posted on 23-Mar-2002 1:34:55 AM
Title: Celestial Suzerain
Author: Christina/Fehrbaby
E-mail: fehrbaby⊕hotmail.com
Disclaimer: Let's see...nope, still don't own the characters.
Distribution: Take it if you want it, just let me know.
Category: AU CC Zan/Liz (only because Max and Zan are one in the same)
Rating: R, I guess. I haven't decided how graphic this story will get.
Dedication: To Maxluver02 for giving me the challenge, although I've taken some author's license with it.

Challenge: viewthread?forum=AMB_AP641015105&id=14830

Author's note: I know I have 4 unfinished fics I should be working on, but this one has just been calling to me for a long time, so I decided to get it going. The next part should be out tomorrow. Part 1 is three-quarters finsihed.

Prologue

"No! Stars, no!" Zanyrth V'da vaulted from the cockpit of his starfighter and bluntly hit the dry desert flooring of the canyon on the soles of his feet. A dull fire snaked its way up both shins, but he hardly noticed. All his attention was focused on the wreckage that had once been his second in command's starfighter.

Propelled by panic and an overwhelming sense of dread, he ran with a speed he thought himself incapable of. The extent of the damage became more apparent, and more dismal, with each stride. It was leaking fuel - Zan would guess at the rate of five gallons per minute - and vapors hissed from massive vents ripped into the hull.

"Alex!" The pilot had managed to open the cockpit of his fighter, but was making no move to climb out. Zan scrambled up the handrails and deftly tore at the safety harnesses that held the young human in place. "You must evacuate, now!"

Alex pushed away the helping hand he offered. "You're gonna have to finish this one without me," he said hoarsely, pushing back the visor on his gold helmet. The weak smile he wore told Zan that he was merely too exhausted to go on, but Zan's more advanced senses told another story.

"You are injured?"

Alex's thin smile broke, replaced by a slight grimace of pain. "It-it's my legs," he confessed. "I can't feel 'em."

Zan's eyes darted downward to see that what had once been the digital navigation panel was now nothing more than glistening shards of metal that tore into Alex's fleshy thighs like teeth. Blood - Stars, so much blood - stood out in sharp contrast to his tan flight suit, saturating the coarse material from knee to groin.

Tides of sudden weariness threatened to overtake the adrenaline coursing through his body. Healing Alex's wounds would be easy. Evolution of his species, the Antarians, had brought with it special abilities that the people of earth had yet to develop. Not unlike human DNA, every Antarian's ability varied from that of another. The ability to heal was just one of Zan's many gifts. Unfortunately, freeing Alex's legs from the deadly grip of the panel would not be so menial. Such a task would require the one luxury he could ill afford - time.

If he rushed, he risked causing further pain to his friend, and possibly further injury. The converse was just as dismal. Should he take the time the procedure of removing the panel would require, Alex could bleed to death. At the rate his life's blood was flowing from his wounds, death would claim him in an hour's time, maybe two.

Not to mention that the longer he stayed with Alex, the more of an opportunity Khivar and his defensive troops had to detect his presence.

His turmoil showed in his expression, he realized, when Alex placed a hand on his arm. "Go," he instructed with uncharacteristic seriousness. "And make sure to get a piece of that bastard for me, while you're at it."

Though they were of different genetic makeup, Alex was the closest thing to a brother Zan had ever had. He trusted Alex with his life, not to mention with his deepest secret. Sickness and desolation swept over him. How could he possibly in good conscience leave Alex behind?

In a rare display of anger, Alex caught Zan's collar in his fist. "You're wasting precious time. Too many lives have been lost already to risk failing today. Go without me!"

Zan clenched his jaw. He wanted to argue, but Alex was right; too many lost lives weighed on his conscience already. If he failed today, their deaths would have been in vain. "I will come back for you."

Alex nodded, although they both knew that if and when Zan returned, it would be only to retrieve his body.

"Fuel's leaking," Zan continued, his voice flat. "Keep the power off, and be cautious of sparks. Where are your weapons?" Alex pulled out a laser pistol and a sheathed dagger for inspection. "Good. At least I know you can protect yourself. What about water?" He was stalling for time and they both knew it. But Zan couldn't help holding onto the hope that maybe if he waited just a little longer, a solution would present itself.

"You're losing time."

He acknowledged his words with a nod, but still his legs refused to move. A sudden stinging sensation worked its way up through his nose and clogged his throat. It required several seconds before he realized he was close to tears. Embarrassed, and somewhat astonished, for tears were not an Antarian trait, he looked away. Several seconds passed before he got the foreign emotion under control.

Alex's gloved hand came over his. "Don't forget your promise."

Zan nodded in understanding, the finality of his friend's words threatening to undo him.

"May God be with you."

Zan didn't know this God Alex spoke of, but he returned the sentiment anyway. "And with you. Until we meet again, dear friend."

Knowing he'd run out of excuses, Zan jumped to the hard ground below and sped towards his target; a throng of grottos that housed limitless underground tunnels and passages, one from which he would invade Khivar's encampment.

"For the good of the people!"

Galvanized by his friend's battle cry, his pace quickened. Straight ahead, he caught sight of several arrowhead-shaped rocks; the first of three landmarks his spies had relayed to him. He raced towards them, but he was losing momentum by the second. His anxiousness had kept him up the entire night, depleting much of his energy. And now, after Alex, he was feeling emotionally drained as well. Determination alone kept him moving.

It was as he was reaching the second landmark on his path, a cluster of mournful looking lightening-zapped saguaro cacti, that the white noise of static erupted in his helmet. He paused to listen closer, but the sound had faded as abruptly as it had come. Had Rath and the ground squadron arrived early? No, he would have sensed Rath's approach. And then he felt it: a sudden itch between his shoulder blades, a tightening of his scalp. Alex.

Turning showed his worst fears becoming a reality; his friend's ship had caught fire. "Alex!" He sprinted forward as the flames spread gracefully and efficiently over the nose. Before he could take even a third step, a fuel tank ignited, and Alex's starfigher burst violently into a sphere of orange-yellow light. "No!"

Even at his considerable distance, the blast propelled Zan through the air. He hit the ground with a resounding thud that knocked the wind from his lungs. He whooped in several breaths, attempting to fill his lungs with the oxygen they so desperately needed, then rolled to the side as a wayward sheet of metal made a target of his skull. The shrapnel missed him by only a few inches, imbedding itself in the ground; the exact spot his head had been one second before.

His stared at the ultra-thin scrap of metal that stood still quivering in the ground. For a second he almost wished it had hit him, if only to put an end to the immeasurable grief he felt, but he angrily tossed that thought aside. No matter how great his loss, Zanyrth V'da was not a quitter! And he didn't shy away from his responsibilities. He would mourn Alex's death later. Now he had a mission to complete.

It would seem that fate, however, was not without her own sense of irony. It was just as he'd been preparing to sit up that a pain as fierce as molten lava sliced diagonally through his chest: from the lean curve of his left hip, to the muscular flesh of his right shoulder. More shrapnel!

A howl of agony that surpassed the bounds of physical pain erupted from his lips. Even when his vocal chords had given out, the desolated cry continued to live on in echoes provided by the canyon walls.

The sun dipped down towards the horizon, bathing the shadow-bathed gorge in hues of russet and gold. He lay there in the empty silence, floundering between immense pain and empty numbness, absently associating the colors above with that of Antar. Would he ever see his home planet again? Seven long space-years had past since he'd looked upon Antar's amber sky with his own eyes. Seven long years since the massacre that had altered his life forever...

Eyes clenched, he fought to deny the painful memories entry to his mind, but the seed had been planted, and it spread as quickly as cancer. A montage of his final days on Antar flashed before him; the blood-soaked battle field surrounding the kingdom; the brutal public execution of nearly everyone he had ever loved, while he watched; the desperate attempt made by him and the few remaining of his clan to escape similar fates.

More unbidden images threatened to come, but the sound of booted footsteps growing near kept them at bay. Alarmed, Zan tried to sit up, but not even the fresh adrenaline stirring in his blood could convince his limbs to obey. There were at least two people coming, maybe more. Were they friend? Foe? Coming to finish the job fate had begun?

There was no one in his line of sight when he raised his head, but that hardly surprised him. A swirling gray cloud had dimmed the peripherals of his vision, and was threatening to overtake his sight entirely. Heat, feverish in its intensity, swept over him from head to toe, making him feel woozy and lethargic all at once.

With a moan, he laid his head back, intent on resting only until the nausea passed. But the minute his head hit the sun-cracked ground, the gray spots swelled, swiftly seducing him into darkness...

*****

Zan shifted as horrifying images rose up to torment him. Brief flashes of memory surfaced, only to dissolve again into uncertainty. Trapped in a deep void of darkness, he was restrained by unseen bonds, poised on the edge of reality while abhorrent demons tore at his flesh, clawing and scratching. The pain...he bit back a cry of agony as another intense thrust of it shot through him. His thoughts blurred and he felt himself drifting, deeper and deeper into a beckoning black hell. He felt intense heat, could hear it crackling and smell the stench of burning flesh. Stars, death would be a welcomed mercy.

Suddenly there was a presence at his side, and he felt a cool caress on his face, a soft voice.

Though momentarily driven away by this unseen ally, the demons weren't about to give up on him without a struggle, and he cried out again in torment before they were forced back, their fiery eyes glittering in the dimness.

There it was again, that soft sound. He strained, riveting his attention on the gentle voice that offered refuge and hope. Feeling a cool touch on his hand and gasping in relief, he hung on, desperately forbidding this angel of mercy to abandon him.

"Open your eyes," the gentle voice urged. But they were open, weren't they? How else could he explain the demons? There were still there; like hot coals, their eyes glimmered with hunger and anticipation, and with the promise of an even fiercer torment for this unexpected delay.

His chest flared with pain at the thought. Fortunately it was short-lived, for the coolness enveloped him entirely then. "Please..." The serene whisper was in his ear now. The sweet scent of strawberries replaced the smell of charred flesh and he drank it in greedily.

Sensation came to him quickly then; soft, womanly curves fitting molding against his hard body, silky hair gliding across his chest.

Stars, if only his eyes would open so that he may look upon her. And they were closed, he realized. After several failed attempts, his lids finally gave way, grating open over eyes as gritty as sand.

Zan stared in amazement at the face hovering mere inches away from his own. Surely she was a celestial being, for he'd never seen anything like her, or anything so beautiful. Her skin was the color of peach-tinted cream, framed by silken strands of mahogany hair. Jade-spoked eyes, the shade of Brandy and fringed by heavy lashes, widened, then fluttered in relief.

She sagged against his chest, her firm breasts pressing into him, making his skin prickle pleasurably. "Thank you," she whispered, but the words were not directed at him. She was talking with her higher power, he suspected, paying homage to an invisible source she believed had a hand in his survival.

