The Forging of a Lifebond (CC,M/L,ADULT) (Complete)

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Tasyfa
Addicted Roswellian
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Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm
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The Forging of a Lifebond (CC,M/L,ADULT) (Complete)

Post by Tasyfa » Sun Mar 23, 2003 1:46 am

Winner - Round 9

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Roswell Fanatics Fanfiction Awards Round 1:
Winner:
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TITLE: The Forging of a Lifebond
AUTHOR: Tasyfa
EMAIL: tasyfa@yahoo.com
DISCLAIMER: The characters of Roswell are the property of Twentieth Century Fox Television and Regency Productions. All original characters and concepts are the property of the author. No profit has been made from the distribution of this work of fiction.
CATEGORY: Max/Liz + CC
RATING: ADULT
SUMMARY: Set after ARCC. The granolith does something strange when Max touches Liz's arm in the chamber, sparking a flash of Future Max that leads to Max and Liz's reconciliation. Strange events continue to unfold around the couple and their six friends.

http://images2.fotki.com/v14/photos/3/3 ... fa2-vi.jpg
Fic Banner by Electro-Kat


Parts 1-39


*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
FROM CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE

Liz pulled subtly on Max's arm, leading him forward a few paces. She could see the man better now that they were closer. He seemed in his fifties perhaps, a little older than her parents, and he had a birdlike appearance in his thinness that put her at immediate ease. Even his eyes reminded her of a bird's, black and bright with intelligence. She decided to trust her instincts.

"Tomar?"

She heard Michael and Kyle both mutter something unflattering behind her, but ignored them. Max's trust flowed into her, buoying her certainty.

"Why yes. Do you recognize me?" the birdman asked, excessively politely. Liz could feel Max bite the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling and she pinched his arm unobtrusively.

"Not exactly. We had some warning that you would show up at some point, but we don't know you," she answered truthfully. She watched him digest that information.

"I see. I take it that the memory preservation techniques did not work." Tomar nodded briskly. "Well, I can also see that plan B is well under way, so all is well. You are fully human, and there are three more…all lifebonded pairs, I see. Yes, this is well."

Liz couldn't prevent a giggle from escaping as both Max and Michael turned to stare at Alex. Her old friend stepped back, raising his hands. "Hey, don't look at me like that, I didn't do anything!"

"We haven't," Isabel confirmed. She looked at Tomar curiously. "Why would you call us a lifebonded pair, then?"

The small man made an oddly feminine gesture, dismissing her worry. "I am sorry. I can see that it is not complete, but the process has begun."

Kyle squinted at the couple, his hands clasped together. "He's right, there's a light bond there."

"You have Sight?" Tomar inquired interestedly.

He nodded. "A little, from my faith. Buddhism."

Tomar tapped his fingers together, his brow furrowing. "Buddha, Buddha. Ah, yes, the large man in the painful seated position. He teaches enlightenment." His head bobbed and he seemed to forget the matter, his gaze moving back to Isabel. "I did not mean to anger you, Your Highness. Please forgive me."

For once, Isabel had no response forthcoming, and she reached blindly for Alex's hand, nodding. Liz tugged on Max's arm, returning his attention to Tomar.

He smiled and came forward, stopping directly in front of Max. He bowed deeply and held the pose for close to a minute before straightening. "Your Highness."

Max inclined his head in acknowledgement, his back straight, and Tomar's smile broadened approvingly. Then he moved slightly to one side, so that he stood in front of Liz.

Butterflies rose in her stomach. Vordatha in Tess's body had genuflected to her this way after the lifemate ceremony, making sure that she curtsied equally to the King and Queen. The title still made Liz skittish; it seemed so unreal. But she had mentally prepared herself for the same kind of reception should they ever meet another Antarian, as this man surely was, knowing that they would see her as Max's Queen no matter what she thought about it.

What she was completely not prepared for, was for Tomar to sink into a full obeisance in front of her, kneeling with his forehead touching the floor. The pose muffled his voice some, but he spoke loudly enough to compensate, and Liz held tight to Max as the world spun around her.

"Your Holiness."


*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
*****NEW CHAPTER FORTY*****

«Liz? Come on, sweetness, don't faint on me, please»

Only seconds had passed since Tomar had dropped to the ground in front of Liz; apparently Max was the only one who noticed anything was amiss. Of course, he could hardly miss it, given how tightly she held to his arm. Consciously Liz relaxed her grip and straightened.

«Can you move behind me? I—I think I know what I'm supposed to do, but I feel all wobbly» she admitted.

Max stepped in close behind her, his hands resting on her waist. «I've got you» She leaned back for a second, grateful for his solid support. Then she held out her hands in a gesture of welcome.

"You may rise."

Liz felt Max's startlement at her words—actually, she could feel an echo of it from everyone except Alex. But something was stirring within her. Max's presence close to her lent her the courage to let it emerge.

Tomar stood up, a faint smile creasing his features as he took in Liz and Max's body language. Liz reached out with her right hand, drawing a line from his left temple to his chin. A second line, from his right temple to his chin, and a third across his forehead, tracing an inverted triangle on the small man's face.

