back into the water nose first and speeding off in the direction from which they had first appeared, leaving the girls -and the guys- in awe.
After the dolphins, everyone felt that everything else would be rather anticlimactic; but in fact, they had many other enjoyable experiences while on the reef.
Michael wanted to go over the far side of the reef to the bottom, which was 150 feet deep. The others followed. They didn’t go all the way to the bottom. At a depth of 110 feet, they found a large cave opening and swam into it. It angled upward and got narrower, eventually coming out on the other side of the reef, the side nearest to the shore, in 50 feet of water.
Max looked at his watch and decided that they had been down long enough. He motioned for the others to follow and headed back toward the shore, using his compass to get a bearing then watching the direction that the ripples in the sand took and swimming perpendicular to them. About half way back to the shore, in 25 feet of water, the group was engulfed by a large school of small, shiny, silvery fish and a few larger fish that the girls did not recognize. Michael reached out with his hand and made a swishing motion through the dense school of little fish all around them; the school parted as the fish swam around his hand and continued on their endless journey. All too soon, it seemed, they were at the shore again, climbing back onto the platform from which they had departed, removing their gear and handing it back to the helpful shop assistant, who had waded out to help them in. He also took Liz’s camera and opened it then gave her the disc that he took from a slot in the bottom.
Liz and Maria walked up the beach with Max and Michael by the hand, picking up seashells along the way. They found Isabel with Nancy Parker and Amy DeLuca sunning themselves on the beach. Liz and Maria sat down beside them, pulling Max and Michael down with them.
“We have just had the most amazing… awesome… incredible… unbelievable dive!” Liz said to her mother and the others.
“You wouldn’t believe it!” seconded Maria. “It was the coolest, most amazing thing that ever happened to me! …well, almost…” She looked at Michael and smiled. Michael smiled back.
“Have you ‘girls’ had fun up here on the beach?” Liz asked.
Their Moms and Isabel all indicated that it had been very relaxing and enjoyable. Isabel pointed toward the water… A sailboat was cruising along the coast about a mile out.
“Jim and Kyle seem to be having a pretty good time, too!” said Isabel. “I think I’d like to go sailing, too, next time we come. Looks like they’re having a lot of fun out there!”
Liz and Maria told the girls they would see them back at the palace, and they asked Max and Michael to take them to the café across from the j’koozzeen for a drink. The guys agreed; everyone was thirsty after the dive. It seems that the Golden Sea was as salty as the seas back on Earth.
The little shop across the street had drinks that tasted a little like root beer… and a place to sit. The four sat at a table and downed a couple of drinks apiece. Unfortunately, this shop didn’t sell snacks or food and only had the one root beer-like beverage to drink. It mainly sold beachwear, towels, and souvenirs. Max suggested that they go to a restaurant together on the other side of town. Liz and Maria agreed. They all went back to the palace, bathed and changed. Max left instructions with his staff to feed anyone who returned who hadn’t eaten, but he expected that most of the guests would be gone for the rest of the day. No one had seemed ready to return too soon.
Max and Liz enjoyed a nice candlelight dinner with Michael and Maria at one of Antar’s premiere restaurants on the west side of town. It was almost impossible to believe that just a few hours earlier, they had been swimming 60 feet down underneath the Golden Sea… and riding and playing with dolphins! Liz couldn’t wait to see the pictures she had taken… indeed, it had been a wonderful and most amazing day!
------------------------End of Chapter 27
|posted on 12-Oct-2002 6:42:19 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars"|
“Varec Unravels A Deepening Mystery”
When Max and Liz arrived back at the palace that night, Varec was waiting for them in the waiting room.
“Varec! It is always a pleasure to see you,” said Max.
“Caporji, Zan! It is my pleasure… and I apologize that I am here so late.”
“No need to apologize, Varec! My staff told me that you have been waiting for me a very long time. How can I help you?”
“Zan! We have been studying the artifacts that you brought to us from the little moon of the giant planet of the seventh solar system. We have discovered some new information.”
“Yes! Indeed, the bottle that you brought to us was made 12,300 years ago on Antar. There is one much like it in our museum. Also, there is a trademark, of a sort, on the bottom of the bottle that corresponds to a manufacturer from that time. We have also confirmed that the image-capturing device is from the same period, but there is not one of those in our museum… until now, of course! Although we will not be able to open the diary for at least three more weeks -maybe more- we have been able to determine the names of the three girls from the images!”
“That’s great!” said Liz.
“Yes! We were able to know this, because the names of the subjects in the images -and some comments and data about the images- are recorded digitally, but remain invisible within the images themselves, and can be downloaded with the proper computer connections and program. Of course, we were able to devise a program that would accomplish this.”
“Of course,” said Max.
Though Varec may have sounded as though he were bragging, in actual fact, in the Antarean tradition, he was, well… merely demonstrating the efficiency of his group (and bragging). But Varec and his group of scientists had sufficient and ample reasons to be proud of their accomplishments.
They also wanted Zan to know just how much they were still -and always would be- indebted to Michael for the assistance that Michael had given them after the Battle for Antar. Not only had Michael helped them to rebuild the entire network of linked science labs, both with funds and with labor -much of it his own- but he had made it his personal crusade to find and free every single scientist who had been incarcerated or enslaved, traveling personally to each of the planets to bring them back to Antar. They were aware of the tremendous debt they all owed to Michael… and to Zan, who had supported and assisted Michael in his efforts; and they were always eager to demonstrate their affection and loyalty to both. To Michael, they had awarded the honorary title of “Father of Antarean Sciences.” Michael had accepted his award and the honor with humility and humor, saying, “If only my science teacher from Roswell High were here now…!”
“What were you able to learn from the invisible encrypted messages in the images,” asked Max.
“A few very interesting and important details, Zan…! The name of the first girl is ‘MayaSabriena.’ In the images, sometimes she is called Maya and other times ‘Briena’ or ‘Sabreena.’ The name of the second girl is ‘AnDasniya.’ In the images, sometimes she is called ‘Andya.’ The third girl is ‘JoLeesa.’ Sometimes, in the images, she is referred to as ‘Leesa’ or ‘Jolese.’ You will notice that all three girls’ names follow the ancient Antarean tradition of joining two names together, a shorter one with a longer one. Sometimes this is done today in the Grelligo region, but it is an ancient tradition.”
“That’s amazing,” said Liz, as Max translated some of it for her. “Were you able to find out anything else?”
“Well, the girls left Antar with their families, who were on a mission of some kind with a small group of scientists to document and catalog life forms in the seventh solar system. They found life on the third planet from the sun, and they named the planet, ‘Eluymer.’ In ancient Antarean, that means, ‘Blue Water.’ They also named each one of the sites, but that would mean nothing to you, because those names would not be the ones you know.
On the last image, there is a notation that says that tomorrow the girls are going back to the smaller of Eluymer’s two moons again to take some pictures of their ‘secret hideout,’ a place their parents and the others have never found. Unfortunately, it seems that the girls forgot to download their images before they went and probably didn’t want to lose them, so there are no pictures of the secret hideout.”
“Max…” said Liz, “I know I still don’t understand but about every third word of Antarean, but did he just say something about ‘the smaller of Earth’s two moons?”
“Yeah, that’s exactly what he said, Liz… You got it exactly…”
“That’s all we have for now, Zan… except that some ‘amiable creatures’ from the Blue Sea of Eluymer were transported back to Antar to see if they could survive in the Golden Sea. The girls had apparently taken images of these creatures, but they must have downloaded them already. They weren’t in the device.”
“The dolphins!” Liz gasped. “That would explain the dolphins! It has to be! They must be descended from Earth dolphins!”
“Caporji, Varec,” said Max. “Thank you very much! Let us know when you find out anything more. This is all most interesting. And you may be interested to know that Eluymer has only one moon today!”
“There are a lot of mysteries, Zan; we will find out all that we can… I promise you this!”
“I know you will,” answered Max.
Varec took Max’s hand in his, then Liz’s hand. He smiled… then he turned and left. Varec and the scientists with whom he worked were unraveling the mystery of Sabrina, Andrea, and Lisa -or MayaSabriena, AnDasniya, and JoLeesa- but for every strand of thread they unraveled, they seemed to find another mystery.
------------------------End of Chapter 28
|posted on 12-Oct-2002 6:45:00 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars"|
“Mr. & Mrs. Michael Guerin”
Maria was floating on a cloud… well, not really floating… and not really on a cloud. But considering all that the newcomers had been through since they left Earth, one could hardly blame any of them for taking that literally when they heard it.
Michael had just returned from the jeweler with Maria’s diamond… beautifully faceted and mounted in a ring that was absolutely and utterly breathtaking. Maria had no idea how many carats it was; on Antar, they did not use that measure. She only knew that it was beautiful… and big! Michael placed it on her finger… it fit perfectly. As he did, he again asked, “Maria, will you be my wife?”
Maria didn’t answer… she just threw her arms around Michael’s neck and kissed him as though she would never let him go.