He tried to speak, but his throat was dry and felt constricted. Swallowing several times, he was able to open a passage for one word to escape. "Angel?"

He'd heard of angels only through Alex. They, his friend had once told him, were the most beautiful of creatures, dispatched when one was hovering between life and death to deliver them to heaven. Surely, he would have thought, Earth's heaven was not a destination he'd been intended for, but how else could he explain her being here? Hadn't she driven the demons away?

Soft, surprised laughter filled his ears. "You think I'm an angel?"

He nodded eagerly.

Her laughter persisted, and he'd never heard a more enchanting sound. "Sorry, but no."

He coughed and spoke hoarsely. "Who are you?"

As if she were the very sun above their heads, she gave him a smile that sent a warm tingle through his entire body. "Don't you remember?"

Remember? She was suggesting that they'd met before, but he was sure he'd never crossed paths with her. He wouldn't have forgotten such a beauty. Baffled, he shook his head.

Silky hair tickled his cheek as she lean in to speak in an intimate whisper. "I am part of you, just as you are part of me."

Not an answer he expected, or understood, but, in the way of dreams, he accepted it. "I felt myself dying," he confessed, "But you saved me. You brought me back."

She laughed again, the sweetest of notes. "Couldn't let you go before we had a chance to meet," she told him. Her hand dropped to the bloodstained tear in his uniform. She captured her thin lip between her teeth in concern. "Are you in pain?"

He paused, for the first time realizing that his chest was no longer on fire. In fact, it no longer hurt at all. "No, you took it away."

A frown darkened her features. She looked like she wanted to speak, but was hesitant.

"What is it?" he urged.

"You are grieving inside," she said solemnly, "I can feel it."

Grieving? What was she-?

He jolted mid-thought. Alex! Oh, how could he have forgotten? His eyes clenched shut as grief, raw and primitive, overwhelmed him. Alex, his dearest friend, his brother by bond, now gone forever. "My best friend is dead."

She nodded sadly. "And you fear it is your fault?"

"It is my fault!" he cried passionately. "I should have saved him! I should have freed him while I had the chance! I-" He broke off, choking on a sob.

She wrapped her arms around him, comforting him. "No. You did what needed to be done. You were being the leader you were meant to be. For the good of the people."

Zan's eyes drifted open in surprise. She raised her head from his neck, and their eyes locked. The reason for her being there became apparent then. She wasn't there to take him to heaven, but to send him back; to give him the strength to go on.

But was he ready?

Her palm cupped his cheek and he leaned into it. "It is time for you to go, now."

Panicked, Zan tensed. "No, don't leave me," he begged, already feeling the darkness' attempt at claiming him.

She shook her head. "It is you who must leave. But do not fear, I will follow."

Red eyes appeared at the peripherals of his vision. "No!" he gasped, realizing his tormenters were returning. He clutched his angel's hand in desperation. "Please! Don't let me go."

"I will follow," she said again, but her voice was fading, as was she. "I will follow..."

And then she was gone, taking with her the sun and his safety. He cried out in the darkness, his voice echoing back hollow.

The demons had returned, and they were furious. They inched their way back cautiously, assuring the angel was gone for good. "No!" Zan's throat worked convulsively, giving way for a scream of pure terror as they collectively broke into a run.

"Nooooooo!"

TBC***

[ edited 15time(s), last at 1-Jan-2003 12:24:00 PM ]
posted on 24-Mar-2002 12:33:02 AM
Part 1

Liz Parker's fighter jet trailed the enemy aircraft with relentless accuracy. The Bandit broke a hard right, attempting to throw her off course, but Liz refused to be deterred by the evasive maneuver. She gripped the control stick in her sweaty hand and pulled. She had to give the pilot credit; he was good. Too bad for him she was better.

The enemy craft climbed and she climbed with it, maneuvering herself into locking position. She spared a brief glance at the navigation panel. At that exact instant, the digitalized target turned from red to green in color. She had her lock; she was going for the jump.

Her Sidekick's voice doused her like a bucket of cold water before she could deploy her missile. "Windspeed Crusier, bandit seven o'clock. Break right!"

She swore, gritting her teeth. Protocol demanded that she follow her Wingman's instructions, but she refused to lose this target. She'd go for the jump first. She deployed the missile, and then made her break.

She saw the sky-bleaching explosion in her peripheral vision, but had no time to rejoice in her victory. The advancing Bandit had taken advantage of her positioning and was now in her six and he had his lock. Time to employ the calm focus she was known for.

"Windspeed Crusier, bandit closing. Reverse left!"

"No shit," she muttered sarcastically, irritated by the late warning. Liz jerked her control stick in the opposite direction, then thrust forward. But the enemy pilot had already taken his shot, and now there was a missile hot on her tail. In a desperate attempt to break the lock she pulled her control stick. The jet climbed altitude. Her breath stuck in her throat as she waited for the moment of truth. Would she make it?

Several breathless moments passed where nothing happened. It occurred to her that she may actually survive. And then it happened. Her left wing exploded, sending her into a swift downward barrel…


*****

"Damn it!" Liz threw her wireless controller angrily to the ground and crossed her arms over her chest. "I hate this stupid game."

Behind her, Maria DeLuca laughed and snorted simultaneously. "Bullshit! You love this stupid game. It's losing that you hate."

Liz leveled a hard look at her life-long best friend. "And what's wrong with that?"

Maria shrugged and popped a hand-full of popcorn into her mouth.

"Hey, there's nothing wrong with aiming to win all the time," Liz's boyfriend Kyle said supportively as he wrapped a well-muscled arm around her shoulder. "It's good for your character."

"So says the jock," Maria teased. "Remind me again how many football games you guys won last year?"

During his first and last year as captain, the West Roswell High Comets had won only two games, securing a last place position in the division. "Hey, I said there was nothing wrong with aiming," he replied, laughing in spite of himself.

Maria and Liz joined in his laughter, relieved that he could at least laugh about it now. It had been a different story at the end of the season.

"Now," Kyle continued, "the basketball team would have been unstoppable, but unfortunately, we never got to show anyone just how good we were."

Conversation came to a grinding halt at that reminder. The thing was, not only had basketball season been cancelled, but the school itself has ceased operation entirely. All because of the invasion...

"Well, look on the bright side," Maria said, steering conversation away from the one topic they didn't want to talk about, even if they were all thinking about it, "even though your team sucked, you still got that football scholarship to state."

"Thank god for that," Kyle said, taking a handful of popcorn from Maria's bowl. "Lord knows my grades weren't going to get me into college."

"And they're not going to keep you in college if you don't keep them up, either," Liz said sternly.

Kyle sighed. "I know, I know. Jeez, you sound just like my father."

"Considering I like your father, I'll take that as a compliment."

"Yeah, give the old guy a break," Maria added. "He just wants what is best for you. We should all be so lucky."

Liz and Kyle shared a look, knowing she was referring to her own home life. Maria's father had split when she was six years old. And her mother was a flaky hippy-type who was around almost as much as Maria's father. But Maria did all right on her own, and they all knew it. She'd practically raised herself, and she'd done a damn good job of it. After all, her determination and perseverance had been rewarded with a full ride scholarship to USC, where she would be rooming with Liz.

"Believe me, Maria, it's not all it's cracked up to be," Liz said. "My parents put so much pressure on me about my grades that I'm surprised I haven't ended up in a rubber room."

"Oh, you poor baby. It must be tough to be a victim of a two parent household," Maria joked, but Liz could hear the stab of envy in her tone.

"Seriously, though," Liz said. "And it's only gotten worse since Alex left."

"Jesus!" Maria cried angrily, placing her large popcorn bowl on the table and dusting crumbs off her shirt with jerky movements. "Is too much to ask for us to hang out for more than ten minutes without the damn war being mentioned?"

"I didn't mention the war," Liz pointed out meekly, but she might as well have. It was the reason for her brother Alex's absence, and hearing his name automatically stirred up thoughts of the war. In truth, conversation always came to the war, mainly because it directly affected their lives in ways no other war had ever done. It wasn't just country against country anymore. This time it was planet against planet, and it seemed there was no hiding from this one, no denying what was going on because they were faced with it directly.

Even when they weren't talking about it, they were. Though they joked about college casually, the truth was that they were all amazed that college was still a possibility.

Seven months ago, when the alien raiders had attacked, they'd all been convinced they would never make it to graduation day. After the first attacks, school had been closed, the streets had been deserted, and everyone had gone into hiding. It had been the scariest time of their lives.

But then things took an astounding turn when the Antarians, alien life forms from the planet of Antar, had made their presence known on Earth. Certainly, it had come as a shock when humans learned that the Antarians had been living on earth for nearly a hundred years, and they'd been met with fear and prejudice by the masses; however, the offer they'd made to join with the humans to protect their planet had given the people of earth the hope they desperately needed.

A militia, dubbed the Rebel Union, had been formed shortly thereafter, and they quickly became a force to reckon with. The Syrian raiders found that out almost immediately, and instead of attacking civilian areas, had to focus their entire defenses on the union created to destroy them. Life slowly began to return to a slightly pale semblance of normal. People began feeling more comfortable walking on the streets again. Shops opened back up for business. West Roswell high had opened their doors, and the senior class of 2014 had graduated on schedule.

There were still people in hiding, and the mass hysteria that had swept over the planet like a plague still reared its ugly head on occasion - but overall, people were going on about their normal business.

"I still don't understand why he did it," Kyle said softly, and Maria threw her hands up in helpless frustration.

"Let's not talk about him," Liz muttered, elbowing Kyle in the ribs.

Maria sighed, but her voice, when she spoke, was full of apologetic sympathy. "No, we can talk about him. We should talk about him, considering you have no one else to talk to."

Maria was dead on target with that one; the topic of Alex had become an unspoken taboo at home. One week after its formation, and against their parent's express wishes, Alex had left Roswell to join the Rebel Union.

"There's not really much to talk about," she muttered uncomfortably. "He's out there risking his life, and my parents pretend not to care."

"If you leave now, you don't come back! Ever!" She winced at the memory of Jeff Parker's harsh tone as he stormed towards his only son.

It came as no surprise to her that the warning had produced the adverse effect than had been intended. "I'm very sorry you feel that way," Alex had said the words so calmly, "but I understand. Innocent people are dying, and I know you're scared for my life, which in all likelihood will end sooner by going there."

"Then why do it?" her mother Nancy had shrieked.

"Because that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. If my being there can save a handful of lives, my family's perhaps, then it's worth it."

