Double Empire - AUwA/CC/Adult - COMPLETE - 12/7/14

Finished stories set in an alternate universe to that introduced in the show, or which alter events from the show significantly, but which include the Roswell characters. Aliens play a role in these fics. All complete stories on the main AU with Aliens board will eventually be moved here.

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 925
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

Part 11

Post by Double Trouble » Sat Nov 30, 2013 1:42 pm

Part 11

Liz sat on the steps of the servants’ quarters, rubbing her aching feet and silently cursing the ill-fitting shoes she had been given. She would hopefully have new shoes that fit better tomorrow, thanks to the King, but her feet ached so badly the last thing she wanted to do was put them on again. They hurt so bad that just the thought of the short walk down to the communal bathrooms so she could have a hot shower seemed to be too much. She finally grabbed her bag that held a few toiletries and a change of clothes and forced herself to her feet.

The evening was cool and the paved path beneath her feet still held the warmth of the two suns that had set a while ago. The heat felt blessedly soothing to the soles of her feet and she took her time walking to the building. When she reached it she paused at the entrance, frowning at the large sign written in Antarian. Great, like she had any hope of knowing what the strange symbols meant. Logically the words above the arrow pointing to the right had to be indicating the side for women because it was the longer of the two words. That made sense, right? But what if it wasn’t men or women but soldiers or staff? If that was the case, then the area for the soldiers would be to the right… right?

She sighed and crept to the right, glancing around the corner and into the large room. It was spotless, which to her logical mind, signified that it had to be the side reserved for women. Even if it was soldiers or staff, surely they wouldn’t expect female soldiers to shower with male soldiers? Exactly how progressive was Antar? No, she decided, she couldn’t imagine they were quite that progressive. So, yeah, it had to be bathroom facilities for men or women.

She moved further into the room and set her things down on a counter and ventured over to the shower area. She wasn’t that excited about communal showering but she wasn’t thrilled about going without a shower either. Besides, there was no one around so she had the place to herself. She hung her towel and clothes on the hooks that slid away from the facing wall when she neared and stepped under the faucet. She turned the faucet and frowned when nothing happened.

Maybe it had to be pulled out first? She gave it a hard yank and cursed under her breath when that yielded nothing but making her hands sore. She tried yanking it again but the faucet still refused to release any water. Something wet hit her bare back and she looked up at the faucet just as a burst of cold water broke free. She screamed in shock and jumped back just as the water stopped again.

“Damn it,” she muttered as she shoved her wet hair out of her face and went back to fussing with the faucet.

Kyle walked along the perimeter of the barracks quietly. He had waited for the darkness slowly settling over the country, waiting it out in his quarter to see if the Commander was coming after him to take his life. Surprisingly there hadn’t been any sign of him or any of the men he would send out to summon him.

He wasn’t sure how Michael would react to what he had seen earlier. Even though the two of them had become friends over the time Tess was still his sister. Not to mention their ranks and their positions were more reasons why their love was forbidden.

His thoughts went to the woman in question and he wondered if she was alright. The talk with the King had left her pretty upset and then the encounter with Michael hadn’t been pleasant either. It took all of his strength to not go to her, but as long as he didn’t know what the Commander thought about the situation it wasn’t a safe move.

Absentmindedly he opened the door to the bathrooms and walked inside, not really paying any attention to the sounds of a shower already running.

Liz was still fighting with the faucet and barely paid any attention to the sound of boots striking the floor until the echoes died down and she suddenly had the feeling she wasn’t alone.

It wasn’t until his eyes came into contact with a bare back that certainly didn’t belong to one of his soldiers that Kyle snapped out of his daze. He straightened up and brought one hand to his weapon. “What’re you doin’ in here?” he called loudly, his voice echoing through the room.

Liz jerked around, trying to cover herself as she stared at the soldier standing there. “Um... you shouldn’t be in the women’s bathroom. I think you should be next door. That’s the side for the soldiers.” He must be new, she thought.

Kyle snorted. “I think I’d know if I’d been showering in the wrong place for the last few years.”

“Um... this’s... this isn’t the women’s bathroom?” she asked, feeling like twelve kinds of fool.

“No, it isn’t. That would be on the other side,” he pointed to his left, amused by her cluelessness.

“Then what does the sign out on the wall say?”

“It says MEN,” he said simply.

“I don’t see how that’s possible.” She had no idea why she was arguing with him, but decided it had to be because if she didn’t do something she was going to have to reach for her clothes and as much as she wanted them the only way to get them was to reveal herself. “There’re more symbols on the sign that points this way.”

Kyle shook his head at her stubbornness and took a few steps toward the wall to take her things from it and throw them at her. “You shouldn’t shower at this time of a day anyway. Go during regular hours when the other staff goes. You are staff, aren’t you?”

Where did this guy get off ordering her around? “I wasn’t told there were specific hours to shower.”

“There aren’t, I’m just telling you for your own safety.”

“Why wouldn’t I be safe here?” She swallowed hard, already knowing his answer before he spoke.

“In case it’s slipped your notice, we’re at war. Some of these men haven’t had a woman for a long time and you’re askin’ me that?”

She wasn’t naive enough to think that just because men were fighting on the right side of a war that they were all good, but to know the threat existed right outside the castle where the King slept was a bit upsetting. In spite of his rude behavior she didn’t feel threatened by him but she saw no reason to hang around either. “I’ll just go now.”

Heavy steps could be heard in the hallway and a moment later two hybrid soldiers came inside, laughing about something. They stopped when they noticed the other people. “Captain,” one of them said and straightened.

Liz could feel her cheeks heating up as the men stood there for a moment, their eyes shifting to her on occasion. She was so ready to leave but now they were blocking the only way out of the large room.

Kyle looked at the two men and gestured for them to leave. “Come back later.”

“Why have the bathrooms so close together if your soldiers are such a threat?” she asked, irritated to feel that frisson of fear that had been her constant companion on Earth.

“They aren’t a threat as a rule. As long as you don’t present yourself naked in their shower,” he told her. “Go ahead and finish what you’ve started since you’re already here. I’ll wait at the door and make sure no one comes in.”

“From your earlier comment it sounded to me like that threat exists whether I’m naked in this shower or in one next door.”

Hell, this woman was up for a discussion. “Shower early like I told you and you won’t have to worry about that.”

She shook her head and gathered her things tighter against her. “I’ll just go to my own side if it’s all the same to you.”

How had this turned around on him? “If it’s all the same to me?” ahe growled.

“Did I stutter?” Now she was just pissed off and she wasn’t interested in anything he had to offer, including protection.

“You don’t know anything about me. I can’t watch my men 24/7 and if you have some illusion of being safe here although the whole country is at war, then you obviously didn’t read your transfer papers very well.”

“I’m not sure what knowing you has to do with anything but I’d like to leave now.” Yes, she had read the damn papers thoroughly. She had just thought that being within the protected walls of the castle that there was a certain expectation of safety.

“Go,” he grumbled, sick of arguing with her.

Liz moved past him, awkwardly trying to keep herself covered and not make a spectacle of herself as she ducked past the opening that led outside.

****

Michael smirked when he saw the hint of nervousness in Kyle’s posture when he walked along the long semi-dark corridor towards the war room. He had summoned him a few minutes ago and he was pretty sure that the human before him thought this meeting had a different reason.

“Captain,” he greeted him with a neutral but loud voice and a stern look on his face.

“Good morning, Commander,” he replied with nod, his concerns about the reasons for this meeting increasing at the look on the other man’s face.

Michael opened the door without bothering to knock. He walked into the room and waited until Kyle had followed him before he spoke. “Morning.”

Max looked up from the map and suppressed the urge to roll his eyes at the less-than-subtle behavior again. “Commander, Captain,” he greeted and stood up straight, shaking his head at Alex when he made a questioning gesture at the door.

“We have to talk about a few things,” Michael started before the King could say anything else. From the corner of his eye he could see Kyle holding his breath and if the reason he was here wasn’t so serious, he would’ve laughed his ass off right now.

“Go ahead,” Max said, making a rolling motion with his right hand. He was afraid he knew what was coming though.

Michael threw a handful of papers on the table between them. “There’s your weapons cache,” he bit out. “Plans for a potential camp in the south and a handful of swords.” He leaned forward and braced his fisted hands on the polished surface. “I hope it’s worth the price my men paid.”

“I am not a psychic, Commander. We knew that it was an either/or situation and I do mourn our losses,” Max said, trying to stay calm.

“You wanted that weapons cache seized and it came at a great cost... for nothing!” he roared. He shook his head in disgust. “You still have no understanding of war.”

“It could have contained upgraded weapons, we had to check,” the King responded loudly.

So much for diplomacy, Alex thought when it stated to turn into a fight as usual.

“We should’ve had more to go on than that officer’s information. It was unreliable and there were too many variables.”

“Right now we can be grateful if we get any information at all. Their warriors are 50 percent Skins and whenever we try to force information, they materialize into dust in front of us.”

Michael shook his head. “The information was unreliable and we came out of that ambush with considerable losses.”

Kyle listened to the conversation back and forth and couldn’t help but be relieved about the fact that obviously it wasn’t about him and Tess.

Alex glanced between the King and the Commander. “If I may make a suggestion...”

Both man looked up at the sudden interruption and were too confused to say anything at first. “Go on,” Max said after a few seconds.

“The two of you have to find some common ground to build on if we are ever going to turn the tide on this war. Commander, you know we had to take control of the weapons cache – if there had been one,” he added quickly when the man’s glare rested on him. “And, Max, the better our Intel is, the fewer lives will be lost in these situations. If you don’t listen to each other then we’re just wasting our time on these meetings.”

“We’re wasting our time with our whole lives,” Michael grated out. “Our soldiers fight and they die. They’re starting to lose hope that we’ll see an end to the war. Crusades like yesterday don’t benefit anyone.” A picture of the woman in his medical care quarters flashed through his mind, but he shook it off quickly.

“And it falls to both of you to give those men a reason to continue fighting.”

The King and the Commander stared at each other from across the table. Neither of them had a response to that.

Kyle took a step forward and looked at them. “We need to get to the hills of Semidara. If Khivar’s men haven’t made it there yet, then it would be a good place to hide out. From there we can overlook the entire Semidara territory in all four directions and if someone attacks us there, we will have the advantage.”

Alex moved to the screen and pulled up the territory map, studying it for a moment. “I’m not a tactician, Captain. What advantage would control of Semidara give our armies?”

“The mountain chain extends over an area of nearly 500 miles or about 700 unions as you would say.” He walked over to the map and gestured with his index finger. “There are only a few passable ways though the mountains, most of them small and controllable.” He pointed at three different sections. “If we’re able to get there, we would be able to see Khivar’s armies long before they’re there and there wouldn’t be a chance for them to get near the castle and the settlements around here.” Kyle looked at the King. “It would at least run interference for us and we could concentrate more on the war in the north. There would only be a small amount of soldiers necessary to control the mountains.”

Alex glanced at Max, seeing the potential for shortening the gap between him and the Commander. “How many soldiers would you need for each of the passages that’re viable for travel?”

“Maybe about 50. They would see large contingents of the enemy hours before they would be there, so we would be able to send more soldiers out if necessary at that point.”

“50 men,” he mused. “And how many passages that are potentially passable?”

“Not more than three.”

“So 150 men altogether, including several officers to oversee them, correct?”

Kyle looked at the Commander and registered just the slightest nod. “Correct.”

“And the three passages...” he ran his finger over the map, “here, here, and... the third?”

“Here,” the Captain pointed at a section about 200 miles away.

“More equipment and supplies would be necessary to set up camp at that location... at the higher altitude the weather will be more unstable.”

“That’s true,” Kyle agreed.

Max moved closer to the map, his gaze moving over the locations the men had been discussing. Listening to them as they talked about strategic positions and the potential of taking control of the passages was insightful to say the least. They discussed it scholar to soldier; calmly, rationally, listening to what the other was saying. He swallowed and turned to glance at the Commander, following his advisor’s lead. “What is your opinion, Commander?”

“The Captain knows what he’s talking about,” was all Michael said to express his approval.

The King sighed. “I didn’t ask if he knew what he was talking about.” He gritted his teeth. “I asked your opinion.”

His gaze focused on Max. “If I didn’t approve of what he was saying I would’ve spoken up long ago.”

He shook his head. Why did he bother? “Alex can make the arrangements for whatever equipment and supplies you feel the soldiers will need to set up camp in the areas you’ve indicated.” He stared at the third location, the most difficult to reach. “How do you propose to reach this position? The weather at that altitude makes flight a risk.”

“I have specially trained mountain units; they’ll make it on foot.” Michael looked at the Captain. “Contact our officers stationed near the hills of Semidara and find out if they’ve detected any enemy activity in the hills. They should send scouts out and report back to us tonight.”

The Captain nodded and snapped off a salute. “I’ll check in with our communications officer.”

“Meet me in the courtyard at the first sun’s zenith,” Michael ordered before he sent him out.

Alex busied himself making some notations in his ever-present PDA and then started to put the maps away. Once that was finished he turned to look at the King, not surprised to catch the other men staring at each other silently. “I’ll check your schedule and send a meeting summons with the head of Supply after the morning meal.”

Michael just nodded and walked to the door. “I’ll be late for breakfast.” He hated to eat with them, but they had the better cooks and he couldn’t avoid every meal they were supposed to have together.

“There’s something new,” Max muttered under his breath. Michael made it a point to disrupt things when it suited his mood. Which was often.

****

The Commander’s mood was far from good as he walked the corridors back to his own part of the castle and into the medical section. The door to Collon’s office was open when he passed it and he stopped to talk to the doctor quickly. “Anything worth reporting, Collon?”

The doctor looked up from a screen of scans to meet the Commander’s dark gaze. “Most of your men are doing well. The situation is a bit more tenuous with Landor due to the location of his wound. For now, we must wait and see.” He turned his head to glance at the door that led to the room Maria was in. “Her night was uneventful, medically speaking.”

Michael nodded, feeling a bit guilty when he thought about Maria before his men. “Make sure Landor gets the best care we can offer, he’s one of my best.” If it became necessary he would put a request in for the King to heal the soldier.

“Of course, Commander.” He shifted to face the man directly as he nodded at the room off to his right. “She has been quieter than normal this morning.”

He frowned at the closed door and nodded. “I’m transferring her to her own quarters today.”

“Will you require someone from the medical staff to accompany her?”

“I’ll let her decide that unless you feel it’s medically necessary,” Michael said and moved to enter Maria’s room.

The doctor turned back to his scans but watched the Commander’s reflection in the screen.

She knew he was near before he stepped inside. She had felt him for a few moments earlier and it scared her and fascinated her at the same time. Her gaze was focused on the landscape outside the window when he closed the door behind him. “Commander.”

His eyebrows lifted when she addressed him without looking up to see who had entered her room. “Maria,” he greeted her, his voice low.

“What’s making you so upset?” At least that’s what she read from the feelings she got from him.

He straightened imperceptibly and fought to keep his hands at his sides because he felt edgy at her perception of his moods and any movement would feel like a giveaway. “I was about to ask you the same thing,” he said to avoid answering the question.

For the first time she turned to look at him. Her eyes were sunken and underlined by dark circles from the lack of sleep. “Nightmares,” she said honestly.

He nodded in understanding. The content may not be the same, but he understood nightmares. “Perhaps in time they’ll become less frequent.”

“Yeah, maybe.”

“You’ve had breakfast?”

Her eyes wandered over to the table where a servant had set it a while ago. It was untouched. “Not yet.”

“It’s important that you eat to regain your strength.”

“You Antarians couldn’t make good coffee if your lives depended on it,” she tried to make a joke.

His lips quirked in a hint of a smile. “I could make someone’s life depend on it.”

She snorted and it turned into a chuckle as she got up to walk over to her breakfast, lifting the cover. “What is it with you Antarians and the sweet and spicy stuff?” It was the same damn thing as usual and her mouth burned like it had been set on fire afterwards. No way was she eating that again.

“It’s an Antarian preference. The King’s advisor has recently brought in a new cook and if I remember correctly, she’s human. Perhaps she would be better suited to prepare something to your liking.”

“It would be nice to have a normal grilled cheese sandwich again,” she said, her mouth watering at the thought. The fresh brewed coffee didn’t smell too bad, so she risked it and took a sip. “Ungh, worse than usual.”

A grilled cheese, he thought and mentally filed that information away. “I’ll make the necessary arrangements. In the meantime, your personal quarters have been prepared.”

She nodded and wondered how comfortable she would feel there. A bit more room sounded good, but it was also a bit scary. “It’s here in the castle, right?” She remembered him saying something like that, or was it just in her imagination?

Michael glanced at her. “Yes, your quarters will be on my level.” He smiled slightly. “My sister will tolerate your presence but I didn’t think either of you would appreciate having your quarters on her level.”

On his level, she thought and felt protected like never before. “Yeah, I don’t think that’d be a good idea.”

“I have several guards ready to be assigned to you, male and female, depending on your preference.”

“I don’t know, do I need one?” she asked with a frown. The castle was pretty much a Fort Knox as far as she could tell, so why a guard in the building? Being watched all the time sounded a lot more uncomfortable than having some space of her own.

He cleared his throat. “Until you have been cleared of suspicion of any allegiance to Khivar, the guard will be necessary.”

“I am…” her voice broke and she stared at him with wide eyes. How could anyone think she would work with Khivar after what he had done to her? “You know I’m not,” she whispered.

He shifted, hating the necessity for the investigation. “Maria, there are procedures that have to be followed. No, I don’t believe that you’re working with Khivar, but my judgment has been compromised in this situation.”

So she was probably being housed on his level so he could keep an eye on her, she thought but nodded, unwilling to waste the bit strength she had in a fight she couldn’t win. “I’d prefer a female then,” she said, feeling hurt. She walked over to get the few things she owned and had brought with her to Antar.

Michael watched her, hating that he’d had to say something that had so obviously hurt her. He knew he had a duty to protect his people, and his family was the most important, but it caused an odd sensation in his chest to see her hurt upon being told that she was under suspicion. “I’ll just make a quick call and have her sent down.”

“I’ll collect my things together.”

He nodded and stepped outside to place the call and give her a moment of privacy. He wasn’t without sympathy but he had never once brought any captive back into his personal domain. The fact that investigating her for ties to Khivar made him sick to his stomach was a sign that he was too close to the situation. Once he had made the call he returned to her room to see if she was ready.

Maria lifted her eyes to him and took the small stack of things from the bed. All she owned fit in her two hands. “I’m ready,” she told him.

He nodded and motioned to the open door, waiting for her to walk out first. “Collon will be nearby should you need his assistance for anything. And I will be just down the next corridor. You’re free to move about but the guard will accompany you any time you leave your quarters.”

She listened to him as he rambled off the rules, but stayed quiet and walked, trying to remember where everything was in case she needed to know later. The hallways were pretty dark with only a few windows at the end providing light and it was also cold compared to the temperatures outside.

Michael paused when a woman stepped out of one of the rooms and his gaze dropped to the little girl holding onto her hand. A genuine smile crossed his features when the little one saw him and squealed out a happy, “Da!”

He shook his head when Catara, the caretaker, opened her mouth to speak. He crouched down and held his hands out to Amela.

Maria stopped and turned to watch the scene in front of her. It only took a few seconds before she indentified the little girl as the same one from the day in the courtyard before the princess had appeared.

He stood with the little girl in his arms. “I believe you’ve met briefly,” he said as he turned to face Maria.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 925
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

Part 12

Post by Double Trouble » Sat Nov 30, 2013 1:42 pm

Part 12

Amela watched the blonde woman in front of her with wide eyes until a smile broke out on her face. She fisted Michael’s uniform with one hand to steady herself while she leaned forward towards her. “Ababaaa…”

Michael chuckled. “She likes you.”

“You think so?” Maria looked at the baby girl in his arms but kept her hands to herself. She didn’t know who she was and if she was allowed to touch her considering they thought she might be a spy.

Amela stretched her free arm out to the woman, babbling happily until she realized she wasn’t getting what she wanted. She eased back into his arms and her bottom lip trembled as she picked at his rank insignia.

“Maria, this’s Amela.” He shifted the little girl in his arms. “Amela, meet Maria.”

She looked at him and saw the slight nod before she turned to the little girl again. “Hey sweetie, you’ve got a nice bracelet here.” With her fingertips she brushed over the small letters matched to create her on a silver chain.

The little girl studied her for a moment before her eyes dropped to the bracelet and she suddenly smiled again. She held her hand out and made a grab for the woman, getting a handful of her hair and chattering excitedly.

“Hey,” Michael said gently and placed his hand over the tiny one. “Be gentle. We don’t grab other people’s hair.”

“I didn’t realize you had children,” Maria said as she rubbed her stinging scalp.

“She’s not my daughter,” he said and gave in when the girl in his arms squirmed around to get to the woman.

Maria looked at him, making sure it was alright before she held her hands out to the little girl. Amela made a happy sound and snuggled into her arms as she reached up to touch the woman’s face. “But she calls you ‘Daddy’. At least I assume that’s what she’s trying to say.”

“She doesn’t know better yet,” he said quietly and watched in amazement when she just hugged the human woman with both of her arms tightly.

“If you’re not her father why does she seem to think you are?”

“She came here shortly after she was born,” Michael explained and caressed one of the baby’s bare feet. “Her parents were killed…” he paused and looked at her. “Humans.”

“And you took her in?” she asked, surprised. “Just like that?”

“They were also my parents when we lived on Earth,” he explained, wondering why he had even told her that.

He was a man who was constantly surprising her. “Oh, I’m sorry.” She smoothed her hand over the little girl’s curly hair. “Will you tell her the truth one day? Or will you raise her as your own and spare her that truth?”

“She’s 100% human, so I suppose one day she’ll have questions,” he shrugged. “Haven’t put too much thought into it yet.” Who knew if he would still be alive when she was old enough?

“That’s true, I suppose,” she murmured. “It’s very kind of you to take her in.”

“It was the only right thing to do,” he said and took the little girl’s hand when she stretched one out to him. His eyes locked with Maria’s and before he could do anything to stop it there was a flash before his eyes and he saw a scene with both of them on the balcony of his quarters, holding each other while they gazed out over the land. The flash was over with another blink, gone just as suddenly as it had come, but the weird feeling in his chest which had come with it stayed a while longer. What was that? Had she seen it too, he wondered.

Maria gasped and moved away from him. “What was that?”

He frowned. “I’m not sure.” Well, he knew what it was in general, but he had no clue why it had happened.

“You saw it too.” She watched him, seeing that it had unsettled him too.

Denying was not an option so he nodded and motioned for the caretaker to take Amela again.

Catara moved from her position a short distance away and reached for the child, nodding at the Commander and continuing on her way to take Amela outside for a while.

Maria looked after the little girl and waved with a slight smile, but her thoughts were running wildly over what had just gone through her mind without permission. The Commander and her in an intimate embrace? Where had that come from and why?

“I have Collon looking into this matter,” the Commander said as they began to walk again.

She took a breath and stopped to look at him. “What did you see? Y’know… just so I know if it was the same…”

“I saw... us. Together...” He cleared his throat uncomfortably. “We were... close... as we looked over the territory.”

“Yeah,” her gaze sank to the ground. She was only a human and he was the Commander, so why would that have anything to do with reality? Maybe someone else had caused the visions to scare her?

“Collon will have an answer soon,” he said, praying it was true.

“Doesn’t mean it’ll make the situation better,” she thought aloud. What if there was no way to get rid of this… whatever it was? Would she always feel his pain and his closeness for the rest of her life? Maybe they just had to put more distance between them to break that bond.

