|posted on 1-Sep-2001 3:58:40 PM|
|DESTINY’S CHILD: THE PROPHECY CHRONICLES|
RATING: NC-17 (though most of the story is PG-13)
DISCLAIMER: Don’t own, but I know who does legally, so don’t sue. Thanks.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Story picks up at the start of Season 2, so there are some spoilers in it. I like some of the plot twists from this season, so I incorporated a few of them in this Fic. Keep in mind, I’m basing this on Katims’ (?) speculation that our Antarians will probably never see the “mother planet” during the show’s run. Of course that little piece of info got my writer’s mind going...”What if?” So this is my little version of how I think it’s all going to end up and why.
** in front of dialogue represents internal thoughts.
/// in front of passages represents visions, flashes or dreams.
>> in front of passages represents song lyrics. The song “I Shall Believe” belongs to Sheryl Crow.
Roswell, New Mexico
His eyes were what she’d noticed first. Always his eyes. Deep, dark, liquid pools of emotions, secrets and promises. His eyes were her undoing.
Liz sighed. Had it only been last night when Max had kissed her and promised that she was his destiny? Were they “soulmates” like her Grandma Claudia had talked about last fall before she died?
It didn’t matter now. Everything was different. They’d found the second orb, and this morning, they’d learned about the “destiny of the Royal Four.” Max and Tess were husband and wife! Michael and Isabel were engaged! Max had said that it changed nothing for him and her, but she knew. She knew that they could never be. So she’d said good-bye and run.
Max had a destiny, and she was not part of it. She was just little Liz Parker, a small town nobody. She was no one’s destiny.
Liz sighed. Locking the front door of The Crashdown, she turned off the front lights, pressed her forehead against the cold glass of the front window and listened to the sound of steady rain pattering against the pavement outside. Only the glow from the kitchen illuminated the room. Jose had gone home after finishing the kitchen, so she was alone. Always alone.
The hairs on the back of her neck rose and a small shiver raced along her spine. She could feel her chest tighten as she looked up into the darkened, rain-drenched street.
“Max,” she whispered.
Max Evans stood in the middle of the street, oblivious to the rain, and stared at Liz. She looked so lost. As lost as he felt. Ever since she had run away from him, he had been feeling an emptiness where his heart should be. This couldn’t be his destiny...not seeing her...touching her...loving her.
As they stared at one another through the rain, he could feel her pain wash over him. It shook him to his very core.
He took a step forward and stopped.
Liz suddenly turned and ran back into the kitchen. Out of his sight. Out of his life...again. But, not out of his heart.
Glancing at the upper windows of the building, he saw Liz’s bedroom light come on.
“Climb the fire escape and go to her!” screamed every fiber of his being. “Comfort her! Love her!”
But he couldn’t. He could feel her fear. She didn’t want him here.
He turned, climbed into the Jeep and drove away.
Liz watched him go from the safety of her room. It just about tore her heart the rest of the way out to see him drive away, knowing he had wanted to come to her. She couldn’t do this all summer. She had to get away. Time and distance were the only ways that she would survive this.
“I’m sorry Grandma, but I can’t follow my heart...not this time,” she whispered as Max drove out of sight.
Quickly, she packed some clothes and essentials in her backpack. She retrieved her journal and the $500 in cash that she’d been saving for college from their secret hiding place. She scribbled a note to her parents and left it on her bed.
When she was sure that everyone was asleep, she shimmied down the fire escape and disappeared into the rainy darkness.
/// “You are far older than your sixteen years. You have lived before. Your soul has been searching for him across the ages. Now is your time,” the voice said.
Liz stared at the shimmering light, but couldn’t make out a form. It was too bright. She shut her eyes.
When she opened them a second later, the light was gone.
Off to her right, she felt a glowing warmth. Turning, she saw Max. She wanted to touch him, but she couldn’t. All she could do was watch.
Max was smiling at someone she couldn’t see, but she could see that whoever he was smiling at, he loved very deeply. She could see it in his eyes. Always his eyes.
She saw a pair of female arms hand Max a small child to hold.
Liz gasped. “He looks just like Max!” In her heart, she knew that this child was Max’s son.
“No!” she whispered. And the image faded. A piercing sound began to scream in her ears. ///
Liz jerked awake. Disoriented, she looked around. She was in her own room at home in Roswell. And the piercing sound was just her alarm clock beeping. Slamming the alarm off, she sat up in bed.
“Home less than a week, and I’m still dreaming about him. How am I going to get through being near him at school today? Hell, how am I going to get through the year?” she sighed. “Maybe I should have stayed in Florida.”
**Why? You thought about him every day in Florida. You dreamed about him there. Why did you think you wouldn’t here?**
Liz got up and got ready for school. Donning the clothes that Maria had picked out for her the night before, she began to pace the floor.
“How am I going to handle seeing him and Tess together?” she mumbled to herself. “God, I don’t think I’m going to be able to handle this “destiny” stuff.”
She looked at herself in the dresser mirror and sighed with disgust. “I look like hell. No way is there enough concealer in the world to cover up these dark circles under my eyes.”
**Face it Parker, you’re hung up on him and you always will be. Just give it two more years and then you can go away to college and never see him again.**
She startled from her thoughts and looked over at the bedroom door. “Morning, Mom.”
“Morning sweetie. Did you get a good night’s sleep? Ready for your first day of junior year?”
“Yeah Mom, I did,” she lied as she looked into her mother’s anxious and worried face. As the worry lines from her mother’s brow disappeared with relief, Liz inhaled deeply and smiled. “And I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”
“Oh honey, this year will be great. You’ll see. You’ll start interacting with your old friends again, and with the new job in Congresswoman Whittaker’s office, you’ll be experiencing a whole new world.”
“I know Mom,” she said as she scooped up her backpack from the floor. “It’s a whole new life. A whole new outlook.”
“That’s great honey. Do you want to come downstairs for some waffles before you leave?”
Liz felt a wave of nervous nausea at the thought of food. “Um, sorry Mom, but I promised to go over to Maria’s this morning and if I don’t leave now, I’ll be late.”
Liz walked over to her mother and gave her a hug. “But hey, I’ll settle for some homemade chocolate, chocolate chip cookies when I get home. And a big tall glass of milk.”
Her mom smiled at her. “It’s a deal. Have a good day. Tell Maria the same from me.”
“Ok, Mom. I will.”
Liz kissed her Mom on the cheek, hurried down the stairs and out the door. Once outside in the alley, she took another deep breath. Feeling another wave of nervousness pass, she straightened her shoulders, lifted her chin and ran all the way to Maria’s.
Standing in front of his locker, Max scanned the hall of West Roswell High. She was here. He’d felt her the minute she’d come back into town. He’d driven by The Crashdown last night and had seen her light on in her bedroom. He’d been tempted to stop and climb the fire escape. To take her in his arms and kiss her.
But, Michael had been with him. So he hadn’t. Instead, he’d dreamed of her again last night.
He felt his body tighten in response as he remembered. She’d been so soft. So beautiful. So warm.
**So not real. Just like all summer.**
He opened his locker, grabbed his Chemistry notebook and stashed it in his backpack.
“Tess.” He took his English book from his bag and tossed it onto the top shelf of his locker.
Tess sighed. “Are you not even going to look at me when I talk to you?”
Max slammed his locker shut. “I have to get to Chemistry.”
“You can’t ignore me forever Max Evans!” she shouted, as he turned and walked away.
He could feel his ears getting hot as he felt the other students in the crowded hallway look at him.
**Damn, now they’ll be gossiping all over school by the time fourth period ends.**
He felt Tess try to push an image into his head.
“Stay out of my head,” he growled to himself, pushing back with his mind. He walked around the corner and slammed into another student.
“Ow! Watch where you’re going girlfriend.”
Max instinctively reached out and grabbed Maria to keep her from falling into the lockers. “Sorry,” he mumbled. “I had someone in my mind.”
Maria raised an eyebrow at his turn of phrase. “Hmm, wouldn’t happen to be a certain little blonde witch we know?”
Max looked away.
“Does that girl ever learn when to quit?” Maria cracked her gum. “Have you seen Michael this morning?”
“Uh, I think he’s over in the Art room. He has Advanced Methods this period.”
“I’m sure,” Maria said with a smile. “I have a free period right now. Maybe I’ll go over there and see if he needs a model.”
Max chuckled. “You’re taking great pleasure in torturing him aren’t you.”
“Hey, if he want’s to call it quits, that’s fine. But, that doesn’t mean I have to. Liz says I’m beating my head against a brick wall. But hey, what can I say, I’m a masochist.”
Max sobered at the mention of Liz’s name. “How is she Maria?”
Maria sighed and checked out her dark purple-polished fingernails. “About as well as you, Maxwell. But hey,” she said, glancing over his shoulder, “if you want more details, you’ll have to ask her yourself. Gotta go.”
Max turned his head and stopped breathing. He didn’t even notice Maria leaving. All he could see was Liz. Beautiful and breathtaking Liz...walking toward him with that same purposeful stride that he loved. She had a thoughtful frown on her face as she concentrated on the class schedule sheet in her hand.
**Look at me Liz.**
**Let’s see, Chemistry next, and then lunch--**
**Look at me Liz.**
Liz glanced up from her schedule and found herself looking straight into Max’s eyes.
**Oh shit.** Another wave of nausea.
Tearing her gaze away, she quickly ducked into the girls’ bathroom. Ignoring the startled group of girls as she rushed into a stall, she quickly bent over the bowl and retched.
**This is not a good sign.**
Liz froze at the sound of Isabel’s voice. “Um, yeah?”
“Are you okay?”
Flushing, she straightened up and walked out of the stall. “Yeah, everything’s fine.”
Isabel stared at her.
“Really, Iz, I’m fine. First day back jitters that’s all. I do this every year. Just ask Maria.” Liz flushed as she fumbled with the cold water nozzle on the sink, avoiding the beautiful blonde’s questioning gaze.
“If you’re sure....”
“Yeah, I am. I’m just going to wash my face with a little cold water and then head to class.”
“Come on Isabel. She said she was fine. Let’s go before we’re late to class,” said one of the members of Isabel’s little clique.
“Ok, if you’re sure.”
“I’m fine. Go on. I’ll see ya around. Ok?”
Liz stayed in the bathroom until she heard the late bell ring. Peeking out from behind the door, she scanned the empty hall and sighed.
**That was a close one Parker. You’ve got to pay more attention.**
She hurried to the Chemistry Lab and opened the door. Fourteen heads turned at once to look at her. She stopped in her tracks.
“Starting the year off on the wrong foot, aren’t we Miss Parker?” Ms. Simms asked peering over her glasses.
“Sorry. I was, um, making a restroom run.” Liz felt her cheeks growing warm.
“Let’s not have it happen again, Ok? Now, take a seat.”
Liz walked over to the lab table that Ms. Simms pointed at. As it came into view, she stopped. She looked around, but all of the rest of the tables were occupied.
“Is there a problem, Miss Parker?”
“If you don’t like the seating arrangement, then I suggest you not be late to class.”
Liz nodded and proceeded to the table. As she sat down, she deliberately ignored her table companion, pulled her notebook from her bag and began to write.
Max felt her the minute she walked into the room. He didn’t even have to turn around and look. He just kept staring at Ms. Simms.
He could sense Liz’s approach and knew that she was staring at his back. He also felt her fear...her pain.
Glancing at her out of the corner of his eye, his body tightened. She looked pale and lost. She was busy taking notes and ignoring him.
**I am so sorry Liz.**
He felt her jump. He looked over at her. She shifted on her stool and kept writing.
“...and Max Evans.”
“What?” Max said out loud, startled by Ms. Simms’ voice.
The class laughed.
“Mr. Evans, I realize that this is the first day of school and that your brain is probably foggy from all of the time you spent with your girlfriend this summer. However, it’s time to come back to the reality of AP Chemistry.”
“Uh...I don’t have a girlfriend.” Max said, noticing that Liz had stopped writing.
The class snickered, and Ms. Simms looked at him skeptically. “Thank you for that latest update Mr. Evans, but that is more information than we needed to know. Now, as I was saying, your lab partner for the semester is Miss Parker.”
“Oh, right. Okay.” Max shifted on his stool and glanced at the clock on the wall. Ms. Simms continued lecturing about lab procedures to the class. **Only ten minutes? This is going to be a long class.**
**Tell me about it.**
Max looked at Liz. She’d stopped writing again. He could swear she was even paler than before.
Liz swallowed, shook her head and started writing again.
He knew he’d heard her voice.
She was still writing, but he could see her hand shaking. **Leave me alone Max.**
**Can you hear me?**
She stopped writing and looked at him. There were tears in her eyes. He could see her pain...her fear...and her love.
His body trembled as he felt a powerful surge go through his very soul. She still loved him. Her eyes couldn’t lie to him. They wouldn’t let her. She was still his.
**This time forever,** said a small voice in his head he didn’t recognize.
Suddenly, Liz lost what color she had left and fainted. He caught her before she hit the floor.
/// Maria lying dead on the ground. Blood pooling around her head.
/// Liz, heavy with child, running through the desert.
/// Max screaming for her from the cliffs.
/// Kyle, falling beside her, his eyes empty and glazed over.
/// Michael dragging Tess away to safety.
/// Isabel attacking some creature.
/// Fire.... Screaming...
/// Alex, jumping in front of Isabel, dying in her place.
/// Max reaching down, frantically grabbing for her hand.
/// Liz touching her fingertips to his palm.
/// Pain.... Burning.... Falling....
/// Blackness. ///
She was dead. She knew it in the depths of her heart. She could hear his anguished cries.
“Liz, please, wake up!”
“Max?” She groaned.
“Liz. Come on babe. You’ve got to open your eyes. Come back to me.”
She opened her eyes and found herself staring up into Max’s worried face. Her hand trembling slightly, she reached up and touched his cheek. He smiled.
She smiled back.
“Mr. Evans, I think she’s coming around. Would you please help her to the nurse’s office?”
She snapped her head back.
**Why are there so many people staring at me?**
She was laying on the floor in the Chemistry Lab. Max was cradling her in her arms.
**You fainted Liz.**
She jerked upright, and the world started spinning.
“Whoa, Liz. Too fast. Take it easy,” Max said, helping her to stand and steady herself.
“Miss Parker, I think maybe you need to go home,” Ms. Simms said, picking up Liz’s backpack from the floor and holding it out to her.
“Um...yeah. I think I may,” Liz whispered, grabbing her backpack. She tried to pull her arm away from Max, but that just made her dizzier.
“Please Liz, let me help.”
She stared into his sad, brown eyes and nodded.
As they walked down the hall, she forced herself to keep her eyes on the ground and where she was walking. She tried to keep as much air as possible between their bodies, only letting her arm and shoulder rest against him.
They had connected again. She was sure of it. And from what she could remember, what she’d seen was horrifying.
Max could feel Liz’s tension. It radiated from her. She was scared. But of what? He had to find out.
He spotted the Eraser Room. Glancing around, he saw that the hallway was deserted. Before she could make a sound, he had them both inside, locking the door with his powers.
“What do you think you’re doing Max Evans!” she hissed.
“Trying to see if you’re really okay,” he replied calmly.
“I am fine! And it’s not really any of your concern.” She narrowed her eyes.
**Good. Her color is coming back.**
“I don’t give a damn about my color. I just want out of here. Now!”
He stepped back from her stunned, but didn’t release her. “Liz, I didn’t say anything about your color.”
“Yes, you did. I heard you plain as day. I’m fine. I’m just hungry. I didn’t eat breakfast this morning so my blood sugar is a little low. That’s why I fainted.”
“Liz, I didn’t say anything out loud.” He grabbed her chin and made her look into his eyes. “I thought it.”
**I love the way you wrinkle your nose when you snort. It’s very cute.**
She paled, and her knees buckled.
“Liz! Don’t you faint on me again.”
“No, I’m not going to faint,” she answered, shaking her head slowly. **You read my mind!**
**No. I heard your thoughts and you heard mine.**
“How?” she whispered.
“I don’t know. I guess I’m getting stronger. We’ve all been working on our powers this summer. Trying to develop our skills so none of us will be captured again....”
Suddenly, she jerked away from him and backed against the wall. “Max, you have to stay away from me.”
“Why Liz? What’s got you so scared?” He took a step towards her.
“No, don’t touch me!”
Something had scared her. He needed to find out, or how would he be able to protect her?
He grabbed her face and kissed her. That’s when he saw it.
They were dying. He couldn’t stop it. He couldn’t protect them. Maria. Kyle. Alex. Liz. All dead. Because of him.
He broke away from her. Stepping back, he shook his head. “I’m sorry Liz...I am so sorry.”
His heart was breaking all over again. They couldn’t be together. Ever. He reached behind him and unlocked the door.
“Max...,” she whispered. Her beautiful brown eyes filled with tears. “Oh, Max....”
“Please, don’t cry Liz. I won’t bother you again.“
Then he turned, opened the door and walked away from her for the second time in his life.
“You’re working where?” Michael yelled, slamming his work locker shut.
Liz looked at him calmly. “In Congresswoman Whittaker’s office. As an aide.”
“You do realize that she’s the one who wanted to keep the Special Unit open. That she wanted to keep hunting for us?”
“Yes, I know. But, she wasn’t successful.”
“Think for a minute, Space Boy,” Maria said, glaring at him as he kicked in the door of the locker beneath his. “Liz’s job is the perfect opportunity for you guys.”
“What?” he asked.
“Sheesh, are you sure you were a military leader in your previous life?” Maria smacked him in the forehead. “Liz can keep an eye on Congresswoman Alien Hunter and tell you if she tries to re-open the Special Unit. You couldn’t ask for a better undercover spy.”
He glared at Maria, then at Liz. “Does Max know you’re working there?”
“No, Michael. I will not change my mind. I need this job. Away from the café.” She got up from her seat on the couch and walked over to the kitchen door. Peeking out the window into the restaurant, she spotted Max and Tess sitting in the group’s regular booth.
She looked back at Michael. “I have to put some distance between me and Max. He has to follow his destiny. If my job in Whittaker’s office can help you guys accomplish your goal of getting home, then great. Please understand.”
“Thank you. Now, I don’t want to be late for my first day. See you later Maria.”
Liz picked up her purse from the couch and walked out the back door.
“I don’t like this. Max is going to freak,” Michael murmured.
Maria adjusted her antenna headband, cracked her gum and shrugged. “Is there anything you do like Space Boy?”
She held up her hands. “Break’s over. Fix the locker, without blowing it up, thank you, before you report for fry duty. We have customers.”
Walking out into the dining room, she stopped and cocked her head.
Pop! “Shit!” Bang! “Damn!”
She chuckled and shook her head. **I warned you Space Boy.**
Pulling out her order pad, she walked over to Max and Tess, who seemed to be deep in conversation. **Can she be any more obvious in that top?**
“Hey girlfriend. Tess.”
“Oh, hey Maria,” Max greeted with a smile.
“Max, is there anything else you wanted?” Tess asked, leaning forward onto the table.
Maria rolled her eyes.
“No, that’s all Tess,” he replied, summarily dismissing her as he turned his attention back to Maria.
**Hah, take that, you little alien hussy.** Maria moved slightly allowing Tess to exit the booth.
“Okay Max. Bye.”
The front door of the café had barely closed when he started in.
“So, is Liz working today? Is she feeling okay? She fainted in Chemistry this morning.”
“Whoa, slow down there cowboy,” she said, sliding into the vacant seat across from him. “Lizzie fainted this morning?” She shook her head. “I tell that girl every year to eat breakfast on the first day of school, or she’s going to end up tossing her cookies. Does she listen? No. Same thing every year. Fainting is a new one. But, I guess that’s better than throwing up in the middle of class. One year in eighth grade, she--”
“What? Oh...sorry. My bad.” She sat up straight and looked him in the eye with her ‘serious Mom’ face. “Yes, Max. Liz is the perfect picture of health.”
“So, um, is she working this afternoon?”
“Yeah, she’s at work. But, I don’t think she wants to see you.”
He glanced at the kitchen door. “Is she hiding in the back?”
She looked at him quizzically. “Oh, that’s right, you don’t know.”
“Liz isn’t working here anymore. She got a new job. She’s an office aide for Congresswoman Whittaker.”
“Chill Max. It’s cool. She’s being like James Bond and His Girl Friday all rolled into one.”
He stood and sprinted towards the front doors.
“Max,” she yelled. “Liz is perfectly--”
The sound of the door’s welcoming bell was all the response she got from Max, as he left.
“He freaked didn’t he?” Michael asked, suddenly appearing beside her.
Standing up, she glared at Michael. Then she smiled. “Fix that locker yet Space Boy?”
Michael scowled and stomped back into the kitchen, the sound of Maria’s throaty chuckle ringing in his ears.
“Congresswoman Whittaker’s office,” Liz said as she answered the phone on her desk. “Yes. I see. The Congresswoman is out of the office right now. I’d be happy to take a message and have her call you back when she returns.”
Liz nodded as she grabbed a pen and the phone messages log.
“Okay, let me repeat that to make sure I’ve got it right. ‘Call Nicholas at 555-7878 ASAP. Family emergency about the harvest.’ Okay? Okay. Good-bye.”
She hung up the phone. **I didn’t know Vanessa’s family were farmers. Interesting.**
Suddenly, she tensed and closed her eyes.
**Max. You said you’d leave me alone.**
“Well that was before I knew you were working for Whittaker.”
She opened her eyes and stared at Max standing in the doorway.
“Stop getting inside my head.”
“I can’t,” he said, walking up to her desk. “You’re projecting your thoughts to me. It’s like an internal speaker inside my head.”
“Why would I do that? I want to give us space, not draw us closer.”
“Look, all I know is, once I came through that door and saw you, I could hear everything that you were thinking.”
She narrowed her eyes. “How long have you been able to hear me Max? Have you been able to ‘listen in’ these last twelve months?”
“No. Today was the first time. Believe me Liz, I’m a little unsettled by this latest development. I can’t do this with Isabel, Michael or Tess. I tried.”
She looked down at her desk at the mention of Tess’ name.
**Look at me Liz**
She looked up.
“Only you can ‘hear’ me. This is an ability that appears to only exist between us. Maybe our connection is evolving.”
“Great. It was one thing to deal with the flashes. Those I only had to worry about when we touched. Now, I can’t even be in the same room with you without worrying that you’re going to hear me thinking about how hot you look in your black jeans and T-shirt.” She closed her eyes and groaned. **Oh God, I just said that last part out loud didn’t I?**
**Yes, you did.**
Opening her eyes, she discovered he’d moved from standing in front of the desk to kneeling down next to her behind it. She swallowed nervously as she stared into his soul-filled eyes. “M-Max, I--”
He pounced. Later, when she would describe this moment in her journal, she would most definitely say he pounced. Like a sleek, black panther stalking it’s prey. No, wait. Not prey. Stalking its mate.
He deepened the kiss, and she found herself caught up in the maelstrom of his emotions.
/// Watching her running away from him in the desert.
/// Standing out in the rain outside The Crashdown watching her the night she left for Florida.
/// Finding out from Maria that she’d run off in the middle of the night and not knowing if she was coming back.
/// Laying on his bed and listening to his Counting Crows CD.
/// Pouring his heart out to Maria in The Crashdown after closing time.
/// Watching the Congressional hearings to dissolve the Special Unit on C-Span.
///Seeing her in the hallway at school.
///Catching her when she fainted in class.
///Seeing her vision when he kissed her in the Eraser Room. ///
She jerked away from the kiss. “Stop it! We can’t do this anymore.”
Max ran a hand nervously through his bangs. “I know I said I wouldn’t bother you anymore. But, I don’t like the idea of you working here for a woman that wanted the Special Unit to stay open. What makes you think the government wouldn’t put you in a white room if they found out that you were healed by an alien? You’re putting yourself in danger.”
“Max, I know you worry, but I’ll be fine. I told Michael--”
“Wait a minute. Michael knows about this?”
“Yes, but I only told him about it just before I came in this afternoon. And, as I told him when he tried to raise an objection, I am perfectly safe. I just need a change of scenery. If my being here can help you guys in the process, then that’s just an added bonus. But, I’m really doing this for me. I have to let you go so you can fulfill your destiny. That isn’t going to happen if I have to see you every day at school and at work.”
“I don’t care about this ‘alien’ destiny. All I’ve ever known is being human. And loving you.”
He leaned in closer to her. “It was quiet all summer. No aliens have attacked us. I think that message we saw was nothing more than an old message meant for us over 50 years ago. The fact that no one else besides Nasedo has shown up around here since the crash makes me believe that whoever ‘they’ were, are long gone. That the four of us are the last of our people.”
She sighed softly. **I so want to believe you Max.**
She reached out and stroked his cheek.
/// Too much blood...too many screams....
/// The look of guilt and devastation in Max’s eyes....
She trembled as she withdrew her hand from his cheek. **So much pain. I wasn’t there to take his pain away. I failed....**
She broke the surface of her mind’s eye as she returned to the present at the sound of Max’s confused question. “What am I seeing? Where is it coming from? Did you see it?”
“Your vision from earlier today?”
“Yes, but I don’t know what it is. Is it a nightmare that you’ve had recently?”
“I-I don’t think so. I think I would remember dreaming something that horrific. I think it’s a warning Max.”
“Of what? I told you no enemies have shown up.”
“To me. I think it’s telling me if I don’t keep my distance, than everyone will suffer. I have to let you go Max.”
Max sighed in frustration. “No, I’ve done some thinking since this morning. I refuse to believe that. I think you’re scared and your subconscious mind has found your worst possible fear--.”
“Parker, were there any phone calls while I was out?”
Liz jumped at the sound of her boss’ voice. She glanced up to see the Congresswoman walking through the front door.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you had company.”
Max stood up and turned to face Liz’s boss.
“I’m Vanessa Whittaker,” she said extending her hand to Max in greeting.
“Max Evans,” he replied and quickly shook her hand.
“Are you Liz’s boyfriend? Or just a friend?”
Liz interrupted. “A friend. We’re lab partners. We have AP Chemistry together. Max was just seeing when I wanted to study the notes from today.”
Vanessa arched an eyebrow. “Oh, I see. Well, I’ll just leave you two to iron out your study time. I’ll be in my office. Nice to meet you Max.”
“Oh, you did have one phone message,” Liz said, suddenly realizing what Vanessa had asked when she’d first entered the office. “Someone named Nicholas said you need to call him ASAP. Something about an emergency with your family’s harvest? Anyway, here’s the number.” She stood and handed the phone log to Vanessa.
Vanessa nodded slowly as she looked over the message and then back at Liz. “Was that all?”
“Yeah, he was pretty abrupt.”
“Then, I’ll be on the phone in my office. And Liz, I don’t wish to be disturbed until I tell you it’s alright.”
Vanessa retreated into her office and shut the door.
Liz turned back to Max. “Look, you better go. I don’t need to get fired for having friends hanging around the office on my first day. Maybe we can talk more about this tomorrow in school. Okay?”
He stared at Vanessa’s closed door, then glanced back at Liz and nodded. “Okay. I’ll go, but we are going to talk about this some more. This latest connection between the two of us needs to be discussed with the others. They need to know what’s going on.”
He took one last look at her and left.
She sighed. **Who am I trying to fool? I am never going to be over Max Evans. I could go to Pluto and it still wouldn’t be far enough away to stop these feelings.**
Shaking her head, she picked up the stack of folders on her desk and walked into the file room.
Thirty seconds later, the green light on the intercom speaker next to her desk went out.
Vanessa sat back in her chair and dialed a familiar number into her cell phone. It rang once before Nicholas answered.
“Contact has been established.”
“Already?” Nicholas asked. “That was fast.”
“It helps to have the King’s consort working in the office.”
“Are you sure?”
“He’s the one who saved her last year during the shooting at a local restaurant. It has to be Zan. Only he had the power to bring back the dying. And from what I overheard a few minutes ago, they’ve definitely bonded.”
“Have you taken the necessary steps to obtain information from her?”
“The phones are bugged, and the two-way transmitter on the intercom speaker is working properly.”
“Did you take care of our little ‘protector’ problem?”
She picked up a pencil off the desk and began to tap it on the arm of her chair. “Of course. In fact, if he’s not already dead, he will be soon.”
“I haven’t learned which of the females is Vilandra yet. But, when I do, I’m confident I’ll be able to convince her to give us the Granilith. After all, she was never the sharpest knife in the drawer. She’ll believe whatever I tell her.”
“You don’t have anymore time to waste. We need it now. We’re out of time.”
“But, I thought the husks were almost ready?”
“They’ve been sabotaged.”
“What!” She sat up straight.
“We’ve been betrayed by that bitch, Courtney. She broke the seal on the tanks. The entire harvest is gone.”
“Seems she’s a member of the Rath faction. Unfortunately, she managed to elude us, so be on the lookout for her. I’m positive she’s headed your way. She’ll want to make a report to her ‘Great Savior’ of what she’s accomplished in his name.”
She snapped the pencil that she was holding in half.
“Find the Granilith and eliminate Courtney. Kivar’s growing impatient.”
“Then why don’t you send someone here to help me, Nicholas?” she hissed into the phone.
“We’ll be there soon. We need to finish eliminating any trace of Copper Summit. Then those of us that remain will head your way.”
“Fine. Until then, I think I may have a way to bring the Royal Four to their knees.”
Max never got a chance to talk to Liz that evening. Instead, he found himself dealing with a dying Nasedo in his bedroom. He’d just sat down at his desk to call Liz, when there’d been a knock at his window. Thinking it was Michael, he was startled to discover a fatally wounded Nasedo stumble into view.
“They’re among you now,” Nasedo warned, holding up what looked to Max like a piece of dried snakeskin.
“Who?” he asked, dreading the answer as he watched the skin dissolve into a cloud of dust.
“The Skins,” Nasedo whispered with his last breath.
“No, no, no,” he moaned. Their enemies had found them. **There’s no way my life will ever be normal again.**
He called Michael. They picked up Tess and Isabel from Tess’ house and took Nasedo’s body out to the pod chamber. The healing stones wouldn’t work. Whomever had killed Nasedo, had made sure it was permanent. As they looked at one another, they all had the same thought.
They were arguing again, the king and his second. She watched them from the rooftop of the building next door to The Crashdown. Courtney sighed.
**Rath--no, Michael now--is so handsome.**
She’d had the privilege of seeing Rath often on Antar. Her father had been his second, and Courtney had been training for the same position when Rath had been killed. Now, her time had finally arrived to serve him. True, it meant her own probable demise, but at least she’d die knowing that she’d saved him from his death this time around.
She focused her attention once more on the present and the two people below her.
“Damn it Max, it’s been three days! We can’t just sit here and wait for whoever killed Nasedo to come and pick us off too. We need to get the hell out of Roswell!”
Max frowned. “Don’t you think I realize the danger we’re in? Why do you think I moved Tess in with Valenti? We don’t know exactly what’s out there or how many. It’s better if we stay where we know the territory and have some back up.”
“You’re kidding yourself, Maxwell. If Nasedo couldn’t defend against them, what makes you think the Roswell police department and the four of us can do any better?”
Max sighed. “It’s just a gut feeling I have. I can’t explain it.”
Suddenly, the back door of The Crashdown opened. The two boys jumped as Maria came out with the trash. She walked over to the dumpster and threw in two trash bags.
Putting her hands on her hips, she raised an eyebrow at them. “What’s this? Your usual booth not good enough anymore for your arguments over all things alien?”
“You know, it would be safer to have your conversations inside, where we’re closed and no one but little ol’ me can hear you.”
“Maria, this doesn’t concern you,” Michael snapped.
Max took two steps away from Michael, and suddenly found himself fascinated with the toe of his sneaker.
Maria narrowed her eyes and advanced on Michael. “Excuse me? You use my Jetta to go on your little missions, you drag me along for said missions, and without my help you would have died or been captured at least a half a dozen times. Does that about cover the extent of how much this doesn’t concern me?”
“I’ve told you. I love you too much to put you in anymore danger. You can’t be involved in this anymore.”
“Hello? Are you kidding me? You love me, but it’s too dangerous?” She poked him in the chest.” You’re starting to sound like Max, Space Boy. I got news for you. I am not Liz. I’m not taking a step back because you ask me to. That’s not what love is. Love means I stick by you. I accept the risks, and help you find the answers you need. You’re stuck with me Guerin, because I love you too much to not face the dangers.”
Michael stared at her as she turned on her heel and walked back into The Crashdown.
“Shall we?” Max asked, motioning toward the door.
Michael glared as Max tried to suppress a grin. He turned on his heel and stomped through the back door.
Max sighed. **You’re right Maria. I need to stick by the one I love no matter the risks. I’m coming for you Liz.** Then he followed Michael inside.
Up on the roof, Courtney was puzzled by the exchange she’d just witnessed as she stepped back into the shadows.
**Rath is in love with a human? What about his betrothed? Where is Vilandra?**
Liz pushed her hair out of her eyes. She shivered as a cool breeze caressed her bare arms. **Good thing the library isn’t too far from home. Wish I’d worn a sweater tonight.**
As she walked along the darkened street, she looked up at the stars. It was difficult to see in town, but she could just make out the V-shaped
constellation. She wondered at the mysteries it held about Max.
A strange humming noise suddenly caught her attention. She stopped walking and glanced over her shoulder.
Two shadowy figures were following her.
The hair on the back of her neck rose.
“Run!” screamed a small voice inside her head.
Forgetting all about the stars, she took off down the street. She could hear their footsteps behind her, getting nearer. She turned down a side street, and hopped a fence. Spotting a shed, she ducked behind it and held her breath. She heard the footsteps run past.
Quickly, she darted out from behind the shed and ran back the way she’d come. She knew she wasn’t far from the restaurant. Soon, she’d be safe.
She glanced over her shoulder to see if she was being followed. She didn’t see anyone. She turned her head back around and gasped.
She couldn’t stop herself in time and ran right into her pursuers. She felt their cold grip on her arms as one of them covered her mouth with a cloth. She tried to scream. She could feel her brain getting foggy. With one last desperate attempt she cried out in her mind to the one person she hoped would hear her. Then, everything went black.
Max jerked his head up from the Chemistry book he’d been reading while Michael and Maria hashed it out in the kitchen.
He tried to reach her with his mind.
He jumped up from the booth and ran into the kitchen.
Michael and Maria sprang apart from the kiss they’d been engaged in. Michael rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “What’s up Maxwell?”
Maria reached over to wipe the peach lipstick off of Michael’s mouth. “Relax, girlfriend. Liz went to the library tonight. The witch kept her late at work this afternoon, and Liz has a current affairs report to write. No biggie.”
“Has she come home yet?”
“No. But, it’s only ten after nine, so she should be home anytime. What’s the matter?”
“I think Liz is in trouble.”
Maria’s eyes widened. “What? How do you know?”
“I heard her scream my name in my head. But, when I answered her, all I got was silence.”
Michael looked at Max confused. “You heard her? What in the hell are you talking about Max?”
“Liz and I discovered a few days ago that we’re able to communicate telepathically. So far, we’ve only been able to do it if we’re in the same room. We were going to tell you guys when we discovered it, but Nasedo’s murder kind of postponed the announcement.”
“Well, she must be fairly close then. We’ll head over to the library on foot. I’m sure we’ll run into her,” Michael said.