Liz had never been prouder of her brother than she had in that moment. She'd always known he had a noble heart, but she'd never realized just how noble until he'd spoken those words. Sadly, her parents hadn't felt the same way. After he'd left, Jeff and Nancy Parker stopped speaking of him entirely. They never read the letters he sent home, and if someone mentioned him, such as a neighbor inquiring after his well being, her parents would mutter an elusive answer, avoiding the topic like he was the family disgrace, rather than a brave hero fighting to save their planet.

They'd almost had Liz convinced that they had blocked out his existence entirely, but the little things they unconsciously did told her another story. Like her mother setting four plates out on the table for dinner occasionally, or making sweet-potato pie with marshmallows and chocolate sauce for dessert. It was Alex's favorite dish, whereas none of them could stand it. And her father, suddenly working on the tree house he'd started for Alex when he was five. It had sat rotting and half-completed in the backyard for fifteen years, but the darn thing was beginning to look like a small house after all the work he'd recently put into it. All it lacked now was indoor plumbing.

Maria's voice broke into her thoughts. "Have you heard from him lately?"

"No," she answered quietly. "The last letter I got from him came over a month ago."

"Well, I'm sure everything is fine," Kyle said optimistically after a brief pause. "Besides, a month is nothing."

Maria readily agreed. "Absolutely. I'm sure they're just keeping him super busy."

"Yeah," Liz whispered, wishing she could be as optimistic as they were. She couldn't, though. A nagging doubt had been pulling at her insides for the last few days, telling her that something was wrong. Not that she could explain it to either of them. They would tell her she was being silly, or paranoid, and it would be end of discussion.

Kyle rose to his feet. "I'm going to get something to drink. You need anything?"

She shook her head and Kyle left. Maria slid down next to her and smiled. "I truly do believe everything is fine,” she told Liz. Then, “Have you checked the mail today?”

Liz glanced at the clock on the wall. "No, I didn't realize how late it was."

Maria's expression brightened. "Let's go check. There could be a letter waiting for you now. No, you wait here. I'll be back."

Before Liz could protest staying behind, Maria was on her feet and dashing outside. She returned shortly thereafter with a stack of envelopes in her hand. Liz held her hand out expectantly and was completely ignored. One by one, Maria began discarding the envelopes on the table. "Bill...bill...junk...bill...Oh, God." Maria's skin took on a gray pallor.

Liz recognized that breathless whisper; that blank look. “What is it?” she demanded, jumping to her feet.

Maria, apparently unable to speak, held out the cream-colored envelope so that Liz could see the front. Emblazoned on its surface was the sign of the Rebel Union; two flags crossed together at the poles. One flag had a six-spoked star with the image of a white dove inside - for peace. The other held the national symbol of the Antarians; a triangle with two curved lines diverging into opposite directions.

Her heart jumped into her throat. With surprisingly steady fingers, she obtained the envelope and broke the seal. She knew what it would say - only one kind of letter came with that of seal - but she couldn't stop herself.

And there it was, in big, bold letters, addressed to the parents of Alexander Parker. Her eyes closed but she couldn't block out the first line she'd seen.

We regret to inform you that your son, Alexander C. Parker, has perished in battle…

The paper slipped from her fingers as she reached out for the wall. Numb, she looked at Maria. Tears were streaming down her friends beautiful cheeks, but none fell down her own. "No," she whispered, her legs buckling. "No!" she cried louder, falling to a heap on the ground.

Maria was instantly at her side, trying to comfort her, but there was no comfort to be had in this situation. Her brother was dead. Her life would never be the same again.


TBC***

Side Note: Since my knowledge of military combat is nil, I'm using only information I found from the USAAF Resource Glossary. I don't know if I'm using the terms correctly, but I'm doing my best, so if you are familiar with combat slang, forgive my discrepancies.

[ edited 3 time(s), last at 27-Mar-2002 7:48:12 PM ]
posted on 24-Mar-2002 4:55:50 PM
Title: Celestial Suzerain
Author: Christina/Fehrbaby
E-mail: fehrbaby⊕hotmail.com
Disclaimer: Let's see...nope, still don't own the characters.
Distribution: Take it if you want it, just let me know.
Category: AU CC Zan/Liz (only because Max and Zan are one in the same)
Rating: R, I guess. I haven't decided how graphic this story will get.
Dedication: To Maxluver02 for giving me the challenge, although I've taken some author's license with it.

Part 2

Liz's insides shut off completely, a chill black silence surrounded her from all sides. Her awareness was fragmented and comprehension came to her in scraps because the entire situation was too dreadful to interpret all at once.

A voice was in her ear. It sounded dense and garbled, as if coming from underwater. She looked to the owner, taking her in slowly. A girl, with golden hair that fell down her back in heavy waves. Blue eyes, the clear color of water in a swimming pool, spilling moisture down soft cheeks. A wide mouth with full lips that moved swiftly without stopping for breath.

And then there was someone else on her other side. Bulky arms like tree branches slipped around her, though she hardly felt them. She was pulled forward, into the person's throat, affording her only a view of a scratchy-looking jacket with yellow patches. He pulled back to place his lips on her forehead, and for the briefest moment she saw a flash of green eyes and felt soft hair tickling her brow.

Tickling...

As if a lens had clicked over her eyes, everything came to her in shocking clarity. Maria and Kyle surrounded her on both sides, and they were holding her. And my brother is dead. Set on loop, the phrase replayed in her head, and wave after wave of astonishment slapped her in the face.

Liz leaned into the supportive arms of Kyle, staring straight ahead with glassy eyes and feeling exhausted. She was sure she should be doing something, like struggling or crying, but couldn't find the purchase required to expend so much energy.

My brother is dead...

Maria's blubbering was the only sound in the room. Reaching out, Liz took Maria’s cold hand into her own. “It’s going to be okay, Maria,” she said softly, irrationally.

Stunned by disbelief, Maria stopped crying. She shook her head in confusion. "How can you…Liz?"

"She must be in shock," Kyle said in an undertone. Liz heard him, and knew he was wrong, but she didn't bother correcting him. Maybe she was in shock. It would certainly explain the cold emptiness inside, or why she felt like she was floating, suspended above the entire scene and observing it with a detached eye.

Her eyes drifted to the floor beside Maria where several scattered envelopes lay. "What's that?" she asked, her eyes stopping on a powdery blue envelop peeking out from under Maria's foot. Liz reached for it and simply stared for several long moments.

How was it possible? Her brother was dead - how could he be sending her a letter?

Glancing between Maria and Kyle, who both looked as surprised as she felt, she slowly opened it and began to read. She read it once, twice, and only on the third time did it make any sort of sense.

Dear Lizzie,

Sorry to skip the formalities, but I don't have much time. We discovered the location of the main Syrian camp yesterday and are in the midst of planning an invasion. If all goes well, it will take place in a few days.

I'm not going to lie to you. It's going to be dangerous. Khivar has far more manpower then we do. He's a crafty bastard, and most likely is anticipating our attack. But we do what we have to do. Too many innocent lives are at peril for me to give up. The expected fatalities of this mission are high, and I don't expect to survive this one, kid. I know this upsets you, but I beg you not to grieve for me. I knew the risk I was taking from the beginning. I've never regretted my decision.

This is important. If I don't make it, I ask you to continue the fight for me. Khivar can't win. His victory would result in a planetary genocide. Everything you know and everything you love will die. I know it's unfair of me to ask you this, but the union needs someone with your strength and intelligence and courage. I know this may scare you, and I understand, (I was scared, too) but think of how much you'd be fighting to save. Earth isn't anywhere near perfect, but it will never get the chance to improve if it simply ceases to exist.

My best friend Zan has been told of your possible appearance and has sworn to protect you should anything happen to me. I trust him with my life, Liz, as should you.

I've included a map with directions to our camp. Remember it, then destroy it. Our only advantage right now is that the Syrians do not know our location. Go straight there instead of registering officially. I was stationed at the camp by pure luck, but they might try sending you elsewhere and I want you and Zan to be together.

It's time for me to go, kid. I leave the decision in your hands. I know you'll do what is right.

I love you very much and I'll always be with you,

Alex

P.S. Please tell Mom and Dad how much I love them, and that I'm sorry for any pain I've caused them.


"What does it say?"

Dazed, Liz climbed to her feet and sat on the couch. After a long pause, she answered. “He wanted me to know he loved me. He-he had the feeling he was gong to die.” It was only half the truth, but she couldn’t possibly share the rest of it with them. This was something she had to figure out for herself.

*****

THREE WEEKS LATER...

"You're doing what?" Shock siphoned the blood from Maria's face.

Liz's eyes rolled with impatience as she flung her blue sports-bag into the back of her Jeep. The day was cold and cloudy; unusual weather for Roswell, especially in the middle of summer. She shivered as an icy gust of wind whipped her long, dark hair over her face. An omen of the dismal times ahead, perhaps? "I told you," she repeated, trying to disguise the irritation in her tone, "I'm joining the Rebel Union."

"Excuse me, but how many bowls of stupidity did you eat this morning?"

Liz's lips puckered with annoyance. "Maria..."

"Don't ‘Maria’ me! What about college?" she demanded, crossing her arms over her chest and tapping her toe on the ground, much in the same way Liz's mother was apt to do. "What about California?"

Liz pushed a stray strand of hair from her mouth. "I'm sorry," she said with little compassion.

"And what is this? You were just going to take off without telling me?"

The mere fact that telling Maria was more difficult than telling her parents, baffled her. Jeff and Nancy Parker's reaction had been worse than when Alex had made the announcement - ten-fold. Jeff had resorted to physical restraint to keep her there, had even locked her in her room. Not that it had stopped her. Without so much as leaving a note, she'd climbed out her window, and said goodbye to that life forever. She hadn't anticipated Maria catching her in the act. It had nothing to do with cowardice, but she hadn't planned on telling either Maria or Kyle about her decision. A letter once she had settled had seemed the best way to go, considering she could easily gage what their reactions would be if she told them face to face. Maria’s present irate behavior only confirmed her suspicions. "I'm sorry," she repeated.

"You're sorry? You're leaving me and saying screw it to all the plans we've made, and that's all you have to say? That you're sorry?"

Liz swallowed hard, jutted out her chin, and boldly met Maria's gaze straight on. "What do you want me to say? I have to do this, for Alex." She climbed into the Jeep and tried to start the engine. This one little task should have been easy but it felt like she was fumbling with fingers as clumsy as sausages.

What was she doing? Was it the right thing? She’d agonized over the decision for nearly the past three weeks, and in the end, she always came to the same conclusion.

"It won't bring him back."

Liz's body swiveled at Maria's comment. "Don't you think I realize that?"

"I don't think you do. You're making the biggest mistake of your life! Alex fought for what he thought was right; your motivation is revenge. Even if you get what you want, nothing will change! When all is said and done, your brother will still be dead!" She finished on a shriek, punctuated with several even gasps.