“What’re you thinking?” he asked when he saw the distraught look on her face.

“Just wondering if maybe more distance would break the connection…”

“I can make other arrangements if it would make you more comfortable.” The thought of her not being close created an odd sensation of loss within him but he shrugged off the notion.

“That’s not what I meant,” she shook her head. “I felt it when you were shot in the side yesterday and you were pretty far away, so obviously that was still not far enough.”

“I don’t know what has caused this to happen but if there’s a way to sever the connection, Collon will find it.”

“Good,” she said, but there was also a part of her that wanted the connection to continue. She didn’t understand why though, since it was only causing her to be in pain.

He nodded and gestured to the next corridor, falling silent as they turned to the left. He saw the female guard’s posture become rigid as they approached and he silently applauded the Captain’s selection. Satara was a soldier that could be both deadly and compassionate, depending on the situation. He knew he could leave Maria in her capable hands without worrying.

“Commander,” she greeted him with a nod and saluted when they approached her. Her gaze wandered over the woman that had to be guarded. Why would she need protection or to be watched, she wondered, but knew she wouldn’t question her orders.

“Lieutenant,” he said with a sharp nod. “Maria, this is Satara. She’ll accompany you when you go out.” She had to be uncomfortable knowing she was under scrutiny, but he hoped in time that would pass. As soon as his sister was satisfied the guard would become optional, but until that time Satara would be Maria’s constant companion.

She just nodded without saying anything, not sure yet if the female guard would treat her as a friend or enemy. She followed Michael inside her new quarters when he stepped in and was surprised to find that it was a lot larger than she had expected it to be.

“Your quarters are at the southeastern corner of the castle so your windows will overlook the southern valley from this side,” he walked over to a bank of windows on the opposite side, “and the mountains in the east from this side.” He pointed outside. “You can see the parade field from here. The troops practice there and when we’re forced to make public appearances, that most often takes place on the parade field as well since it’s large enough to accommodate a crowd.”

Maria’s attention was more focused on the inside of the room than the landscape he mentioned. She wandered around the room and opened another door, which revealed the bath behind. A smile slipped over her lips when she saw a tub. Not too large, but nicely situated in a corner with lots of space around to put candles and a good book. If she ever had any of that, she thought.

Michael turned to watch her, certain that she was listening to little of his rambling. “If there is anything you want just let me know and I’ll have it brought to you.”

“Maybe some good books if it’s not too much to ask.”

“No, of course not.” He tipped his head to one side. “Any type of book you prefer?”

“I don’t care at all,” she shrugged. After all this time she really didn’t have any requests. “Nothing too dark if that’s possible. I think I have enough of that in my dreams at night.”

He nodded. “Comedy maybe? A good mystery?” He chuckled. “There’s an extreme shortage of romance novels on Antar.” He cleared his throat, realizing that she might take that the wrong way. “Sorry, I just know they’re popular on Earth.”

“Was never really into them,” she waved him off. “Things like what’s in those novels never happen anyway.” She looked at him. “I understand why you don’t have those books here. I mean, you don’t have real relationships like humans, right? Not involving any real emotions like love I mean.”

He shrugged, feeling as if he was somehow less in her eyes with her observation. “Full-blooded Antarians are... they’re not incapable of showing emotion but it is uncommon to see it expressed through actions or words.”

“You hybrids aren’t exactly like them,” she said.

“No.” He straightened up slightly. “We’re not like full-bloods and I suppose we’re not like humans either. We’re somewhere in the middle, not really belonging to either world.”

She wondered how much he was aware of the fact that the connection was stronger when they were close like this and she could feel the truth of his words. How could someone like him feel as if he didn’t belong? “You’ve got the best of both sides I guess,” she said, not really sure why she was trying to make him feel better. Probably because his emotions were affecting her.

“I guess that’s one way to look at it.” He shrugged his right shoulder. “It’s difficult at times when people don’t see you as being an equal because you’re... different.”

“Well, I know a lot about that.”

“Did you feel as if you didn’t belong on Earth? Or do you mean here on Antar?”

“I meant here on Antar. I’ve been here for a while now and there are people who don’t really like humans at all.”

He nodded. “Those same people don’t care for hybrids either.”

Maria glanced around the room, not really sure what she was supposed to do now. He had said he would look for a job for her, but he hadn’t said anything else about it. Somehow sitting in here all day with nothing better to do than to think was a scary thought. “You go out on the field again today?”

He stared down at the parade field for a moment. “I’ll be observing training this afternoon. Young soldiers,” he said and turned to look at her.

“At least you won’t get hurt again,” she tried to smile. “Gives us both a break.”

“I’ll do my best. The younger the soldier, the more reckless their actions are.” He smirked. “They think they’re invincible and they make stupid mistakes.”

“They have a good teacher.”

“One day they might believe that.” He chuckled gruffly. “Trust me, they won’t think that any time soon.”

She walked over to stand next to him and looked out the window. “Guess I can watch you from here then?”

He straightened up imperceptibly. “My men will be on the parade field for training.” He followed her gaze. “You will be able to see me from here if you wish.”

“Am I supposed to be somewhere for the meals or anything?” In the medical care area they had brought the food to her, but she doubted that would continue, right?

“Meals,” he mused. “We take our meals in the dining hall. The servants have a separate area for meals but you aren’t a servant. You’re my guest so you would be expected to take your meals with us.” He cleared his throat. “Unless that would make you uncomfortable.”

“Wouldn’t you have to explain a lot with me being there?”

“I’m not expected to explain myself.”

“Guess my guard can show me where to go, huh?” She pointed at the closed door.

“Think of Satara as your protector,” he suggested. “If I return from training early enough I will show you myself. If training runs behind, Satara will show you to the dining hall.”

“She will stay outside the room, right?”

“Of course. Satara will only enter if you appear to be in any danger or if you call for her.”

“Yeah… It’s too high to jump so I won’t try to flee,” she tried to make a joke.

He smiled at her attempt at humor. “That’s good.” He lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “Satara has reflexes like a cat.”

“She has nothing to worry about with me. I know absolutely nothing about fleeing or fighting or whatever.”

“She’s an exemplary soldier and I think you’ll be comfortable with her around.”

“Okay.” She wasn’t planning to wander around the castle anyway after the encounter with his sister. So as long as she stayed in her room she didn’t have to deal with the guard either.

He watched her, sensing her unease. “My sister won’t bother you again.”

“It’s not only your sister, Commander.” It was still a battle within her between calling him by his rank or by his first name. “Nobody wants me here, don’t think I don’t know that.”

He frowned when she returned to calling him by his rank. “I want you here.” He didn’t understand it, but it was true.

“Wonder if that has anything to do with the connection?” she asked and was pretty sure it was true. What if they didn’t have the connection? If he hadn’t had seen all those things the first time he had touched her? They couldn’t find out now, but she was sure he wouldn’t have ordered his men to take care of her in his own castle.

“I don’t know,” he answered honestly. “What I do know is that those working for me will treat you with respect. My people do not harbor ill feelings toward humans or hybrids. I do not tolerate it under my own roof.”

She nodded. “Have you received any information about the message I sent to my mother?”

He shook his head regretfully. “We haven’t received confirmation that the message was received.”

“Okay,” she swallowed and pushed the thoughts that something could’ve happened to her mom in all the time she’d been away from Earth. No, her mother still had to be alive.

“There are several reasons why the message hasn’t been received yet. There could be transmission interference, the conflict on Earth may be preventing the message from reaching its destination, or perhaps your mother just isn’t available to view the message yet.”

“I know, I just haven’t talked to her in a long time and…” she shrugged, unable to speak. “Doesn’t matter,” she waved him off, unable to speak when emotions rolled over her again. Her mom was the only family member she had left and she couldn’t bear the thought of losing her.

“I can make contact with one of our people on Earth. If time permits and we have someone close enough to her location I can have them approach her, inform her that you’re looking for her.”

“Thanks,” she nodded.

“I’ll take care of it today. It may take a few days before we hear anything.”

She observed the suns in the sky. “Guess you should go and do whatever you need to do, huh? I know you’ve got more important things to do than hang out with me.”

“I have other responsibilities,” he agreed.

“Yeah…” She didn’t know what to say. Spending time with him felt right and after a few hours she was sure she would start to feel a kind of withdrawal again that she couldn’t fully describe.

“I’ll return for the evening meal.” He started to turn from the window but paused to look at her. “I’ve set an appointment with the woman who oversees the children. She’d like to meet you tomorrow morning while the little ones are in class.”

“Okay,” she smiled when he had remembered. “Great.”

He nodded and smiled slightly. “I should go before they start to think their day is going to be easy.”

“Goodbye, Michael.”

“Until dinner, M’ria,” he murmured and walked over to the door.

She glanced after him and waited until he had closed the door before she started to walk around her new quarters. Maybe she should just take the time and enjoy a very long hot bath.

*****

The King glanced at his sister as he took his seat at the head of the table. She didn’t appear pleased to have been summoned to the dining hall for the morning meal with their intended spouses. He wasn’t thrilled with it either but if he was there his chances of seeing Liz again increased. Her expression shifted from irritation to annoyance when Alex came through the doors, nodding at the sentries before continuing on his way to the table.

“Normally you don’t insist upon dining with us,” Max said, looking directly at Tess.

“I think in light of what we learned recently, we have reason to combine our forces and find a way out of this marriage nonsense,” she bit out.

“And you sent for him to help?” Isabel asked, watching Alex as he took his own seat.

“He is the King’s personal advisor,” Michael interrupted before the two women could get an argument started. “That being said, he may very well have some insight into how we can find a way to work around this.”

Max nodded when one of the servants appeared in the doorway, shooting an inquisitive look at him to see if he was ready for the meal to be served. “Alex has been looking into the issue for a long time but he hasn’t yet found anything helpful.”

Alex smiled at the woman who appeared at his side to place coffee before him. “No,” he said, turning his attention back to the others, “I haven’t discovered anything that would allow us to put an end to your marriages.”

“What have you learned about the connection?”

He looked at the Commander when he spoke. “The connection?”

“King Zander is pushing us to connect,” Tess snapped. She was on edge about her impending marriage to Max, about trying to force a connection that neither of them wanted, about what it would do to her clandestine relationship with Kyle, and about the strength of the connection that seemed to exist between her brother and the human he had rescued. “What do you know about it?”

“Well…” Alex said as he tried to collect his thoughts. He hadn’t expected to be dragged into the middle of this meeting. “Where should I start? From what I’ve read in some of the ancient texts there are different kinds of connections that exist among Antarians.”

“Different kinds?” Isabel echoed.

“Yeah, there’s the artificial connection like you’re supposed to form before marriage. It can be forced between any two people and it can be disconnected again – not easily but I’ve read it’s possible.”

Tess frowned. “But it only exists between royals... right?”

“Not exactly. It’s only required for royals for the purpose of marriage, but basically every Antarian or hybrid should be capable of connecting.”

“But...” she shook her head. “Someone with royal blood isn’t able to connect with someone who isn’t a direct descendant of the throne.” It had to be true. It was what they had always been told. If it wasn’t true... it validated the existence of the connection Michael claimed to have with the human.

“I couldn’t find anything that would validate that,” Alex shook his head.

Michael tapped his knife against the edge of his plate. “So theoretically any of us could connect with someone other than our intended bride or groom.”

“That’s what I believe based on what I’ve read,” the advisor agreed. “Maybe it has something to do with the powers you have. Not every Antarian has them, right? So I don’t have proof, but maybe the connection is easier to force with the right powers.”

“What do you think about an unintentional connection?” Tess continued. “Do you think that can happen?”

The Commander glared at his sister. The last thing he needed was for someone to find out about him and Maria yet.

“Unintentional?” Alex asked. “You mean like a connection that just forms itself without the two connecting people noticing?”

She ignored her brother’s scathing look. “Say I meet someone,” she glanced at Max. “Not you, obviously, but just go with me on this. Is it possible that I could meet someone and connect with them spontaneously? With no intent to connect on the part of either person, could they share that connection?”

“That’s ridiculous, why would that happen?” Max asked, confused.

“I don’t know that it would,” she snapped. “We’re discussing theories about the connection. I just want to know what your advisor thinks since he’s apparently the only one here who has any kind of understanding where the connection’s concerned.”

“Ironic,” Isabel muttered.

The doors were opened again and several servants came in to serve their meals. They walked around the table and placed the plates in front of them before disappearing again. Max glanced down at the food and smirked when he noticed that the decorating spices on top formed a crown.

Isabel followed his gaze and rolled her eyes. “Will you be sharing your opinion since it’s actually been requested for once?” she asked, her gaze boring into Alex.

“There was something that was called a true connection,” he started. “It’s hard to find much about this since it’s way in the past, but it seems like it happened spontaneously between people who were meant to create and raise powerful offspring.”

Isabel pushed her plate back and glanced at Alex. “And what if this so-called true connection doesn’t exist between any of us? Won’t that affect our ability to create and raise such a child?”

“The true connection only seemed to occur when one of the partners had a certain kind of gene defect. It’s the only thing that could lead to the special powers their newborn would have. But some people – royalty at the time – decided that it was a possible danger to the whole planet so all Antarians were tested and if they carried this gene they were killed. As for you,” he looked at Tess and Max, “your genes were created artificially so maybe – and I’m really just speculating here – the true connection won’t work that way and you’ll have to connect the artificial way.”

“What you’ve read,” Max spoke up, “does it explain anything about this... true connection? How it differs from an artificial connection?”

“There isn’t much to read about since I’m sure most of it was destroyed in an effort to forget about it, but what little I was able to find indicates that it’s very powerful and lasts a lifetime.”

“If most of the information has been destroyed how do we find out more about it?” Michael asked.

Alex was about to ask why it would be important to find out at all but he bit his lip before he could. “Well, your parents had scientists who knew about it and obviously used DNA from humans with the same gene to bring the possibility of this super baby back. I suppose they had to have information about stuff like that.”

“What does it matter if we have no reason to expect to experience this true connection?” Isabel asked. She and the Commander could barely tolerate each other’s presence and the thought of being connected to each other wasn’t something either of them wanted to think about.

“It could help us to figure out more about what they did to us,” Tess glared at her. “And maybe it’ll give us some solution how to convince them that this marriage is bullshit.”

“We know what they did to us,” she snarled. “They created us for their own purposes and now they expect us to just marry the two of you.”

“We didn’t ask for that either,” Michael slammed his fist on the surface, making the plates jump up slightly. Too many thoughts were running through his head right now. What if Maria and him somehow sheared a true connection? But was that even possible?

“That’s enough!” Max snapped. “None of us asked for this. Alex will look further into the matter.”

“I would need material though,” his advisor said. “Looking over the books I have won’t help much. There has to be more.”

Max rubbed his jaw. “The scientists would have kept records. Perhaps they have the original documents stored in their labs?”

“Or maybe your father has them in his quarter?” Tess looked at him sharply.

“It’s possible I suppose,” he admitted. “It might be easier to get them from his quarters than from the labs.”

“Could there be more than one connection?” Michael asked, ignoring the others and their suggestions. What if he wasn’t able to connect to the Princess if worse came to worse because of his connection to Maria.

“More than one connection?” Alex asked, uncertain what the Commander wanted to know. “You mean can one person maintain two separate connections simultaneously?”

“Yes,” he grumbled.

“That’s a good question. I’ve read nothing that indicates multiple artificial connections are possible but I wouldn’t rule it out. What little I was able to read about the true connection didn’t lead me to believe an individual could sustain more than one at a time. It’s all-encompassing and essentially links two individuals. I’ll need to research further to validate my theories.”

The Commander felt sick to his stomach. All that had been said fit what he was experiencing with Maria. “I will send some of my spies out and they will turn over every stone to look for information.”

“Isabel and I will see if we can find anything in Father’s quarters,” Max sighed and tried to focus on his meal. Somehow, the food that had been so appealing and full of flavor now tasted like sawdust.

“Didn’t you say the new cook would know how to make our meals the right way?” The Princess shoved her plate away.

“Is there anything you don’t find fault with?” the Commander growled.

“Nothing connected to you, no,” she told him sweetly.

He shook his head. “I fail to see how you’ve connected me to the way a new staff member prepares meals.”

“There won’t be another new cook, so eat or start cooking for yourself,” Max said harshly. He was fed up with his sister’s attitude about food, pretty sure that she was just unsatisfied with their whole situation and not the meal itself.

“That’s a good idea, Princess. Why don’t you take your ass into the kitchen and start taking some lessons? I think I like the idea of you making my meals yourself once we’re married.” Michael smirked when she got up and shoved her chair back, dark eyes blazing with anger. Even though he had no intention of ever marrying her he enjoyed pissing her off.

“If I cook for you then it’ll only be once. How do you like your meals? Toxic?” She glared at the Commander and then turned to her brother. “I’m done with breakfast.”

Max waved her off, uninterested in her tantrum. At this rate she was going to starve to death. “You’re free to go.”

Michael swallowed down two bites more of his meal before he got up. “I need to go as well.” He looked at the King’s advisor. “You’ll have a list from me this afternoon regarding the things we talked about earlier.”

Alex took his time wiping his mouth with his napkin and clearing his throat before looking directly at the Commander. “I’ll look into the information.”
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
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Part 13

Post by Double Trouble » Sat Nov 30, 2013 1:43 pm

Part 13

The king walked along the corridors of his castle, his mind clouded with thoughts of their earlier breakfast. True connection, artificial connection – was there a difference? And was it even possible for him and Tess to create a super baby the way their parents hoped? He would sure as hell be glad if they found out it wasn’t possible – maybe then his father would finally forget this stupid idea of marriage.

They had to find out more about the connections and how they worked. Maybe there was something hidden… anything that would give them a reason to change their stupid destiny – a destiny that had been planned by others.

He got sidetracked when he heard sounds that sounded foreign and familiar to him at the same time. They were coming from the left corridor, he realized and changed directions. The heavy door to the kitchen area was open slightly and he was positive that what he heard was a female voice – human or hybrid if he wasn’t mistaken.

“You're so hypnotizing

Could you be the devil?

Could you be an angel?

Your touch magnetizing

Feels like I’m floating, leaves my body glowing”


Max leaned against the cold stone wall and peered through the small gap between the door and the frame, grunting in frustration when he could see only a hand moving in and out of his line of sight now and then. With his powers, he slid the door open just a tiny bit more and his breath caught in his throat when he recognized the new cook in front of a counter, her back to him.

She was … what was the word, he thought and concentrated, singing, while she swayed her hips. Some strange things were poked into her ear and strings were hanging from them. He had the feeling that he should know what they were, but it seemed like he had forgotten all about the things that had been so familiar on Earth.

Without noticing it he moved further into the room after pushing the door open. His gaze wandered over her bare legs. Obviously the uniform they had given her didn’t quite fit her taste, he thought, amused when it was obvious she had cut the normally long white pants high on her calves.

“You're from a whole other world

A different dimension

You open my eyes

And I'm ready to go, lead me into the light”


Liz kept singing to the music on her mp3 player and slowly went down in front of the oven, swaying her ass to the rhythm while her hands were busy wiping the surface with a cloth.

Max continued to move deeper into the room, captivated by the woman’s fluid movements. He stretched one hand out to brace it on the counter but was so distracted by her that he missed his goal. He tried to right himself quickly, catching his balance, but not before he knocked over several small spice jars. He winced at the racket and straightened up when she whirled around to face him.

“Your Highness!” she gushed and pulled the earpieces out, her cheeks flushing when she realized what he had probably seen. It wasn’t like it had been totally embarrassing, but here on Antar things were different. Women normally didn’t run around in hot pants and she had never heard of any music or dancing here either, so how would that look to him? “I’m sorry, I…”

He shook his head, grateful that she didn’t seem to be aware of him making a fool of himself. “You may continue,” he said, gesturing with his free hand.

“Continue?” she asked, shocked.

“Yes.” He moved a step closer. “What you were doing. Continue, please.”

“I was just dancing…” she frowned and lifted one or the earpieces, “to music.”

He nodded. “Demonstrate further.”

She almost had to laugh at his curiosity. Antarians – they thought so highly of themselves but they were so clueless sometimes. “It looks ridiculous if you can’t hear the beat,” she said and offered him an earpiece.

He hadn’t been able to hear anything but her voice but he didn’t think she had looked ridiculous at all. He accepted the thing she held out to him, staring at it uncomprehendingly. “What do I do with it?”

“Put it in your ear,” she said and demonstrated with the other to show him.

Max followed her instructions and frowned at the blast of noise that assaulted his eardrum. “This is... good?” he asked uncertainly.

She laughed. “It is,” and started to move her legs to the music while her hips went from side to side with the beat. Only now did she realize that the song probably wasn’t fit for King’s ears.

Kiss me, ki-ki-kiss me

Infect me with your love and

Fill me with your poison


He didn’t understand the meaning of the words and his face reflected his confusion. “You wish to be poisoned?” he asked slowly.

“No,” Liz giggled, “it just has a different meaning here.”

Take me, ta-ta-take me

Wanna be a victim

Ready for abduction


He shook his head as he registered key words. Infected, poisoned, victim, abducted... why would such words appear to make her so happy? His eyes followed the movements of her body. “And you enjoy this?”

I’d enjoy it more if you knew anything about passion and sex, she thought but kept that bit to herself. How long had it been since a man had touched her? She couldn’t remember. “I enjoy dancing,” she nodded.

“Dancing, that is what this is?” he asked, his hand motioning to her body that was in constant motion.

“Yeah. Of course it can go further but the kitchen is just too small and the strings are too short,” she gestured to the mp3 player.

“You can show me?” He tugged the earpiece free and held it out to her. He didn’t understand it but he enjoyed watching her.

“I have to clean the kitchen, Your Highness,” she told him with a cheeky smirk. “Maybe another time?”

“I can summon someone to do...” he looked around helplessly, having no clue what else needed to be done. “To finish for you so that you may further educate me.”

Was he serious? Liz thought, surprised. His behavior wasn’t really King-like. “I don’t want anyone to have to do my job. Maybe I can show you some other time and in a different place.” She looked around. “Someplace a bit more private maybe.”

His eyebrows lifted as he nodded. “Very well. I would enjoy observing you privately.” He smiled slowly. He would admit that he had no idea what he was doing. It was unacceptable for someone of his stature to fraternize with a servant but she intrigued him in a way that no other woman ever had.

She noticed his gaze on her and ran her hand over her sweaty neck to tease him. “I look forward to it, Your Highness.”

His breathing suddenly felt strangled and his body was reacting unexpectedly. “As am I.”

****

Kyle was instructing a young Antarian soldier when he caught sight of the Commander stepping out onto the field. He forced his mind to stay focused on the task at hand, taking his own sword and holding it in the proper position. The soldier mimicked his stance, bringing his sword down when the Captain did, slicing cleanly through the training dummy.

“That is efficient,” he said, moving in to examine the damage.

“Understanding when to wound and when to kill is important. Your reaction time has to be immediate; hesitation will get you injured or killed. It’s not just speed though. Your ability to distinguish enemy from friendly is also important. When you enter any situation you could be in a position where hostages are involved.”

The soldier straightened up, his white brows furrowed as he considered what his superior was saying. “What happens if you kill an innocent in the heat of battle?”

Kyle nodded at the question. “It’s hard to live with. You’re a full-blood but that only means you bury things deeper than everyone else. It doesn’t make you impervious to pain. But even so, a mistake like that is something you carry with you as long as you live.”

The Antarian watched him thoughtfully. “On the battlefield it must be difficult to make decisions so quickly.”