“I take it, the answer is still yes, then,” Michael managed somehow to say after a couple of minutes.
“Yes! Yes! Yes! A million times, yes!” said Maria. She beamed, and again, she kissed Michael passionately. He reciprocated happily.
“We’ll have to set a date,” said Michael at end. I was thinking maybe next month… it’s the beginning of the summer in Antar, and well… because you warm my heart…”
“Aw… Michael, sometimes you can be such a sweet puppy dog… so cute and lovable,” said Maria.
“Well, just do me a favor and let’s keep that to ourselves, okay, Maria? I wouldn’t want it getting out that I’m a cute little puppy or something! Reputations, you know!”
Maria snickered, “Sure, Michael, just between me and my cute little puppy!”
Michael and Maria sat on the sofa, held each other, and kissed -between making plans- for the next 45 minutes. Okay, well, not many plans got made, and not much talking was done.
Ten minutes after Michael had left, Maria found Liz in the palace living room. She walked by her several times, holding her hand slightly out away from her body. Liz saw the ring, but at first pretended not to.
“Maria, you seem awfully wound up! Why don’t you sit down and stop pacing! Is something wrong with your hand?”
“Hmm! Hmm!” Said Maria, holding her finger and the amazing ring out where it could be appreciated.
“Mariiiiaaa…” said Liz, “That’s beautiful… it’s gorgeous! So Michael got it mounted… that’s the ring from the moon?”
“You must be absolutely thrilled!”
“Well… maybe a little happy… Oh, of course I’m thrilled! What do you think! Liz, I can’t wait to show it to everybody! They’re gonna freak! Have you ever seen anything like it?”
“Well…” Liz held out her own hand. Her ring was about the same size as Maria’s, but Max had created it using his power to transmute inanimate objects by altering their molecular structures with his mind. When he had opened his hand, the lump of coal he had been holding had been molecularly transmuted into a perfectly faceted diamond. Max had made a passing reference to Superman, who reputedly was able to apply enough pressure to a lump of coal to turn it into a diamond; but Max’s ability was actually different. He did not use pressure but rather the power of his mind to transmute and reform the object into the object that he saw in his mind’s eye. He could just as well have picked up a marble or a bottle cap and turned it into a perfect diamond, but he had used the Superman mythos for its perceived romanticism.
For the rest of the day, Maria showed off her ring to everyone she could find at the palace; and it was the talk of the dinner table that evening. Everyone wanted to know if she and Michael had set a date.
Michael answered, “We decided to get married on the 4th day of Kelsvet, the first month of the Antarean summer.”
“…because I warm his heart!” Maria added.
“Aaaawwwww…” was heard from various parts of the table.
“Maria…” Michael urged, blushing slightly.
Maria smiled, “And because Michael is so hot and he warms my heart, too!”
Michael shook his head. Well, at least she hadn’t said anything about the ‘cute puppy’ thing. That was something to be thankful for!
As the 4th day of Kelsvet drew nearer, Maria and Liz, with help from Maria’s Mom, were preparing the invitations to be sent to the invited guests, which included the scientists from the Jantoo-Bandy lab and other labs around Antar, friends and social acquaintances of the royal family, and of course, all earthlings currently residing on Antar. Liz also helped Maria choose a wedding dress and make the plans for the ceremony and reception.
“Liz,” said Maria, “I’ve had this cool idea running around in my head, and I talked it over with Michael and he thinks it’s a great idea… We’d like you and Max to renew your vows… or have an Antarean wedding… with us.”
“Oh, no, Maria! This is your day! …and Michael’s day! I wouldn’t want to do anything to get in the way of that!”
“But you wouldn’t be… I mean, getting in the way. Michael thinks the same thing. It would be so cool… just awesome… if you and Max were there with us to say your vows, too.”
“Aw, gee, Maria… I don’t know… I mean… if it’s really what you want, I could see how Max feels…”
“Please, please, please, Liz… with whipped cream and… and Max on top…”
“Well if you put it that way, Maria, how could I resist?”
Both Liz and Maria laughed.
“But seriously, Maria, I’ll have to run it by Max and see if he wants to do it… and I imagine he’ll want to talk to Michael and make sure it’s really what he wants, too…”
“Not just okay, Liz! He wants it! And so do I! Really…!”
“Okay, I’ll talk to Max today, Maria… I promise.”
“Well try real hard to convince him, Liz, pleeeease?”
(Laughing) “Okay, Maria!”
The 4th day of Kelsvet had finally arrived, and the SyyKolyva, in CoruzAntar, was filled with guests anxious to see the wedding couples and the ceremony. It was expected to be the social event of all social events of recent Antarean history. The scientists whom Michael had befriended all sat together with their families on the left side near the front. Two hundred and thirty scientists and family members had come. That was every single one of Antar’s premiere scientists, the ones who worked in all the linked science labs. The family - Amy DeLuca, Jeff and Nancy Parker, and Phillip and Diane Evans were assigned places in the front on the right side. Sheriff Jim Valenti had also been assigned a family spot and was to give Maria away, a tradition that seemed to be Antarean as well as of Earth. Right behind the family, places were assigned for Isabel and Kyle, who were also to be in the wedding party. The rest of the SyyKolyva was filled with guests, not all of whom were specifically invited… many unassigned places were available on a first-come basis. The SyyKolyva was capable of seating 3,400 people, and no seat would be left unfilled on this day.
The crowd became hushed as music began to play, indicating the appearance of the groom and his escorts. Michael entered, looking more handsome and dapper than he had ever looked in his life. He wore a black Antarean dress suit with gold rings around the sleeves at the wrists, a golden waist sash similar to a cummerbund, and a wide gold lapel and white vest. Michael walked into the SyyKolyva, followed by six friends, Kyle, Xogar, Frev, Tendav, Garandev, and Varec. Xogar and Frev were the sons of two of his scientist friends, Tendav and Garandev were young generals, and Varec was a scientist friend. Michael assumed his position at the front of the SyyKolyva, and his six escorts assumed their places to his left, according to Antarean tradition.
Now the music changed, indicating the entrance of the bride.
Maria appeared, her hand on Jim Valenti’s arm. She was dressed in a long white and light blue gown that just reached the floor. She was too beautiful for words. Slowly, Jim led her down the aisle to the front. Maria’s face seemed to glow. Her Mom was wiping tears from her own eyes with a handkerchief and trying bravely but unsuccessfully not to cry… it was all so beautiful! This was far and away beyond anything she had ever imagined for her daughter even in her grandest dreams.
Behind Maria and Jim Valenti came the bridesmaids, Isabel, Jeliya, Zeenya, Welindee, VarCory, and Teshji. Jeliya, Zeenya, and Teshji were the daughters of three of Michael’s scientist friends. Welindee was the younger sister of one of the scientists, and VarCory was the daughter of a good and long-time family friend of the royal family from the Grelligo region.
As the bridesmaids reached the front, they assumed positions to the right of the bride, according to Antarean tradition.
Next, from the back of the SyyKolyva, a man entered wearing a long dark blue robe over a red vest. The robe had gold trim around the collar and around the wrists. The man had a gold sash trimmed in red hung loosely over his left shoulder. This was the Jalesek. He would be performing the ceremony.
The music stopped, and all eyes were on Maria and Michael. The Jalesek took a small book from his vest pocket and looked at it quietly for a moment.
“Michael Guerin (He spoke in Antarean), of the line of Varkor Sarvael, you have come here today to tell all those present and the world that you love and cherish this girl, Maria DeLuca, and that it is your wish and desire that she be your wife now and for as long as you both shall live. Do you profess to Maria your eternal undying love; and is this your wish, Michael?”
“Maria DeLuca, of the planet Eluymer, you have come here today to tell all those present and the world that you love and cherish Michael Guerin and that it is your wish and desire to take him as your husband now and for as long as you both shall live. Do you, Maria, profess to Michael your eternal undying love; and is this your wish, Maria?”
“And who gives this girl away?”
“I do,” said Jim Valenti. He took Maria’s hand from his arm and placed it on Michael’s arm and took Maria’s other hand and placed it in front of her with the palm up. Then he took Michael’s other hand and placed it on top of Maria’s.
“Then,” continued the Jalesek, “How shall you show this love that the two of you share?”
Michael and Maria closed their hands, intertwining their fingers together.
“Then I say for all to know that Michael and Maria are joined together as mates of the soul and of the body for the rest of their lives… May they know only happiness and joy forever!”
The entire SyyKolyva stood and applauded briefly but enthusiastically, in the Antarean tradition. Then they took their seats again.
The music resumed, and Michael and Maria walked arm in arm back down the aisle to the foyer as Michael and Maria Guerin.
Now, all eyes watched expectantly for the appearance of the second couple. The music began, indicating the groom was present. Zan -or Max- entered with his escorts. Like Michael, Max was naturally handsome, but today he appeared more elegant than he had ever looked… perhaps in his life. He wore a blue Antarean suit with dark gold trim around the wrists, wide, dark gold lapels and waist sash, and a white vest. On all the gold trim, there were small silver stars. The six escorts, Hyrec, Lyrcar, Vrobin, Sashev, Anderyoo, and Jontan, assumed their positions to Max’s left.