Turning away, Liz looked down the street she and Alex had spent countless hours playing on as children. He'd taught her to ride her first bike, and how to roller blade so she could join in on his favorite street-hockey games. He’d always made sure she wasn't left out when they played and was quick to defend her when the others kids complained she was too slow, or too small, or simply not good enough to play. And he did it because he loved her, because he didn’t want her missing out on any of the fun, not because anyone ever forced him to.

Looking back at Maria, her eyes narrowed to tight slits. "You're right," she said, her voice deathly calm. "I do want revenge. So I'm not a saint like Alex. Big deal! I never have been and accepted that along time ago." After a long pause, during which she fought to soften her tone, she said, "I'm not trying to change anything, Maria. Alex always did so much for me when he was alive, and this is the only thing he ever asked in return. Don’t you see? I have to do this.”

Maria stared at her for a long time. Then, her face fell, and Liz could see the tears swimming in her eyes. "And what about me? I loved Alex like a brother, and when he died, a part of me died too. Call me selfish, but I can't go through that again. I can't lose you as well."

Liz's mouth suddenly felt like old paper, dry and dusty. Feeling like a heel, she stepped out of the Jeep and put her arms around Maria’s trembling body. “I’m sorry,” she said, and just held her for a long time. Sometime later, she pulled back and looked Maria in the eye. “I really am sorry, Maria, but you know I have to do this. I can't make any promises, except that I will try to come back."

"I'm holding you to that," Maria said with a smile that was more of a barring of teeth. In one last desperate attempt, her arms viced around Liz. "You can't go," she moaned. "You're the only one I have."

For one split second Elizabeth felt a pang in her chest. Maria was so tired of being abandoned; First her father, then her mother...

Liz's heart went out to her - it really did - because she would abandon her now, too.

She gently pushed her friend back. "I'll write when I can," she promised flatly. Then, before she could change her mind, she jumped into the Jeep and drove away, ignoring Maria's pleading cries until they faded into the distance.

*****

"Noooooo!"

The demon's hands were on his shoulders, clawing at him, shaking him. He tried to reach out, to fight, but his heavy muscles seemed to have atrophied. "No," he moaned. "No more, please."

"Wake up! Zan, wake up!"

His eyes fluttered open. A face hovered above, but it wasn't a demon. It was a person, his mind offered, with sharp brown eyes, not glowing red embers. His struggles ceased, but unknown time passed before the incongruity of his surroundings began to piece themselves together.

At length, a name came to him. Rath. His friend and Colonel of Rebel Ground Defenses stood over him, his large hands bracing his shoulders, pinning him to his bed. The next realization his mind offered was that he was in his personal quarters at the Rebel camp, not lying in the desert as an feed for the buzzards, or frying in a black hell.

Seeing the recognition come into Zan's eyes, Rath slowly released him. He stepped over to the night-side table and poured him a glass of water. "Here."

Dazed, Zan took the glass and took a long swallow. "Thank you."

Rath shrugged dismissively, but he watched him with a close eye. "Would you like to talk about it?"

"No." Warily, Zan stood and walked to the basin across from his bed. He splashed cool water over his face and bare chest. Then, while wiping himself dry with a towel, he looked up into the mirror.

The man staring back at him was a stranger. His shoulder length hair was tied back from his face in a leather thong, revealing a gaunt face and wary eyes, rounded by dark circles. His eyes drifted down to the white scar that extended from his hip to his chest and ran his hand over it.

A full lunar cycle had passed since the fateful day he'd lost Alex, but the nightmares that plagued him kept the pain fresh in his mind. That day had been the worst mistake of his career. Not only had he lost Alex, but the condition he'd been in when his reinforcements had found him had caused them to abort the mission.

"I do not understand why you won't get rid of that vile scar," Rath complained. Rath complained a lot. Though they had escaped Antar together seven space-years ago, their characters and personalities were as different as night and day. Where Zanyrth was cool and in control, Rathier was a live wire on wet pavement. But the trauma they'd experienced back on the home planet bound them together, and, despite their differences, Zan considered him his only living friend. Now.

Zan leveled a hard stare at him in the mirror. "You know why."

"Yeah, yeah, as a badge of your failure to save that human," Rath mocked, his nostrils flaring as if he smelled something bad. Rath didn't even try to hide his feelings about humans. In his opinion, they were a foolish, inferior, weak-willed species, who were not to be trusted. Many of his people felt that way, and, Zan admitted, he had at one time too.

It all had to do with the history of the two races.

Long before even his father's father's birth, the Antarian people had begun using earth as a refuge. Their advanced technology assisted them in blending in with humans, in unknowingly coexisting with them. It wasn't until nearly eight months ago that Khivar and his large troop of raiders discovered their whereabouts and exposed their presence, did the peaceful existences they lived come to an end. They'd expected fear, but the overall prejudice of the masses took his people by surprise. Most humans blamed his people for bringing the Syrian Raiders to their planet.

Families who had once called their in-the-closet neighbors friends suddenly shunned one another. In some cases, they even grew violent. People went into hiding, and earth became a ghost planet, figuratively speaking. And those who did not go into hiding rallied the governments to round the Antarians up like cattle and hand them over to their enemies on a silver platter.

Sadly, it was a difficult time to be different.

Thank the Stars, the government decided against that route. Instead they made it their business to learn as much as they could about the Antarian people; their reasons for coming to earth, their intentions, the nature of their war with the Syrians. Convincing the officials they meant no harm to the people of earth had been a long and exhausting process, and negotiations for the union had seemed an impossible battle, but in the end, they banded together to fight their now mutual enemy.

The Rebel Union had been established, and Zan, who had sat in on negotiations, had been named its leader. Getting humans to fight for the cause hadn't been as difficult as he'd anticipated; however, getting his people and theirs to trust one another had been an entirely different matter. He'd thought it a hopeless cause - until Alex Parker came along.

When Alex had been assigned to his company, Zan had been startled by Alex's unbiased attitude towards his race. He'd been the first human Zan encountered in six months who harbored no resentment towards their people. Alex's superior intelligence and natural leadership skills helped him rise through the ranks at phenomenal speed. Zan had been drawn to him immediately, not only by his determination and trust, but also by his goodness. Alex truly believed in the good of the many outweighing the concerns of an individual. He gave it his all in battle, and asked for nothing in return.

Zan threw his towel down and whirled around, furious. "I will not have you referring to him in such a disdainful manner! That human was the most noble, unselfish man I have ever crossed paths with. He saved my life on many occasions, and I failed to repay him the same kindness. His bravery should be an example for every man, Antarian or human, at this camp - including you!"

Rath's face reddened. His lips thinned to a white line. He spoke curtly, barely concealing his fury, or resentment towards the friendship Alex and Zan had shared. "Forgive me, sir."

Zan pinched the bridge of his nose between two fingers and sighed. "I assume you have a reason for being in my quarters?"

Rath's posture stiffened. The transformation from friend to soldier was immediate. "Yes, sir. We've received a transmission from our scouts. A small band of Syrians have been spotted on the outskirts of town."

Zan was instantly alert. "Tell me, have they discovered the camp's location?"

"That is still unknown at this time. The information we've been given shows no indication of them coming in this direction, but that says nothing. It's very possible that they're just bidding their time until a larger offensive army can be formed."

"Or they're just out there stirring up a little trouble," Zan said, knowing full well that Rath was quick to jump to conclusions. "Still, we should take care of this before it becomes a problem."

"At least we agree on that."

Zan ignored his clipped tone. "Have fifty men assembled on the platform in twenty minutes. I'll be out shortly."

TBC***

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 27-Mar-2002 7:50:27 PM ]
posted on 25-Mar-2002 8:47:22 AM
Title: Celestial Suzerain
Author: Christina/Fehrbaby
E-mail: fehrbaby⊕hotmail.com
Disclaimer: Let's see...nope, still don't own the characters.
Distribution: Take it if you want it, just let me know.
Category: AU CC Zan/Liz (only because Max and Zan are one in the same)
Rating: R, I guess. I haven't decided how graphic this story will get.
Dedication: To Maxluver02 for giving me the challenge, although I've taken some author's license with it.

Thanks to all of you who have given feedback - I really appreciate it.

Part 3a

The map Alex had included with his final letter would lead her to a canyon outside Tucson, Arizona. Ideally, the trip only should have taken just over ten-and-a-half hours. Sadly, she wasn't driving under ideal conditions.

Eager as she was to reach her destination, Liz wasn't a fool. Life may have returned to quasi-normal back in Roswell, but who knew what lay outside the city limits? News reports indicated that the attacks on civilians hadn't ceased entirely, and although she hadn't heard of anything in the areas she'd be traveling, Liz wasn't going to take any chances.

She'd heard what Syrians were said to do to their captives. Child or adult, male or female, it made little difference. The lucky ones died quickly, as so many had done in the first months of the invasion. Those less fortunate, the ones who managed to survive the initial brutalities, were taken as prisoners and sold into slavery. It was unknown what the exact fates of those poor souls were, simply because none had escaped to tell of it.

A nauseating hot-cold sensation swept into her stomach at the mere thought of what might happen to her should she be discovered traveling alone. She resolved to take her own life before allowing herself to be captured. Hopefully, it would never come to that, and she took extra precautions to see that it didn't.

She limited her driving to the broad hours of daylight and stopped to rest at the first signs of sun-down. The hotels she chose were always well-lit and well-populated, with restaurants inside so she wouldn't have to go out at night. For added insurance, she also carried her father's Taurus PT-111 pistol, the only gun in the house she had any experience firing.

Four days passed before she finally reached her exit off Interstate-10, and thankfully without incident. But there was still no time to relax. It was the last day of travel that worried her the most. Once she reached the canyon, she'd have to travel on foot, and thoughts of what she might encounter along the way worried her.

It began raining as she left the busiest part of the city. The rag-top did it's best to keep her dry, but it was old and had a couple of tears, and as the rain turned to sleet that came from all directions, she began getting soaked.

Keeping one eye on the road, she reached for her sports bag and pulled it to the front seat. After some tricky maneuvering, she unzipped the bag, pulled out a blue baseball cap, and placed it haphazardly on her head. She touched the fraying brim reverently before placing both hands on the wheel again. Though it was dirty and falling apart and stank to high heaven, it was the only thing of Alex she had left.

It had been his favorite. Hardly a day had passed in his last two years in Roswell when he wasn't wearing it. She'd detested the damn thing, and couldn't count on two hands how many times she'd him told that if he didn't get rid of it, she was going to burn it. As a gag, he'd given it to her the day before he left. Though she'd been less than thrilled by the gift at the time, it now ranked as one of her most treasured possessions. And given the current weather conditions, she couldn't be happier that she'd taken it.