“Your training will take care of that, Dracor. When we turn you loose against Khivar’s armies, you’ll be a finely tuned fighting machine.”

Dracor lifted his sword and took a step back, pointing at the training dummy. “You indicated these locations for maximum damage,” he said, tapping the tip against several spots.

“Arterial regions, yes. They inflict injuries that are fatal. Your opponent will drop like a sack of potatoes.” He chuckled at the confused look on Dracor’s face. “It’s a fatal wound, one strike to these locations and he will no longer be able to fight.”

He worked with Dracor for a while longer before sending him back out to practice with his unit. He made his way across the field to wait on the sidelines while he waited for the Commander to finish with another soldier. They had spoken with others around, but he had yet to speak one-on-one with the man since the Commander had caught him in Tess’ quarters. He straightened when the Commander strode off of the field to join him.

“Commander,” he greeted formally.

“Captain,” he said, his stiff tone just as formal.

Kyle cleared his throat. “You wanna take this out on the field so you can just beat my ass without bein’ obvious about it?”

“Hmm, I don’t know. Perhaps I’ll let Dracor use you as a training dummy.”

“Well, since I just finished pointing out the best places to mortally wound the enemy I’d rather you didn’t.”

Michael smirked and turned to look at him. “I trust you and I trust my sister. If this’s what she wants…”

“And her being promised to the King?”

“You both know what you’re up against. One day she will be married to him and I expect you to step away from her at that time.” He shook his head when the Captain was about to speak. “Not because I believe in our destiny, but I need you on the field and not decapitated.”

“I’ve never lied to you, Michael.” He winced. “I’ve had good reason to keep my relationship with your sister under my hat, but I had to keep that to myself for good reason. I won’t insult you by lying to you now.” He shifted and his fisted hand thumped against the hilt of his sword. “Wrong or not, I can’t promise we won’t be together once she’s taken her vows.”

The Commander studied him for several long seconds. “You could both be killed for what you’re doing.”

“You think we don’t know that?” He shifted and turned to look at the Commander. “Neither of us wants it to come to that, but I think you and I both know that being married to the King will be a slow torturous death for her.”

“And how will you handle it when the King puts his hands on her?”

Just the thought of it made him see red. “I don’t know.” He sighed. “It may never come to that. Neither of them is interested in the other and it isn’t necessary for them to...” he gritted his teeth, “be together to produce an heir.”

“You won’t have to worry about me,” Michael said seriously. “But I hope you know this’s something that will most likely never be what you humans would call a happy relationship.”

“It won’t be perfect,” he agreed. “Maybe one day the King’s advisor will find a way around these arranged marriages.”

Michael looked out on the field and sharpened his eyes on a few young soldiers in training. He had been watching them for a while now and he could see potential in them. “Not as long as Zander lives,” he finally said.

“You really think if the old man kicks the bucket before the marriages take place that they can be set aside?”

“Who would be there to force us if he no longer lived?” He shrugged.

“Well, the people sort of expect it. With Zander gone, would that put his son in a position to overturn something your father and his came up with to seal the deal?”

“With Zander gone, Max will be the King not only in name, but also in power. If someone can change the rules, it should be him.” The Commander shook his head. “I have a feeling Zander is holding onto his life until he sees the damn marriage happen.”

Kyle sighed. “Well, something’s gotta happen because divorce among your people isn’t exactly popular. And it’s unheard of at the level of royalty.”

“They’re forcing us to connect, none of us knows how that will change us.” And I’ve got another problem, Michael added silently. What role would his already existing connection to a human play in that network of complications? He turned his head to look at the castle, his eyes roaming over the windows of his level.

“Yeah.” He scratched his chin. “How do they know if you make that connection? I mean, can you fake it?”

“No, you have to pass a test at the wedding.”

Pass a test? “How the hell do you prove a connection?”

“It’s actually very easy. With a connection you can feel and see things the other one is seeing and feeling when you touch. So the clergyman uses his given powers to project your thoughts for everyone to see. If there is a connection between the couple the images should be the same.”

“Then there’s no way this marriage business can happen.” He frowned. “How can they expect you to force a connection?”

The Commander snorted. “Because it’s the only way to keep us together and they know that. With a connection you change, your feelings for that person change…”

“How can your feelings for another person change when you basically can’t stand that person?”

He didn’t know anything about that and he really didn’t want to think about it. “It’s only what I’ve heard.” And he was starting to experience it, he thought. With every passing moment he could feel the connection with the human in his castle more and more clearly.

“I can understand how the connection would bond two people who embrace it, but how it works with people who want nothing to do with each other...” He sighed in frustration. “But once the connection is forced and both people involved participate, the bonding begins and the connection takes hold, doesn’t it? Eventually it changes them, alters their feelings for one another, right?”

“It’s what they say.”

“Were your parents close before they married? I know it’s not something your people really talk about much, but it’s your parents... they ever say anything about it?”

“No. And I’ve never asked.” The relationship with his parents had never been that great, especially not with his father. The years separated from them on Earth had created a rift and he couldn’t help it but think that in his father’s eyes he had just been a figure on the chessboard to win the war. His relationship with his mother had healed a bit after his father’s death but even they weren’t very close.

“Maybe you should.”

He glared at the Captain. “That is none of your business.”

Kyle held his hands up. “No, of course not.”

Now that the reason was known to him he knew that his friend had an interest in the topic just as much as he did. It could be that the marriage between Tess and Max would be forced sooner than his with Isabel. Michael nodded at the two soldiers in the distance. “I think they should be trained for higher positions.”

Kyle forced his mind back to the moment. “What positions would you like them trained for?”

“Lieutenants.”

Kyle glanced over the list, identifying the names of the soldiers and nodding. “Their proficiency scores are high. I’ll see that they’re moved to the correct regiment for training.”

The Commander nodded. “Make sure their training isn’t rushed. The last thing we need is unprepared soldiers out there.”

“I’ll speak with the unit commander personally.” His gaze strayed back to the two men. “He’ll make sure they’re properly trained.”

The other man nodded at a few passing soldiers who looked at him with veneration and saluted. “They’re way too young,” he mumbled, not really paying any attention to the fact that the same was true of Kyle and him, but the few years at war had aged them and made them older than they actually were.

“Commander,” he started, letting Michael know that he was speaking to him as his second and not as his friend, “I think there’s something else we need to discuss.”

“Is there?” he asked, his eyes locking on him. He had a feeling he knew what it was about, but he kept his thoughts to himself.

“It’s been a few days since we rescued your guest and she has yet to be questioned.”

“She wasn’t in a state to be questioned,” he answered and forced his voice to remain calm although he could feel the emotions in him seething when the talk shifted to Maria. “She was given personal quarters today.”

“I know this isn’t something you want to consider just yet, but the sooner she’s questioned, the fresher events are in her mind.” He shook his head. “She’s been through the ugliness of war and she’s survived, but the longer we wait, the less our chances are that she’ll be able to tell us anything of real value.”

He didn’t need to hear the Captain’s words to know that he was right. Just because he was personally involved, they couldn’t ignore their usual procedures involving people who had been in contact with the enemy. “I will speak to her tonight and make her aware.”

“If it would make you any more comfortable I can handle the interrog – “ He cleared his throat. “I’ll question her myself.”

The Commander nodded. The options were limited since the interrogations were always overseen by the Captain, his sister, or himself. He was too personally involved and he doubted after the encounter between Tess and Maria that letting his sister handle it was a good idea either. The thought of Maria having to tell Kyle about her capture sickened him. He knew it was necessary but somehow he had a feeling she would feel betrayed again. “Tomorrow morning.”

“I’ll take care of it, Commander. With your permission I’ll request her medical reports from Dr. Collon and review them this evening.”

“Report to me after dinner and bring the reports,” Michael told him. There was a lot to explain considering the connection that Collon would have reported in the file, but it wasn’t a discussion for a place like this.

Kyle’s brow furrowed at the order but he gave a sharp nod. He had a feeling there was more going on than he was aware of. “I’ll be there.”

The other man looked him straight in the eye before giving him a slap on the shoulder. “Go and make arrangements for those two over there.”

“Consider it handled, Commander.” He slapped his clipboard against his thigh as he turned away. “See you this evening.”

****

Michael made his way through the corridors of his castle after he had spoken to a few communication officers to try and find Maria’s mother on Earth like he had promised it. On his way back he had stopped at what the humans called a library. The little shop had been set up when humans had started to settle on Antar and it contained a small amount of Antarian and Human books.

The woman working there had looked at him with stunned eyes when he had entered and ordered her to collect a few books of different kinds in a box he had provided for her. Michael had never been in the building before, but he had to admit that it had brought a few familiar feelings – probably from Earth – up in him. He couldn’t really pinpoint them though.

“Commander,” Satara straightened up and greeted him when he reached his next destination.

“Lieutenant,” he responded. “Do you have anything to report?”

She shook her head. “Miss DeLuca didn’t leave her room all day, Commander.”

“And no one has come to visit her?” he asked, hoping that his sister hadn’t stopped by.

“No one passed the door in either way since you left this morning,” she said.

“Very well. Why don’t you take a break, have your evening meal.”

Satara knew it was an order and not a suggestion so she nodded. “Of course.”

He waited until she had taken her leave before he turned to look at the door. He took a deep breath, shoving down the unfamiliar feeling of... was it nervousness? He lifted his right hand and rapped his knuckles against the dark wood.

Maria glanced up from where she was sitting on one of the ledges of the large windows in her room, legs pulled up against her body. “Come in.”

He turned the knob and entered the room, looking around and smiling slightly when he located her. “You like that view?”

“I do,” she agreed. It hadn’t been so much the view but more the feeling of being closer to him out on the training field. She didn’t understand it, but she was drawn to him whenever she knew he was close and despite trying to relax in a hot bath, she had found herself restless and drawn to the window where she had been able to watch him all afternoon.

“Training went well today.” He moved closer and his eyes dropped to the field below that was now clear of soldiers. “They’re young, but they’ll be ready when the time comes.”

“You’re still young too,” she stated and looked at him. For the first time since he had left this morning she felt the restless feeling that she couldn’t describe settling.

“But not as young as they are. They’ve never seen battle and at this stage in their training they still think they’re invincible.” How many of them would die in this fight to defeat Khivar? He shook the thought off and lifted the box he held pinned to his side with his right arm. “I brought you some books to read.”

“Really?” Her face lit up and for the first time her smile seemed to reach her eyes as well.

“The curator of the book depot selected some books for you.” He tipped his head to one side as he looked down at them. “We actually do have some titles written by human authors.”

Maria slipped from the ledge and went over to him, standing close by as she looked into the box. “Romeo and Juliet?” she asked, amused as she picked the book up. “Now, that is classy.”

He shrugged and glanced at the cover. “Shakespeare is one of your classic authors, correct?”

“Yes, he is,” she agreed and placed it aside. Her gaze went back to the other books. She wasn’t aware of it when she placed one hand on his arm that was holding the box.

Michael’s gaze dropped to her hand and he could feel the sensation that was becoming so familiar with her. “She also included one called Sons of Antar. One of the few I’ve read and it’s educational and entertaining.”

“Which one is it?” She reached in to push a few books aside until she found it. Although she had learned the Antarian letters, it was still hard to read it correctly sometimes. “Guess it’ll be good to get more comfortable with your language,” she mumbled and took it out of the box.

“The language isn’t that difficult once you’ve got a grasp of the basics.” He waved his hand over the book’s cover and the letters appeared in English. He shrugged and grinned. “Or I can do that.”

She lifted her head up to him and smirked. “Those powers have their advantage I see.”

“They do have the occasional advantage.”

Their eyes locked and before Maria could form the worry in her head, it happened again. A flash of him and her on the balcony again. They were holding each other in a gentle embrace and she could almost feel his protective grip around her waist with one strong arm. Again it was over after just a few seconds, but the images had been clearer this time.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
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Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

Part 14

Post by Double Trouble » Sat Nov 30, 2013 1:43 pm

Part 14

Michael swallowed with difficulty. He had no idea what was causing this. It was like the connection was acting on its own. He watched Maria, waiting to see if she would pull away from him.

“The same vision again,” she whispered and her gaze lowered to her hand on his arm. Was actual physical contact causing this? They hadn’t been touching when it happened that morning, although they had both been touching Amela so maybe she had caused the connection between them to open.

“Does it disturb you?” he asked cautiously.

“I…” she slowly removed her hand from his arm. “I just don’t know what to think about it.” This time it hadn’t been as scary as the first time, but where was it coming from?

He nodded. That was true for both of them, he thought. “It’s an odd... vision considering our circumstances.”

“Can I ask you something?” she asked uncertainly.

“Ask.”

“When we’re not together… like this afternoon, do you feel any different than compared to when you are here?”

“You mean...” he frowned, “do I feel the connection?”

She nodded wordlessly.

He cleared his throat and shifted. “I can feel it. Not as well as I do right now, but it’s there. I don’t know how that’s possible, but even with the distance there’s something there.”

“It’s scary,” she said and then shook her head. “Not scary like…” she sighed. “It feels like something’s pulling at me all the time.”

He gnawed on his bottom lip for a moment. “It must bother you after what you’ve been through.”

“One minute it bothers me, scares me, reminds me of what happened and the next I’m not worried about it and almost… enjoy it,” she blushed slightly.

“Was he ever able to force a connection?” he asked, hating to ask, but needing to know if that had been taken from her as well.

“I heard him talk about a forced connection,” she frowned and cleared her throat. “Apparently it didn’t work or you found me before he could finish forcing it.”

He felt relief wash over him. “That’s good news.”

“What’s the connection used for? Why would he be interested in forcing a connection with me? I’m nothing special. And why did it happen so quickly with us?”

Michael shook his head. “I’m sure you’re familiar enough with our culture that you know divorce is rare. The connection exists to bond couples, to ensure that they remain compatible throughout their lives. I’ve never heard of it happening spontaneously, the way it has between us.”

“Throughout their lives,” she repeated his words reverently and looked at him.

“I have this being researched but for now I have no information that would help us to understand what’s happening.”

“I just wonder, why me, you know?” She hung her head, but then looked at him again. “Not that is isn’t kind of an honor to be connected to the Commander of Antar, but I doubt you really wanted this.”

“I can’t imagine you wanted it either,” he mused softly.

“No, probably not. But for now it’s been more good than bad for me, but I guess for you I’m only an added burden when you already have so many other things to worry about.”

He shook his head. “I may not understand it and to be honest, I’m not completely comfortable with it, but I don’t feel that you’re a burden in any way.”

“I just don’t wanna be in the way when the time comes for you need to go after your destiny.”

He was inexplicably drawn to her and while he knew he was expected to follow a set path he found himself rebelling at the thought more than usual. “Don’t worry about that.”

“Okay,” she said, but the worries remained. What would it mean for her if she was in the way of the marriage? Would they hesitate to get rid of her?

His head turned sharply when the connection darkened for a moment, pulling at him. He tipped her chin up to meet her eyes. “What?”

“I’m just so scared of what’s coming, Michael,” she whispered with glistening eyes. The connection was a rollercoaster and made her feel so many things at the same time that she was slowly beginning to believe she was going to go crazy from it.

The sight of her unshed tears tugged at him and his thumb gently brushed over her cheek. “You have nothing to be afraid of here.”

Without realizing it, she leaned into his touch, longing for the comfort in it. How long had it been since someone had really comforted her?

The connection suddenly stabilized, balancing itself out again. “There’s something I need to talk to you about,” he said slowly, hating to disturb her moment of peace.

She didn’t like the tone of his voice. “Go ahead,” she said quietly without breaking eye contact.

“It’s necessary for us to determine what you may know about Rath, enemy camps, potential targets, or other information you may be in possession of as a result of your captivity.” He sighed deeply. “It may not seem like it, but you could have knowledge that is useful.”

“You want to interrogate me,” she stated, feeling fear arc through her.

“You’re in a unique position, Maria.” His hand slipped down to cradle her neck, unconsciously rubbing at the tension he could feel in her. “My second in command will conduct the interview and at no time will you be treated as a prisoner or an enemy.”

The second in command, she thought and tried to remember if she had met him yet. It wasn’t like she could protest or tell him she wouldn’t say anything, so she stayed silent.

“We don’t conduct interviews in the same manner as our enemy,” he said, certain that she had experienced more than one interrogation at Rath’s hands.

She wasn’t afraid of the way she would be questioned; she was more scared of the memories coming back to her all at once. “When?”

“The Captain will be available tomorrow morning. It’s best to get it out of the way as soon as possible.”

“Will you be there too?” She didn’t really know if she wanted him to be there.

“No, I think I’d be a distraction. The connection could be a hindrance to the interview.”

“Okay.” So she would be alone with the second in command. Was he the one who had been there the day they had found her? She couldn’t really remember.

“Captain Valenti was the one who brought you to the castle when we found you. He’s familiar with the situation and he will handle things accordingly. He will ask questions that’ll be uncomfortable but at no time will he intentionally be cruel.”

“How much…” she swallowed with difficulty. “How detailed do I have to be?”

“I see no reason to require details about the...” he swallowed with difficulty, unable to get the graphic word past his throat. “There will likely be some questions about the assault, but much of that is known through Dr. Collon’s records.”

“I wish it was already over.” This would be a night without sleep again.

“Maria, I know this won’t be easy but it’s necessary.” He hated to think of how badly this could set her back.

“I know,” she put distance between them, afraid that he would get flashes from her while they talked about it. What if he could see it? All the things his twin had done to her. No, it was too embarrassing to let him see that.

He frowned but made no move to follow her. He could imagine what had made her break contact at that moment but as the connection grew and gained strength he wondered if distance would allow that sense of privacy.

“I’ll tell him everything I remember,” Maria told him somberly and with determination.

He nodded. “It could prove to be important. It’s not unusual for Rath to take prisoners, but to our knowledge he’s never maintained a captive as he did with you.” He lifted one shoulder apologetically. “There must be a reason.”

“Probably the same reason why I suddenly connected with you,” she shrugged and then wondered if it could be true. Was there something special about her? No, it couldn’t be.

He studied her for a moment. “But you didn’t connect with him. He was unable to force the connection.”

“Maybe I just didn’t let him,” she shrugged. “The day you came in was different. They hadn’t given me anything to eat or drink for days, I was so weak, I couldn’t have walked…” She avoided looking at him and crossed her arms over her chest. “I wouldn’t have been able to fight him off if he had been the one entering the room.”

“I don’t believe that,” he denied.

“Why?”

He shook his head. “I don’t know,” he said as he watched her. “He lacks certain abilities but I’m not positive he could form the connection with someone unwilling to participate.”

“Well, he definitely lacks patience,” she said dryly.

“That impatience will be his fatal mistake one day.” And when that day came he would be there to take advantage of it.

She walked back to him – forced more by the connection than her free will – and took both of his hands in hers. “I know you don’t like to hear it, but in some ways you’re a lot like him, so if you want to defeat him, maybe you should take a hard look at yourself to find out how.”

Her words stung. “I am nothing like him,” he insisted.

Maria shook her head. “Sorry, but that’s not true.”

He jerked his hands free of hers and moved away from her. How could she think that he was anything like his inferior copy?

“I didn’t say that to hurt you, Michael.”

“Then why would you say it?!” he snapped angrily.

Wow, she had really managed to piss him off with that statement. “To open your eyes to who you’re fighting.”

“I know who I’m fighting. It’s why I was engineered. Do not make the mistake of thinking that I am unaware of what my opponent is capable of.”

“He knows the same things about you. Whatever you do, he may know it even before you do it.” Maria shook her head. “The thing that makes you different is that you fight for others, for a better world to live in, while he…” she shrugged. “I don’t know, but it feels a lot like his motives stem from revenge and hate.”

“Rath knows nothing about me!” He couldn’t believe she was standing there calmly speaking to him and attempting to educate him about his twin. “If our motives are so completely opposite how can you say we’re the same? It’s a rather large divider.”

“I didn’t say you’re the same.”

“Either you’re saying we’re alike or you’re not.” He turned to level a heated glare at her. “Unless I’m mistaken you plainly stated that we’re alike.”

She had to control the urge to take several steps away from him when she recognized his angry glare. “A lot like him and alike are different things in my opinion.”

His voice dropped to a menacing growl. “Then educate me because I don’t see the difference.”

“You’re scaring me,” she whispered and wrapped her arms around herself.

The quiet words reached him easier than if she had screamed at him. “I don’t understand the difference,” he repeated, his voice calmer.

“Will you allow me to touch you?” she asked.

He nodded wordlessly.

“Okay,” she breathed deeply and reached out to place one hand on his chest, right over his heart. Showing him the similarities as well as the differences would probably be the best way to convince him that she didn’t believe he was the same as Rath, but that they were similar in some ways.

Michael stared at her, waiting to see what she wanted to show him. It made no sense to him how she could think that he and Rath were similar in any way beyond the unfortunate reality of their physical features.

Maria closed her eyes while she thought about the things she had learned from Rath while she was with him. She thought about the way he had reacted in several situations and what he had done, and in comparison she pictured Michael and his reaction when she had told him about his sister hurting her. Her mind went further, shifting to a fight scene she had witnessed between Rath and another Antarian and then she compared it to the way she had seen Michael that day on the training field. At the very end her feelings focused on being a prisoner of Rath and the way she had felt when he was around and then she swept over to her feelings towards Michael.

Michael soaked up everything she showed him, accepting some of the similarities and understanding that she hadn’t meant to insult him with the truth. Intermingled with the flashes were feelings of anger, helplessness, terror, humiliation, and the fear that she would never be free of Rath. “How can you look at me and not see him?” he asked after a moment. How was she able to distinguish between them?

She opened her eyes again and looked at him, but her hand remained over his pounding heart. “I think the connection helps a lot in this case.”

“You make it sound like some sort of sentient thing.”

Wasn’t it? she wondered but just shrugged.

He stared at her hand as his mind went over his last statement. What if the connection was somehow sentient? What did they really know of it? He needed to bring that to Dr. Collon’s attention so that he could look into that possibility. “It would make sense,” he mused, almost to himself. “It would explain why your fear of me is not as prominent as it is around other men.”

She looked at her hand on his chest and felt the slight vibration under it. The connection they shared involved everything. Memories, feelings, thoughts, pain… how more sentient could it get?

“It would also explain why it appears to be getting stronger.”

“Yeah,” she agreed and ran her thumb over his chest.

“It would likely explain the visions we’ve experienced.” He couldn’t stop watching her hand as she touched him, couldn’t stop from reacting to it even though there was nothing sexual about it. He forced his thoughts away from her touch, knowing that regardless of the connection she was in no way ready for him to make a move in that way.

“Do you think we’re meant to be together?” The question was out before she realized that she had actually said it instead of just thinking it and she blushed deeply. How can you ask THAT? He’s the Commander of Antar, why would anyone or anything want you to be with him?

“Together... you mean married?”

She dropped her hand and shook her head. “Sorry, I don’t know what I’m saying. I apologize for even considering something like that.”

With anyone else he would be demanding an apology and ordering them removed from his presence. But he couldn’t imagine insisting on either with her. “I don’t know what it means,” he answered honestly. He smiled slightly. “I find it a more intriguing option than marrying the Ice Princess though.”

“She that bad?” Thank God, he wasn’t going to kill her for her question.

He snorted. “Obviously you’ve never met Isabel.”

“No, never.”

“Well, she’s a holy terror.”

“Well, I’m honored you’d choose me over her then,” she tried to make a little joke.