Then the music changed, announcing the bride.
Liz appeared, her hand on the arm of her father, Jeff Parker. She was fairly glowing, as though she, too, were getting married for the first time; and in a way, she was. Though she and Max had been married on Earth, her parents had not been able to be there. It had been while Liz and Max were on the run. Now, Liz was dressed in a long white and gold gown with small silver stars down the middle of each arm of the gown. Extending the length of the arms along each side of the silver stars was a series of small cut out squares, angled on their ends like double triangles. Like Maria’s gown, Liz’s gown just reached the floor. Her father led her down the aisle to the slow, haunting, beautiful cadence of the music.
Behind Liz and her father came the bridesmaids, Tredvya, Kwetee, Cathania, Jerilee, Yvee, and Letye. Liz’s bridesmaids were daughters of friends of the royal family.
As the bridesmaids reached the front, they assumed positions to the right of the bride.
The music stopped, and all eyes were on Liz and Max. The Jalesek took his small book and looked at it quietly for a moment.
“Zan of Antar, of the line of Zan Jaron, you have come here today to tell all those present and the world that you love and cherish this girl, Elizabeth Parker Evans, and that it is your wish and desire that she be your wife now and for as long as you both shall live. Do you profess to Elizabeth your eternal undying love; and is this your wish, Zan?”
“Elizabeth Parker Evans, of the planet Eluymer, you have come here today to tell all those present and the world that you love and cherish Zan and that it is your wish and desire to take him as your husband now and for as long as you both shall live. Do you, Elizabeth, profess to Zan your eternal undying love; and is this your wish, Elizabeth?”
“And who gives this girl away?”
“I do,” said Jeff Parker. He took Liz’s hand from his arm and placed it on Max’s arm, then he placed Liz’s other hand in front of her with her palm up and took Max’s other hand and placed it on top of Liz’s.
“Then,” continued the Jalesek, “How shall you show this love that the two of you share?”
Max and Liz closed their hands, intertwining their fingers together.
“Then I say for all to know that Zan and Elizabeth are joined together as mates of the soul and of the body for the rest of their lives… May they know only happiness and joy forever!”
The entire SyyKolyva stood and applauded enthusiastically as the music resumed, and Max and Liz walked arm in arm back down the aisle to the foyer as Zan of Antar and his bride, Liz, now also of Antar.
The guests all took their seats one more time as Max and Liz, with Michael and Maria, walked down the aisle to the front again, this time together. The four turned and faced the guests. Now the guests rose from their seats and, as one, shouted out their blessings and wishes for happiness to the couples joined today. Amy DeLuca, Diane Evans, and Nancy Parker were crying. Phillip and Jeff were misty-eyed, too.
The guests continued standing. As the couples walked back to the foyer for the last time, guests reached out to touch them as they passed. According to Antarean tradition, touching the newlyweds is supposed to confer their happiness on the one touching them… and possibly bring matrimony to them next.
The couples left the SyyKolyva only to discover a bit of a commotion outside. Beside the walkway and beside the doors of the SyyKolyva stood the Jah-ee… all five of the jah-ee!
“Looks like your friends all came, Max!” said Liz. “Did you invite them?”
Max had invited them, in a way, it is true… The Jah-ee knew his feelings… even from many miles away. They felt his emotions and knew that Max was doing something that made him immensely happy; they understood that it involved his mate. They knew that he would like for them to come. And they came.
Although by now, some Antareans were getting used to seeing the Jah-ee on occasion, many others were not and never would be used to it. A bird that stands almost as high as a building and has a wingspan of 60 feet is an awe-inspiring sight.
Max and Liz and Michael and Maria walked together down the walk between the birds, and each pair of birds raised both wings high, forming a bridge in the middle for the couples to walk under and displaying the beauty of the multi-colored plumage on the underside of their wings.
Most of the other guests gave the birds a wide berth, but a few braved coming near enough to touch them and the newlyweds as they departed and headed off to their reception.
Max thanked the Jah-ee for coming with mental images of gratitude, and the birds took flight, heading back in the direction of the Golden Sea and their island.
The luxurious gold palace ground car carried the newlyweds to the site of the reception. Michael and Maria were toasted throughout the evening and were happier than anyone had ever seen them. The guests also toasted Max and Liz, who also beamed.
After the reception, Michael and Maria went to Michael’s house. Like Kyle, Michael had a permanent room of his own in the royal palace, but he also had his own home in the countryside. And this is where he took Maria on this night. They planned to return to the palace in a week, maybe two. Michael’s house was in a wonderful area of Antar. There were lakes, streams, pleasant and safe woods to walk in, and much, much more to see and do. But it is doubtful that Michael and Maria would see much of it during this trip… this was, after all, to be Michael and Maria’s honeymoon.
------------------------End of Chapter 29
|posted on 12-Oct-2002 6:46:15 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars"|
Liz and Max climbed back onto the platform and handed the helpful attendant their dive gear.
“Max! That was totally sensational,” Liz exclaimed. “I can’t get over those big things we saw that looked kind of like manta rays, only so… different! They were awesome! They sure didn’t bring those here from Earth!”
“No… They’re pretty uniquely Antarean, I think, Liz.”
Liz and Max walked down the beach, picking up shells along the way. They spoke briefly with Phillip and Diane Evans, who had spent the morning beachcombing. Liz told them all about the huge, manta-like creatures that had seven trailing tails and a ridge of multiple long, training filaments along their backs.
“Hey, why don’t you guys go with us some time,” Liz offered.
“Sure, Diane! It’s awesome!”
Phillip smiled but said nothing.
“Well, I don’t know, Liz,” said Diane. “I’m not sure diving’s for us. But who knows, anything could happen… Look at what all’s happened to us already!”
“Oh, you’ve got to, Diane! It’s just too awesome for words! …makes you thirsty, though… a drink and a burger would be just great right now, Max. Can we go across the street to the café…?”
Max motioned to Liz to lead on.
The little shop across the street still sold beachwear, towels, and souvenirs; but since the former owner had retired and sold it to Jeff Parker, it had expanded and added a full café with Earth-style burgers, hotdogs, milk shakes, and other traditional -and not-so-traditional- café ‘delicacies.’ …and it’s business had increased tremendously.
“Welcome to ‘The Crashdown,’ Liz… Max…” said Jeff Parker as they walked in the door. “Sit wherever you’d like. One of the girls will be right with you.”
Max and Liz slid into a booth next to the window, where they could see the j’koozzeen across the street. It was cool and refreshing inside ‘The Crashdown,’ and the drinks were great, especially when one’s mouth tasted like it was full of salt.
Within seconds, a young Antarean girl came over to take their orders. She was wearing a Crashdown uniform just like the one Liz had worn back on Earth… right down to the fake antennae and the alien apron.
“Whoa! Déjà vu,” said Max, quietly.
Liz chuckled, “But it’s kind of cool, too, don’t you think!”
Max smiled and agreed.
“I’ll have the ‘Monster Earth Alien Burger’ with ‘Yellow Earthling Finger Fries’ and a cold Snapple,” said Max.
The waitress wrote down the order diligently then turned to Liz.
“I’ll have… the ‘Little Roswell Alien Burger’ and a ‘Green Earthman Shake.’ Oh, and don’t forget the ‘Green Alien Pickles’ on the burger!”
Max was having a little bit of trouble stifling a chuckle. He just shook his head and wiped the corners of his eyes with the back of his hand.
“Hello, Max! Hi, Liz!”
Max and Liz looked up. It was Maria and Michael.
“Hey, guys, come sit with us,” pleaded Liz, excitedly. Maria and Michael slid into the seat on the other side of the table, and the waitress brought them menus.
“What are you getting, Liz?” asked Maria. You didn’t get that ‘Monster Earth Alien Burger’ did you? Michael had that yesterday. It’s, like, huge! …and it looks to me like you’re getting a little bit of tummy there.”
Liz just smiled.
Maria looked at her… “No! No, Liz… You aren’t…?”
Liz nodded. Maria slid out then quickly slid in next to Liz and hugged her. Both of them had tears in their eyes.
“Four more months.”
“I can’t believe this! Does anyone else know?”
“Just Max… and Dad and Mom… and now you guys.”
“Liz… I am just… so happy for you! Do you know if it’s… a boy or a girl?”
There was a silence, as Maria’s mouth dropped at least three inches.
“Girls? As in… two?”
Liz held up three fingers. Michael reached out to catch Maria, who momentarily looked as though she might fall out of her seat.
Maria and Liz hugged each other again.
“Congratulations, Max,” said Michael, reaching across the table with his hand to shake Max’s hand. “We can skip the hugs, though, right?”
Max nodded and smiled. “Thanks, Michael.”
“Wow, Max! Three girls! You are going to be soooo outnumbered.”