“I’m coming with you,” Maria stated, taking off her apron and headband.
“No, you stay here,” Michael said, holding up a hand. “Just in case Liz comes home while were out looking for her. Okay?”
She nodded and watched them head out the back door.
As they jogged down the street towards the library, Max tried again to reach out to Liz.
They rounded the corner, and Max stopped in his tracks. Sinking to his knees, a vision flashed through his mind.
“What is it?” Michael asked.
“Liz.” He closed his eyes. “Terror. There were two of them. Tried to get away. Too strong....”
His eyes flew open and he looked at Michael. “Oh God! They’ve got her!”
Liz’s head hurt, and her mouth tasted fuzzy. She tried to open her eyes, but quickly shut them when a bright light hit her in the face.
**What happened? Where am I? Am I dead?**
**Far from it, human.**
Liz opened her eyes at the sound of the voice. She was lying on the floor, surrounded by solid white walls and a ceiling.
She rolled over and sat up on her knees, shivering as her bare legs came into full contact with the cold, white tile floor. Her clothes were gone. The only thing between her and the cold was a thin, white cotton hospital gown.
Looking around, she felt a knot of dread forming in the pit of her stomach. She couldn’t see a door or any windows. The room was empty. She was the only one here.
**If we’d wanted you dead, we’d have killed you back in town. You’re much more useful to us alive.**
She clutched her head in her hands.
**Get out of my head!**
She heard an evil, emotionless chuckle, then she saw the vision.
/// Max trying to rescue her.
/// Max being captured.
/// Max being tortured.
/// Max being killed.
“No! No! No!” she screamed, covering her ears, trying to drown out the voice and stop the images in her mind.
**You can’t stop us. This is destiny.**
She began to sob. “He won’t come here. I’m not his destiny. I’m not important.”
**We don’t believe you human. He’s already on his way.**
She rocked back and forth, hugging herself. Max would try to find her. He’d use their connection to do it, of that she was certain. No way could she let that happen.
Deliberately slowing her breathing and focusing on her heartbeat, her last thought before she cleared her mind was to protect Max and the others.
Less than an hour after they’d discovered Liz’s kidnapping, Max, Michael and Maria met Tess, Alex, Isabel and Sheriff Valenti at the quarry.
“Please Isabel, you’ve got to try and find her,” Max begged his sister. “If we don’t help her, they’ll kill her.”
Michael shook his head. “She can’t Max. If these Skins have her, then they’re using her to trap you. She’s the bait. We can’t risk you getting captured.”
“Please Izzy,” Max pleaded, running his hand through his hair. “I can’t sit here when I know she’s scared and possibly in pain. If I could connect with her, I would. Our telepathy isn’t strong enough yet. She’s too far away.”
Isabel sighed. “Okay, Max. I’ll try. But, I can’t promise anything.” Max handed her the picture of him and Liz that he kept in his wallet. Sitting down on Alex’s lap, she placed a finger on the photo and closed her eyes.
/// She saw her first.
Liz was sitting in a cold, white room. Her back was to her. She was rocking back and forth on her knees.
She walked around to face her and touched her shoulder.
“Liz? Can you hear me?”
Something was wrong. She looked into Liz’s eyes. They stared at her blankly.
“Liz, snap out of it. I’m here to help you. Please.”
Suddenly a door slid open in the wall to her right. Two men stepped into the room and the door slid shut.
They walked over to where Liz was rocking silently.
“It won’t work human. You can’t resist us. You are weak,” said one of the men.
Isabel shivered. His dark eyes were so cold.
Then the other man, who hadn’t spoken reached for Liz. As his hand came closer, it began to glow.
“Liz! Please! Snap out of it! You have to fight them! Don’t let them touch you!”
The man placed his hand on Liz’s forehead, and Liz screamed.
To Isabel, it sound like an anguished soul trapped in Hell.///
Isabel jerked awake and gasped, “Oh God! Oh God!”
“What? What did you see?” Max asked crouching down in front of her and Alex.
“They’re burning her,” Isabel whispered. “They’re burning her mind. They’re burning her soul.” She buried her face in the crook of Alex’s neck and sobbed.
Liz screamed as she felt the burning in her mind to her very soul. She couldn’t maintain the trance. She felt as if she were drowning in a sea of fire. There was no one to save her.
**Max will save you. Call to him. He will save you.**
**No! I won’t do it.**
Again, she felt searing fire shoot through her mind and body. Again, she screamed.
**Call for him. Call for Max.**
She shook her head weakly and tried to curl away from the burning. She whimpered. “No.”
This time she felt the skin on her right arm being burned. Then her left. Now her shoulder. Then her right thigh. She screamed until her throat was raw. Finally she felt the burning on her stomach where Max had healed her over a year ago.
She quickly squelched the tiny thought and blacked out.
“Just how do you propose we rescue her without us getting caught? Or worse, massacred?” Michael asked. He’d been pacing for the last half hour. Max was sure he was going to wear a trench in ground.
“Look, the eight of us can do anything. Together, the seven of us should be able to free Liz.”
“We don’t even know where she is!” Maria shouted.
“From what I saw, they seem to be keeping her in a room similar to one that you were held in last May,” Isabel said, snuggling deeper into Alex’s embrace.
“The old base is closed. Everything of any significance was destroyed after Max escaped. There’s no way they could’ve taken her there,” Sheriff Valenti said.
“Could you dream walk a Skin’s mind?” Alex asked Isabel, hugging her closer.
“I don’t know,” she replied. “I would guess so, since I can dream walk Max, Michael and Tess.”
“At least then, we might have an understanding of their plans and find out their location,” Alex said.
“Excuse me, but we don’t even know what ‘they’ look like. Let alone have a photo of them for Isabel to use.” Maria rolled her eyes and started pacing the opposite direction of Michael’s path.
“If you dream walk the Skins, they’ll know you’re there in a matter of seconds. Then you’ll be dead.”
Everyone turned at the sound of the unfamiliar voice.
Michael raised his hand. “Who’s there?”
Courtney stepped out of the shadows and into view. The headlights from the Jeep back lit her blonde hair like a halo. Her stance made Max think of an avenging angel.
“Who are you?” Michael demanded, moving to stand in front of Max.
Courtney studied the group, letting her gaze roam over each individual until it rested on Michael. She put her hands up to show she wasn’t a threat. “You haven’t changed much. Still protecting your King, even when you would have been the better ruler.”
“Excuse me? Who in the hell are you?” Maria asked.
Courtney looked at Maria. “You are the human he loves. You are his mate. No?”
“I like to think of myself as his girlfriend--”
“Maria, be quiet!” Michael snapped, keeping a watchful eye on Courtney. “Now, I believe you owe us an answer. And you better make it quick, otherwise you’re fried.”
“My name here on Earth is Courtney. My job before I came here was to be the second-in-command to Michael and protect him with my life. I am here to fulfill that destiny.”
“Oh jeez, not more destiny crap,” Alex muttered.
“How do you know about the Skins?” Isabel asked, moving to stand next to Michael.
“I’ve been living among them for the last fifty years. I am of their race. But, I am loyal to Michael.”
“A Skin?” Tess narrowed her eyes and stood beside Max. “You’re one of our enemies? I don’t believe it.”
Courtney reached up and pulled a piece of skin from the back of her neck. She held it up. They all stared in horrified fascination as the skin dried out and then disintegrated into dust.
“I can help you against those who want you dead. I’ve already destroyed their harvest.”
“Harvest?” Max asked.
“We’re not like you. The body you see me in right now is called a husk. Earth’s environment is toxic to us in our natural state. The husk acts like a space suit that human astronauts wear.
“However, they’re only good for about fifty years. So new husks have to be grown. It takes about twenty-five years for them to mature and be harvested for use. They were almost ready when I broke the seal on the tanks, contaminating the husks and destroying them. It’s too late to grow anymore.”
“How do we know you’re not part of a trap?” Michael asked.
Courtney looked him directly in the eyes. “Because, by destroying the husks, I’ve signed my own death warrant. My husk is also dying, and the new one was destroyed with the rest.”
Suddenly, Max cried out in pain and fell to his knees.
Squatting down next to him, Tess placed a hand on his shoulder. “Max, are you okay? What’s wrong?”
Max looked into Tess’ concerned blue eyes, his own brown ones filled with unshed tears. “They’re hurting her. I felt her...just briefly....”
“Enough!” Maria shouted. “If you destroyed the harvest, and they’re dying, then why did they take Liz?”
Courtney stared at the angry group before her. “For the Granilith.”
/// The light was speaking to her again.
“You have all lived before. And, now after the Age of Separation, you have finally come together.”
Liz lay huddled on a cold floor. Her body, mind and soul ached.
“Each of you has a purpose. Together, you cannot be stopped, and the destiny written in the stars when time began, will be fulfilled.”
Liz moaned. “I don’t understand.”
The light shimmered and grew brighter.
“Go back Young One. Past this lifetime and several beyond that to your first.”
Liz felt her body tremble as her mind began to race with images. Past the years, past the ages, past the stars.
/// She felt the child move in her womb and she smiled. Gently she rubbed her stomach and cooed softly to the baby within.
“Soon, little one,” she whispered. “Your time will be here soon. And Daddy will be home to greet your entrance into this world.”
/// “Help me,” she pleaded to Maria. She was afraid as she felt another contraction wrack her body. She could hear the screaming of the villagers. They were under attack.
Kyle burst into her chamber. “My lady, follow me! We will take the secret passage. The King is close by and has sent me for you.”
/// Kyle, Maria, Isabel and herself, were running across the desert to the cliffs. Silver fire rained from the sky.
“How did they find us? “ she wondered.
They were almost to the base of the cliffs. An explosion to their left sent them crashing to the ground. As she got up, she saw Maria lying on the ground, covered in blood.
“Hurry my lady, we have to keep going,” Kyle urged.
She felt the baby kick frantically in her womb. She had to protect the baby. Or all would be lost.
/// The contractions were harder. Kyle pushed her up to the next incline. She could see Max, above her. Just out of reach.
Something exploded below her. She heard a scream. Michael grabbed Tess to keep her from jumping down the cliff to where Kyle’s body had fallen.
“Give me your foot. I’ll boost you up,” Isabel said to her.
They heard Alex shout out a warning from above.
They spun around to see a menacing figure behind them.
Isabel raised her hand, but the figure tossed her into the air with a wave of its hand. Isabel landed above her on the cliff where Max and the others were.
The figure turned to Liz as she frantically tried to reach Max’s outstretched hand. She doubled over with a contraction. She wasn’t going to make it. The figure raised its hand.
Suddenly, Alex was between her and the danger. The figure fired a deadly burst of energy.
Alex returned fire as he fell to the ground. The figure fell too.
/// Ignoring the pain of another contraction, she scrambled up the rocky incline. She felt her fingers touch Max’s cool palm. She was safe. She smiled up at him.
She felt the burning in her side. She saw the fear in his eyes as her fingers slipped out of his hand. Another surge of burning pain spread across her back.
She was falling.
Everything went dark....///
Her eyes flew open.
“It’s you!” Liz whispered hoarsely as she stared into the pale gray eyes of Vanessa Whittaker.
It did not reach her eyes.
“What’s a Granilith?” Alex asked.
“A kind of religious icon for our people. It disappeared from Antar when the Royal Four were sent here. Kivar and his followers surmised that the Queen Mother smuggled it off world with you. That’s why the Skins are here. To find the Granilith.”
“So, if we give them this Granilith, then they’ll leave us alone?” Michael asked.
Courtney shook her head. “No, they also want to kill you. The Royal Four are a threat to Kivar’s power, especially if you have the Granilith.”
“We have no idea what or where this Granilith is. We’ve only just recently discovered where we come from and what we were a few months ago,” Isabel said.
“But, you activated the orbs and sent out the communication beacon. That’s how we found your location. Are you telling me you don’t remember your past lives or any information about your mission?”
“All we know is that we’re hybrids. Sent here to hide out until we can free our plant from some civil conflict,” Michael stated bluntly.
“But what about your protector? Where is he?”
“He’s dead,” Tess whispered.
“The only one who was raised with Nasedo was Tess,” Michael said motioning to the blonde still kneeling beside Max. “The rest of us, he kind of lost.”
“Lost? I don’t understand?”
“Michael, Max and I broke out of the pods early. When we emerged, we were around six or seven years old. Nasedo wasn’t there. We wandered off into the desert where Max and I were discovered by our parents and Michael was picked up by some strangers.”
Courtney sighed in disbelief. “You were supposed to train and gain strength in your powers and then return to Antar.”
“Antar?” Maria asked.
“The name of our planet. In the point of the V-constellation. Boy, you guys are really out of the loop--.”
“Where have they taken Liz?”
They looked at Max. He’d been so silent and withdrawn during the entire discussion that the sound of his voice interrupting surprised everyone.
“I’m not sure. Copper Summit maybe?”
“What’s in Copper Summit?” Sheriff Valenti asked.
“Mostly run down buildings, but the entire population are Skins. Nicholas commissioned a laboratory to be built a few years ago. It’s in an isolated, underground compound. It’s where the harvest was housed.”
“Who’s Nicholas? I thought you said Kivar is the leader of the Skins,” Alex asked.
“He is. But, as far as I know, Kivar is still on Antar. Nicholas is his emissary and second-in-command. He’s in charge of the project on Earth. The Skins here answer to him.”
“Then we head to Copper Summit,” Max stated firmly, brushing Tess’ hand off his shoulder and standing up. “Courtney, you’ll be our guide.”
“Maxwell, how do you know we can trust her? This could all be part of the trap,” Michael hissed.
Max looked at Courtney and then at Michael. “I just do. Call it alien intuition. You don’t have to go if you don’t want to. But, I’m going.”
“You won’t be able to fight them alone. I’ll go with you and watch your back,” Sheriff Valenti said.
“So will I,” Alex stated.
Maria looked pointedly at Michael. “I’m going too.”
Max looked at Isabel and Tess. They both nodded.
“Fine! I’ll go with you too. I can’t let you get killed. Liz would never let me here the end of it. Not to mention Maria and Isabel.”
“Don’t forget me.”
They all looked up to see Kyle step forward into the light.
“Kyle, what are you doing here?” the sheriff asked his son.
“Well, gee Dad, I followed you. I overheard you talking to Max about meeting out here. I can put a tail on someone that would make the CIA proud. I’m not about to let you go anywhere with Evans that might get you killed. I dealt with too much of that crap last spring. Never again.”
“Kyle, it’s too danger--.”
“Dad, I don’t want to hear it. Now that I know what’s going on, I can watch your back. Besides, I care about Liz too.”
Valenti looked at Kyle, and then nodded.
“All right,” Max said, “Tess, you ride with Kyle. Alex, you’re with the Sheriff. Michael and Maria will be in the Jetta. Courtney and Isabel will ride with me.”
“No,” Michael said. “Courtney will ride with me. I don’t trust her to be alone in a car with you. Maria can ride with you guys.”
Maria nudged Michael with her elbow. “Um, I don’t think so Space Boy. Where that Jetta goes, I go. How many times do I have to explain this to you? The last time someone drove it, and I wasn’t along for the ride, the back window got shot out by the freakin’ FBI!”
“Okay, fine. You ride with me. Courtney can sit in the back.” Michael clenched his jaw.
“Michael, you take the lead. I’ll follow, then Kyle. Sheriff you bring up the rear.”
As the various vehicles pulled away from the quarry and headed for Highway 10, Max reached his mind out to Liz, hoping she might hear him. **I’m coming for you Liz. Hang on.**
“You’re a stubborn one, aren’t you Liz?” Vanessa sneered.
Liz shivered uncontrollably.
“What no answer? I’m disappointed. For such a smart young woman, I thought you’d have a good comeback.”
“W-What do you w-want with...me?”
Vanessa crouched down beside Liz’s trembling form. She grabbed Liz by the chin, forcing her to look her in the eye.
“How much has your boyfriend told you about himself and his companions? How much do you know about the Royal Four?”
“Don’t know w-what...you’re talking...about.”
Vanessa cocked her head and stared at her thoughtfully. “Are you trying to play dumb with me? I know you’re his consort. I’ve seen the two of you with my own eyes. You’ve bonded. Made a connection.”
Liz stared at her silently.
“Still playing dumb?” Vanessa leaned forward and whispered in her ear, “Are you afraid Liz? Afraid he’ll leave you and go back to his bride? Which one of the hybrids is she? The tall statuesque one, or that cute little blonde bimbo?”
Liz glared at her. “Go t-to hell.”
“My, did I hit a touchy subject? What’s the matter? Afraid he’s told her all of his secrets and not you?”
Liz closed her eyes.
“I guess we do this hard way.” Vanessa stood up, motioning her hand from Liz to the opposite wall.
Liz flew from the floor and into the wall with a sickening thud and the popping snap of ribs breaking. She lay still on the floor. The only sound she uttered was a soft pant as she tried to catch her breath.
“Now, are you going to do what I ask? Just call for Max. He’ll hear you. He’ll save you.”
She lay with her eyes closed, her breathing shallow.
Vanessa cocked her head. “Oh dear, you don’t sound so good. Having a hard time catching your breath? Sounds like a punctured lung. Oops.”
Opening her eyes, Liz looked up at Vanessa. “Screw...you,” she hissed softly.
Vanessa’s face contorted in frustrated rage. She drew back a foot and kicked Liz in the ribs. “Damn it! You will do as I say. Call him!”
Screaming her rage, Vanessa used her powers to toss Liz back across the room.
Liz’s head slammed against the tile floor.
**I’m coming.... Hang on....**
“Max,” Liz whispered before passing out again.
Vanessa strode angrily out of the room and into a dimly lit hallway.
“What? No success? And you with your talented powers of persuasion....”
Vanessa stopped and glared at the shadowy figure standing off to her left. “It’s about time you got here, Nicholas. We’ve been down here for half a day.”
“This human is a strong one. I’m amazed by the power of her mind. No wonder Zan is intrigued with her. She kept trying to push me out when I was poking around telepathically.”
“She broke some ribs. I’m pretty sure one punctured a lung.”
“It doesn’t matter. The Royal Four are on their way here. She’s served her purpose.”
“She may have some useful information.”
“She’s a consort. All they’re good for is one thing. What could she possibly know?”
Vanessa frowned. “I don’t know, brother dear, but I wouldn’t underestimate her importance in all of this. What kind of ‘consort’ allows herself to be tortured mentally and physically without breaking down?”
“She’s human. They’re funny creatures. Ruled by their emotions.”
Walking up to Nicholas, Vanessa leaned over and whispered in his ear, “You have a nasty habit of underestimating people. First Vilandra, then the King’s mother, now Courtney. You fail Kivar again and the furniture won’t be the only thing getting dusted around here.”
Smirking at her brother, Vanessa turned on her heel and walked away.
Nicholas stared thoughtfully through the one-way glass at the crumpled figure laying in the white room. **There is something...I just can’t put my finger on it. Perhaps, I will consult Kivar about her.**
“Hey!” Kyle said. “You may be Queen of the Martians, but that doesn’t give you the right to change the radio station in the middle of Sports Talk.”
Tess glanced over at him with amusement. “You were sitting there asleep. I want to listen to some music.”
“I wasn’t asleep. I was resting my eyes. They burn from staring all day at tiny print in textbooks and staying up late following aliens across statelines.”
She laughed. “Please. You were snoring!”
“I do not snore.”
“Okay, if you weren’t sleeping, then what were they talking about?”
“Uh...oh hell, forget it.” He closed his eyes.
“Antarian,” she said, concentrating on the highway.
He opened an eye. “What?”
“I’m Queen of the Antarians, not Martians. Get it straight, or I’ll slag you with my death ray eyes.” She grinned.
He opened the other eye and studied her profile.
“What? Are my antenna showing?”
“Why are you doing this? With Liz out of the way, you’d have Max all to yourself.”
She sighed. “No, I wouldn’t. Liz was gone all summer. Max never once tried to make a move on me. Believe me, I tried to encourage him. Bikini swimsuits, short skirts, tight little tops that showed off a lot of cleavage. Nothing worked. All he can eat, sleep and breathe is Liz Parker.”
“That still doesn’t tell me why you’re doing this.”
“If I help him get Liz back, maybe then I won’t be such an outsider anymore. Maybe they’ll finally accept me as a part of the group. Then I won’t be alone anymore.”
“Yeah, being alone sucks,” he nodded in agreement.
“Besides, if we can eliminate our enemy when we rescue Liz, the faster I’ll be able to move out, and the faster you’ll get your bedroom back.”
“No big rush. It’s kind of interesting having a woman in the house again.”
She looked at him with surprise. “You like having me around?”
“Well, I wouldn’t call it like exactly....”
He mentally kicked himself when he heard the disappointment in her voice. “But, I don’t dislike it. Besides, I’m letting you drive my car.”
“Hey, only a privileged few get to drive this baby. You are in an elite group of people.”
She laughed. “You are very odd.”
“Actually, I’m a pretty typical guy. We’re from Mars you know.”
“You know the book... Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.”
“Oh yeah. Why is that?”
“Because most of the time a guy is either thinking of sex, food, sports or his car. On the other hand, women think about communication, and feelings, and other emotional stuff. Unless of course, you’re Max Evans. But then again, he’s from Antar, so maybe your guys are just hooked up different. Of course, Guerin is more like a regular Earth guy. So maybe it is just Max.”
She laughed again. “Max is just Max. I guess that’s what makes him so irresistible.”
“Tell me about it,” he mumbled.
She looked at him. “Why are you doing this? Didn’t Liz Parker dump you and break your heart?”
“Because it’s Liz. I can’t even begin to try and explain it. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been drawn to her. Wanting to protect her. Even now, I would do anything she asked.”
“You’re still in love with her.”
“Not in love like the ‘Max and Liz’ kind. I just love her. She’s a good person.” Kyle looked out the window at the tail-lights of the Jeep ahead of them. “Are you in love with Max?”
Tess stared at the Jeep for a few seconds, then changed the station back to Sports Talk. They rode the rest of the way to Copper Summit in silence filled only by the sounds from the radio.
“Wake up human.”
Liz struggled to consciousness. She blinked rapidly as she was overwhelmed by the brightness of the light. Briefly, she wondered where she was, and then remembered. She quickly tested for pain in her side and winced.
“Don’t worry. They’re just deeply bruised. I fixed the punctured lung, and the broken bones.”
She looked in the direction of the voice. Her eyes widened in surprise at the person standing before her. **He can’t be more than fifteen.**
“I don’t want you to die before Max has a chance to get here and save you.”
She struggled to sit up against the wall. Supporting herself on one arm, and using the other to cradle her bruised ribs, she stared at the teenager in front of her. “Who are you?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Did I forget to introduce myself? How rude of me. I’m Nicholas.”
“Where am I?”
“In a secret, underground lab in Copper Summit, Arizona. Don’t worry. Max will find you. A girl named Courtney is helping him.”
“Courtney. She’s one of us, but she’s loyal to the Royal Four. She was supposed to be Rath’s second-in-command on Antar.”
“Rath was the King’s second. Antar was their home.”
“And you’re helping me why?”
“You’re important to Kivar in this fight.”
“The man who rules Antar. The one who displaced the King.”
She eyed the boy suspiciously. “I don’t know who in the hell you really are or why I’m here. I have no idea what you or that crazy bitch Whittaker want. My name is Liz Parker and I am a junior at West Roswell High. My parents are Jeff and Nancy Parker who own The Crashdown Café in Roswell, New Mexico.”
Nicholas cocked his head quizzically at her. “Interesting....”
She watched him as he advanced towards her. “Don’t come any closer.”
“What are you afraid of Liz Parker?”
“Stay away from me,” she said, hugging tighter to the wall.
He reached his hand out toward her.
“Don’t touch me!”
He placed his hand on top of her head. “Now let’s see what useful information you may have in this pretty little head....”
/// “You have lived many times before Young Warrior,” the voice said. “The Age of Separation has passed. It is time to reclaim your Destiny. It has been written in the stars since the beginning of time, and it will continue to be until time ends.”
The shimmering light grew brighter. It hurt him to look at it.
“She is the one you are seeking. The one who possesses the other half of you. Go to her Max.”
The light faded, and darkness settled around him.
“Max!” The sound of Liz’s cry echoed in the darkness. “Help me! Please!”
“You’re too late Your Highness,” whispered a voice he’d never heard before.
“Max! I need you! Please!”
“Too late again. Pity. Such a pretty thing too,” the voice whispered back.
He couldn’t move.
“Liz!” Max yelled, jerking himself awake. His heart pounded in his ears. He shivered as cool air touched his sweat-soaked body.
“Max? What is it?” Michael was standing next to him looking concerned.
“Where are we?” he asked, rubbing his eyes as the light from the early morning sun poured in through the front windshield of the Jeep.
“We’re on the outskirts of Copper Summit,” Michael answered.
“You fell asleep about an hour ago, I figured you needed the rest,” Isabel reassured him from the driver’s seat. “We just stopped, and I was getting ready to wake you, when you yelled out Liz’s name.”
“I think she’s dying...,” he whispered.
“Oh, God! Michael, you’ve got to do something. I can’t lose Liz,” Maria pleaded tugging on Michael’s arm.
Michael gripped her by the upper arms and looked into her eyes. “Get a hold of yourself, Maria. Freaking out will not help Liz right now.”
Maria nodded, and wiped the unshed tears from her eyes.
Michael released his grip. “Thank you. Now, Max, did you actually hear Liz, or was it just a dream?”
“I heard her. She needs help now. He’s doing something to her....”
“Nicholas,” Courtney said, appearing at Michael’s right. “He has the power to go into people’s thoughts. He can literally rip away a person’s memories kind of like a mental rape. If he chooses, he can take those memories with him when he breaks the connection, leaving behind only a shell of the former person.”
“How do we stop him?” Max asked.
“I’m not sure if you can. He’s like a thousand times more powerful than any of the other Skins. He possesses powers that are similar to those of the Royal Four. The only thing he can’t do is bring back the dying. Only the King has that kind of power.”
Max stepped out of the Jeep, and looked at his friends. “Then we don’t have any time to lose. Courtney, show us where the lab is.”
**Get out of my head!**
Liz couldn’t seem to stop the flashes of memories flowing through her mind. It was like a leaky dam. Every time she plugged a hole and stopped the flood, another hole appeared. Then as suddenly as the flashes started, they stopped.
Panting, she opened her eyes.
Nicholas stared at her. She could swear she saw a glimmer of fear in his eyes.
**What did he see?** She quickly brought up the last flash she’d seen. **My dream?**
“Who are you?” Nicholas asked, all traces of fear erased from his expression.
“I told you. My name is Liz Parker. I’m a junior at--”
“No, besides that. You’re more than that. Who are you?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Nicholas reached out and grabbed her by the hair. “Where’s the Granilith?”
She tried to pull away, but for a teenage boy, he was surprisingly strong. **Duh, he’s an alien.**
He jerked her closer. “Don’t fuck with me! Where is it?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about! You’ve been in my head. I don’t know what or where this Granilith is.”
Nicholas let go of her and stepped back. “I saw your vision. You’re a seer. No wonder he wants to keep you close. Kivar was right. You are extremely important to the outcome.”
She sighed and shook her head. “No. I’m just a sixteen year-old girl.”
“Your body maybe, but your essence isn’t,” he said, walking over to the opposite wall where a concealed door slid open. “However, I have some aliens to capture right now. We’ll continue this discussion later.”
She sighed, wincing at the pain it brought to her bruised ribs. **Thank God, the headache is fading.**
She jerked her head up. **Max?**
**Are you okay?**
**I’ve been better, but I’ll survive. How am I hearing you?**
**The connection is getting stronger. We’re close. We’re going to get you out of there.**
**Max, they know you’re here. Go back to Roswell. You‘re all in danger!**
**I can’t Liz. You’re my everything. I love you. Always.**
**Please be careful.**
“We’re close. The connection is working again. She’s in the lab,” Max said to the others.
They were parked on a side street across from some old horse stables.
“Are you sure that there’s a lab underneath that structure?” Michael asked skeptically.
Courtney nodded. “Positive.”
“How are we going to do this Max?” the sheriff asked.
“You, Michael, Courtney, Tess and I will go in. The rest of you are to watch our backs and guard the cars. Isabel, you’re their protector and our early warning signal if something goes wrong. Okay?”
“And what do we do if these Skins start to attack?” Kyle asked. “We don’t have any weapons.”
“They wouldn’t work anyway,” Courtney said.
Maria glared at her. “Excuse me? We’re getting ready to pull off a major rescue mission, and now you just tell us that we can’t kill these things?”
“I didn’t say that. We just can’t be killed with conventional human weaponry.”
“Then how do we kill them?” Michael asked angrily.
Courtney turned around and raised the back of her shirt. She flipped down a piece of skin on the small of her back and revealed a strange metal object. “See this? It’s a seal. Hit this as hard as you can with whatever you find handy. It will break the seal, contaminating the husk and the being inside. Death is instantaneous. As for the Royal Four, your powers will work just as efficiently in killing them.”
“And if they start using alien voodoo on us?” Alex asked.
“Get in a car and drive away as fast as you can,” Max replied.
“I love it when a plan comes together,” Alex mumbled.
“Tess, you ready to create the mind warp?” Max asked.
“Courtney, you’re our guide. Michael, you take the rear to make sure no one sneaks up behind us. Sheriff, Tess will need your help to get around since she’ll have to concentrate most of her energy on sustaining the warp. I’ll stick with Courtney and keep the connection open with Liz. Everyone ready?”
They all nodded.
“Then let’s go.”
Nicholas stood in front of the cells of the frightened humans. They were only drifters who’d made the unfortunate decision to come to Copper Summit, but they were useful as conduits for communication with Kivar.
He opened the door to cell number three. A young man in his late twenties whimpered fearfully as he felt himself unable to move.
Nicholas approached him. “Now, just free your mind. This won’t hurt...much.” He placed his hand on the man’s head.
Suddenly, a bright light filled the cell. Nicholas pulled back. The man stared blankly at him and began to speak.
“What information have you brought me about the human female?”
“Her name is Liz Parker. You were right Kivar, she is a Seer,” he replied.
“Does Zan know what she is?”
“I don’t think so. She didn’t believe me when I told her.”
“Interesting. Of course, when the Rebels sent them here they didn’t know they were doing more than saving the Royal Four. This will definitely work to my advantage.”
“What do you want me to do with her? The others will be here soon.”
“Move her to a different holding area. Do not lose her. If they manage to free her, you can kill the others, but do not harm her. I want her alive.”
“I don’t understand. She’s just a human. She doesn’t even know where or what the Granilith is.”
“No matter. If I have her, I won’t need the Granilith to end this war. My power will be unchallenged.”
“As you wish, my Lord,” he said and turned to leave the cell.
“Oh, and Nicholas, if you fail me in this, you’ll never leave Earth.” With that, the male prisoner’s eyes rolled up in his head, and he fell to the floor.
Nicholas bristled angrily. **That’s what you think.**
As he walked out of the holding area, he motioned to the guard at the door. “The human in cell three needs to be disposed of. And, be quick about it, or it’ll start to stink up the place.”
|posted on 1-Sep-2001 4:04:10 PM|
“Well, so far so good,” Michael whispered to Max. “Now what?”
“We wait for someone to open the access door,” Courtney replied, peeking through the cracked door of the storage room they were hiding in.
“You got in here once before. Why can’t you just open the door?” Tess asked.
“Because they know I was the one who destroyed the husks. I barely got out of Copper Summit with my skin intact. No pun intended.”
“Okay, that will get us in, but how are we going to get out?” asked Sheriff Valenti.
“Michael will just have to do what he did last May when you guys rescued me from Pierce. Change the molecular structure of his hand print to match someone who has security clearance.”
“Max, I was barely able to do it then. You’re putting a lot of faith in my abilities.”
Max looked him in the eye. “You’ve been practicing all summer with Tess. You have much better control. I believe you can do it.”
Michael nodded as Courtney whispered, “Shh. Someone’s coming.”
Everyone froze. Tess prepared herself mentally to mind warp the image of an empty storage room if someone opened the door.
“Shit! It’s Nicholas,” Courtney hissed.
Max peered out the crack, and gasped softly. **Nicholas is a fifteen year-old boy? This is Kivar’s second-in-command?**
Courtney glanced at Max’s surprised expression. “Don’t let his appearance deceive you. What better way to fool your enemies than to make them think you’re weaker than you actually are.”
Max nodded in understanding and watched as Nicholas stopped in front of the lab’s access door. He was flanked by two men.
“Kivar wants the human moved. She is not to be killed. Do you understand?” Nicholas informed the men.
“Be on the lookout for any suspicious activity. My sources tell me that her friends are headed here. The Royal Four are among them.”
“Yes sir,” replied the larger of the two men.
Nicholas placed his hand on the access panel. It glowed briefly, then the door unlocked. The larger man followed Nicholas, but just as the smaller one started to enter, the sound of sneezing stopped him. He looked around and spotted the storage room door slightly ajar.
Opening the door, he flipped on the interior light. It was empty. Frowning, he advanced farther into the room, to check behind the shelving.
“Looking for me?”
The man turned around to see Tess leaning against the wall by the light switch. “Who are--uh.”
Michael looked down at the unconscious guard. “Nice hit Maxwell.”
“Thanks. Been taking lessons from Maria. Now, help me see if he has access.” Quickly checking the hallway, he and Michael dragged the unconscious man over to the door.
Michael placed the guard’s hand on the access panel. The panel glowed, and they heard the soft click of the lock. “I guess that answers our question.”
Turning the guard’s hand, palm up, Michael studied it. Then raising his own hand, he watched as it changed into an exact duplicate. “Got it. Let’s see if it works.” He placed his hand on the panel and grinned when he heard the familiar click.
“Great,” Tess said, “Now, what do we do with the guard?”
Courtney motioned to the storage room. “Put him in there. I’ll secure him.”
When Courtney re-emerged, she shut the door and brushed off her jeans.
“What’d you do?” Sheriff Valenti asked.
“My job. He’s dust.”
“Let’s go,” Max said. “Open the door. Tess, get ready with the mind warp. We need them to see only Michael, but as the guard. Okay?”
Once they were through the door, Michael walked down the short hallway and turned the corner.
“Hey, where’d you go?”
He looked at the larger guard as he approached him. “Thought I heard something. I checked it out. Just a rat knocking over stuff in the storage closet.”
The man nodded. “Come on, he’s waiting.”
When larger man turned around, Courtney struck by delivering a quick kick to the man’s lower back. Michael, fascinated by the Skin disintegrating into dust without a sound, gave a low whistle.
The others quickly appeared beside them.
“I know the way to the holding area. Follow me,” Courtney said.
Max quickly erased all traces of the former Skin with a wave of his hand, then looked at Tess. “When we get there, Michael and I need to be seen as the guards.”
They moved down the hallway to a flight of stairs. Quickly descending a level, they came to another locked door. Again, Michael placed his hand on the panel.
As they hurried down another hallway, Courtney motioned them to stop. “The holding cells are through that door,” she whispered. “Be careful. The two of you will have to do this part alone. We’ll watch your backs.”
Max and Michael nodded, and entered.
Nicholas was standing in the middle of the hall. “Where were you?”
