Against My Programming (CC,TEEN) pt 62 pg 10 2/26 [WIP]

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Which would you like to see happen first in our story?

Poll ended at Wed Jan 09, 2008 4:14 pm

Max get his memories back with Leslie's help.
4
67%
The podsters and company find out more about the history of themselves and other members of the royal family.
2
33%
You decide or I'll tell you another suggestion in the thread or by direct contact.
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 6

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littleroswell
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Post by littleroswell » Tue Dec 11, 2007 3:37 pm

Ok, I'm back with the new part. Thanks, Michelle, for the tip about the Tumeric. I'll keep that in mind. For everyone, I have an idea about posting for this. I have another fic I'm working on and trying to get them both ready by the same day is killing me. So I think I'm going to try for a new part every other week for each fic. So I'm posting the new part for this today and I'll post a new part in two weeks at the latest. The other fic is entitled "TAT:Our World" on the AU with Aliens board. I hope you'll check it out and let me know what you think. I may be able to post sooner but that way it'll give me a week to concentrate on each fic.

Thanks!
Beth

Against My Programming

Part 58 – “What to do With Tess”

The parents all wore various expressions of shock, thoughtfulness, concern, and, surprisingly, guilt. The latter was most prominent on Diane, Philip, and Jeff’s faces. Max felt 100 years old. He was tired, yes, but telling the story of your life to people who thought they knew it was incredibly draining. He sank back wearily into the chair where he sat alone. Liz sent him a sympathetic smile from her spot on the couch between her parents. Maria had fallen asleep with her head in Amy’s lap on the floor. There were Chinese take-out boxes, empty soda cans and packets of sauce everywhere. Isabel had tried very hard to stay awake for the entire telling, but sleep had eventually overtaken her and was stretched out on the floor with a pillow from the couch under her head. Everyone looked weary.

“Why didn’t any of you tell us? Did you not trust us?” Diane asked hoarsely, hurt that her children might feel that way.

“Lizzie, I thought you knew you could tell us anything,” Jeff added.

Giving her father’s hand a reassuring squeeze, Liz leaned closer into his side. “Dad, this wasn’t my secret to tell. Max had risked his life to save mine. He begged me not to tell anyone. I just…I just couldn’t.”

“It wasn’t a matter of trust, mom, not really,” Max jumped in. “I admit that part of the reason Isabel and I never said anything was the fear that you and dad might look at us differently…might be afraid of us…” he swallowed back tears. “We just couldn’t stand the thought of that. But an even worse fear was that even with the gifts that we have, we might not be powerful enough to save you from those who might hurt you to get to us. We thought, I thought, you would be safer if you didn’t know. I’m not so sure that’s true anymore.”

Philip came over and clapped his son’s shoulder. “You’re right, Max. Now that your enemies from your home world know who you are, your human identity, anyone who knows you is at risk. We’re better off knowing now. Forewarned is forearmed.”

Amy shook her head and gently rubbed Maria’s head. “Poor Michael, growing up that way, no wonder he didn’t trust humans and wanted to go home. I don’t wonder Maria and he clicked. She’s always resented the fact that her father left us in this little town to fend for ourselves.” She patted Kyle’s hand where he sat in front of her at the coffee table, still shoveling down Chinese food. “Are you sure you’re ok, Kyle? I mean, it sounds like you’ve been through a lot too, getting shot, being thrust into this alien mess, no offense Max, then having someone move into your house you thought you could trust and they turn out to be a traitor. That would be a lot for anyone to handle.”

Kyle was somewhat embarrassed, but surprisingly pleased, by Amy’s acknowledgement. He was touched that she thought about him in all this. Though his part was small, he hadn’t really had much of a choice but to accept it all. He would have to take some time to really think about everything. Tess’ betrayal hurt more than he wanted to let on because he had just started to feel ok about all that had already happened.

Shrugging, he gave Amy a lopsided smile. “I’m ok, Amy, but thanks for asking.”

Nodding she smiled back. “Well, if you decide you need an ear to listen, you can talk to me if you’d like.” Jim beamed at both of them, happy they seemed to be getting along so well.

Charles spoke up. “Ok, so what happens to Tess now? What do we do with her?”

Everyone looked to Max, who rubbed a tired hand over his face. He was pleased that the parents, even Alex’s, seemed to immediately accept what they had been told, with the help of some small demonstrations of their abilities, and were ready to help and be part of the group. Shaking his head, Max looked to Jim. “I don’t know. I was hoping the Sheriff might have some kind of idea. From what Leslie and Lucas told me, she would be immediately put to death on Antar for her crimes, but we aren’t on Antar. She can’t be tried in an Earth court, and I don’t feel right about killing her, at least not in some sort of executionary style, but we can’t exactly let her go either. What do we do?”

Jim shook his head. “I don’t know what to tell you here, Max. The law of this land says that you can’t take the law into your own hands, but you are the law on Antar. I’m stumped.”

“I have a couple of suggestions, if you would permit me, Your Majesty,” Lucas said, getting up from his seat on the stairs away from the group.

Max winced at his words. “Lucas, you and I are the same age. You know more about me and our past than I do. Please just call me Max…and I would welcome any suggestions.”

Nodding briefly, Lucas continued. “Very well…Max. The way I see it, you have three options. We can find some place to serve as a temporary jail for Tess until such time that she can be taken back to Antar to stand trial. We can kill her on your order, after all her crimes were against your throne and the people of Antar. Last option is to strip her of all knowledge that might be useful to Kivar and set her free, either wiping her memory clean completely, or just the things that might be helpful to the other side.”

Everyone pondered the options Lucas had laid out before them. Jim was the first to speak. “I won’t stop you or prosecute you if you decide on option two, Max,” he said quietly. “She deserves to be put to death, as long as it’s done humanely. Though that isn’t my suggestion, I won’t stand in your way.”

Max shook his head. “If we were in the middle of a physical attack and she was involved, I wouldn’t hesitate to protect any innocent person by killing her, but I just can’t do it under these circumstances.” Looking around the room, he added, “And I couldn’t ask anyone to do what I wouldn’t do.”

Though it looked like it pained him to say so, Lucas spoke again, thickly. “You could order Leslie to do it when she gets back from New York. She has to follow your orders.”

Every person in the room looked as horrified and/or sick as Max felt by that suggestion. “I couldn’t order Leslie to do that. I just couldn’t live with that on my conscience for the rest of my life,” he whispered. Shaking his head again, he sighed. “No, I think we can all safely rule out killing Tess right now. As for the other two suggestions, I’m ready to hear opinions and then we could take a vote. I may be king of Antar, but I don’t want to make weighty decisions like this for everyone.” Lucas looked tremendously relieved.

“I can’t see how erasing all of Tess’ memories will help us. Then we just have an amnesia patient to deal with on top of everything else. That’ll bring a lot of attention to everyone she usually hangs out with, especially dad and me because she’s been living with us. No one is going to want to be responsible for her and what would we tell her? I say if we go with the last option, we only wipe out the memories Kivar could use against us,” Kyle stated practically.

His matter-of-fact voicing of his opinion helped others to speak what they were thinking and Max tiredly and patiently listened to everyone. Isabel and Maria had awakened and chimed in as well. Evelyn and Diane were strangely silent on the whole issue. It took several minutes but Max noticed this and held up a hand for quiet. Turning to Alex’s mother first, he asked, “Mrs. Whitman, you’ve been very quiet throughout all of this. Are you ok? Did you have anything you wanted to say?”

Seeming to come out of a daze, Evelyn gave Max a small smile. “I guess it’s just kind of hard for me to talk so lightly of what we’re going to do with a young woman’s life. I’m still trying to process everything that you already told me.”

Reaching out to where Evelyn stood, Max took her hand in his. “It isn’t easy for any of us. If you had seen the way she had fought and turned against us, not even seeming to care about Kyle, who she was supposedly closest too, you’d understand better the urgency to taking care of this matter. I promise you this decision is not one to be made lightly.”

That seemed to lighten Evelyn and she tentatively squeezed Max’s hand. “Can I ask, what happens to her if we erase her memories and let her go? I mean, if this Kivar gets a hold of her, what happens to her then?”

Letting out a big sigh, Max’s gaze didn’t waver from hers. “I won’t lie to you. I’m pretty sure that if she is of no use to Kivar, he’ll probably kill her. But at least she would have a fighting chance. I wouldn’t take all her abilities away from her if we decided to set her free.”

“But then she could come back after us,” Maria exclaimed.

Max nodded at her. “Yeah, she could but there’s no way I would take away her powers with Kivar and Nicholas out there. I wouldn’t want them to be able to torture her without her having a way to at least try to defend herself.”

That made several of the parents stare at Max in amazement. “After everything she’s done to you all, you’d still give her a fighting chance. Wow! I’m not so sure I’d be as generous,” Charles voiced aloud.