Max just smiled.
The waitress returned and took Michael and Maria’s orders. Ten minutes later, she returned with their meals.
“One ‘Monster Earth Alien Burger’ with ‘Yellow Earthling Finger Fries’ and a Snapple…” Max raised his hand slightly. Another ‘Monster Earth Alien Burger’ with ‘Yellow Earthling Finger Fries,’ extra Tabasco sauce, and a Snapple…” Max pointed at Michael. “The ‘Little Roswell Alien Burger’ with extra ‘Earthling Pickles’ and a ‘Green Earthman Shake’ for you.” She placed it in front of Liz then turned to Maria, “…and one ‘UFO Turkey-bird Sandwich’ and a ‘Green Earthman Shake’ for you.”
“Did you hear Mom got her own place now,” asked Maria.
“No,” answered Liz. “When did this happen?”
“Yesterday. It’s right near the Evans’ house over in the Berjalya Division. Mr. Evans found it for her.”
“Oh, that’s a nice area, Maria… She’ll like it there.”
“Yeah, I think she’s really happy. She was the last one to find her own house, and she was really anxious to get something. It worked out well. It’s been five and a half months since we got here… on Antar, you know.”
“Yeah… the time seems to have just flown! But it’s been so great since we got here… Everyone’s so friendly, nobody’s chasing us, we don’t have to hide or worry that every person we see might be an informant or a fed, our parents are here, it’s all like a dream, Maria! Sometimes I’m afraid I’ll wake up and find out it was all just that… a dream… you know?”
Maria nodded, then both smiled and hugged each other again.
“Maria! I’m so glad you know now! I wanted to tell you ever since I found out!”
“If you need a babysitter anytime, Liz…”
Liz smiled, “I’ll let you know, Maria!”
Jeff Parker came over to the table. Liz smiled at him.
“Maria and Michael know.”
Jeff smiled and nodded slightly.
“If you need anything, Lizzie, just let me know… You know I’m here for you.”
“I know, Dad! You don’t know how glad I am that you and Mom are here. It’s really, really… great… being together again… especially now!”
“Sit down, Dad,” said Max.
“Well, just for a minute, I guess… I’ve got work back there.”
Jeff sat down beside Michael.
Max fidgeted with the Tabasco bottle and with his Snapples bottle.
“I’m glad to see you got some of these,” said Max.
“Oh… yeah. Michael sold them to me.”
Max looked at Michael, and Michael smiled slightly.
“Didn’t Michael get these from the Crashdown on Earth? …or buy them with your credit cards?”
“Yeah, but there was a ‘rescue fee.’
Max looked at Michael again.
“Hey, Max, I risked my life getting that stuff for us!”
“It’s alright, Max,” said Jeff Parker. “Michael didn’t sell it to me for the money. If it was for the money, he could sell this stuff on the black market around here and make a hundred times -a thousand times- what I gave him for it. I can’t put it on the table; it just goes right away. Each diner drinks a whole bottle of it. I have to keep it in the back and just offer it by request.”
Michael added, “I just didn’t think the Crashdown would be ‘The Crashdown’ without Tabasco sauce and Snapples, you know, so I sold Jeff a couple of cases of each of them from my stash.”
“Michael, you’re a real philanthropist!” said Max, and everyone laughed. But it was true, in a way. Michael valued his Tabasco sauce and Snapples, which he could never replace, far more than any money he might have accepted from Jeff Parker for them.
“Oh, by the way,” said Jeff. “One of the reasons I came over here was to tell you, Max, that a ship arrived on Antar from some other planet a little while ago.”
“Maybe it’s from Teroggel,” said Max. They’ve increased their trade with Antar a lot, especially after Michael and Maria went there for part of their honeymoon… which they extended to a month and a half!”
“No, I don’t think so, Max. I heard that it was an unknown craft… a bit mysterious.”
Max looked suddenly interested… and concerned.
“I’ll need to check it out. Thanks, Jeff… Dad.”
Max paid the check for all four. Maria kissed Liz on the cheek, and Liz and Maria hugged each other again. Then Max took Liz back to the palace and went to the spaceport.
--------------------End of Chapter 30
|posted on 12-Oct-2002 6:47:19 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars"|
“A Guest for Dinner”
It sat on the tarmac, looking out-of-place among the more modern ships that one might see around the field. Its engines still made a faint humming sound. Zan grimaced slightly, involuntarily -it reminded him of the ships Kivar had used when he came to Earth years before.
Zan went directly to the control center.
“Have we made contact with the ship yet?”
“Has there been any attempt by the ship to make contact with us?”
“Has the ship been identified… Do we know its origin?”
“No. But some of the ships of this era were retrofitted for service on distant planets. They might not even have the equipment necessary to communicate with us.”
Suddenly, the bay doors of the craft opened and a ramp automatically extended from the craft to the ground. For a moment, nothing more happened. Then one of the occupants appeared in the door.
As if the appearance of Alex Whitman on Antar were not enough of a shock for Max -or Zan, as he was known here- the next occupant to appear in the door drew an even bigger gasp.
Involuntarily, Max tensed. But behind Tess there was one more… one whom Max had not seen since shortly after he healed Liz at the Crashdown Café that fateful day… one whom he and everyone had been told was dead… who supposedly -according to the federal agents with whom she had once worked- had been killed in a fire in an insane asylum.
Obviously, this was not going to be any ordinary day on Antar. Zan had the control center send security to immediately detain Tess and escort the other occupants of the craft to a room in the control center where he could meet with them.
Max stood waiting as the door opened; then Alex walked in… and with him, Kathleen Topolsky.
“Alex! What in the name of all the planets are you doing here?”
“I decided to accept your invitation, Max! So, here I am!”
“When we were on Earth, you weren’t ready to leave everyone to come with us. You changed your mind in the last five months?”
“Five months? Five months to you maybe, Max… to me, it’s been almost seven years!”
Max paused a moment. That was true. Max and his group had returned forward six years through time, back to the time from which he and Michael had left Antar, in the new granilith; but Alex would not have been able to time travel in this ship. To be arriving on Antar now -in this time- he would have had to have waited six years on Earth… six and a half years, since they had been here for six months already.
Max shook Alex’s hand, “Welcome to Antar, Alex!”
Then he turned to Kathleen. He hardly knew what to say. Kathleen’s presence here was an utter mystery to Max.
“Miss Topolsky… I mean, you are Miss Toplosky, are you not? We were told… that you had died in a fire. I’m glad to see that was an error. What are you doing here… on Antar?”
“Max Evans!” Kathleen shook her head slowly. “Max, you’ll have to forgive me, it’s just that… I don’t know if I’m able yet to assimilate all that has -all that is happening to me. I’ve been with Tess and Alex for the last 36 days, and my mind is still -even now- in denial.”
“How did you come here, Miss Topolsky? I mean… I know how… but why? Did Tess kidnap you?”
“Kidnap me? No. She saved me. She rescued me from the Unit… the Unit I used to work for! How could I have been so blind! They kept me in a room that was four feet by four feet -not big enough to lie down in- for five years! They only took me out to torture me… use electric prods on me, and… and other… things.” Kathleen’s eyes were tearing up.
“Why?” asked Max.
“They thought I still had the stone that I took from them and tried to give to you and Michael. They wanted to know where it was. But I didn’t know… I really didn’t. I took it to give it to you, but they followed me and caught me before you showed up, so I tossed it out the window of the car so that they, at least, wouldn’t be able to have it.”
“…and they didn’t believe that.”
“Not for a moment. They thought I still had it or had hidden it or given it to someone. They told me that I had officially died in a fire… They showed me pictures of my grave… my tombstone! They said that I no longer existed… they could do with me as they wished… and they would, until I gave them what they wanted.”
“Yes… and you and Michael… and Isabel. They thought she was one of you, too. Funny, isn’t it!”
“Max… I didn’t know… those people… the Unit… are evil. That’s the only thing I can say about them. They never give up, Max! And they never forget! They aren’t responsible to anyone or any government. They are outlaws within our own system.”
Max nodded. He certainly knew about that. He remembered… but he tried to convince himself that, since he had changed time, it never actually happened. It didn’t, not in this timeline, but Max still had the memories. He didn’t think about it often any more. The success that he and Michael had had in changing the timeline had lifted that burden from him. But the memory was still capable of returning once in a while like a bad dream.
“Okay… Welcome to Antar, Miss Topolsky. We will make sure that you are taken care of. I’ll ask Jim Valenti if he would mind helping you get settled here.”
“Sheriff Jim Valenti?” Kathleen seemed more animated. “He’s here?”
“Yeah… Jim has a house out in the country, not too far from Michael’s place. It’s a nice area… lots of streams, fishing, lakes, woods and trails. Jim likes it. I’m sure he can help you find something, too.”
Kathleen smiled for the first time since she had arrived. Max had security personnel escort her temporarily to a nice hotel where she could rest, have a warm bath, and get something to eat. He told them to put it on his expense sheet. Max remembered Kivar’s old ships. They were none too comfortable. They were certainly not the new granilith with all its luxurious appointments and accommodations!