"Thank you for the blessing," he said quietly. "It's been a long time."

She nodded. "How long have you been in there?"

"You really do not remember? How did you know to perform the blessing?" His head tilted sharply in curiosity, like a sparrow's, and Liz smiled.

"I have some bits and pieces, mainly instinctive. It just felt like the right thing to do."

"And so it was. You look different in a human body, of course, but you have not changed much, Lissa, for all that I have not seen you since 1947." He looked confused at the gasps of surprise. "What is the year now, please?"

"2001," Max informed him. "Tomar, were you in the granolith? And why were you there, or wherever you were?"

"Fifty-four years," he mused. "It is fortunate that my time in the granolith was spent in stasis since your pods must have taken much longer than we thought to mature. I may not have survived to see your Kingmaking, otherwise."

"His what?" Maria asked.

"Kingmaking. When the priestess takes the King, binding him to the granolith with their mutual loss of innocence. Is that not why you are all here? Some to stand guard, some to stand as witnesses?"

«Witnesses!» Max sounded like he was choking. Not that Liz didn't feel the same way, but he seemed so put off by the idea that she wanted to giggle.

[[Are you telling me that we all got sent out of the room so Max and Liz could have sex?]] Michael asked, aggrieved.

[[Mikey, Mikey, Mikey. That doesn't actually surprise you, now does it?]] Kyle cracked.

[[It's not like their inability to keep their hands off each other is a big secret]] Tess supported Kyle.

Liz could feel Max tensing in anger as the comments flew back and forth, becoming less complimentary with each remark. But he couldn't say anything. The circle could not hear his mind, and they didn't dare expose its existence to Tomar yet, which would happen if Max spoke aloud on the subject. Besides, Max wasn't the only one getting pissed off. He might be the one with the more romanticized view of lovemaking but Liz knew very well that little of what had happened earlier, alone in this chamber, was linked to their admittedly omnipresent desire for each other. There had been a far more profound purpose for that act.

[[I realize that we're all fairly new at this telepathy thing, but might I remind you that while you're all chatting in broadcast mode, Max and I can hear every word you're saying? So if you don't mind, I would appreciate it if you would keep quiet so that we can learn some things from this gentleman]] Liz remained polite but she injected some steel into the request, and the group fell silent.

"Yes, that is part of why we're here today, although we didn't know there was a name for it. What exactly do you mean by witnesses?" Liz addressed Tomar.

His eyes widened in slight panic. "Persons who can swear that the Kingmaking happened. If there were no witnesses, then Zalanar cannot be crowned."

A boot heel scuffed the hard-packed dirt somewhere behind Liz and Max, and Isabel sighed exaggeratedly. "Maria and I stood witness."

[[Excuse me?]] Liz commented privately, startled.

[[We could…hear you]] the tall blonde admitted. [[I don't ever want to hear that particular note in my brother's voice ever again, thank you very much, but I'm totally comfortable swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth as meaning that you and Max made love]]

[[Um, thanks, and sorry]] Liz could feel her face growing warm.

«What?» Max wanted to know.

«Remember how we theorized that the chamber is shaped like this to kind of funnel power into the granolith at the center, where it would be amplified, and then go on up through the opening in the ceiling?»

«I remember»

«Apparently it amplifies sound too»

«Oh, Lord. I am so sorry, Liz» His embarrassment came through loud and clear.

«Don't worry about it, Max. It seems that fate was looking out for us, and if no one else really understands what happened between us today, it doesn't matter. We know» she mindspoke firmly. His response was a simple emotional affirmation.

"The Princess and the lifebonded of the King's Second. More than suitable witnesses, both of them." The small man beamed at the group. "You do your King honor."

"We try," came Kyle's amused voice. Liz heard a slight expulsion of breath after that and smiled, surmising that Tess had elbowed her wisecracking boyfriend.

"Tomar, is Liz really a priestess?" Maria inquired abruptly.

"Liz? Who is—Liz is your human name, Lissa?" he addressed Liz, who nodded. Tomar frowned the smallest amount. "Of course, you all have different names now. Different lives."

Max moved beside Liz and introduced everyone in turn. Liz watched Tomar absorb the information. It was odd to feel so strongly that she could trust this person who had literally simply appeared in their midst, but she did. Some part of her recognized him as an old friend.

"I believe it was Maria who asked about the priestesses?" Tomar looked around and Maria nodded. He smiled at her. "Lissa was a priestess, bound to the granolith, as are they all. When we came to the Earth and had done what we needed to do, she performed a ritual, using the granolith to power her requests. Her actions resulted in my willing imprisonment and her death. I was not privy to the details of her communion with the granolith, but I do know that she enhanced her lifebond to Z'Antar's soul, creating a link that would allow her soul to be reborn in a human body. Then, when they were of age, she planned to take him as the King and so release me. As has clearly happened."

«That's why I recognized you the first time I saw you, on the playground on my first day of school» Max mindspoke warmly. Liz smiled and squeezed his arm.

"What you needed to do?" Michael started to ask. Maria spoke right over top of him, still intent on her own issue.

"So Liz is automatically a priestess because she was Lissa? Because her soul is the same?"