“Is there anything else anyone wants to say before we take a vote on what we do with Tess?” Max asked, ready to get a poll of what everyone wanted to do. No one said anything. “Ok, so all those for erasing all of Tess’ memories and setting her free, raise your hand.” Not one person raised their hand. He had expected this and that’s why he went with that option first. “Ok, all those in favor of…”

“Wait!” Liz interrupted. “What if we do a combination of the other two options? What if we erase the parts of her memory that Kivar would find useful and then keep her locked up someplace? That way if she gets out or Kivar finds her or something, then we don’t have that threat hanging over us.”

Everyone nodded or murmured that this sounded like a good idea. “Ok, so is there anyone who is against Liz’s idea?” Instead, everyone seemed to agree with her. “All right, so I guess the next question is where to put her. Any ideas?” Max asked.

Jim spoke up at this. “How about the abandoned warehouses just on the outskirts of the east side of town? No one ever goes out there except people up to no good, which there isn’t much of lately. I could be the one to drive over and check on her from time to time. No one would ever think twice about me being over there.”

Nodding, Max agreed with Jim’s suggestion. “Good idea. Except Tess could get out of any lock humans could design. Lucas, do you have any idea how we could keep her in our makeshift jail without taking her powers away completely?”

Lucas pursed his lips in thought for a moment. “I suppose we could put some sort of dampening field inside whatever room she’s in so she couldn’t use her abilities. The problem with that is it would stop any of us from being able to use them…unless we could somehow modify it to specifically recognize Tess. I’d have to check with Leslie on that. She’s more in tune with our abilities than me. She’d know if it could be done. I think we should leave Tess unconscious until she gets back with Michael and Serena.”

“All right. Everyone just get some rest and shower and everything. The Sheriff and I will take Tess out to the warehouses,” Max said.

“I want to go too!” Isabel jumped up. She knew that Max would probably talk with Jim about the woman he said had appeared claiming to be their mother, and she wanted to know everything as soon as possible.

Max pulled his mother aside for a moment. “Mom, you seemed to be pretty quiet. Are you ok?”

Giving him a nostalgic smile, she put her hand on his cheek. “It’s just going to take some getting used to seeing you in this new role. Just a few days ago you were my little boy, a senior in high school, who I thought was having girl troubles. Now all of a sudden, you’re a king, a different life-form, hiding from your enemies both alien and human, and making life and death decisions. I’m just scared for you…and very proud to call you my son.”

Tears filled his eyes as Max hugged his mother tightly to him. “I love you too, mom. Please don’t think that could ever change. With one last squeeze, he turned her loose with a quick peck on the cheek.

A few moments later, Jim was driving with Isabel in the front seat of his SUV and Max in the back seat with Tess’ unconscious form next to him. “Sheriff, have you said anything to anyone else about this woman that says she’s our mother?”

Glancing in the rearview mirror, Jim shook his head. “No, I didn’t say anything to anyone, not even Amy. Your parents don’t know anything about her. She’s pretty convincing that she isn’t from around here. I tried to question her without giving away that I knew a lot about you. She seems nice enough either way.”

“Where is she?” Isabel asked. “You didn’t keep her locked up at the jail did you?”

Jim looked a little embarrassed. “Well, I thought about putting her up at my house, but with my relationship with Amy and everything…” his voice trailed off and he cleared his throat. “I put her up in a hotel room. She didn’t have any ID or wallet or money or anything.”

Sighing Max leaned his head against the back of the seat. He was so tired, but this needed to be taken care of ASAP. Why was it that nothing seemed to be able to wait? He almost wished he had given in to Liz’s request to come with him and Isabel. She would have been a very welcome support system. But she needed rest too and her parents seemed to need reassurance that she was ok. “We’ll pay you back for any expenses, Sheriff. Thank you for not mentioning this to our parents. I don’t want to upset them over something that might turn out to be nothing. After we take care of Tess, let’s go meet this woman. Did she give you a name?”

“Yeah, she said her name was Larina. But, Max, don’t worry about the expense and this can wait another day. You’re too exhausted to open another can of worms today,” Jim said, concern for the young man evident on his face.

Too tired to argue, Max shrugged. “We’ll see. Right now, let’s just get Tess taken care of and then we can go from there.”

Isabel was strangely quiet. Jim looked over to see her eyes wide as saucers and her face was very pale. “What? What’s wrong?”

Swallowing, it took Isabel a couple of tries to get her voice working. “Lucas told us that our mother’s name was Larina. I don’t know if I’m more scared this woman might be our mother or of the possibility she isn’t.” She glanced back to see Max’s reaction but he was sound asleep.
Just call me Phoenix...cause I'm back from the dead!

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Post by littleroswell » Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:03 pm

Hi, everybody! I'm back with the new part. Things start to get a little wilder from here forward. You will be getting some real surprizes. I do have a question for everyone and will put it in a poll. I will take the answers I get into consideration for the future parts. The question does kind of involve a bit of spoilerage for what's coming but that's ok. Do you want to see Max get his memories back before we see the past that caused the mess that the home world is in or visa versa? The granilith will be showing the past between Larina and Yvan to the podsters and company. I just want to know which you'd rather see first. Let me know in the poll. If you have any other thoughts, please don't hesitate to post them on the thread. I'd love to hear them. You can also PM or email me.

Thanks,
Beth

Against My Programming

Part 59 – “Meeting Mom”

Michael sat very still, his head against the back of the seat, taking one deep breath after another. From both seats to his right, he heard muffled giggling and open snickering. His jaw tightened and he gripped the armrests so hard his knuckles turned white. Grasping desperately for some sort of peaceful image to focus on, he strained to ignore the laughing and still his tumultuous stomach. Just as he had latched onto a nice picture of Maria in some sexy little number giving him come hither looks, there was a lurching that made his face go from white to green. It took everything he had not to lose his lunch…and the laughing had turned into outright guffaws.

Opening one eye, Michael scowled at the two young women to his right. “And what, pray tell, is so damn funny?” he demanded, swallowing back the bile that filled his throat.

Serena covered her mouth and tried to look sympathetic, not quite succeeding in ridding her eyes of her amusement. Leslie, on the other hand, was not so nice. “You, oh mighty warrior, are what is so funny. If only Kivar and Nicholas could see you now. The great Rath…scared to death of flying,” she chuckled.

Michael’s glare only darkened further. “Well, I’ve never flown before! Plus, I watch way too many of those reality videos of crashes and explosions.”

“I beg to differ on the statement that you’ve never flown before,” Leslie stated dryly. Lowering her voice slightly, she leaned toward him from her place by the window. “You have traveled through space at speeds that no human has ever been able to accomplish. Buck up, spaceboy.”

Sighing, Michael muttered, “What happened to the new Leslie we met in the abandoned building and was so nice at the hotel? I liked her.”

Pursing her lips, Leslie contemplated his statement. “I’m not sure, honestly. It’s funny, but without Max around…I feel…more like I did before the awakening. At least sort of I do. I still can’t feel the same about everything.” Making a frustrating grunt, she shifted in her seat. “I can’t make sense of anything. Every time I go through…some sort of change, I feel like the prior me was just a dream. I don’t remember going through so many upheavals on…before,” she admitted, carefully choosing her words.

“What do you mean?” Serena asked.

After a moment, Leslie shrugged. “I’m not sure I can really explain it. It’s in my nature, I suppose. My life here on earth before coming to Roswell made me think of my previous life as a dream, not quite real. But then the awakening started and I could feel Leslie slipping away, a little at a time. Then when it was completed, I couldn’t bring up any of her reactions and I was all F-L again, constantly changing to suit someone else’s needs. Now that Max has gone back to Roswell and is dealing with things there, I feel a little more like Leslie again, but without her substance.” Shaking her head, she slouched back in her seat and stared out the window. “I can’t explain it any better than that,” she said quietly.

“So what makes this different from before, you know, at home?” Michael asked, thankful for the distraction from the slight turbulence they were going through.

“I’m not sure, but I have a very strong suspicion it has something to do with the fact that Max is so torn between his old life and this one, that he’s so unsure of himself as a leader. It might calm down a little if or when he gets his memories back…or it could make it worse,” Leslie speculated. With an evil grin, she decided to change the subject. “Hey, Michael, would like the window seat. It’s really awesome to see these big birds drop out of the sky when it’s time to land.”

Turning completely green, Michael promptly jumped out of his seat and rushed for the bathroom at the back of the plane, pushing a little girl out of the way without any apology. Serena and Leslie laughed for a moment before looking at each other and smiling. Then Serena’s smile took a turn to the nervous side.

“Leslie, you could probably tell me better than anyone, I’m nothing like Tess am I?” she asked quietly. She was so afraid that something might happen to make her turn into the monster that she had seen and heard of in her duplicate.

Tilting her head, Leslie considered giving the girl what she wanted to hear, but immediately dismissed it. “Actually, you are very much like Tess, Serena. Your DNA and hers are identical. The differences are in two things…” she waved her hand over the inside of Serena’s left forearm, revealing a glowing tattoo of the whirlwind galaxy within a fiery, golden ring.