“So, Alex! This is a real surprise. How in Heaven did you hook up with Tess… or was it Heaven?”
Max had not forgotten that Tess had killed Alex once… even if it was in another timeline and hadn’t been entirely intentional. It had been more like wanton disregard for his life. She had used him to collect information for her… kept him under a mind-warp for months… until his body and mind collapsed and he died. Then she mind-warped Kyle to help her dispose of the body and made him believe that he was carrying a carpet or something. No, Max had not forgotten. Nor had he forgotten that Tess had tried to take him away from Liz. But he had learned to deal with that. Max loved Liz. Nothing anymore would ever be able to come between that love.
“Tess saved my life, Max.”
Max thought he had heard that wrong.
“She killed you, Alex!”
“No, she saved my life… and she brought me -and Miss Topolsky- to Antar. Both of us were being held by that 'Alien-hunter Unit.' They were torturing Miss Topolsky for information… and me… you know what they were gonna do with me, Max? The bastards were planning to cut me up to see if I had been changed inside in some way just by being friends with you guys. They found out that Isabel and I had been close. It’s like they’re going after anybody now who was ever touched by one of you. They know that Liz got some kind of powers from you. They didn’t even know who I was until six years after you guys left. Then one day they just showed up at my door and dragged me off."
Alex's face went from dark and serious to a slight impish smile, "Hey! I'm just thankful I'm still the genu-ine, handsome, one-piece Alex Whitman, inter-planetary guitar virtuoso! If it weren't for Tess, you'd be looking at Alex the not-very-musical or interesting shish kabob! And that would just really s*ck, Max!”
“Yeah! It would! How did you get away?”
Tess blew up the Unit’s new White Room. She did it once before, she told me. She also mind-warped all the agents so that they thought they saw me in the fire.”
Max shook his head. Tess, the good-guy? He still wasn’t convinced. It’s not that easy to let go of old memories… even ones that never happened. But this was a different timeline. Maybe Tess in this different timeline was like Isabel was to Vilandra. Vilandra had betrayed him before they had come to Earth. He had never held that against Isabel, because he didn’t remember her as Vilandra, and he knew that she was no longer that person. She was Isabel Evans now. Maybe… maybe, Max thought, he should give Tess a chance, at least let her explain herself.
Max had security bring Tess. When they had finished talking, Max had them release Tess from custody and take her to the hotel where they had taken Kathleen Topolsky. Max took Alex with him back to the palace. Tonight would be a big surprise for the others… and for Isabel. Max made a phone call.
“I’ll need the dining room staff to set two more places at the table tonight. Call Isabel and ask her to come. I have a surprise. Tell her it’s a dinner guest.”
Max hung up the communicator device… then he smiled.
----------------------End of Chapter 31
|posted on 12-Oct-2002 6:48:20 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars"|
“One Year and Counting”
Today marked the one-year anniversary since Max and the group had arrived on Antar. To celebrate, Max and Liz had invited everyone to a dinner reunion at the palace. It was to be a grand affair. Most of the guests -perhaps all of them- had arrived and were milling around in the foyer and the living room, joining in various conversations. Alex and Kathleen, though they had arrived six and a half months after the others, were also invited. So was Tess. Max had had to think long and hard about this particular invitation, but Isabel had reminded him that in this timeline, Tess had done nothing wrong and was actually the reason Alex was even alive or was even on Antar. Max had relented.
“How do you think Alex would feel with Tess being here,” Max had asked.
“Well, since she didn’t kill him, I guess he’ll feel fine about it,” Isabel said.
Max couldn’t really argue with that. He knew that it was the Tess from the old timeline that he had issues with. Even Liz had accepted this Tess. Only Max and Michael remembered Liz unleashing a powerful bolt of energy that had thrown Tess against a wall when Tess had reappeared in the old timeline. But that was the Tess who had killed Alex and tried to steal the love of Liz’s life away from her… and that Tess wasn’t here today; in fact, when Max destroyed that timeline, he effectively destroyed that Tess with it… forever.
Kathleen Topolsky, holding onto Jim Valenti’s arm, was totally overwhelmed by the palace and everything about Antar. Kathleen was someone who put herself totally into her work… whose work and life were inseparable. On Earth, she had worked tirelessly to find and unmask the “aliens” -even though she wasn’t sure that she even believed in them- because that’s what she was assigned to do …until, that is, she began to get clues about what the Unit was really doing… what it was capable of. Kathleen had believed that she was doing good. When she found out otherwise, she sabotaged her own career -and very nearly her life- to warn the ones she had once pursued. Now she found herself seven galaxies away from Earth, living on an alien planet, and at the total mercy of the aliens she had once pursued… and they had invited her to dinner. She looked at Jim. He was smiling at her. Kathleen smiled back. Kathleen Topolsky was a strong woman, but Jim Valenti was a strong man, one who could live with -perhaps even love- a strong woman, especially if she was as pretty as Kathleen.
Liz was talking to Michael and Maria.
“How are the triplets, Liz? I haven’t seen them this week.”
“They’re great, Maria! They keep me busy, but they are so great! And by the way, Maria, I want to know… how long?”
“What do you mean, Liz?”
“Don’t ‘what-do-you-mean’ me, Maria! You can’t hide anything from me! I can tell when there’s a cake rising in the oven! And I know you… You never put on three ounces in your life without groaning that you needed to go on a diet. So spill it!”
“Spill it, Maria.”
Maria grinned, then beamed, “…six more months.”
“Yes! Yes! I knew it!” Liz hugged Maria.
“Don’t tell anyone yet, Liz, okay?”
“Just our secret, Maria! …Michael knows, doesn’t he?”
“Just you and Michael. No one else yet, not even Mom.”
“Okay, Maria. My lips are sealed… but not forever!”
“We’ll tell everyone in a month or two, Liz. I just didn’t want everyone treating me like… an invalid or something.”
“We wouldn’t do that, Maria.”
“Not you… Mom.”
“Oh! He he… well, what are Moms for, Maria?”
“By the way Liz, did you see who Kyle brought with him?”
“Yeah, where have I seen her before?”
“That’s Jeliya. She was one of my bridesmaids. She’s the daughter of one of the scientists over at the lab.”
“Oh, yeah! That’s who she is! Looks like she and Kyle are hitting it off really super!”
“Hmmm… that’s an understatement, Liz! If you had seen them yesterday down at the j’koozzeen when they thought nobody was looking…”
Liz smiled, and Maria giggled.
“Well, Maria, maybe there will be some more people making that trip down the aisle before long!”
“I think so,” said Maria, nodding.
“What’s with your Mom and Varec, Maria? Is that serious?”
“Mmmmm… maybe so… I can’t tell for sure, but she sure likes him. I can tell you that.”
“Well, Varec’s one of the younger scientists. He’s about your Mom’s age… and he’s pretty cute, Maria…”
“Yeah, well, Mom sure thinks so… I don’t know how I feel about ‘My Dad, the alien,’ though, you know?”
“Aw, come on, Maria, you’re married to one! Only, I guess, since we’re on his planet, Michael’s the one who’s married to one, isn’t he?”
“I never thought about that. I guess you’re right, Liz! I’m an alien!”
Liz and Maria both laughed.
After dinner, Max stood and offered a toast to all the guests and told them that there were a few announcements. He motioned to Jim Valenti. Jim stood.
“Well… I just want to let all of ya’ll know that Kathleen has agreed to be my wife.”
Kathleen was smiling. Jim offered a toast to Kathleen and got her to stand. There was a round of applause and some congratulations to Jim.
Jim sat back down, and Max motioned to Alex. Alex stood… somewhat shyly.
“Isabel and I are going to be married next month. We set the date for the sixteenth.”
Alex held his glass up toward Isabel and had her stand as everyone applauded again.
Max then motioned toward Kyle. Kyle stood and smiled a sort of one-sided, shy smile.
“Jeliya and I… yesterday, I asked her if she would marry me, and she said… yes! So I want to offer this toast to Jeliya (motioning her to stand)… the love of my life! Jeliya, I had to cross seven galaxies to find you! And boy was it worth it!” Kyle and Jeliya sat down amidst a big round of applause and some good-hearted laughter.
Max waved his hand over the table, “Anyone else care to make any announcements?”
There was silence for a few moments, then Varec said, "Oh what the heck.” He got down on his knee in front of Amy DeLuca and proposed in front of everyone. Amy had her hand over her face and was a blushing (she didn’t even know she still did that); but she was smiling from ear to ear, and she wasted no time in saying, “Yes!” Again, there was a big round of applause and a little laughter.
As the guests departed, Kathleen Topolsky approached Max and took his hand.
“Max, I… I just want to say what a great day this has been… and how wonderful it’s been ever since I arrived here on your planet. I just want you to know I’m so sorry for any hardships I caused for you and …all of you, you know… on Earth. I didn’t know you, and I was so deceived.”