Liz turned onto the road that would take her out of town, which turned out to be a bridge. Twenty yards out, the weather turned from bad to worse. The wipers on her window couldn't keep up with the demands of the sleet and rain, and her visibility dropped to ten feet.

Liz wished she could pull over and stop until the rain slowed, but the two-lane bridge was narrow and had no safety lane. Her decision to go slow was thwarted because she had to floor the gas pedal just to climb the steep grade of the arch of the bridge. The rain poured down the bridge in a steady stream so that she slid, rather than drove, on the downward slope.

She saw the motorcycle halfway down the bridge. Her first panicked instinct had her slamming her foot on the brakes. Instead of slowing, she began hydro-planing over the water. The Jeep veered to the left, directly into the path of the on-coming cycle. She fought to straighten out the wheel, but her soaked hands couldn't secure a grip. She saw the motorcycle turn to avoid her just before she hit something solid. The deafening shriek of metal hitting metal rent the air. She pumped the brakes for all she was worth, but it was too late.

The last thing she heard as the jeep sailed through the air was her own screaming.

*****

TBC in 3b - Sorry it's so short, but I have to go to work and I thought this would be a good cliffhanger to leave you with.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 27-Mar-2002 7:52:20 PM ]
posted on 28-Mar-2002 2:56:31 AM
Title: Celestial Suzerain
Author: Christina/Fehrbaby
E-mail: fehrbaby⊕hotmail.com
Disclaimer: Let's see...nope, still don't own the characters.
Distribution: Take it if you want it, just let me know.
Category: AU CC Zan/Liz (only because Max and Zan are one in the same)
Rating: R, I guess. I haven't decided how graphic this story will get.
Dedication: To Maxluver02 for giving me the challenge, although I've taken some author's license with it.

NOTE: Sorry I didn't get a part out yesterday, but I wasn't feeling to well and that which I tried to write was pure crap. This will be my last part until at least Monday. I'm going to Rocky Point later this morning and won't be back until late Sunday night. Not sure if I like this, and I'll probably change some of it, but I wanted to get something out before I went.

Thanks for reading!

Part 3b

Liz thought she was awake, but she couldn't seem to open her eyes. A gradual realization of discomfort came to her. Her body was stiff. Cold. No, not cold; freezing!

Where am I?


She strained to remember, but her thoughts were confused and distorted. There was a rhythmic pounding sensation just beneath her skull, like a pendulum the size of a sledgehammer had been set free to wreck havok on her mind.

Vague images floated through her mind of sleet, and sliding, and a motorcycle, but nothing clear enough to take on meaning.

A painful shiver racked her body. She felt an icy slap on her face. Then something filled her mouth, blocking her breathing passage. Throat constricting, she began to cough.

With exhausting effort, she lifted her heavy eyelids and stared in confusion. The first thing she noticed was that she was sitting in the driver's seat of her Jeep. The second was that there was a pool of water up to her neck.

Oh, God!

She reared upward suddenly, only to be pulled firmly down again. The stab of a million sharp needles pierced her skin with that abrupt movement, bringing her to complete wakefulness, and to where she was - the wash. She could remember it clearly now. The Jeep had been flying at a steep incline through the air. It came to a crawling stop, hovering mid-air, as though indecisive on which direction to go next. A second or two passed before front end had tilted downward, and then she and the Jeep were plummeting head-first into the icy water below.

Sheer black fright swept through her as the water level rose to just below her chin. Her lips parted on a sharp intake of breath, but she drew in water instead. She coughed, spit the brown liquid out, and focused on the pressing matter of escaping.

The panic rioting within overwhelmed the pain of movement. Her numbing fingers pushed frantically at the release button on the seat-belt. The harness fell away and she instantly gained buoyancy. Now the door. Blindly, her hands scrambled beneath the surface for the handle. There! She pulled with both hands then pushed. She stared blankly. It wasn't moving. She tried again, then again, but it refused to budge.

Another wave of terror slammed through her as the water continued to rise. She looked up, searching. There had to be something she hadn't thought of. And then she was ripping at the tear in the rag-top, scratching and pulling until the tips of her fingers were raw and began to bleed.

Liz screamed in fear and frustration. It wasn't supposed to happen like this! She was supposed to die in battle, like her brother, not in the rusted-out, second-hand Jeep she'd purchased after a summer of waiting tables at her family's alien themed restaurant. Hot tears streamed down her cheeks and she wiped at them angrily, unable to bear such strong feelings of helplessness.

Her rapid breath formed a misty cloud around her head. She could hear the hissing of water outside the jeep, and the more gentle lapping of waves inside. It was almost...peaceful.

The water rose inexorably. Liz tilted her head back as it reached her mouth. It wouldn't be long now.

The water covered her ears, her eyes. She clamped her mouth shut, inhaling deeply through her nose just before the last inch of breathing space filled with water.

Lord, help me!

Liz kicked towards the door. Her vision was blurry but she found the door handle again and began to pull. She didn't really expect it to open, but she had to try. She couldn't allow herself to go until every option had been explored twice-over.

A slow burn began in her lungs. She exhaled a little, watching the bubbles float away, and the tightness increased in her nose and throat. Her tiring muscles screamed for oxygen. Every single cell that composed her body began to ache.

Air! Need Air!

Her mouth could no longer pay attention to the commands of her brain. The urge to breath grew too strong. Her awareness of her surroundings began to slowly recede, as did her reasoning for not inhaling. She drew a breath.

The icy liquid entered her mouth quicker than water bursting from a dam, replacing the carbon dioxide in her lungs. Cells inside her started to slowly die, suffocate.

The water continued to flow through her lungs. Her eyelids began to flutter. Tired...so tired...

A blinding light appeared from above. Her lips formed a slightly ironic smile. So, they were telling the truth after all, she mused, thinking about all those stories she'd heard of a so-called light at the end of a long tunnel.

A shadow appeared suddenly, blocking her view of the light.

What happened next was unclear. One minute she was drifting outside space and time, and the next, two clasped fists were pummeling her just below the rib cage. Water spewed from her lips. She gasped, sucking in lungful after lungful of delicious air, wondering how she'd ever taken the precious commodity for granted. The fists clamped down again, and more water poured from her lungs.

"Yes, deep breaths," a man's voice urged in her ear.

Another masculine voice, this one further away, came from her side. "Is she alive?"

Gently, the arms lowered her to the ground. "Yes, for now. But we must get her warm. Her lips are blue."

"Here, take my jacket," a woman said.

"Thank you, Serena. Help me get her out of these wet clothes."

The next instant, her blouse was being ripped down the middle. She wanted to protest, but then she was sat forward while the wet garment was hastily removed from her body. Her bra went next, and then she was surrounded by the most heavenly feeling of warmth. "Lay her back down. We need to keep her horizontal."

"What about her pants?" The woman - Serena, he'd called her - asked.

"They must go, as well. Do we have anything to put over her legs? No? Then the jacket will have to do. It is long enough."

"I will see if I can find anything hot for her to drink," the second man said.

"No, nothing to drink," her rescuer said firmly. "It may trigger heart rhythm disturbances. We have to wait until we have stabilized her core temperature. How are you feeling?" he asked her.

Liz had tried to keep up with what was being said, but heart disturbances and core temperatures? What were they taking about?

"Cold," she whispered. Now, cold was something she knew. The warmth provided by the jacket had faded and she couldn't stop shivering. If anything, she was colder than she'd been a minute ago.

"Do you think it's hypothermia?"

"I do. She has the symptoms: the shivering, the blue coloring, the slow, shallow breathing."

"I've found a blanket, sir," a fourth voice announced.

"Good man. Hand it to me."

She heard the rustling of a blanket being opened and then it was draped over her, covering her from foot to neck. Mmm...better.

Sometime later, her eyes drifted to half-mast. It was no longer raining, she noticed, and the sun had come out. She could feel it warming her cheeks. She attempted to sit up. A groaned fell from her lips when she immediately grew lightheaded.

"Easy, easy. Lie still."

He didn't have to tell her twice.

She lay her head back and took deep, steady breaths, willing the dizziness and nausea away. Once she felt more stable, Liz's eyes opened all the way to look upon her rescuer for the first time.

TBC***

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 28-Mar-2002 8:23:42 AM ]
posted on 1-Apr-2002 10:15:27 PM
Sorry I wasn't able to get a part out tonight. I have major jet-lag from my trip and am just too burnt out to focus my attention on writing. I did write a little but not enough to get something posted.

Wayliz - Thanks for saying Liz's near-drowning was creepy. I take that as a great compliment since that was what I was going for.

Liesel, Shelly, and all the newcomers - Welcome to the party! *bounce* You're questions will be answered soon enough.

Everyone else! Thanks for coming along for the ride!

I'll see what I can do to get something out in the next two days.

Till then, have fun!*happy*

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 1-Apr-2002 10:23:28 PM ]
posted on 2-Apr-2002 6:45:21 PM
Scifidreamer

Just to answer some of your questions:

No, we haven't seen the end of Maria.

Yes, Rath will be as ass, but still, there will be some Candy. (Come on, I'm a die-hard candy girl!)

Yes, Isabel will be on the scene shortly. As will Tess.

Can't really say about Kyle yet because I haven't completely decided his fate yet.

Sorry! Didn't mean to make you cry!*sad* Although I guess that too could be taken as a compliment if I can stir those emotions in someone. So, thanks! *big*

Hope that helps!

Christina
posted on 1-May-2002 12:53:18 AM
Hey guys!

Quick author's note: I haven't forgotten about this fic or anything, but I've been very busy with my job. The semester ends near the end of may and I hope not to have to work over the summer, so I'm planning to finish all of my unfinished stories over the summer. Look for the next part of this soon.

Christina
posted on 1-Jun-2002 8:31:54 PM
Title: Celestial Suzerain
Author: Christina/Fehrbaby
E-mail: fehrbaby⊕hotmail.com
Disclaimer: Let's see...nope, still don't own the characters.
Distribution: Take it if you want it, just let me know.
Category: AU CC Zan/Liz (only because Max and Zan are one in the same)
Rating: R, I guess. I haven't decided how graphic this story will get.
Dedication: To Maxluver02 for giving me the challenge, although I've taken some author's license with it.

Part 4

Liz's breath caught. He was the most remarkable man she had ever seen, with his narrow, angular face and slender nose. His eyes, a rich brown in color, were sharp and intelligent behind thick lashes. His dripping hair was dark and long, and pulled back from his face with a thin strip of worn leather. He wore a black leather vest over his well defined chest and similar pants over thighs the size of tree trunks.

"Are you feeling okay, now?"

She hadn't noticed it before, but he had a soft accent she had difficulty placing. The gentle drone of his voice was both euphonious and seductive. Liz felt a mild tingle of attraction start in her stomach and spread outward.