“Heard something. Just a rat in the storage room,” Michael answered.
Nicholas nodded, placed his hand on the panel. They watched as the hidden door slid open.
Maria paced nervously next to the Jetta. “Time?”
Alex sighed, watching the stables. “Two minutes since the last time you asked. And stop pacing, you’re wearing a trench.”
Maria flipped her hair over her shoulder and glared at Alex’s backside. “Hey, that’s my alien in there. How would you feel if Isabel was in there instead, and you had to wait out here?”
“Cut it out you two,” Isabel snapped. “You can’t watch their backs if you’re too busy fighting with one another.”
Alex looked contrite. “Sorry.”
“Oh jeez, you are so whipped,” Kyle smirked.
Isabel shot Kyle a dirty look. “Only men who have no sex lives say ‘whipped,’ because deep down they want to be.”
“Hey! I have a sex life!”
“A copy of Playboy and your hand doesn’t count,” Maria shot back.
Kyle glared at her, as Alex and Isabel tried to contain their laughter.
“What’s the matter Kyle? Hit the nail on the head, so to speak,” Maria taunted.
“Guys, hush someone’s coming,” Alex hissed.
Immediately everyone quieted and watched anxiously as a woman approached the stables. Suddenly, she stopped and looked directly towards their stakeout spot.
“Oh my God! It’s Congresswoman Whittaker!” Maria squeaked.
“Quiet,” Isabel admonished. “Do you want her to find us?”
They all breathed a sigh of relief as Vanessa looked away and continued walking into the stables.
“Okay, that was a little uncomfortable,” Alex whispered.
“Whittaker’s a Skin? Oh God, and Liz works for her! What are we going to tell her?” Maria said.
Isabel looked at her. “I think Liz probably already knows.”
“Why? How? Oh...” Maria said as realization dawned. “Then why would she take Liz?”
“To get to Max,” Alex murmured, as he watched the stable doors.
“Well, well, well. What do we have here?”
The four teens startled and turned at the sound of the menacing voice. Behind them were four, tough-looking guys.
“It seems we got ourselves some spies,” said the biggest one in the group. “Know what we do with spies around here?”
“Extradite us to our native land?” Alex asked nervously.
“Oh, a funny human. You’ll be the first to die,” the man threatened.
“That’s what you think you overgrown dandruff flake,” Maria said. The three humans suddenly brandished the baseball bats from Kyle’s car that they’d been concealing. Isabel raised her hand and sent the one that had spoken flying into the windshield of a parked car across from them.
Surprised by something that humans were definitely not supposed to be able to do, the other three paused in their attack, giving Kyle and Alex a chance to strike first.
Kyle swung and knocked one of them in the head. The Skin went down without a fight. Kyle brought the bat down hard on the small of its back, and was amazed as it disintegrated into a dust pile.
At the same time, Alex swung at the knees of his opponent. His Skin went down and was quickly dust too. “Cool.”
The one who was left standing eyed the three advancing humans with fear. Weighing his options, he turned and took off running.
While Kyle chased down the third Skin, Maria, Alex and Isabel slowly advanced on the one that lay unconscious on the hood of the parked car.
“Do you think it’s dead?” Maria asked.
“Nope, I don’t think so. It’s still all in one piece. Maybe we just stunned him,” Alex answered.
“Alex, Maria and I will turn him over. You whack him just to be on the safe side,” Isabel ordered.
Maria grabbed the Skin’s shoulder, and Isabel his legs.
The Skin opened his eyes and roared. Isabel jumped back, but Maria wasn’t fast enough. He grabbed her and threw her into the middle of the street.
Maria landed on her backside with a thud. “Ow, that hurt! Man, when I get done with you, they’re going to need a Dustbuster to pick you up!”
The Skin advanced on her as she struggled to stand but didn’t get far, as Isabel who was behind him used her powers to knock him down. Alex brought his bat up for the final blow, when suddenly it was ripped from his hand and flew across the street, clattering to the sidewalk out of reach.
Thinking fast, Maria jumped down hard on the Skin’s back. “Told you,” she coughed to the lingering dust cloud.
While Maria was occupied, Alex and Isabel looked up to see Vanessa Whittaker advancing on them, a self-satisfied grin on her face. “You must be Vilandra,” she said looking Isabel over.
“Who?’ Alex asked.
Whittaker ignored him and kept advancing. “You look different than the last time I saw you, but you still have that sense of royalty about you.”
Isabel lifted her chin and motioned for Alex and Maria to head to the cars. “I’ve no idea what you mean.”
Vanessa stopped in front of her. “So beautiful, and yet so deadly. No wonder Kivar loved you. You were his perfect little assassin. And you would do anything for him, including killing your own brother.”
“What?” Isabel asked, a horrified expression on her face.
“Now tell me Vilandra...where’s the Granilith?”
“Kivar wants it back. Give it to us, and we’ll take you to him. Together, the two of you will rule the five planets.”
“I don’t know what it is or where it is,” Isabel replied, backing away from her and towards the Jeep.
Vanessa narrowed her eyes. “I need the Granilith now! My time is almost up. I’ll do whatever it takes to get it, including killing you.”
“Yeah, well, you have to get through me first,” Kyle yelled as he came running back up the street. Whittaker merely flicked her wrist and sent him flying into Alex, who was standing by the Bronco.
“Stop it!” Isabel screamed. “Leave us alone!”
Vanessa held up her hand and released a blast of energy. Instinctively, Isabel raised her hand up and deflected the shot.
“Impressive Vilandra. It seems something deep inside of you still remembers,” Vanessa said, firing another shot.
This time Isabel deflected it and retaliated with a large blast of her own. Vanessa fell to her knees.
“I will not give up. It’s too important. Give me the Granilith!” Vanessa began to glow a brightening aura of golden energy.
Acting on instinct, Isabel drew on everything inside of her, and fired.
The energy from the blast encased Vanessa in an indigo-colored bubble of electricity. She screamed in agony as it turned her own energy against her. Suddenly, there was a large flash, and the Skin, known as Congresswoman Vanessa Whittaker, exploded.
Isabel stared in horrified amazement as a cloud of shredded skin floated around her.
“Wow,” Maria whispered. “You kick ass, girlfriend.”
Kyle gave a low whistle. “Remind me to never piss you off.”
“Isabel, are you okay?” Alex asked, pulling her into his arms as she began to shake and cry. “Shh, it’s okay, Bella.”
“She said such horrible things about me,” she sobbed. “How could I do something like that?”
Alex pulled back and looked into Isabel’s tear-streaked face. “You didn’t Bella. Don’t believe her. You’re a good person. You saved the three of us from getting wiped out.”
Isabel sniffed. “How can you be so sure?”
“Because, I love you...the real you. The one you hide on the inside.”
She hugged him to her. “Thank you Alex. Thank you.”
“Um, guys, while this is all very touching and stuff, it looks like we’re going to have to get in the cars now,” Kyle said staring up the street.
Isabel, Alex and Maria looked up to see a large crowd of people advancing quickly on them.
Maria glanced back over at the stables. **Okay Space Boy, now would be a good time to get your alien butt out of there.**
Nicholas and the two “guards“ walked into the room where Liz was being held. They discovered her huddled in the opposite corner, shivering and eyeing them warily.
Max felt his heart contract at the sight of her. **What did those bastards do to you?**
Liz’s eyes widened slightly. **Max?**
**It’s me. Don’t react to what I’m about to say. I don’t want Nicholas to get suspicious. Michael and I are the two guards in the room with you. Tess is doing a mind warp. We’re going to get you out.**
“So are we going to do this the easy way?” Nicholas asked looking down at her.
Liz didn’t budge.
“All right, the hard way it is. Grab her,” he said motioning to the two guards.
Liz began to scream and struggle as Max and Michael each grabbed an arm. “Where are you taking me? I want to go home!”
“I’ve so enjoyed your company,” Nicholas replied, reaching out and slowly stroking her cheek, “That I’ve decided to extend your stay. You’re being moved to more hospitable quarters.”
Max let out an involuntary growl.
Nicholas looked at him suspiciously. “Is there a problem?”
“No sir. She elbowed me in the ribs.”
“Hmm.” Nicholas took a step back. He closed his eyes for a few seconds and then opened them to stare directly into Max’s “Or, could it be that you don’t like me touching your consort? Did you really think I wouldn’t sense your bride trying to warp me? She’s going to have a hell of headache when she wakes up.”
“Shit!” Michael exclaimed and shot a blast of energy at Nicholas sending him back into the wall. “Come on Maxwell, let’s go!”
Max scooped Liz up into his arms, and followed Michael out the door. They ran down the hall to the next door which Michael quickly opened. On the other side, they found Valenti holding an unconscious Tess, and Courtney waiting anxiously.
“What the hell happened?” Valenti demanded.
“Nicholas sensed us. Get to the stairs, now!” Max yelled. A blast of energy hit the door frame just as he kicked the door closed. Michael welded it shut and took off down the hallway.
“That won’t hold him off,” Courtney warned, as Michael repeated the procedure on the door near the stairs.
“It just needs to slow him down,” Michael replied, running up the stairs after Max and Valenti.
They made it to the main access door. As Michael opened it for the others to go through, a blast of energy hit the wall beside them. “What are you doing?” he yelled at Courtney as she ran back towards Nicholas.
“Fulfilling my destiny!” she yelled back. The last thing he saw before the door shut, was Courtney engaging Nicholas in hand-to-hand combat.
He ran down the hallway, into the stable area and out into the glaring afternoon sun.
The others were already in the cars. Maria frantically waved at him to get in the Jetta. Glancing around, he noticed a large group of Skins heading their way, He quickly got in.
As they sped away, Michael turned around and looked back at the stables. He saw Nicholas emerge from the building.
“Where’s Courtney?” Maria asked softly.
“She’s dead.” He turned back around and stared out the passenger window as they sped past the “Thanks for Visiting Copper Summit!” sign. “Nicholas killed her.”
Liz sighed and snuggled deeper into her pillow. **What a dream.**
“It wasn’t a dream.”
Opening her eyes, she sat up and discovered she was in her bed at home. It was dark outside. And someone was laying beside her. “Max!” she gasped.
“How do you feel? They hurt you pretty badly,” he asked sitting up and pulling her into his arms.
She realized that they were both fully clothed. “I feel fine. You did a good job. Thank you.”
He drew her closer into his embrace and rested his forehead against hers. “God Liz, I’ve never wanted to kill someone so much, as I did when I saw you huddled on the floor in that room. I wanted to rip Nicholas from limb to limb.”
She shuddered at the mention of the room and Nicholas.
“It’s okay. Whittaker’s dead. You’re safe.” He kissed the top of her head.
A tiny thrill ran through her, but quickly died when she thought of her parents. “What day is this? How long was I gone?”
“It’s Sunday. You’ve been gone less than 48 hours. When we discovered you missing, we told our parents we were going camping. We had Tess mind warp your parents so they would believe the same thing.”
“How did you know I’d been taken? How’d you find me?”
**Through our connection.**
She looked at him. **It’s getting stronger isn’t it? How is that possible?**
Max sighed. “At first, I thought it was because I was getting stronger in my powers, and that the heightened emotions of the situation were amplifying it. To a certain extent, that’s true. But, as I held you in the Jeep on the way back, I sensed a very strong vibe, as Maria would say. Liz...it’s coming from you.”
She looked at him with disbelief. “But, how is that possible? I’m human. I don’t have ‘powers.’ You must be mistaken.”
“No, I’m not,” he replied softly, pulling her back into his embrace. “It’s definitely coming from you. Isabel felt it too. She thinks maybe when I healed you last year, I changed you some how. Maybe, I awakened your brain's telepathic abilities.”
“Nicholas called me a Seer,” she whispered. “He thinks I know where the Granilith is.”
“Don’t worry about him. I’m not leaving your side until I’m sure he and his followers are dead.”
“Your constant presence might be hard to explain to my parents, Max.”
“Not if we’re dating.”
She felt her heart contract. For a brief moment, she smiled. Then she remembered the orbs. “We can’t Max. You’re supposed to be with Tess.”
Max shook his head, and made her look into his eyes. “I don’t love Tess. I love you, and I know you love me.”
She tried to look away, but he wouldn’t let her.
**You are my destiny, Liz. I’m sure of it. Something deep inside of me recognizes you.**
She felt a tug of answering recognition in the depths of her soul.
**I felt that Liz. Something inside of you knows you belong to me. It’s crying out to be completed.**
She closed her eyes. “No, Max. We can’t. Your destiny with Tess is too important.”
Max growled in frustration. “I don’t have this kind of connection with Tess.” He kissed her, coaxing her lips apart, so he could caress her tongue with his own. Their connection opened wider.
///He held his son. So tiny. Ten fingers. Ten toes. He wept tears of joy as he listened to his son’s healthy cry, and handed him to Liz. She smiled, murmuring softly to the baby, and put him to her breast so he could feed. She startled slightly as their son latched on; smiling wider as he sucked vigorously.
“Thank you for our son.” Max bent down and kissed the top of her head.///
She jerked away from him. “Stop it! Don’t put images into my head that can never be!”
He sat there stunned. “I didn’t do it. It came from you.”
“Why would I want to picture something like that?” she cried, hugging her arms around herself.
“Maybe it’s another vision. About our future?” Max whispered, trying to draw her back into his arms.
She flinched away. “What about the other vision? I was pregnant in that one, but I died Max! The baby was never born!”
Max looked at her thoughtfully. “When we were on our way to rescue you, I had a dream where a bright light told me that the Age of Separation had passed and that it was time to reclaim my destiny. It told me to go to the one who possesses my other half. Then I heard your voice crying out to me. I think someone is trying to tell us something.”
She looked at him with astonishment. “You saw it too?”
“Yes...what did you see?”
“I had a dream on the first day of school where a bright light was telling me that my soul had been ‘searching for him across the ages’ and that now was my time. Then it showed me you, holding a small child that I knew was your son. At the time, I thought Tess was the mother.
“Then when I was being held by the Skins, it told me that we had all lived before. It said we all have a purpose in this life, and that together, we could not be stopped in fulfilling the destiny this time.”
“Liz,” he asked softly. “Did this light tell you that you’d lived before? Like many lifetimes?”
She nodded. “Yes. In fact, Nicholas also said my essence was far older than my physical body....”
“Someone or something is telling us that we belong together,” he said, smiling as she allowed herself to be drawn back into his embrace. “It’s like fate is waiting for us to fulfill its destiny.”
“Then, why did the orbs say Tess was your bride?”
“Maybe this is something bigger than the orbs. Bigger than the conflict on Antar. Maybe my mother didn’t know anything about it.”
“Max, I’m scared. I’m scared that we’ll do this and then find out that we aren’t supposed be together after all. My heart can’t take it a third time.”
“I know, but we have to believe. I think everything depends on this. Maybe that’s why we saw our son when we kissed. Maybe fate is showing us our reward if we follow the path it wants us to go down.”
She threw her arms around his neck. “I hope so Max, because I want to be the mother of your children someday. I want us to be together. I love you, and this time, I refuse to ever let you go.”
“Is that a promise? Because if it is, I’m going to hold you to it.”
“I, Liz Parker, promise that you, Max Evans, have my heart, body and soul forever.”
He smiled and leaned into kiss her. Just before their lips met, he whispered, “I love you, Liz...until the end of time and beyond.”
“Now, sleep,” he commanded softly when the kiss ended. “You need it to heal.”
“Stay with me,” she asked as she lay back down on her bed.
“Always,” he replied as he spooned himself behind her. Wrapping an arm around her waist, he clasped her hand in his.
She entwined one of her legs with one of his, and listened to the rhythm of his breathing. Matching her own to his, she drifted into a peaceful, dreamless sleep.
“Liz!” Max yelled, jerking himself awake. His heart pounded in his ears. He shivered as cool air touched his sweat-soaked body.
“Max? What is it?” Michael was standing over him looking concerned.
“She’s dying...,” he said, sitting up and rushing out of bed. “I have to go to her.”
Michael grabbed him by the arm. “Max! It was just a dream. Liz is safe!”
“What am I doing here?” he asked, looking around his bedroom.
“You live here.”
“I’m supposed to be at Liz’s.”
“Maria stayed with her last night, remember? And, Liz insisted that you sleep in your own room because she was positive that after sleeping on her balcony for the last two weeks you were in need of a good night’s rest.”
He nodded slowly as the fog in his brain began to clear. “Oh yeah.... Why are you here?”
He looked at Michael blankly.
Michael sighed. “We’re going to check out the pod chamber again. See if we can find any clues to the whereabouts of this Granilith.”
“Right.... Just give me a minute to wash my face and get some clothes on.” He went into the bathroom.
“Yeah?” He splashed his face with cool water in an attempt to chase the last of his dream away. **It’s always the same. Liz is dying, and I can’t stop it. No matter what I try.**
Michael poked his head around the bathroom door. “Why do you think Nasedo didn’t tell us about the Granilith?”
“Maybe he didn’t know anything about it,” he replied, drying his face with a towel.
“Nicholas and Whittaker were pretty sure that we have it. And, Courtney called it a religious icon that the Skins would basically kill for. If I was going to send something that important across space, I’d make sure the ones in charge knew about it.”
He paused and stared at Michael. “I hadn’t even considered that. No wonder you’re my second-in-command.”
“Hey you’re not the only guy around here with a brain between his ears.” Michael grinned. “Now, get dressed. We may be buddies, but I like more than air between me and your Calvin Klein boxer briefs.”
Max threw the towel at him, but Michael had already ducked back around the door.
“Come on Liz. You’re lagging behind,” Maria shouted as she ran up the rocky incline.
Liz stumbled over another rock. “Slow down! It’s not going anywhere! It’s a giant hunk of rock!”
Maria stopped climbing and waited for her to catch up. “Aren’t you anxious to see if your dream was real?”
Pausing, she bent over to catch her breath. “And, just how do you think we’re going to get inside the pod chamber without Isabel, Michael or Max to let us in?”
“I haven’t figured that out yet. But hey, it can’t hurt to look around. Maybe there’s another entrance that they don’t know about yet.”
“Tell me again why we’re doing this by ourselves?” she asked Maria as they renewed their hike up the hill.
“Because, your dream said there’s something really big and powerful here. Something really important to all of us. And if we find it, maybe it will show Space Boy that I am not a hindrance to his grand plan of getting home.”
“Maria if you think--.” She slammed into Maria’s back. “Hey, why’d you stop?”
Maria ducked down, pulling her with. “Shh. Someone’s here already.”
Maria turned and rolled her eyes. “If I knew who, I wouldn’t have ducked behind this rock.”
Liz peeked over the rock and looked up at the chamber’s entrance. The door was wide open. “Come on, let’s go inside,” she whispered.
“Are you nuts?” Maria hissed. “We should go back and tell the others that their ‘sanctuary’ has been breached.”
“But, whoever it is could be gone by then. At least let’s take a look and see. It might be Nicholas or his cronies.”
“Do you really want to have another face-to-face with that freak again?”
She peeked at the entrance again. “No, but we can’t let him or his followers leave this place. There’s too much important information in there that can be used against Max and the others.”
Maria grabbed her arm. “Wait a minute, if we get caught it’s adios amigos. We aren’t equipped to handle this.”
“Well, we’ll just cross that bridge when we come to it.” She got up and started walking toward the entrance.
“God, the things I do for you.” Maria got up and followed. “We are so dead.”
Liz suddenly stopped.
/// Blackness. ///
“Liz, you okay?”
She trembled. **This is where we died. This is where....**
“Max!” she cried.
“Liz, shh. They’ll hear you.” Maria grabbed her arm and tried to pull her back down the incline.
She shook her head. “You don’t understand. I have to see!” Pulling away from Maria, she ran blindly up the rest of the way.
Suddenly, she ran into something.
She tried to push away from the hard body, but she couldn’t break free.
**They have me! They have me again!**
She began to scream.
“Liz! It’s me. It’s just me!” Max’s voice broke through her panicked mind. Her body shivered, telling her that it was true.
Looking up, she met his concerned gaze. She threw her arms around him and sobbed. All she could do was stand there and let the emotion flow through her soul and into his.
He saw the vision when she touched him. The fires. The devastation. The death.
“Liz, it’s okay. It’s not real. We’re all safe. Shh. Please, don’t cry.” He kissed the top of her head, inhaling her wonderful scent.
“What’s she doing here?” Michael asked, walking outside to see what all the commotion was about.
He shrugged. “I’m not sure. Her thoughts are too jumbled...too fast.”
“What are you two doing here? We didn’t see the Jeep.” Maria came running up the rest of the way, flushed and out of breath.
“Us?” Michael asked, anger creeping into his voice. “We have every right to be here. What about you two? Were you spying on us?”
Maria glared at Michael. “No, we’re not spying on you Mr. ‘I am the Lone Space Ranger.’ We came out here to explore.”
Michael grabbed Maria by the arm. “Well don’t. It’s dangerous out here. What if we’d been Skins? You guys would be dead by now.”
Maria rolled her eyes. “Oh please. I do have my pepper spray. See?” She held up the palm size can that was attached to her car keys.
“You were planning on defending yourself with pepper spray against evil aliens that have powers capable of permanently killing a shapeshifter?” Michael ran a hand through his hair.
“Don’t start with me Michael. Or, I will give you first hand knowledge about the effects of pepper spray on alien physiology.”
Michael started to say something when Max interrupted.
“Stop it you two.” He looked pointedly at Maria. “Now, why are you guys out here?”
“Liz had a dream last night. We wanted to see if there was anything to it.”
“Why didn’t you call me or Max? We could’ve checked it out.”
“Because, she didn’t want to send you guys on a wild goose chase over a dream that might not mean anything.”
Max looked at Liz. **What did you see, love?**
Wiping the tears from her eyes, Liz looked at the entrance to the pod chamber. **I’m not sure. It was powerful.**
/// The room glowed faintly. She could hear a hum coming from the center of it.
/// It was calling to her.
/// She needed to be closer. She needed to touch it.
/// It wanted her to touch it.///
**That’s all I saw Max. Over and over again. I think it’s in there.**
He looked at the entrance, then at the others. “We’re going inside. Whatever she saw is in there.”
“I don’t see anything, Max,” Michael said, looking around the chamber. “It’s no different from the last time we were here.”
“Liz, do you see anything?” Max asked.
Liz studied the glow emanating from the pods. They seemed to pulse slightly. Walking up to one, she placed her hand on it and tilted her head to the side as if listening to something. Then, she looked at Max.
“Did you know there were originally eight pods?”
“What?” Michael asked.
She listened again. “But now, there are only seven. Zan has ceased to exist.”
“Who’s Zan?” Maria asked, taking a sniff of her cedar oil.
“He’s Max...yet, he’s not Max.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” Michael growled. “Where are you getting this?”
She motioned to the pod. “Can’t you hear it?”
“What?” Max asked softly.
“I don’t hear anything,” Maria said, looking puzzled.
“Neither do I,” Michael agreed.
Max laid his hand on the pod. “I hear it. Inside my head.”
“This is your pod.”
“Maria, touch that one,” she said, pointing at the pod to the upper left of Max’s.
Maria touched it, pulled back in surprise and then touched it again lightly. “Oh my God! It is humming.”
Michael touched it and looked at Liz.
“That’s your pod,” she said, confirming the question in Michael’s eyes. “The one below is Isabel’s and this one belongs to Tess.”
“How do you know this?” Maria asked amazed.
“I’m not sure. It’s like something deep inside is telling me. When I touched Max’s pod, it confirmed it.”
“You mean it’s talking to you?” Michael asked.
“Not exactly. It’s hard to explain. It’s more primitive....” She closed her eyes.
**Liz?** Max touched her face.
She opened her eyes. “There’s something here Max. Something very powerful.”
She looked closely at the wall the pods were attached to and stepped back. Scanning the ground at her feet, she bent down, picked up a baseball-sized rock and threw it at Max’s pod.
The sound of rock hitting metal surprised them all.
Max bent down and peered into the pod. He crawled into it. “There’s something here,” he yelled back at them.
Liz, Maria and Michael crawled through and found themselves in front of a large metal door. Max placed a hand on the small access panel in the wall next to it. With a clang, the sound of the lock releasing was heard, and then, with a soft hiss, the door opened to reveal a room with a strange, conical structure in its center.
They all walked into the faintly glowing room and stared at it.
“Liz,” Max whispered in awe, “your dream....”
Liz walked forward and stroked her hand down its smooth, dark surface. Then she smiled. “The Granilith.”
“Michael. Maria. Go outside and call the others on the cell phones. We need all of them to get here as soon as possible,” Max said. “Liz and I will see what we can discover in here.”
Once they were alone, he watched Liz walk around the Granilith, her hand continually trailing across the smooth, dark surface.
“What?” he whispered when she stopped walking and looked at him.
“A bright light...the stars.... The power within in it is incredible.”
“What’s it for?”
“I don’t know.”
“But, I thought it was calling to you?”
Liz sighed. “It was, but I think it was more of a homing signal, like the orb in the desert. Now that it’s been found, I don’t hear anything anymore. It seems my job is done, at least where this thing is concerned.”
“Then what are you seeing?”
“Impressions from whoever touched it last...just before they hid it away. It’s like an echo of their thoughts and beliefs.”
“So, now what?”
“I have no idea.”
Silently, he studied the Granilith. He touched it. It felt cool beneath his hand. He felt a slight vibration, as if a great energy was anxiously waiting to be released.
“Do you see anything?” Liz asked.
He shook his head. “Not even a flash of what you described.”
“Maybe if we both try together?” she suggested.
Liz placed her right hand on the Granilith and clasped his hand with her left. They both closed their eyes. Their breathing slowed, the rhythm of their breaths in sync with each other and the slight vibration of the Granilith.
That was how Michael and Maria found them when they returned.
“What are they doing?” Maria whispered. “They look like they’re in some sort of trance.”
“I don’t know. Max?”
“What’s wrong with them?” Maria asked, panic creeping into her voice when neither one responded.
Michael grabbed Max by the arm. “Max!”
Max and Liz both gasped and opened their eyes. Dropping their hands from the Granilith, they stepped back and stared at each other.
“What happened Max?” Michael asked.
Max looked at him with amazement. “I saw my past.”
“Nice place you got us here, Chief.”
Nicholas glanced around the abandoned soap factory, then sneered at his three companions, “And your place in the sewers was Buckingham Palace?”
The male of the group bristled. “Yo, don’t be dissin’ our crib, Skinman. We can bounce on back to the City and live just fine, while you stay here in Hicktown and disintegrate into dust.”
“Rath’s right. You’ll get nowheres without us, except dead,” the taller of the two females agreed. She cracked her gum, swaying slightly from side to side.
Nicholas tsked softly, unruffled by their threats. “Now that would make Kivar very angry Lonnie, and the three of you would be stuck on this miserable planet for the rest of your pathetic, little lives.”
Rath and Lonnie backed down.
“You’re being awfully quiet, Ava. Nothing you want to add?” Nicholas asked, looking over at the younger female of the group.
Taking a step back, Ava shook her head and clutched her large canvas bag closer to her chest.
“Don’t mind her Chief,” Lonnie said. “She’s been trippin’ ever since we left New York.”
“Really?” he asked.
Ava took another step back when he stepped closer. “I-I just miss Zan,” she stuttered. “I mean, w-why did you have to kill him?”
Nicholas narrowed his eyes. “Because, you pink-haired twit, he didn’t want to go along with the plan. He wanted to stay on Earth and be ‘the man.’ Kivar has no use for allies like that. Which one are you, Ava?”
“I’m with you Nicholas,” she whispered, looking down at the ground.
“So what is this grand plan of yours?” Rath asked. “How do you plan on getting the Granilith away from these cornball rejects?”
Nicholas smirked. “That is where the three of you come in.”
“Of course, you’ll have to get rid of the street chic you’ve adopted,” he said, motioning to their attire.
“Yo, I like my clothes,” Rath objected.
Lonnie stared intently at Nicholas. “Shut up, Rath. Let the Chief speak.”
“You guys have to look and act exactly like your Roswell counterparts, otherwise, this plan will never work. Rath, I want you to follow Michael. Lonnie, you shadow Isabel. And Ava, do you think you can pull yourself together and watch Tess?”
“Good. I expect you three to be ready to assume your roles when I return in a week.” Nicholas turned to leave.
“Yo, where you going?” Rath asked.
“I have some business in town. That’s all you need to know.”
“Damn! He’s worse than Zan!” Rath grumbled once Nicholas was gone.
Lonnie looked slyly at Ava. “Nothing we can’t deal with. Ain’t that right, Ava?”
Ava froze in her task of spreading her blanket on the floor. “W-why don’t we catch some Z’s guys. It was a long drive from New York. We’ll start tailin’ ‘em tomorrow morning.”
Rath put his arm around Lonnie, and nibbled on her neck. “Sounds like a plan. Wouldn’t you agree Lonnie? Besides, I’ve been dying to get a piece of you for the last three days.”
Lonnie eyed Ava carefully, then grinned. “Word.”
Ava watched them out of the corner of her eye as they started kissing one another and ripping each others’ clothes off. Wrapping herself in her blanket, she turned her back on the couple, and tried to ignore the sounds of their mating. Closing her eyes, she wept softly.
**Zan...I miss you so much. I’m so sorry I didn’t save you. I promise to avenge you. One way or another, they’re going to pay.**
It was two o’clock in the afternoon before the last of them made it to the pod chamber.
“I don’t care if they shrink up and get snagged in the dryer. It’s annoying to have to move your pantyhose every time I want to take a damn shower!”
“Okay...that was too much information for me,” Alex whispered to a smiling Isabel as Kyle stormed into the chamber followed closely by Tess.
“Well you’re just going to have to learn to live with it, because I’m not moving out anytime soon!” Tess yelled at Kyle’s back.
“Why can’t you just zap them dry with your voodoo?” Kyle shot back, turning to face Tess.
She placed her hands on her hips. “Because, every time I use my ‘voodoo’ around you, you freak out!”
“Um, hi guys,” Liz said softly, interrupting the pair.
“Hey Liz,” Tess answered, glaring at Kyle.
Kyle looked around the chamber and noticed the amused looks on the faces of the others. He blushed and mumbled, “Hi Liz. Guys.”
“Well, now that Tess and Kyle have aired out their little laundry problem for us, do you think you can tell us what was so urgent Max?” Isabel asked.
“We found the Granilith.”
“Where?” Tess asked.
“In a room behind the pods. We’ll show you,” Max said.
“Okay, this thing is what Whittaker was willing to kill us for?” Alex asked in disbelief, gesturing at the Granilith once all eight teens were in the room.
“Afraid so Alex,” Maria replied, sighing.
“Okay Max, why don’t you tell the rest of us what you saw earlier?” Michael asked.
“Everyone sit. This is going to take awhile,” Max replied, motioning for them to sit in a circle. “I want everyone to join hands.”
“We’re not going to sing Kumbayah, are we?” Alex asked.
Liz laughed and shook her head. “This is the best way to tell everyone about the vision. We’re going to show it to you.”
“Everyone, close your eyes, and match your breathing to the person next to you,” Max instructed.
Liz felt Kyle jump slightly when the vision began, and she smiled to herself. She sent him a soothing message and felt him relax.
/// His father was dead. He was the King now. It was his coronation day. Watching the people cheer for him, he realized he doesn’t want this life. **Not now! I’m barely eighteen!**
/// “You are almost twenty-one. You must marry soon,” his mother told him. “Antar needs a queen who will help to form an alliance between the planets. Avaria will be a good queen, she is compatible with you.
“Why now? My plan is succeeding, the peace on Antar will be secured. There won’t be any need for alliances.”
“What if your plan ends up failing, and there is a war? You must have an heir.”
“Fine mother, you win. I will marry Avaria, and Antar will have its heir. What about Vilandra? Will you marry her off against her will too?
/// He watched Avaria, in her wedding attire, walk towards him. He placed the crown on her head as she kneeled down in front of him.
“I swear my loyalty and my life to you,” she said. “I give my love only to you.”
He helped her rise and presented her to his people. “This is the woman I have chosen as my mate. She shall be the only mother of my child, your future king. I give to you...your Queen!”
The crowd cheered, and Avaria smiled. But all he could feel was the cold wind of the Antarian winter.
/// There was blood everywhere. He could hear screaming echoing through the halls of the palace. Avaria was dead. Assassinated as they’d stood on the balcony presenting themselves before the people as the King and his new Queen.
Now, they were under attack. He ran into the war room, and stumbled over a body. Glancing down, he found himself staring at the lifeless body of his best friend and second-in-command, Rath.
“Mother? Vilandra? Where are you?” he yelled into the bomb-scarred room.
The sound of weeping coming from behind an overturned table caught his attention. As he walked around it, he fell to his knees at the sight that met him.
“Zan...please, help her,” his mother begged, rocking his sister’s broken body in her arms.
“Lonnie?” he choked out, placing his hand over the wound in her torso. “You have to look at me. I can help you.”
Vilandra opened her eyes. “No,” she whispered. “My fault. Didn’t want...to marry...Rath. Kivar....”
“Kivar? What does he have to do with this?”
“Love...him. Said he’d solve...problem. Didn’t know...he’d...do this.”
“Why Lonnie?” he asked, frantically trying to form the connection so he could heal her.
“Thought...we’d go way...together. He...lied.” She looked into his eyes and shuddered, “Forgive...me....”
“Always Lonnie. You’re my sister,” he answered, weeping as he watched the light fade from her eyes.
/// He was dying. He could feel the blood flowing from his body. He chuckled at the irony of having the power to save the dying, but not being able to save himself.
“Pity, I missed you the first time, King Zan”
He looked up at the man standing over him. “Why Kivar?” he whispered.
“For the power, Zan. By killing you and preventing your soul from moving on, I will finally be able to obtain the ultimate power. And with it, I will rule over the stars and everything that lives!”
“The power of the Granilith and the One,” Kivar smirked.
His vision was darkening. Only a matter of seconds. “My people...will stop you....”
Kivar laughed, and smiled evilly down at him. “They’re my people now.”
The last thing he saw was Kivar’s cold, gray eyes. **I will remember you.** Then everything went black. ///
“Was that really what happened?” Isabel asked softly.
Max nodded. “I believe so. At least, that’s how Zan saw it.”
“Do you think Michael, Isabel and Tess would remember if they touched the Granilith?” Alex asked.
“I don’t know, but I suppose so. However, before they try, Liz has a vision that she needs to share. It concerns all of us, human and alien.”
While the rest of the group closed their eyes again, Max smiled encouragingly at Liz. **It’s okay, I’m right here with you love. Always.**
She shut her eyes. When everyone’s breathing rhythm matched, she pulled everyone into the memory of the vision with her.
When it was over, Liz exhaled deeply and opened her eyes. She felt Max squeeze her hand. She smiled lovingly at him, then looked at the others.
“What in the hell was that?” Michael demanded.
“Oh my God!” Maria whispered. “It’s like I was actually living it!”
Isabel narrowed her eyes and glared at Alex. “How could you go and get yourself killed like that?”
“Hey, it wasn’t my choice,” Alex replied. “It was Liz’s vision. Ask her.”
“What does it mean Max?” Tess asked, her eyes filling with tears.
“I think it means that all eight of us have lived before. I think it’s Liz’s memory of a previous life.”