His lips lifted in a smirk. “She would be more tolerable if it weren’t for our impending marriage to each other. It’s made her more...” he cast about for the correct word and finally settled on one of Kyle’s favorite descriptives for the temperamental princess, “bitchy than usual.”

“Bitchy.” Maria chuckled at hearing the word come out of his mouth. “Alright.”

“You’ll agree once you’ve seen her.” He shrugged one shoulder. “She prowls the gardens at night and on the entertaining occasion you’ll catch her in a confrontation with the King’s personal advisor.”

“I don’t think I wanna meet her.”

“She’s not that bad. If you’re not the one who’s supposed to marry her,” he added quickly.

“Does she want to marry you?”

“No more than I want to marry her.”

Maria wondered why any woman wouldn’t want to marry the Commander of Antar. From what she had seen so far, he was a man who cared about his people and he protected them. In a time like this, what could be better than a man who was not only willing to risk his life to protect you, but who looked like the Commander?

“Can you imagine being forced to marry someone you have little in common with? I accept that our status comes with certain expectations but spending a lifetime with a woman you aren’t attracted to, who isn’t attracted to you, and who has no understanding of who you are or what makes you the person you are...” he shook his head. “It’s a miserable future looming ahead for both of us.”

“I don’t know anything about forced marriages,” she admitted. “But I live in a world that isn’t mine and many Antarians don’t want humans here, so I know what it means to be a fish out of water.”

“That attitude isn’t prevalent in this part of the country. There are a few who are openly hostile about having humans on our planet, but many of them are just as hostile towards us as hybrids.”

“A few soldiers in the camp where I used to work were pretty cool and they were full-blooded Antarians, so I guess they’re not all bad.”

“There are those who blame humans for the war, for the decision to engineer the hybrids that would come into power and lead our country,” he shrugged. “It’s short-sighted but unless they’re willing to consider that their hatred is misplaced little else will change their attitude.”

“Is Landor still alive? He was at the camp I worked in."

“He’s in the infirmary, recovering from recent injuries.” He tipped his head to one side. “He treated you well?”

“Yeah,” she nodded with a slight smile. “He always kept me company and made sure I was safe on the nights when we had to stay awake because they suspected enemy attacks.”

“Would you like to see him?” he asked, thinking that maybe she would feel better if she could see a familiar face.

“I would like to,” she nodded. “He was out on the field when the enemy overran our camp and took a few of us hostage. I never got the chance to thank him for everything he did for me.”

He nodded. “I’ll speak with Collon and make arrangements.” He lowered his voice and injected a bit of teasing into it. “He’s kind of a dictator about visiting hours.”

She laughed, showing her perfect teeth. “Yeah, I can easily see that with the doctor.”

Her laughter touched something deep inside of him. It was the first time he had heard it and it made him proud that she had lowered her defenses and allowed him to witness it. “Collon has no sense of humor about certain things. Actually, he has little sense of humor at all, but he’s very good at his job. I couldn’t ask for a better surgeon to attend to my men.”

A loud knock interrupted them and before they could react the door swung open. Maria reacted on instinct and took a few steps behind Michael to protect herself from possible danger.

Michael’s eyes narrowed at the interruption and he glared at his sister when she stood there, her icy blue gaze taking in the situation. “It is customary to knock and wait for an invitation prior to entering a guest’s quarters,” he said dryly.

“I came to talk to you,” she said, ignoring his question.

“About something that absolutely could not wait until later?”

“Why? Did I disturb you?” she asked sweetly.

“What do you want?”

Maria stayed behind him and watched the scene. Although Michael had talked to his sister she could feel her hostility towards her.

“Our spies have detected Khivar’s troops nearing Sun Valley.”

“Do we have an estimated number of troops?”

“Probably 100 – 150 men.”

Sun Valley was where the majority of their food was grown. There were many farms in the area surrounding the valley, which meant more innocents. It was well protected but if they were being assaulted with numbers that high they could lose a sufficient amount of their crops. “Have the First and Seventh Battalions deployed to Sun Valley. Send the Second Battalion in, but have them come in from above so Khivar’s troops are trapped between them.”

Tess nodded. “Should we warn the civilians there? Maybe send an evacuation team in case the battle gets closes in on the valley?”

“Issue a warning to the civilians and deploy Teran’s unit to the area to prepare them in the case of a necessary evacuation. Under no circumstances are any civilians to be left behind. If the evacuation becomes a necessity it will be mandatory.”

“Alright,” she glanced at Maria behind him and wondered what she had interrupted. She had promised him she would behave towards her, but it was still hard to trust her and now she had her own quarters in the castle. Ungh.

“Tess, did you have anything else?” he asked with a meaningful nod at Maria.

“No, should I?” she asked, pretending to be clueless.

His expression turned disapproving. “I’ll need to inform the King of these new developments.” He smirked. “Unless you’d prefer to speak with him personally.”

“I’ll pass,” she rolled her eyes and walked further into the room. Even though she had a different opinion about guests in the castle she knew her brother had some strong feelings towards the woman and if she wanted him to not make her and Kyle’s life hell, she had to cooperate. Her eyes focused on Maria as she crossed the room to stand in front of her. “Her interrogation is tomorrow morning?”

Michael gritted his teeth at her overly direct question. “You know very well she’ll be interviewed tomorrow.”

She didn’t comment on his choice of words. “I wanna be there.”

He could feel the tension and fear that Maria was trying so hard to keep hidden. “No.”

“No?” She frowned at him. “I’m not asking for your permission, Michael.”

“Unless it’s suddenly slipped your memory, I outrank you, Corporal. The Captain will handle the interview. He can do his job without your help.”

“You might outrank me on the field,” she glared at him and moved closer, bringing them face to face. “But not when it comes to our status as royalty. I will observe the interview and if you want me to trust her then I suggest you not say anything against it.”

If he hadn’t been so concerned for Maria he would’ve been amused by his sister’s statement. As the intended bride to the King she did have more authority than he did in many respects. “Fine, you may observe the interview, but you will not participate.”

Maria felt her heart sink at his agreement, but she remained frozen in the same position.

“That’s all I want,” she stated, satisfied.

“Don’t you have others to terrorize? I’d hate to cut into your busy schedule,” he said, letting her know she should leave.

Tess rolled her eyes. “See you at dinner, brother.” And with that she walked back out of the room.

Michael glanced at Maria after his sister left had them alone again. “She’ll only be observing; she won’t be in the room with you.”

She ran her hands over her face and sighed, fearing the next morning and wishing she would be able to sleep the coming night but already knowing she wouldn’t.

“I know how intimidating she is, but once she’s satisfied that you aren’t a threat she’ll be more accepting of your presence here.”

Although she couldn’t imagine it, she nodded and went to the window to sit in the spot she had favored all day. The little bit of appetite she had worked up over the day was gone again and she had no intentions of having dinner with them like he had suggested that morning.

He sighed when she retreated once more. “I do need to go now. The King will need to be informed of the newest developments.” He moved closer to her and reached out to touch her shoulder. “I already know this will take longer than I’d like so there’s a possibility that I’ll miss dinner.”

“I’m not hungry anyway,” she said.

“Perhaps you’ll be hungry later?” He smiled. “I could come by for you after my meeting. We would have the kitchen to ourselves.”

“You can try.”

“Try?”

“Try to convince me to have dinner.”

He nodded. “Would I have to convince you to come with me or just to eat?”

She looked at his hand on her shoulder. “Just to eat.”

“Very well then, I’ll see you at the setting of the second sun.”

“Goodbye, Michael.”

He reluctantly dropped his hand and moved to her door. “Until tonight.”
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

User avatar
Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 925
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

Part 15

Post by Double Trouble » Sat Nov 30, 2013 1:43 pm

Part 15

Heavy footfalls echoed through the corridors as Michael’s boots struck the stone floor. He had already sent a messenger to contact the King’s personal advisor and summon him to the war room. He was on his way to meet with Max but only after a short side trip to the kitchen to see if he could borrow the new staff member for a while. His mind was on a dozen different things as his feet led him past the dining area and into the large kitchen. He paused and backtracked several steps when he caught a flash of movement and he frowned when he saw the King lurking in the shadows behind some racks. He turned to follow the man’s gaze and shook his head when he saw the brunette woman kneading dough and humming to herself, her body swaying rhythmically as she worked.

She cursed and bent over to pick up a utensil that fell on the floor and he smirked when she presented the King with a view that had the man nearly choking on his tongue. “And here I thought you spent all of your free time with your nose in a book,” he mused loud enough to startle Max but not loud enough to draw the woman’s attention.

Max straightened up and tried to control the blush he could feel burning his cheeks. He cleared his throat and brushed his hands over the racks. “I was just…”

“Yes, I can see what you were doing.” He lifted his right hand to rest it against the top shelf of the closest rack. “I’d like to borrow your new kitchen help for a while.”

His head snapped to the side and he frowned. “Why?” He hurried to clear his throat. “I mean, she’s busy as you can see.”

“Busy being stalked by royalty? She’s making bread… anyone can do that. I’d like something new for dinner and I thought something from Earth would hit the spot.”

Max turned back to look at Liz. “Well, as I said, she’s busy.”

“We need to speak about Khivar’s armies infiltrating the Sun Valley and by the time you’re ready to resume your stalking I’m sure she’ll be finished and back here making bread.” He grinned to himself. “Does she know of your odd behavior?”

“You may utilize her talents in the kitchen for no more than two hours, and only her kitchen talents, Commander.”

Michael smirked at the jealous note in the King’s voice. “Well, if she’s good those talents can be put to use in any room.” The King’s features flushed crimson at the quiet taunt, further amusing him. “Some things can’t be learned in a book, Maxwell.” He pushed away from the racks. “I’m about to go and speak with her so I’d suggest you make yourself scarce before you give yourself away.”

The King glared at him but backed away, moving to the exit. “We will speak of this again.”

“We will speak again, and soon, but it won’t be about this. Once I’ve spoken to the woman I’ll join you in the war room. We need to discuss our response to Khivar’s invading armies.” He just chuckled when Max glared at him once more before disappearing from sight. The new kitchen help wasn’t his type but there was no reason to let Max think any differently. There was something familiar about screwing with Max this way, something that he couldn’t quite put his finger on, but it amused him nonetheless. He moved further into the room and rapped his knuckles against the counter to make her aware of his presence.

Liz glanced up from her work and nodded at the doorway. “Was it necessary to run him off?”

His eyebrows lifted at her knowledge of the King’s observance of her. “You knew he was there?”

“Of course I knew.” She punched the dough and glanced up at him again. She reached over and tapped a utensil strategically placed near the edge of the counter, easily catching it when it upended and fell.

He smirked and nodded. “I’m sure he’ll be back.”

“You’re one of his soldiers?” she asked, her gaze roaming over him for a moment.

“I command his armies.”

“You’re the Commander,” she guessed. He wasn’t in full uniform and she hadn’t officially met him before now.

“I am, yes. The King has agreed to let me borrow you for a couple of hours, though I doubt it’ll take that long.”

“You’re… borrowing me?”

“Yes,” he said, missing the annoyance in her tone at the way he had phrased his statement. “You know how to make a grilled cheese?”

“Of course.” She lifted one eyebrow in question. “You want a grilled cheese?” She shrugged when he nodded. “I can make that for you right here.”

“No, I require the food preparation be made in my personal wing for my… guest.”

“You have a guest and your meal choice is a grilled cheese?”

He frowned at her questions. “That is what I require, yes. I will have one of my sentry’s escort you to the kitchen in my wing and you may prepare the food. The kitchen has been cleared so that you may work in peace. The sentry will send for my guest once you’ve begun preparation of the meal.”

He was a strange man, she decided after he had gone, leaving her alone once more. How much peace did one need to fry up a grilled cheese? Oh, well, it gave her a break from Wilgor and for that she was grateful.

*****

The silence was loud in the throne room as Khivar stared at the man he held responsible for losing one of their camps to the enemy. He suddenly chuckled, surprising the stony-face half-breed even though his facial muscles didn’t so much as twitch. He had returned from a meeting with several of his military leaders to find that one of his commanders had lost the potential key to winning the war. “Once again the Commander proves he’s the better man.” Khivar stood and smirked in satisfaction when the comment caused a crack in the man’s demeanor. “How was he able to infiltrate the camp, Rath?”

The soldier gritted his teeth as the man he had sworn to serve stood before him, his expression revealing his impatience. The man who ruled this side of the country was Antarian but a mutation had occurred during his incubation due to a failed attempt to create a powerful hybrid and it had altered his genes. He was a shape shifter and he could alter his appearance at will.

“What makes you think he can maintain control over a camp?” a female voice taunted.

His back teeth started to grind when his ex-lover entered the throne room but his gaze didn’t break from his leader.

“Vilondra,” Khivar murmured as he transformed his Antarian appearance to that of a striking blond-haired human.

She was as beautiful as she was vicious and Rath knew just how quickly her loyalties could shift. She was enthralled with Khivar, obsessed with his power, and heady with the knowledge that he was just as enthralled and obsessed with her. He watched dispassionately as Khivar returned to his throne and she settled on the armrest, draping herself over him.

“You haven’t answered my question, Rath.” Khivar’s eyes bored into him and he shrugged one shoulder.

“I told you we needed more soldiers at the camp and you refused.”

“Your job was to hold that camp and to impregnate your captive. You know how important she is and you’ve managed to let her fall into the enemy’s hands.”

Vilondra smirked as she raked her fingers through his hair. “I told you he couldn’t do it.”

His temper began to smolder. “I can’t be held responsible for the human’s inability to get pregnant. Why can’t you just take what you need and produce the – “

“Because the incubation pods will not work!” Khivar snapped. “The human carries a gene that is either dormant or non-existent in almost every human and for that gene to be carried to her offspring she must carry the child.” He slammed his fist down on the throne. “Your DNA could activate the gene.”

“Highly doubtful,” Vilondra muttered. “Maybe if he was the Commander.”

“I am a commander,” Rath bit out.

“You command Khivar’s armies but you aren’t the Commander,” she corrected him.

He stared her down. “There was a time my rank wasn’t of importance.”

“There was a time we fought just to exist and lived in the sewers below the city on Earth. I wouldn’t go back to that if I had the choice either.”

“Didn’t really care as long as I was fuckin’ you.” The words were still echoing through the room when he was knocked off of his feet and thrown up against the far wall.

“If Zan was still alive this would not be an issue.”

“Zan was about to turn on you,” Rath snarled as he got to his feet. “He was weak! He wouldn’t have had the stomach to do what’s necessary to produce your so-called weapon.”

Khivar’s left hand brushed his robes back and he unsheathed the sword at his side, moving so swiftly that Rath didn’t have time to do more than acknowledge the movement before the tip of the weapon was pressed against his throat. He tipped his head to the side, his eyes shifting back to their natural golden color and widening slightly as he observed the hybrid holding his breath in an effort to avoid being cut by the sharp blade.

For all of their efforts to create the perfect hybrid the Antarian royalty had made a grave error. They foolishly believed that the key was to create a hybrid female that carried the special gene, paying no attention to the fact that their defective first attempt had succeeded in creating hybrids that carried it. They had been so certain of their failure when testing had revealed the gene had not survived in the two females. Their knowledge of the gene had been limited and thus, their understanding of how it could be used to create an all-powerful offspring had been limited as well.

They had damned the first batch of hybrids, ordering one of their people to remove and destroy them, but he had seen the opportunity for what it was. He had learned of the plan from one of his spies and he had intercepted the servant before he could complete his duty, paying him a great sum of money to turn them over to him. It would have been easier to simply kill the man and take them but he hadn’t wanted anyone to know he had them until it was too late. He had transported them to Earth, knowing he could ensure their safety to a certain degree there. It was all part of the original plan. To transport the hybrids to Earth where they would be placed with human families to blend in with their surroundings because it was believed it would make it impossible for their enemies to locate them.

Their ambassadors had begun to make contact with Earth years before in preparation for the coming war so by the time they had placed the hybrids in the care of Earth families their existence on the other planet was commonplace. The Antarian leaders had discovered his theft of the defective hybrid’s incubation pods but they had been hidden someplace no one would ever look for them. Security had been increased around the Royal Four in expectation of Khivar’s attack on them but it had never come.

And why should it? He had known that they would never succeed in their creation of a super hybrid, one so powerful it would change the tide of the war. The Antarian scientists had succeeded in creating one of the females with the gene, thinking that she and the future King of Antar would succeed in bringing about the powerful hybrid, the Savior of Antar. They couldn’t be more wrong. Yes, the future Queen of Antar carried the gene, but what they didn’t understand was that the gene was necessary in both parents to result in the creation of such a powerful hybrid.

Of course, it had taken further study for him to realize that the only male from the second set of hybrids to carry the gene was her brother. Which had never posed a problem for him. Until now, he thought as he drew the tip of the sword against Rath’s throat. The hybrid stared at him, his gaze unflinching and his body taut as blood dripped from the wound.

“You will find the woman, Rath. If the Commander should – “

“The Commander has no idea what he has in his possession. And even if he did, the last thing he would ever do is force himself on a woman. He’s weak,” he spat out.

“You think you know him so well,” Khivar murmured smoothly. “You may understand him on a tactical level, but you will never understand him on the human level.”

“The woman is ruined. She will never welcome his advances, even if he were to want what I’ve already had.”

“You are foolish to underestimate him and in time it will be your downfall. It is not necessary for him to know the value of what he now holds in his possession. His knowledge of value is not the same as yours. He already cares for the woman, you fool! He has her under his personal protection within the walls of the castle.”

“Then it makes her an easy target. Ava can get into the castle, she’s done it before.”

“To clean up another of your messes?”

Rath’s eyes flicked to the entrance of the throne room when Ava walked in. She was small in stature but deadly with a sword, and she was bent on avenging her lover’s death. “It could give you an opportunity to take the Commander out as well.”

She smiled slowly. “I will take my revenge when the time is right.” Those who had witnessed Zan’s execution had identified the Commander as his killer. But she knew differently. She knew the truth. His executioners had taken him from her, had stripped away a part of her soul, and for that alone she would see them die. Her gaze moved from Rath to Vilondra and back again. “I’ve just come from a meeting with Dracon. Since when do we attack the Sun Valley? The valley is populated by civilians and unless something has changed civilians are not attacked directly on either side of this war.”

Rath looked at Khivar. “It’s necessary.”

“Khivar, Sun Valley allows them to harvest their protected food sources and store it,” Vilondra spoke up as she approached him. “We scavenge our food stores from nearby villages but they have an entire valley to sustain their people. Why not destroy it? Make their soldiers learn what it is to fight on an empty stomach. Make their people question their revered leaders when they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.”

“It is not necessary!” Ava denied. “For as long as this war has gone on direct attacks on civilians have not been allowed; it defies the rules of war. Certainly, there are civilian casualties, collateral damage, but we do not just outright attack them.” She shook her head as she met Khivar’s gaze directly. “No matter what else we are, we do not kill just to kill.”

Vilondra ran her finger along the side of Khivar’s neck, bringing his attention back to her. “As soon as they become aware of our presence they’ll order the civilians to safety and the only opponent at that point will be their military. Technically, we won’t be attacking civilians.” Her dark gaze bored into Ava, daring her to defy her.

“Zan would not have taken this path.”

“He didn’t have the balls to make a move like this,” Rath countered. “His time as a leader in our military has passed. Let his poor decisions rest with him.”

“Zan was an honorable soldier, imperfect for certain, but he did not attack innocents and an attack of this nature will surely put innocents in the crossfire. He carried out your orders, Khivar, and he did so without question. He fought for you and he died for you; do not let his death be for nothing.”

“Vilondra’s right,” Khivar decided. “The military will order the civilians to safety, which will leave only soldiers for our troops to cut down. We’ll never get to the food stores. There are fail-safes built into the storehouses to prevent pillaging; the food would be contaminated before we could break through the doors.” He stepped back and sheathed his sword, pacing for a few moments as he thought. “Commander,” he looked at Rath and Ava, “flood the valley.” His eyes narrowed as he focused on Rath. “And you will recover my captive.”

Rath snapped off a salute and turned sharply to leave the throne room. First thing he had to do was stop the wound on his throat from bleeding, he thought as he pressed his hand over it. One day he was going to kill Khivar. “We’ll meet with Dracon in one hour to determine our best course of action for attacking Sun Valley,” he snapped as he headed for the medical unit.

Ava followed him down the corridor, turning to leave the castle and head to her own modest quarters. She had to think about her next step. Right now hatred and the burning desire for revenge were the only things keeping her alive. Zan had led Khivar’s armies even though Rath had most often been on the front lines. Zan was a thinker. Had been a thinker, she corrected herself and rubbed her hand over her heart in an attempt to ease the lonely ache inside. She knew Rath and Vilondra had murdered him in cold blood, ruthlessly and without remorse. She and Zan had been connected; something no knew they were capable of. She had felt every agonizing moment of his death and had been unable to stop it, unable to ease his suffering as they had taken pleasure in slowly taking his life from him.

Rath had ordered her and her unit to engage Antar’s Army at the northern camp and like a good soldier, she had followed her orders. The skirmish had been small, practically useless, and afterwards while they were tending to their wounded she had been taken to her knees, unable to breathe as pain like no other had assaulted her body. The flashes had hit her hard and fast and she had seen them hurt him repeatedly, seen their anger when he refused to beg for his life. She had felt him die, had felt his last breath as his grasp on life had slipped away from him.

When she had returned she had been told of the Commander’s attack on Zan’s unit. The story she had been told had the Commander torturing Zan for information, something that wouldn’t have made sense even if she hadn’t known the truth. She had let them think she believed it, biding her time until she could take her revenge. And she would see them dead if it was the last thing she ever did.

*****

Half an hour later Liz found herself in the large kitchen in the Commander’s wing of the castle. It was just as impressive as the kitchen on the King’s side but she wondered if it got as much use. She knew the Commander and his sister took many of their meals with the King and his sister but it seemed a shame to just let this room go to waste.

She started looking around, familiarizing herself with the appliances and where everything was located when she heard movement behind her. She turned and smiled when she saw the woman standing quietly in the doorway. She appeared to be human and seemed very sad somehow. “You must be…” She trailed off when she saw the guard silently standing behind her.

Maria turned to look at Satara. “Would it be alright if I just sit in here alone?” she asked as she motioned to the stools lined up along one side of the large island at the center of the large room.

Satara glanced around, checking for any exits before nodding. “I’ll be at the door.”

Liz lifted an eyebrow in question. “When the Commander said he had a guest I thought maybe he meant a girlfriend or something.” She wasn’t sure what type of acquaintance the woman was.

The other woman snorted. “I doubt he would have someone to cook a grilled cheese for a girlfriend.” The man didn’t strike her as the type who would do that and she wasn’t sure if it was just intuition or if it was part of the connection.

Liz chuckled. “He didn’t strike me as the full seven course meal with wine either.”

“No,” Maria smiled slightly.

“Are you in some sort of danger?” Liz asked as she searched the cupboards for the bread.

How much was she allowed to say? No one had told her to keep anything a secret, but she knew that Michael had kept her from the King’s knowledge so how much of the truth should she reveal? “No…”

Liz glanced over her shoulder at the other woman. “But you have a guard shadowing you.” Her eyes widened for a moment. “You’re not a prisoner, are you?”

Maria looked at the other girl for several seconds. “Do you think the Commander would have the King’s kitchen staff come here to cook something I wanted if I was a prisoner?”

She pulled the bread down and placed it on the counter. “Well, if you’re not in trouble and you’re not a prisoner... why the guard?”

The hell with it! “Gotta prove I’m not a spy before they let me walk around on my own.”