"Yes." Warmth rushed to Liz's cheeks; she hadn't meant for her voice to sound so husky. Clearing her throat, she forced herself into a sitting position. Another bout of dizziness swept over her. She swayed and her rescuer reached out for her. Shifting his position, he leaned her back against one gloriously muscled thigh, with his arm supporting her shoulders.

Liz turned her head up and back to thank him, but paused when she saw the strangest expression come over his face. He was peering into her face, searching... Individual nerves in her face caught fire under the intensity of his probing stare, and Liz tried to look away, but her muscled refused to obey.

Thin lines appeared along his brow and the corners of his eyes. He looked as though he wanted to speak, but a shadow fell over them at that moment, drawing his attention.

"Will she live?" It was the voice of the second man she'd heard while they were tending to her. Liz turned her head to seek out the owner.

Though he couldn't have been any more then six feet tall, from where she sat the man seemed gigantic. His disheveled hair and thick lips granted him atypical beauty, but there was a cold ruthlessness reflected in his dark, unsmiling eyes that made Liz's dislike for him instant.

"I believe so," her rescuer replied, "But she will need supervision for the next 24 hours, just to be sure. What is your name, girl?"

The strange fog holding her mind captive lifted abruptly. Who were these men? Were they even men, or were they aliens wearing gloriously muscled bodies? A flicker of apprehension coursed through her. Oh, god, what if they were Syrians? What if this was the situation she'd been dreading? She was a lone girl in a strange area, and there would be no one to help her if they intended to hurt her. She trembled as fearful images built in her mind of what they could do to her. No, you can't think like that. Calm down. They did save your life, after all.

Of course they did - what good would a dead slave do?

Choosing for her own sanity to ignore that last voice in her head, she rose her chin defiantly. "Who wants to know?"

He retained his affability, but there was no mistaking the hardening of his eyes, nor the silken thread of warning in his voice. "Please answer me, girl."

"Elizabeth," she replied in a small voice.

"Elizabeth," he repeated her name slowly, rolling the words on his tongue. "Very well, Elizabeth, how is it exactly that you ended up in the wash?"

"Or better yet, what the hell were you doing in the restricted zone?"

"Rath," her rescuer said with a distinct note of warning in his tone. "Watch you language. I will do the questioning."

Rath? How apt, she mused as she looked at the second man again. His lips had thinned to a white line of suppressed anger and he looked like he wanted to throttle the man holding her, but he did as told.

"He does propose a good question, though. What brought you to the restricted area?"

"I was looking for the Re-"

Liz sucked in a breath when she realized what she'd been about to say; that she was looking for the Rebel Union. Alex had said no one knew the camp was out here, and that was their only advantage. Who knew who these men were or what they would do if they discovered the location of the camp?

Her rescuer was watching her closely, suspicion gleaming in his eyes. "Sorry," she said, thinking quickly, "I felt dizzy for a second, but it's gone now. As to your question, I'm from out of town. I had no way of knowing the area was restricted." That was true enough, for Alex had never mentioned anything about the area being off limits.

The man's fingers bit painfully into her shoulder. "If you think to trick me, girl, I'll personally skin you alive."

And Liz believe he would, for it was that instant that her eyes strayed to the one-foot long, double sided blade sheathed at his belt. Sparing a glance at Rath, she saw that he too was heavily armed. Panic like she'd never known before welled in her throat.

"It's the truth," she blurted. "I'm from New Mexico! If you don't believe me, you can check my license plates."

"She's telling the truth. She has a New Mexico driver's license," a female voice interrupted. Liz's looked over her rescuer's shoulder to find the tallest woman she'd ever seen carrying her sopping wet sports bag and Alex's cap in one hand and her wallet in another.

"Those are mine," she cried, trying to reach out for her things, but one look from her rescuer's unnerving brown eyes made her think better of it.

Her rescuer was still frowning at her. "Yet, you still have not answered my question. What brought you to the restricted area?"

"I was on my way to meet someone," she answered, telling herself that was the truth, too.
"And who was that?"

"A friend of my brother's."

Irritation flashed across his handsome features. "And does this person have a name?"

"Doesn't everybody?"

"Well?"

"Well, what?"

"I'm growing tired of these games, girl. Who is this man you were looking for?"

"What difference does it make if you know his name or not?" she retorted, wishing he'd stop with the probing questions.

Warily, he brushed his forehead with the back of his hand. "Fine, we will return to that later. Now, tell me about how you ended up in the wash."

"I was driving down the bridge and saw a motorcycle coming. I was going too fast so I hit the brakes to avoid the motorcycle and they locked up. There was this...this awful noise, and the next thing I knew, I was lying in a pool of water up to my neck. I would have drowned if you hadn't come."

His expression turned thoughtful. "A motorcycle, you say? Are you sure?"

She nodded, slightly exasperated.

Her rescuer looked to Rath. "If what she says is true, then we have bigger concerns than this girl."

Liz bristled indignantly. Pushing his arms away, she climbed to her feet and put her hands on her hips, glowering down at the man. "I'm not accustomed to being called a liar. And furthermore, after what I've been through in the last hour, I believe I deserve to be treated with a little more respect."

Holding her gaze, her rescuer rose to his full height and stepped in closer to her. Liz had to crane her neck back, but she held her ground, refusing to be intimidated by this crude man any longer. "And I have not survived for as long as I have without being able to tell when someone speaks the whole truth." His voice was soft again, and something in it made her shiver. Or perhaps it was the effect of those cold and strangely knowing eyes that would not allow her to look away until he had done so.

Turning to the woman, he retrieved her bag and then thrust it at her. "Here are your belongings." Liz quickly searched her bag, assuring her wallet and Alex's cap were safely inside.

Her rescuer turned to speak to Rath, and she listened to what he had to say with growing bewilderment. "We must return quickly and decide our next course of action. Assemble the men. Report to me how many wounded or dead we have, and be quick about it. We don't know how much time we have. Serena," he said to the woman, "see to the prisoners. Make sure none of them can escape. And you, girl, come with me."

Men? Wounded and dead? Prisoners? Liz tossed her bag to the ground and crossed her arms over her chest. "I'm not going anywhere with you! Not until you tell me who you people are?"

"Desire to wager on that?" he returned, giving her a cold stare. "There are dangerous people out here, who would make a nice sport of a young girl traveling alone such as yourself, if you get my meaning." His eyes roved her body lasciviously, from her wide expanse of bare leg to her chest, which peaked out from the heavy jacket. Feeling incredibly exposed, she tightened the large coat around her. "I am only offering you protection."

"And how do I know it isn't you I need protection from?" she grumbled, but he heard her anyway.

His lip quirked on one side. "I suppose you do not. My word as an Antarian will have to do."

She started. "Antarian?"

A shadow of annoyance crossed his features. "That is what I said. Stars, girl, we waste too much time here. Are you going to come with me, or will I have to carry you over my shoulder?"

"Stop calling me 'girl'! I have a name!"

"Girl," he taunted. Then, he did exactly as he threatened, picking her up and slinging her over his shoulder as if she weighed nothing at all. Leaning down, he retrieved her bag and began to walk in the same direction the others had disappeared into.

"Let me down, you oaf!" she screamed, slamming her hands on his back. Her struggles ceased a minute later when it appeared he wasn't going to let her go anytime soon. All she could do was hang there, and feel her cheeks burn with resentment and humiliation.

TBC***

Well, it's summertime, and as promised, I plan to be writing more! Look for the next installment shortly.



[ edited 6 time(s), last at 2-Jun-2002 12:06:43 AM ]
posted on 1-Jun-2002 10:57:12 PM
Thanks for the feedback girls!

Christina

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 1-Jun-2002 10:57:45 PM ]
posted on 16-Oct-2002 9:03:13 AM
I posted this on the fan fic discussion board, but if I don't go to L.A. the new part WILL come out this weekend!

Christina
posted on 27-Oct-2002 10:18:12 PM
Title: Celestial Suzerain
Author: Christina/Fehrbaby
E-mail: fehrbaby⊕hotmail.com
Disclaimer: Let's see...nope, still don't own the characters.
Distribution: Take it if you want it, just let me know.
Category: AU CC Zan/Liz (only because Max and Zan are one in the same)
Rating: R, I guess. I haven't decided how graphic this story will get.
Dedication: To Maxluver02 for giving me the challenge, although I've taken some author's license with it.

Part 5

"You won't let me down and you won't tell me where you're taking me; will you at least tell me your name?"

Liz's rescuer-turned-captor peered over his massive shoulder to look at Liz, whose blood-congested head bounced off his back with each wide stride. "And what difference does it make if you know my name or not?" he returned, using her own earlier words against her.

Liz's hands balled into tight fists. "God, could you be any more infuriating?"

"You ask me this, when your own thinly-veiled attempts at cleverness to hide the answers I seek are beyond infuriating?"

"It was a rhetorical question, you jerk," she muttered, puffing some strands of hair out of her eyes.

"What was that?"

"A rhetorical question: one not requiring an answer."

"I know what a rhetorical question is, girl," he barked impatiently. "No, it was the other thing I was referring to. What is a jerk?"

"You're joking, right?"

"I am afraid my neural decoder fails to recognize the word."

Liz craned her neck to look at him. "Neural decoder?"

"My translation implant." He seemed to think this explained something. "Surely you do not suffer the conceit that we are taught the English language from our youths?" He chuckled at the ridiculous notion, most likely thinking she believed just that.

"Of course not, you je-." She broke off abruptly. Then, with less severity, "The truth is, I never knew how you learned our language."

The real truth was that there was a lot she didn't know about the Antarian race, and wasn't sure she ever wanted to. True, their technology fascinated her, and her curiosity about their success with space travel was boundless; however, they had brought upon earth the wrath of the Syrians, and the ultimate destruction of her brother. That was something she'd never be able to forgive.

"Something tells me 'jerk' is not one of your more favorable endearments."

Liz smirked. He really seemed to be puzzled by the word. "Oh, no, 'jerk' means something like 'hero' or 'gentleman,'" she argued with mock seriousness.

Glancing back, he actually cracked a smile. "Now I know you lie."

Liz batted her eyelashes at him innocently. "Whatever gave you that idea?"

His smile faded. "Your sarcasm is not appreciated," he said sternly, looking back ahead. "Nor are your insults. I expect to be treated with more respect. You would do well to remember that I can take your life just as easily as I saved it."

It was on the tip of her tongue to tell him that people didn't intimidate others to get respect; they earned it, but she bit the words back, deciding it was probably best not to test the sincerity of his threat. Her rescuer made a low sound of approval, apparently satisfied that she was properly cowed.

"What do you want from me?" she asked in a quiet voice.

"The truth would help."

"I've told you no lies."

"Perhaps. But you have left out a good portion of the truth, and something tells me that what you have not said is more important than what you have."