“Huh?” Maria asked.
“Kyle, you know what he’s talking about,” Liz said.
Everyone looked at Kyle. “Um, re-incarnation?”
“Okay, I’m confused. Why?” Alex asked.
“Buddhists believe that a soul is constantly reborn to learn something it failed to learn in a previous life, until it reaches Nirvana.” Kyle murmured.
“This memory doesn’t make sense,” Michael argued. “We lived on Antar in our previous life.”
“Yes, we did, but, in a life before that one, I believe all eight of us lived here, on Earth,” Max replied.
“Does that mean we’re descended from aliens?” Alex asked.
Everyone looked at Liz. “I don’t know. But, you, Maria, Kyle and I are definitely human according to medical science.”
“Max, how can you be certain this ‘memory’ is real?” Tess asked.
“Something deep inside of me recognizes the events, telling me that it’s true.”
“You don’t seem very surprised by Liz’s ‘memory,’ ” Michael said, studying Max’s calm expression.
“I’ve been having flashes of this memory since school began,” Liz admitted softly. “Then, while I was being held by the Skins, the entire memory surfaced.”
“And you’re just now telling us about this?” Isabel demanded.
“It could be a trick by the Skins,” Tess stated angrily.
“It’s not a trick. I saw the flashes when I kissed Liz on the first day of school. The memory is completely hers.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Maria asked Liz, not masking the hurt in her voice.
“I didn’t understand what it was. I thought it was a premonition of the future,” she said. “A warning for me to stay away from Max. When I finally showed the entire thing to Max, we decided to keep it to ourselves and see if any other memories surfaced.”
“And have they?” Michael asked.
“No,” Liz answered. “I think this memory surfaced as a reminder of how we, the humans, were killed, so we won’t repeat the same mistakes in this life. We think that the eight of us are supposed to band together and face whatever’s going to happen this time around.”
“And just what would that be?” Kyle asked.
“We don’t know,” Max replied. “But whatever it is, it’s going to be big. And what we’ve had to face so far, is just the beginning.”
“What about the other hybrids?” Maria asked.
Isabel looked at Max. “Other hybrids?”
“Just before we found the Granilith, Liz touched one of the pods. She saw four more pods like ours. There were four other hybrids that came here to Earth with us.”
“One of them is dead,” Liz said. “But, I don’t know where the other three are, or what they look like.”
“So, are we going to try and find them?” Michael asked.
“Eventually,” Max answered. “But, for now, we’re going to concentrate on strengthening our powers, and remembering our pasts on Antar. We need to know exactly what we may be facing, and we might discover just what the Granilith does and how to use it.
“Liz, I want you to help Maria, Kyle and Alex see if they have any memories about this past life here on Earth.”
“I don’t think this is a good idea, Max. We’re supposed to be the Royal Four,” Tess interjected. “This may be too dangerous for them.”
“Excuse me, but was it not Alex, Maria and me out there kicking alien ass in Copper Summit?” Kyle asked.
“Woo. Four Skins does not an expert alien slayer make,” Tess cracked sarcastically.
“Oh, and you’ve killed how many Skins in your time?” Kyle shot back.
“Enough!” Max yelled. “They’ve already proven themselves. Deal with it Tess.”
“Don’t like it? Then leave.”
“Hey, don’t talk to her like that,” Kyle said angrily when he saw Tess’ eyes fill with tears. “She has the right to express her opinion. Just cause she didn’t grow up with the three of you, doesn’t mean that what she thinks isn’t important.”
“Max,” Liz said gently, laying a hand on his arm, “Kyle’s right.”
Max sighed. “Tess, I’m sorry. I don’t want you to leave. You’re a valuable part of our strange but diverse family. Forgive me?”
Tess looked at Kyle and Liz with amazement. **They’re defending me? To Max?**
“Please Tess, stay,” Liz asked softly.
Silently, Tess nodded.
“Great,” Michael said. “Now, can we get to work on getting those answers?”
Max nodded, and the group began their various tasks. However, it would be another week before they’d find some of the answers they were searching for.
“Can it be any crazier tonight?” Maria asked placing another order on the ticket rack.
Picking up her order from the window, Liz looked around the restaurant. All kinds of weird ‘alien beings’ filled the tables and booths. Except for one.
She smiled as her gaze rested on Max sitting at his usual booth. Looking up from his conversation with Isabel and Alex, he smiled back. She looked at Maria.
“It’s the Crash Festival. Where else can an alien get an order of Saturn rings and a Cherry Coke just the way he likes it?”
Maria laughed as Liz turned and took Max’s order to his booth.
“What’s so funny?”
Maria glared at the cook through the order window. “I am so not speaking to you Michael Guerin.”
“Now what’d I do?”
“More like what you didn’t do.”
“You didn’t show up last night to watch me sing at that new performance space next to the museum!”
“So? I’ve heard you sing before,” he said, placing a plate of cheese fries in the window.
“Michael, you’re my boyfriend! You’re required to attend all events in which your girlfriend is performing. It’s in the handbook!”
“There’s a handbook?”
“Argh!,” Maria growled, placing her hands on her hips. “Where were you last night? Obviously it wasn’t the emergency room, since I don’t see any missing limbs or broken body parts.”
Michael mumbled something at the grill.
“What? What’s that?” she asked, leaning forward to hear him better.
“I was at the dirt bike rally!” he replied loudly, slamming a Galaxy Sub and chips down in the window.
Maria raised an eyebrow at him.
“Hey, it was the finals! It was important!”
Maria picked up the orders from the window, and walked away.
“Problems?” Liz asked, placing a new order on the ticket rack.
Michael growled, turned and walked back to the freezer.
She chuckled and shook her head.
“What’s so funny?”
She looked up to see Kyle and Tess standing at the counter.
“Hey guys! Surprised to see you out and about tonight?”
Kyle looked at all the strangely costumed characters and shrugged. “Yeah well, I had a hankering for some Men in Blackberry pie, and she decided to come along and harass me.”
“What is all of this?” Tess asked. “It’s too early for Halloween.”
“That’s right, you weren’t here last year,” Liz replied. “All these people are dressed up to watch the re-enactment of the ‘47 crash. It’s kind of become a big block party for the town, especially for the teenagers. It also happens to be one of our busiest weekends.”
“I thought the crash occurred in July, not September,” Tess asked.
“It did. However, Roswell’s big Fourth of July celebration occurs then, so the city council voted a few years back to hold the festival in September, to try and draw in more tourists.”
Tess nodded. “That’s cool. Although, that one over there,” she said, pointing at the alien with the one-eyed, one-horned giant purple head, “Is pretty accurate about what we Antarians really look like.”
Kyle paled slightly.
Tess laughed. “I’m kidding Kyle. I know about the song. Jeez, Buddha Boy, lighten up a bit. Have you been skipping your morning meditations again?”
He glared at Tess. “Ha, ha. ha.”
Liz grinned. “I’ll have your pie up in a minute. Will that be all?”
“I guess I’ll have a slice too, but with special sauce,” Tess answered.
“Two Men in Blackberries, one with special sauce,” Liz repeated. Turning, she stumbled over the bag of trash that Agnes hadn’t bothered to take out at the end of her shift. “Maria!”
“Could you run this bag out to the dumpster for me, please?”
“No problem. By the way, Max Evans is staring at you again.”
She smiled. “I know. Watch this.”
**Max, after my shift tonight, how about we share a bowl of strawberries and some whipped cream.**
Maria giggled. “I love it when he does that. I wish Michael’s ears would get red like that. It’s too cute.”
“Liz, order up!” Michael yelled slamming another plate down in the window.
“I don’t know, Maria. You got him pretty flustered now as it is,” Liz said glancing at Michael.
Sighing, Maria picked up the bag of trash and walked to the kitchen door. “I know. It’s a gift.”
Rolling her eyes, Liz smiled as Maria winked and sashayed through the door.
Passing through the kitchen, Maria smiled to herself. **Before the night’s over Space Boy. You’ll be on your knees begging me to forgive you.**
Stepping into the alley, she looked around to see if she could spot anything suspicious. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, she walked over to the dumpster and threw open the lid so that it clanged loudly against the side of the building. After tossing the bag inside, she slammed the lid closed and started to go back inside.
“Yo, you mind not banging that thing around? I’m trying to sleep.”
“What? Who’s there?” Maria asked nervously. Peering around the dumpster, she spotted a young girl with pink hair lying curled up on the ground.
“Tess? What’s with the punk look? Did you decide to join the Crash festivities? What’d you do with Kyle?”
“Who?” the girl asked, shifting her large canvas bag closer to her. “Name’s Ava. Don’t know no Kyle.”
Maria slowly backed away. “Oh, sorry. My mistake. Thought you were someone else. Didn’t mean to disturb you. Go right ahead and continue with whatever you were doing.” Turning, she ran back into the kitchen.
“Michael!” she yelled.
“What? What’s the matter?”
She pointed at the back door. “Out there. There’s someone out by the dumpster. She looked just like Tess, only it wasn’t Tess. Said her name was Ava. I think she might be a Skin.”
“Okay, calm down. Sniff some cedar oil. I’ll check it out. You go get Max.”
Maria nodded and hurried into the dining area.
Michael stepped out the back door, hand raised. Quietly, he approached the dumpster and looked around. Nothing. He peered inside. Just garbage. He looked up and down the alley. Empty.
Scratching his head, he went back inside.
“Where in the hell is Max?” he mumbled, and stormed through the kitchen door into the crowded restaurant.
He stopped in mid-stride. There, next to his friends’ booth, stood Nicholas, flanked by two tough-looking bodyguards, one of whom had his arm draped around the shoulders of a very frightened Maria.
“Well, if it isn’t the King and his court. Vilandra. Avaria.”
“What do you want Nicholas?” Michael demanded, walking up to the booth. “You’re not welcome here.”
“Zan’s loyal guard dog. I wondered when you were going to show up. Love the whole greasy spoon look. You’ve come up in the world.”
Michael reflexively clenched and unclenched his hands.
Nicholas raised an eyebrow at Michael. “What do you think you can do to me in front of all these people?”
“Michael...,” Max warned.
Michael looked at Max, at Nicholas and finally at Maria’s frightened face. Growling, he knocked the guard’s arm from Maria’s shoulders and pulled her behind him. He squeezed her hand reassuringly.
Max sighed. “What do you want Nicholas?”
“Besides all of you dead? Not much really. I’m here in an official capacity. The ruling families of the five planets are calling a peace summit in New York City in three weeks. As patriarch of the Antarian family, you are invited to attend.”
“Are you nuts?” Tess asked. “Like we’d be stupid enough to trust anything you had to say.”
Nicholas glared at the petite blonde. “Max, will you be bringing your bride...or your consort? How is the lovely Miss Parker?”
“She’s none of your business,” Max replied, glancing at Liz, who stood behind the counter waiting on some customers. “As for this so-called summit, we won’t be attending. Any of us.”
“That’s too bad. You’re passing up the perfect opportunity for a chance to return home.”
“He said we’re not interested,” Michael snapped. “Now you and your buddies here, get your flaky butts out of this restaurant.”
Nicholas tsked. “Such poor customer service. Do you kiss her with that mouth?” he asked, looking pointedly at Maria.
Michael pulled Maria closer and glared at Nicholas.
Nicholas smirked and turned his attention back to Max. “You have two weeks to change your mind about the Summit. So, I’ll put you down for a definite maybe. I’ll come back then for your final answer. See ya around, your Highness.”
After the last customer left for the night, Liz locked the front doors.
“God, I thought they’d never leave,” Maria said, wiping down the tables. “The one night we need to close early, and we get the happy campers at Table Five.”
“It’s only a quarter ‘til ten,” Liz commented as she began counting down the register.
“So? We’re trying to save the world from evil aliens. You’d think they’d be a little more courteous of our time.”
Liz laughed. “That’s the problem with having a secret identity, no respect. Just ask Clark Kent or Peter Parker.”
Maria sighed dramatically. “Okay, fine. I’m going to go join the others in our Bat Cave-slash-break area. I’ll send Michael out here to zap the floors, so we can get on with the meeting.”
Liz nodded in response, and continued counting. As she was finishing up, she heard the kitchen door open and smiled. **Hey Max.**
Max walked up behind her, put his hands on her shoulders and inhaled the strawberry scent of her hair. **This connection thing definitely has some disadvantages. How am I supposed to surprise you, if you can feel me coming a mile away?**
She turned around and kissed him. **Guess you’ll just have to get creative.**
Reluctantly, he pulled away. “As much as I’d love to show you just how creative I can get, the others are waiting for us.”
“I know,” she sighed. “Well, it look’s like Michael isn’t coming out here to zap the floors. Do you think you could...?”
“Your wish is my command,” he said solemnly, bowing.
Giggling, she grabbed the deposit bag from the register. When Max had finished the floors, she turned off the dining room lights, and they walked back to the break room.
“You are impossible Michael Guerin! Why do I put up with you?” screeched Maria.
“I’ve been asking myself the same question about you all night, DeLuca!”
“Is it really to much to ask that we watch something else beside ESPN?” Tess complained watching Kyle turn on the TV
“Hey, my life isn’t all about ‘little green men,’ you know. I do have other interests, and sports is one of them.”
Isabel snatched a newspaper away from Alex. “We are not going to the Revival to see The Exorcist. We’ve already watched it on video, at least four times!”
“But, that was the small screen. You can’t really get the full effect of the pea soup unless you see it on the big screen.”
Liz and Max looked at one another and shook their heads. Liz walked into the office to put the money in the safe, while Max gave an ear-splitting whistle. The room quieted as everyone turned their attention to him.
“I can’t leave you guys alone for a minute without a fight breaking out,” he said, exasperated.
“Hey, just because your relationship is a hundred and ten percent nauseatingly, lovey-dovey all the time, doesn’t mean ours aren’t normal,” Maria said defensively.
“Yeah, in fact, if anyone’s relationship can be classified as abnormal, it would be you and Liz,” Isabel agreed, as Liz walked back into the break area. “Do you two ever fight?”
“On occasion, but we don’t let the whole world hear,” Max replied.
“Well, we can’t all have the advantage of talking to our girlfriends telepathically. If you don’t like it, buy earplugs,” Michael said.
“Okay, everybody chill out,” Liz ordered. “Michael, stop egging Max and Maria on. Maria, stop frustrating Michael. Alex, you’re going to take Isabel to see the movie she wants to see. Isabel, don’t let him watch The Exorcist so much, it gives him nightmares. Tess, you should get to watch what you want to once in a while. And Kyle, we know that you’re a well-rounded person, but you are just a little too sports-obsessed. Now if that is all, I believe we have a few things to discuss.” Liz turned off the TV and plopped down on the couch next to Tess.
Michael let out a low whistle. “Damn, Max. I thought Hurricane DeLuca was scary, but Liz Parker in Mother Hen mode is down right terrifying. I feel for you buddy.”
Maria smacked him the arm. “Knock it off Space Boy.”
“If there are no more comments from the peanut gallery, what are we going to do about this supposed peace summit?” Isabel asked.
Max sighed. “I don’t know.”
“I think it’s a trick by the Skins to get us away from Roswell so they can kill you Max,” Tess said.
“But what if it is true? What if we might get the chance to go home?” Michael asked.
“Too bad we can’t contact somebody besides Nicholas to confirm the truth about this summit,” Alex said.
Max looked at Alex. “That’s a great idea.”
“Who are we going to contact?” Isabel asked. “We’re the only aliens, besides the Skins, that we know.”
“The other hybrids...,” Liz murmured out loud, hearing Max’s thoughts.
“But, we don’t know where they are or who they are,” Michael reminded her.
“And it’s not like we have a Bat Signal to shine in the night sky to get their attention,” Maria said.
“No,” Liz said, “but, we do have the orbs. They sent out a signal last May, which the Skins used to locate you. Why not the other hybrids? It’s possible that the orbs might be able to send out a signal that they would recognize and get them to come to Roswell.”
“What if all they do is alert more evil aliens and they come here and try to destroy us?” Kyle asked.
“I guess that’s a risk we’re going to have to vote on,” Max said. “All in favor of trying the orbs to contact the other hybrids, raise your hands.”
Michael, Tess, Liz, Max and Alex raised their hands. “I guess that settles it. Tomorrow morning, everyone meet at Michael’s and we’ll caravan out to the pod chamber to give the orbs a try.”
“So what about the summit?” Isabel asked.
“We’ll wait a couple a weeks and make our final decision before Nicholas returns,’ Max said.
Everybody nodded their agreement.
“What about the girl in the alley tonight?” Michael asked.
“What girl?” Max asked.
“Oh yeah,” Maria said, “I didn’t get a chance to tell you guys— what with Nicholas showing up with his two goons. When I took the trash out to the dumpster earlier, there was a girl with pink hair laying next to it. She said she was trying to get some sleep.”
“Yeah, so?” Kyle asked.
“She looked exactly like Tess, except for the pink-hair and punk clothes of course.”
“Excuse me?” Tess asked.
“I called her Tess, but she said her name was Ava. I thought she could be a Skin.”
“But, when I went to check her out, she’d disappeared,” Michael interjected.
“Great, an evil twin,” Alex said, rolling his eyes. “What next? An alternate reality?”
“Who or what do you think she is Max?” Isabel asked.
“She could be related to Tess’ DNA donor,” Liz suggested.
“Or, she might be a Skin,” Maria said.
“I like Alex’s ‘evil twin’ theory myself,” said Kyle.
“Or, she might be a Skin,” Maria repeated louder, placing her hands on her hips.
“She could be one of the hybrids,” Max said softly, looking at Michael.
“You want me to try and find her?” Michael asked.
Max nodded. “But, don’t kill her or hurt her. When we confront her, I want us all to be present.”
“Now, if everything is settled, Alex and I have a movie to go and see,” Isabel said, getting up from her seat on Alex’s lap.
“What time we meeting tomorrow?” Alex asked.
“Ten o’clock,” Max replied. “That’ll give me time to get home, and change before my parents realize that I haven’t been sleeping in my room.”
“Okay, see ya then,” Alex said, standing to leave. “Hey Bella, you think maybe we could have a sleeping arrangement like Max and Liz’s?”
“I don’t have a balcony,” Isabel replied dryly and walked out the back door.
Alex grinned at everyone. “Can’t blame a guy for trying.” Then he trotted out the door to catch up with Isabel.
Michael shook his head. “He is so whipped. Almost as bad as you Maxwell.”
Maria cleared her throat loudly. “And you aren’t Space Boy?”
Max tried to stifle his laughter as Michael glared at her and then sighed.
“Come on DeLuca. Let’s go.”
“Oh, and where are we going?” Maria asked.
“To see if we can find this Ava person.”
“Why Space Boy, I’m shocked. No arguments?”
“Considering you’re the only one who’s seen her, you can help ID her.”
“Oh,” Maria said with a hint of disappoint.
“Besides, I like your company. We’ll be like Scully and Mulder.”
“Cool,” Maria said, grabbing her coat from her locker. “Can I be Mulder?”
“No way. I’m the brooding one remember?” Michael said as they walked out the door.
Kyle looked at Tess. “If we ever get like that, please shoot me.”
“I’ll slag you with my death ray eyes,” Tess agreed, standing up. “Come on, let’s go home. I think there’s a softball game on ESPN you’ll probably want to watch.”
Kyle glanced at Liz. “Well, I suppose if you want, we could watch the Lifetime channel.”
Tess looked at him funny. “Lifetime? I don’t think so. Mystery Science Theatre 3000 is on Sci-Fi tonight. I think they’re showing The Brain That Would Not Die.”
Kyle jumped up from his seat on the floor. “Is that the one with the freaky chick’s head on a tray? Cause that’s like my favorite episode.”
“I think so.”
“Then let’s go,” Kyle said. “See ya in the morning guys.”
“Bye...,” Liz said to the empty doorway where Kyle and Tess had been standing.
**I thought they’d never leave.**
She looked up at Max. “Oh no you don’t mister. You’re going home too. Your parents need to think you came home for the night. And mine need to think I’m going to bed.”
Max looked at her pleadingly. **Just one little kiss before I go?**
She smiled knowingly. **Uh-uh. If I give you one kiss, you won’t go, and I don’t want a repeat of last Saturday night.**
**Fine. I’ll go, but I’ll be back in an hour.**
**I’ll be waiting.**
“What do you mean she’s gone?” Nicholas yelled, kicking over an empty soap crate.
“She bounced out of here last Saturday after you left and we went to sleep. We ain’t seen her since Chief,” Lonnie said. “Guess she was more wigged out than we thought.”
“We don’t need her anyways,” Rath interjected. “Me and Lonnie can carry off the plan alone.”
“Do you have any idea where she could be?” Nicholas asked through clenched teeth.
“If she knows what’s good for her, she skipped town. Cause she knows if we find her, we’ll kill her,” Lonnie said slyly.
“Are you sure she’s gone?”
“I tried dream walkin’ her all week. No luck.”
Nicholas closed his eyes. “I can’t find her either, but I’m sure she hasn’t gone to Max. He acted clueless, just like always, when I saw him at The Crashdown earlier.”
“Who cares if she goes to the King of Cornball. He can’t hurt us,” Rath said, rolling a joint.
“She knows our plan. She can warn him, and ruin our chances of getting the Granilith.”
“Yeah, but not all of it.”
“Maybe you should cut down on the weed, Rath. Ava may not know the entire plan, but Max isn’t stupid. Neither is his consort, Liz Parker. They’d figure it out sooner or later.”
“So we change the plan,” Vilandra replied.
“We can’t. We’re running out of time,” Nicholas said, pacing.
Lonnie raised an eyebrow at him. “You mean Kivar’s ready to cut off your head and stick it on a pike?”
“That too,” he mumbled. “I want you to find her, before we proceed with the switch. Otherwise, if by some chance, she’s still here, she’s capable of blowing your cover.”
Lonnie and Rath stood there staring at Nicholas.
“What are you waiting for?” Nicholas yelled. “Go! Now!”
“We’re on it Chief,” Lonnie said, and dragged Rath out of the old soap factory.
Nicholas kicked over some more crates and yelled in frustration. “God, I hate these morons! I hate this stinking planet, and this stinking town! They’re all going to suffer. Then, they’re going to die!”
Liz toweled the excess water from her hair, and looked at herself in the bathroom mirror. **What is it about me? What am I in all of this?**
“Now, would be a good time for another vision,” she said loudly to the ceiling. “Or at least, send somebody who’ll give me some answers to all of these questions I have.”
She waited for a reply, but all she heard was silence. Sighing, she hung up her towel, and slipped into a white tank top and flannel pajama pants. Snapping off the bathroom light, she walked into her dimly lit bedroom. Taking her journal from its hiding place, she grabbed her blanket from the bed. **Might as well write and clear my head until Max gets here.**
Climbing out her window and onto her balcony, she pulled the blanket tighter around her body and walked over to her favorite lounge chair. Suddenly, she stopped and stared.
There, sleeping on her balcony, in her chair, was a young, pink-haired girl wearing punk-style clothing, who looked remarkably like Tess.
Liz tiptoed over to the sleeping girl. She looked harmless. She decided to wake her. “Hello?” she said softly, laying her hand on the girl’s shoulder.
/// Michael, Tess, Isabel and Max were walking through the streets of New York. They looked different though. Their clothes and hairstyles were more punk, more street.
/// Suddenly, Nicholas was there. He was arguing with Max. “I’m the man,” Max said, a hint of menace in his voice. Nicholas looked furious.
/// The group walked away from Nicholas. As they approached a street corner, she saw Isabel throw the basketball she was holding towards the street. As Max attempted to grab it, Michael pushed him from behind.
/// A truck was bearing down on Max, who lay in the street. Michael was making the truck speed up with his powers. Max had no time to react and save himself. Tess screamed. ///
Liz jerked away from the girl, who suddenly sat up screaming,
“Who are you?” Liz demanded.
Ava sobbed. She hated sleeping. The nightmare never stopped. She’d failed him, and now she was sure Zan was haunting her.
“Hey,” Liz said in a soothing voice, “Don’t cry. It’s okay. It was just a dream.”
Ava looked at the girl on the balcony with her and her eyes widened in surprise. “You’re Max’s consort!” she gasped.
“Excuse me? I don’t believe we’ve met properly. I’m Liz Parker. And you are?”
“Ava. Short for Avaria,” she replied, stretching and trying to clear the last remnants of the dream from her mind.
“Avaria? No, you’re not,” Liz accused angrily. “Tess is Avaria. Who are you really?”
Ava sighed. “I’m the Avaria from the second set of hybrids.”
“But, you look just like Tess.”
“They made two sets, and sent both to Earth. Kind of an insurance policy.”
“Oh.... Why are you here on my balcony? Where are the others?”
“Well, I was crashing in the alley, but it got too noisy. So I came up here. It was quieter, so I crashed. Didn’t know it was yours. I’ll leave--”
“No! Please, don’t. You’re welcome to stay. Max will be here soon, and I know he’ll want to meet you. We have so many questions for you.”
“Um, I don’t know if that’s such a good idea,” Ava replied reluctantly.
**Liz? You alone?**
**Not quite, but come on up. We have a visitor tonight.**
“Max is here. He’s on his way up,” Liz told Ava.
“Yo, I don’t think I should be here. Zan never liked surprises.” Ava walked over to the ladder. Just then, Max appeared at the top. She gasped and backed away quickly.
“What the--?” Max asked, climbing onto the balcony.
Liz grabbed his hand and looked at Ava. “It’s okay, Max. This is Ava. She’s one of the hybrids from the other set of pods.”
“Why is she here on your balcony?” he asked, glaring at the Tess look-alike accusingly.
“Max, calm down. She was sleeping. She hasn’t hurt me. In fact, I think you’re scaring her,” Liz replied, looking at Ava, who was cowering in the corner.
**How can you be sure she is who she says she is?**
** When I touched her the first time, I got a vision. I saw you, Tess, Michael and Isabel, only they weren’t you. Nicholas was there.**
“You know Nicholas?” Max demanded angrily.
Ava cringed and clutched her bag tighter.
“How do you know him? Are you working for him?”
“He came to us in New York. Told Zan he wanted him to go to the Summit. Zan refused, which made Nicholas angry. So, Lonnie and Rath killed Zan.
“We got here last week. We’re supposed to tail our dupes and learn. But, I booked after Nicholas left. I couldn’t do it. He had Zan killed. I was supposed to protect him. I should have stopped it!” Ava began to cry.
**It’s all true. I saw it. She was devastated when Zan died.** Liz touched him on the arm and opened the connection.
“How did you see that?” he asked when the flash ended.
“Ava’s in a highly emotional state. I can feel it coming off her in waves,” she replied. “After all, Zan was obviously your genetic match, and she’s strongly connected to him. It would seem I can get flashes from people or things if they’re connected to you somehow.”
**Like the Granilith.**
“By the Light, you’re them.”
They both looked questioningly at Ava.
“You’re communicating telepathically with one another, aren’t you?” she asked, slowly advancing towards them.
Max pulled Liz closer to him. “Yes.”
“You’re the ones from the prophecy,” Ava said excitedly. “I never thought I’d live to see it. We knew King Zan was the genetic link, but we didn’t know who the Seer was.”
“What prophecy?” Max asked.
“The prophecy of the One.”
“The one what?” Liz asked.
“The One Who Shall Lead.”
“Michael, this is like the fifth time we’ve driven around town. I think she’s booked.” Maria said as they drove by the high school.
Michael sighed in frustration. “Maybe she went back to the alley.”
“No, she hasn’t. The last time we drove by, the Jeep was there. Max would’ve spotted her, and if he’d found her, he’d have called. Unlike some aliens I know, Max is considerate of other people’s feelings.”
“When are you going to get off this bit? I’m sorry I went to the finals last night, instead of coming to watch you sing. But, why is it, my stuff has to take a back seat to yours? Why can’t I be upset with you for not coming to watch me race.”
Maria looked daggers at him. “One, you didn’t tell me about the finals, so I didn’t know. Two, I only told you about my performance at least a half a dozen times in the last two weeks. Three, you told me, and I quote, ‘Yes Maria, I’ll be there,’ when I asked you if you’d show up. And finally, correct me if I’m wrong, are we not sitting in my car, at midnight, on a Saturday, looking for your possible alien enemy, when we could be parked somewhere making out like normal teenagers.”
He shrugged. “So, what’s your point?”
She slammed on the brakes. “Get out of my car.”
“Because, I said so. I’m going home to bed. You can find your jollies elsewhere tonight, Michael Guerin.”
“Get out of the damn car!” she yelled, smacking him on the arm.
He opened the car door and got out. Slamming it shut, he bent down to say something to her through the open passenger window, but she just stomped on the gas and sped away.
Sighing, he began the walk towards home. Suddenly, he stopped and looked behind him. The street was empty. Slowly, he turned back around, and started walking again.
He could feel the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. Someone was following him. When he rounded the next corner, he ducked into the doorway of an abandoned store. He didn’t have to wait long for his shadow.
Jumping out of the doorway, he raised his hand to defend himself. “What the hell?”
“Surprise,” his shadow said, and fired a blast of energy.
Michael flew backwards and into the storefront window. The sound of shattering glass was the last thing he heard before slipping into unconsciousness.
“Yeah?” Isabel said, gazing at the stars.
“Why are you with me?”
“What do you mean?”
Alex sighed and looked at his feet. “Why did you choose to date me? What is it about me that you find so irresistible that you’re willing to ignore your destiny?”
She smiled and motioned to the trees around them and at the stars overhead. “You gave me this. Every other boy I ever dated, either gave me flowers or jewelry or expensive dinners, and then expected me to put out. But you, you’re different.
“We go out, and you ask for nothing but the pleasure of my company. You’ve seen what I am, and you didn’t run screaming into the night. You treat me like a princess, yet you don’t let me get away with acting like one. But most of all, you make me laugh.”
“Doesn’t sound very irreplaceable to me,” he murmured.
“Alex Whitman, you are absolutely irreplaceable! If you ever left me, I’d be lost, alone and afraid. Who would give me those sweet kisses that curl my toes? Who would stroke my hair and sing to me when I get anxious about who I am and what may be out there waiting for me? Who would hold my hand when I gaze at the stars. Not Michael. Not anyone else. Only you. Always you.”
He looked into her eyes and smiled, stroking her cheek. “I love you Bella.”
She leaned forward and kissed him gently on the mouth. “And, I love you. Always.”
Alex sighed and checked his watch. “Come on, it’s time to head home. Don’t want your Dad mad at me.”
She laughed as she stood up and started to walk back towards the car. “My father should kiss the ground you walk on. You are like the perfect boyfriend that every father wants for his daughter. You’d never dream of trying to take advantage of a girl.”
“Ah, but we are alone out here in the woods, Miss Evans. How can you be so sure I won’t ravish you right now?” He grinned, clasping her hand in his.
“Because Mr. Whitman, you know I’d dream walk you and give you nightmares for weeks on end afterwards.”
“I am so whipped,” he said, laughing as he opened the car door for her.
“But it’s a good kind of whipping,” she whispered, giving him a quick kiss.
“That it is,” he murmured happily. “That it is.”
As they drove back into Roswell, Alex spotted Michael standing in front of The Crashdown. They pulled over.
“What happened Michael? Maria kick you out of her car again?” he said, smirking.
“Alex, be nice,” Isabel whispered.
Michael walked up to the car and peered inside. “Did either of you see someone run by here?”
“No. Why? Did you see that pink-haired girl? What’d she say her name was?”
“Ava,” Isabel replied, looking at Michael.
“Um, yeah,” Michael answered anxiously. “She’s disappeared on me again.”
“Sorry man, didn’t see anybody. Do you want a ride home? We’re headed in that direction,” Alex asked.
“Sure. That’s cool.” Michael climbed into the backseat.
As they drove off, Alex glanced at Michael in the rearview mirror. “So what’d you say this time?”
“Oh right. The usual.”
Alex grinned. “When are you going to learn to think before you speak to her? You need to master what I call the ‘Maria maneuver.’ I really should patent it. Works every time.”
“And that would be?” Isabel asked.
“Compliment her on her outfit, her hair or her singing. Steer the conversation back to her, and she’ll forget all about whatever you said to tick her off.”
“That is so manipulative!” she replied.
“But, it’s true....”
Michael sat quietly in the back and watched the two debate the “Maria maneuver.” They were starting to give him a headache. Popping the bones in his neck, he glanced down at his glowing hands, then at the back of their heads. He grinned as Alex stopped the car in front of the apartment.
|posted on 1-Sep-2001 4:07:27 PM|
“Knock, knock.” Maria poked her head into Michael’s apartment. “Are you awake Space Boy? It’s nine o’clock.”
Michael stumbled sleepily from the bedroom. “Why are you here?”
“Meeting remember? Max told us all to meet here.”
“Oh yeah, right. I’m little tired...after having to walk all the way home last night!” He went to the refrigerator, peered inside and grabbed a can of soda off the top shelf.
“Oh, very nutritious Michael,” she teased.
He just looked blankly at her.
“Aren’t you going to offer me one?”
“Help yourself. I ain’t gonna stop you.”
“Okay....” After grabbing a soda for herself, she leaned against the wall, and studied him.
“What are you starin’ at?” he snapped.
“Jeez, don’t get so testy. Just trying to assess the scale on the Michael Mood Meter this morning.” She took a sip of soda. “So, just how mad are you?”
“About what?” he growled.
“All right, I’ll take that as you’re pissed at me.”
“Just be quiet until the others get here.”
They sipped their sodas in silence.
“This just can be...,” Liz murmured in amazement. “Are you sure?”
Ava nodded. “Avaria’s family followed the old religion. They were the official keepers of the ancient text about the Light—the only family to ever hold that honor. In fact, she was the last of the line, which is why she was being married to Zan, the first son of the first family.”
“Why would Avaria agree to marry Zan if she didn’t really want to?” Max asked.
Ava shrugged. “Some of the elders in her family believed that since Zan was the First, and Avaria was the last of their line, that the marriage was the one in the prophecy. They believed that the bond in the prophecy would be remembered after the two did the deed.”
“The deed?” Max asked.
Liz blushed and looked at him. **Made love.**
He felt his ears grow warm. “Oh.”
Ava grinned at them.
“So why do you believe that Max and I are the ones, and not Max and Tess?”
“Because, Zan and me didn’t have no bond like the two of you got.”
“So you and Zan...?” Max asked.
“Oh yeah, lots of times. But, he was never really mine. You know? It was like he was always waiting for someone else to show up. So you two do the deed?”
Turning redder, Max shook his head. “Not quite. We just looked into each others souls.”
“Cool,” Ava replied.
“Max!” Liz gasped. “What time is it?”
“Shit! It’s nine o’clock. We talked all night.”
“Your parents are going to freak,” Liz said. “And, you told everyone to meet at ten.”
“I’ll call my parents and tell them I fell asleep over at Michael’s. Can I use your phone?”
“What’s going on?” Ava asked, watching Max disappear through Liz’s bedroom window. “What’s the big meeting about?”
“Well, we were going to the pod chamber to see if we could send out a signal with the orbs to find the other hybrids. However, since you’ve already found us, I guess that’s kind of moot.”
“You have the orbs?”