Serena gasped. “Why did you do that? Why did you put that on me?” she asked in a frightened voice.

Shaking her head, Leslie quickly made the tattoo disappear. “I didn’t do that. I simply made it visible. It’s your seal, Avaloane. It proves that you are indeed the queen. It gives you power. It was placed on Avaloane the day she married Xan.”

Still shaken by what she had seen, felt, and what it all stood for, Serena swallowed before asking, “And the other differences?”

Looking her squarely in the eyes, Leslie held nothing back. “The way you were raised. You were given love in this life, Serena. You learned that humans can be your friends, even family. Tess saw them as nothing but pests, bugs in her way. She has never known real love, in either this life or the one before. What you do with that knowledge of your differences is up to you. You will come to a point where you will face your past, both of them, and you will have to choose your path. If I were you, I would try to prepare ahead of time for which way you will go.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

Max sat in the SUV in silence, clutching Liz’s hand for all he was worth. He was more rested after a good night’s sleep, but he was also anxious about where they were headed. Jim had picked him, Isabel, Liz and Leslie up a few minutes ago. Michael, Serena and Leslie had gotten back early this morning. Serena had tiredly and politely accepted the use of the guest bed in the Evans’ home and immediately crashed. Michael had hit the roof over the parents being told the truth, until he had gotten Amy’s message to come over as soon as he got back. She said she would cook for him and let him stay there so they could talk. His nerves had him yanking on his hair and he had muttered and mumbled all the way out the door.

Max had asked Liz and Leslie to come with him, Liz because she was his constant support and Leslie for her information about their former lives. Liz knew where they were going, but Leslie hadn’t been told yet. She assumed they were going to check on Tess. Since arriving back in Roswell, Leslie had withdrawn again, jumping at Max’s every word and making everyone, especially him, uncomfortable. Lucas had simply shaken his head sadly and said he would watch over Megan. Guilt ate at Max, but he couldn’t help the situation. What could he do? He had no idea how to stop the changes that were occurring with Leslie. Maybe if he decided to get his memories back, he could remember what he needed to do to free her and Lucas. But then, if the story he had heard about his former self was true, then he might also remember the reason why he couldn’t free them.

At his big sigh, Liz squeezed his hand in reassurance. One thing at a time. First, he had to deal with this whole “queen mother” appearing. He silently agreed again with what Isabel had confided in him earlier. She said she didn’t know which she was scared of more, that this woman wasn’t their mother but an imposter or that she really was their mother. He felt the same way. Max leaned a little closer to Liz. He wished they had time to really work on fixing their relationship. There just wasn’t any time now. That would have to wait.

As Jim pulled his SUV next to the abandoned warehouse, Leslie immediately hopped out, with the others quickly catching up to her. As Max led the way to the room where Tess was being held, he asked, “Leslie, you can fix this room right? I mean, I don’t want Tess trying to escape, but I would like for her to have access to her powers if she did. I know she could come after us but I can’t just bring myself to execute her. Did I explain everything…”

Leslie interrupted and when she turned to him, her eyes glowed for a moment. It stopped Max in his tracks. “You explained everything perfectly, Max.” His name seemed awkward on her lips. Max wasn’t sure if it was the way she was saying it or just the way he was hearing it. “I will take care of everything. You will have nothing more to fear from the traitor,” she told him mechanically. Then she seemed to come out of it for a moment. “Relax, Max. I got you guys covered.”

Sighing a little in relief, Max tried to relax as she had told him but he felt Liz stiffen beside him. She moved a little closer and said quietly, “Max, she’s so different around you. It’s like she’s constantly trying to figure out who to be around you. Isn’t there anything you can do about that?”

Max sighed again, this time in frustration. “That’s probably because I can’t figure out who she is or what I need her to be either. I’m so confused Liz. I kind of hope this Larina woman is who she says she is and will be able to help. I just don’t know how to handle all of this. Having all of you guys behind me, especially you, helps but there are still so many unknown variables.”

It took only about half an hour to secure the room Tess was locked in and wake her up. They gave her food and left her screaming and threatening them. Jim sighed and wiped a hand over his face. “Eventually, we’re going to have to do something a little more permanent, Max. We can’t hold her here indefinitely. Someone is bound to come across her or she’ll find a way out.”

“I know. Maybe we can find a way to contact Larek or someone else from back on Antar that we can trust who can give us an idea of how to deal with this,” Max answered as they climbed back into Jim’s vehicle and he pulled onto the highway.

When they pulled into the hotel parking lot, Leslie looked confused. She thought about questioning Max about it but was afraid to question her master. Instead, she decided to carefully ask Isabel about where they were. “If you don’t mind me asking, what are we doing here, your highness?”

Isabel looked a little panicked. “Leslie, please just call me Isabel. I’m not Vilondra. We’re here to meet someone Jim found. You’ll see in just a second.” She was so nervous about all of this, and Leslie’s calling her by that lofty title wasn’t helping.

They all followed Jim to the second floor and stood in front of a door that had 214 on it. “She’s in there,” the Sheriff told them. He waited for Max to take the lead.

They all just stood there, staring at the door with Leslie staring at each of them in turn, wondering what was on the other side. Liz finally squeezed Max’s hand again. “No matter what happens, we’re all together. We’ll get through anything if we stick together.”

Nodding, Max took Isabel’s hand in his other one. Then he looked at Jim and nodded. “Go ahead and knock, Sheriff.” They all stood holding their breaths as Valenti did as Max asked.

It was very anticlimactic when nothing happened. Jim knocked again and they waited for another couple of minutes. Nothing. No one answered the door, there was no fluttering of the curtains to the right of the door, and there was no noise from inside. Perplexed, Jim scratched his forehead. “I don’t understand. I left her here and told her I’d come back as soon as I could to talk more about the situation. She assured me she would wait.”

“A girl still has to eat, Sheriff,” came a very feminine voice from the stairs behind them.

Everyone whirled around and froze. The woman stilled as well and they could do nothing but stare at each other. Finally, Isabel moved closer into her brother’s side. “Max, she looks just like…I mean…it’s her!” she whispered. It was indeed the woman from the message they had seen in the pod chamber, except…something about her was different, Max could feel it. He undeniably felt drawn to this woman but…

The woman’s almost black eyes filled with tears and she started to tremble. “It’s you,” she whispered hoarsely. “It’s really you. After all these years…” her voice broke at that and she seemed to lose the strength to stand. Before she could hit the ground, Isabel and Max had both rushed to her sides to support her. She simply stared at them, drinking in the sight of the two halves of her heart. Placing a hand on each face, she let her tears fall. “Bless Granilith and the Creator, I have found you!” She turned her face glowing with happiness on the Sheriff. “Thank you. You have no idea what this means to me.”

Max snapped out of his stupor. “We should get inside before someone sees this scene we’re creating.” He started to pull away from the woman but she quickly pulled him back to her, engulfing her in a warm embrace. She then turned and wrapped her arms around Isabel, not appearing ready to let go in the near future. “By all means, lead the way, Xan. We have much to discuss.” As she passed into the room, her eyes only seemed to see her two children.

Leslie scrambled in behind them and bowed before the queen mother. Larina seemed to finally take notice of her and the other brunette in the room. She patted Leslie’s head and told her to rise. Leslie could only shake her head. “Your Majesty, it is a blessing to see you alive and well. We did not dare hope,” she said, her voice heavy with emotion. The queen mother had always been extraordinarily kind to her and Lucas.

Pulling the younger woman to her feet, Larina said quietly, “You hopefully will never have to bow before me again, F-L. It is a true pleasure to see you again.”

Jim had closed the door behind them. Max leaned against the wall, as far from the woman before him as he could get. “Leslie!” he called firmly to get her attention. Liz moved closer to his side and he found balance in her. Calmer, he looked to his new friend. “Is she truly who she says? Are you sure she is really our mother?”

Leslie nodded. “The feeling is undeniable. She is the queen mother.”

Confused, Larina looked again at her children, who were so hesitant around her. “Xan, you should be able to tell that better than F-L! Can you not feel me? Am I not the same as before?” she asked.

“Her name is Leslie, not F-L,” Max ground out. “And my name is Max, not Xan.” The confirmation of Leslie and Lucas’ account of their former positions made Max really angry. How dare anyone be treated as property! “And I think we have a lot of talking to do.”

Nodding slowly, Larina turned her gaze onto Liz. “And she? Who is she? She is not one of you, yet she carries familiar residuals of you on her personage. Does she belong here?”

His anger and frustration at the situation growing, Max said in a voice that booked no argument, “Her name is Liz, and she belongs with me.”
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Re: Against My Programming (CC,TEEN) New pt 59! pg 8 12/25

Post by littleroswell » Tue Jan 15, 2008 5:36 pm

Against My Programming

Part 60 – “To Be or Not to Be…Their Former Selves” (I know, long title.)