"Meaning?"

"The road you were taking leads only to the base of the canyon. There are no houses within a twenty mile radius to meet said brother's friend."

"Then you can assume I am not meeting him at a house."

"Tell me, then, where else would you be meeting him? I am guessing he is familiar with this area, and would know it falls in restricted boundaries. Why here?"

Not sure how to answer that, Liz went on the offensive. "Now that you mention it, I could ask you the same question. If this area is restricted, then why are you here? What makes you so special?"

"Once again, you evade my question by asking your own. What is it, I wonder, that you feel the need to hide? If you are just a young girl traveling to see your brother's friend, as you say, then why are you so secretive?"

"Because my affairs are none of your damn business!" she cried in exasperation.

"I will know the truth eventually," he said ominously.

"Over my dead body."

"We shall see."

Resting her cheek against the small of his back with a groan of frustration, Liz decided she better pay more attention to her surroundings if she ever wanted to make it back to the bridge, and eventually the Rebel camp. An exercise in futility, she concluded upon discovering that he was carrying her through an essentially trackless desert wilderness.

Jagged and weathered rocks sprouted from the ground, packed into the earth by sun-baked dirt, which the recent rain had done very little to soften. Moist patches and a few sporadic puddles could be seen. They wouldn't last long; the blazing sun would evaporate the water within the hour.

And speaking of desert wilderness...where did all these trees come from? She hadn't known trees could exist in such dry areas, but they were everywhere! Most stood over 20 feet tall, and had scaly bluish-green leaves and pretty white and pink flowers that drooped in long, narrow clusters.

She inhaled deeply, attempting to breath in whatever perfume the blooms might be giving off. The only scents she could discern, however, came directly from the man carrying her. He smelled good, too. Like leather and sun and the applewood chips her father used to throw in the fireplace during the winter. And something else... Something undeniably, blatantly male.

A delightful shiver ran through her. She closed her eyes, once again realizing the same feelings of attraction she'd felt upon first seeing him...the feel of his powerful arms supporting her...

Appalled at her reaction to this rude and intimidating man, Liz's lashes flew up over her cheeks. She must be going crazy. It had to be all the blood pooling in her head and the resulting trauma after her near-drowning. This man was dangerous. This man had threatened her life on no less than three occasions and pulled her away on this enforced journey. Most importantly, this man wasn't even a man; he was an alien.

An alien! She had thought that with the passing of time that it would get easier to accept. Still, even after eight months, the fact that aliens were real could sometimes be jarring to the senses.

"Let me down. I think I'm going to be sick."

Her rescuer-turned-captor ignored her complaint and continued walking. The straight path he had been following veered off abruptly to the side, and Liz peered around the bend of his lean waist to see that he was headed straight for a thick clump of trees. The distant sound of voices reached her ears and grew nearer with each step.

The sudden eclipse of light as he stepped between two massive trunks blinded her vision so that she could not see what lay ahead. Good thing, she thought, because if the stench was any indication of what she would see, she was better off.

Clamping her eyes shut, lest her eyes adjust to the darkness too quickly, Liz brought her hand to her mouth in instantaneous horror. There was no questioning the myriad smells of charred flesh and blood and human viscera assailing her senses.

Liz really did feel sick now. A telling tingle began in the joints of her jaw, overstimulating her salivary glands and tear ducts. She started to gag.

Alerted by her body-racking contractions, her rescuer came to a halt and quickly allowed her to slide to the ground. Liz's shaky knees buckled, causing her to drop to all fours. His muscled arms righted her immediately, but not quick enough to prevent her eyes - having unshuttered upon falling - from meeting the unseeing, pale blue eyes of a young man whose head was no longer attached to his body. Liz's reflexive cry of terror was obstructed by the bitter bile clogging her throat.

"Right." Nodding curtly, her rescuer wrapped an arm around her middle and swept her back out through the trees. Supported by his arm, she bent forward at the waist and vomited repeatedly until nothing but bile remained.

Needing to sit and collect herself, she batted at his hand, indicating for him to release her, and crawled on her knees to a small outcrop of rock a few feet away. Leaning back against the cool stone, she closed her eyes and focused on regulating her breathing.

She heard her rescuer shifting and cracked one watery eye open to see him kneeling on his haunches in front of her. "Feel better?" There was no concern in his tone.

"Gee, I'm great! Wonderful, in fact." She sent a murderous stare in his direction, then ripped her duffle bag from his hand and pulled it closer. Rummaging inside one of the side pockets, she pulled out a hand towel and small bottle of water she had brought along for economical refreshing along the road. She wiped her chin, then took a long swig from the bottle to rinse out her mouth. Furiously, she spat the water towards his feet. "You could have warned me, you know," she exploded.

He frowned at her tone. She looked down in disgust, noticing for the first time that the oversized jacket she wore had fallen open again, revealing most of her naked flesh. She gasped, clutching the jacket closed around her. She expected to see him grinning smugly when she looked up, but his expression was unchanged.

No, that wasn't true. He was scowling now, the scowl of someone who had a serious aversion to one so fastidious. "If I had known that you would turn into a puking child upon the sight of blood, believe me, I would have."

"Blood? You think it was the blood that bothered me?" She laughed, high and shrill, for about two seconds. A note of hysteria fringed her voice. "Blood I can handle. No, what bothered me was the grotesquely mutilated decapitated head that I came nose to nose with. You could have prepared me!" she growled.

"You are right," he conceded, sounding sincere. "Forgive me."

Liz jutted out her chin, deaf to his delayed apology. She couldn't get that lifeless, pale-eyed face out of her mind. He'd been young; not much older than her own eighteen years; way too young to die. And why had he died? Would she be next?

More than a little nervous, she asked, "Did you and your friends kill that boy? Is that why your brought me out here? To kill me, too?"

His voice was calm, his gaze steady. "Why would we kill him? He was one of ours."

"One of your what? Prisoners? Slaves?"

"No." She could tell by the edge in his voice that he was growing impatient. "He was one of our soldiers."

"Soldiers?" Oh, God, this couldn't be... But, of course, it all made sense. She recalled the way he had addressed his friends earlier, instructing them assemble the men, and tally the dead and wounded. It would certainly give reason as to why he was allowed in the restricted zone and explain why he had just pulled her into what could only be the remains of a battlefield.

"The Rebel Union," she breathed, chastising herself for not stringing together the all the clues they had been dropping.

He smiled blandly.

And she began to laugh. High, squeaky peals of laughter filled with disbelief. It was all too much. The threats, the probing questions, all to find out that she had landed in with the very group she initially sought.

Her rescuer was frowning at her, unsure what to make of her laughter.

"I have your numbers."

Wiping the tears from her eyes, she turned her head to find Rath approaching. With one last confused look in her direction, her rescuer rose to his feet. "Judging by the look on your face, I would be lead to believe the news is not good."

Liz frowned, wondering what "look" her rescuer was seeing that she didn't, because all she saw was the same frigid indifference she's seen during her first encounter with the menacing-looking man.

"21 dead, 19 wounded," Rath reported, his expression a mask of stone.

Her rescuer muttered an oath in a language Liz had never heard before, though there was no mistaking the sentiment behind it.

"Most of our losses were human," Rath continued, indicating that he considered this a fortunate thing, "but we did lose a several of our own."

Liz didn't know whether to be outraged or frightened by his casual dismissal of the human losses. Either way, her dislike for Rath intensified.

"What is our prisoner count?"

"That depends," Rath returned, nodding his head at her. "Will the girl be placed with them?"

"No," her rescuer said curtly. "I am going to keep her with me. As I said earlier, she needs supervision for at least 24 hours. That is the length of time I will allow her to convince me she is not a spy."

Liz climbed to her feet. "Hold on, now. I'm not a spy," she said. Now would be the time to clear up the misunderstanding.

Sparing her a brief glance, both men ignored her. Rath snorted rudely. "What's there to convince? Everything she has told us so far has been a lie. Consider it; a lone girl traveling in the restricted area, claiming to search for someone who couldn't possibly be in the area? Her story has enough holes to swallow up all of Antar."

She tried to get their attention again. "If you'll just listen..."

"If she spies, I assure you she will be dealt with, but that will be for me alone to determine. Until I do, she is to be treated with the same respect as everyone else."

"And in the meanwhile we're all supposed to watch out for the knife she's sure to stick in our backs?"

Her rescuer brought clawed hands to his head for a brief moment, then shook them in the air. "Why, Rath? Why must you always jump to conclusions?"

"And why must you always be so trusting? Stars, Zan, did Ava teach you nothing?"

"For the love of Christ! Will you two jerks-" She broke off abruptly, doing a double-take as Rath's words filtered through her ear. "Wait! You're name is Zan?"

TBC***
posted on 3-Nov-2002 5:33:46 PM
I'm working on it, as we speak. Can't say when it will be up, but just know that I've been working on it almost everyday.
posted on 11-Nov-2002 11:52:26 PM
Title: Celestial Suzerain
Author: Christina/Fehrbaby
E-mail: fehrbaby⊕hotmail.com
Disclaimer: Let's see...nope, still don't own the characters.
Distribution: Take it if you want it, just let me know.
Category: AU CC Zan/Liz (only because Max and Zan are one in the same)
Rating: R, I guess. I haven't decided how graphic this story will get.
Dedication: To Maxluver02 for giving me the challenge, although I've taken some author's license with it.
Summary: Evil aliens invade Earth, killing people as well as taking them and selling them as slaves. Earth joins forces with Antarian Rebels to fight off Khivar as the two battle for dominance on the planet. Liz's brother is part of the rebel group trying to save Earth and when he asks her to join, she does so immediately. Of course, her first meeting with the group is not what she expected… (I took this from hipntrendy's fic recommendation summary at the Bordello - since I didn't really have one here.)

Part 6a

Her rescuer's posture straightened and his chest puffed up self-importantly. "My name is Zanyrth V'da. The name Zan is reserved only for my friends."

"You mean you actually have some?" The insulting words passed Liz's lips before she had time to consider her imprudence. Zanyrth V'da! She recognized that name; anyone who ever watched the news recognized that name. It had only been blared for weeks while negotiations for the formation of the militia were taking place. This cold and arrogant warrior was no ordinary soldier for the Rebel Union, he was its leader!

Liz's stomach plummeted. And he's also the man my brother called his best-friend.

Registering the full implications of this revelation, she turned her back on the two glaring Antarians and covered her eyes with her palms. Her head shook softly. My...God...not...happening... she thought, in between disbelieving bouts of laughter. If she didn't laugh now, she was sure she'd cry, and Liz never cried. Tears were a sign of weakness. She hadn't cried when the Syrians had begun their indiscriminate attacks upon Earth, and she hadn't shed a single tear when her brother had died. She'd be damned if she wept now, just because nothing was going the way she'd anticipated.