“Yes. The FBI had one of them. They confiscated it from the crash sight fifty years ago. The other one, Max and I found out in the desert last year.”
“How about the Granilith?”
“The what?” Liz asked, pretending ignorance.
“The Granilith. It’s been a religious icon on Antar for centuries. It’s powerful. The scientists tried to determine its power source for years, but couldn’t find one.
“According to the ancient texts, the Granilith is a link to the Light and that its power comes from the Light. But, no one has ever been able to access its power successfully. Only the One may do so.”
“What exactly is this Light?”
Ava shrugged. “I guess the closest thing is what you humans call God.”
Max and Liz walked through Michael’s door at five after ten to find the apartment and its occupants eerily quiet.
**This is so not good, Max.**
He nodded in agreement and glanced around at everybody. “Hey guys. Where’s Alex, Iz?”
Isabel, who was staring at Tess, shrugged. “He called me this morning. Said he had a family thing that he couldn’t get out of, and that he was really sorry. He also said for us to go on without him, and that I can catch him up later.”
“What about your Dad, Kyle?” Max asked.
“He’s working a murder investigation out near the old soap factory. He’s going to be too pre-occupied today,” Kyle said, glancing at Tess.
“So are we going to head out and see if we can’t contact the others?” Tess asked. She was sitting on the far end of the couch and quite actively ignoring Kyle.
“No,” he answered. “One of them has come to us.”
“What?” Isabel asked, giving Max her full attention now.
“Last night, Liz found Ava sleeping on her balcony. It seems she and the other two hybrids are in Roswell.”
“Where is she now?” Michael asked.
Liz opened the front door. “Ava, you can come in, now.”
Ava walked in cautiously. Glancing nervously at the others in the room, she stood close to Max and Liz.
“Wow. She could be your identical twin, Tess,” Kyle said, eyeing Ava’s strange attire and pink hair. “In an alternate reality sort of way.”
Tess stood and walked over to Ava. Clear blue eyes stared into clear blue eyes. Each girl reached up to touch the other’s hair. They smiled at one another.
“Okay, this is officially freaking me out,” Maria said, stepping closer to Michael.
Michael ignored Maria and walked up behind Tess. “How do we know she’s really one of the hybrids and not a trick? She could be dangerous. I say we take her out.”
“Michael!” Liz said, “She is who she says she is. I saw it when I touched her. She’s not dangerous. In fact, she wants to help.”
“Back off Michael,” Max warned softly. “Ava has some information to show us.”
Isabel laid a hand on Michael’s shoulder. “Chill out Michael. Let’s just see what she has to say.”
Michael looked at Isabel, then back at Ava. “Fine. But, if this is a trick, I will fry you.”
“Nobody’s frying anybody. Got that?” Max demanded.
“Whatever,” Michael said sullenly.
“I mean it, Michael. You are not to hurt Ava.”
“Fine.” Michael shrugged and backed away. “You’re the man.”
Ava stared suspiciously at Michael and tensed.
“What is it?” Liz whispered to Ava, so the others couldn’t hear.
“Nothin’...I think. Just a strange vibe.”
Liz smiled at her. “Don’t worry. It’s just Michael. Maria says he gives them off all the time.”
Ava giggled. “I know someone like that. Rath does the same thing. Must be in their genetic makeup.”
“Okay,” Max said, “I want everyone to link hands like at the pod chamber. Ava and Liz have a few things they want to show you.”
Isabel and Michael clasped hands with Kyle on Isabel’s other side, and Maria on Michael’s. Tess grabbed Kyle and Max’s hands, while Liz grabbed Max and Ava’s. Ava smiled shyly at Kyle.
“It’s okay,” Kyle said, smiling and grabbing Ava’s hand. “I don’t bite.”
“Everyone, close your eyes and start to match your breathing with the person next to you. Just like before,” Liz said softly. When they’d done as she asked, she closed her own eyes and opened up her mind’s eye.
/// **One First, One Last.**
**One Dark, One Light.**
**Souls will search to reunite.**
The images of Max, Tess, Michael and Isabel appeared from a fog.
**One Wise, One Brave,**
**One Strong, One Kind.**
**Will band together in one mind.**
Liz, Kyle, Maria and Alex appeared standing behind the four aliens.
**One Love, One Time.**
**One Soul, One Wife.**
**Will unite to make one life.**
Liz placed her hand in Max’s. Kyle placed his hand on Tess’ shoulder. Maria wrapped her arms around Michael’s waist. Alex placed one hand on Isabel’s shoulder, while the other gently stroked her hair.
**One Child, One Age,**
**One People, One Race.**
**Separated no more in time or space.**
A child appeared in front of the group. No more than five years of age. A soft white glow emanated from the child.
The child shimmered and spoke. “Four Warriors. Four Guardians.”
Strange, disembodied voices chorused in reply. “So shall it be.”
“Connected through life, love and faith. If one should fall, then all will fall.”
“So shall it be.”
“If they fall in defeat, the Second Age of Separation will begin. If they rise up in triumph, The One Who Shall Lead will come.
“So shall it be.”
“The first of a first, and the knowledge of the wise. It must be protected by the brave to the last. Strong in darkness and kind in light. It has been written in the stars since time began.
“So shall it be....” ///
**Liz, help me!**
Liz’s eyes flew open. She looked around at the others, but they still appeared to be caught up in the vision.
**Please help us!**
Suddenly, Isabel was standing in front of her. She was dirty, her clothes were torn and she looked like she was hurt.
**Alex...Michael...help us. Please!**
She glanced over at Isabel and Michael standing in the circle and reached towards them along the connection.
**Hurry Liz. Not much time.** Isabel’s image disappeared.
She brushed along their essence, trying to avoid detection. That’s when she felt it. Darkness...anger...greed...but no love whatsoever.
Isabel and Michael’s eyes flew open and zeroed in on her. They immediately severed their connection with her and the others.
**Max!** Liz slammed her connection with Tess, Kyle, Ava and Maria closed, disrupting their ability to keep it going. They fell to their knees from the force of the severing; their heads throbbing in agonizing pain.
As “Michael and Isabel” raised their hands and fired, Max opened his eyes and erected a shimmering force field around the two imposters. The energy from their combined blasts bounced off the shield and back at them, reabsorbing into their bodies.
“Rath and Lonnie, I presume,” Max growled.
“Yo, give the boy king a prize. He finally figured it out,” Rath said to Lonnie, as they both morphed back into their true appearance.
“Where is Isabel, Alex and Michael?” Liz demanded.
“Demanding little bitch for a consort ain’t ya?” Lonnie observed. “Ya know, on Antar, you’d be whacked for talking to me like that.”
“We’re not on Antar,” Max replied. “So just answer her question. Where are they?”
“I’m afraid your too late again Max. What’s up with that? Always too little, too late,” Lonnie said, using her mental powers to press against the force field. She smiled evilly when the field wavered. “You can’t keep this shield up forever. You’re weakening. What are you going to do then?
“What I should have done in New York when you guys whacked Zan.”
Ava began to glow with an intense yellow light. Staring directly at Rath and Lonnie, she screamed with anger as Max’s shield dropped and her energy released in a searing blast of light.
Rath and Lonnie yelled as the blast engulfed them. Unable to stop it from flooding their bodies and corrupting their own energies, they crumpled to the ground in convulsions. Then they lay still; their eyes staring blankly at the ceiling.
“Are they....?” Maria asked softly, holding onto Kyle.
Max knelt down beside them and touched their heads. He noticed blood trickling from their eyes, nose and ears. Closing their eyes, he looked up at the others. “They’re dead.”
Kyle whistled softly and looked down at Tess. “You weren’t kidding about those death ray eyes were you.”
Tess looked at Ava. “How’d you do that? Can I do that too?”
Ava nodded. “It’s an intense focus of energy. Very draining, but effective. I’ll teach you.”
“Would someone please tell me where my alien is?” Maria demanded. “And what about Alex and Isabel?”
“Isabel told me to hurry, but not where. She said there isn’t much time,” Liz said.
“They probably took them to where we were crashing. Some old factory on the outskirts of town,” Ava said.
“The soap factory,” Kyle said. “Dad’s out there investigating a murder this morning. Remember?”
“Oh God! Oh God! What are we all standing around here for? Let’s go!” Maria yelled and ran out of the apartment.
“Follow that girl,” Max ordered, grabbing Liz and sprinting outside.
“What about the bodies?” Tess asked, glancing back at Rath and Lonnie as they left.
“Later,” Kyle replied. “We got people to save.”
“Hang on Alex. Help is coming. I got through to Liz,” Isabel murmured, cradling Alex in her arms.
“Why is it so dark?” he asked, struggling to wake up.
She stifled a sob. “We’re in some sort of round room. Smells faintly of lye. I couldn’t find a light switch, but I think we’re in the old soap factory.”
“Don’t cry Bella. It’ll be okay. The others will get here in the nick of time. Don’t they always?” He coughed.
“I’m sorry, Alex. I tried to help you. But, whatever that thing did to you, the damage is too extensive for me to repair.”
“Max will help.” He grimaced as pain lanced through him and he tasted the coppery hint of blood. “How’s Michael?”
“He’s okay. A little cut up, but mostly, he’s just unconscious.”
“Bella...do you see?”
She shivered. “See what?”
“Alex, it’s pitch black in here,” she replied, tears streaming down her face.
“...So beautiful...like you....” He coughed again, choking on the blood in the back of his throat. It hurt to breathe.
She hugged him closer and sobbed. “Alex, hang on! Don’t go towards it. Stay with me!”
“Someone help us!” she screamed. “Please, someone help us! We’re in here!”
“Max? In here! Hurry!” She could hear the clang of metal as someone tried to break down the door.
“Bella...I have to go...,” Alex whispered.
“No, you can’t leave me. You promised. Max is here. He’ll make you all better.”
She felt him go limp, and she screamed in anguish. “Alex!”
When they opened the door, they found Isabel slowly rocking Alex in her arms, and Michael off to the side, unconscious, but breathing. Max rushed to his sister’s side.
“I tried...too much for me...,” she whispered, staring blankly at Max. “Help him....”
He checked Alex. Looking into her face, his eyes wet with tears, he shook his head. “I’m so sorry Izzy....”
She hugged Alex closer, and continued rocking in silence.
Ava studied the body of the young man cradled so carefully in Isabel’s arms. She looked at her tear-stained face. This was the Vilandra she remembered--the one who loved and lost deeply. She knelt down beside Max and touched his arm to get his attention.
“Do you have the Granilith and the healing stones?”
Max ignored her.
“Please Max, it’s important. Do you have them?”
He turned angry eyes in her direction. “Why should I tell you? You’re one of them. And, because of them, my sister is grieving for the man she loves!”
“Max,” Liz said softly, wiping the tears from her face, “Ava isn’t like Rath and Lonnie. She’s helped us a great deal. She’s on our side.”
He sighed. “Yes, we have the Granilith and the healing stones.”
Ava smiled. “Then there’s still time.”
“Time for what?” he asked.
“According to a legend in the ancient text, the Granilith has the capability to bring back one of the Warriors or Guardians. However, the individual must be pure of heart and mind. The stones will heal his injuries so his essence can inhabit a healthy and whole body.”
“Well, you can’t get much purer than Alex,” Maria sniffled.
“Do you know how to go about getting it to do that?” Tess asked.
“No, but they will,” Ava replied, motioning to Max and Liz.
“What? We didn’t even know what it was until a few weeks ago. Now you expect us to be able to know how to raise the dead with it?” Max asked with disbelief.
“The Light will help you. But a word of warning, this can only be done once. After that, the Granilith will be useless to all of you in this capacity.” Ava looked at Isabel and pointed to Alex. “Do you love this man enough to sacrifice all that you are for him? Look deep within you, and you will understand what I am telling you.”
Isabel slowly focused on Ava and nodded. She looked at Max. “Let’s go. No arguments. We don’t have much time.”
Max and Kyle laid Alex’s body on the floor next to the Granilith. Michael, who’d come to in the car on the ride over, clutched his head and leaned heavily on Maria. Ava, Tess and Liz stood huddled around Isabel, trying to comfort her.
“Okay, now what do we do?” Max asked Ava, once he’d taken care of Michael’s injuries.
“The others must circle around Alex, and hold the healing stones. You and Liz must each touch Alex and the Granilith at the same time, thus completing the circle.”
“What about you?” Michael asked.
“I’ll be outside. I’m not a true Warrior. My being here will throw off the balance.”
“But Ava, we don’t know what to do,” Liz protested. “How will we know if we’re doing it right?”
Ava smiled gently. “You’ll know. All you’ll need to guide you is love and faith. The Light will do the rest.”
Liz nodded, and Ava left the room. Glancing at the others, she realized they were already holding the stones and standing in a semi-circle.
Max laid his left hand on Alex. **Ready Liz?**
**Yes.** She laid her right hand on Alex.
“Okay, everyone, just like earlier. Close your eyes and slow your breathing. I want everyone to focus on Alex and your love for him,” Liz said. She and Max laid their other hands on the Granilith. Immediately, it began to hum. A white light arced from healing stone to healing stone. Max and Liz’s hands on the Granilith began to glow. She closed her eyes and opened the connection.
/// They all stood in a white void.
“Why are you here? You are not the One,” a disembodied voice asked.
“We are here to retrieve our friend, a fallen Guardian,” Max answered.
“What have you brought?”
“We bring our love for Alex and our faith in the Light,” Liz spoke up.
“Who is willing to sacrifice everything for this fallen Guardian?”
Isabel stepped forward. “I am.”
All was quiet for several minutes as a brilliant white light washed over them and through them.
“It is done.” ///
Liz opened her eyes, and found herself staring into Max’s warm brown ones.
“Alex!” Isabel cried, wrapping her arms around the young man who was now standing in the middle of the circle. “Oh God, Alex, don’t you ever do that to me again!”
“That was the oddest, yet most thrilling sensation I’ve ever had in my life,” Alex said, flopping down onto Michael’s couch. Isabel carefully sat down in his lap. She hadn’t stopped touching him or kissing him the entire ride back to the apartment. **I could definitely get used to this kind of attention. Maybe I should die more often.**
**Don’t even think about it, Whitman.**
Alex startled and looked at Isabel. **Bella?**
Isabel widened her eyes and grinned. “Wow.”
“What’s wow?” Max asked, pulling Liz down onto his lap.
“Looks like you and Liz aren’t the only ones who can communicate telepathically anymore,” Alex said, his grin matching Isabel’s.
“You mean you’re like talking to one another inside your head?” Maria asked. “That is so unfair!”
“What’s unfair?” Michael asked as he, Kyle, Tess and Ava walked through the door. “What in the hell is that on my floor?”
Everyone looked at where Michael was pointing.
“Is that what I think it is?” Alex asked.
“Two dead alien bodies, decomposing rather quickly I must say,” Maria replied.
“Well Tess, I guess that solves your question from earlier,” Kyle said, nudging Rath’s body with the toe of his boot. The body collapsed in on itself. Kyle yelped and jumped away.
“It looks like their insides are gone, and now what’s left is quickly disintegrating,” Liz said, getting up to take a closer look.
“Who exactly were they?” Alex asked.
“Rath and Lonnie--the Michael and Isabel of the second hybrid set,” Tess stated matter-of-factly.
“Two Michael Guerin’s in this world? Now that is scary,” Alex cracked.
“So, what should we do with them?” Maria asked. “We just can’t leave them in the middle of Space Boy’s floor.”
“Once they finish disintegrating, I’ll zap away their remains,” Ava said.
“Um, I don’t think that will be necessary. They’re not disintegrating. I think they’re de-molecularizing,” Liz stated, pointing at Lonnie’s arm as it collapsed and began to ‘disappear.’ “There won’t be anything left to sweep up, see?”
“For those of us who took remedial science for three years, in plain English please,” Kyle said.
“The molecules in their bodies are breaking down into their basic elements. Human bodies are mostly made up of water, H2O--a molecule made up of hydrogen and oxygen atoms stuck together. In this case, the hydrogen atoms and oxygen atoms are becoming unstuck. And since both are gases in their natural state, they’re becoming part of the atmosphere.”
“Um, ew!” Maria said, stepping away from the bodies. “You mean I just breathed in a lung full of evil aliens?”
Michael chuckled silently to himself. **Only you would think of that.**
“Yeah, laugh it up Space Boy! For all we know, alien molecules may cause the hole in the ozone to grow bigger. So excuse me for being the environmentally conscientious one in the group.”
Michael looked at Maria sharply. **Why did you just say that?**
“Because, you were making fun of me,” Maria sniffed. **Always picking on me, and hurting my feelings.**
Liz looked strangely at her best friend. “Um, Maria? Who was making fun of you?”
“Oh shit!” Michael hissed. “Now we’re talking to one another in our heads like Max and Liz.”
“I think Rath hit you a little too hard last night,” Maria snorted. “Better have Max make sure your brains aren’t still scrambled.”
**Maria, look at me. Do you see my lips moving?**
Maria paled. **You can hear me too?**
Maria squealed and threw herself into his arms. “Now you can’t ever get rid of me! And no more telling me that you forgot my birthday, because now, I’ll be able to tell.”
He rolled his eyes. **Oh joy.**
Maria smacked him in the arm. “I heard that Space Boy!”
Wanting to halt Maria and Michael’s fight, Liz looked at Kyle and Tess. “Can you guys hear each other too?”
They looked at one another, then back at Liz. “Yes,” they replied in surprised unison.
“How is this possible?” Isabel asked.
“This must be what the Light meant by the change,” Alex said, sitting back down on the couch and studying his friends. “I didn’t understand when the Light told me. I thought it was all just a trauma-induced dream.”
“What did the Light say?” Max asked, glancing at Liz.
“It said that my death was necessary to complete the change. That if the others passed the test, they would be rewarded with a gift by the Light.”
“That makes sense,” Ava said, nodding in understanding.
“What makes sense? What gift?” Maria asked.
Ava looked at the four humans. “According to our protector, all of our powers are stuff that the human mind can do. We’re programmed to be an advanced form of human.”
“Our protector told us that too,” Tess said.
“So what? We’re like X-men now?” Kyle asked.
“The Light said the gift would help us to fulfill the destiny and protect the One,” Alex murmured.
“So our gift from the Light is telepathy?” Michael asked.
“No. That’s just a side effect,” Ava replied. “The gift is that you’ve been bonded.”
“Bonded? You mean like married?” Maria asked. “Oh man, Mom is going to kill me when she finds out.”
“Not exactly,” Ava said, sighing. “On Antar, there’s this thing called The House of Souls, or as close as it comes in human terms. It’s thought that every essence began there and that they reside there between lifetimes. On Antar, the bonding ceremony involves two people entering The House of Souls in a way similar to what you guys experienced this afternoon.”
“So that white void we were in, that was The House of Souls?” Max asked.
Ava nodded. “The couple is said to be in the presence of the Light, and that is when their essences are bonded. If the telepathic connection is made, then it is said that the Light has blessed the mating, and the couple is considered bonded. After that, then the couple may choose to have a wedding ceremony.”
“But, Liz and Max could already talk to one another telepathically,” Isabel reminded Ava.
“That’s because they were already bonded.”
“I don’t understand,” Liz said. “Did it happen when Max saved my life?”
“No. All that did was awaken the areas of your brain so that you could access your abilities as the Seer.”
“So how were we already bonded?” Max asked.
“You mentioned last night that you’ve always felt like you’ve known Liz. That you recognized her in some way when you first saw each other as children.”
“But, I didn’t recognize Max.”
“You couldn’t. You hadn’t been awakened yet. But when he healed you, that’s when the flashes and visions started, correct?”
“Could Kyle, Maria or Alex do that before this afternoon?” Ava asked. Maria and Alex shook their heads.
Kyle raised his hand. “I think I may have. All summer, after Max healed me, I had strange dreams about the eight of us. But, I thought it was just residual stuff from all the crap that went down last May.”
“What kind of dreams Kyle?” Tess asked.
“Places I’ve never been, but familiar. Times like Ancient Rome, the Battle of Hastings, Renaissance Europe, the Old West, Germany during World War II...”
“My guess is that Max gave the area of your brain where past lives are remembered a little nudge.” Ava said.
“Which probably explains the Buddhism,” Tess whispered.
“So why were Liz and I already bonded, if you have to go through the bonding ceremony? Which I know for a fact, we did not do before today.”
“According to the ancient text, there were two essences in The House of Souls that were already bonded when the House and the its contents were created by the Light. All living things are children of the Light, but these two were the Light’s special children--the First and the Seer of Wisdom.
“One day, the Light, saddened by the actions of the other children, sent the First and the Seer to bring forth the One to show them the way back to the Light. However, before they could bring forth the One, the Seer was killed, and her wisdom lost. In anguish over the physical loss of his bond mate, the First ran away and died from a broken heart.
“Angered by the First’s lack of faith, the Light called forth the Age of Separation as punishment. The First could no longer reside in the House, but was damned to walk between the spiritual and physical planes for eternity. The Seer despaired over the loss of her mate, and she began to fade.”
“She was willing herself to die?” Liz asked.
“Yes,” Ava nodded. “Moved by the sacrifice that the Seer was willing to make for her mate, the Light softened the punishment. They were allowed to remain together in The House of Souls between lifetimes. However, when they were reborn as a new life in the physical plane, they remained bonded, but lived separately. The Light decreed that some day, the Age would be ended, and the First and the Seer would once again be called upon to bring forth the One.”
Maria sniffled and wiped her eyes. “That is so sad. And yet, so romantic. Kind of like Romeo and Juliet.”
“So you’re saying that Max and Liz are the First and the Seer?” Michael asked.
“Why bond the rest of us?” Isabel asked.
“Because, the text also said that the Light, wanting to make sure the One would be brought forth after the Age ended, granted special status and abilities to the six who died trying to save and protect the First, the Seer and the One. They were to be reborn along side the First and the Seer throughout the Age to serve as their protectors, three to each, until the time when the First and the Seer would reunite.”
“You said the One wasn’t brought forth the first time. How can you try to save something that doesn’t exist yet?” Michael observed.
“The One wasn’t brought forth, but it did exist. The One died with it’s mother while still inside her womb.”
“The One’s a baby?” Kyle asked, glancing at Max and Liz.
“Yes,” Ava stated solemnly. “The One Who Shall Lead is the child of the First and the Seer.”
“You have to go to the Summit, Max,” Ava insisted, two weeks later. The entire group sat solemnly in and around their regular booth inside the closed Crashdown. “Nicholas will be here tomorrow, and he’s going to want an answer. It’s imperative that you make contact with the other families and get a feel for the situation.”
“Well he’s not going alone,” Michael spoke up.
“Agreed. All of us should go,” Max replied, squeezing Liz’s hand. “It’s important that we provide a united front.”
“All right, road trip,” Alex said, grinning. “I’m in.”
“Dad is going to want to come with us. You know that don’t you?” Kyle said.
“Fine. In fact, I was going to suggest it. We’ll need an adult to help watch our backs and support our cover story.”
“If Jim goes, then Mom will say yes,” Maria said.
“What’s our cover story?” Liz asked. “It has to be believable or my parents won’t let me go.”
“How about this,” Isabel said, “As part of a National Student Exchange Program, we’ve been selected as Roswell’s representatives to New York, so we can observe life in a large, urban public school. Tell them it will look killer on our college applications next year. That always impresses Dad.”
“That’ll work,” Liz agreed.
“Pack your bags people,” Tess said. “Next stop, Time’s Square.”
“Yo Chief,” Lonnie said, as Nicholas came up the stairs of the subway tunnel. “Where you been?”
“I’ve been trying to get around this cesspool that these humans call a city,” Nicholas said, folding up a map of New York City that he’d been studying.
“What kind of sicko puts mayo on pastrami?” Rath asked out loud with disgust, tossing his sandwich into a trash can.
Ava shrugged as they all walked over to a nearby alley. “Same kind who needs a map to get around the City and still gets lost.”
Nicholas narrowed his eyes. “I’d watch what you say you pink-haired twit. You’re still on my shit list for deviating from the plan in Roswell.”
Ava rolled her eyes. “Woo. Tess was a cornball. She got on my head. I had to put her out of my misery.”
“You’re just lucky that Max is too wrapped up in his consort to notice Tess, otherwise you’d have jeopardized the whole thing.”
“She didn’t,” Lonnie interrupted. “So chill. We don’t got much time before Max gets back from ‘seeing the sights’.”
“True, as always, my dear Vilandra,” Nicholas conceded, leering at her. “Where are you guys staying?”
“In our crib. Like we could afford to stay at the Plaza,” Rath said.
“The emissary will be there at two o’clock. The meeting with the others begins at five in the warehouse down by the Hudson. Does Max know where the Granilith is?”
Lonnie shook her head. “He don’t even know what it is, let alone where.”
“When you bring him to the meeting, he has to agree to Kivar’s demands. If he refuses, then he’s a dead man.”
“What are his demands?” Ava asked.
“The Granilith for the privilege to return home. Max won’t be able to resist. He’ll want to run home to Mommy as fast as he can.”
“Cool,” Rath said, looking across the street. “Yo, speak of the devil....”
The others looked to see Max peering into a store window. He hadn’t spotted them yet.
“Rath. Ava. Go over there and distract him,” Nicholas ordered.
“No problem,” Rath said, morphing into Michael. Ava changed into Tess, and they jogged across the street.
“What do you want Nicholas,” Lonnie whispered throatily.
“What I’ve always wanted Vilandra,” he said, his gaze traveling over her body.
“Kivar won’t like it. He don’t share you know.”
“What he doesn’t know, won’t hurt him.”
She leaned in closer to whisper in his ear, “What do you want me to do about...the other one?”
He swallowed. “What other one?”
“His bitch, Liz?”
“She’s here?” he asked, peering across the street. Liz walked out of the store, joining Max and the others.
“Like he’d go anywhere without her.”
“Grab her,” he replied.
“Kivar wants her.”
“Excuse me? Why? What’s so special about her?”
Nicholas glanced across the street. “Gotta go. I’ll tell you later. Remember, if you want to get off this rock, kill Max and get the girl.”
“No problem Chief,” Lonnie replied, watching him walk back towards the stairs to the subway. When he was gone, she changed into Isabel and went to join the others.
“What does Kivar want with Liz?” Maria asked, when Isabel repeated the story later that afternoon in their hotel suite at the Regency.
“She’s the Seer, the mother of the One,” Ava replied. “According to the ancient texts, the Seer will be a child of an alien star, and her mate, a child of Antar.”
“Mother?” the Sheriff asked, sitting up from his chair at the table. “Wait a minute. Nobody told me Liz was pregnant.”
“I’m not sheriff, honest,” Liz assured him, blushing. “Max and I have never, well, you know.”
“We decided to wait. We can’t be having a baby, if we’re getting ready to go into battle,” Max added, his ears turning bright red.
Sheriff Valenti looked at his son. “Why didn’t you tell me about this part?”
“Sorry Dad. We didn’t want to freak you out. Besides, you heard them, they’re not going to do any baby-making until this is over,” Kyle said.
“Don’t keep me in the dark about any of this again. Understand?” he warned, looking directly at Max. “I can’t help you effectively if I don’t have all the facts.”
“Yes sir,” Max replied, nodding at Sheriff Valenti.
“Wait a minute. If Max is the First,” Michael asked from his seat in front of Maria’s chair, “why would Kivar want Max dead, and Liz alive?”
Ava sighed. “Because, a lot of the old beliefs about the Light have been forgotten or ignored for the last millennium. Kivar probably believes that if he has the Seer, then he can father the One, thus obtaining the ultimate power--access to the Light.”
“Why do you know so much about this?” Max asked.
“Unlike you guys, I remember my previous life as Avaria and all that she learned since the time I came out of the pod. Her family made sure I’d always remember by altering the hybrid engineering when they created me.”
“Why you and not Tess?” Kyle asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe they ran out of time to alter her.”
“That would explain why I believed what Nasedo told me about Max,” Tess said, looking at Liz with remorse. “He probably could help me remember only what he knew about Avaria’s life. If her family was the only one to know and believe in the complete prophecy, then Nasedo wouldn’t have been able to help me remember.”
“It’s okay, Tess,” Liz said, smiling from her seat in Max’s lap. “I understand. I forgave you quite a while ago. After all, you’re one of Max’s protectors and you’ve proven that to us time and again.”
“So this emissary...he confirmed you as the king?” Sheriff Valenti asked.
“Yes. Now, considering all the information Isabel just gave us, we need to decide if it’s safer for all of us to go to the meeting, or just the Royal Four and Liz,” Max replied, playing with the ends of Liz’s long brown hair that cascaded down her back.
Alex looked at Isabel. “I think all eight of us should go. Ava and Sheriff Valenti can wait nearby and watch our backs. The Light said that we’re stronger together, than apart.”
Isabel nodded. “I agree. The other families need to know that the prophecy is coming to pass. That our being here is about more than just stopping the wars and freeing Antar.”
“I don’t trust Nicholas,” Michael said. “He’s going to kill us, when he finds out that we tricked him, and that Rath and Lonnie are dead. Are we strong enough to fight him and the other Skins?”
“Relax, Space Boy. We’ve been practicing for the last two weeks,” Maria said, rubbing his shoulders. “We’ve all gotten stronger in our telepathic abilities, so we can keep in constant contact with you guys.”
“Yeah, but only for half a mile, and we still haven’t been able to access our past lives’ memories yet. Liz and Max’s connection is much stronger.”
“You’re comparing apples and oranges, Guerin. I mean come on. We’re talking Max and Liz,” Kyle replied, gesturing to the couple sitting on the sofa. “They’ve had a lot more time to develop their abilities.”
“That and they have that whole bonded-at-birth thing going on,” Alex interjected. “We’ll always be mere amateurs compared to them.”
“What do you think Liz?” Max asked softly, peering into Liz’s serious face.
“I vote with Alex and Isabel. We all need to go. It’s the only way. I feel it in my bones.”
“Then we all go,” Max declared. “I trust Liz’s feelings as much as my own.”
Ava glanced at the clock over the mini-bar and stood up. “It’s time.”
“All rise,” the pompous-looking doorman announced. The four leaders of the other planets stood up from their chairs at the large, black conference table. “King Zan of Antar and his court: Queen Avaria, the Princess Vilandra, and her consort, General Rath.”
Michael quirked his eyebrow at the man’s deliberate snub of their human companions.
**I’ll show that bag of hot air not to be snubbing us anymore, Space Boy.**
Before he could stop her, Maria pushed herself forward from the back of the group and in a loud, no-nonsense voice said, “And their companions, Lady Liz, Sir Kyle, Sir Alex and myself, Lady Maria.”
**So much for looking dignified.**
**Oh shush, Space Boy, or I won’t protect your butt anymore.**
Maria returned to her spot next to Michael, and linked her arm through his.
Max glanced at Liz. She could hear his laughter inside her head. She smiled back. **Let the show begin.**
Max walked through the door with Liz by his side; her hand laying gently on his forearm. Tess entered next, her hand in the crook of Kyle’s arm. Isabel and Alex followed with Michael and Maria bringing up the rear.
Max noticed the eyes of the other four leaders widen slightly at the sight of the four humans.
“What is this outrage!” said the tall, black man.
“How dare you bring humans into our private proceedings, the red-headed female added, sneering.
“I dare, because I am Zan, King of Antar, and these ‘humans’ as you call them are trusted friends, advisers and, more importantly, they’re our bond mates.” Max looked each of the leaders squarely in the eyes. They all backed down.
The man with red, spiky hair and an English accent spoke first. “I am Larek, this is Kathana, Sero and Hanar.”
Max nodded to each leader in turn.
“We will speak for each of our worlds, and you will speak for yours.”
“Kivar will speak for Antar.” Everyone turned to see Nicholas walk through the side door and to the head of the table. “And I speak for Kivar. Max, I see you’ve brought your pets.”
“Max?” the heavy-set woman called Hanar asked.
“My name here on Earth--Max Evans. I will answer to either name,” he said seriously, his eyes never leaving Nicholas’.
Larek raised his hands in supplication. “Please, everyone, let’s sit down. We’re here to end the wars and bring peace back to our worlds.”
Everyone sat. Max seated himself at the other head of the table. Liz stood by his side, her hand resting on his shoulder.
“Why does this female stand beside you and not your Queen?” Sero asked, glancing briefly at Liz.
Max looked at Sero and the others. “Liz is my once and future Queen. She is my eternal bond mate.”
Kathana sneered. “You place a human above Avaria?”
“Avaria was Queen in my previous life, not in this one.”
Tess smiled sweetly at the other leaders and stepped closer to Kyle’s side.
“Enough,” Larek said. “It doesn’t matter. We’re here to end fifty years of war.”
“Do you have a solution?” Hanar snapped at Larek. “Every time I try to end the violence, Kivar attacks me, Kathana attacks Kivar and Sero attacks Kathana. It’s a vicious circle.”
“Kivar has a solution,” Nicholas spoke up. Leaning back in his chair, he steepled his fingers underneath his chin and gazed at each leader. “He will abdicate the throne and return it to Max, but in name only. All power will remain in Kivar’s hands. The Royal Four will be allowed to return home, but only if Max returns the Granilith to us.”
“The Granilith?” Kathana asked, looking at Max.
“Yes. It seems the Queen Mother smuggled it off world when she sent her children here. We’ve known about it for sometime, but Kivar didn’t think it wise to tell you. It was only recently, that we learned that Max does indeed have it in his possession.” Nicholas smiled evilly at Max and waited for the explosion.
The four leaders looked at Max.
Max raised his hand to hold their comments. “Yes, I do have the Granilith. No, I will not be returning it. Kivar would exploit its power and use it to overthrow the rest of you.
“As you all know, I am the First. I am here today to tell you that the Age of Separation is over. I have found the Seer of Wisdom.” Max held up Liz’s hand in his for all to see. “Prepare yourselves for the coming of the One. For it will not be Kivar’s son, as he so wrongfully believes, but mine.
“I will not force you to choose sides, only you know your hearts and the hearts of your people. But, if you choose to side with me, you choose the side of the Light.”
“Heretic!” Nicholas shouted angrily. “You have no proof that what you say is true. You’re bluffing!”
Max smiled at Nicholas. It did not reach his eyes. “If what I say isn’t true, then why does Kivar want her so badly? Did you not tell Lonnie that she was to grab Liz after the Summit?”
Isabel waved airily at Nicholas. “Oops. Did I forget to tell you? I’m not Lonnie. Your two imposters are dead.”
“What does he mean Nicholas?” Larek demanded.
“They lie. Still trying to grab all of the power for yourself aren’t you Zan? Well, did you ever wonder why you were killed in your last life. You got too greedy.”
Max narrowed his eyes. “No, Nicholas. I don’t remember it that way. I seem to recall Kivar murdered my sister, and you shot me in the back when I was on the verge of avenging her death on him. You two didn’t play fair then, what makes you think I’ll believe you now?”
“What do you know?” Kathana sneered. “You’ve been off-world for over fifty years. You’re more human now, than Antarian. I refuse to stay here and listen to anymore of this drivel.” Kathana got up and walked toward the front door. As she passed Max, she stopped. Looking Liz over, she suddenly spit on her feet. “You are no Queen and definitely not the Seer. And you Zan...Max...whatever name you go by now, are no leader. You’ve made a lot of deadly enemies here today.”