Hurt and bewildered by the hostility in Max’s voice, Larina took a deep breath and turned her attention to her daughter, not knowing how to handle her son at this time. “And how are you called on this planet? How do I address you?” she asked politely.

Isabel was somewhat embarrassed by Max’s behavior. “I’m called Isabel.” She shook her head and rephrased her words. “I mean, that’s my name. Isabel Evans.”

Giving a slight nod, Larina studied Jim but addressed her question back to Max. “Is he trustworthy? Does this…Sheriff know about you?” She had liked the lawman but she would kill him if he so much as threatened her children’s safety. Max’s next words shocked her and cut her to the quick.

“I trust the Sheriff with my life everyday. I trust him more than I trust you,” Max growled out, not really sure himself where his aggression was coming from. Maybe it was the outrage of this queen mother suddenly appearing after all this time. “Who exactly are you and why are you here?” When she just stared at him, tears forming in her eyes, he tried to soften his tone but found that he just got angrier. “After all these years, wondering who we are and why we’re here…why are you here now?” he demanded.

Larina shook her head, dropping it into her hands. “I can’t understand this anger, Xan. You should know who you are. That was why we sent the Luinwe with you, to awaken your memories. Do you hate us for what we did? Do you hate me so much? I came to help. It’s been so long!”

Isabel stepped in, glaring at Max, and moving to Larina’s side. She patted her awkwardly on the back. “Don’t mind, Max. It’s just that we were on our own for so long, not knowing anything about ourselves or where we come from. All we knew was that we were different from everyone and everything else we knew.”

Larina’s head came up and she nodded. Sniffing a little, she pointed to some chairs. “I understand. All I ask is for a chance to explain. It would be easier if you unlocked your memories. Otherwise, explanations will not make as much sense. You all lived your own lives on Antar and as much as I would have liked to know more about them, I was not privy to all aspects of your lives. You can ask me what you like and I’ll answer any questions as best I can.”

Max and Isabel looked at each other. Liz, Jim, and Leslie all waited for them to make a decision. Finally, Isabel said quietly, “Michael will kill us if we do this without him. He’s family, Max. Just the fact that we’re here without him makes me feel guilty.” She felt like she would need the support of everyone who knew her secret around her when she talked more to this Larina.

Nodding, Max sighed. “Yeah, I know. I just wanted to be sure of who she really was before putting any more people in danger.” Turning back to Larina, he gave her a wary smile. “We would appreciate any answers you could give us, but we need our friends…and human family to be a part of this. They’ve already learned so much. It would be wrong to keep them in the dark, not to mention Michael…er, we were told he used to be Rath on Antar.”

Larina pursed her lips, studying Jim and Liz for a couple of moments. Finally, she nodded and gave a half smile. “I am glad you found people you could trust here. I hoped you would be happy in this life so you would want to help make our world a happier place too. What about Avaloane? Is she not with you?”

Shaking his head, Max pointed to the door. “I really think we should do this with everyone else. Sheriff, if you wouldn’t mind making a couple of phone calls, we should get everyone back in one place. Since we already had a meeting at our house, maybe we could make it your house. I don’t want the neighbors to wonder at the constant activity and start getting nosy.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

An hour later, the entire group was once again assembled together, this time at the Valenti home. Lucas too had shown his respect to the queen mother but with considerably less enthusiasm than Leslie. Larina, on the other hand, had been delighted that he was well and had surprised him by engulfing him in a hug. That had shocked everyone. The queen mother would hug a slave? Something about that didn’t sit right with the images of Antar that had already been formed in their minds.

Diane and Philip were still trying to wrap their heads around the fact that this woman sitting in front of them was their children’s real mother. Diane especially felt a horrible ache in her chest and stomach. She could barely swallow past the lump that had formed in her throat. Isabel and Max had both hugged her and smiled at her and had helped reassure her a little. But she was so afraid this woman had come to take her babies away from her.

Everyone was murmuring and chatting about the revelation of this newest alien being. Larina was introduced to everyone and she seemed to easily put families and names together and genuinely glad to meet everyone. When she was introduced to Diane and Philip, she startled everyone again by enveloping Diane in a hug. “Thank you. I cannot express my gratitude for taking such good care of them enough. Just in the brief time I have been talking with them, it is obvious they have grown up in a house of love and that is so important to me. I was so afraid M-K would be raising them alone. We had chosen earth because of the passion and strong emotions that flow among your species. The emotions are so like our own most of the time. M-K never really learned those emotions, but then he had a very unhappy time as a slave.”

Diane and Philip really didn’t understand everything Larina had just said but they felt lighter as she hadn’t treated them like inferior beings. “Thank you,” Diane replied guardedly.

Max decided he had waited long enough for it to sink in who was actually in the room with them now. They needed answers. Serena looked extremely uncomfortable, but Liz had taken a seat near her to help and it seemed to be helping a little. Everyone was spread out all over the living room. The group was growing quickly and Max felt the heavy weight of the responsibility on his shoulders. “If I could have everyone’s attention, please.” Everyone quieted. “By now, everyone has been introduced to Larina and told who she is. Now I think we need to get some answers to our questions. Let’s try to keep this light and friendly ok?” Max looked pointedly at Michael who gave him an innocent shrug.

Larina had seated herself in the recliner and there was an obvious gap between her and the rest of the group. She hoped she would be able to win their trust quickly. Time was really running short. Kivar’s troops were being organized for a special attack and she was afraid it would be against earth. “I just want to say what a pleasure it is to meet all of you and to see that Xan and Vilondra…I mean Max and Isabel, have so many wonderful people they can rely on. It means a lot to us.”

Max, Liz and Isabel had already talked out a list of questions to ask first. It had been put together rather hastily and he was sure more would come up as they all talked. He picked one of the primary questions that he was pretty sure not even having his past memories would help answer. “How many different sets of us were sent here to Earth and why more than one?”

“And do any of them remember who they were in this previous life?” Michael added. Isabel glared at him but he just glared right back. It was a legitimate question and seemed to fit with the other Max had asked.

Larina thought about her answer for just a moment, feeling the differences between Serena and the other three hybrids. “When we chose to recreate the four of you, we had a limited amount of time to do so before your essences would fade away and we would be unable to bring you back. It would take time for you to be regenerated and to grow to maturity again. Kivar knew what we were trying to do and destroyed laboratory after laboratory, looking for you all. We knew then that we could not take the time to do all of this on Antar. You would have to be hidden. We chose earth for numerous reasons but we found out there was a mole, a leak in our intelligence and Kivar had found out about our plans. We kept moving our lab around, changing our plans, trying to stay one step ahead of the mole since we didn’t know who it was. Our forces were dwindling because of having so many fronts to fight on. Finally, we decided that having only one set of the royal four would make it too easy for Kivar to find them and destroy them. Other sets were created to act as decoys, sent at random times to earth, sometimes in groups. There was one set given the seals that our original Xan, Vilondra, Ratherton, and Avaloane carried. These seals would be passed to the next set if something happened to the one originally given them. We knew some sets wouldn’t survive the voyage to earth…Kivar found some of those ships and destroyed them before they ever got here. Others were on ships that didn’t make it through the atmosphere. There would be some sets that would make it and the pods would malfunction and abort the occupant.

“We thought that making multiple sets would help our odds of being able to recreate the royal four and getting them back to their rightful place. I believe originally, we made 100 different sets,” Larina said, pausing at the end when everyone’s mouths fell open in disbelief.

“100 Michaels in the world. Oh god, I think I’m going to be sick,” Maria moaned.

“Hey! I’m not too thrilled with the idea either, but thanks for that lovely bit of support,” Michael exclaimed.

“It’s worse than that. It means there are 100 Tesses around. 100 copies of that traitor,” Kyle spat. He caught the hurt wince Serena made and amended grudgingly. “Ok so maybe 98 since Serena and that Kate girl don’t seem to have traitorous tendencies.”

Max got everyone back under control and Larina was shaking her head. “No, no, that was the original number. Like I said, we know for a certainty Kivar destroyed several ships carrying some of these sets. We also lost communication with a couple of the ships when they entered the solar system. We don’t think they made it to earth.”

Nodding, Max added, a little sick at the idea. “And Kivar said that he had started hunting down some of these pod groups and destroying them before he figured out that one group must have the seals as markers. So how do we know we are the original set given the seals? I mean, I know Isabel and I carry seals but Kivar said Tess doesn’t, Serena does and Michael has never found a seal.”

Serena spoke up a little nervously. “Leslie showed me mine on the plane here. I have a seal on the inside of my left forearm.”

Michael was scared of the answer to Max’s question. He had never thought he was supposed to have a seal. What if he didn’t? What if he didn’t belong with Max and Isabel after all? He felt so alone at that moment. Then he felt someone take his hand in theirs. He looked to find that it was Maria. “You’ll always belong with us, Michael, especially with me. No matter what, you are part of our family.” He squeezed her hand but still felt queasy.