Alex - God rest his soul - must have been out of his ever-loving mind when he had written that letter! Had he honestly believed she could work alongside this tyrant? To be fair, Alex had never once said anything to indicate the kind of person Zan was, but knowing her brother the way she had, and relying on his well-near-infallable judgement of a person's character, she had naturally assumed he'd be anything but an arrogant general who was practically begging her to give him a reason to end her life - the same life Alex said she could trust him with, she now recalled with cynicism.

"Do you find my name humorous?"

Deliberately casual, she turned to face the two men. Both stood with their legs widespread and their arms crossed over their broad chests. Rath was openly scowling at her, while Zan's brows were dropped into an affronted frown. She lifted her chin. If they thought to frighten her, they had another think coming.

"I find your name unfortunate. There isn't a single thing about you that I find humorous. Revolting, yes, but not humorous." She scanned his body from head to toe, planting a look of disgust on her face that she didn't necessarily feel to emphasize her point. She transferred her pointed gaze to Rath for a second, not wanting him to feel left out. Jesus, where did Antar breed specimens such as this? The Happy Acres Home for Hard-Boiled Hunks?

"Unfortunate?" Zan echoed in confusion.

"Indeed, because it means I must join you."

Zan's brows hiked up his forehead in surprise. He slowly looked her over from head to toe, then began to laugh. Rath's sneer only intensified.

Not seeing what was so funny, Liz propped her hands on her hips and waited impatiently for Zan to recover from his infuriating fit of laughter.

At length, he wiped his eyes and shook his head in wonder at her declaration. "Join us, she says! Did you hear that?" He addressed Rath, who grunted in response, though his eyes stayed firmly on Liz. "Tell me, girl, what could you possibly have to offer the Union, aside from simple-minded sarcasm, ear-grating prattle and a weak stomach?"

Chafing under his ridicule, Liz opened her mouth to protest his stinging remarks, then thought better of it. If those were his true impressions of her, then what would he think when he found out who she was? Would he still allow her to join the cause, as Alex had wished, or would the moment of weakness she'd already shown convince him that she needed to be kept hidden away safely and under constant watch? The thought was too unbearable to fathom, and yet, she wouldn't put it past this overbearing brute. She came here to fight, dammit, not to be babysat.

I simply won't tell him who I am.

The sudden thought was so brilliant, it was almost scary. And yet, she thought it could work as long as she played her cards right, and didn't get tripped up in too many lies.

Alex had said he wanted them to work together so Zan could protect her. Well, she'd already gotten a taste of the kind of "protection" he had to offer and thought she could do just fine without it. And what would it hurt? she wondered. As long as they were fighting on the same side, she'd still be doing what Alex had asked of her.

Besides, Liz reasoned, it would give her the opportunity to learn a little more about this man that her brother had called best-friend - and why? Not to mention that, despite Alex's promise she could trust him, Liz was still very skeptical. She would determine on her own if he was worthy of her trust - or Alex's, for that matter.

A renewed sense of strength came over her, lessening her despair. She straightened herself with dignity, reminding herself that Zan was still waiting for a reply.

"I may not look like much," she told him, "but I assure you I am far from simple-minded."

Liz's fists clenched and unclenched when both men snorted, but she refused to retaliate. With men like this, action spoke louder than words. She would have to prove herself willing and able to fight under them. First, though, she would have to appeal to authoritative nature by showing him some respect.

"Look, General V'da," she began, choosing her words carefully, "we didn't get off to a great start, but please do not deny my request to join you just yet. I know you don't trust me, and I know I haven't given you any reason to. Believe me, though, when I say we share a common desire to destroy the Syrians. Test me anyway you like. Do whatever you feel necessary to determine my sincerity and value. I won't disappoint you."

Her entire endeavor rested on this moment. Would he take the bait?

Liz's hands, hidden from sight, twisted uneasily behind her back in the tense seconds that followed. She could tell nothing from his expression.

Finally, after a small eternity, he turned to Rath, who departed after some softly spoken words that Liz was unable to hear. His gaze returned to Liz. "Come with me," he said, beginning to turn.

Liz knelt to pick up her bag, mock-saluting his back. "Yes, sir. Wherever you lead, I will follow."

Zan froze. Whoa, did the man have eyes in the back of his head?

Turning back an instant later and crossing the distance between them in the blink of an eye, Zan's large hands gripped her upper arms, pulling her to him.

Liz cried out in surprise. It wasn't the rough handling, so much as the blood that had drained from his face. What had him so spooked? For several heartbeats, they regarded each other in mute astonishment. When he spoke, his voice was full of possessive desperation. "What did you say?"

*****

TBC in 6b - sorry, but you know me and cliffhangers. *bounce*

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 12-Nov-2002 12:35:55 AM ]
posted on 12-Nov-2002 9:01:42 AM
check out the prologue - it wasn't Alex who said that.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 12-Nov-2002 9:03:38 AM ]
posted on 15-Nov-2002 12:09:50 AM
Probably not until this weekend. Things are mad crazy with work right now and I have a date tomorrow after work, so not until Saturday or Sunday will I be able to finish the part I've started. Please be patient, I'm trying the best I can.

Christina
posted on 17-Nov-2002 11:36:38 PM
Sorry, I tried to get it out this weekend but I'm stuck on something and am having a hard time finding how to get past it. I am trying though and will get it out as soon as possible. *happy*

Christina
posted on 16-Dec-2002 10:42:55 AM
I'm so, so sorry that I haven't updated. A whole lot of stuff has been going on from my pregnent sister having a life-threatening surgery to my best friend getting pregnant and I've had to be there for them instead of writing. I'll try to do more soon. That's all that I can promise.

Christina
posted on 1-Jan-2003 12:21:13 PM
Title: Celestial Suzerain
Author: Christina/Fehrbaby
E-mail: fehrbaby⊕hotmail.com
Disclaimer: Let's see...nope, still don't own the characters.
Distribution: Take it if you want it, just let me know.
Category: AU CC Zan/Liz (only because Max and Zan are one in the same)
Rating: R, I guess. I haven't decided how graphic this story will get.
Dedication: To Maxluver02 for giving me the challenge, although I've taken some author's license with it.
Summary: Evil aliens invade Earth, killing people as well as taking them and selling them as slaves. Earth joins forces with Antarian Rebels to fight off Khivar as the two battle for dominance on the planet. Liz's brother is part of the rebel group trying to save Earth and when he asks her to join, she does so immediately. Of course, her first meeting with the group is not what she expected… (I took this from hipntrendy's fic recommendation summary at the Bordello - since I didn't really have one here.)

Part 6b

"I...what?"

"Say it again," Zan hissed, shaking her a little. "Repeat what you just said."

Liz sucked in a breath as his fingers bit deeper into her arms, but was too puzzled to utter a protest. What had she said to cause such alarm? Jeez, she had agreed to go with him, merely the first steps of proving her loyalty to him. "I said...I said wherever you lead, I will follow. I was only trying to be agreeable," she added, slightly defensive. "Or do you find fault in that, too?"

"It is you," he said, expelling a long breath. Liz's breath, on the other hand, solidified in her lungs. Had he penetrated her facade so quickly?

"I apologize," he said, loosening his grip, but not releasing her. "I thought I recognized you back there, but I then convinced myself that I must be going mad, because you could not be real. And yet, here you are, standing before me." He tentatively rose one hand from her arm and grazed his fingers over her cheek. Explosive currents raced through her entire body at that gentle touch, despite her silent protestations. "Most definitely real," he murmured.

Okay, so this had nothing to do with being Alex's sister, she concluded, relaxing a little. But what else could he be speaking of? "Oh, I'm real alright," Liz said, finding her voice at last, "real confused, that is. I don't have the faintest clue what you are talking about."

"Hush, angel, there is no need to keep pretending. Why did you not identify yourself before?"

Liz shook her head helplessly; this one was beyond her.

"And to think," Zan murmured, shaking his head in disgust, "I actually thought my guardian angel to be a spy!"

Liz's heart tripped when he grinned. It smoothed some of the hard lines of his face and a spark of life showed in his empty eyes, making Liz's original estimation of him being handsome shoot through the roof to full-on gorgeous.

Wait! Did he just call me his guardian angel?

A look of boyish mischief came into his eyes. "Do you really have wings?"

"Wings?" Liz gasped, wrenching free of his grasp before his traveling hand could actually touch her shoulders to check. "Of course I don't have wings, and I'm certainly not an angel!"

"Ah, yes, I forgot. You said that before."

"What do you mean 'before'?" Liz cried in frustration. "I don't know you!"

*****

"Do you not?" Zan countered, his eyes narrowing. It was her, he was sure of it. So why did she so adamantly refuse to admit it? "That spark of recognition in your eyes would imply otherwise."

Elizabeth tossed up her hands, and her expression of exasperation did appear artless. "Well, I've heard of you before," she conceded. "Who hasn't? But I sure as hell have never met you."

Zan scrutinized her closely. He could detect no ingenuity on her part, and he considered himself an impeccable judge of character. As such, he had to surmise that she was either a skilled deceptive, or truly oblivious to the role she had played in his life on that fateful day. But with the possibility of more Syrians heading in their direction, there was no time to ascertain which one it was.

"Very well. We will finish this conversation later. Now, we must be off." Hoisting the strap of her bag over his shoulder, he placed a hand on her arm and urged her back to the battleground. She hesitated briefly at the trees, most likely fearful of the carnage that lay just beyond them. But upon seeing his challenging look, she lifted her chin defiantly and marched forward with purpose.

"Very good, angel," he murmured just loudly enough for her to hear.

She was determined, he had to allow her that. He had first estimated her as nothing more than "a royal pain in the ass" - one of Alex's favorite expressions when describing Zan himself - but who knew? Maybe this tiny slip of a girl would prove valuable, after all. Even with her annoying prattle and incessant questions.

He frowned thoughtfully. Stranger things had happened.

TBC***

NOTE: It's really short, I know, but I was planning on posting part 6b and 7 together and then decided I would post this little bit now while I finish ironing out the details of part 7. 7 will be out either today or tomorrow.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 1-Jan-2003 12:22:05 PM ]
posted on 3-Jan-2003 8:57:57 PM
I didn't forget about this part, girls. I've got 5 pages written and won't sleep until I get it posted tomorrow (tonight I've got a date.)

Teaser: if I get ambitious enough and can get to that part, we'll see Zan and Liz waking up naked together - more comedy than romantic, but it will enlighten you all to a little more of the Antarian way of life.
posted on 5-Jan-2003 12:16:29 AM
I tried, I really did, but if I post the part I just finished writing, no one would be satisfied, because there is nothing exciting about it at all-BORING! I'm sorry.