Liz felt Max stiffen. **Don’t react my love. I’m fine. Let her rant.**
Nicholas rose from his seat and slammed the table. “Kivar tried to be reasonable, but who can reason with a tyrannical madman. All bets are off Max. We will get the Granilith back and then, you’ll die.” He turned on his heel and stormed out the side door.
Sero and Hanar looked at one another. Then rose and followed Kathana out the front entrance.
Max looked steadily at Larek. “And what of you old friend?”
Larek started. “You remember?”
“You were my cousin and best childhood friend. I still remember the time we snuck into Father’s council with your pet, Farin. He ran up Lady Danira’s skirt, and she screamed the council chamber’s roof down.”
“And do you remember, I was the one who got two weeks of servitude for that prank, while you got off without so much as a by-your-leave?”
Max laughed. “Of course, but I made sure you served me, so your punishment was not that bad.”
Larek smiled. “It is good to talk to you again cousin. I have missed you terribly these last fifty years.” He looked at Liz and the other humans. “So it’s true, the Age is over.”
Max nodded. “Liz, my love, I would like to formally introduce you to my cousin and friend, Larek.”
Liz smiled warmly at Larek. When he took her hand, to kiss it in greeting, she received a flash.
/// A young Zan and Larek riding what looked like horses along a pink and purple beach. They both jumped off their steeds and ran toward the crystal blue water, laughing and splashing. ///
When Larek released her hand, she laughed. “What a fun memory. It’s very special to Max too.”
Larek nodded in amazement. “Yes, the beach along the Sea of Krystlyn. We played their often as children.” He looked at Max. “She is the Seer of Wisdom, but she isn’t with child.”
Max nodded slowly. “True, but that is because we have decided to wait. The threat of Nicholas and the Skins attacking is too great.”
Larek motioned his head toward the others. “Isn’t that what they’re for--to protect her and your child? The One will come in his own time, not a moment before and not a moment later. It has been decreed by the Light, and even you Zan, cannot keep it from happening.”
“What do you mean?” Michael asked, stepping forward. “They’re too young to have a kid. They’re not even out of high school yet.”
“You are Rath, yes?”
“Instinct will take over. You’ve all been bonded, correct?”
“Then it won’t be long before the desire to consummate the bond will become so great that you will not be able to resist it.”
“Do not worry, Zan. You are the First and she is the Seer--the Light’s special children. The Light will always provide for you.”
“We have a problem,” Maria said, addressing Michael, Tess, Kyle, Alex and Isabel, “and if we don’t do something to stop it soon, Max and Liz are going to end up doing the horizontal mambo right in front of the whole town!”
“Where is the First and his Seer now anyway?” Kyle asked, rubbing Tess’ shoulders as they sat on the couch in Michael’s apartment.
“Fortunately, Liz had to pull a double with Ava at the restaurant, and Max is slaving away at the UFO museum cataloging stuff for Milton.”
“So, I’m not the only one who’s noticed,” Alex said, smiling. “I suggest we turn a fire hose on them.”
“Like that would stop Max,” Michael mumbled. “He’s always had this thing about showers.”
“Michael Guerin! Is there something about your relationship with Max you’re not telling me?” Maria teased.
Michael blushed. “No, as well you know. I mean guys talk, just like you girls do. Besides, I think the whole shower thing started when Liz had that dream last year.”
“Um, yuck,” Isabel said, shuddering. “Too much information about my brother that I so did not need to know. I’m going to have to disinfect my brain to get that image out of my head.”
“Don’t worry Bella,” Alex replied, wiggling his eyebrows. “I’ll help you get rid of that nasty old picture.”
“Hey! Don’t the two of you start!” Maria said with exasperation. She rolled her eyes when Alex ignored her and bent Isabel over his arm to plant a wet one on her. “Michael! Make them stop!”
**Why? It’s what I want to do to you.**
“Michael, that is not the point!” Maria put her hands on her hips and glared at all of them. “The point is, it’s been a month since the Summit, and Larek was right. This bonding thing is getting too hard to ignore for everyone, but especially for Liz and Max. It’s like they go into this trance or develop tunnel vision. They can’t even keep their hands off each other in front of her parents. Nancy is to the point of freaking out.”
“Not to mention we’ve caught them in the Eraser Room at least a half a dozen times in the last two weeks,” Tess said, motioning to her and Kyle.
“You too?” Michael squeaked. “Damn Maxwell! Anybody else catch them?”
Alex and Isabel raised their hands.
“See! They’ve reached a boiling point. This is worse than when they found the orb last year,” Maria said. She crossed her arms and glared at Michael. “So what are we going to do about it? Mom is beginning to wonder why I’m always spending the night at Liz’s. She asked me the other day if I was planning on moving in with the Parkers permanently!”
“Why not just tell her the truth?” Tess said, off-handedly.
“ Oh yeah, that’d go over great. ‘But Mom, I’m just trying to keep a horny alien from impregnating his human mate, honest.’ She’d have me locked in the loony bin for the rest of my life!”
“Maybe we should just let them do the deed,” Michael sighed. “After all, if they use birth control, they could satisfy the demands of the bonding and not bring forth the One.”
Everyone looked at him with utter amazement.
“What?” he asked, irritated.
“Well, I didn’t think you’d be the first to condone that idea,” Isabel said, coming out of her stupor first. “After all, you spent all last year telling Max he had to stay away from Liz.”
“Yeah, well, things change.”
“Hey, we’re going to be out for Thanksgiving this week. I say after doing the family thing on Thursday, we go camping out in Frazier Woods on Friday,” Alex suggested.
“And do what? Listen to Max and Liz go at it? No thank you,” Kyle stated adamantly.
“No, not all of us, just the guys,” he replied. “We’ll work on Max, and the girls can do their slumber party thing and work on the Liz side of the problem.”
“That’s a great idea Alex!” Maria said excitedly. “I’ll go tell Liz and Ava right now. Michael, you go tell Max about the camping trip.”
“Fine. Meeting adjourned.”
Two minutes after everyone had left the apartment, the door of Michael’s coat closet swung open. A young woman with long, blonde hair quickly surveyed her surroundings. Finding herself alone, she stepped from the closet, shut the door and pulled a small, black device from the front pocket of her jeans.
“Zero-one, this is zero-two. I’m ready for transport. I have some valuable information for Nicholas,” she said into the device.
“Copy zero-two. Ready the data-link.”
“Will do.” She pushed the button in the center of the device. A bright, blue light emanated from it and surrounded her. When the light, dissipated, the girl and all traces of her were gone.
“Don’t worry Maxwell. Liz will be safe with the girls. Besides, the Skins seem to have been done in by the time constraints on their husks. When we raided their camp two weeks ago, it was a ghost town. Nothing but abandoned supplies and dust.”
“I know that Michael,” he said, glancing back in the direction of the Jeep. “But we haven’t heard from Nicholas since we got back from New York. And we will, soon. I’m sure of it.”
“What can he possibly do against my Bella?” Alex asked as he emerged from the tent he’d just finished setting up. “I mean, did she not thoroughly kick Whittaker’s ass in Copper Summit?”
Kyle stacked some more wood by the fire and glanced up at the setting sun. “Yeah Max, don’t worry about them.” He smiled and tapped his finger against his temple. “If something does go wrong, they know how to get a hold of us.”
“Are you sure they’ll be all right out there in the woods by themselves?” Liz asked, wringing her hands in her lap.
Maria stopped applying the plum eye shadow to Liz’s eyelids, and leaned back to look at her. “Chica, how many times have you checked in with him in the last half hour?”
“Isabel!” Maria yelled through Liz’s bathroom door.
Isabel appeared in the doorway, holding two of Liz’s sweaters. “Yes?”
“She and Max have been in communication all this time. Tell Alex to have the guys make Max say good night.”
Isabel closed her eyes in concentration. Then she smiled, and opened them again. “Alex says, will do.”
Maria looked at Isabel, an eyebrow raised. “Are you sure that’s all he said?”
“That’s for me to know,” she said airily, and went back to her task of sorting through Liz’s closet.
Maria turned her attention back to Liz and smiled sympathetically at the forlorn look on Liz’s face. “It’s okay, chica. It’s not forever. We just need some girl-talk time, just like they need guy time.”
“I know,” she mumbled sadly. It always hurt when Max shut her out of his thoughts, but at least she could still feel his presence in the back of her mind. She hoped Max wasn’t hurting as much as she was.
“There, all finished,” Maria said brightly. “Turn around and look.”
She turned and gasped at her reflection. “Is that really me? I look so much older.”
Maria nodded excitedly. “What can I say? I’m an artist. Come on, let’s go see what Isabel and Tess picked out for you to wear to the movies.”
She studied her reflection, marveling at the change Maria had made in her appearance. After the last three months of dealing with all things alien, she felt so much older than her soon-to-be seventeen years. She felt all of the memories and knowledge of several lifetimes in her heart.
**I am no longer a child, but not yet a woman.**
Walking into her bedroom, she looked at her friends. Each one had changed on the inside too. She could feel it. Maria, who’d always been flighty and afraid of emotions, was now more focused and secure. Isabel, who’d been so scared that everyone would find out her secret and reject her, was now braver and more self-assured about who she was. And Tess, alone and left behind for so long, was happier and a member of a real family now. Softly, she sighed.
**We’re all on the brink. We’ll step off the edge and become changed forever. Nothing will ever be the same, and yet it will be as it should. Destiny is a maddening thing.**
They’d been in the woods for the last six hours. To Max, it felt like six years. He’d been absolutely miserable when Alex had told him to stop talking to Liz, or he’d be forced to sic Isabel on him.
He glanced at his companions, who sat huddled around the fire with him. They were roasting marshmallows after eating the fish dinner they’d caught in the river earlier. Alex had insisted that all great camping trips included s’mores.
**Soon, it all begins again. Will it end the right way this time?**
He looked at Michael sitting across from him. He’d felt the change in his best friend. There was a confidence in himself and his powers that hadn’t been there before. There was also an acceptance.
Looking at Alex, he smiled. Alex had changed too, both physically and mentally. He’d started working out with him in the weight room before school, and now he could sense the pride Alex had in his new physique and in the knowledge that he was vital to the survival of the group.
Finally, he studied Kyle. He could feel the peacefulness that now enveloped him and the blossoming love he felt for Tess. He could also feel the respect that Kyle had developed for him as the leader of the group and as Liz’s bond mate.
Staring up at the night sky, he quickly checked in on Liz again. He frowned slightly. He could feel her pain and pensiveness. He quickly sent a psychic hug, as Maria called them, across their connection. He immediately felt her mood lighten as she sent a hug back.
Liz woke up and stared at her ceiling. Glancing at the clock, she noted the time as one in the morning. **What woke me up?**
She listened intently, but all she could hear were the soft sounds of Isabel’s snoring. Getting up carefully, so as not to disturb Maria, Liz got out of bed and opened her bedroom door. The hallway was dark and empty.
**Come to me....**
Quickly, she slipped into a pair of jeans and a sweater. As she was tying her tennis shoes, she spotted Maria’s open purse with the keys to the Jetta lying on top. Taking a quick peek at her sleeping friends, she grabbed the keys and snuck out of the bedroom.
As Liz drove off in Maria’s car, Ava stepped out of the shadows from behind the dumpster. She looked up at the stars and sighed.
“It has been begun,” she said.
Larek appeared from the shadows to stand beside her. “So shall it be....”
Max felt his heart begin to beat in time with the throbbing buzz in his head. He couldn’t stay here. He had to go. She was calling to him. He swore he could almost smell her scent.
Getting up quietly, he snuck out of the tent, narrowly missing Kyle, who was sleeping outside in front of the door. Quickly, he ran to the Jeep and climbed in. Waving his hand over the ignition switch, since Alex had confiscated his keys, he started the Jeep and drove off towards the pod chamber, to the Granilith.
Only one thought ran through his mind like a mantra. **Liz.**
Spotting the Jetta parked at the base of the cliff, Max quickly parked the Jeep and jumped out. He peeked inside the car, and found it empty. He scanned the area and spotted something lying on the ground. Picking it up, he realized that it was Liz’s favorite pink sweater.
He looked up the incline at the entrance to the chamber. It was open and a faint white glow was emanating from it. Clutching the sweater to his chest, he ran up the cliff.
Suddenly, he stumbled as his foot snagged on something. Looking down, he recognized a pair of jeans. His eyes darkened as he picked them up and was assaulted by the smell of strawberries. Growling low in the back of his throat, he continued towards his objective.
When he reached the open door of the pod chamber, he glanced around him. Satisfied that he’d not been followed, he entered and found Liz’s white tennis shoes lying abandoned just inside the doorway.
He sniffed the air. She was here. He could smell the scent that he knew to be her. He could also smell something else, and his body hardened as a memory deep inside of him recognized the scent of her arousal.
Quickly, he shed his own clothing, leaving them in a jumbled pile on the floor with Liz’s. Reaching behind him, he secured the door to make sure it could not be re-opened until he allowed it.
Crawling through his pod, he paused outside the doors of the Granilith room. The throbbing buzz inside his head was definitely stronger. Placing his hand on the access panel, the doors silently opened.
The room glowed with a soft, white light, reminding him of candlelight. On the floor lay a bed of fluffy comforters, warm blankets and dark sheets. As he entered the room, the door closed silently behind him. That was when Liz stepped out from behind the Granilith.
He froze when he saw her. She was clad in nothing more than what looked to be strategically placed white scarves. He couldn’t take his eyes off her.
All he could see was Liz. So sensual...so primal...so enchanting.
All he could hear was the rhythmic hum of the Granilith and the beating of his heart.
He licked his lips as she smiled slowly, and began to walk toward him, reaching up to remove the combs from her hair. He watched, mesmerized as her hair tumbled down around her shoulders, the end of one lock curving slightly to caress the edge of her right breast.
**God, I want to be that lock of hair right now.**
He changed his mind as he watched her run her hands down the front of her body, her hips swaying to the slow, steady rhythm of the Granilith. Slowly, deliberately, she grabbed the end of the material that was wrapped around her hips and began to unravel it. He swallowed as more of her naked flesh came into view. His heart beat faster.
**I can’t take this anymore.**
He reached for her, but she lightly side-stepped him and smiled seductively. He watched the end of the material trail down her left leg and puddle on the floor at her feet.
**You have to catch me to have me love.**
Growling, he stepped on the end of the material so she couldn’t get away again. He pulled her to him so that her entire front made contact with him. He watched her eyes widen when she realized the extent of his arousal, and then darken with desire.
He tangled his fingers into the hair along the back of her head and saw her lips part. He bent his head and kissed her. He felt her arms come around him and pull him closer. The heat he felt radiating from her was incredible as visions of her flashed through his mind.
He untangled his fingers from her hair, and slid his hands down her back and cupped her bottom. He lifted her up and felt her legs wrap around his waist. She nibbled softly along his jawline up to his ear. He felt the hot wetness of her tongue and mouth, caressing the sensitive lobe, sucking on it.
He fell to his knees onto the surprisingly soft bed and laid her down.
**God, I need you.**
**I know Max. I’m just as hungry. I don’t know how much more I can take either.**
**Patience, my love.**
He pulled away from her and sat back on his heels. He drank in the sight of her lying among the dark sheets and blankets, flushed with desire and writhing with a need only he could satiate. He placed his hands on the material that barely covered her breasts and ripped it in two.
He reached out, cupping her right breast with his hand. He stroked his thumb along the side of her breast and across the stiff, pink nipple. She gasped, and it was his turn to smile.
**Please Max, I need...I need...something!**
He bent over her and captured her left breast with his mouth. As he sucked on the nipple, he flicked it with his tongue.
He felt her hips come off the bedding and slam against his thigh. She reached up and tangled her fingers into his hair, holding him to her. She moaned deep in the back of her throat.
He pulled away from her again. This time he let his hands travel down to the material wrapped around her hips and the part of her he so desperately wanted to see. Again, he ripped the material in two.
The light in the room made her skin glow. Revealing, yet concealing. He reached down and slowly ran his fingers through the black curls that hid her from his gaze. Blindly, he slipped a finger between her nether lips, hearing her gasp as it slipped easily into her smooth, velvety wetness. Soon he added another finger, and slowly pumped them in and out.
“Max! Please!” she cried out when his actions became too much for her to bear.
That was his undoing. He quickly withdrew his fingers and leaned over her. He placed himself between her legs so that the tip of him rested just outside the place he most wanted to be.
“Liz, look at me,” he whispered hoarsely.
Her passion-filled gaze met his. He felt their connection flood wide open.
He surged forward and felt her flinch as he broke through the fragile membrane that told him that she was his alone.
**So tight...so warm....**
She shifted her hips so that he withdrew slightly. Instinct told him to push back in this dance between men and women that was as old as time.
She closed her eyes and threw her head back. The connection remained open. He stared in fascination at the pulse beating wildly at the base of her throat.
The vision he was having and the feelings that were flowing between them were overwhelming. He saw and felt the love they’d had that first lifetime so many years ago, the wedding night they’d shared then, and the night they’d conceived their child.
“Max!” she cried out, as he felt her slip over the edge. He willingly followed.
Slowly, Liz felt herself being drawn back into her body. She inhaled sharply when she opened her eyes to the present reality.
Max lifted his head and stared into her eyes. “Am I hurting you?” he asked softly.
She smiled dreamily. “Does it feel like you’re hurting me?”
He chuckled. “Actually, it feels like I flew to the stars and came crashing down to Earth again.”
She tightened her muscles as her mind and body remembered the feeling. He groaned softly.
**You’re still inside me.**
**There’s no place else I’d rather be.**
She raised an eyebrow at him. She raked her nails down his back, causing him to jump, but he didn’t pull away. In fact, she could feel his body beginning to harden again.
**I can’t help it. You’re addictive.**
He grinned back at her and begin to move his hips against her. She gasped as she felt the heat come rushing back into her loins.
“You’re mine,” he growled in her ear. “Forever.”
She whimpered low in her throat.
“Nothing will ever separate us again. We will spend eternity together. I promise.” He kissed her lips hungrily.
She responded in kind, letting him take her to the edge again.
Suddenly, she felt her world spin. She gasped, realizing that he’d rolled them over so that now she sat astride him.
She began to buck her hips when she felt him pulse deep inside her.
“That’s it,” he whispered hoarsely. “Ride me. Tell me what you feel when I’m inside you.”
She stared into his dark, passion-filled eyes and moaned. The connection re-opened. She threw her head back, closed her eyes, and began to move faster.
**It feels like...you’re touching...my soul.**
She felt her nipples harden as the sensation of her impending orgasm washed over her. She couldn’t help the scream of ecstasy that escaped from the back of her throat as the waves of passion broke.
She felt him stiffen, and give a guttural shout as he exploded deep within her. The last thing she heard before allowing the warm darkness to overtake her was his whispered declaration of love.
“Michael Guerin! How could you let him sneak off?”
“Alex Whitman, I trust you with one simple little task, and this is how you take care of it?”
“Hey Kyle,” Tess whispered, shaking his shoulder. “Wake up. The shit is hitting the proverbial fan.”
Kyle, who’d been dreaming of Tess, opened his eyes and blinked. She crouched next to him, the light from the campfire making her pale blonde hair glow like a halo. He smiled. **My beautiful angel. You’ve finally come to me.**
“Excuse me?” She asked, puzzled. “Wake up, Kyle! You’re dreaming, you lunkhead. Max has run off with Liz, and Maria and Isabel are on the warpath.”
The mention of Max and Liz missing and the names Maria and Isabel were like a splash of ice water to Kyle’s brain. He quickly sat up. “What do you mean missing? I thought you guys were supposed to be watching Liz?”
Tess shrugged. “All I know is, she took the Jetta when she left, and Max’s Jeep is gone. We figure that the two lovebirds set up a secret tryst after everyone was asleep.”
Maria and Isabel came storming out of the tent, followed closely by a sleepy Alex and irritated Michael.
“Maria, you woke me from a sound sleep at three o’clock in the morning to tell me that Max and Liz have gone AWOL? I’m sorry, but it’s too late now. They’ve probably already done the deed.”
“Don’t you think I know that?” She turned and glared at him. “How could you let this happen?”
“How could I? There wasn’t anyway I could stop it. They’re being driven by instinct, and we’re talking Max and Liz. Those two things are a powerful combination. I don’t think a Mack truck could’ve stopped them.”
Everyone turned to look at Ava, crouching in front of the campfire. She stared into the flames, then looked up. “Nothing could have stopped them. Instinct is too strong.”
“Where have you been?” Isabel asked. “And, how did you get here?”
Ava sighed. “I’ve been doing the bidding of the Light.”
“Are you telling us that you set this up?” Maria asked.
“I helped the situation, yes. But, the actual mating, no. That was going to happen tonight, with or without my help.”
“What do mean?” Tess asked.
“I’ve been watching them for the last two weeks. They were reaching the breaking point. In fact, they had no control over their actions tonight, only instinct.”
“Why didn’t you warn us? We might’ve been able to come up with something?” Isabel said in disgust.
“Ever watch those animal shows on PBS? I didn’t want Max to hurt any of you in his attempt to get to Liz. Believe me, he would’ve easily killed to mate with her.”
“But we’re his friends,” Kyle said.
Ava shook her head. “Wouldn’t have mattered. In his mind, you’d be his rival for Liz’s affection.”
“Is this going to happen to each of us?” Tess asked softly.
“Yes. Eventually. As your individual bonds grow stronger, the need will grow to the point that nothing else matters, just like with Liz and Max. How long it takes depends on the feelings of the couple involved.”
Michael shrugged. “Well, I guess that’s that then. As long as they used birth control, I don’t see a problem.”
Ava stared silently into the fire.
“Uh, Ava?” Alex asked. “They would use birth control right?”
She shook her head.
“What?” Maria and Michael yelled in unison.
“If they’d consummated their bonding earlier, before they got to this point, they probably would have. Tonight, all that mattered was the completion.”
“You knew this before hand didn’t you?” Isabel accused. “And you deliberately didn’t tell us.”
“I couldn’t. This is the will of the Light--”
“Screw the Light!” Michael said angrily. “They’re too young to have a baby! Not mention the fact there are evil aliens out there trying to kill us!”
Ava stood up. “I’m sorry I had to deceive you. Believe me, the Light would not allow the One to be brought forth if the time wasn’t at hand.”
“And how are we supposed to explain that to our parents?” Isabel demanded angrily. “They’re not going to understand about alien and divine destinies. All they’re going to see is two teenagers who got themselves into trouble.”
“Maybe it’s not too late?” Alex suggested. “After all, just because they have unprotected sex once, doesn’t mean they’ll conceive a child.”
Ava looked up at the stars.
“Or, maybe not,” Kyle mumbled.
“That’s just great,” Maria said, throwing her hands in the air.
“I’m sorry, but I couldn’t go against the Light. This moment was chosen because Liz is in heat so to speak. Max will mate with her until she conceives.”
Alex sighed. “We are so screwed.”
“Maybe it’s not too late then,” Maria said. “Like Alex said, you don’t always conceive the first time out. Where are they Ava?”
“Where they’ll be protected by the Light.”
Isabel looked at Michael. “The Granilith,” they said in unison.
Liz stretched sleepily and smiled. She felt achy, but it was a good kind of ache. She reached for Max, and opened her eyes.
He was gone. She shivered. For a brief moment, she wondered if she’d dreamt all of it. Then she felt the sticky evidence of their lovemaking on her thighs and smiled.
“Hey, I was hoping you’d still be asleep. I wanted to wake you myself,” Max said, sounding disappointed as he entered the room. He was clad only in a pair of jeans and carrying a bucket.
“I got cold without you,” she murmured, rolling onto her side for a better look at his beautiful body.
“The ice chest was still in the back of the Jeep. I figured I’d bring in some water and we could wash up a bit. Don’t worry, the bucket’s clean. I only use it to fill Bob’s radiator when he starts to overheat.”
Silently, she got up from the bed and walked over to where he was standing. She reached down into the bucket and gasped when her hand touched the icy water.
“Here, I’ll wash you. You wash me. I promise to warm you up after we’re done,” he whispered with that mischievous grin she loved so much.
She raised an eyebrow at him. “Won’t the cold have the opposite effect on you than the one you want to achieve?”
“Hmm, you may be right.” He placed his hand in the water. “There, perfect.” Setting the bucket on the floor, he picked up his T-shirt from their pile of clothing he’d brought in from the outer chamber, and dipped it into the water.
Her nipples hardened as the warm water cooled on her skin. Closing her eyes, she sighed as he rubbed her down, making sure he washed every inch of her. She felt him hesitate when he got ready to wash the insides of her thighs.
She opened her eyes and looked into his concerned expression.
**It’s okay. It’s perfectly normal.**
**There’s quite a bit of blood. Are you sure I didn’t hurt you?**
She smiled and looked deep into his eyes, slowing her breathing to match his. The connection opened, and she let him feel everything she’d felt earlier.
**See. I’m perfectly fine. Excellent, in fact.**
Dropping the shirt into the bucket, he scooped her up in his arms, and strode over to the bed.
“I thought we were going to wash each other?” she whispered in his ear.
“Later,” he growled, sending her a picture of exactly what he wanted the two of them to do together.
She moaned and bit his neck. She could feel the wetness between her thighs increase as the idea he’d planted in her mind took hold.
He set her down in front of him, so they stood facing one another. He bent down and captured her mouth, plundering it with his tongue.
She wrapped her arms around his back and pressed herself tightly to him. As she moved her hands down his back, she encountered the barrier of his jeans. She pulled away.
“Off,” she commanded, breathing roughly.
Silently and quickly, he shed his jeans and stood before her, hard and ready. She shivered in anticipation and felt a bit of moisture seep from between her thighs.
He sniffed the air, and flashed her a feral smile. Turning her around, he pushed her down onto the bed so that she was on her hands and knees.
She moaned deep in her throat as she felt him come up behind her and press himself against her wetness.
He bent forward, running his hands up her torso to cup her breasts. He felt her nipples harden. He caressed them until she began to whimper and rub herself in need against him.
Running his hands back to her waist, he held her steady, while he parted her thighs with his leg and plunged into her moist heat.
She couldn’t stop the sensations that were flooding her body. She reveled in the feel of him pounding into her. She tightened her muscles and smiled at the sound of his pleasured moans. She was going to shatter soon, and she didn’t care. All she wanted was for him to fill her with his seed and claim her fully.
He tightened his grip on her hips as the picture of her, heavy with his child popped into his mind. With a roar of primal satisfaction, he released himself into her, lost in the feel of the wonderful spasms of her own climax.
“There’s Bob!” Isabel pointed out, as Tess drove up to the base of the cliffs.
“And my Jetta!” Maria shouted from the back, hopping up and down in the seat.
“We’re not blind or deaf,” Ava mumbled, as Tess parked her SUV next to Alex’s car.
Maria threw open the door and hopped out. “Come on, what are you waiting for?” she yelled at Alex, who was just now turning off his car. Michael stepped out of the passenger side and glared at her. “Calm down, Maria. They aren’t going anywhere.”
“It’s not the going I’m worried about. It’s the doing.”
“No fighting, you two,” Isabel ordered. “We don’t have time. Let’s go.”
The seven teens began to hike up towards the pod chamber, unaware that they were being watched.
“Zero-two. This is zero-one. All present and accounted for.”
“Copy zero-one. We’re on our way.”
Max lay propped up on one arm, spooned behind Liz. He gently stroked her arm and smiled.
“I know you’re smiling Max Evans,” she said softly. “Pleased with yourself, aren’t you?”
He moved his hand down to rest on her abdomen. A faint white glow appeared beneath his palm. “A part of me can hardly believe there’s a baby in there, but another part of me is feeling very happy and complete.”
She rolled onto her back. “I feel the same way. What are we going to do now? Do we tell the others? They’re going to freak, especially Maria and your sister.”
“No, we’ll keep it our little secret for a while. At least until you start to show. It’ll be safer for you and the baby.”
“Don’t worry,” he whispered. “The past won’t repeat itself. This time, our son will be born safely. You’ll see.”
“I love you, Max.”
“And, I love you. For eternity.”
She snuggled closer to him and slowly stroked her fingers over the well-defined muscles of his chest. “I want to thank you....”
“For setting all of this up,” she said, motioning to the bed they were laying on. “For making our first time so special.”
He pulled back to look at her. “I didn’t do this. I thought you did.”
She shook her head. “Then who?”
“Get dressed. This could be a trap.”
She scrambled to get her clothes on, while Max obliterated any sign of their lovemaking. She retrieved his T-shirt from the bucket, and quickly washed herself before slipping into her jeans.
While he got himself together, she went into the pod chamber with the bucket to empty it out. She froze when she heard pounding on the chamber’s outer door.
He came racing into the chamber with his jeans on and his flannel shirt unbuttoned. **Stay behind me. Whoever it is, might be dangerous.**
Nodding, she went to stand by the pods.
Max laid his hand on the access panel. The door immediately flew open and he threw up his protective shield.
“What the hell?”
Max looked at the person standing in front of him. “Michael?”
“Yes Maxwell, it’s me. Want to let us in?”
“He means me,” Maria said, pushing Michael aside. “Now, you let me in there or else--”
Max released the shield and stepped back.
Maria rushed in and hugged Liz, who’d come forward when she realized it was their friends. “Chica, you scared the daylights out of me! What were you thinking running off in the middle of the night all by yourself?” Maria glanced over at Max, taking in his disheveled appearance. “Never mind. I know what you were thinking.”
“Please tell me that the two of you didn’t...,” Isabel begged, looking at her brother.
“Well, I--” Max fumbled.
Alex took one look at Liz’s blushing face and Max’s red ears, and began to laugh.
“This isn’t funny, Alex,” Isabel warned angrily.
“Bella, all you have to do is take a look at them and you can tell. The bonding has been consummated. And very well, I might add, by the looks of that hickey on Max’s neck.”
Max quickly buttoned his shirt.
“Please tell me you used birth control,” Michael said, leaning up against the rock wall and glaring at his best friend.
“Yes, as if that’s any of your business,” Liz lied quickly.
“Thank God!” Maria said. “When Ava told us about the mating drive and how you two would do it until you were pregnant, well, let’s just say my life is now ten years shorter than it was yesterday.”
Liz glanced nervously at Ava standing in the open doorway. “That’s just...ridiculous. You know we’re much to young to want to have a baby.”
Tess smacked Maria in the arm. “See, I told you. They just needed to let off a little sexual frustration that’s all. No baby-making.”
“Yeah--” Kyle began to say, when he was interrupted by a barrage of energy blasts hitting the doorway.
They stared in shock as Ava fell to her knees, a large, bloody wound in her back.
Liz and Maria rushed forward to help her, while the four aliens rallied around the door to shoot back. They dragged Ava into the Granilith chamber.
“Won’t work...” Ava gasped, as Maria helped lay her on the floor while Liz picked up Max’s discarded T-shirt.
“You’re going to be fine, you’ll see,” Liz said, motioning for Maria to use the shirt to staunch the flow of blood. “Whoever is out there, will be dealt with and then Max will come in here and heal you.”
“Won’t work... Energy...corrupting mine.... Can’t stop it....”
Liz grabbed hold of Ava’s hand.
/// Ava was in the Granilith chamber setting up the bed and laying Liz’s outfit across it for her to find. ///
/// Ava meeting with Larek and telling him it has begun. ///
/// Ava going out to Frazier Woods to wait for the girls to show up at the campsite and report Liz’s disappearance. ///
Liz looked at her. “Why?”
“It’s time.... Do not...fear.... Larek will...help....”
“No time...must see....” Ava grabbed Liz by the head and looked deep into her eyes. Liz’s vision blurred as all that was Ava flooded into her mind. When it was over, Ava fell back, sighed and closed her eyes.
Disoriented by the images swimming through her brain, Liz slowly released Ava’s hand and stood up. Blindly, she made her way back to the outer chamber.
Kyle and Alex were standing off to one side trying to assess how they could help their friends fight.
“Liz?” Maria asked, coming up behind her. “Are you okay?”
Liz turned and laid her hands on Maria’s forehead. Suddenly, Maria collapsed.
“What the--?” Kyle asked, as Liz advanced and did the same thing to him.
Alex, who’d rushed to Maria’s side when he saw her fall, looked up into Liz’s blank expression. “It’ll be okay,” she whispered, and soon Alex was also unconscious.
Walking to the doorway, she saw that Max had his shield up, but she also felt him weakening.
“Liz? What are you doing? Stay back. You’ll be killed,” Max yelled over the noise of battle.
Peering outside, she saw that the Skins were swarming the cliff. Soon there would be too many for the four of them to pick off or handle alone. Turning her head, she looked at Max and sent all four of them a picture of what she wanted them to do.
**Combine your energies. It’s the only way!**
They did as she commanded.
Liz fully opened her connection to Max. Searching her mind, she smiled. They were all there: Michael’s fiery red and Maria’s vibrant orange energy; Tess’ brilliant yellow and Kyle’s soothing green; Alex’s peaceful blue and Isabel’s powerful indigo; Max’s regal purple.
Taking the separate energies, she melded them together until there was nothing but a single, pure white energy. Satisfied, she dropped Max’s shield and stepped through the doorway.
Easily deflecting the enemy’s blasts, she scanned the mass of Skins charging towards her. Finally, she spotted him.
Nicholas saw Liz standing proudly on top of the cliff, and he froze in fearful recognition. The power radiating around her was brilliantly white. Realizing what was about to happen, he reacted.
Liz focused and let out a soul-wrenching yell. Pure, white light blasted out from her in all directions, washing over the surging Skins. She felt their fear and agony as the Light washed through them.
When her vision finally returned to normal, she found herself laying on the ground in Max’s arms. He was leaning over her, fear etched on his face.
“Did it work?” she whispered hoarsely. “Are they gone?”
“Yes,” he replied, his eyes filling with tears of relief. “Don’t you ever do that again. You could’ve died.”
Liz smiled wisely and stroked his cheek. “No, I couldn’t. I had you and everyone else protecting me. The Light was right. We’re stronger together, than we are apart.”
Max carried Liz back inside the pod chamber. Michael, Isabel and Tess were attending to the others, who were sitting on the ground clutching their heads.
Michael, who was trying to soothe the pounding in Maria’s head, glared at Liz. “What in the hell did you do to them?”
Max set her down, and knelt beside her, stroking her hair.
“I’m sorry. I had to act quickly. I didn’t have time to explain, before the Skins would have overtaken us and captured the Granilith,” Liz said softly.
Alex looked at her and winced. “You sure pack a heck of a mental punch. What happened?”
“I had to take your energy in order to save us. I forced a mental connection. I guess the intrusion was too much, and you passed out. If it’s any consolation, my head doesn’t feel much better than yours,” she said sighing. “I took everyone’s energy and combined them. It created an energy capable of destroying the Skins en masse. I guess when I collapsed, the energy separated, and released the connections, automatically.”
“Well, let’s not do this again anytime soon, okay? I think my head will explode the next time,” Kyle muttered, leaning into Tess as she rubbed his temples.
“According to what Ava showed me, there is a less painful way, but it’s going to take some practice.” She smiled at Max as he laid his hand on her head and took away her pain.