Max smiled, “It’s alright, Kathleen. I know! We all know! Nobody blames you. You’re one of us now. By the way, Miss Topolsky… Michael and Maria and Liz and I… we like some aliens!”
Kathleen smiled and kissed Max and Liz both on the cheek. Then she kissed Michael and Maria on the cheek. All of them smiled… especially Jim Valenti, as he left with his fiancée on his arm.
Tess smiled as she was leaving and offered her hand to Max.
“I appear to be the only one not getting married here today. Think I’ll find a nice guy someday?”
“I have no doubt of it, Tess! None at all,” answered Max.
Tess smiled at Liz and Max then turned and left.
The next couple of months were busy ones at the Syykolyva.
----- 16th day of the fifth month, Abretyar
“Alex Whitman, of the planet Eluymer, you have come here today to tell all those present and the world that you love and cherish this girl, Isabel Evans, also known as Vilandra, and that it is your wish and desire that she be your wife now and for as long as you both shall live. Do you profess to Isabel your undying love; and is this your wish, Alex?”
“Isabel Evans, Vilandra of Antar, you have come here today to tell all those present and the world that you love and cherish Alex Whitman, of the planet Eluymer, and that it is your wish and desire to take him as your husband now and for as long as you both shall live. Do you, Isabel, profess to Alex your undying love; and is this your wish, Isabel?”
And who gives this girl away?”
“I do,” said Phillip Evans. He took Isabel’s hand from his arm and placed it on Alex’s arm and took Isabel’s other hand and placed it in front of her with the palm up. Then he took Alex’s other hand and placed it on top of Isabel’s.
“Then,” continued the Jalesek, “How shall you show this love that the two of you share?”
Alex and Isabel closed their hands, intertwining their fingers together.
“Then I say for all to know that Alex and Isabel are joined together as mates of the soul and of the body for the rest of their lives… May they know only happiness and joy forever!”
----- 25th day of the fifth month, Abretyar
“Kyle Valenti, of the planet Eluymer, you have come here today to tell all those present and the world that you love and cherish this girl, Jeliya of Antar, and that it is your wish and desire that she be your wife now and for as long as you both shall live. Do you profess to Jeliya your undying love; and is this your wish, Kyle?”
“Jeliya of Antar, you have come here today to tell all those present and the world that you love and cherish Kyle Valenti, of the planet Eluymer, and that it is your wish and desire to take him as your husband now and for as long as you both shall live. Do you, Jeliya, profess to Kyle your undying love; and is this your wish, Jeliya?”
And who gives this girl away?”
“I do,” said her father, Trasves. He took Jeliya’s hand from his arm and placed it on Kyle’s arm and took Jeliya’s other hand and placed it in front of her with the palm up. Then he took Kyle’s other hand and placed it on top of Jeliya’s.
“Then,” continued the Jalesek, “How shall you show this love that the two of you share?”
Kyle and Jeliya closed their hands, intertwining their fingers together.
“Then I say for all to know that Kyle and Jeliya are joined together as mates of the soul and of the body for the rest of their lives… May they know only happiness and joy forever!”
----- 15th day of the sixth month, Kelsvet
“James Valenti, of the planet Eluymer, you have come here today to tell all those present and the world that you love and cherish this girl, Kathleen Topolsky, and that it is your wish and desire that she be your wife now and for as long as you both shall live. Do you profess to Kathleen your undying love; and is this your wish, James?”
“Kathleen Topolsky,of the planet Eluymer, you have come here today to tell all those present and the world that you love and cherish James Valenti, of the planet Eluymer, and that it is your wish and desire to take him as your husband now and for as long as you both shall live. Do you, Kathleen, profess to James your undying love; and is this your wish, Kathleen?”
And who gives this girl away?”
“I do,” said Zan. He took Kathleen’s hand from his arm and placed it on Jim’s arm and took Kathleen’s other hand and placed it in front of her with the palm up. Then he took Jim’s other hand and placed it on top of Kathleen’s.
“Then,” continued the Jalesek, “How shall you show this love that the two of you share?”
Jim and Kathleen closed their hands, intertwining their fingers together.
“Then I say for all to know that James and Kathleen are joined together as mates of the soul and of the body for the rest of their lives… May they know only happiness and joy forever!”
----- 6th day of the seventh month, Terasix
“Varec, of Antar, you have come here today to tell all those present and the world that you love and cherish this girl, Amy DeLuca, and that it is your wish and desire that she be your wife now and for as long as you both shall live. Do you profess to Amy your undying love; and is this your wish, Varec?”
“Amy DeLuca, of the planet Eluymer, you have come here today to tell all those present and the world that you love and cherish Varec and that it is your wish and desire to take him as your husband now and for as long as you both shall live. Do you, Amy, profess to Varec your undying love; and is this your wish, Amy?”
And who gives this girl away?”
“I do,” said Michael Guerin. He took Amy’s hand from his arm and placed it on Varec’s arm and took Amy’s other hand and placed it in front of her with the palm up. Then he took Varec’s other hand and placed it on top of Amy’s.
“Then,” continued the Jalesek, “How shall you show this love that the two of you share?”
Varec and Amy closed their hands, intertwining their fingers together.
“Then I say for all to know that Varec and Amy are joined together as mates of the soul and of the body for the rest of their lives… May they know only happiness and joy forever!”
----- 14th day of the first month, Cryystel, 16,002 (3 months ago)
6 lb 4 oz girl, MayaSabriena Claudia, born to Zan (Max) and Liz Evans
6 lb 1 oz girl, AnDasniya Nancy, born to Zan (Max) and Liz Evans
5 lb 15 oz girl, JoLeesa Joyce, born to Zan (Max) and Liz Evans
----- 12th day of the tenth month, Decidre, 16,002 (current year)
7 lb 8 oz boy, Zorel Michael, born to Michael and Maria Guerin
----- 18th day of the second month, Dayyese, 16,003
8 lb 1 oz girl, Mareeya Joyce, born to Alex and Isabel Whitman
----- 25th day of the second month, Dayyese, 16,003
7 lb 12 oz boy, Kyle Rayyn, born to Kyle and Jeliya Valenti
----- 3rd day of the ninth month, Sarvyk, 16,004
8 lb 0 oz girl, Ceelya Michelle, born to Alex and Isabel Whitman
-----------------------End of Chapter 32
|posted on 12-Oct-2002 6:49:52 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars"|
On one hand, he was missing all the fingers beyond the knuckles, he walked bent over and limped, and his face was horribly scarred. The man may have been young or old; it was hard to tell. He looked frightfully out-of-place as he walked down the street of the Berjalya Division. The two little girls, seven and six years old, giggled and shouted taunts from their hiding place behind a tree.
“Hey! You sure are ugly!”
“Did the doctor know which end to spank when you were born?”
Suddenly, a couple of strong hands picked the two girls up by the collars from behind. They were doomed. Their father had caught them. He carried them into the house and set them both down on the sofa. Both girls were mortified… too embarrassed to make a peep… they sat silently as their father spoke.
“Let me tell you girls a little story,” said their father. “One time, a long time ago, there were two little girls like you. And one day when they were outside they saw a bent-over, scarred, frightful-looking man walking down the street, so they decided to taunt him… just like you girls were doing… only their Dad didn’t catch them.”
“Lucky them,” whispered the 6-year-old to her sister. Their father heard the comment but continued telling his story.
“After the girls had shouted all the taunts they could think of at the man and figured they had thoroughly humiliated him, they ran back home, thinking they were really very smart and sassy. But a little while later there was a knock on their door…”
(The girls’ eyes widened a bit.)
The mother of the little girls opened the door, and do you know who stood there?”
“It was the man they had been taunting,” said their father. “When the girls saw who it was, they ran and hid in their bedroom. They were really mad. ‘That horrible old man came to our house to tell on us… Now we’re going to get into trouble and Mom probably won’t let us go outside for a week! He’s so mean! I knew he was mean… he’s ugly… and he limps and walks funny!’”
(The girls were listening intently, anxious to know what would happen to the girls in their father’s story.)
“Well, after the man came to the door, the girls’ mother went to the bedroom and got the girls and took them to the living room where the old man was sitting. That’s when the girls noticed that he wasn’t really old -he was actually pretty young- but he was scarred from the top of his head to the tips of his toes. The girls sat quietly and waited to see what punishment their mother was going to give them. But their mother said,
‘I want you girls to meet Veryd Jascek.
When you girls were babies, our house burned down. Your Dad was not home, and I couldn’t get to you girls. I tried so hard…’
Their mother began to cry as she told the girls the story.
‘Nobody else could find you,’ the mother said. ‘But then Veryd ran into the house. After a while, he came back out with both of you, one under each arm, wrapped in wet blankets. You didn’t have a scratch or a burn on you; we were so thankful. But Veryd… Veryd was very badly burned. He had had to run from room to room in the fire to find you… then through the fire again to get you back out. All his hair was gone, and his skin was peeling off. He spent almost a year in the hospital and in rehabilitation after that. Veryd almost died; he did that for you girls. Veryd came to see how you’re doing.’