Liz turned to look at her fully, her gaze appraising. “A spy? Really? Who do they think you’re spying for?”

“Khivar,” Maria shrugged.

“Are you?” She cleared her throat and shook her head at the stupid question.

“No!” the other girl said, offended.

“Sorry,” she apologized. “Why do they think you could be?”

Maria moved around on her chair and avoided looking at her companion. She didn’t feel hungry at all and the last of her appetite had faded when Satara had told her that Michael would not be able to have dinner with her as promised. “I was held hostage at one of their camps for a while.”

“That’s terrible!” Liz stopped searching for the cheese and looked at her. “I’m sorry to hear that. I can only imagine...” she trailed off and shook her head. “Did they hurt you?” And again with the stupid questions, Parker! It was obvious that captivity had left her wounded and scarred.

“I… I don’t wanna talk about it,” she denied.

“No, of course not. That was insensitive of me and I’m sorry.” She took a step closer and started to hold her hand out but then thought twice about it. “My name’s Liz, by the way.”

“Maria.”

“Well, Maria, the Commander said I was to make you a grilled cheese. What kind would you like? Just cheese? Grilled with crispy bacon melted into the cheese? Grilled with sliced tomatoes?”

“Why not with bacon? It’s been a lifetime since I had that kind of sandwich.”

“One grilled cheese with bacon coming right up.” Liz smiled and pulled what she needed from the refrigerator. She set the bacon to frying and checked a few more cabinets. “What would you say to a cup of coffee?”

“Gosh, only if it’s anything Earth-like, because the shit I’ve had here’s awful.”

Liz laughed at that. “They really don’t know how to make it, do they?”

“No, they absolutely don’t,” Maria agreed. “When I was at the camp where I worked, I got to know Milgrim – the one and only Antarian who could make coffee the right way.”

“Over in the King’s kitchen the other servants make it to his taste and the coffee they brew for the servants is made to Wilgor’s taste. He’s the boss and he’s a royal asshole.”

“I know what you mean. A lot of them are really… cold. Takes some time to get used to it. At least I needed time.”

“I know it’s the lack of emotion they inject into absolutely anything they do, but, good grief, that’s not Wilgor’s only problem. The man absolutely loves his position and there can’t possibly be a spot on the Princess’s ass that he hasn’t kissed.”

Maria had to chuckle at that. “I’ve never met the Princess, but I heard,” she lowered her voice, “she’s a bitch.”

Liz snorted. “I’ve met her. She threw the King’s advisor into the pool when he didn’t get out of her way at her insistence.”

“So rumors must be right, I suppose. How’s the King?”

“Hot,” Liz admitted.

Well, she had seen him a few times from a distance and he certainly didn’t look bad, but he really wasn’t her type. “Um-hmm… and besides that?”

“Shy, believe it or not. And completely awkward, at least around me.”

“Well, I wouldn’t wanna be in their shoes. They took on a lot of responsibility when they got back from Earth,” Maria mused. “Do you wonder how it is that they’re so … unworldly? I mean, they spent more time on Earth than they’ve spent here, but it seems like they’ve been here all their lives, doesn’t it?”

“That’s true,” Liz mused as she turned the bacon. “I mean, when the King talks he’s so... formal. There’s no way they could spend that much time on Earth and not pick up the slang or the dialect.” She shrugged. “Maybe somehow being back on their home planet caused them to revert to the previous selves? Like the alien side of their genetic makeup has a dominant role here?”

“Probably,” Maria agreed with a nod. “Sometimes, Michael says something that reveals his knowledge about living on Earth, but I doubt he even realizes it.” She didn’t even notice that she was talking about Michael and not the Commander in that moment.

Liz didn’t miss the slip but she didn’t comment on it either. “Do you know much about their lives on Earth?”

“Not much more than everyone else knew from the press.”

She took the bacon from the pan and laid it on a plate. “I never really paid much attention.” She wrinkled her nose. “I wish now I had but somehow other things were always more important.”

“How long have you been here?”

“Oh, just a few days.” She spread a thin layer of butter on the surface of a slice of bread and placed it in the pan. “What about you?”

“About a year now…” Gosh, it seemed like it had been so much longer. “How’s Earth these days?”

Liz shook her head as she centered a piece of cheese on the bread. “Things have gotten worse. I was living in Chicago and the city was falling apart.”

“I wish there was a way to prevent that. I mean it’s our home and it’s falling apart. Can you imagine staying here forever?”

“I don’t know. Maybe. The way things are on Earth it doesn’t look like it’ll ever be the way it once was.” She swallowed with difficulty and placed the bacon on the cheese and then covering it with another slice of cheese. “I have nothing to go back to.”

Maria allowed her mind to wander back to times when her mom and her had lived on Earth happily – pretty poor and simple but also happy. “Who would’ve thought we were living with so many ticking bombs, huh? I mean, everyone knew that atomic stockpiles were a potential danger, but nobody believed that one accident could be responsible for getting us to the point where we are now.”

“No one,” Liz said quietly and flipped the sandwich over. “No one knew the future we were building was just the foundation for our own destruction.”
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
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Part 16

Post by Double Trouble » Sat Nov 30, 2013 1:44 pm

Part 16

“And now we have the choice of either a miserable death on Earth or an unemotional life here.” She knew no matter what had happened she should be thankful for being one of the humans who had been allowed to life on Antar, but sometimes it was hard to think that way – especially when her mom was so far away.

“What a choice, huh?” Liz smiled. “I think I can get the King to unleash his emotions though.”

Maria lifted one eyebrow. “You’re planning to hit on the King?”

“Well, if I wait on him it might never happen.”

She’s got nerve, Maria thought. Planning to hit on the King was one thing, but officially admitting it aloud…

“He’s interested,” Liz said when she caught the other woman’s expression. “I just don’t think he knows what to do about it.” She lifted the grilled cheese up and slid it onto a plate before removing the pan from the heat. She set the plate with the golden grilled cheese on the table in front of Maria.

The smell of warm grilled cheese was hard to resist and it made her appetite suddenly reappear. “Or maybe he just knows that it’d cause a lot of trouble?”

Liz pulled one of the stools around to the opposite side of the island and sat down. “Trouble?”

“Well, he’s supposed to marry, isn’t he?”

“There is that.” She made a face. “Can you imagine being forced to marry someone you don’t want to spend your life with?”

“Well, if ya don’t show emotions like the people on this planet then maybe it’s not that bad in their eyes.”

“Maybe, but even though their emotions seem to be pushed back don’t you think they’re in there somewhere? They are half human and we tend to be pretty emotional.”

“I guess that’s true.” Although Michael would probably deny it, he had a softer side now and then and he cared about his men… and her.

“I’m surprised that Antarians would push something as archaic as arranged marriages.” She got up to fill a couple of mugs with coffee and brought them over to place them on the island. “If I were the ruler of this country, as soon as I had the power I’d get rid of that crap.”

“It really tastes great,” Maria mumbled when she had chewed her first bite. “Best thing I’ve had in a long time.”

“Thanks.” Liz grinned. “Yeah, I’ve noticed that sweet and spicy are the main staples around here. They’ve overlooked so much in the flavor department and limited their options.”

“That’s true.”

“Something else that could be awakened given the chance. How could you spend time on Earth and not get how great a greasy cheeseburger is? Or a pan pizza with pepperoni and extra cheese?” She rolled her eyes. “You know they indulged in good junk food while they were on Earth. I’ll bet even the princess knew the best fast food places.”

“It really doesn’t seem like they’re the same people they probably were on Earth, but then again like you said… maybe there’s something blocking their memories to keep them focused on the real task now.”

“Do you think they’re better off if they’re unemotional and detached?”

“I don’t know. Emotions can distract in a war so that might be an advantage, but then again… emotions can also give you the strength you need to go on.” Maria shrugged.

“That’s true. But to rule without emotion... how can you really understand your people?” She sighed. “Maybe since the majority of their people are full-blooded Antarians it’s easier that way. I guess the royal four being half-human is part of the reason some people don’t seem to care for them.”

“Yeah, not sure how they came up with this plan anyway. I mean, it’s easy to imagine that it causes difficulties when your rulers are from a different race.” Maria frowned. “But then again, maybe it was planned from the start that one day they would rule both races, huh?”

“You think so?” It would make sense, Liz thought.

Maria looked up at the new theory. “I hope I’m wrong.”

“Do you think they’d bring Earth’s survivors here?” She took a sip of her coffee. “I mean, the process they use just to determine if you can work here is pretty tedious.”

“Could be just a cover.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, if they planned right from the start to rule both races, then maybe the so-called atomic accident wasn’t one and now they just pick the humans they want… who would be able to work here, while the others can just stay on Earth and die.”

“I don’t think they’re that cold-blooded. At least, not the ones on this side of the war.” It wasn’t like she really knew them that well, had only spoken to a handful of them to be honest, but surely they hadn’t been responsible for what had happened on Earth?

“Yeah,” Maria frowned at the direction the conservation had taken. “Ya know, we probably shouldn’t think about that too much.”

Liz nodded. “Have you been outside the castle since you’ve been here?”

“Just in the courtyard once.”

“Maybe we could have a picnic out there one afternoon if I can get away from Wilgor the Terrible. We could sit out by the reflecting pool.”

“That would be nice. Nothing better than a good old human talk.” Maria swallowed another bite of her sandwich, already feeling full since her food intake had been so slim over the past few months. “Gonna have to live with my shadow though,” she nodded to the door.

“Well, she seems to be respectful of your privacy even though she’s here to keep an eye on you.”

“Yeah… I should be glad I guess. If it was up to the Princess on this side of the castle I’d be locked up in a hole somewhere.”

She laughed. “You think it’s that ‘princess’ title that makes them so difficult?”

“Could be.”

“The King and his sister, their personalities are like night and day. Are the Commander and his sister like that or are they more alike?”

“I don’t know. I’ve met the Commander a few times now and he comes across pretty hard, but at the same time you can see there’s a different side to him. The Princess was just a bitch to me.”

“Definitely a princess trait,” Liz decided. “Most everyone seems to just stand back and let Princess Isabel do whatever she wants and puts up with her shit. Except the King’s advisor, he doesn’t treat her the same way.”

“A human maybe?”

“Bingo. Personally I think she likes it when he stands up to her.”

“But probably won’t admit it.” Maria pushed the plate away, leaving a bit of the sandwich on it. “It was delicious, but I’m totally full.”

“Yeah, I believe that. Somehow I think he could teach her a thing or two.” She propped her elbow on the counter and rested her chin in her hand. “I don’t know how she is with the other cooks but so far she’s basically refused to eat anything I’ve made myself.”

“She probably just likes to be a bitch.”

“Well, she excels at it.”

Goosebumps suddenly rose on Maria’s bare arms, making the small blonde hairs stand up furiously. “Glad she lives on the other side of the castle,” she mumbled while she looked at her arm and then rubbed over it.

“Everything okay?” Liz asked.

“Yeah… I guess.” She knew the feeling hadn’t belonged to her at that moment. This connection was driving her insane!

Liz nodded, not pushing. She glanced up at the clock on the wall to check the time and was surprised to see that they had been sitting there talking for well over an hour. “Do you know how to read the language here?”

“Yeah, I have a pretty good grasp on it.”

“Maybe you could help me learn to read it,” she said and told her about her run-in with the soldier in the showers.

“Oh,” Maria chuckled slightly. “Well we don’t want that to happen again, huh?”

“No, I’d really rather not have a repeat experience. Insufferable man,” she muttered.

“The Captain was there when they found me in the enemy camp.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, he brought me back to the castle.”

“Wow. Well, I’m sure he’s quite formidable on the battlefield.”

“I don’t know, haven’t seen him again.” But you will tomorrow, she thought, remembering the upcoming interrogation.

“It’ll be okay if I never see anyone on the battlefield.” She made a face. “Do you think it’s weird that as advanced as they are they still fight with weapons like swords?”

“I don’t know. I mean, look at our planet. Atomic weapons, biohazard… it’s probably not the worst decision to fight the old way, ya know? At least they won’t destroy their planet.”

“True, but I’ve heard that they have different abilities, with their minds. I guess that’d take a lot out of them though. Who could sustain that kind of mental process for long?”

“Yeah, it’s no fun at all,” Maria said quietly. She had experienced it herself and it wasn’t a feeling she would ever forget.

“You sound like you know what it’s like.”

She glanced at her briefly. “Yeah.”

“It must be... invasive,” she said after a moment.

Maria didn’t respond to that as she stared down at her hands. She didn’t want to think about it, too cruel were the memories.

Liz could tell she was treading on dangerous ground so she changed the subject. “Do they have anything like movies here?”

“No movies, no TV’s at all, and worst thing: no music. But they have books.”

“Hmm... obviously they don’t tell you everything in the brochures they provide,” she laughed. “But music, no problem. I brought music with me.” She chuckled as she recalled the King’s reaction to her dancing in the kitchen and his confusion over the song's lyrics.

“I did too,” Maria remembered. “But most of my personal stuff was lost when the camp I was working in was overrun by enemy soldiers.”

“I’ll bring my music when we have our picnic and feel free to tell me if you think it sucks.” She waggled her eyebrows playfully. “Earth music confuses the hell out of the King,” she confided with a grin.

“I bet,” the other girl laughed.

****

“Where did we receive the last signal from Hangar and his troops?” Michael pulled a card out of his coat and spread it on the ground. He grabbed the flashlight from Kyle to be able to see in the dark of night. He frowned at the paper in front of him since it took him several seconds before he was able to find their current position. Damn, they had so gotten used to technology like GPS systems that it was hard to take a step backward and use good old maps. Sun Valley was located between mountains that rose high on each side, making it impossible to communicate there. The perfect place for an ambush, he thought.

“Over here,” Kyle pointed at one of the regions in the mountain. “We think someone was able to climb up there to get a signal, but we don’t know where the troops are now. It’s more likely that Hangar sent a man out to contact us while the others waited somewhere deeper in the valley.”

Michael glanced up to look around, but he couldn’t see anything other than the darkness so he switched the light off again and ordered his men to do the same. He waited a few moments while his eyes adjusted to the dark and he could finally detect the outline of the wooded area surrounding them.

They were still at a higher position from where they had come through the pass in the mountains. “The village with civilians is over there,” Kyle pointed at some weak lights at the other end of the valley.

“Hangar most likely moved over there to save the village from being overrun,” the Commander said, knowing his men would protect the people who couldn’t defend themselves before everything else.

A sound was suddenly heard, something like branches snapping under something heavy. Their hands automatically sought out their weapons while they stood silently, listening.

Michael lifted his hand to give them a sign to stay where they were while he moved forward carefully in the direction where the sound had come from. He was about to swing his sword when he saw a shadow moving towards him, but at the last moment he detected the little silver insignia on the uniform that revealed the man’s identity as one of his own.

“Commander,” the solider said, his voice revealing shocked and then relief as he stumbled over his feet. His heavy body crashed to the ground and only then could Michael see the long gaping wound on his back.

“Call for a combat medic,” he ordered his men and a moment later a soldier appeared at the side of the wounded man.

The medic took the soldier’s vital signs and began to examine the wound. After several moments he glanced up at the Commander. “I would recommend you obtain the information you need from him immediately.” He shook his head. “I can give him something to deaden the pain and make him lucid for a few minutes. He won’t last much longer.”

“Captain,” Michael waved Kyle over and nodded at the wounded soldier meaningfully before he went back to watch the surrounding area again. His eyes were better than human eyes and he trusted his second to get the necessary information. They didn’t know how far away the enemy was, but with the wound his soldier had sustained it wasn’t likely he had traveled far and he didn’t want to risk an attack while they took care of their man.

Kyle hurried to take the Commander’s place next to the fallen soldier, watching the medic’s hands as he administered the cocktail that would ease the man’s suffering while allowing him to talk. The effects were immediate and his gaze locked with the soldier’s eyes when the man gripped his hand tightly.

“Khivar’s troops have attempted to overrun the valley, sir.”

“Where are they right now?”

“Our units have been successful in holding them off. A small contingent reached the dam but,” his amber eyes glittered with pride, “we destroyed every one of them before they could cause any damage.” He raised his right hand weakly and pointed to the south. “They’re hiding in the woods that surround the southern end of the village. We’ve prevented any others from reaching the east where the dam is. Hangar has an entire unit guarding it.”

“What about the civilians in the village?”

“Most have been evacuated. Anon’s unit moved them to higher ground before we saw the first enemy soldier. There is still a small group of farmers that were in the fields and they’ve been hidden in the underground food storage areas. We did find all of them though; we’ve accounted for all civilians, sir.”

Kyle nodded. “You did an excellent job. Who wounded you?”

“Khivar’s hybrid commanders are both on the field. My unit pushed Ava’s back into the hills but when I turned to defend one of my men who had fallen in battle she wounded me.”

Michael’s head snapped to the man on the ground when he overheard the conversation. “Where was that?”

“My unit is holding ground at the west end of the village. Hangar ordered a small unit out to locate the support units and when they didn’t return I was sent out with a small unit to find you. The others are dead, killed by Khivar’s commanders. We encountered their unit two unions north of here. Rath is leading the unit we pushed back from the dam. Hangar believes it is his intention to destroy the dam and flood the valley.”

“Rath,” the Commander rasped and his grip around his weapon tightened. He could feel the little hairs on his arms standing up at the mention of his antagonist and the knowledge that the man was close filled him with anger and determination to kill him.

“They knew about the underground storage for harvested crops, sir,” the soldier said.

Kyle could hear the slight hesitation as the soldier’s flow of words began to slow to an almost halting rhythm. “You’re sure?”

The soldier nodded weakly. “Ava spoke of it. If they get to the storage and contaminate the food... Antar will not survive the coming storm season.”

“That won’t happen,” Michael promised the dying man.

“Sir... my mate... tell her...”

Kyle and Michael exchanged a look. It wasn’t unusual for a dying solider to refer to his mate in the last minutes of life.

The Captain rested his hand on the man’s shoulder as the last breath left his body. He bowed his head for a moment and then reached out to remove the soldier’s dog tags. “Another good man dead at that bitch’s hand,” he growled.

They could see the tension in the Commander’s body. His jaw clenched and the muscles on his strong arms contracted as he stared down into the valley. “We have to cross the valley to reach Hangar before the first sun begins to ascend. Protection of the harvest is our primary task.” As much as he wanted to comb through the woods to hunt Rath down he knew there were more important things to focus on at the moment.

The Captain’s elbow was propped on his raised knee as he studied the valley laid out before them. “What if we approach from the Sedoran Flats?” He pointed at a low point to the north. “Khivar’s troops won’t attempt that area because the ground is unstable and one wrong step would leave them dead.” The area was filled with places filled with a substance that was like quicksand on Earth, but it worked much faster.

Michael weighed the options for a moment. He narrowed his eyes on the village while he thought about a plan. “The Sedoran Flats at night are too much of a risk,” he decided. “We know the area, but we can’t use lights and without them it’ll be impossible to see the ground.”

“Our only other option is to cross the valley directly. If we try to stay near the tree line we open ourselves to immediate ambush because they’re hidden in the woods.”

“We’ll take the long way through the woods, reaching Hangar at the west end as he said,” Michael nodded at the dead soldier and expected protest from his Captain. His first thought had been the Sedoran Flats as well, but something caused him to remember the talk between him and Maria earlier and her voice echoed in his head. “…in some ways you’re a lot like him, so if you want to defeat him, maybe you should take a hard look at yourself…”

“Commander, we go directly through the woods, we’re basically going in blind,” Kyle said.

He stayed silent for a moment and looked down towards the village. “We’re no more blind than they are,” Michael finally answered.

He inhaled deeply and nodded. “The woods it is then.”

The Commander glared at his second. Yes, he always listened to the man’s opinion and most times they agreed, but sometimes the man could be annoying and he had a feeling that now that he knew about his relationship with his sister, things would be even more complicated because Tess would rip his head off if something happened to Kyle.

“We should move in from above and below. We have a better chance of getting more of our soldiers to our destination if we move in separately.”

This time he received a nod of agreement as well as a wave of the hand to let the men know to split the unit in two smaller groups.

Kyle nodded. “We’ll take the low ground.”

Michael walked up to stand across from his Captain. “Protection of the dam and the storage is the first priority,” he reminded him again and pushed a map in the other man’s hand. “Be careful out there and let one of them move out first,” he pointed at the Antarians in his unit and then at his eyes. “We see better in the dark.”

“Good luck, Commander.”

It was all too obvious that Kyle wasn’t happy with his decision but he let it go for now. They would have time to discuss it later. If he was right, then Rath would wait for them at the end of the Sedoran Flats.

Kyle signaled for his men to move, selecting a full-blooded Antarian to take the lead. No, he didn’t understand the Commander’s decision to stick to the hills rather than attempt the Sedoran Flats, but he had been given his orders and agree with them or not, it was his duty to carry them out.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
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Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

Part 17

Post by Double Trouble » Sat Nov 30, 2013 1:44 pm

Part 17

The moons were hidden behind the clouds hanging low in the sky making it nearly impossible to see the darkened corridors in the castle. For two sets of eyes though, light was unnecessary to traverse the network of stairways and corridors that led the way to their parents’ quarters. As they climbed yet another set of stairs Max tripped on a loose stone and behind him his sister giggled at the clumsy action. He was suddenly thrown back in time to another staircase and another dark night on a planet that was light years away.

At 16 Isabel had snuck out of the house to go to a party and she had done her best to talk him into going but he had steadfastly refused. She had enjoyed the parties, the high school drama, the sports competitions, and most of all the attention every male old enough to breathe lavished on her. She had finally given up on him and left him to his studies, muttering something derisive about his lack of adventure.

He had been content to lose himself in his own little world until someone he didn’t know had called him after midnight to tell him his sister was drunk and she was acting weird. He hadn’t wasted any time sneaking out of the house and going to get her. She had been holding court in the center of the quarterback’s dining room, curtains from the windows wrapped around her shoulders as she walked back and forth on the dining table proclaiming her status as royalty and occasionally leaning over to praise her subjects.

He’d been completely embarrassed for her. Of course no one had known she was reliving repressed memories. They had all just assumed that it was just drunken behavior and no one had thought twice about it. He had known differently though and he hadn’t wasted any time getting her down off of that table, out of the house, and into the car. The whole way home she had gone on and on about her loyal subjects and how much they worshipped the ground she walked on, and then the car had stopped moving and just as he had hauled her out she had thrown up all over the front lawn.

“I thought I told you to forget that,” Isabel snapped behind him.

“And I thought I told you about reading people’s minds,” he shot back.

“Shut up and get up there. Mother and Father are asleep and we have to find that information so your stupid advisor can figure things out.”

He shook his head at her. “If I was Alex I’d let you suffer a marriage to the Commander. Why do you have to treat him so badly?” he hissed at her as he silently unlocked the secret entrance into his parents’ quarters and stepped inside, glancing around to make sure they hadn’t been detected.

“Too bad that would mean you’d have to marry the Corporal as well,” Isabel countered, ignoring his question.

“I didn’t say anything about me, just you.”

“Whatever,” she hissed as they walked further into their parents’ quarters. “We need to find something… anything that would stop this insane plan. I am not marrying the Commander. I’d rather die!”

He made a face at her. “You’re so dramatic,” he muttered.

“I mean it,” she said seriously and stopped to look at him. “Do you remember much from Earth?” She rolled her eyes. “Other than that little slip of mine?”

He shrugged. “Sometimes I can see the memories more clearly than others. What about you?”

She shook her head. “Nothing but the few I’ve had in the past.”