**Go help the others.** Max nodded.
When he’d finished healing them, he returned to her side and wrapped her in his protective embrace. She felt him discreetly check on the baby and smile when he felt the answering presence.
“Where is Ava?” Tess asked, fearfully.
Liz felt her eyes welling up with tears. “I’m sorry....”
“She’s in the Granilith room,” Maria added softly, hugging tighter to Michael.
Tess stood up and silently left to see the girl who was her physical twin. Kyle soon followed her. The others could hear Tess’ sobs as they echoed through the pod chamber.
Isabel quickly wiped a tear from her cheek. “What will we do with her?” she asked in a choked whisper.
“I don’t think there will be anything left to bury. She should start to de-molecularize soon, just like Rath and Lonnie did,” Liz replied, staring at the pods as tears streamed down her face. “But, we should have some sort of memorial service for her. After all, she was our friend and a part of the group.”
“Are you going to be okay?” Max whispered in her ear.
Liz nodded. **Just hold me. I keep thinking that it could have easily been you.**
They sat there in silence for a long time, each one dealing with their grief over Ava and their relief that it wasn’t their bond mate that had died. The only sound in the chamber was Tess, crying.
“Tess?” Liz whispered. “Can I come in?”
Tess nodded silently, but continued to stare at Ava’s body.
Liz sat down next to Tess. She looked at Ava and noted mentally that the de-molecularizing process had indeed begun. Sighing, she looked at Tess.
**Kyle’s right. She’s shutting down. This isn’t good.**
“Tess, Kyle asked me to come in here and see if there is anything I can do. I know you guys were getting close, what with her living at the Valentis’ with you. I’m sorry there wasn’t anything I could do to save her.”
“I know,” Tess whispered, still staring at Ava. “It’s just that I was starting to think of her as family--my real family, kind of like a twin sister you know?”
Liz nodded silently.
“We shared a lot. We both grew up unloved, with no parents only our protectors, feeling like we didn’t truly belong anywhere. She offered to show me what she knew about our life as Avaria, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.” Tess wiped the tears from her face and looked at Liz.” I was afraid. I guess a part of me still didn’t want to give up the false memory that Max loved me in another life.”
Liz nodded in understanding and placed a reassuring hand on Tess’ arm. “It’s okay. Ava understood that.”
“But now, it’s too late and I’ll never know,” she sobbed and threw herself into Liz’s arms.
Liz stroked Tess’ hair and made soothing noises in the back of her throat. Her own tears ran unchecked silently down her face as she held Tess until she quieted again.
“Tess? Would you really like to learn about your life as Avaria. To remember?”
Tess pulled away and looked at her in confusion. “How?”
Liz glanced at Ava. “Before she died, Ava transferred everything she knew and remembered about Avaria’s life into my head. That’s how I knew how to create the Joining to defeat the Skins--it’s recorded in the ancient text of the Light.”
Tess looked down at Ava, then back at Liz. “Yes, please. I need to know. I owe it to Ava to remember and carry on her mission.”
“Grab my hands, slow your breathing. This will take a while so the memories don’t overwhelm you. Now close your eyes.”
Tess did as she was told.
Liz looked one last time at Ava. **She’s beginning to disappear.** Then she closed her eyes, and opened her mind’s eye, creating a two-way connection to Tess.
By the time they were done and opened their eyes, Ava’s body was gone.
They held Ava’s memorial service outside the pod chamber. Maria sang a haunting rendition of Amazing Grace as the sun soared above the horizon. Michael created a beautiful marker of an angel gazing into the heavens from a piece of stone he’d found. Isabel added an iridescent sparkle to it so it would glow softly in the sunlight. Max attached the marker permanently into a niche of the cliff face outside the pod chamber and added an inscription along the base. It read: An Angel of Light, November 25, 2000.
As they walked somberly down the cliff towards their cars, Liz glanced back up to where the angel sat. She saw it glow, and swore she saw the faint image of Ava and someone else nearby. **Zan?**
She blinked, and the image was gone.
“You okay Liz?” Max asked looking at the spot where she was staring.
Liz smiled softly, turning her gaze to Max. “Yeah, I am.”
They arrived back in town later that afternoon after returning to Frazier Woods to gather up the camping equipment. Liz called her parents from her cell phone to let them know that she and the other girls had gone to “surprise” the boys this morning for breakfast, and that they were now headed over to Michael’s to watch a movie. Then, Max called the sheriff and told him to meet them at Michael’s apartment as soon as possible.
“What are we going to tell everyone about Ava?” Maria asked quietly as they walked up to Michael’s door.
“That she decided to move on, and head west. Everyone thought she was my twin sister, who’d run away from home before,” Tess replied, referring to the cover story they’d concocted for Ava when she’d appeared in Roswell. “No one will question it.”
As they entered the apartment, they were surprised to find Larek sitting on Michael’s couch.
“I am sorry for your loss,” Larek said, after Michael shut the door. “Ava was a great servant of the Light.”
“How did you get in here?” Maria asked. “Oh wait, never mind. Duh, alien.”
“Why are you here Larek?” Max asked, unconsciously pulling Liz closer to his side. “Has something happened?”
Larek studied the young king and his chosen queen, and smiled. “Yes. Kivar has begun to make his move against the other planets. He has allied with Kathana and together they are, as we speak, launching a dual assault on the homeworlds of Sero and Hanar, who have allied together against Kivar.”
“What about your planet?” Michael asked.
“I declared my planet to be neutral, which has bought us some time to gather our resources and leave.”
“Leave? Where are you going?” Isabel asked.
Larek gazed at Max intently. “The time has arrived. We are coming to Earth.”
“You’re like going to invade us?” Kyle asked, slightly panicked.
“No, no,” Larek replied chuckling. “We are immigrating.”
“Why?” Max asked.
“A little over a millennia ago, our scientists discovered that the sun in our system is dying. So, we sent expeditions across the galaxy to find planets comparable to ours. Earth is one of those planets.
“Do not worry. My planet’s population will be spread out through several other planets in the galaxy. We have no desire to overburden the ecosystem of our new home or to conquer it. We just want to blend into the existing population and live.”
“Why aren’t the others leaving?”
He sighed sadly. “Because, they do not believe that the Age is over. Their leaders are too arrogant to believe that a human could be the Seer. They think you are mad, or just power hungry like Kivar. And their people are either too scared to go against their leaders, or too stubborn to leave the only home they’ve ever known. However, we will transport anyone from the other planets, who wish to go, as long as they arrive before the departure date.”
“Max, our mother?” Isabel whispered.
Max nodded. “What about our mother? Will she come with you?”
Larek shook his head. “Much to my regret, my people cannot get to her. Kivar has had her imprisoned since shortly after the four of you were sent here.”
“Any other news?” Max asked, his expression stoic.
“We intercepted a communication to Kivar from Earth. It seems his people have taken heavy casualties of catastrophic proportion in the last twelve hours. Unfortunately, Nicholas was not among them, so you are still in danger, especially Liz. However, he is not a threat as long as the eight of you stick together.”
“Understood.” Max wrapped his arms protectively around Liz, his hands resting casually on the area where their son grew.
Larek stood to leave. “This will be my last communication for a while, as I will be busy preparing my people. Use the quiet times between the fighting to grow in your powers and in your bonds. For I fear, you will need them in the not too distant future.”
|posted on 1-Sep-2001 4:36:17 PM|
**I can’t do this Max. Can’t we wait one more day?**
**No. We agreed that today we would tell them about the baby.**
Liz shifted nervously on the Valentis’ couch and glanced at Kyle and Tess, who were busy in the kitchen with final dinner preparations. **We’ve waited almost five months to tell them, what’s one more day?**
Max smiled at her nervousness. **We didn’t tell them for the baby’s protection. What if one of them had been captured by Nicholas? He could have used his ‘mind raping’ technique and learned that you were pregnant. He would have used that information to come after you and our son.**
**I know. It’s just that I’ve never kept a secret this big before from Maria. She’s going to be so hurt. She isn’t going to understand why I did it. She takes her job as my protector very seriously.**
**Maria is already starting to suspect something’s up. With her powers getting stronger, the vibes she’s been picking up from you are going to reveal themselves as belonging to the baby soon.**
Liz nodded in defeat. She’d been lucky these past few months with concealing her pregnancy. She hadn’t had any morning sickness except for a strong aversion to the smell of strawberries. Much to Max’s disappoint, she’d had to switch her shampoo for the time being. Her craving for Tabasco had been a little harder to conceal.
“Liz! What are you doing?” Maria had screeched at her one morning when she poured Tabasco sauce on her Frosted Flakes.
The others had looked at her strangely as she began munching on her cereal with a look of pure bliss on her face.
Thinking quickly, Max had replied, “Um, I think it’s a side effect of our connection. I noticed lately that we’ve been starting to share some of our food preferences. Like the other night, I had the strongest craving for vanilla ice cream. Kind of strange, I know, but I don’t think it’s dangerous.”
Fortunately, everyone had believed Max, but she was more careful after that. In fact, she’d become an expert at sneaking Tabasco into her Coke, so that the others wouldn’t realize just how much she was actually using. She’d told Max once that she felt like an alcoholic, sneaking a hit.
As for the physical changes to her body, she been lucky in that respect. She’d been sure that since she was so petite, that her situation would become apparent to the others very quickly. But her stomach had remained flat and smooth for the first four months. She’d been worried something was wrong, and had been secretly relieved when her abdomen had begun to swell slightly in the last three weeks. However, her breasts had grown bigger right away, much to Max’s delight and Maria’s dismay.
“You’re starting to look like Tess!” Maria had pouted to her the night of the Winter Formal in January. “It’s not fair, that you’re still growing, while I’m still stuck in the Sisterhood of the Flat-chested.”
“Oh, come on Maria, You have a great chest. Just ask Michael. He stares at it often enough.”
“Yeah right! Which is why we’ve so not consummated our bonding yet,” Maria sniffed. “Just look at you chica. You get anymore cleavage in that dress and you’ll be falling out. No wonder Max is still drooling after you, even after two months of being, quote, together.”
She rolled her eyes. “You and Michael will get there when you’re ready. Didn’t Ava tell you that it depends on the feelings of the people involved? Admit it, you’re both still scared of being abandoned and are still learning to trust each other.”
Maria had nodded, given her hug and chuckled. “At least we know, Michael and I won’t be the last ones. Isabel will make Alex wait until Doomsday.”
Unfortunately, Maria had to eat those words. The morning after the Winter Formal, Alex and Isabel had come into The Crashdown for breakfast still in their evening wear. To the casual observer, they looked like a typical young couple who’d spent all night gazing at the stars and talking with friends, but to Liz, who worked that morning, they looked like a couple who’d completed their bonding.
She swore that Alex was glowing. And Isabel had the goofiest grin on her face. Liz had flashed them the thumbs up sign when she’d gone to take their order. Isabel had blushed and Alex had become fascinated with the contents of the menu.
Glancing over at the Valentis’ dining room, she watched Isabel instructing Alex on the proper way to set the dinner table. Isabel was in full Martha Stewart mode, and Alex was falling all over himself to please her.
Liz laughed softly.
Max leaned down and whispered in her ear. “He’s worse now, then he was before. And Isabel loves every moment of it.”
Liz looked at Max. “Yes, but I have a feeling Alex is the one in control in another area of their relationship.”
Max made a face. **That is something I do not want to even know about. Let me have my little fantasy world where my sister is as pure as the driven snow and Alex is the perfect gentlemen.**
Liz chuckled louder. **You sound like Isabel when she talks about you and sex.**
“What’s so funny, guys?” Maria asked, plopping down on the couch next to Liz.”
“Oh, just Max and Isabel and how both desperately want to believe that the other is still as virginal as the day they were hatched,” Liz replied, grinning.
“I heard that,” Isabel snapped, from the dining room. “And there is nothing wrong with a little self-delusion. Makes my world much happier.”
“Mine too,” Max agreed.
“Hey Maxwell,” Michael yelled, sticking his head through the open sliding glass door. “Come out here for a sec. I need to you to tell me if this steak is done enough for you.”
“What is it with men and their need to play with fire?” Maria asked after Max left.
“Why, what did Michael do?”
Maria rolled her eyes. “I told him not to use so much lighter fluid on the grill. Did he listen? No. About singed his eyebrows off when he lit it up. Thank God, his healing powers are finally coming in.”
Liz giggled at the picture of Michael with no eyebrows.
“You feeling okay, chica?” Maria asked, eyeing her suspiciously.
Liz sobered instantly. “Yeah. Why do you ask?”
“I don’t know. You’re aura looks funny. Usually its pure gold, but lately it’s been lightening. In fact, it’s definitely got a white cast to it today. And I know it’s not because you and Max did the wild thing, because then it’s gold mixed with swirls of purple.”
Liz paled slightly. “You can see all that? Max was right, you are getting stronger.”
Maria nodded proudly. “Yep. It’s cool. Not as cool as Alex and Kyle’s telekinetic abilities, but it makes for one heck of a warning bell.”
“Okay, everyone,” Michael said, walking into the house and carrying a platter full of grilled steaks and chicken breasts, “Time to eat. I did not slave over a hot grill for the food to get cold.”
Maria got up from the couch and followed Michael into the dining room. Liz felt a huge wave of relief wash over her as she realized she was off the hook at least for a few more minutes.
Max helped her up from the couch and escorted her to the table. Pulling out her chair, he kissed her on the cheek as she sat down.
Maria smacked Michael on the arm, causing him to almost drop the platter. “See!” she said, pointing at Max and Liz. “That’s what I’m talking about! Why can’t you do that for me?”
Michael set the platter on the table and scowled at her. “Why? You can pull out your own chair.”
“That’s it Space Boy! No nookie for you tonight!” Maria declared, crossing her arms. “And don’t even think of trying to use that line about ‘instinct-driven need’ like you did last week, when I was mad at you. It won’t work this time!”
Tess laughed as she and Kyle carried in the side dishes from the kitchen and set them on the table. “I can’t believe you tried that line, Michael!”
Kyle grinned sheepishly at Tess. “Yeah, cause I got cut down cold the moment I tried it, a few weeks ago.”
Dinner was a noisy affair as Michael and Maria hurled insults at one another, and Alex and Kyle tried to out do each other by passing the food to everyone with their telekinetic abilities. Isabel and Tess discussed their plan to go shopping for prom dresses next week, unconsciously ducking and dodging when Kyle got a little too overzealous and slid the salt off the table and Alex whizzed the basket of rolls off the counter behind them and into his hands. No one commented on how quiet Max and Liz were. They were used to them carrying on silent conversations while sitting with the group; tonight wasn’t any different.
Max watched his friends and family as they interacted with one another. He was grateful that there’d been no more attacks by Nicholas in the last few months. They’d all needed the time to grow into their powers more.
Michael was now an excellent shot and extremely focused when it came to using his energy blasts. Tess was a master of the mind warp and didn’t use nearly as much energy to sustain it. She was also no longer limited by the number of people she could do it on at once. Isabel could now easily dream walk people while she was awake, whether her subjects were awake or asleep. Fortunately, he and Liz had developed the ability to block her when their connection had reached full maturity.
Even his own powers were more refined and focused, taking a lot less energy from him than they used to. He credited that benefit to Liz. She was his center and the reason he’d refused to let his guard down when it came to their enemies. With her by his side, nothing could defeat him.
Liz paused from eating her dinner to smile at him.
He smiled back, losing himself in her. He was so focused on her, he didn’t hear the phone ring.
“Um, Liz,” Kyle said loudly, “It’s for you.”
Liz looked up startled, and focused back in on her surroundings. “What? Phone? Okay,” she said, getting up and taking the receiver from Kyle.
“Hello?” she asked, pressing the receiver closer to her ear so she could hear over the noise of Maria and Michael arguing.
“Hot isn’t it?” a strange voice on the phone asked.
“What? Hot? Who is this?”
“Suffer as I have suffered.”
“Look,” she said angrily, drawing everyone’s attention from the table, “I don’t know what kind of sick game you’re playing or how you even knew where I was, but--”
“Do you know where your parents are?” the voice asked.
Before Liz could reply, the line went dead. Slowly placing the receiver back in its cradle, she replayed the conversation in her head.
Max stood up from the table as Liz turned to face the group, her face colorless.
“What? Who was it?” Michael asked, as Max rushed to Liz’s side.
Max held onto Liz and looked at everyone. “We need to go.”
“Where?” Alex asked, as everyone stood up. “What’s happened?”
“I’m not sure,” Max replied, “But, we have to get to The Crashdown, now!”
They arrived at The Crashdown within minutes of the mysterious phone call. Liz took one look at the flames engulfing her home and began to scream. Max held her tightly, to keep her from running into the building. Maria stood in Michael’s embrace and sobbed, while Alex stared blankly over at the ambulance as medical personnel loaded two body bags into the back for transport to the morgue. Kyle went to find his dad. Tess and Isabel stood back and watched tearfully as firemen worked to control the blaze.
Sheriff Valenti and Kyle somberly approached the forlorn group.
“Where are my parents, Sheriff?” Liz demanded hysterically. “Where’s Daddy? Where’s Mom?”
“Liz, I’m sorry--”
“No, don’t say it! It’s not true,” Liz screamed. She turned and scanned the crowd, frantically searching for her father’s familiar grin and her mother’s vibrant red hair. She froze as her gaze came to rest on a dark-haired teenage boy at the back of the crowd.
His hair spiked in all different directions, and he wore wrap-around sunglasses even though it was night. He had a skateboard tucked under one arm, and he seemed to be staring at her and not at the burning building like everyone else. Then, he tilted his head and peered over his glasses.
She paled in recognition. **Nicholas.**
Max whipped his head around to look at where Liz was staring. He bristled at the self-satisfied smirk Nicholas shot them both before throwing down his skateboard and riding off. He started to go after him, but Liz grabbed his arm.
**Don’t. He’s trying to separate us. Make us weak.**
“I’m sorry, Liz. I am so sorry. Maybe if we’d told them--”
She shook her head, tears streaming down her face. “No, Max. That wouldn’t have stopped this. He did this because of what I did to the Skins. This is payback. And it isn’t going to stop.”
Three days later, after the funerals, a somber group of teenagers and Jim Valenti retreated to Michael’s apartment. Max held Liz in his protective embrace and tried to comfort her through their connection. She was so small and pale. He could feel her pain and wished he could take it away from her, but he knew only time could do that.
“So, what do we do now Maxwell? Michael asked, as he sat on the opposite end of the couch from Liz and Max and held Maria, who’s own grief was comparable to Liz’s.
Max looked down at Liz.
**Go ahead Max. I’ll be okay.**
Max looked back at Michael. “Leave town and go into hiding.”
“All of you?” Jim asked.
“Yes. It’s imperative now. We need the strength and the safety of the eight. Nicholas has made his intentions known. The fire and the murder of Liz’s parents were his doing. And it’s not going to stop there. He’ll hunt us down one by one and kill us. He wants revenge on Liz for what she did to his people.”
“We can defeat him. We’re much stronger than the last time we went up against him,” Michael said angrily, “Why are we running now?”
“Because, Liz is pregnant.”
“Excuse me?” Maria squeaked.
“Max, you can’t be serious,” Isabel protested.
“How is that possible?” Michael asked.
“Um, Michael, if you don’t know by now, then poor Maria really is doomed,” Alex quipped.
“How far along are you?” Jim asked Liz, crouching down to look at her.
Liz lifted up the edge of Max’s black sweater that she was wearing to show everyone the small protrusion that occupied the once flat area of her stomach. “Five months,” she said softly.
They all gasped and Max placed his hand protectively over the slight swell of Liz’s abdomen and pulled her closer to him. Liz’s stomach glowed beneath his touch.
“How long have you guys known about this?” Isabel demanded, pointing at Liz’s bare abdomen.
Liz cleared her throat and looked Isabel straight in the eye. “Since the night at the Granilith after Thanksgiving.”
“What?” Maria squeaked again.
“You said you used birth control!” Michael accused.
“I lied,” she said, unashamed. “We thought it was safer for me and the baby if we kept the information to ourselves.”
“How could you not tell me?” Maria asked.
“We were going to tell all of you the night of the fire,” Max said.
“The white in your aura,” Maria accused. “It’s the baby’s, isn’t it?”
“And the Tabasco consumption. It was a pregnancy craving, not a side effect of your bond,” Alex observed.
“Of course, that’s why she suddenly got so stacked!” Kyle realized out loud. Tess smacked him in the arm. “Ow!”
“Would you guys lay off already,” Tess stated angrily. “Can’t you see they feel bad about keeping the baby a secret.”
Isabel pointed at the somber couple. “How can you defend them?”
“Because what they did was necessary,” Tess said. “It is the will of the Light that the One be brought forth now. We will need him in the years to come to fight the evil that threatens our very existence.”
“You knew about this, didn’t you?” Jim asked Tess, softly.
Tess nodded. “I’ve known since Liz transferred Ava’s memories to me in the Granilith room. “I sensed the One’s essence during our connection. Since Liz had lied earlier, I knew that she and Max were keeping it quiet.”
“But we’re supposed to be the protectors of the One,” Maria protested.
“And we will be, after he’s born. Our job, right now, is to protect Liz and make sure he comes forth unharmed. Nicholas is a threat to that happening.”
“Tess is right,” Max said. “We didn’t tell you to protect the baby. What if one of you’d been captured by Nicholas, especially the humans. Are any of you strong enough mentally to keep Nicholas from ‘mind raping’ you?”
Everyone looked contrite. Max continued, “We thought it appropriate since Liz wouldn’t be showing right away. It bought us some time. However, time’s up.”
Michael was the first to break the silence. “When do we leave?”
“Tonight. So I want you to all go home and pack lightly. We’ll take the Jeep and Tess’ SUV and leave under the cover of darkness.”
“Where are you going?” Jim asked.
“I can’t tell you, Sheriff,” Max said. “It would be too dangerous for you to know. We’ll have Isabel dream walk you when we reach our destination, so that you know we’re safe.”
“What about our parents?” Alex asked.
“You can’t tell them about any of this,” Liz warned. “It’s too dangerous. If they knew, Nicholas would kill them in a heartbeat to get the information. Right now, they’re safe because they know nothing about aliens or babies.”
“I promise to keep an eye on all of your parents,” Jim reassured the teens.
“Thank you,” Max replied. “Bring as much cash as you can. We won’t be able to use checks, ATM cards or credit cards while we’re gone. They’re too easy to trace. To buy us some extra, getaway time, tell your parents that you’re staying over with Liz at Michael’s. They won’t question it.”
Alex and Maria nodded.
“We’ll meet out by the old radio tower off of Highway 42 at nine o’clock. Make sure no one follows you.”
Liz opened her eyes and found herself in the white void. “Mom?”
She blinked rapidly at the bright light in front of her. “Daddy?”
Suddenly, the light separated and took form. As the shapes dimmed and came into focus, she recognized the familiar forms of her parents. Her eyes filled with tears and she ran into their open arms.
“Mommy! Daddy!” she sobbed softly. “I am so sorry....”
“Shh,” Nancy soothed, stroking her daughter’s hair, “It’s okay dear. We know, and we understand. It wasn’t your fault. It was meant to be.”
“How can you say that?” she asked angrily, pulling away.
“Because sweetheart,” Jeff replied, “everything that’s happened was written down long ago. You couldn’t have stopped it.”
“Your father’s right. Our story was finished. But your story, my beautiful little girl, is just beginning,” Nancy said, reaching out and tucking a strand of Liz’s hair behind her ear. “You have a long way to go before the story ends for you.”
“How could the Light let Nicholas kill you?” she demanded.
“Keep faith in the Light, sweetheart,” Jeff begged, taking her hand into his own. “There is an answer to every question. It’s just, sometimes, it won’t always be what you expect.”
“But, there was so much I wanted to tell you--”
“We know dear,” Nancy said, smiling. “And we are happy for you. You have found your other half again, and you are complete.”
Suddenly, Max appeared beside them. “Liz? Mr. and Mrs. Parker?”
Jeff and Nancy smiled at him, then Jeff placed Liz’s hand in Max’s.
“This is all we ever wanted for you--to be happy and to be loved.”
She and Max looked at one another, stunned by her parents peaceful acceptance.
The Parkers began to shimmer and lose focus.
“Wait, Mom! Dad! I want to tell you about the baby!” she cried, reaching out to stop their departure.
Nancy smiled and rested a hand on her daughter’s stomach. It glowed brightly in response. “He knows us, dear. Just as we know him. Do not grieve too much for what might have been or should-haves. Live for what shall be. For that is all there is.”
Then Liz felt her parents lean in and kiss her cheek. She watched them lose their shape and once again become light. Then in the blink of an eye, their light melded into the whiteness of the void. ///
Liz woke up to the sound of Max’s heartbeat echoing loudly in her ears. They were snuggled together in the back of the Jeep, while Alex and Isabel rode up front. Slowly, Liz looked up into Max’s face and found him staring back at her with his soul-filled eyes.
**Did you see that?**
Max nodded and hugged her close. His left hand rested on her abdomen and it glowed in response. **They want you to be happy.**
Her eyes filled with tears. **I know Max. It’s just going to take some time. I’m glad to know they’re with the Light, but the way they died...it’s too horrible.** She shuddered.
Max kissed the top of her head, and rubbed his face in her soft hair. He inhaled deeply, briefly missing the strawberry scent of her old shampoo. **I know love. Take all the time you need. I will always be here for you. Just rest now, we’ll be at Uncle Jack’s cabin in a couple of hours.**
**Are you sure we’ll be safe there?**
**Yes. It’s completely secluded and we won’t be disturbed. Uncle Jack only uses it the fall during hunting season. Now, sleep. You and the little one need your rest.**
Liz smiled slightly and laid her head back on Max’s chest. Closing her eyes, she listened to the beating of his heart and the steady beat of the speeding highway beneath them. Soon, she was sleeping peacefully and dreamlessly.
“Do you, Maxwell Evans, take Elizabeth Parker to be your lawfully wedded wife? To have and to hold from this day forward, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health?”
Max looked deep into Liz’s eyes. “I do.” **Always.**
“Do you, Elizabeth Parker, take Maxwell Evans to be your lawfully wedded husband? To have and to hold from this day forward, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health?”
Liz smiled softly. “I do.” **Always.**
“Then by the power invested in me by the State of Utah, I now pronounce you husband and wife.”
Max pulled Liz close and kissed her. He felt their connection open wide, and he pulled her tight against him.
“Are they always like this?” the judge asked, peering over his glasses to look at Maria and Michael. “I didn’t even get a chance to tell him to kiss the bride.”
Maria glared at Michael. **Don’t even think it Space Boy.**
Michael cleared his throat loudly. “Um, Maxwell? ...Liz? ...Mr. and Mrs. Evans!”
Max and Liz jerked apart, breathing heavily, eyes dark. “What?” Max asked, dazed.
“It’s time to sign the license before you start the honeymoon,” Michael teased. “That way everything’s all nice and legal.”
Max and Liz nodded silently. They both signed the necessary papers, their eyes never really leaving each other. Maria dabbed at her eyes as she signed her name as witness, while Michael hastily scrawled his.
“Well, there you go, Mr. and Mrs. Evans,” the judge said as the court clerk handed them their copy of the license. “Congratulations. And may your lives together be full of happiness.”
“Th-thank you sir,” Max said seriously, tearing his eyes away from Liz long enough to shake the judge’s hand. “It will be, I’m sure.”
Liz smiled at the judge, took Max’s hand and followed him out of the chambers. When they got outside to the county courthouse steps, they were suddenly greeted by a shower of rose petals.
“Max?” Liz said laughing, trying to shake rose petals out of her hair.
“It wasn’t me love.” Max plucked a stray petal caught in the back of her French twist.
Maria grinned and held up a small bag of petals before giving her best friend a hug. “Hey, you may not have gotten a big church wedding like we dreamt about as kids, but I wasn’t about to give up the part of it where you get showered by rose petals during the recessional.”
“You are such a hopeless romantic,” Liz sniffed.
“I know, but unfortunately, I got stuck with the non-romantic one of the Czechoslovakian quadruplets,” Maria stated, glancing casually at Michael.
“Hey, I heard that!” Michael protested. “I give you romance.”
“You asking me ‘Hey babe, want some?’ does not romance make,” Maria replied sarcastically.
“Hold it you two. Truce,” Max said, motioning his hands in a time-out signal. “Let’s get out of here and back to the cabin. The others are waiting for us.”
Liz giggled as Max swept her up in his arms and carried her the rest of the way to the Jeep, which Maria had covered in white and pink crepe paper streamers and balloons.
“Oh this isn’t noticeable at all,” Michael grumbled as they climbed in and started to drive away.
“Hey,” Maria said, grinning mischievously, “At least I didn’t tie tin cans to the bumper or inflated condoms to the antenna like Alex and Kyle wanted to do.”
Michael rolled his eyes as Max pulled the Jeep onto the highway back towards the Utah/Colorado border.
It was almost dark by the time, the four of them reached the secluded cabin tucked up into the mountains. Lights were blazing in the windows and Liz could see smoke curling up from the chimney. She shivered as Max opened her door to help her out. She was glad to be wearing the wool suit that Mrs. Evans had bought her for her parents’ funerals. Isabel had changed its color from black to white especially for the wedding, and had modified its size to accommodate her growing waistline.
**Don’t worry, I’ll keep you warm on all the cool nights to come from now on.**
Liz smiled at Max. **Promise?**
“Always,” he whispered in her ear, as he scooped her up in his arms and walked up onto the porch.
Suddenly, the front door was thrown open.
“It’s about damn time!” Isabel said. “I was getting ready to send Alex out to find you.”
Max and Liz grinned.
“Well, don’t just stand there. Come inside. There’s cake and punch to be consumed!”
“Yeah,” Kyle shouted from somewhere over by the fireplace. “It’s time to party!”
Max carried Liz over the threshold and stopped just inside the doorway so that Michael and Maria had to squeeze in from behind them to enter the cozy cabin.
“Wow, guys,” Liz whispered, noticing the streamers, the balloons, the formally-laid dinner table and the romantic music playing over the radio. “You did all this, for us?” Max set her down and helped her remove her suit jacket.
“Well, duh?” Tess said, teasingly. “You know anyone else who snuck off in the middle of the night to get married?”
“Which, by the way, I’m not sure I will ever forgive you for,” Isabel replied sniffing lightly. “All I can say is thank goodness I know how to dream walk you now when you’re awake, otherwise I’d have missed the whole thing.”
“You know we all couldn’t go. Eight of us would have drawn to much attention. In case someone is looking for us, we need to split up when we venture outside this cabin, you know that,” Max said, trying to pacify his sister.
“How’d you guys manage to get someone to marry you?” Alex asked.
“Well, Michael kind of fudged our ID’s a bit. We told the judge we were twenty-one,” Liz said sheepishly.
“That and Max gave himself a mustache,” Maria supplied, giggling.
“Ooh, I’d have liked to have seen that,” Tess teased.
Liz shuddered. “It tickled when he kissed me. It was like trying to kiss a hairbrush.”
“You didn’t seem to mind ‘the hairbrush’ shoving his tongue down your throat when you guys were in front of the judge,” Michael mumbled.
Maria smacked him in the arm. “Don’t be crude, Space Boy. Max was just caught up in the moment.”
“Enough!” Isabel shouted. “Tess and I worked hard to put this little reception together. So, let’s sit people, and get this party started.”
They all gathered around the table, and soon the conversation became light-hearted and cheerful. If a stranger had come upon the cabin and peeked in the window, he would have seen eight people having the time of their lives with no hint of the destiny showing that weighed on their young shoulders.
“Oh thank you, Isabel,” Liz said softly, looking at the wedding gift she’d just opened. It was after dinner, the cake had been cut and eaten, the punch was almost gone and the toasts had been given.
“Hey, we’re sisters now. I thought you might want to start another one, especially when the baby comes,” Isabel replied, smiling proudly as Liz withdrew a beautiful, brown leather-bound journal from the box. On the front was engraved the words: Journal of Elizabeth Parker Evans. “Max told me once how important your journal was to you.”
“Thank you, everyone. Thank you so much for the lovely gifts. We didn’t expect anything. You guys are the best,” Liz said tearfully. Max hugged her close.
“We’re not done yet,” Tess said. “While you two were off getting hitched in Utah, Kyle and Alex finished the addition. So, as of tonight, you two get your own bedroom.”
“Already?” Liz asked in surprise. “We’ve only been here two weeks.”
“Hey, it helps to have aliens on your side,” Alex quipped. “Michael and Max did most of the foundation and construction work, while Kyle and I were in charge of the painting and installing of the fixtures. Tess, Maria and Isabel were in charge of the interior decorating.”
“Hey Lizzie, don’t cry,” Maria kidded, “Or, I’m going to think you didn’t enjoy sharing a bedroom with us girls.”
“Personally, I think the guys were just tired of sleeping without us,” Tess quipped. “So that lit a fire under them to get the fourth bedroom added on.”
Kyle grinned wickedly at Tess and wiggled his eyebrows.
“Well, my lady-wife,” Max said, looking down at Liz and clasping her hand in his, “Shall we depart to our honeymoon suite?”
Liz nodded and let him lead her to their bedroom door. Max opened it slowly and started to escort her in, when he suddenly turned and looked mischievously at the others.
“Night everyone. We’ll see you all sometime tomorrow...maybe.”
“Max!” Liz gasped, blushing.
“Hey, were a married couple now,” Max said, shutting their door on the laughter of their friends and family, “It’s allowed. Now, turn around and look.”
Liz did as she was told and discovered the room lit up with candles and the floor sprinkled with rose petals. Soft music from the CD player sitting on top of the dresser, drifted through the air. The bed sat opposite the French doors which opened out onto a breathtaking view of the nearby lake. The bed was stacked with fluffy pillows and an eider down quilt. And, on top of the quilt, were more rose petals and a single white rose laying on Liz’s pillow.
“Oh Max, it’s beautiful,” she whispered. “It’s like one of my fantasies come true.”
“I know,” he replied, trailing soft kisses along the side of her neck. Just then, Sheryl Crow’s ‘I Shall Believe’ started to play from the CD player. Smiling, he turned her around and pulled her into his arms. “May I have this wedding dance, Mrs. Evans?”
“Always,” she whispered softly across his ear.
As they swayed to the music, he rub his hand up and down her back, relishing the feel of her silk blouse against his fingertips.
>> Open the door
>> And show me your face tonight
He reached up and pulled the pins from her hair, and watched in fascination as it tumbled down her back and around her face in soft, luxurious chestnut waves. **So beautiful....**
>> I know it’s true
>> No one heals me like you
>> And you hold the key
She kneaded the muscles of his lower back and pressed him closer. She shuddered at the feel of his hard body rubbing intimately against her lower abdomen. She whimpered softly at the need building up inside.
>> Never again
>> would I turn away from you
He ran his hand down to the swell of her bottom and gently caressed her curves, while his other hand undid the zipper of her skirt. He pulled away slightly and allowed the skirt to drop to the floor.
>> I’m so heavy tonight
>> But your love is alright
>> And I do believe
She reached up and nibbled on his neck, while she pulled his shirt from the waistband of his khakis. She slowly kissed her way down to his chest, unbuttoning his shirt as she went. She smiled as she pulled away and gazed at the hard muscles of his beautiful body.