Larina sensed Michael’s fear and waved him toward her. He moved slowly, dragging Maria with him. He was squeezing her hand so tightly, that her bones were grinding against each other, but she didn’t complain. Larina stood and waved her hand over his right upper arm. A flaming sword appeared in the middle of a golden, bejeweled crown. She smiled at him and hid the seal once more. Michael’s relief was palpable. “You are indeed our Ratherton.”

Turning her attention back to Max, Larina tried to answer his question. “The timing of the hatching of each pod group was a little different. Your group’s age fits with the group we gave the seals to originally. None of the groups were given their memories because it would be too hard on the young human mind to process two lives. It would also be unfair to the groups that lived and were not to become the royal four to have the memories of a past life that would no longer belong to them. This way, they could live their lives here on earth in peace.”

Looking at Serena, Larina tilted her head slightly. “You are not of this original pod grouping. You are a little older. I believe you must have been replacing their Avaloane. I don’t know who the Tess is they are talking about but if you decide to rebel against us, you will be branded and tried as a traitor. As for M-L and F-L…forgive me, Lucas and Leslie, they are of your age and at least one of their awakenings is complete. That solidifies the sealing of your group. No other group can have your memories or return to Antar.”

That made the group a little nervous. What did it mean exactly? Liz was the one who spoke up, voicing what Max especially had been afraid of. “So does that mean if something happens to any of these four, the seals won’t be transferred to the next group? They’re stuck with them?” she asked.

Larina nodded. “Yes, you are the only hope left for the royal four to come back and straighten out the mess that is our world.”

Everyone was quiet, trying to let that sink in. The parents in the room were in awe by everything they were learning. These teenagers were so different! So much had been going on behind the scenes of what they thought was rebellion against parental authority.

Alex was the one to break the silence this time. “What about Leslie’s seal? I thought only the royal children were given a seal at birth? Why do Michael, Serena and Leslie have one?”

“Rath and Ava were given seals when they became members of the royal house. Ava received hers on the day she and Xan were married. Xan ordered for Rath to be given one when he was placed in command of Xan’s armies and the royal guard. As for Leslie…I’m not sure of what you speak. She carries no seal that I know of,” Larina answered.

Leslie was the one to address Alex. Her eyes lacked the warmth that used to be there when she looked at him. Waving her right hand over the inside of her left wrist, she revealed a copy of the V constellation that served as Max’s seal, but over the top of it was a set of shackles. “Is this what you were talking about, Alex?”

Everyone looked at it and Max frowned. Alex moved to touch it but Leslie jerked her arm out of his reach. He nodded. “Yeah, I saw it appear when you went through the awakening in New York, but when Max carried you back out to the car, it was gone.”

“It’s not a seal,” Lucas explained flatly. “It’s a branding. It shows everyone that she belongs to Xan. Every Luinwe gets one. Mine won’t appear until my awakening is completed.”

Most of the people in the group winced and most were frowning at the idea. Michael and Max were scowling. Max stood up and started pacing. “You see! This is why I was so angry earlier! At first, we’re told all these fantastic stories of our people…this noble cause I’m supposed to be a part of and that we’re everyone’s last hope. But last hope for what? A society that allows slaves to be programmed and branded? No, thank you! I don’t want any part of it! As far as I’m concerned, the whole damn system can go to hell!”

“Maxwell, watch your language,” Diane gently corrected.

“Sorry, mom,” Max apologized automatically. The parents in the room all smiled at the irony of their exchange.

Larina was shaking her head. “No, no, no,” she moaned softly. “You don’t understand. You can’t go on bits and pieces. I told you all of this would make sense if you would just allow Leslie to unlock your memories. Why don’t you? It will make you remember what is really going on! What are you afraid of?”

“Of becoming a monster. Of forgetting about all the things and people I care about here. Of losing the people I love here,” Max admitted quietly, his eyes meeting Liz’s. She gave him a sympathetic look.

“Is that possible? If we were to unlock our memories, would we stop caring about our lives here?” Isabel asked Larina fearfully.

Larina took in a deep breath and her eyes fell to the floor. “Honestly, I’m not sure exactly what will happen. You all are new creations. We’ve never remade any of our people with alien DNA before. In fact, capturing essences and recreating people has never been successful before. That’s why we were so happy when it worked. I can tell you that unlocking your past memories will not destroy the ones you have made here. Beyond that, I know you were good people in your last lives and it seems that it is so again in this life. Do not be afraid of becoming…monsters.”

Everyone started talking at once and Max, Isabel, Serena and Michael just listened to the discussions floating around them for a while. They didn’t say anything, but listened to everyone’s opinions, not hearing anything they weren’t already thinking. Finally, they all met each other’s eyes and Max held up a hand to get everyone’s attention again.

Taking a deep breath, he realized by Michael and Isabel’s nod that they would go with whatever he decided. It bolstered his courage a bit. “No one else has the information stored in our locked memories. Some things other people might be aware of, but as Larina pointed out, no one but Xan would be privilege to everything Xan thought and did.” He paused, trying to feel out his decision. “I think one of us should try it.”

Looks of nervousness were on everyone’s faces and outright panic were on Alex, Liz, Maria, Diane and Philip’s faces. Michael turned to Larina. “Who can unlock whose memories? Can Leslie unlock all of our memories or does Lucas have to unlock some of us?” he asked.

Larina nodded toward Isabel. “Lucas cannot unlock anyone’s memories until his awakening is completed and he is the only one who can unlock Vilondra’s memories. Leslie is the only one who can unlock Xan’s. Either of the Luinwe can unlock Rath or Ava’s.”

“So I guess that let’s me out as the guinea pig for this,” Isabel tried to joke. “I promised Lucas we wouldn’t finish his awakening unless we had no other choice or found a way to free him.”

Serena looked at each of the other hybrids around her. “I’d rather not be the one to get those memories unlocked as it appears that Ava might have been a traitor in her last life. It might be coincidence that all of her clones are power hungry but I really don’t want to tempt fate.”

Michael and Max nodded and turned to each other. “That leaves you or me,” Max pointed out aloud.

“I’ll do it. You and Liz just got back together and I’m know I wouldn’t want to see the look on her face if you woke up in love with Serena. Rath was never in love with Vilondra so I’m safe there,” Michael volunteered.

Max shook his head. “I appreciate the offer, but I couldn’t ask you to do this, Michael. I’m supposed to be this great leader and I would have the most valuable information locked inside my head.”

“But if something happens to you, it’ll affect Leslie,” Alex objected.

“Maxwell, it’s because you’re supposed to be this great leader that I should be the one to do this. Too many people are counting on you. If something goes wrong, I’d rather it happen to me,” Michael argued, ignoring Alex.

Putting a hand on Michael’s shoulder, Max shook his head. “And I’m counting on you to protect the people we care about, even if it means from ourselves. There is no one I trust with Isabel and Liz’s safety more than you and I know you can take care of things if something does go wrong.” Seeing that Michael was still shaking his head, Max moved a little closer and lowered his voice so only Michael could hear him. “I have to know, Michael. I have to know what made Xan change. Why did he suddenly change his mind about setting the Luinwe free? Why is it that he seemed to change so drastically after he was married to Ava? I have to find out and I’m the only one who can. Please, brother, I beg you…let me do this.”

Michael stared at him long and hard for several minutes before finally dropping his head towards the floor and nodding sadly. “Ok, Max, but this had better work out for us because I’m tired of holding the short end of the stick, and I don’t want to have to take on your responsibilities.”

Chuckling, Max backed away from Michael after giving him a manly hug. Then his eyes caught Liz’s and he was cut to the heart to see her battling back tears. Coming to stand beside her, he took her hand and jerked his head toward the front door. “Let’s go talk for a few minutes,” he said. She sniffed and nodded, allowing him to gently pull her outside.

Larina watched them and smiled. “I hope he remembers those feelings when Xan’s memories are awakened. She seems like everything I had hoped for in Avaloane.” Those who had heard her were surprised and pleased by her comment.
Just call me Phoenix...cause I'm back from the dead!

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Re: Against My Programming (CC,TEEN) New pt 60! pg 9 1/15

Post by littleroswell » Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:38 pm

I'm back with the new part and I know you've been waiting so I won't keep you long. I just want to say thank you so much for taking the time to leave feedback and I'm glad I'm keeping you intrigued. I hope to continue to drop some surprises for a while yet. I'm not entirely happy with this particular part but there it is. I'll be back in two weeks, give or take, with part 62. Let me know what you think!

Beth

Against My Programming

Part 61 – “Not Exactly What You Were Expecting”

Max led Liz around the side of the house where there weren’t any windows and less likelihood of any of the neighbors seeing them. When he turned to face her, he bit back a grin at her telltale biting of her lower lip and the way she had her arms wrapped around her waist. She was nervous or upset about something or maybe both. He had a pretty good idea what it was but he wanted to give her the chance to say something.