He bit his lip as he contemplated whether to reveal something that had been on his mind recently. “Maybe it’s contact with humans that brings those memories back.”

“That’s why you keep that advisor of yours around?” Isabel rolled her eyes. “Maybe… I don’t know.”

“No, not Alex,” he said and shook his head.

“What are you talking about?”

“Just... I started really seeing some of the memories after talking to the new kitchen staff.”

“Why the hell do you talk to her at all?” She looked at him questioningly. “What do you remember?”

“I don’t know. She’s intriguing.” He walked over to a large wardrobe and started poking through the things inside. “I remember where we lived on Earth, our parents there, and I remember that while you ruled the school I was content to go unnoticed.”

“Not a surprise,” she teased and started to look around as well. “What about Michael and Tess?”

“Not much. I just remember tiny bits and pieces, little glimpses of the four of us together but nothing more. Sometimes I feel as if it’s there, close enough to just reach out and grab, but it’s gone before I can touch it.”

She looked at him thoughtfully. “I wonder if we got along any better on Earth.”

“I think we must have.” He paused and turned to look at her. “After I healed the Commander the other day we talked briefly and he called me Maxwell... I remember him calling me that on Earth.”

“Well, probably would’ve been weird if he had called you by your title.”

“True, but no one else has ever called me that.”

“I hate that something’s blocking our memories,” she admitted. “I mean, it feels like that we didn’t have a life until a few years ago. How are we to know who we are if they take so many years of memories from us?”

“Maybe you should spend some time with a human,” he suggested.

“I don’t know a single human worthy of my time,” she dismissed him. “Maybe this is just who we are,” she gestured between them.

“Miserable?” He shook his head. “That’s not what I want of my life.”

“We don’t have a choice,” she said dryly and opened up a door to the wall closet. “We never had a choice.”

“I refuse to accept that.” He moved to a chest by the window and started to sift through the drawers. “If our marriages go forward as planned it’s not just us who will suffer.”

“What were they thinking, coming up with a stupid plan like that?” Isabel snorted. “And what is their backup plan? You know… The Commander and your mate live in pure danger, what will we do if they die?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know but I’m not marrying you.” He laughed to himself as he shoved a few papers aside after determining they were of no interest. “Alex is unmarried; perhaps he could be convinced to marry you.”

“Shut up.”

“You seem to expend a substantial amount of energy fighting with him,” he speculated.

“Because I have nothing better to do with my boring life,” she told him with a shrug and frowned when she placed something back in a drawer and heard a hollow sound.

His head shot up and he turned to look at her. “What was that?” he whispered.

Isabel used her hand and knocked on the bottom of the drawer again. “I think it has a false bottom.”

His eyebrows shot up and he hurried across the room to stand beside her. “Can you pull it up?”

“I guess,” she bit her lip while she used her fingernails to pull the bottom up slightly. “There’s a file or something under it.”

He reached inside and grabbed the documents, running his fingers over their family crest emblazoned on the front. A deep purple ribbon bound it together, preventing the papers inside from falling out.

“I hope it’s as important as it looks,” she said.

“Think we should take it and get out of here?” He glanced over his shoulder. “No, what if they discover it's missing?” His fingers fumbled with the ribbon, untying it and looking at his sister before he opened the cover.

“What does it say?” she asked after he had flipped through a few pages.

“I don’t know,” he muttered in frustration. “It’s written in Antarian... but it’s not like anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s like... an ancient form or something.”

She grabbed the file and looked at it, not understanding the language either. “We’ll take it with us.”

“Do you think that’s wise?”

“Max! We can’t translate it, can we? So the only logical thing is to take it with us until we find someone who can translate it.”

“You’re right,” he said decisively. “Let’s get out of here. If it’s nothing of use we’ll put it back later and continue our search.”

“Wait,” she said and looked around, grabbing a different file that was lying in the closet. She waved her hand over it and it suddenly looked like the file in Max’s hands. Grinning secretively, she placed it at the bottom of the drawer and slipped the false bottom over it.

“Perfect.” They froze when the sound of a door opening caught their attention. “We’d better hurry.”

She nodded and pushed the door closed quietly.

He led the way over to the panel that hid the secret passageway and he pressed his hand over the hidden mechanism. The door slid back and they slipped into the darkness just as it moved back into place.

****

Tess chewed on her breakfast slowly while she stared at the wooden surface of the table before her. She was alone in the dining room on her family’s side of the castle since she couldn’t bear any company right now.

Where the hell were they? She knew Sun Valley was famous for its lack of communication abilities, but Michael and Kyle had been away the whole night and there were still no registered signs of them. She had already checked reports this morning and there was no information about their current position.

The valley held some very devious places… ideally suited for ambushes by Khivar. Not to mention that the majority of Antar’s harvest was at risk. She dropped the spoon on the plate in front of her and caught one of the servants next to her wincing at the sound.

“Do you want more coffee, Princess?” one of them asked with a bow.

Tess got up and glared at her before she shook her head. “No, I’m done. You can clear the table.” With that she left the room though the large wooden doors and walked along the corridors to her brother’s level with a determined stride. If there really was a strong connection between that strange woman and her brother then now was her best chance to prove it!

She nodded at the slightly surprised Satara and opened the door to Maria’s quarters without bothering to knock. Where the hell was she? Tess thought when she didn’t detect her immediately.

Maria came out of the bathroom with wet hair when she heard a sound. She expected to see Michael and froze in place when she saw the Princess standing in the middle of her room with an angry look on her face.

“Explain the connection you have with Michael,” she demanded, her gaze raking over the other woman.

The human was too surprised to say anything; her lips moved but nothing came out. How was she supposed to explain something she didn’t even understand?

“Have you suddenly gone mute?” Tess snapped angrily.

“I can’t…” Maria wrapped her arms around herself. “I don’t know how.”

“Are you connected with him now?”

“I don’t think it’s something that goes away.”

“Then where is he?”

“What?” She frowned. “I don’t know.”

“You don’t know,” she said slowly. “But... you’re connected.”

“It’s not like GPS,” Maria denied.

“GPS?”

“A global positioning device.”

“That makes no sense. If you’re connected to him then you should be able to tell if he’s alright or not.”

“He’s alright. At least I’m pretty sure he is.” Maria frowned and walked over to the window to look out. She hadn’t had felt anything that would make her think differently.

“You’re pretty sure.” Tess frowned. “No, I don’t want pretty sure. I want to know something for certain.”

What the hell did she want from her? This wasn’t like a computer you could play around with.

Tess stalked around the room, her gaze never moving from the other woman. “You have no understanding of how the connection works?”

“No.” Maria was uncomfortable under the other woman’s gaze. “It just happens to be there and sometimes it’s more intense than others. It’s just feelings when he’s far away… and pain.

“Pain... you can detect that?”

“I don’t know if I will permanently, but I did when he was wounded last time.” And she knew that because she had been there!

“And you’ve had no indication that he’s been injured?”

“No.” God, what would happen if he was? It wasn’t like she really understood this and maybe he was just too far away to feel anything.

“The last battle was farther away than the battle in Sun Valley.” Surely the connection couldn’t be disrupted by the hills surrounding the valley.

“I didn’t feel anything that would indicate he’s injured.”

“Have you felt anything else?”

“Since he’s been gone?”

Her back teeth started to grind. “Yes.”

“No, not really.” She’d had some strange dreams last night, but she wasn’t about to share that with the Princess and it was nothing that had indicated an injury either.

Tess’ eyes narrowed at the expression on the woman’s face. “You know something!”

“No,” Maria shook her head. “I don’t know anything, I swear.”

“I don’t believe you.” She moved over to the window and looked down over the grounds. “Why did Rath keep you alive?” she asked as she turned to face her again.

“He was trying to connect with me, I don’t know why.”

“Why?” She crossed her arms over her chest. What reason would he bother trying to force a connection?

“I said I don’t know why,” Maria snapped.

“I think you know more than you want to admit. Did he ever say anything about Michael?”

“Not it my presence, no.”

“Can you sense him?”

“There’s just a weak underlying feeling… It’s hard to describe.”

“So you can feel him. How does that work? When he’s close? At a distance?”

Maria walked over to sit at the ledge in front of the window. “It’s always something there and it gets stronger when he’s close. It’s kinda on a physical basis when we’re separated… like feelings, pain… stuff like that. It gets more psychic when we’re close or… when we touch.”

This connection didn’t make sense. It shouldn’t exist. “And what about Rath?”

“He wasn’t able to establish one.”

“So you have no indication of his presence?”

“I don’t know where he is,” Maria shook her head, hoping the woman would finally believe her.

“If you’re lying to me I will find out.” She was agitated by the lack of communication from the two most important men in her life.

“Why would I lie?” Maria spit out. “I don’t want him to get hurt either, but it’s not like I can just close my eyes and see where he is.” Well, at least she had never tried anything like that and it was scary.

“How do you know?” She slowly turned to stare at Maria. “Have you tried?”

“I wouldn’t know how.”

“Rath tried to connect with you... you’re aware of how a forced connection is attempted. If you and Michael share a true connection then it should be easier.”

“You want something from me that I don’t know how to give. I don’t have powers and I’m not used to anything like this. How am I supposed to know?”

Tess was frustrated with the stone-walling she was getting from the human woman. “If anything happens to them...” she let the threat trail off.

“Then what?” Maria snapped. She was sick of being treated like shit by the Princess. “You wanna kill me?”

“He may believe you’re innocent in all of this, but if your only purpose here is to somehow set him up to be killed you will pay for it.”

“He trusts me because he can see me in a different way:”

“You shouldn’t be able to connect with him like that!”

“I didn’t do anything to initiate it.” Maria looked at the Princess. “I was working as a nurse in one of the camps in the south when they overran us.”

“I’ve gone over the reports for that attack.” She crossed her arms over her chest and let the silence between them become heavy before she spoke again. “You’re the only prisoner they took and kept alive. Rath is a despicable excuse for a man and he doesn’t have a sympathetic bone in his body so why you?” The words were spoken softly, almost as if she were speaking to herself and trying to make sense of what happened.

“I don’t know why me.” Maria pulled her legs towards her and wrapped her arms around them. “And I’d rather be one of those killed than to ever go through that again.”

Tess frowned. The woman’s emotion seemed genuine but she had seen so-called prisoners who had also seemed genuine and then turned around and been revealed as enemy spies.

“I didn’t force him to rescue me from Rath. I didn’t tell him to bring me back to the castle and I also didn’t ask him for quarters here. Why would I be a spy?”

“Khivar would provide a great reward for the individual responsible for taking down Antar’s greatest Commander.”

“And what then? Antar would be in Khivar’s hands and we would all be dead anyway.”

“Only if you’re working against him.”

Maria dropped her head. It wasn’t like anything she said would convince the Princess and she was fed up with trying.

“What do you intend to do now that you’re free?” If she had even been a prisoner in the first place.

“I don’t know,” the human woman admitted. “I’d like to see my mother, but other than that… I don’t know what’s in the future and I don’t wanna make plans.”

“Not make plans?” Tess frowned. “Why not?”

“I don’t know what I’d make plans for.”

“Do you intend to remain on Antar?”

“I guess things on Earth haven’t gotten any better since we left so…”

“You do know he’s promised to King Zander’s daughter.” Okay, she hated the thought of that and she hoped for nothing more than discovering a way out of their marriages, but she had no idea what this woman’s plans were where Michael was concerned.

Maria’s eyes widened when she heard the words. “What are you saying? I’m not…”

“Aren’t you?” She began to prowl the room again. “You have no reason to return to Earth, you have nothing to hold you here but your connection to him... you know he’s a man of power and authority and he would protect you to his last breath.” And he would, she knew it with certainty. She had seen the way he looked when he spoke of this woman and she wasn’t sure he was entirely aware of it.

“I know he’s promised to someone else.” She didn’t know which side the Princess was on and if this might be a trap.

She studied the woman. “What do you intend to do now? It’s probably safe to assume you don’t intend to go back to working in a medic unit.”

Should she tell her about the new job Michael had organized for her? She would probably find out anyway, and if she lied then who knew what could happen. “I’m going to work in the kindergarten class.”

“Michael’s found you a position with the children?”

She wasn’t amused, Maria thought. “Yes.”

“What do you know of teaching?”

“I had a few classes on Earth.”

“You have no knowledge of Michael’s current condition?” she asked, suddenly switching gears again.

Man, she wasn’t giving up, Maria thought and sighed. She closed her eyes and tried to concentrate on the connection, not really sure what she was doing or if it would even work. She had never tried to intentionally make a connection.

Tess watched her, standing in place as she waited to see if Maria could give her any information.

She didn’t know if it was just her imagination, but it felt like the connection got stronger when she concentrated on it. It wasn’t like she could see where he was or tell if he was hurt, there was only a feeling of completeness that reached a higher level. “Michael,” she called out in her head, feeling stupid.

Tess forced herself to breathe when she realized she was holding her breath. The silence in the room was deafening and she tipped her head to one side to study the other woman. “Can you feel him?”

Maria’s eyes snapped open after a wave of feelings and images flashed in her mind. She pushed the air out of her lungs and tried to make sense to it. “I can feel him – no guarantee, but I think he’s okay, just… Nervous?” She frowned and tried to find the right words for what she had felt.

“Nervous? Why?” she demanded. “What did you see?”

“I only saw a few things, nothing that would make sense to me. A river or maybe a dam and something that looked like corn, but I’m not sure.”

“No, that makes perfect sense,” she mused aloud. “Khivar’s armies were attacking Sun Valley where the majority of our crops are grown and stored. They must be trying to destroy the dam. You said he seemed nervous... could he be more worried than nervous? Maybe they’re having difficulty containing the enemy, holding them back from the dam.”

“Yeah, he could be worried,” the Earth girl nodded.

“I’ll take my leave now. I have to speak to some of our unit leaders.” If the valley was being overrun and the dam was in danger of falling into enemy hands she needed to send more soldiers in.

Maria nodded. She was glad that the second meeting with the Princess hadn’t been as scary as the first one. Although it left her more worried about Michael.

Tess paused with her hand on the door, glancing over her shoulder. “Thank you for your help.”

“You’re welcome,” she nodded, hoping that what she had seen was true and not something her mind had conjured up because that would make the Princess think once again that she was a threat.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
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Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

Part 18

Post by Double Trouble » Sat Nov 30, 2013 1:44 pm

Part 18

Isabel was restless. She was only half-listening to her brother as he rattled on about… well, she really didn’t know. He wouldn’t be asking for her input so there was no point paying that much attention. The meeting didn’t require her presence but she was bored and she thought maybe they would be approaching the advisor about their discovery. She had been annoyed when Max had said it would have to wait because what they were discussing during the meeting took precedence. She was on edge and irritable. For the past couple of nights she had been unable to sneak away to find a man worthy of servicing her. She shifted in her chair and squeezed her legs together for a moment. She needed a man badly. Not a man so much as what a man could provide, she corrected.

Her gaze moved to her brother’s advisor when he was asked to speak. He stood and moved to stand before the holographic screen, his artistic hands gesturing as he made points and motioned to the indicators blinking there. The men she normally chose were tall, muscular, well-built, with wide shoulders and large hands. He was nothing like the men she allowed to bed her. She hated that she was constricted by such backward thinking. She knew the Commander bedded women when he chose, and her brother hadn’t taken that opportunity although if he chose to he would be indulged, but as a woman it was not accepted.

She had taken lovers but they had left her unsatisfied past the moment. She hadn’t been with a man in a while and her body was making its needs known. Her own touch brought relief but it was only a temporary easing of the frustration that hummed through her body. She shifted again and felt that need edging towards desperation. Her right hand rubbed over her thigh and when she caught the advisor watching her she forced her hand to settle on the arm of her chair where it remained unmoving.

Alex finished wrapping up his part of the meeting on relocation for displaced farmers and took his seat. He settled down across from the princess and when she shifted, pressing her lower body deeper into her seat, he glanced up at her through his lashes and smirked. He was aware that she was frustrated after her recent attempts at procuring a man to satisfy her needs had been thwarted. She hadn’t yet figured out that he was responsible and he was beginning to suspect that she was so rattled by the lack of sex that she wasn’t paying attention.

He listened to the officers as they were called to speak, taking notes to be compiled into a report later in the day. He was growing tired of the games she insisted on playing. He was a man with needs of his own and while he was free to pursue just about any available woman, he wanted the one woman who was out of his reach. But it didn’t stop him from wanting her. He dreamed of having her beneath him, wrapped around him, his name on her lips while he pounded into her, and it had become nearly impossible to be around her without giving in to the impulse to kiss her and make her see him as more than her brother’s pesky advisor.

Isabel stared at him when his gray eyes began to glaze over. He was staring at the documents spread out before him but his thoughts weren’t on what was being said. She wanted to know what he was thinking about. She relaxed her mental defenses and slipped into his mind with little effort. Over the years she had become skilled with the ability but he normally had such a grip on his own thoughts that she could rarely sneak in. And when she was successful he was usually thinking about something so boring that she couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

It was the conference room, she thought, wishing he had surprised her for once. She heard something slide and a moment later papers began to float down to the ground. She moved closer and moved one of the tall chairs aside. She wasn’t prepared for the sight that greeted her. She could see herself lying back on the table, wearing something red that was bunched up around her hips. He stood between her spread legs, his own clothing open where necessary as he moved, his hips pushing into hers. Her head was thrown back, his lips feasting on her breasts and making her squirm even as she bucked up into his thrusting hips.

Her left hand moved back over her head to grip the edge of the table and she held on tightly as he pounded into her. She could feel the force of every thrust, could feel the pressure building between her legs, and she pressed her thighs together, rubbing in an effort to find release. As she watched he lifted his head and looked down into her flushed face, his voice rough and full of authority as he demanded she look at him.

It took an effort but she felt her eyes open, felt the intensity as she looked into his eyes and noted that they were nearly black with desire. He hooked an arm under one of her legs, lifting it higher and pushing it towards her. She blushed at the sight of herself, so willingly open and exposed to him as she panted and begged for him to finish it. His hips slowed and he smiled with determination as he brought his free hand up to touch her between her legs, squeezing her clit and making her shudder through an unexpected orgasm. Before she could do more than inhale a sharp breath he thrust into her hard, riding her vibrating body right into another orgasm.

Her eyes snapped open as her body flushed and she felt the rush of release burst in her lower body. She swallowed hard when her brother called her and she looked at him, incapable of speech for the moment.

“Are you alright?” Max asked, nodding at the papers she was gripping so tightly they had been mangled into a ball.

“I’m perfectly fine.”

“Very well.” He didn’t look like he believed her but he went about closing the meeting and looked to Alex to announce the date and time for the next one.

Isabel cleared her throat, grateful that she had been able to maintain her dignity and managed to control her vocal chords and not reveal what she was experiencing. She had never been brought to orgasm in that manner. If he could do that just with a thought what would he be capable of in reality? Her body was still tingling and as much as she wanted to pretend she didn’t want the man sitting across from her she knew she did.

And she was going to have him.

****

The kitchen was bustling with activity as the staff set about preparing the midday meal for the royal family. The atmosphere was relaxed as they worked together, talking and laughing while attending to the mundane tasks assigned to them. It hadn’t taken long to realize that things went much more smoothly when Wilgor was absent, which wasn’t often. He took great pleasure in terrorizing the servants, seeming to believe it was the only way to extract an acceptable amount of work from them.

Liz glanced across the counter where Nisha was putting the final touches on the dough that she was about to slide into the large oven. Many of the servants in the kitchen area were either hybrids or Antarians, there were no other humans. Looking at the hybrids, there was nothing that physically set them apart from humans, but Wilgor had been quick to point out that humans never lasted long in his kitchens. She rolled her eyes. As if that asshat owned the kitchens!

“Has anyone ever talked to the King about Wilgor?”

Nisha lifted her gaze and quickly shook her head. “The King is not to be bothered with such things.”

“I would think the King would want to know if his people are being treated like crap.” Liz shrugged and clarified when the woman looked at her uncomprehendingly. “Being treated badly.” She had only met the man briefly but she couldn’t imagine that he would just allow his servants to be treated the way Wilgor treated them. “I’m just saying that a good boss knows that if you treat your people well you’ll get a better response. People who are treated well are more willing to go above and beyond what is simply required of them. When workers are happy and content they’re more productive and it has other benefits as well in regard to health and emotional wellbeing.”

“We could be treated much worse. The servants here are treated fairly well and what more can we ask?”

“Indeed, human,” Wilgor growled from the doorway, “what more can you ask?”

“Well, on Earth we would expect humanity for example.” Liz rested her hands on her hips and stared at him.

“And yet you are no longer on Earth.”

“I like challenges,” she countered.

“You have yet to impress Her Highness with your feeble attempts at pleasing her palette.”

“Maybe her palette isn’t able to be pleased at all.”

“Do not speak of the Princess in such a disrespectful manner!” he snapped.

“Put a little bit of these on it,” Liz instructed one of the servants who was making lasagna and summarily ignored Wilgor.

“What are you doing?” he demanded as he craned his neck to look.

“Putting a sweet seasoning on it. Sweet and spicy, that’s what you requested.”

He growled quietly. He would find a way to remove this human. “What is this food you’ve prepared?” It wasn’t what he’d had on the menu board for this afternoon’s meal.

“It’s called lasagna and it incorporates the meat and tomatoes you had on the menu. It’s just prepared in a different way.” God, he was so primitive.

“The Princess has very specific requirements.” He waved his hand over the food furiously. “She will not be pleased with this!”

“Why don’t you let her decide that, huh? She’s dismissed everything in the past so it seems like you couldn’t get your staff to cook anything to her taste before me either.”

“She has dismissed everything you have prepared because you have no understanding of the sensitivity of the Antarian palette.”

“I just got here,” she reminded him and nodded when the servant next to her showed the results of her efforts.

“Continue to displease Her Highness and your time here will be very short,” he warned. It was time to assign another task to this servant.

“Or maybe I’ll surprise her.”

He snorted and shook his head. “This... this...” he frowned at it, “Earth concoction will never please her.”

Liz leaned over to add some seasoning to the cheesy crust and then nodded at the serving personnel. “Ready to be served.”

Wilgor’s back teeth were grinding. The Princess was going to be displeased and would probably throw her plate across the room. Foolish human, he thought derisively.

“I decide what leaves this kitchen,” Liz told him, her tone challenging. Maybe he was the boss but he had no clue about cooking.

His lips curled back over his teeth. He had known when the King’s advisor insisted on hiring the human cook she was going to be trouble. The advisor had given her certain authority over the meals even though he was still the manager of the kitchen and personnel. “Of course,” he said silkily. The Princess was already unhappy with this human, so why not let her dig her own grave?

Liz walked over to Nisha and glanced at the chocolate pudding. “We’ll add jalapenos to it.”

The Princess would find that acceptable, Wilgor admitted grudgingly. The Princess had discovered a great love of chocolate while on Earth. “Perhaps you should make that in great quantities since it is the only thing you have prepared that she will eat.”

She ignored him and glanced up when the waiter came back, his hands empty, which indicated they had at least decided to try the lasagna.

“His Highness requested some of the bread you made with last evening’s meal,” the Antarian waiter said, his gaze locked on her. He could feel Wilgor’s disapproving eyes burning into him when he spoke with the new cook rather than him.

“Of course,” she went to the cooling room to get it, smiling to herself.

Wilgor followed her, entering the room and closing the door behind him. “You have done something to the food.” He narrowed his eyes.

“What?”

“It is the only explanation,” he decided.

“And what is your theory? That I wiggled my nose and performed some magic?”