>> That not everything is gonna be the way
>> You think it ought to be
He ran his hand over the front of her blouse, using his powers to undo the buttons. He pushed her blouse off her shoulders and placed feather-light kisses along her collarbone.
>> It seems like every time I try to make it right
>> It all comes down on me
She moaned softly and pushed his shirt from his shoulders, running her hands over his warm skin, letting her nails scratch his upper back when he suddenly undid the front clasp of her bra, bent down and sucked a nipple into his mouth.
>> Please say honestly
>> You won't give up on me
He picked her up and carried her to their bed, laying her down gently. He quickly reached down and removed her shoes and stockings, running his hands up her now bare legs, stopping just before he reached the juncture of her thighs. She whimpered and clutched at his hands. **Please....**
>> And I shall believe
He pulled away to remove his pants, shoes and socks. Then he sat back down on the bed and picked up the single white rose from the pillow. **Close your eyes....**
>> I shall believe
She closed her eyes, and shivered as he ran the rose across her body from the side of her neck around the lower swell of her breast and over the pregnant swell of her stomach. He stopped at the waistband of her panties. She opened her eyes and found herself staring into his. She was lost. She was found. She was home.
>> And I shall believe.…
|posted on 1-Sep-2001 4:39:47 PM|
By mid-July, Liz felt as big as a whale. Even though Maria, Tess and Isabel all tried to reassure her that it wasn’t true, every time she attempted to look at her feet, she burst into tears. Her hormones were in overdrive, and poor Max didn’t know what to think of her emotional outbursts half the time.
He tried to soothe her as best he could through their connection, but lately, that was becoming more difficult as the baby’s essence grew stronger. In the last week, she’d begun to refuse all intimate contact with him, stating that the baby’s presence was distracting and that she couldn’t focus. And last night, much to his chagrin, he’d had to sleep on the couch.
“What’s up Maxwell?” Michael had asked when he’d re-appeared in the great room a half-hour after retiring for the night with Liz.
“Liz isn’t feeling too well. I thought I’d let her have the bed to herself tonight.”
Michael grinned. “She kicked you out! I don’t believe it!”
“Who got kicked out?” Alex asked, looking up from the research he’d been doing on his laptop over the internet.
“The great King of Antar and Romance got kicked out of his own bedroom,” Kyle hooted from his seat in front of the fireplace. “Note this day down, Alex. I’m not sure it will come around again.”
Alex chuckled and glanced outside. “Nope, the world didn’t end, and I haven’t seen any reports over the net that Hell froze over. Well, what do you know? Max is human after all.”
“Ha, ha. Very funny guys. You just wait until your mates are pregnant,” Max warned, plopping down on the sofa next to Michael.
“Knock it off, you guys,” Tess said. She lay with her head resting in Kyle’s lap, reading a well-worn book on childbirth that she’d found in a used bookstore in Santa Fe while on their way to Colorado. “According to the book, at this time in her pregnancy, Liz is having a hard time getting comfortable when she lays down to sleep. And, when she does find a comfortable position, she won’t want to move.
“So, you see, Max is just being his noble and sweet, sacrificing self.”
Michael rolled his eyes.
“I heard that Space Boy!” Maria yelled from the kitchen where she and Isabel were popping popcorn. “You do that to me when I’m pregnant, and you’ll be walking funny for the rest of your life.”
Max chuckled as Michael’s face turned red.
“How long do think she’s got before the baby gets here?” Kyle asked, glancing at the cover of Tess’ book.
Tess sat up. “I’m not sure. Ava’s memories tell me that our pregnancies on Antar lasted about seven months in Earth time. And of course, a human pregnancy lasts nine. But, since we’re hybrids, I’m not sure which way we’ll go.
“However, Liz is in her eighth month and from what I’ve seen this week, the baby has dropped. Again, that’s not unusual in first time pregnancies for a human.”
“Dropped?” Alex asked.
“The baby is settling into the pelvic region to get ready to be born. Haven’t you noticed Liz running to the bathroom more often? Now, the baby is literally laying on her bladder,” Tess replied.
“More like waddling don’t you mean?” Michael asked. “Ow!”
Maria looked down at him with smug satisfaction.
“What’d you hit me for?”
“For making fun of Liz. I swear if this is what you’re going to be like when I get pregnant, then I’m sending you out to be fixed right now!”
“Really Michael, you could be a little more sensitive,” Isabel admonished, handing a bowl of popcorn to Max before returning to her seat next to Alex at the table.
“You know,” Maria said, sitting down next to Max so that he was between her and Michael, “I noticed the other day that Liz’s aura is almost completely white now. I can see just a hint of gold along its outer edge. I wonder if that means she’s close?”
“Could be,” Tess had replied. Everyone had grown silent at that thought. And, Max had spent the remainder of the night staring at his bedroom door and mentally checking in on Liz every thirty seconds.
Liz studied the kitchen floor with a critical eye. Shaking her head, she went into the bathroom to retrieve the scrub brush she’d spotted under the sink last week. Waddling back into the kitchen, she got down on her hands and knees, dipped the brush into the bucket of warm, soapy water and began to scrub the floor.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Maria asked, hands on hips.
Liz jumped and peered at her over her shoulder. “Good lord, you scared me. What does it look like I’m doing?”
“You are not going to scrub the kitchen floor. Now, you get yourself up and back over to that couch, little missy,” Maria replied, pointing towards the living area of the great room.
“No buts. Max would have my hide if he knew you were doing this. Now scoot. He left strict orders for you to rest and not overdo.”
Throwing the brush into the bucket, she attempted to rise. Sighing, she looked up at Maria. “A little help?”
“Come on chica,” Maria said, smiling. “It won’t be much longer, and then I’ll let you scrub floors to your heart’s content.”
She waddled over to the living area, leaving Maria to finish scrubbing the floor. Glancing at the mantel, she noticed cobwebs had formed on the antique clock that sat there.
She went back to the bathroom and retrieved a dust cloth and furniture polish. Glancing over her shoulder to see if Maria was paying attention, she pushed the large, leather ottoman over to the fireplace, climbed up on it, and began to dust the mantel.
“Maria!” Isabel screeched, causing Liz to almost lose her balance. “I thought you were keeping an eye on her?”
“I am. She was trying to scrub the floor, so I sent her to go sit on the couch.”
Isabel pointed over at Liz, who was still standing on the ottoman like a child with her hand caught in the cookie jar. “And what do you call that?”
Maria looked up. “Elizabeth Parker Evans! I told you to sit.”
Liz pouted. “I’m sorry, but I saw the cobwebs and decided to clean them off. I didn’t think anyone would object if I pushed a dustrag around.”
It’s not the dustrag that’s the problem. It’s the fact that you’re balanced precariously on that ottoman and could fall any second,” Isabel said, advancing on Liz. “Why don’t you go sit on the porch for a while. I’ll finish the dusting. Max wants you to take it easy.”
Liz started to hop down, when Isabel stopped her. “For God’s sakes, don’t jump. Let me help you. There.”
“Thanks,” Liz mumbled and waddled over to the front door and outside. Settling herself in the rocker, she watched as Kyle and Alex worked with Michael on strengthening their powers. Sighing, she rubbed her belly and smiled when she felt her son’s answering kick.
**I hope your Daddy gets back soon, little one. Because, I sure have a bone to pick with him.**
Liz closed her eyes and felt the warm mountain breeze blow across her face. **The fact that you have everyone around here treating me like an invalid. I’m pregnant Max, not dying.**
**I just don’t want you to overtax yourself.**
**Cleaning the kitchen floor or dusting the furniture is not overtaxing myself.** She could feel Max’s sigh through their connection.
**Please, Liz. Just behave yourself. For me?**
Liz smiled at his cajoling. **Okay, fine. But, I’ll have you know, women have been carrying and delivering babies for centuries.**
**But, not all of them were carrying a baby who’s father is an alien. So please, just humor me?**
**Yes, dear.** She opened her eyes and looked down towards the road to the cabin. **When are you and Tess getting back? Did you guys get all of the supplies we need?**
**Another hour. We found everything on the list, plus a little something for our son.**
**What did you find Max?**
**You’ll see when we get there.**
**I miss you Max.**
**I know. I miss you too. This should be our last trip across the border for supplies until after the baby’s born.**
**Good. I wish I could’ve gone with you.**
**I know, but the long car ride isn’t good for you. Tess thinks it won’t be much longer now.**
**I sure hope so.** Liz smiled and rubbed her belly. **Oh, and Max?**
**I’m sorry for making you sleep on the couch last night.**
She felt Max smile. **There’s nothing to forgive. I love you. Always.**
**I love you. Always.**
Nicholas watched Liz from his hiding place in the trees. It had taken him almost three months to find out where the Royal Four and their pets had scurried away to. He’d spent endless hours and used up valuable energy to scan the various, minds in Roswell.
Finally, last week, he’d been lucky enough to stumble across the sheriff sitting alone in his car. While Nicholas was scanning, Isabel had attempted to dream walk the sheriff. However, before he could learn anything of real importance, she’d sensed something and broken off contact. But, not before he’d caught a glimpse of the cabin.
Realizing he’d seen it before, he left the sheriff slumped unconscious in his car and quickly headed for the Evans house. He’d broken in and snuck up to the Evans’ bedroom. Once there, he’d scanned a sleeping Philip Evans for a second time and learned that the cabin was in northwest Colorado, and that it belonged to Philip’s brother, Jack.
“Thought you could shake me, Max?” he whispered to himself as he studied Liz rocking on the front porch. “Nice touch not telling the parents, but sloppy work hiding in someplace they know.”
He glanced over at the clearing where Michael, Alex and Kyle were practicing. His eyes narrowed as he watched the humans use telekinesis to move heavy rocks and throw them at Michael. Michael, in turn, was using his power to blow up the rocks into harmless showers of gravel.
“Interesting. So the pets have bonded with them and developed some abilities. Pathetic creatures. No match for me,” he thought.
He returned his attention to his prey sitting on the porch. Something about her was off, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it.
Suddenly, she stopped rocking and sat staring in his direction. He froze as her eyes widened, and she began to shout.
Hearing Liz’s frantic cry, Michael turned his gaze to the cabin and spotted her sitting in the rocking chair. Unfortunately, Kyle had just hurled a good-sized chunk of river rock at his head.
“Damn man!” Kyle apologized, helping Michael up. “I’m sorry. Are you okay? I didn’t knock your brains out did I?”
“No,” Michael replied, holding a hand to the goose egg that had formed on his temple. His hand glowed and the lump disappeared.
“Man, it’s a good thing he could fix that,” Alex said, “Otherwise, Maria would’ve been pissed that you broke her alien.”
“Michael!” Liz yelled again.
All three boys took off running towards the cabin.
“What?” Michael asked, as he bounded up the porch steps, ready to blast whatever danger was threatening his best friend’s wife. “What is it?”
Isabel and Maria both came running out the front door and stopped.
“Oh, my God,” Maria said, pointing, “Her water broke.”
Looking closer at a scared Liz, he realized that she was indeed sitting in a pool of shimmering amniotic fluid.
Max grabbed his head in pain as he felt Liz’s scream assault him through their connection. **Hang on baby, I’m almost there.**
**Shut up Max! This is all your fault! You did this to me! And now that the hard parts here, you’re gone!**
**I’m sorry. We’re almost there. Five more minutes. I promise.**
**I know Max. I’m sorry. Please hurry.**
Max looked over at Tess, who was driving. “Can’t this thing go any faster?”
“Hey, I have the gas pedal to the floor. It’s an SUV. It’s not meant for racing.”
“Why are you breaking?” he asked her frantically as he felt another wave of Liz’s pain wash through him.
“Do you want to go tumbling down into the ravine? A fat lot of good it will do you, if you get yourself killed before you see your son.”
“I know. I’m sorry,” Max said, gripping the door handle until his knuckles turned white. “I seem to be saying that a lot today.”
Tess laughed. “It’s okay Max. We’ll get there. The One won’t make his entrance into the world without both his parents present.”
“But the book says you can’t push.”
Liz glared at Michael and grabbed the book from his hands. “I don’t care what the fucking book says, I want to push! I need to push!”
“Of course you do,” Maria soothed gently, ducking as Liz threw the book across the room. “But, if you do, it might harm the baby.”
Liz nodded in understanding and continued her breathing.
Kyle peeked in through the open bedroom door at Alex. “Should her contractions be coming that fast? I mean this is her first baby. I thought they were supposed to take forever,” he inquired anxiously.
“Not necessarily,” Alex replied, picking up Tess’ childbirth book from the floor. “According to my Mom, she was in labor a whole two hours with my sister.”
“Great.... Hey, I think I hear the SUV. I’ll go get Max and Tess.” Kyle rushed out of the cabin.
Alex shook his head, and glanced back down at the book. “How far is she dilated?”
Isabel checked, silently thanking the Light for her ability to scan information and remember it. “Nine centimeters. Fully effaced.”
“Max!” Liz suddenly screamed.
Max came rushing into the bedroom, pale and breathing hard. He stopped short as he saw her appearance. She was sweaty and disheveled. She had dark shadows under her eyes, and an expression of extreme pain twisted her lovely features.
“Don’t just stand there!” Liz shouted, her eyes squeezed shut. “Get the fuck over here!”
Max looked at Alex in shock.
“This is the stage of labor called, uh, transition,” Alex stated dryly. “Just ignore what she says. She doesn’t really mean it.”
Max hurried to his wife’s side, taking over Michael’s place. Michael hightailed it out of the bedroom, mumbling something about keeping Kyle company in the other room. Maria and Isabel stood by with warm towels to wrap the baby in, while Alex kept his eyes glued to the book he was holding, and thought that there were just some things a friend wasn’t supposed to see. Tess positioned herself between Liz’s bent legs and checked her quickly.
“Okay Liz,” Tess said, looking up into Liz’s tired, but hopeful brown eyes, “On your next contraction, I want you to push. Here it comes.... Push.”
Liz grabbed Max’s hand and bore down with all of her strength.
“That’s great Liz. Now, relax. Wait for the next contraction....and push.”
Max winced at the vice-like grip of Liz’s hand. **You’re doing wonderful. I can feel him. He’s doing fine.**
“And relax,” Tess commanded. “I see the head! Now, on the next contraction, we’re going to try and deliver the shoulders, so it might hurt a bit. And...push.”
Max thought he was going to faint as the pain of the baby’s shoulders trying to emerge from Liz’s body, washed through their connection.
“Okay, Liz, one more and he’s out. Push!”
Liz bore down, shouting in relief as the rest of her son emerged into the world.
Tess quickly cleared the fluid from the baby’s mouth, and the newest member of the Evans family gave a strong, hardy cry.
Max looked on in awe as Tess laid his son on Liz’s stomach. “He’s so tiny,” he whispered.
Liz chuckled softly. “Believe me, he didn’t feel that tiny a minute ago.” She cuddled the baby up against her breast, and smiled when her son gazed up at her, his eyes as serious and soul-filled as his father’s. “So, how’s your day been?” she whispered to her son.
The baby yawned and began to root on his fist.
Max reached down and softly stroked the baby’s thick shock of black hair. “Hello, my son.”
**He knows us Max.**
**I know. I can feel him. It’s like I know exactly what he’s thinking even though there’s not any discernable language.**
While the new parents checked out their son’s fingers and toes, Tess, clamped and cut the cord, then helped Liz to deliver the placenta.
Isabel draped a towel over the littlest Evans. “Here, this will help keep him warm. Whenever you’re ready, Maria and I will clean him up for you.”
“Thank you guys,” Liz said tearfully, handing Isabel the baby. “I know I said some awful things--”
“Hey, don’t mention it,” Alex grinned. “By the way, you got a great arm on you. Ever think of pitching professionally?”
Liz blushed and hid her face against Max’s shoulder.
“Alex Whitman! What a thing to say! And here I thought you were a gentleman,” Isabel scolded softly as she finished cleaning off her nephew.
Maria picked up the baby and walked over to the open bedroom door. “It’s safe to come in now guys. The gross part’s over.”
“Hey, I stayed out here in deference to Max. I don’t think he really wants me to see his wife’s private parts,” Kyle protested, walking into the bedroom.
“Of course you did, Buddha Boy,” Tess said, kissing Kyle on the cheek and patting his shoulder. “You’re such a good friend.”
“Yeah, and I was just trying to keep Kyle company,” Michael added in his own defense.
“Yeah right,” Maria snorted as she handed the baby to Max.
Max gazed down into his son’s sleeping face, and felt his heart swell. He never imagined loving someone so instantly and completely at first sight except for Liz.
**Just one look is all it takes Max.**
He looked at his wife’s beautiful, glowing face. He leaned over and kissed her. **Thank you.**
Liz kissed him back and brushed a tear from his cheek. **Thank you. For loving me after just one look.**
**Always.** Max kissed the top of his son’s head.
“So what are you going to name him?” Kyle asked, peering down at the red little bundle in Max’s arms.
Liz looked at Max and smiled. “Well...”
“Alexander Parker Evans,” Max said proudly.
“You named him after Alex?” Michael asked incredulously.
“No,” Liz replied. “We named him Alexander because it means ‘helper of mankind.’ And since that is his destiny, we thought it was a perfect fit. No offense Alex.”
“None taken,” Alex replied happily, hugging Isabel closer to him.
“But, won’t it get a little confusing around here with two Alexes?” Maria asked.
“No,” Max said, “Because we’re going to call him Zan for short.”
“You realize his initials spell APE don’t you?” Michael pointed out, chuckling softly. “Could be big trouble when he goes to school, especially with those ears.”
Maria reached down and stroked the top of Zan’s head. “Don’t you listen to your demented Uncle Michael. You are not an ape. You’re perfect, little Zan, even if you do have your father’s ears. And, so is your name.”
Nicholas peered through the French doors at the disgustingly happy scene before him and sneered.
“So the One has been born,” he thought to himself. “Kivar will not be pleased. However, if the brat should die before Kivar finds out, no one will be the wiser and I’ll get to keep my skin intact.”
Ducking back around to the other side of the cabin, he sprinted into the woods to wait for nightfall. “They have to sleep sometime....”
“So what did you bring our son?” Liz asked Max after everyone had left the room to let Zan nurse in private.
Max tore his gaze from the site of his son sucking greedily from Liz’s breast and looked up into her smiling face. “Oh yeah, it’s out in the SUV. I’ll go get it.”
Liz stared down at her son and smiled. “It’s been an exciting day hasn’t it my little prince? I’m so glad you’re out here in my world where I can hold you and love you. Don’t grow up too fast, okay? I know you have a destiny to fulfill, but you’re still my baby. Let Mommy and Daddy protect you for as long as possible.”
She looked up and gasped as Max carried in a beautifully crafted, wooden cradle. “Where did you get this?”
“I made it,” Max said, setting the cradle down beside their bed. “I found this fallen tree out in the woods, and its shape reminded me of the wooden shoe in the poem Mom used to read to me at night before bed.”
“Wynken, Blynken and Nod,” she whispered.
“That’s the one. So, anyway, I used my powers to hollow it out and stain it. I had to take it into town today so I could find some bedding that would fit it.” He held up a soft blue blanket with white stars printed on it.
Liz smiled warmly. “It’s perfect Max. Thank you.”
“Now, if Mr. Greedy Guts is done, I’ll put him in it.”
She nodded and handed him their drowsy little boy.
Giving his son a gentle, little pat on the back, he smiled when Zan responded with a sleepy little burp. After laying him down, Max climbed into bed beside Liz and gazed down with her at their son.
**It’s hard to believe that we created someone so perfect.**
**With you as his mother? It doesn’t surprise me in the least.**
Resting his head on the pillow next to hers, they soon drifted off to sleep.
Liz jerked awake. Max was laying beside her, his rhythmic breathing tickling her ear. She was just about to make him scoot over, when she caught a movement out of the corner of her eye.
She froze and listened, trying to make out what she’d seen in the shadows. She heard Zan rustle around in his cradle and whimper. Liz sighed. **Must be feeding time.**
As Liz rolled over to get up, Nicholas stepped from the shadows, an evil smile on his face.
Liz tried to move, but found herself frozen in place. She tried to scream but couldn’t. “Revenge is a dish best served cold you humans say,” Nicholas hissed. “Now, watch in agony while I kill your son. Feel the same sense of helplessness that I did when I watched you slaughter my people!”
Nicholas walked up to Zan’s cradle and gazed down at the now wide-awake infant. “So, you’re the One? Who’s going to protect you now?”
Liz’s eyes widened in horror as she watched Nicholas’ glowing hand descend towards her defenseless baby.
Max jerked awake and bolted upright at the sound of Liz’s mental scream echoing through his mind. Glancing over in Liz’s direction, he spotted Nicholas standing next to Zan’s cradle. Acting on pure instinct, Max threw up a protection shield around his son.
Snarling, Nicholas changed the path of his glowing hand and raised it towards Max. “You think that’s going to stop me? You still have no idea of the power you’re dealing with here.”
Suddenly, Max felt his energy being rapidly drained. As he attempted to counter Nicholas’ attack, he knew that the shield wouldn’t hold much longer.
Freed from the hold that Nicholas had placed on her, Liz scrambled from the bed to save Zan.
“Liz, don’t!” Max yelled, but it was too late.
With a flick of his other hand, Nicholas sent Liz flying across the room and crashing through the glass of the French doors.
Max’s concentration wavered at the sound of Liz’s small body hitting the ground with a dull thud. **Liz?**
Seizing his chance, Nicholas punched through Max’s shield, shattering the energy and lunged for the baby.
Max roared in rage and launched himself from the bed, intercepting Nicholas’ attempt to grab Zan. Locked together, the two landed heavily on the floor on the far side of the room, by the closet door.
Suddenly, Michael blasted open the locked bedroom door and ran in, the others close behind. They quickly assessed the situation, as they observed Max wrestling with Nicholas, the shattered French doors and Zan screaming frantically in his cradle.
Driven by a force deep inside of them, Alex, Maria, Kyle and Tess formed a protective circle around the baby. Linking hands, they immediately formed a connection and a shimmering, iridescent, energy bubble appeared around them.
As he struggled with Nicholas, Max yelled over his shoulder at Isabel and Michael. “Help Liz!”
Isabel rushed to the shattered doors and gasped. Liz lay on the ground, surrounded by broken glass and wood, unconscious and bleeding. Stepping carefully through the doorway, Michael bent down and cradled Liz’s battered body. Joining him outside, Isabel laid her hands on top of Michael’s, and together, they tried to heal their friend.
Inside, Max was beginning to weaken. Nicholas was draining his power, and for having the body of a fifteen year-old, he was surprisingly strong. Focusing the last bit of his reserves, Max sent a blast of energy at Nicholas.
Nicholas laughed and easily deflected the blow.
Max slumped to the floor, too weak to stand.
“How the mighty have fallen,” Nicholas taunted, breathing hard and glancing to where the others were standing guard over Zan. “Haven’t you realized that you can’t win. Kivar will always defeat you, one way or another. This battle has gone on for millennia, and yet you never learn.”
Nicholas leaned in closer to enjoy Max’s reaction. “I killed them both the first time, you know,” he whispered loudly, chuckling at his confusion. “While she struggled to reach you and save your unborn son, who do you think shot her in the back?”
Max’s eyes lit up with recognition and understanding.
“Ah yes, once again, you’ve realized too late the power that is bent on destroying you. It’s as old as the Light and just as powerful. Our people refer to it as the Darkness, and Kivar is its ambassador.”
“You can’t kill Liz,” Max replied, stalling for time. Desperately, he tried to gather enough energy for one more attack. “She’s the Seer, and without her, the Granilith is useless. Kivar won’t be very pleased with you.”
“True. He wasn’t pleased the last time. But you see, I learn from my mistakes. I will kill your son, then you and then your pathetic followers, all while she watches--my revenge for her heartless slaughter. Then, I will take her, broken spirit and all, and turn her over to Kivar.”
“Kivar will never have what he seeks. He’s not the First.”
Nicholas laughed harshly. “Poor, clueless Max. Haven’t you realized yet? Kivar is also a First. There are always two sides to every prophecy. One for the Light and one for the Darkness. It’s just a matter of who gets theirs fulfilled first.”
“But, you’ve already lost. The One has been brought forth.”
“A helpless, mewling brat? Please. He won’t live to see tomorrow. And, with your death, the Second Age will begin, and Kivar will have another chance. Well, time to say good-bye...again. Can’t say I’ll miss you.” Nicholas stood and raised his hands.
“I don’t think so.”
Max glanced behind Nicholas to see Liz standing in the broken doorway. Michael and Isabel stood on either side of her.
Nicholas turned at the sound of Liz’s voice and backed away from Max to face this new threat.
“I’m through with your games, Nicholas. You murdered my parents, who had nothing to do with this war, and now, you want to kill my husband and my son. This ends tonight.”
Liz began to glow. Max felt what little energy he’d managed to regain being pulled from his body. The others, circled around the cradle, dropped the protective bubble as they re-focused their energies to combine and join with Liz.
Nicholas tried to flee, but found himself unable to move. Glancing at the baby in the cradle, he was shocked to see the infant glowing too. He looked back at Liz. There would be no escape this time.
“Good-bye Nicholas. Can’t say I’ll miss you,” Liz sneered, and released the energy from her body. A blinding white blast filled the room, shaking the cabin to its foundation. An agonized scream could be heard, then everything went dark again.
Max moaned softly as he came to. He could hear Zan crying. “Liz?”
“Thank God, he’s waking up,” Maria exclaimed with relief. “Come on Max. Liz needs you, now!”
He opened his eyes to see Maria bending over him and holding Zan. The rest were gathered around Liz, who lay unconscious on the floor in a pool of blood, her skin as pale as the moonlight. “Liz!”
He tried to stand up, but discovered he was too weak.
“Kyle, come help him,” Maria ordered.
With Kyle’s assistance, Max made his way to his beloved. **Liz?**
“Nicholas must have ripped something inside of her uterus when he threw her through the door. She’s hemorrhaging,” Tess said, fearfully. “We’re trying to stop it, but our powers aren’t strong enough. Only you can bring back the dying, Max. She needs you.”
His eyes filling with tears, he sat down beside Liz. He placed his hand over her lower abdomen. His hand glowed weakly, then stopped. “I can’t,” he whispered, choking on the words. “I don’t have enough energy. I can’t do it.”
“No,” Maria insisted. “She can’t die. She’s the Seer. She’s the mother of the One. She’s Liz. We need her.”
“What if we all work together, human and alien. Create the link. It might boost Max enough to stop the bleeding,” Michael suggested softly, looking into the anguished face of his best friend.
Tess nodded. “It’s worth a try. Everyone lay a hand on Max. Let your energy flow into him.”
They did as Tess commanded. Max felt himself getting stronger. Placing his hand on Liz again, he felt the familiar drain of healing power begin, then stall. He looked at Tess. “It’s not enough.”
She looked at Maria, who was cradling Zan against her chest with one arm. “Maria, place Zan on Liz’s chest. Everyone, keeping focusing your energy into Max.”
With tears streaming down her face, Maria noticed Liz’s golden aura fading rapidly, and did as she was told. Wiping the tears from her face, she looked at Zan, curled up on his mother’s chest, whimpering. She gasped loudly. “Look!” she said. “His aura!”
Max stared at his son in amazement. The baby was bathed in a white light that was beginning to shimmer. Suddenly, he felt the healing power begin again. “It’s working!” he shouted excitedly, seeing the color return to Liz’s face.
**Come on love. Come back. We need you. Zan needs you. I need you.**
/// She was in the void again, surrounded by the Light.
**You have done well, Young One. You have brought forth the One who shall lead my children back.**
**There is still much to be done. The fight is not over. The Darkness is coming. Have faith, and your love will be strong enough to overcome it. When this finally ends, you will be rewarded.**
**When this lifetime is finished, you and your bond mate will remain together. The First and the Seer’s essences will reside within the Light until time is no more.**
**Until then, protect the One my children. I will return when the time comes for his presence to be revealed.**
Liz turned around and saw Max holding Zan. She smiled and ran to them. As she reached them, she heard the chorus of voices.
“And so shall it be....” ///
Liz opened her eyes and smiled at Max hovering over her. Glancing down at her chest, she wrapped a protective arm around Zan, who lay there quietly staring back at her.
Tearing his gaze away from Liz’s beautiful face, Max looked at the others. “We’ve got a lot to discuss, and a big decision to make.”
Two weeks later, they arrived at the pod chamber under the cover of darkness. As they pulled up to the base of the cliff, the headlights of their vehicles illuminated the figures of Jim Valenti, Amy DeLuca, Philip Evans and Diane Evans.
Isabel jumped out of the Jeep and ran to her mother. Diane hugged her daughter fiercely.
Michael and Maria met Amy half way, as she looked them both over quickly, hands on her hips. Then she smiled and embraced them both, much to their surprise and relief.
Jim quickly hugged Kyle and Tess, then looked over at Alex, who stood off to the side searching for his parents. “I’m sorry son, but your parents left town. They refused to leave me a forwarding address.”
Alex sighed. “I guess I’m not too surprised. Ever since my sister, Maggie, ran away, they’ve distanced themselves from me. It was like they were preparing themselves for me to do the same thing.”
“Oh Alex,” Isabel said softly, hugging him.
“It’s okay, Alex,” Diane said softly, “Philip and I are happy to see you and to see what a great job you’ve done taking care of Isabel.”
Alex smiled as Diane gave him hug and Philip shook his hand.
They were all laughing and chatting excitedly when Max and Liz walked up to the group. Max held Zan cradled against his chest with one arm, while holding Liz close to his side with the other. “Mom? Dad?” he asked softly.
Everyone turned to look at them. Diane walked up to her son, studying his face with motherly concern. Then, she looked at Liz’s hopeful but determined expression. Finally she gazed at the small face staring back at her from the blue, blanketed bundle. Zan cooed, and Diane smiled.
“Let me see my grandson,” she said and held her arms out for the squirming bundle.
Liz smiled and felt Max’s mental sigh of relief as he handed Zan to his mother.
Philip came up behind his wife and peered down at the solemn little face. “Looks just like Max did when we found him. Wide-eyed and serious. You did good son.” Philip tearfully hugged Max, then Liz.
“Philip, look, I think he smiled at me!” Diane said excitedly.
“Well, what do expect? He has the prettiest grandmother in the whole universe holding him,” Philip replied, turning his attention back to his grandson.
Max and Liz watched as the others quickly gathered round Max’s parents to ooh and ah over the littlest Evans.
**See Max. You’re still their son. They’ll never stop loving you, no matter what.**
Max kissed Liz and hugged her close.
“What do you mean you’re leaving?” Amy asked, looking at the eight teens. “You just got back!”
Max sighed. They were all gathered back at the cars again after showing their parents the pod chamber and the Granilith. Even though Jim had explained to the other parents, most of what had really been happening for the last two years, before they’d returned, their parents still didn’t know all of it. Now, it was up to him to inform them of the decision they’d made the night Nicholas had tried to kill Zan.
“Believe me, Mrs. DeLuca, we don’t want to leave, but we have no choice,” Liz said quickly, trying to soothe Maria’s mom.
“We have to protect Zan. Kivar and others, like Nicholas, will try to kill him if they learn about his existence,” Max said, glancing over at Zan, who was sleeping in Diane’s arms. “If he dies before he reaches maturity, everyone on this planet will be in danger. The Darkness is coming. We have to be ready for it when it arrives.”
“How will you survive? Where will you go? You can’t go back to Jack’s cabin,” Philip asked, watching his son.
“I can’t tell you, for your own safety, but I know we can’t go back to Colorado. However, we did do okay for the last three months. We took on odd jobs here and there for cash when we needed it. And, our powers helped with the rest,” he replied.
“What about your schooling?” Diane asked.
“Mom,” Isabel said, gently, “We’re fighting a war. School isn’t in our immediate future. We have to concentrate on surviving. Our lives are never going to be like the storybooks, at least not in this lifetime.”
“But, do you all have to go?” Amy asked wistfully, stroking her daughter’s long, blonde hair.
“Yes, Mom,” Maria replied. “Together, we’re a complete unit. There’s nothing you or I could’ve done to stop this from happening. It’s destiny.”
“Then let us come with you,” Diane begged.
“Mom, it’s too dangerous,” Max said, trying not to be affected by her tear-filled eyes. “We may be on the move constantly. It’s not fair to you and Dad--”
“We’re your parents. It’s our job to protect you. Just as you want to do for Zan. We can help take care of the baby and with money. Please, let us help?” Philip asked.
Max looked at Liz, then back at his parents. “All four of you can’t just suddenly disappear. There’s no time. No, it’s best if we just help you to forget anything you know of importance about us, like Zan and the Granilith. That way, we’ll all be safe.”
“I’ll stay. I can be your eyes and ears around here,” Jim Valenti said. “Just be sure you let me remember to check up on this area once in a while to note any suspicious activity, but not what’s inside.”
“I can keep an eye on the Evans’ house. Rent it out for them, so it won’t look so suspicious,” Amy offered tearfully. Gazing at Maria, she sighed. “I always knew you’d grow up and go off on your own some day. I just didn’t think it would be so fast.”
Maria sniffled and hugged her. “I know Mom. Me too.”
“You promise to marry her legally, right?” Amy asked, looking directly at Michael. “You’ll never abandon her, understood?”
Michael nodded. “I’ll protect her with my life. She’s my other half, and I love her.”
Maria squeaked in surprise at Michael’s public admission, and threw herself into his embrace. “I love you too, Space Boy.”
“So does this mean we can come with you?” Diane asked, hopefully.
Max smiled and nodded.
“I guess this means, we’re going to have to get married Bella,” Alex said, bending down on one knee. “After all, I can’t have your father thinking that I’m not a gentleman who’s completely in love with you.”
“Alex!” Isabel laughed, blushing.
“Say yes Bella. Say you’ll marry me, legally, and make an honest man out of me,” he begged dramatically.
“Yes, I’ll marry you, you crazy, computer geek, but only if you promise to treat me like a princess.”
Alex stood up and kissed her soundly. “Always, for that is what you are, no matter what planet you live on.”
“Well, I guess that’s settled,” Tess whispered to Kyle as everyone congratulated Alex and Isabel on their engagement.
Kyle looked down at Tess, smiled and wiggled his eyebrows.
Tess chuckled and shook her head. “Oh no, you don’t Buddha Boy. I am perfectly happy with the way things are right now between us.”
“Come on Tess, everyone else is going to do it,” Kyle cajoled softly. “Don’t you love me?”
“Of course I love you! What a thing to ask. It’s just that, well...I don’t want you to feel trapped into it.”
“Babe, if this is a trap, don’t ever let me out. ‘Cause I love being caught,” Kyle growled low in her ear, hugging her close and kissing her breathless.
“Okay, okay fine. I give,” she giggled, coming up for air. “Just let me breathe once in a while. Deal?”
Kyle grinned boyishly. “Deal.”
Sometime after two in the morning, while the population of Roswell slept peacefully in their beds, the survivors of their town’s infamous UFO crash over fifty years ago, made their final escape. With them were six humans and a half-alien baby. There were no witnesses or media frenzy to watch as their vehicles’ taillights faded into the distance down Highway 285 South.
**FADE TO BLACK & ROLL CREDITS**