After a couple of minutes, Liz looked up at him and tried to smile. The tears in her eyes were almost his complete undoing. She blinked them back quickly, however, and he silently applauded her small victory over her emotions. “Are you sure about this?” she asked him. “I mean, we don’t really know what we’re dealing with here. This Larina might not be who she says she is at all. Leslie might unwittingly damage your brain or…or something…” her voice trailed off as her throat tightened in fear for him. She looked back down at the ground.

Stepping forward, Max took her hand in his. “Hey, I’ve thought about this. I wish there was some way to know for sure what will happen but even Larina isn’t sure about it all entirely. All I know is that I feel like we’re running out of time, we need answers and we stand a better chance if someone tries to get their memories of the past back.”

Liz lost the battle as new tears formed and spilled down her cheeks. She sniffed and tried to blink them back but they kept coming. Looking up into his eyes, she threw herself against him and wrapped her arms around his waist. He obligingly did the same and pulled her tight against him. Resting her head on his chest, she said softly, “I know. But for once I want to be selfish. I gave you up already for the good of the world. I really don’t want to do it again. What if you wake up and remember that you loved Tess…Ava…Serena…whoever? What if you remember the reason you didn’t want to set the Luinwe free in the first place? What if you totally forget all about me and your whole life here?” She had worked herself up now and was no longer talking softly.

Max pulled her back and silenced her ramblings with a lingering kiss. “Then you and Isabel and Michael and everyone else will be here to remind me. Liz, I don’t remember anything about my supposed life on Antar, but I do know that my heart and soul recognized you the first time I laid eyes on you in the third grade. You are the other half of me. Maybe I thought in that other life that I did love…what did Kivar call her Avaloane?...but I know there is no way I ever felt for her the way I feel about you,” he told her certainly.

“Even in spite of the fact that I stupidly broke your heart to save the world?” Liz demanded, looking him straight in the eyes.

“Especially for that,” Max agreed chuckling. He kissed her again and then stepped back with a sigh. “Come on, let’s go ahead and get this over with. The suspense is killing me.”

She allowed him to lead her back to the house, but made him stop outside while she wiped at her eyes and nose with a tissue from her pocket. Once she felt more in control of herself, Liz nodded and then led the way inside, trying to bolster her courage. They walked in and found everyone quietly chatting among themselves…everyone but Leslie who was sitting with her daughter curled up in her lap fighting sleep. She seemed to be staring off into space, thinking deeply about something. Alex too was quiet, but he was watching Leslie, trying to be subtle about it, but failing miserably.

Everyone turned to face the two young people who just walked back in. Larina was the first to greet them warmly. She was heartened by the way the two were clinging to each other for support. The blank, cold look she used to see in Xan’s eyes when he was with Avaloane was not in Max’s eyes as he stood with Liz. Whoever this young woman was, she was obviously very special to her son and therefore, she interested Larina greatly.

“Are you ready to begin?” she asked, knowing that any show of emotion would not be welcomed right now.

Max looked at his family who reflected the nerves he felt radiating from Liz. Then he turned to Leslie. He softly called her name and she shook her head before meeting his eyes. “I’d like to talk to you and Lucas before we do this, if you don’t mind.” The two siblings nodded and followed Max into the kitchen just feet away. He looked at the two people who had become a real part of their group in such a short time and cleared his throat. “I’m not really sure what I wanted to say. I hope this works out right for all of us. I guess I’m just a little scared of what’s going to happen. Not knowing exactly how it will work is frightening in itself but the thought that I might not remember or care about the life I’ve got on this planet, terrifies me more than anything else,” he admitted softly. He looked down at the ground nervously.

Lucas was stunned. Never had Xan ever shown a moment of weakness in front of him like this. To admit to slaves that he was scared would be unheard of and disappointing to his people on Antar. For Lucas, it just made him actually respect the man standing before him. He hadn’t felt genuine deep respect for Xan in a long time. He too hoped that Max wouldn’t change too much after he got his memories back.

Leslie surprised them both by stepping forward and pulling Max into a hug. He stiffened at first until he realized that this was what he had needed, just a hug from a friend. She squeezed him gently before pulling back and smiling up at him. “You must trust in Granolith and the Creator to make sure things will end up as they should. Once you make your decisions, stick with them and work hard to make them end up being good ones. Sometimes it isn’t the path we choose that makes it good or bad, but how we work at making it good or bad in the end. I believe you have a good heart, Max, and I always thought you had a good heart on Antar…at least up until the end, but I have my suspicions about all that now. Follow that heart and trust in it to guide you,” she told him, sounding so much like Liz for a moment that all Max could do was stare at her.

“I’m not sure I believe in God,” he answered truthfully.

She smiled at him knowingly. “I would think that the way you live your life everyday and the way you care about people and justice would attest otherwise, your majesty. Perhaps you feel Creator has hidden himself from you for a while, but I do not believe your faith has truly died…it’s just been buried for a time.”

Those words were a comfort to Max, although he wasn’t really sure why. He repeated them to himself silently and then moved back to the living room. “Come on; I don’t want to put this off any longer.”

* * * * * * * * * *

“You both might lose consciousness for a while. As far as our scientists could tell, it would take time for your mind and body to adjust and merge your two sets of memories, your two lives. To be honest, most of our data was based on computer simulations and theory based on the cloning process,” Larina said softly to her son as he sat on the couch facing Leslie.

“Theory and computer simulations?” Michael yelled. “You mean you don’t have a clue what’s really going to happen or even if this will work?”

Maria placed a hand on his arm to help calm him a little and also to draw comfort herself. He was scared for his friend and Maria didn’t blame him; they all were. Michael quickly backed down with a frustrated sigh when Max simply said his name in a gently warning tone. He started to cross his arms over his chest with a scowl, but changed his mind and drew a pleased girlfriend into his arms instead. He kept the scowl.

“Alright, you may go ahead at any time,” Larina told them, standing near them.

Leslie looked from Max to the queen mother helplessly. “I don’t know what to do.”

Larina smiled somewhat sadly at the girl who had been such a wonderful companion for Xan in their previous life. “You will. It is programmed inside of you. Max, you will have to order her to unlock your memories. When you do, she will be forced to obey as you are her genetic superior and will be able to access the instructions of how to proceed.”

Her tone was apologetic and Max and Leslie got the distinct impression she was apologizing for Leslie having to be ordered to do anything. That couldn’t be the case could it? After all, this was the way things were on Antar, right? Hadn’t Larina herself had a Luinwe at one time? That’s who Nesedo had supposedly been right?

Taking a deep breath, he looked into Leslie’s eyes. He couldn’t do it. He just couldn’t order someone like that, knowing she was programmed to obey him. “Leslie, would you please unlock my memories?” he asked softly.

The Luinwe gave him a grateful, happy smile and Alex caught his breath at her beauty. God, he missed having her smile at him that way! Leslie placed a hand on either side of Max’s head. She looked deep into his eyes and her own eyes went completely black as they had when her awakening had first been completed in New York. She murmured some words in her own tongue, but they were spoken softly under her breath as if they were for her alone.

There was a stirring breeze and the branded tattoo on her left wrist glowed brightly. A soft glow started coming from Max’s forehead until it suddenly shot out like a projector with the V constellation making its appearance on his forehead. It glowed brighter and brighter and Liz started towards him, only to be caught back by Alex. Finally, the constellation too seemed to leap from Max into the air and he cried out, though it didn’t sound filled with pain. His eyes glazed over and he squeezed them shut tightly. When he opened them again for only a moment, his eyes too were as black as Leslie’s.

Everyone watched the scene before them, enthralled. Leslie had started to shake and her murmurs had become louder but they were drowned out by a sound of many voices softly talking. The humans would have described it like a great crowd where you couldn’t really make out any one individual speaking. Finally, the bright light surrounded both figures on the couch, and they both cried out as they were flung apart, both landing on opposite sides of the room, and both unconscious.

* * * * * * * * * * *

It was a full two hours before Leslie came around, lying in someone’s bed with Alex wiping her face and neck gently with a cool, damp cloth. Sighing and yawning a little, she opened her eyes and smiled at him cautiously. She could still remember her time with Alex and how much she had cared for him. It was a shame the programming had awakened and had to hurt him. She just couldn’t feel that way about him anymore. Loving Xan had been a part of her for much longer than Alex Whitman had even been alive. It was a weird thought. Xan!

Alex had caught his breath at Leslie’s smile at him. He had thought that maybe, just maybe she could have been the one he wanted to watch wake up everyday for the rest of his life at some point in the future. Doing that just now had squeezed his heart for yet another drop of hope, one that quickly evaporated when he saw her panic and knew what caused it.

Leslie sat straight up, calling out one name. “Xan! Is he ok? Did it work? Alex, tell me!” she demanded.