…and you know what,” their father continued, “Veryd took both of the girls and kissed them; and he never even told their mother or father about the taunting.”
Their father stopped his story here. Both of his girls already had big tears rolling down their faces…
“Now you girls go to your room.”
Both girls ran off without a word.
Their mother had stopped her cooking and stood listening in the doorway of the kitchen, leaning against the doorframe. She shook her head.
“They should call you the Aesop of Antar. Your morals always seem to get to the girls in just the right place, Alex.”
Alex just smiled at Isabel. His little morality story had made him a bit misty-eyed, too. But he had a feeling the girls had learned a lesson.
Later, after supper that night, the girls climbed into Alex’s lap.
“Daddy, tell us one of your stories before we go to bed… please!”
“Mmmmm… I don’t know… What do you girls want to hear?”
“Tell us the one about the girl who killed you and then saved your life.”
“You mean, Tess?”
“Yeah, Daddy, tell us that one… please!”
The girls jumped happily down on each side beside their father and cuddled up to him as he began to speak.
“Well, I don’t remember her killing me, really, because your Uncle Zan and Uncle Michael went back in time in a time machine and made it so that it never happened.”
“But how did she kill you before they went back and saved you, Daddy?”
“They told me Tess used her mind-warp powers to make me go somewhere I didn’t want to go and find some information for her that she needed. She kept me under her mind-warp for months… so long that my body and mind couldn’t take it any longer, and I started to go crazy and died. Then she used a mind-warp on your Uncle Kyle to get him to help her carry my body somewhere to get rid of it without knowing that it was me.”
“She was mean!”
“Yeah… I guess so. What she did was wrong! But I don’t remember it, because your Uncle Zan and Uncle Michael took the time machine and changed it so that it didn’t happen.”
“What happened to Tess, Daddy?”
“Well, right before our graduation from high school, Tess disappeared. There was a big explosion on the base where the white room was -I told you about the white room- and everybody thought Tess had been killed and that she blew the white room up. Nobody saw her again, and when your Uncle Zan and Uncle Michael came back again, right before the world was supposed to end…”
“Will you tell us that story, too, Daddy?”
“Anyway, they came back right before the world was supposed to end to ask me if I would come with them to Antar; but you see, then we saved the world after that…"
"You saved the world, Daddy? You saved Eluymer… the Earth?"
"Well… not all by myself, of course, but yeah… you can say that your Daddy and his guitar helped save the whole world! Of course, nobody on Earth could ever know about it… nobody but me and the others here… I couldn't exactly run around yelling that I had saved the world. They would have locked your Daddy up in a different kind of white room… one with padding on all the walls!"
"He! He! He! …Aw, Daddy, you're my hero!"
"Yeah, Daddy! You're my hero, too!"
Alex stopped and smiled then kissed both of the girls before continuing.
"Well… I almost went with your Uncle Zan and Michael then, but I didn’t want to leave my Mom and Dad and everybody, and when I had a choice… I couldn’t. So they left without me. I thought the Alien Task Force guys didn’t care about me… when the others left Roswell after our graduation, I stayed in Roswell then, too… but six years after we saved the world, the Special Unit found out that I had been a real close friend of your Mama’s, and that's when they came and hauled me off.
Max and everybody had told me what the Special Unit guys did to people, so I thought, 'Alex, you idiot, you blew it! You are sooooo dead!'”
“How did you escape, Daddy?”
“Well, right before they were gonna cut me all up…”
“Yeah! That’s how I felt, too! …So right before they did that, someone blew the place up again… kaboom! Then I hear someone yelling for me to come on… to run, so I just ran. I couldn’t see who it was or anything.
There were all these special agent guys standing around with guns. They seemed to be looking at something, but I couldn’t see it, and they didn’t seem to be able to see me. The voice kept yelling at me to run, but it was like it was in my head. I just started running until I was far away from there.
After I was far away, I finally sat down under a tree to rest. That's when I saw someone appearing in front of me. It was Tess. She was the one who blew up the white room and got me out… and with her mind-warp power, she made the special agents all think that they saw me get burned up, so they didn’t come after me when we were running away. When Tess took the mind-warp off, then I could see her.
After that, we went to the desert, and she showed me a spaceship that had belonged to some of Kivar’s people before your Uncles and I saved the Earth, and she asked me if I wanted to go to Antar.”
“What did you say, Daddy?”
“What do you think I said? I said ‘Let’s go!’
When I got on the ship, I learned that Tess had also rescued another person who was going with us… the lady that Sheriff Valenti is married to now.
She had disappeared over seven years before and had been held as a prisoner and tortured by the Task Force for all that time. They wanted to know where the stones were that your Uncle Michael had… She never told them, but I think she would have died if Tess hadn’t rescued her when she did.”
“That was ‘Leen’… Leen’…”
“Kathleen Toplolsky. She was one of them… one of the bad guys… at first. But she didn’t know what they were doing to people; she wouldn’t believe it. When she found out it was true, she tried to meet secretly with Michael and the others to give them the other stone that she had, but she got caught before they could meet. Then they put out a rumor that she had died in a fire in an insane asylum. But that wasn’t true. They really had her.
Well, you can imagine how surprised she was to get rescued by an ‘alien.’ She wasn’t even sure that she believed in aliens! Not until she found out the real truth about the Unit she worked for.”
“Mommy said that you and Tess and ‘Leen came to Antar five months after she got here with all the others. Did you only get to spend five months with your Mommy and Daddy?”
“Well, that’s the good thing. You see… it was only five months for them, because they traveled in time, back to the time your Uncle Zan and Uncle Michael had left from. But you see, for me, it was six years… I didn’t leave until six years after they did. When Tess, Kathleen, and I came here, we didn’t time travel. Our spaceship took 36 days to get here, but we didn’t leave until six years after they did; and when we got here, it was only five months after they had got here.”
“Where was Tess before your graduation when you thought she was dead?”
“She knew that they were looking for your Uncle Zan, your Uncle Michael and your Mama… and especially her. She wanted to make them stop looking for her so the others would be a little safer, so she went to the base and blew up the white room then used a mind-warp to make all the agents think that they saw her in the fire. Then she just walked away and disappeared. She didn’t tell anyone, not even your Uncle Zan, where she was going, so we all thought she was dead.”
“I’m glad she wasn’t, Daddy… She saved you! We wouldn’t want them to hurt you!”
Isabel smiled and hurried the girls off to bed. After the girls were gone, she sat down in Alex’s lap.
“Now I want my story, Dear! …privately!”
She put her arms around Alex’s neck and they kissed, then Alex picked her up and carried her to their room.
The next day, the girls were playing outside when Mareeya, the 7-year-old, saw the scarred, deformed old man again and pointed him out to her sister Ceelya. The two girls ran back behind the tree.
At the side of the house, beyond the tree, they broke off a couple of roses from one of their mother’s prize rose bushes, and as the man passed their house, each girl offered the old man her gift. The old man accepted the roses and smiled at the two girls appreciatively. Mareeya and Ceelya were surprised. When he smiled, they thought that he actually seemed attractive… even handsome. Isabel also smiled... then pulled the curtain back so the girls wouldn't see her watching from the window.
-------------------------End of Chapter 33
|posted on 12-Oct-2002 6:53:58 PM|
|"Altered Time- Destiny in the Stars"|
A lot had happened to the group from Earth since they arrived on Antar. Kyle and Jeliya had their second child, another boy; and to Kyle’s great surprise (or maybe not), Kathleen, his father’s new bride, had a baby boy about a year after they were married. Michael and Maria also had another little boy, and Max and Liz had a little boy, who was vastly outnumbered by the triplets but nevertheless seemed to live a charmed life.
Every now and then, Liz would come across her copy of “Sabrina’s Diary,” as the group had named the book they found in a cave on Michael’s Moon. It had been opened and translated long ago, about two months after they arrived on Antar. But every time Liz came across it, she couldn’t put it down… it beckoned her to open it… to read it again. She didn’t know why. She was drawn to it in a way that she had never been drawn to any inanimate thing before. It touched her soul as though it were somehow important to her very being. She had even named their three girls after the girls in the diary (and after her grandmother and her mother). In her heart and soul, they had become a part of her.
Liz sat down on the sofa and opened the diary to the first page…
5th day of Oyymstar… Antar Year: 4,702
I’m MayaSabriena… just Maya to my friends, though sometimes they call me Breena or Sabreena, too. That’s me! I’m fifteen. I’m starting this new diary, because I just finished the one I had been writing in. I write a lot. Some of my friends don’t understand why I like to write, but I seem to need to put everything on paper… it’s my memories. Someday, when I’m old and living back on Antar, I’ll read my diaries and be able to relive all the wonderful things that are happening to me now. Oh yes, that brings me to my first entry:
Since we came to Eluymer, the planet of blue water, we have had lots of adventures. Eluymer is the third planet from the sun in the seventh solar system, and as far as we can tell -so far- it is the only planet with any significant life on it. Eluymer is teeming with life… Large, furry animals that run on the plains in herds that stretch for a hundred miles or more, really big birds that remind us of our mythological Jah-ee… only not as big as the Jah-ee, of course; big furry animals that stand on their hind legs and walk out in the river to catch fish… Oh, and all kinds of fish!