He just barely caught himself before he took a step back. He had heard the stories that some humans possessed strange abilities; that they could control people through curses and cast spells. He swallowed hard and straightened up. He was superstitious by nature and the talisman he wore around his neck protected him from such things.

“I know how to cook and that’s all,” she rolled her eyes and grabbed the bread, pushing a piece into his hand. “Try it yourself.”

He dropped it as if he had been burned. He was not going to eat anything she’d had a hand in preparing.

Her gaze moved from him to the floor and back again. “Not sure how much the King would like to know his food’s being wasted.”

“I am still the manager of the kitchen,” he said self-importantly.

“Even worse to do so in your position then.” She walked past him to put the bread on a plate so it could be served to the King.

He followed her once again, aggravated by further proof of the authority given to her by the King’s advisor. “I suppose I should go and see if the Princess is ready to be served a proper Antarian dish. As she requested,” he bit out as he continued on to the dining hall.

“Yeah, you do that,” she agreed.

He growled quietly and stalked down the corridor, his gait slowing as he neared the dining hall. He took a moment to compose himself, inhaling a deep breath, smoothing a hand over his dress coat, and then turning the corner, nodding at the sentry’s posted on either side of the open doors before entering.

Max glanced up from his meal when Wilgor stepped inside. He and Isabel were the only ones there so the room was pretty quiet.

The kitchen manager moved further into the room, hands clasped loosely in front of him when he reached the table. His white eyebrows climbed high on his forehead when he saw the Princess eating without her usual complaints. “I trust everything is to your liking?” he asked with a slight bow.

“It is different,” Max mused, glancing at his food. “We’d like to have more like this.”

“We?” he echoed with a look at the Princess.

She nodded. “It’s good. Something different compared to the usual crap.”

“Perhaps you are just eating from hunger since the food has not been cooked to your standards recently,” he said sympathetically.

She snorted. “The food has never been cooked to my standards, Wilgor.”

He didn’t understand. “Never? But you have been pleased in the past.”

Max almost choked at the man’s choice of words, trying to get the picture out of his head.

Isabel turned to glare at her brother. “What is wrong with you?”

“Nothing,” he denied, turning to Wilgor. “We have a few things to discuss so please tell Miss Parker everything is to our liking.”

“Of course.” He bowed slightly and turned sharply, leaving the dining hall. How was this possible, he wondered. The Princess did not just behave so... He shrugged when the only word that came to mind was: civil. She was high-strung and easily angered, something he was certain was a by-product of her need to find a satisfactory mate. Her mood was mellow and suggested that she had somehow met that need. His hands curled up into fists as he stalked to the kitchen. He would have to look further into this matter.

“Isabel, I think you have confused the poor man,” Max said, amused. Although the situation was anything but good with the development in Sun Valley, they were both in a somewhat good mood. Maybe it was the hope that they would find some answers in the file, plus for the first time ever the Commander and he had been on the same page the night before.

“Wilgor is easily confused,” she said dismissively.

“I am not sure why you don’t let me fire him, I don’t like the guy.”

“Because he amuses me. Besides, who would you have to manage the kitchen and staff if you fired him?”

“I believe our new kitchen staff would be able to manage the kitchen alone.”

Her lips quirked as her humor got the best of her. “You have quite a bit of faith in this new help.”

“She has managed to please you with the food. I don’t think stranger things have happened on Antar.”

She snorted. “As Wilgor pointed out, I’m hungry.”

Max lifted an eyebrow. He didn’t believe her but dropped the subject. “So do you want to show the file to my advisor?”

Isabel nearly choked on the bite of lasagna and quickly washed it down with a drink of water. “Do you think he’d have any insight into what we found?” He couldn’t speak or read ancient Antarian as far as she knew.

“He probably doesn’t know how to read it but he can do the necessary research to find it out.”

“You trust him and since this is a delicate matter I suppose we have little choice.” She waved one hand dismissively. “Inform him of the situation.”

“Very well,” he nodded, satisfied.

“However,” she said, smirking when she saw him sigh in resignation, “I believe I should oversee his work. You’re busy with...” she made a design in the air with her fork, “well, whatever it is you do, so I have the time to make sure he’s doing what it necessary.”

“Yeah,” he tried to hide his amusement. “You should do that.”

****

The soldiers guarding the dam straightened up when they saw the Commander, the Captain, and several other men approach them. They were tired after spending the whole night awake and awaiting another attack. “Corporal,” Michael greeted the Antarian man with a nod.

“Commander,” he said back with a salute. “No attacks overnight.”

“Good. Take your men to the village. We’ve set up a small camp in one of the farmhouses. A hot meal’s waiting for you there as well as a place to rest.” They had spent the night there although he hadn’t really been able to sleep. Just the knowledge that Rath was close kept him worried and on edge the whole time – a feeling that he still wasn’t able to shake. “We’ll take over guarding the dam until nightfall.”

“Yes, Commander,” the Corporal waved at his men and they made a quick escape.

Kyle walked over to glance along the dam, watching the water it held back for a moment. He was still surprised they had made it through the woods without any losses the night before and he had to admit that Michael had been right about Rath. He had indeed waited for them at the Sedoran Flats – at least that’s what spies from their unit had discovered earlier. “Where the hell are they hiding?”

Michael knew he referred to both Rath and Ava’s units. They had retired at night, but he doubted that they were really gone – not when they were so close to ruining their harvest. “We’ll find out.”

“Let’s hope we find out before they’re able to detect out troops.” He had an uneasy feeling. The valley was just too large to completely control. Khivar’s units could be anywhere, just waiting for the right moment to attack.

“Commander,” one of the soldiers said and pointed in the distance.

He followed the man’s pointing finger until his eyes collided with a group of soldiers. His body and every muscle in it tautened, but as they came closer he realized it was men from their own kingdom.

“Looks like the Corporal decided waiting any longer to receive word from us would be too risky,” Kyle said when he recognized the uniforms their soldiers wore. “We’re gonna have to find a way to boost communication signals in the valley. We rely too heavily on word of mouth and if we were to lose control of this one location the results would be devastating.”

“Malgor,” the Commander greeted the highest ranked solider in the unit when they reached his position. “You found us quickly...”

“The Corporal determined that you would most likely be stationed close to the dam,” the man answered as he saluted his commanding officer. “She increased unit patrols outside the walls of the castle to be safe and deployed our unit to provide you with support.”

“Did you come into contact with the enemy on your way?”

“We cut down a small contingent of enemy soldiers near the outer edge of the valley. The equipment they carried suggested they were a communications team. Whatever their message was...” he smiled grimly, “it was never sent.”

“That’s good,” he glanced into the distance. “We need a supporting unit at the storehouses.”

“I can take my men and set up a perimeter immediately, Sir.”

“Do that,” Michael nodded.

Kyle was searching the tree line across from them as the soldier and his unit fell out to take up their new position. “Commander, we have movement. They’re well hidden, but they’re there.”

He followed his gaze and concentrated on a spot before he nodded. “Have the men prepare for a possible encounter.”

“Teran’s unit is close enough to initiate an encounter, draw them out. If we can draw them out we can pick them off one by one. We have a large archery unit.” He nodded to the right where the men were hidden. “If we move maybe a dozen of them, have them split into two groups and stick to the high ground from both sides... when Teran’s unit draws them out, have his men flank them from all sides and it’ll be like shooting fish in a barrel.”

Michael looked in Teran’s direction. Somehow he had a feeling this wasn’t going to turn out as good as it sounded, but he grabbed the radio on his belt and barked out a few commands only his men would understand.

Kyle glanced at the Commander, recognizing the tension underlying his words. “If Teran can draw them out and surround them they can be taken out successfully.”

“Keep an eye on it,” he told his Captain and walked off to check the landscape at their back. The last thing they needed was an ambush from behind that could turn the battle in the enemy’s favor.

Kyle picked up the monocular and studied the movement in the trees. He couldn’t tell if one of the hybrid commanders was with the unit and that nagged at him. He was certain they had to be close by considering the proximity of the dam. They could take out the food storehouses separately, but taking out the dam would ensure their crops were destroyed so it made more sense they would focus on the dam.

Where are you, Michael thought, picturing his identical opponent. He was here, he could feel it. Come on, think. What would he do?

Rath’s lips curled up in a vicious smirk when he saw the Commander straighten imperceptibly. “That’s right, Michael, you know I’m here and I could take you out at any time.” He lowered his weapon and shook his head. When he took the Commander out – and he would – it would be face to face. His smile slipped as he reached up to rub his throat, his finger tracing over the recent wound Khivar had inflicted.

“He’s here,” Michael growled when he passed Kyle after being sure that everything was clear behind them.

“And he knows that you know so don’t let him get to you,” Kyle advised.

It was easier said than done. Hard enough to be the Commander in a war he hadn’t started, but taking down an opponent who was just a duplicate of him was anything but easy.

Rath shifted slightly, knowing the Commander was looking right in his direction and he would see the movement.

“If it comes down to a battle between him and me, you make sure our men hold the dam.”

“We’ll hold the dam,” Kyle said with certainty. “Don’t let him draw you out, Commander.”

“I don’t need to be reminded,” Michael glared at him.

“Very well.” You couldn’t be more wrong, he thought. The Commander’s interest in taking Rath out was personal, it had always underlined his intent, but now it was more personal than ever. “If one of our men has the opportunity to take him out...?”

“He won’t let that happen,” Michael said. He didn’t want to give an order that he was the only one to take Rath out because that would be stupid.

“Everyone makes mistakes, Commander.” He met his superior’s eyes directly. “Everyone.”

“IF Rath makes a mistake then I want him alive.” As much as he wanted him dead there were a few things only he could give them the answers to.

Kyle nodded. “Then the order stands.”

“Same goes for Ava.”

“Very well.” He had wondered before if he could take her life if he ever faced her directly in battle. If her physical appearance would cause him to hesitate.

“She’s not my sister,” Michael looked at him intensely. He accepted the Captain’s nod and he glanced up when he heard shouted orders from a distance. “Seems like they’re hiding half of their army there,” he commented when he saw the men coming out of the woods.

“Hold your positions,” Kyle ordered the archers. “Wait until we have them well away from cover.”

Michael walked to the front line, sword held tightly in his hands as he watched them coming closer.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
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Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

Part 19

Post by Double Trouble » Sat Nov 30, 2013 1:45 pm

Part 19

Rath observed from his post, his eyes narrowing as he studied the Commander. “Come and get me, royalty bastard,” he muttered as his hand settled on the hilt of his own sword.

“Teran is in trouble,” Michael muttered, taking the radio to call for information.

“That’s right,” Rath murmured, “move in to save them.”

“Move the archers forward a hundred sword lengths,” Michael ordered the Captain. “Stay with them.”

The rebel commander reached for his radio. “Lotar, prepare the archers and tell them to keep their eyes on the horizon. The Commander’s moving their archery units. Prepare for assault.”

Michael looked up when he saw something glistening in the woods. Swords that caught the light of the first sun, already descending in the western sky. He stalked over to Kyle and stood next to him, his gaze straight ahead. “We have a unit nearing us from the south. Maybe 20 soldiers, give or take a few. I’m taking a few men to eliminate them before they surround us.”

Kyle turned, his gaze zeroing in on the unit. “Maintain radio silence?”

The Commander nodded. “If the way is clear we’ll move forward to attack them down in the valley and take them surprise.”

“Alright, I’ll maintain my position and protect the dam.”

Michael gave a silent sign to the same soldiers he had led the night before. They followed him behind the front line without question, where he told them about the plan.

Kyle watched the archery units as they moved into position. He wondered why Khivar had decided to attack the valley. It was primarily a civilian area and as decreed by the rules of war, was off-limits to military attack.

“Attack from the west, Captain,” one of the soldiers pointed at the wood.

“Send Tegan’s unit in,” he ordered.

He nodded and hurried away quickly.

“This is turning into a nightmare,” he growled under his breath. They had small contingents attacking from the east and west and on the valley floor below their troops were battling it out with Khivar’s soldiers. He shifted to locate their archery units, seeing that they had taken up their ordered positions and were preparing to fire.

Meanwhile the Commander was making his way through the thick woods in the east. He had about 15 men following him and wished there was a way to move more quietly.

The woods were silent with the exception of the sound of booted feet cutting through the underbrush. The precision of the steps and the lack of talking indicated soldiers. A slight movement off to the right drew the single soldier’s gaze and a moment later it settled on an animal similar to a deer on Earth. Its ears twitched and it lifted its head when it heard the soldiers and it quickly ran deeper into the woods.

Michael’s hand settled on his sword when he saw a movement out of the corner of his eye. He was about to swing the weapon when he detected the animal as it made a jump in a different direction.

The trees parted as Ava stepped from the depths of the forest and her right hand shot out, bringing up a barrier to protect her from the soldiers.

Even through the green shield in front of her he could see without a doubt who she was and his blood pressure skyrocketed. Fisting his hands together to collect power, he shot an energy blast towards her, sending her flying backwards against a tree.

Ava scrambled to her feet, bringing the shield up again. “We can do this all day, Commander,” she stated breathlessly. “If I was here to cut your forces down I wouldn’t be alone. We’ve fought before so you know I’m not a fool.”

“Show me all day,” he growled and repeated his move.

Once again she got to her feet, reinforcing the shield with her mind. Focus Ava, she could almost hear Zan pushing her to strengthen her abilities and it gave her the push she needed. “You’re walking into an ambush, Commander.”

“You think I’m so stupid as to believe you?” He concentrated his powers again and shot at her, going after her before she could shield herself again.

“You can kill me, Commander,” she rasped as she carefully pushed herself back up. She could hear Zan’s voice in her head, insisting that she continue to fight even though part of her wanted to just let go, accept her death and end this life. “But it won’t stop what’s coming.”

He took a step forward and pushed her against a tree, using his lower arm to press against her throat. “Harman, Garton, Keman...” he shouted at her and went on when he saw the frown on her face. “Names of MY men that you’ve killed. Why would I trust you?”

“I’m a soldier, Commander. Would you like a list of my men that you’ve killed? We can stand here and compare our dead until the suns set and it won’t change anything.”

“I’m not the one trying to play happy family.”

She reached up to wrap her hands around his wrist and upper arm when he pressed it harder against her throat. She allowed her powers to build until they were sufficient and then she released them, flinging him back away from her. “I have no interest in killing anyone at this point. I will kill to survive, but that’s not why I’m here.”

Michael coughed slightly and gave his men a sign to stay back. “So... enlighten me with your story.”

“As I said, you’re walking into a trap. Yes, there is a unit nearby that appears to be away from the others but they’re surrounded by more soldiers, well-hidden, and you’ll be on top of them before you even know they’re there.”

“And your reasons for warning me are...?”

“Reasons you would never believe.” And she couldn’t imagine that he would. Zan had believed given the opportunity he could convince the Commander of their intention to defect, but he was gone now. “Khivar no longer has my loyalty.”

He frowned while he went over his options.

“I have one reason left to live, Commander, and that is to see Rath and Vilondra dead.” She shook her head. “You have no proof of that of course, and the only way I could prove it to you could be considered mental manipulation, so...” She shrugged. “The choice is yours.”

“Where’s Rath?” he barked and crowded her.

Ava straightened. He could kill her but he wouldn’t, she was certain of it. “Rath is waiting for you to attack those soldiers and when you do he’ll be upon you before you can stop him. You can’t reach him from this position.”

Michael looked straight into her eyes, trying to find anything that would indicate she was lying. “He kept a woman in his former camp... a prisoner, killed the others, why?”

“The others were of no use to him. The woman, she carries the gene,” she said simply.

“The gene?”

“Yes, Commander, the reason we were created.”

He remembered the King’s advisor talking about some rare gene among Antarians necessary for the creation of a super hybrid. Could it be? “Who knows about her?”

“Khivar, Rath, Vilondra, and of course, I know as well. I don’t think anyone else knows. They’ve been very careful about that information.”

The hairs on his arms stood at this information. If Maria was the key to a child with unlimited powers then she had to be protected with more than just his life. “How do I know you won’t run to Rath now and reveal my location?”

“All you have is my word, Commander, and we both know what that’s worth to you.” She shook her head. “Why would I risk giving you such important information, telling you this is an ambush when you could easily be killed, if I intended to run to him?”

“The question is why you would risk your life to save mine?” he asked her in a dangerously low voice. “We both know what they do to traitors.”

“Because whether I’ve spent my life on the wrong side or not, I’ve never attacked civilians.”

“And now you’re standing between us,” he tipped his head slightly to one side while he glared at her.

“No, if you choose to foolishly continue on your way I won’t stop you. I couldn’t even if I wanted to. You far outnumber me.” She straightened her shoulders and inhaled slowly. “Me an’ Zan, we both fought you and we fought you fair and square. Khivar was our only chance out and we took it. We knew we would never be accepted by the Antarian Royalty so we did what we had to do until we were secure enough to get out. And when they found out about Zan they sent me out into battle and murdered him in your name.”

Zan was dead, Michael thought and took a step away from her. “If you’re lying... I will kill you.” He gave his men the sign to fall back.

“I have no reason to lie, Commander. Give me the opportunity and I’ll deliver them to you one by one. Khivar won’t stop until he can claim Antar as his own. He’s a strong leader, a capable leader, but Vilondra is his weakness. You’ve battled against him for years and the valley has never come under attack, he’s complied with the rules of war, so why the sudden change? Given the opportunity, she and Rath will kill him, and if they succeed, they will paint the land of Antar with the blood of her citizens.”

“Give me proof,” he growled.

“The only proof I can give you is what’s in my head. I have nothing I can just put in your hands. Your sister is the only person on Antar who could withstand my mental abilities. She would be able to distinguish truth from lies. I can connect with you but even then you won’t believe me.”

“Then you’d better come up with something in the future, Ava,” he snarled as they backed off fully. He didn’t exactly know why, but he had a feeling he should trust her.

She nodded. “Next time we meet I’ll have something for you, Commander.” It would be tricky, but she would provide him with proof that what she said was true.

*****

Maria looked up when she heard a knock on her door and she moved to open it, frowning slightly when Satara stepped back to gesture to the Antarian sentry standing several feet away. “What is it?” she asked, fearing that she was being summoned for the interrogation.

The sentry held out a paper and as soon as she accepted it he snapped off a salute in Satara’s direction and hurried away.

She unfolded the single sheet of paper and her eyes traced over the Antarian words. After a moment she swallowed with difficulty and looked at her personal guard. “I can make out some of the words…” her voice trembled and she hated the sign of weakness. Normally she would be able to read the words but her fear was jumbling them up and making it impossible to focus on them. “Could you tell me what this says?”

Satara’s golden eyes moved over the woman and after a moment she took the paper and glanced over it. “Scyntar is requesting your presence.” She read further before folding the paper and placing it back in the human’s hand. “She is a…” she searched for the Earth word, “teacher? I believe the word is correct. She instructs the young ones.”

“Oh, it must be about the teaching position,” Maria said, a hint of excitement entering her voice. She unfolded the paper and searched the words. “Does it say when?”

“She is waiting now as the young ones have been released into their parents’ care for the day.”

“Is it alright if we go there? Mi – “ She cleared her throat. “The Commander made arrangements for me to meet with this woman.”

Satara nodded. The Commander had informed her that the woman in her care would be summoned when Scyntar was ready and that she was to escort her. “As soon as you are ready.”

“Gimme five.”

The Antarian Lieutenant stared at the door as it closed behind the woman. Gimme five? Was she supposed to provide her with five… five what? She really didn’t understand humans. She had a grasp of their language, had been to Earth more than once, but there were so many confusing phrases they used.

Exactly five minutes later Maria emerged from the room. “Not a minute past five,” she said with a small smile.

“Five,” Satara mused as she gestured for her charge to walk with her. “Of course, you were requesting five minutes to prepare.”

Maria looked at her, confused. “Sorry?”

“You said ‘give me five’. It was a request for five minutes.”

She laughed quietly. “No, I said gimme five. Technically it’s the same thing, but it just flows off the tongue easier if you shorten it and just say gimme five.” She made a rolling gesture with her right hand. “Say it.”

“Give me five,” Satara said slowly.

“No, just gimme five.” She stopped walking and turned to face the Antarian soldier. “Just let it roll off your tongue. Gimme five.”

Satara lowered her eyes, studying the woman’s mouth as she spoke the words again. “Giveme five,” she said.

“Mmm,” Maria hummed to make the sound. “Gimme five.”

“Gimmme five.”

She tried not to laugh when Satara made a long humming sound in the middle of the gimme. “That’s much better.”

Satara shook her head. “We should go before Scyntar believes you no longer desire the position.”

“Would she think that?”

“Scyntar abides by a strict schedule. Arriving late is a show of disrespect in her eyes.”

Maria’s eyebrows lifted. “But she teaches young children.”

The right side of the guard’s lips quirked. “It is trying for her at times.” She motioned at an open door ahead of them. “Scyntar awaits. I will remain in the corridor while you take your meeting.” She turned to stand close to the wall by the door, her back ramrod straight and her gaze straight ahead.

Antarians can be so weird, Maria thought and walked into the room. Her eyes wandered around until she noticed someone at the other end. “Hello.”

Scyntar was tall even by Antarian standards. Her shoulders were slightly stooped, her white hair pulled back in a tight bun that pulled the skin of her face taut, making her appear even more severe. “You are Maria?”

“I am,” she nodded.

“The Commander suggested that you might enjoy working with the children.”

“I would,” Maria agreed. “I love them and would be happy to help.” She wasn’t sure how much she could trust the other woman. She looked like a fury but maybe it was just for appearance sake?

“Small children are unruly. Even though most of them are Antarian they tend to exhibit moments that greatly try the patience.”

“So they’re not that different from Earth kids, I guess,” the human said with a smile.

“No.” She moved to look out through one of the windows. “Do you have experience teaching?”

“I took some classes on Earth, didn’t make it to the finals because of the circumstances though.”

“Do you believe that children are the key to the future?”

“Well, I believe they ARE the future. One day, they’ll have to work, rule, make decisions, and I think it’s our job to make sure they have a solid foundation.”

Scyntar nodded. “You have a great understanding of Earth’s history?”

“I lived there for most of my life, so I guess the answer is yes.”

“You have been here long enough to see and most likely experience the hostility that some Antarians feel towards humans, yes?”

Maria nodded dumbly.

“That kind of hostility can destroy lives.” She studied the human woman. “The lack of tolerance can destroy the greatest of countries.”

“I know. There was a lot of racism on Earth because of skin color and so many other things.”

“Then you understand how detrimental it is that our children grow up without being consumed by hatred.”

“Of course,” she agreed.

Scyntar suddenly smiled and it caused her features to lose their severity. “I believe we can work together.”

Maria let out a relieved sigh and then smiled. “I’m happy to hear that.”

“I expect we may experience a certain amount of opposition from some of the parents but that does not concern me.”

“I hope we can prove them wrong,” she nodded.

“These children are so open to learning, to understanding new things, and at this age they do not yet know how to hate. We only have a few human children and a small number of hybrid children, but for now they play with the Antarian children and they see each other as nothing more than children.”

“I’ve only met Amela so far,” Maria told her. “I believe if they’re raised with each other, it’s a lot easier to accept each other later in life.”

“Yes, I agree. I met with opposition when I first suggested teaching the children together. Some of the parents did not want their children taught with hybrids or humans.” She smiled as she recalled the support she had received from the King and the Commander. “They are not born hating each other. It is a behavior they learn and I would like to ensure a solid foundation of tolerance and respect for others while I have them in my care.”