He used the bowl of water and damp rag as an excuse to look away from her eyes. “Max is ok for the moment, although still unconscious. Larina said you would probably wake up first. He’s in Kyle’s room. This is the Sheriff’s. He said he wished he had decided to make the third room a bedroom instead of an office. He just hadn’t known he would end up with so many visitors staying here. Since he grew up here, I’m sure he didn’t plan on many overnight guests when he made it into an office.” He knew he was babbling but he couldn’t seem to help it.

Leslie swung her legs over the side of the bed. “I must go to him. I need to see for myself that he’s ok. Has anyone checked on Megan?” Lucas had dropped Megan off at the Whitman’s home with Evelyn and Charles who had volunteered to watch her before coming over. Everyone had agreed they weren’t quite ready to reveal her to Larina yet.

Sighing, Alex stood and nodded. “Yeah, I called a little while ago and Dad said she and Mom were getting along just great.”

Satisfied by this, Leslie quickly left to go down the hall to where Max was. Isabel was sitting on the floor, and Diane had another damp cloth to her son’s face, sitting on the side of the bed. Larina had been hovering on the other side of the room, looking just as anxious as Diane. They all turned at Leslie’s entrance. She moved to stand over Max and placed her hand on his head, scanning down his body for any sign of anything wrong.

“He’s just been sleeping and sleeping,” Diane told her. “He’s ok, isn’t he?”

After a few moments, Leslie smiled and nodded at the people in the room. “He’s fine. As far as I can tell, his mind is just trying to adjust. He just needs to rest.”

It was another agonizingly long two and a half hours before Max began to stir. He groaned and both human and Antarian mother rushed to his side. Liz was curled up on the bed with Max and sat up quickly at his motion. Leslie stood at the foot of the bed with Isabel, waiting for the young man on the bed to open his eyes and let them know just who they would be dealing with from now on. The tension in the room was palpable.

His eyes fluttered awake and they were the same warm brown Liz had always known, and she wanted to let out a huge sigh of relief, but was afraid to just yet. His eyes met Larina’s and he smiled, making Liz and Diane’s hearts stop in their chests. But then his eyes fell on Diane and his smile didn’t alter at first but then became a clouded, confused look.

Shaking his head, Max struggled to sit up. Liz and his mothers helped him and Liz asked softly, “Max?”

Blinking a couple of times and shaking his head yet again, Max turned to Liz and smiled. “I remember who you are, Liz. It’s ok; but it is kind of weird to hear you call me Max for some reason.”

Larina was the next to speak. “How are you feeling, Xan?” she asked tentatively.

He ran a hand down his face and gave her a wry smile. “Confused and groggy. Neither name sounds right, and yet they both do. I am both Max and Xan and I know it but…I just feel like I can’t quite put my mind on who exactly I’m supposed to be.”

“It will probably take some time to adjust. Do you…do you remember anything?” Isabel spoke up. His eyes were the same as they were before the memory unlocking except now they held more wisdom somehow and she knew, she just knew he remembered who he was.

Max looked at her and snorted. “I remember Max’s life pretty well and I remember parts of being Xan, but not everything like Max. I don’t get it. It feels the way you feel when you wake up from a dream that you can almost remember but not quite.” He turned to Larina. “Why can’t I remember, Mother?”

Her eyes filled with tears. “Things will come back to you in time, son. I believe your mind just needed the rest to reset itself and your memories will start to resurface in the next bit or so. Give it time. And thank you for calling me ‘mother’.”

He looked shocked that he had done so and turned to Diane. “I don’t know why I did. It just felt right. I’ve always called her ‘mother.’ Just as I’ve always called you ‘mom’, Mom. They both feel right.” He drew both mothers into his arms and hugged them. As he opened his eyes, they landed on the young woman at the end of his bed with dark brown hair and he smiled brightly and warmly.
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littleroswell
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Re: Against My Programming (CC,TEEN) New pt 61! pg 9 2/5

Post by littleroswell » Tue Feb 26, 2008 3:41 pm

Hey, everyone! I'm so sorry that I'm a week late but...well, RL just keeps marching right along. I've been just so busy and I'm just not sure exactly where all my time goes. However, that said, I do have the new part for you today. As for feedback, Michelle, I'm sorry to have left you hanging for longer than I expected to...and I'm sorry for the cliffhanger for this week too. Thanks for your feedback, and yours too, Flamehair! Just a warning of things to come. March and April are some very busy looking months so posting might slow some. I'm supposed to be out of town two weekends in March and have out of town guests coming for a week in April, not to mention extra church activities. So just a fair warning. Let me know what you think of the new part! I wasn't entirely happy with it but it is what it is.

Beth

Against My Programming

Part 62 – “A Jumbled Mess”

At the recognition that flared in Max’s eyes, Leslie was nervous but also felt a flutter of happiness. She smiled back at him and as he jumped up and moved towards her, she didn’t try to pull away. Isabel ran to tell the others Max was awake, leaving everyone else in the room to be surprised by the scene they were watching.

Holding his arms open, Max stepped up to stand in front of Leslie, who didn’t hesitate to move into the circle of his embrace. He hugged her tightly, but not in any way inappropriately. It was the hug of a friend seeing another friend after years of separation. “F-L, I remember you. You were my best friend back home. That I remember clearly. The details are still fuzzy, but I know they’ll come back to me.” He felt her relax and sigh in relief, but he wasn’t entirely sure why. Pulling back, his smile widened. “It’s nice to be with people I remember from both lives…an odd feeling but nice.”

Liz frowned slightly at those words and tried not to be disappointed, but Max had yet to really say much to her other than the fact that he remembered her. “What exactly do you remember about either life, Max?” she asked hesitantly, especially when she got to his name.

Turning to smile at her, Max tilted his head. “I remember all of Max’s life,” he stated. Then added softly, “including my love for you, Liz.” She smiled brightly back at him, but waited for the rest of his answer so he thought about it for a moment. “Funny, but my memories of life on Antar are more shadowy, impressions and feelings mostly right now. I remember that my parents loved Lon and I…that’s what I called Vilondra.” He looked over at Larina and smiled warmly at her. “I remember that mother’s favorite flowers were the Roshalni, the same flower that is used as Vilondra’s seal.”

Michael stepped into the room at that moment. He looked a little warily at his friend. “Maxwell? That still you?”

Chuckling a little, Max nodded. “Yeah, Michael, it’s still me…just more to me than before.” Running a hand through his hair, he shrugged. “So much is still just a blur…a jumbled mess.”

“It will straighten itself out in time, Xan. Your mind is still processing having two sets of very real memories,” Larina stated gently. She wondered if he remembered several important details about his previous life, most specifically about her.

“Maybe we should all talk together in the living room again. I’m sure everyone has questions for you now,” Michael suggested to Max.

Shrugging again, Max motioned to the door. “I’ll answer them as best I can. Maybe specific questions will help put the memories into focus better.”

A few minutes later, they were gathered back in the living room of the Valenti home. Everyone noticed the difference in the way Max carried himself. Gone were the timid, cautious, unsure movements and looks. In their place was confidence and surety…every move deliberate, his shoulders held squarely and his chin held high. They had had a glimpse of this confidence in Max, but with the addition of Xan’s memories, the transformation was incredibly complete. Maria was the one to study him like a stranger. The others were more open to his changes.

As everyone started firing questions at Max, he held up his hand. “One at a time, please. As I already told everyone in the room with me, my memories are still a little fuzzy so I might not be able to answer everything right now.”

“What do you remember about me…or Rath, I should say?” Michael spoke up first.

Clapping his friend on the shoulder, Max felt a swell of camaraderie for the man before him. “Rath was my most loyal of friends and a fine leader for the guards. I believe we grew up and went to school together.” He frowned as he struggled to remember more. “We disagreed often but usually found a middle ground. I remember that our friendship became less…open and casual as we got older and I was made king. You made things more formal between us and I missed the lightness of our former days. Michael, promise me if you get your memories back, you will continue to treat me as someone you can speak openly with. As Max, I’ve always enjoyed our closeness as brothers.”

Michael nodded in pleasure. He was happy that Max and Xan both liked the casual friendship he had with him…them? This was a bit confusing. “I’ll continue to tell you when you’re being stupid, Maxwell,” he quipped. He and Max grinned at each other.

“What does Max always order with the Will Smith special?” Maria fired at him.

Grinning at her, Max didn’t hesitate to answer. “The fries and an Alien Blast, extra Tabasco sauce.”

Grimacing briefly, Maria looked at him through narrowed eyes. “Lucky guess.”

“What about me, Max? What was our relationship like?” Isabel asked quietly.