Andya and JoLee are my sisters, and they’re fifteen, too. On our fifteenth birthday, last week, Mom and Dad gave us some bracelets and cool stuff. I got a beautiful gold and silver bracelet with an “S” symbol on it, for my name, MayaSabriena. Andya got a choker with a triangle symbol on it, for her name, AnDasniya, and Leesa got a really nice necklace with a cool “L” symbol on it, for her name, JoLeesa.
We’re all wearing them right now. It is so cool! We’re going to wear them when we go to our hideout tomorrow on the little moon.
Eluymer has two moons, a medium-sized one and the little one. Andya, JoLeesa, and I go to the little moon often. Dad lets us take one of the enclose skimmers. The little moon is about half as far away as the other moon, and Andya, Leesa, and I have a secret hideout there. It’s a really neat cave that goes almost through the moon and has a big room at the end. It’s just so totally cool! When we go there tomorrow, I’m going to take the image-making device. I’ve already got some great pictures of us wearing our birthday gifts! I’ll tell you more when we get there! Bye now!
6th day of Oyymstar… Antar Year: 4,702
Hi again! I’m MayaSabriena, and today my sisters, JoLeesa, AnDasniya, and I are in our secret hideout again on the little moon. We brought our birthday gifts with us. I was just looking at my beautiful bracelet. I love it! Right now, JoLeesa is sweeping a part of the room at the end of our cave so we can put a table and some chairs in here and turn this into a “real” sweet hideaway… something really cool and far-out! Andya looks really cool with her neat choker on! Right now, she is trying to hang some small pictures on the walls, but they don’t seem to be staying very well. I’m going to go and help her. I just wanted to write this down first. Bye now! This is Maya!
7th day of Oyymstar… Antar Year: 4,702
I’m MayaSabriena. Something terrible happened yesterday, and I guess I should tell you that I’m pretty scared. We all are. While we were in our hideout, I think something hit our small moon. We think it may have been a meteor. There was a really, really big explosion and bump. JoLee, Andya, and I were inside our cave, and we got knocked off our feet and wound up rolling all the way across to the other side of the room. When we got out of our cave and looked up, Eluymer was getting farther and farther away. At first, we were really scared. Then our moon started to come back and go around Eluymer again… only it didn’t seem to be in the same orbit anymore. It was a sort of elliptical orbit now. The moon would go far away from Eluymer then get closer as it came back and passed by it again. We tried to take the enclose skimmer back, but it wouldn’t start. Then this side of the moon turned away from the sun it got dark again. Now we’re waiting for daylight. This is Maya… and I’m more scared I think than I’ve ever been in my entire life! I’ll write more tomorrow and tell you if we made it.
8th day of Oyymstar… Antar Year: 4,702
I’m MayaSabriena. Yay! We got the enclose skimmer started! It was just a loose connection… probably from the big bump. I’ll tell you more when we get to Eluymer! Bye now!
8th day of Oyymstar… Antar Year: 4,702
I’m MayaSabriena. We had to return to the moon. When we took off, I think our moon was going away from Eluymer, and that made our little enclose skimmer be going away, too. Even when we tried to give it more speed, we just seemed to keep getting further from Eluymer. We could only return here to the moon. We didn’t want to get lost in the cosmos. JoLee and Andya are crying. Yeah, I was, too. But we’re not giving up. When it’s daylight, we’ll try again. This time, we’re going to try leaving when the moon is closest to Eluymer, not when it’s flying away from it. This is Maya. Bye for now.
9th day of Oyymstar… Antar Year: 4,702
I’m MayaSabriena. We tried to leave again today in the enclose skimmer. We took off exactly when our moon was passing closest to Eluymer. But we don’t know what happened… As we took off, something made our enclose skimmer start tumbling end over end. We thought we would die, but it straightened out again… only by then, the moon was going away from Eluymer again and we had to return to the moon. We didn’t want what happened to us before to happen again.
We think the problem we had today might have had something to do with the friction between Eluymer’s atmosphere and the little moon’s atmosphere. We think the friction between the atmospheres caused the enclose skimmer to tumble. We’re going to try again tomorrow. This time, instead of waiting till we’re at the closest point to Eluymer, we will leave when the moon is going toward Eluymer. We hope that this will give us an extra push in the right direction instead of in the wrong direction like the first time. This is important, since the skimmer is only working on two-thirds power now. We lost one of the crystals that power the skimmer when we tried to take the crystals to our hideout on the other side of the moon from where we land the skimmer to clean the moon dust off of them. We’ve all agreed to be optimistic, though, so I’ll see you when we get to Eluymer tomorrow! This is Maya. Bye now!
10th day of Oyymstar… Antar Year: 4,702
I’m MayaSabriena. I think things have gotten worse just when we thought they couldn’t. We went out to try to go back to Eluymer today and found that the moon is going much further away from Eluymer now and takes longer to come back each time. Today, by the time it was going toward Eluymer again, the skimmer was on the wrong side of the moon, and it was dark. On top of everything else, we ran out of food yesterday. Everything we had stashed in our hideout has run out. So we’re hungry, too, but I’m not sure if any of us could eat right now even if we had food. This is Maya. Bye Now.
12th day of Oyymstar… Antar Year: 4,702
I’m MayaSabriena, and I don’t think we are going to make it back home. I try to be optimistic, but the little moon gets further and further away from Eluymer with each orbit. After the last orbit, JoLeesa, Andya, and I thought that the little moon wasn’t going to come back. We were so far away from Eluymer that Eluymer looked smaller than a sunflower seed. But finally it did begin to come back.
If our moon really is still in orbit with Eluymer, it will probably be two days at least, from how far away we are now, before we will be able to try again to take off. And after this orbit, I’m pretty sure that our little moon will drift away in space and then we will never get back to Eluymer again. I think this may be our last try for another reason, too. The power cells in the enclose skimmer are almost drained now. We hope that they still have enough for one more try. When we are in the right place, we will have to run and leave quickly. We won’t ever have another chance. This is MayaSabriena.
This had been Maya’s last entry.
Liz closed the diary and -as she had done the first time she had read it- wiped tears from her eyes as she looked up and quietly said, “Dear God, let them have made it.” For Liz knew that the little moon had indeed broken free of Earth's orbit and was eventually trapped by the tremendous gravitational pull of Jupiter… to become another of the many moons of Jupiter.
In northern New Mexico, near the edge of the desert, the wind was blowing the final grains of sand off of a small chain, a chain that had worked its way up through layers of sediment that stretched back over 12,000 years. The morning sun glinted on the chain, catching the eye of a ten-year-old girl playing with her eight-year-old brother nearby. The little girl walked over and pulled the object from the sand with her hands.
“What's that, Annie?”
“Some kind of bracelet… with an 'S' on it."
"Annie! Jason! Annie, Jason, let's go!" -It was their mother calling.
Annie and Jason ran back to the car. Their father had pulled off the road so that the kids could stretch their legs and take a short break as they crossed the desert.
"Annie found a bracelet, Mom."
"Really, Annie? Let me see it."
"I think I dropped it when I started to run back to the car, Mom. Can we go back and get it?"
"No… We don't have time, Annie. We've gotta get back on the road."
As the days passed, the wind blew bits of sand back over the bracelet, which lay in the desert… waiting… How long? No one could tell. Perhaps for a few days… perhaps for another 12,000 years. Waiting… for other long-buried treasures to rise from the sands beside it… a choker with a triangle and a necklace with a stylized "L" engraved on it.
If one could trace the descendants of the once-owner of the bracelet, one would come forward in time all the way to the present, to one Liz Parker, now Liz Evans, who like her distant ancestor, MayaSabriena, also kept a diary of her memories… and now has brought Maya’s diary -and her future descendants- back home to Antar.
The End ?
No... Actually it's just...
for our friends on Antar!
|posted on 17-Oct-2002 3:25:06 AM|
Read the sequel: "Life in the Stars."
"Life in the Stars" takes up where "A.T.: Destiny in the Stars" leaves off. The "pod squad" and friends are living happily on Antar and going about their (rather interesting) lives, but there is a dramatic revelation concerning Liz and Tess in "Something About Liz," and Max and Michael and clan decide that the kids should see where they grew up. Most of the group leave for the "vacation of a lifetime" on earth. Of course, it can't all be so easy! The trip on the new granilith is full of surprises and antics. And one might wonder not only whether or not these kids are ready for earth, but is earth ready for these kids? Expect some angsty, frightful moments, but remember that the sun also rises!
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 17-Oct-2002 3:26:17 AM ]
|posted on 22-Oct-2002 8:44:41 PM|