“Hate, intolerance, stubbornness and exploitation can destroy so much. I watched Earth decline from it and I hope it won’t happen here.”

“I look forward to working with you, Maria. I have two classes each day. The morning class is for the younger children, three to four years old. In the afternoon I teach the five to six year old children. You are welcome to join me for one class or both.”

The human girl smiled brightly, showing her perfect teeth. “I look forward to it.”

“We begin classes in the morning at eight.”

“I’ll talk to the Commander when he returns to see if he’s good with me starting immediately,” she said. There was still Satara and the interrogation, so she didn’t know how it would work out.

“Do not worry about Satara’s presence,” Scyntar said with a reassuring smile. “The children are used to seeing the soldiers.”

“Okay, I’ll be here in the morning unless the Commander has different plans for me.”

The Antarian woman crossed the room and held her hand out. The gesture was one she had seen the Earthlings use and while she was full-blooded Antarian she did not have the reservations that many had. “Thank you.”

“No, thank YOU,” Maria smiled and shook the woman’s hand.

Scyntar watched the human woman walk out of the classroom a few moments later and she wondered at the feeling she had that change was coming. Positive change, she thought as she went back to her lesson plans.

Maria met Satara outside. She wasn’t ready to go back to her room just yet. “Is the Commander back yet?” she asked.

“Not that I am aware of, no.”

A little wave of sorrow washed over her, but she pushed it away, convincing herself that he was okay because otherwise she would’ve felt something. “I’d like to go out in the courtyard a bit if that’s possible.”

“Of course.” She motioned to the corridor ahead.

Maria went ahead of her, her steps echoing off of the cold stone halls. “What time is it?”

Satara glanced outside as they passed a window, her eyes automatically searching out the suns. “Late afternoon.” She dropped her gaze to the shadows on the ground. “Approximately 4pm.”

The sun shouldn’t burn against my skin anymore then,” Maria said and continued on her way. Although the sun was very different here and didn’t harm as it did on Earth, it was really not a pleasure to go out when both suns were up and high in the sky.

“There is a lotion made from a plant here on Antar that can be used to deflect the suns’ rays.”

“Really? Well, that sounds nice. It really isn’t pleasant to be outside during the middle of the day for humans.” She remembered days in the camp where it had felt like her body was on fire.

Satara smiled slightly. “I will have some brought to your quarters.”

“Thanks,” Maria turned to smile at her, wondering if she was nice because she wanted to be or because she was a guest of the Commander.

“The sun on Earth does not appear to burn as hot as the suns of Antar,” the soldier said conversationally.

“It doesn’t feel that bad, but it’s more dangerous to the skin. Stay out long enough without protection and your skin is harmed badly.”

“I have read about this. Before going to Earth there was much information to read.” Her white eyebrows twitched in interest. “Where did you live?”

“I lived in New Orleans.”

The golden eyes gleamed with interest. “I have been to several of your Earth cities, but not New Orleans. That is where the Mardi Gras takes place, correct?”

Maria laughed. “Yes.”

“Your planet has some strange customs. I read that it is customary for women to expose their upper bodies to receive colored beads during the Mardi Gras. I did not understand why they would do this.”

“Well, I’m not sure how to explain that either.”

“You did not participate in this activity?”

“Well, no,” Maria denied.

Satara nodded. “Why did you choose to come to Antar?”

“It seemed to be a better option than Earth,” she shrugged.

“Much has happened since the first time I visited your planet.”

“Yeah,” Maria agreed and shaded her eyes with one hand when they stepped outside.

“Antar was once a peaceful planet.” Her golden eyes scanned the courtyard, searching for any potential threats.

“And so was Earth, but things change I guess.” The human girl walked further outside and glanced around. She really had no clue where to go, but sitting in her room all day was so boring.

“Perhaps you would like to see the reflecting pool?” the soldier suggested.

“Sure, I read about it in some newspaper when I arrived on Antar, but since I wasn’t a guest in the castle itself, I didn’t have a chance to see it.” She looked around. “Where do we go?”

Satara motioned to the left. “We can follow the footpath that winds around the castle. It will fork into two directions and at that point we will follow the path that leads to the right. It will lead directly to the pool.”

“Okay,” she agreed and they began to walk in silence for a while, enjoying the warm air.

The soldier respected the silence the human seemed to desire. Her eyes were in constant motion, on alert for anything that might pose a threat. Her fingers flexed in response to a flash of color that appeared between the columns that surrounded the reflecting pool but a moment later she recognized the woman gazing down at the pool. “It appears that you are not the only one searching for a quiet place.”

“That’s Liz,” Maria smiled, recognizing the King’s new cook. “Can I talk to her for a while?”

“Of course. I will remain here,” she offered to give the women some privacy. She had not been ordered to listen to the woman’s conversations and while the Commander had not said anything to her directly, she could sense that he did not believe the human was a spy.

“Thanks,” she nodded and left to go and talk to the other human girl.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
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Part 20

Post by Double Trouble » Sat Nov 30, 2013 1:45 pm

Part 20

Liz stretched before sitting at the edge of the pool and removing her shoes. The Princess was otherwise occupied, which meant she could stick her feet in the water without being harassed. She slipped her shoes off and dipped one toe in the water to check the temperature. “Ah, that’s perfect,” she muttered to herself and plunged both feet into the water.

“Feet hurt?” Maria asked as she approached the girl.

“Ungh, yes. Wilgor the Terrible was at it again today.” She leaned back on her hands and looked up at her. “How’s it going?”

“Going good,” she sat down beside her but kept her feet out of the water.

“Yeah?” She glanced over her shoulder to look at the soldier. “Still have your shadow, I see.”

“Yep, but she’s not that bad.”

“That’s good. What’ve you been up to?”

“Not much. Just hung out in my room reading and then I went to meet the woman who leads the kindergarten here. I’m gonna start working there as well.”

“Cool, that’ll keep you busy.” She laughed. “You know, I enjoy what I do but I swear, Wilgor does his best to make everyone miserable.”

“That sucks,” Maria made a face. “Scyntar seemed to be pretty nice so I’m looking forward to working again. Just hanging around doing nothing is getting boring. So what’s up with Wilgor?”

“He acts like he’s the only one who knows anything about running a kitchen.” She rolled her eyes. “All he knows how to do is boss people around.” She shook her head. “Do you like working with kids?”

“I enjoy it,” the blonde girl nodded. “They’re still innocent, don’t know the meaning of hurt and betrayal, ya know?”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. So are they Antarian? Or are there human kids too?”

“Mixed classes.”

“That’s good. Maybe that’ll give them a chance to grow up without the prejudice that so many adults have.” She sighed. “It’s ridiculous how easily people can hate each other.”

“I know… and for no reason,” Maria agreed. “I mean, there are some real monsters out there, but for the most part the people fighting don’t have anything against each other.”

Liz nodded. “So much of it could be averted if people would just say what they were thinking and sit down and talk it out, ya know? Kids, they don’t have the filter that adults have. If they’re thinking it, they say it.” She laughed quietly. “I guess that filter’s necessary sometimes. Otherwise I’d really tell Wilgor what I think of him.”

The other girl laughed. “Yeah, I guess sometimes it’s better to hold those words inside, otherwise they’ll send you back to Earth in no time.”

“Wilgor the Terrible or Earth,” Liz said, holding her hands up as if she were balancing the two options. “Seems unfair to have to make that choice.” She grinned. “Although, the King is highly entertaining and I refuse to give Wilgor the satisfaction of seeing me sent back.”

“Highly entertaining, huh? Well, if you say so. I’ve never met him, but the way you talk about him makes me curious.”

“The way he speaks is so... Antarian. It’s so formal and stilted at times. But his curiosity is so open when no one else is around.”

“Well, he has a human side, so there have to be some emotions, right?” Maria mused. If the King was anything like the Commander, than there was a lot beneath the surface.

“Oh, they’re there,” Liz said with a mischievous grin. “He’s taken to stalking me and he thinks I don’t know.”

“How weird is that, huh? Do you think they kinda miss being more… human?”

“I’ll bet there’s a part of them that does. I mean, like you said, they’re half-human. It seems to be secondary to their alien side, at least here on Antar, but it’s like that side of them that’s buried is just trying to get out. I guess they were designed that way so that when they came back to Antar they would be accepted.”

“Maybe,” Maria agreed with a nod and stared down at her own reflection in the pool. The girl she saw didn’t remind her of her own self a few years ago… happy, unconcerned and in love with life. No, it was more like she was a lot older than she actually was. Her face was very thin thanks to the lack of food during her captivity and her eyes didn’t express the same excitement anymore either. Suddenly the reflection of herself in the water became blurry before it sharpened again, but this time it was Michael staring back at her. She needed a moment to register what was going on and after another blink it was all gone again. Shocked, she turned to Liz to see if it had been just her imagination or if it had been real.

“Maria?” Liz frowned at the expression on the other girl’s face. “What is it? Is something wrong?”

“No…” the other girl frowned. “Guess not.”

“You sure? You looked a little freaked out for a minute.”

“Just a daydream I guess,” she shook her head. Great, now she was losing her mind.

“Was it good or bad?” she asked uncertainly.

“Neither I guess.”

“Okay.” Liz nodded. “I noticed when I was walking earlier that there are stables on the grounds. Any idea what kind of animals they have?”

“They have a lot of what we would call farm animals here. I don’t know their exact names, but a lot of them aren’t so much different from our pigs and cows or sheep.”

“Yeah, I suppose that makes sense. Like the hybrids, they probably crossed some of our animals with theirs. You’d think you’d see dogs.” She shrugged. “Maybe not since we keep dogs for companionship and they don’t seem to have that kind of need.”

“Yeah, cats either,” Maria sighed. The restless feeling she always felt when Michael wasn’t around was getting stronger and she assumed it was because of his long absence from the castle.

“I had a dog when I was a kid. I was never interested in cats though.”

“Me neither, but now after not seeing one in such a long time, I’d be happy to have one.” She smiled at the thought of it. “At least something to snuggle with.”

“You should request a pet. I’m sure the Commander would see that one was found for you,” Liz said with a teasing smile.

The mention of him was enough to make her skin tingle. “Or maybe I’ll take him for it,” she joked and only then realized what she had said out aloud and her eyes grew wide. How could she say something like THAT? After all she had been through; she had never imagined that even the thought of another man at her side would be bearable in the near future.

“So what is it you like about the Commander?” she asked curiously. Just recently Maria had been surprised by her interest in the King but it sounded like she wasn’t the only one with an interest in a member of the royal four.

Maria glanced at her guard nervously. She knew Antarians had a much better ability to hear than humans and she really didn’t want to get in trouble. “I think I need to go for now, Liz,” she said quickly. As much as she wanted to talk about what was going on in her life she knew that it could get her in huge trouble.

“Okay.” She wondered about Maria’s sudden need to leave. “Maybe we could get together one day this week.”

“Sure,” the blonde agreed. “Have a nice day and I’ll see you around.” Maria waved goodbye and went back to Satara, who was waiting at a nearby tree – hopefully the guard hadn’t heard her comment about Michael, she doubted the other woman would think it was funny.

“You have completed your visit?” Satara asked as she began to walk with her charge.

“Yes,” she told her shortly.

“Do you wish to stop anywhere else?”

“No, I guess we can go back to my quarters.”

****

Max sat in his quarters, alone and lonely, and stared at the flickering light in the fireplace, holding a glass of water in his hands. Based on the fact that the Commander was still gone and his sister had told him she didn’t want to be bothered by anyone tonight, he had blown off their normal dinner. He wished he hadn’t now though because he was starting to get hungry, but he wasn’t in the mood to cross half of his side of the castle to get to the kitchen.

Nights like this went by way too slow, he thought, frustrated. It was still too early to go to bed and too late to do anything useful either. From Earth he remembered something that he thought was called TV. His memories were blurry about it, but he knew that it had been there to occupy your mind – something he really thought would be useful right now. On Antar, it was hard to force his mind away from the war and its victims considering the fact that this was all his life circled around.

He glanced up when a sharp knock was heard at the door and a moment later one of his personal sentries stepped inside. “The Commander and his troops are back, your Highness.” He bowed slightly.

Max nodded, thankful for the interruption although it meant dealing a the man he hadn’t anything in common with. “Send him here.”

“Yes, Highness,” the sentry said, a little surprised that the King wanted to meet with the Commander in his own personal quarters. He left out of the room to transfer the orders to another sentry.

It only took about five minutes before the Commander entered Max’ room after a short loud knock. He had hoped to get around a meeting with the King at this time of a day to get to his own quarters for a long hot bath for his aching muscles, but of course luck hadn’t been on his side.

Max turned from where he was staring at the window and looked at him, his eyes not missing the tired posture of the soldier despite the small wounds and cuts in his face. “I know it’s been a long day for you, so I won’t hold you up for long, Commander.”

Michael nodded sharply. “Sun Valley has been secured and I’ve ordered a full regiment be deployed to monitor the situation.”

“That’s good news,” the King nodded. “Were you able to get any information as to why Khivar is crossing the lines of our rules of war? Not that I’m really surprised, but so far that hasn’t happened.”

He rubbed his face tiredly and nodded. “I have reason to believe that Rath and Vilondra are behind that decision.”

The other man narrowed his eyes at him without realizing it. “What makes you think that?”

“I encountered Ava. She claims to have an interest in defecting.”

“Defecting,” Max muttered to himself, letting his mind run over this new information. “How much do you think we can trust her?”

“I believe her desire to see Rath and Vilondra dead is sincere. She says they murdered Zan. Apparently it was their intention to leave Khivar’s ranks but they knew they would never be accepted here so they waited until they could safely leave but somehow the others found out what Zan was planning and they killed him.”

“Who else knows about this?”

The Commander shook his head. “A few of my men were there. No one else.”

“I don’t want this information released yet. As long as she hasn’t given us proof, we can’t trust her.” Max held his hand up when the other man was about to speak. “I know that you know that and I am not saying it because I think you look at it any differently, I am just speaking out loud, okay?”

“Very well. She said the next time we meet she will have something more concrete.”

“Was Rath there?”

The Commander’s hands clenched into tight fists at his sides. “He was there. She stood between us when we moved into position to attack a small group of soldiers, claiming that Rath was waiting for us to attack so that he could move in.”

Max nodded. “One day we will get him.” He crossed the room to throw some wood on the fire. “Were we able to save all civilians?”

“We suffered no civilian losses.” He shifted from one foot to the other, remembering what Ava had said about the reason Maria had been held captive. He needed to tell the King about that situation because it was important.

“Good,” the other man said, relieved. “I know you require rest, so if there is nothing else to report, you can - “

“There is something else.”

Max glanced up in surprise, but nodded and waited until the Commander continued.

“When we raided one of their camps recently I found a woman that had been held captive. Her immediate response to me indicated that Rath had been commanding the camp, although he was nowhere to be seen when we overtook the camp.”

The King frowned. “Go on.”

Michael gnawed on the inside of his cheek for a moment. “I ordered one of my men to deliver her to the castle so that my medical staff could tend to her.”

“What is so special about this woman?” Max asked. The Commander would never bring someone into the castle just because the person had been a captive.

“At the camp, when I found her, I touched her while searching for Khivar’s brand and when I did...” He straightened slightly and rested his hand on the hilt of his sword. “We recently learned of the true connection and I believe that she and I share this type of connection.”

“You…” the King trailed off while he tried to make sense of this new information. “Is she a royal? Antarian? Hybrid?”

“She’s a human.”

“Human?” Max echoed, shocked. “How is that possible?”

“She carries the gene. I don’t know that it’s necessary for the true connection, but it’s why Rath was holding her captive. He was using her in an attempt to create a super hybrid.” Just saying those words made him nauseous.

Why haven’t you told me before now… the words where on Max’ tongue but he swallowed them for now. “And you’re positive we can trust the human?”

“The connection allows me to see and feel things,” he admitted uncomfortably. “If she was lying I would know.” He paused for a moment. “Had I known why Rath was holding her I would have told you about her sooner. I thought she was just a prisoner he had taken for his own gratification. Until I spoke with Ava I had no idea of her importance to the war.”

Max shook his head. “If you had thought she was just a prisoner you wouldn’t have brought her to thecastle, Michael, we both know that. I agree, you should have told me earlier.” He paused to look at the other man. “Where is she now?”

Michael bristled at the King’s words but didn’t open his mouth to contradict them. “She’s in her quarters.”

“In the castle?”

“Yes. On my level, with a guard.”

“I want to meet her.”

His back teeth ground together. He had no reason to deny the King if he wished to meet Maria. “She’s slated to be questioned in regard to her imprisonment. I’d prefer that you wait until after that’s finished.”

“Then you should get it done before midday tomorrow. Isabel and I found something in our parent’s quarters. It’s in an old Antarian language, but I am certain that it holds answers.”

“It will take place tomorrow morning. Now that I know why Rath was holding her I intend to increase security measures around the castle. As far as anyone else knows the reason for the increased presence of our soldiers will be because of the attack on the Sun Valley.”

Max wiped his hands over his face while nodding. “Does anyone know about the connection you share with the human?”

“Dr. Collon and my sister. Once the Captain reads her medical file he will know about it as well.”

“We can’t let this information slip past these walls.”

“Those who know can be trusted. No one outside of the Captain will be present during her questioning. Tess intends to observe and I will be there in the event I am needed.”

“After this is done, I will wait for you and the woman at the bridge connecting the castles.”

He nodded, grateful that the King hadn’t insisted on being there for the questioning. “We will be there.” Unless Maria was too fragile after answering the Captain’s questions and in that case he would meet the King alone.

Max nodded. “You may go now.”

“Until tomorrow, Your Highness.”

The King didn’t miss the sarcastic tone, but didn’t say anything about it. It was a wonder the talk hadn’t blown up.

Michael shook his head as he took his leave, ignoring the sentries who automatically straightened and saluted. He made his way through the winding corridors and only began to breathe easier when he entered his own wing and something inside of him began to calm. He started to go to his own quarters but after a moment he altered directions and quickly approached Maria’s quarters. He nodded at Satara and rapped his knuckles on the door when she stepped aside.

Maria frowned when she heard the knock. It was already very late and she was lying in bed with a book. Pulling the thin blanket over her bare legs since she was just wearing shorts and tee shirt, she called for the person to come in.

The Commander opened the door and slipped inside, closing it and resting his back against it as his eyes moved over the room. The right side of his mouth lifted in a half-smile when he saw her framed in the light from the lamp at her bedside. “You’ve retired for the evening,” he said.

“I just got comfortable to read,” she answered softy. The unsettled feeling had left her a while ago and now she knew why – he had been back in the castle.

He nodded. “I wanted to see you, make sure everything is going well.”

She sat up and placed the book on the nightstand. “You can step in further if you want.” For some reason she didn’t want him to leave again yet.

He glanced down at himself as he suddenly remembered that he hadn’t stopped to clean up from the battlefield. Too late to do anything about it now, he thought as he took a few more steps into the room. “Did you meet with Scyntar?”

“I did,” she nodded and bit her lip when he came into the dimmed swath of light. His face was bruised in a few places and there was a cut on his eyebrow as well as his bottom lip. Her heart clenched when she realized that he had to be in pain, although he didn’t seem to care.

“You were able to come to an agreement?” he asked, his hand reaching out without his permission to rest close to hers on the bed.

“Yes, she was very nice to me.” Maria moved to kneel on the bed and hesitated a moment before she slipped further towards the edge to get a better look at his hurt face.

“Good.” He fought to keep his eyes level with hers when the blanket shifted to reveal her body. He gestured to his face. “It’s not as bad as it looks.”

“The one on the eyebrow should be stitched or taped. Otherwise it will leave a noticeable scar.” She had to force her hands to stay at her sides, but she felt stupid just sitting there.

“Dr. Collon has returned to his home for the day. It can wait until morning.”

She shook her head. “It will start to bleed again overnight. Let me do it.”

He nodded. “If you wish.”

It would mean touching him, something that scared her because she didn’t know what would happen this time, but she couldn’t just let him go either, and this way he would stay a while longer. “Okay,” her voice was just a whisper. “Let’s go into the bathroom.”

He offered her his hand to help her off of the bed. “We were successful in preventing Khivar’s soldiers from overtaking the Sun Valley,” he said conversationally. As a rule he only talked to the King or other soldiers about what he did, but for some reason he felt compelled to talk to her.

She looked at his hand hesitatingly and then lifted hers slowly to place it in his, holding her breath while she waited for anything to happen.

Michael felt several emotions accompanied by brief flashes hit him as their skin touched. Her in the kitchen with the King’s favored cook, her meeting with Scyntar, another meeting with the cook, and even a moment with her and Satara. Most of the emotions were pleasant but there was an edgy undercurrent of darkness that he could feel lifting even now.

Her eyes shimmered with tears when the waves of flashes were over again. HE had been in Sun Valley – close enough to hurt Michael and not very far from the castle.

“He will never hurt you again, Maria,” he promised when he realized what she had seen.

She pressed her lips together and nodded, forcing herself from the bed, so they could go over to the other room.

“Have you ever seen the Sun Valley?” he asked in an attempt to divert her thoughts.

“No. Is it nice?” Maria glanced down at herself, wondering if her outfit would make him uncomfortable and then thought how ridiculous the thought was. IF anyone should be uncomfortable it had to be her, right?

“Very. The farmers there produce the majority of our food.” The fingers of his free hand toyed with the item in the pocket of his long coat. “They grow other things as well. There is a flower there that is indigenous to the region. It does not grow anywhere else on Antar.”

“What’s the name of it?” She walked into the bathroom to look for the medical kits she had noticed under the sink this morning.

“Aurelius.” He leaned against the counter next to her and pulled the delicate flower from his pocket. He hadn’t intended to pluck it from the ground but he had been alone for a few brief minutes and he had thought of her. The stem and leaves were a deep blue, the petals a rich purple, and the center a soft lavender. He held it out to her awkwardly.

Maria looked at the flower, stunned before her eyes lifted up to him. “It’s beautiful,” she said quietly and took it from him.

He had never done something so simple as pick a flower for a girl and while he had felt stupid earlier for doing it, her response made it worthwhile. “So are you,” he murmured when she smiled as her fingertips brushed over the petals.

The air left her lungs quickly at his confession, while every bit of blood seemed to flow right into her cheeks. The world seemed to be so different when he was with her, so close – as if nothing else existed. “Michael…”

He nodded and took a step back. “It makes you uncomfortable for me to say that?”

Uncomfortable wasn’t the right word, she thought and shook her head.

He smiled slightly. “It’s true.”

No one had ever said anything like that to her and she doubted that her reaction would have been that strong if it had been anyone other than him. The connection was pulling at her, literally pushing her more and more towards him and while it was easy to think about this clearly and logically when she was alone, it was impossible as soon as he was there.

Michael wished he had more information on the connection and how it worked. It seemed to be bringing him and Maria closer and it was like it was trying to overshadow what Rath had done to her.

“You could sit on the edge of the tub,” she suggested before it could get any more awkward. Carefully she placed the flower aside for now, wishing her hands weren’t still shaking.

He nodded and did as she suggested, shifting his coat and sword out of the way.

“You wanna get rid of that?” she asked, resting her hands on the collar of the coat. The material of it was rough and heavy, nothing anyone could feel comfortable in.

He stood without thinking, unconsciously crowding her. His hands grabbed her upper arms to keep her from falling when she took a quick step back.

“In a hurry, Commander?” she teased to downplay every other emotion.

He swallowed hard at her tone, controlling the urge to pull her into his arms and kiss her. “Perhaps a bit,” he admitted, his own tone unusually playful.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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