Looking at her with love and nostalgia, Max moved to stand in front of his sister. “No siblings could be closer than we were growing up. You always had my back and I fought off all those who would dare to try to take liberties with the princess…my beautiful sister Vilondra. You were strong and beautiful, courageous, unafraid to speak your mind and stand up for what was right. Something changed at one point, though. I remember feeling like I missed you, like we hardly saw or spoke to each other at one point.” Shaking his head, he added, “I don’t remember the cause for the estrangement, but I remember my pride standing in the way of trying too hard to work through it. Then I remember feeling that it didn’t matter anymore.”

Isabel wasn’t exactly sure what to say to this. She looked to Larina, who shook her head slightly. Obviously, she felt it wasn’t her place to try to help Max with any more than what he was already remembering. “Well, let’s just hope that Max has learned a little better on that point than Xan had,” Isabel teased. “We just worked through what differences we had in this life.”

“Ok, when and where did you tell Liz you were an alien?” Maria attacked again.

“In the band room at school, the day after I saved her life in the café. I told her we weren’t exactly from around here,” Max immediately answered. Maria just growled in response and folded her arms across her chest.

Serena was the next to speak up. “What about Tess and I? What do you remember about who we used to be?” It was obvious she was nervous about what his response might be. She wasn’t the only one.

Max’s jaw clenched and his eyes blazed in anger. “Tess is only Tess. She is a traitor and will be tried as such as soon as I can arrange it. Serena, you are Avaloane. You carry the seal and I can feel that as surely as I can feel my own seal inside me.” He scrunched his eyes closed tightly. “I remember a lot of mixed emotions about Avaloane. Nothing concrete or constant. She was beautiful and I remember feeling something for her but it was, transient, unstable somehow.” He shook his head and opened his eyes. “It’s kind of weird. My love for Liz is stronger than ever but for my former wife and queen? Nothing. It isn’t there.” His eyes narrowed as he spoke aloud his thoughts. “Something about that is really wrong. My instincts are trying to tell me something about it all. I just can’t quite put my mind to it enough to understand.”

Serena smiled at him. “Well, if it’s all the same to you, I’m happy you aren’t in love with me. Maybe it’s because I don’t have any past memories but I don’t feel anything toward you except a new friendship. Even that feels a little strange for some reason.”

“Where were you when the special unit of the FBI got you and took you away from us?” Maria fired off without thinking.

“Maria!” Liz yelled at her friend. They had talked a long time ago about never bringing that time up again in front of Max.

Blanching a little, Maria gave her best friend and Max a repentant look. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think before it just came out.”

Max was a little pale and his earth parents looked confused as his group hadn’t told them about his capture, but he smiled at the bubbly blonde. “Maria, it’s really me, I promise. I’m the same Max who got drunk with Kyle on Valentine’s and followed Liz and…what was his name? Oh yeah, Shallow around on their date. It’s really me.”

Grinning, Kyle corrected, “Actually, the guy’s name was Shellow, Evans.” His grin only widened when Max covertly flicked him off.

There was a knock on the front door and everyone froze. Max was the one to move to open it. “It’s okay. I told Alex to call his parents and get them to bring Megan over. I wanted to see her.”

Lucas stiffened visibly, enough so that Isabel had to restrain herself from touching him in reassurance. As the Whitmans and Megan entered, Leslie dropped to her knees and let the little girl throw herself at her. “Mommy! What have you been doing? Are you okay? I felt something weird and then you were far away.”

Leslie sighed aloud and hugged her daughter tighter to her. Her eyes briefly met Lucas’ and she gave him a rueful smile. “I should have known she would have felt it when I unlocked Xan’s memories. She’s tied to both of us and more powerful than even we know right now. She must have been so scared.”

Max was staring at the little girl as if seeing her for the first time. His expression of awe mixed with disbelief held the attention of his earth parents, Liz, Isabel, Michael and Serena. Larina was also staring at the little girl and Leslie. She looked shocked and when Leslie noticed this, she was suddenly scared more than she ever had been in her entire life.

Pulling back from her mother, Megan looked around at everyone and seemed to be unsure whether she should be shy or bold. When she stepped forward and raised her chin slightly, Larina caught her breath. There was no mistaking that gesture; she had seen the same expression of determination on both her children’s faces as well as her husband’s numerous times. The fact that she had called the young Luinwe woman “mommy” left no doubt as to her lineage.

“Xan, who is this?” she asked quietly. The beautiful little girl captivated her attention.

Dropping to the floor in front of Megan, Max answered with awe and reverence in his voice. “This is Meganora…Leslie’s daughter…and mine.” Smiling at Megan he noticed that her eyes had grown thoughtful and she tilted her head slightly. “Hello, Megan. I’m sorry to have made you wait with the Whitmans, but we had some important things to talk about and I was afraid you’d be bored.”

“Daddy?” Megan asked tentatively. When Max only looked startled, along with the rest of the room, she swallowed. “You’re different. What’s different about you?”

Looking deep into the golden eyes mirroring his own, Max held out a hand and pushed back a lock of her dark brown hair. “You can feel the changes in me, can’t you?” He sighed. “Megan, what do you remember of your life before waking up here on Earth?”

“I remember being back home on Antar and playing with mommy and Unca Lucas,” she said. Tilting her head again, she said quietly, “I remember mommy telling me about my brave and wonderful daddy, but I never got to meet him before.”

Smiling at her, Max nodded. “Megan, I’m going to try to explain something to you and you can tell me if you understand or not, okay?” When she nodded, he continued. “When I woke up here on Earth, I couldn’t remember anything about living on Antar, not my name, not my life, nothing. Your mommy helped me a little bit ago to remember my life on Antar and that’s what you felt. That’s also why you can tell I’m different. I remember both my lives, the one back on Antar and the one here on Earth. Do you understand?”

Smiling brightly, Megan nodded enthusiastically. “Yes, you remember who you are now. That’s good because the bad guys won’t be able to hurt you now. You feel more powerful now.”

“Huh. You really are special, you know that?” Max teased, knowing they needed to talk more but wanting to speak with Leslie first.

Nodding again, very seriously, Megan answered, “Yes, I’m a princess.”

Larina gasped, attracting Max and everyone else’s gaze. She had a hand over her mouth and Max turned to her. Taking Megan’s hand, he was pleased when she didn’t pull away but only squeezed tighter. He led her over to where Larina was sitting. “Megan, do you know who this is?”

Megan shook her head and studied the woman in front of her. She had a kind face and she was smiling at her. “Oh, darling, I’m your grandmother, Larina, and I’m so very happy to meet you!”

When Megan allowed the queen mother to hug her tightly, Leslie let out a soft sob of relief. She was so afraid of this, had been for so long. There was still much about Megan to discuss but she knew that at the very least, Megan would be allowed to live. It would require a royal pardon for the little girl and herself but that could wait for now.

Max introduced Megan next to his earth parents, also calling them Megan’s grandparents. Although still in a bit of shock, they warmly accepted Megan into their family and hearts. Lucas came to stand beside his sister, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and pulling her tightly into his side.

Wrapping an arm around her brother’s waist, Leslie beamed up into his face. “Oh Lucas, I was so worried about when they would find out about her and now look at how accepting they are of her. The queen mother is ecstatic and Xan is just mesmerized by her. I’m so happy.”

Lucas didn’t say anything to ruin his sister’s moment of bliss, though he still felt they weren’t entirely in the clear. Kivar could always use Megan against them…all of them in more ways than one. Placing a quick kiss on her temple, Lucas released her. “I think I’m going to step outside for just a few minutes. I’ve been so worried about you; I need an outlet for my restlessness.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

Isabel had slipped quietly out the door after Lucas, following a few steps behind until they were a ways from the house. Hurrying her pace, she caught up to him, calling his name. He stopped and waited for her, a slight bow in his posture that annoyed her. Careful to keep some space between them, she suddenly found she didn’t know what to say.

“I – I was just wanting to walk with you…if that’s okay,” she stammered, blushing a little in embarrassment. No guy had ever unnerved her. She was usually as cool as a cucumber. She knew that people called her an “Ice Queen” and for some reason found the title pleased her; at least it had for a time.

He nodded as if it didn’t matter to him if she came along or not and it hurt for some reason. “As you wish, your highness.”

Growling a little, Isabel glared at him. “Would you please cut that out? We aren’t on Antar here. I don’t remember being a princess, and I’m not comfortable with the idea of having people wait on me.”

Raising one eyebrow, Lucas turned to face her directly. “Really? Are you sure about that? Have you noticed the way your presence commands attention? Have you noticed the way the people in the gas stations and food places jumped to do what you asked and the way you hardly even saw them? Isabel, you are more of a princess here than you ever were on Antar.” He started walking again, leaving a startled, drop-jawed Isabel behind him without a second glance.

As Lucas started to turn the corner down the street, Isabel started jogging after him. “Hey! I’m not done talking to you yet!” she yelled at him. She was suddenly hit with a memory so powerful, clear and real that she couldn’t see she had stepped out into the road…right into the path of an oncoming car.
Just call me Phoenix...cause I'm back from the dead!

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