A delighted little laugh escaped the Antarian man at Maria's persistence. Liz realized that he enjoyed her friend's questioning, much like a teacher enjoyed an intelligent student. It gave her a little more insight into him and his probable function in her previous life. "Something like that. Of course, Liz will have been consecrated to the granolith in this life as well, in order to fulfil her role." He looked at Liz. "Although given what you said about your lack of memory, it is likely that you did not know you were doing so when it occurred."

"How can you be sure she was consecrated?" Max wanted to know. "Aside from the fact that you're standing here."

Tomar smiled. "Yes, there is that. Did you not see the granolith adjusting to Liz, becoming one with her body's rhythm? Her heartbeat, I believe you call it."

"So that's it? Just because the light tuned into her heartbeat?" Maria sounded skeptical.

"She is also marked." Tomar reached for Liz's right hand, turning her palm up as he spoke. Her brand didn't react to anyone but Max so she made no objection. "See, here it shows…" he trailed off and his face whitened.

Liz became concerned at his shocked silence. "You expected something else, didn't you? A different symbol?"

"I—yes. An inverted triangle," he replied shakily.

"Like the blessing," Max connected the dots.

"Yes. It is the stylized representation of the granolith, and all priestesses are marked by it. I do not understand…this was not your first time?"

Liz shook her head, directing a stern look at her friends to quell any urge they might have to comment. "No. We lifebonded a few months ago, and went through the mating ceremony shortly afterwards."

Tomar's black eyes fixed on Max. "You understand the consequences of that?"

"I can only have children with Liz. Yes, we were aware of that before we chose to mate."

Liz started in surprise as Tomar let go of her hand and flattened his palm against her belly. "Are you pregnant yet?"

Max firmly removed the other man's hand. "Of course not. We're still in high school. I'm not about to screw up Liz's life because some people I've never met on a planet that's millions of lightyears away are antsy about the lack of an heir. They can wait until we're ready."

Tomar blinked. "High school. That is considered too young in Earth society?"

"Yes," Liz nodded. "Teenagers aren't usually mature enough to raise children of their own."

"Parents raise their offspring! That explains it." His head bobbed in understanding.

"Who else would be doing it?" Alex ventured. He'd remained uncharacteristically quiet until now, perhaps not wanting Max or Michael to take further notice of his presence beside Isabel.

"The parents of the parents, or other older relatives. The birth parents are considered too emotionally attached to make appropriate decisions about what is best for the child. It is one of the few social structures that survived the civil wars, from a more enlightened time in Antar's history. It is unfortunate that democracy did not."

Max seized on that revelation. "Wait a minute, you mean that the monarchy didn't exist in this enlightened time?"

"Not precisely. Originally, yes, Antar had a patriarchal monarchy, as it does now. But during a long period of worldwide peace, a supplemental government developed. The monarchy did not cease to exist, but the King did not hold all the power any longer. From my admittedly limited understanding of Earth politics, I believe it most closely resembled the structure of the United Kingdom, except that the Royal family remained directly involved in governance on Antar. This period in our history is when the space program flourished. Alas, that is also what eventually began the civil wars."

"Not everyone wanted to reach for the stars?" Kyle guessed.

Tomar smiled. "Essentially. When the wars were finally over, the monarchy had been firmly re-established. Z'Antar was trying to restore the parliamentary system during his reign, a work which had been his father's dream as well as his own. But several generations had passed since the end of the wars and it was not the most popular of choices, particularly among the aristocracy."

"Who are the ones with the money and therefore the power," Maria commented dryly. The small man nodded.

Liz was still thinking about the parenting customs. "Tomar, one of the things I remember is that Lissa went to live with Rath's parents when her own died. Is that a true memory? How come he and his siblings lived with their birth parents if that wasn't typical practice?"

"An unusual situation, that one. Lissa's parents and their parents—grandparents?—all died in an accident. Rathnar's mother was much older than Lissa's to begin with, and then she and her husband were the only living relatives. Exceptions do occur, my dear," he smiled warmly.

Liz had to smile back. Clearly the Antarian knew of her penchant both for answers and for order. Maybe some things really didn't change in a person's soul. "Thank you for speaking so freely, Tomar. We've been at a real disadvantage, not knowing that much about Antar or who we used to be. Actually, it wasn't until Vordatha performed the mating ceremony that we even learned the planet's name."

«Are you sure we should be admitting that? We don't really know anything about this guy, Liz» Max sounded worried.

«I know him, Max. I can't quite remember him, but I know him, and my heart tells me we can trust him. Please trust me»

«Always, sweetness» His tender words made her smile broaden.

"Vordatha is here?" Tomar asked sharply.

"No, she borrowed my body. With permission," Tess clarified at his shocked look. "I was the one who brought up the ceremony in the first place—Nasedo had taught it to me."

Liz could see from Tomar's thoughtful pause that he understood the political ramifications of the former Queen willingly relinquishing any claim on the King. "If Vordatha performed the ceremony, then your mating is known to the inner circle on Antar, and blessed by the High Priestess. Else she could not have officiated. It is all quite unorthodox, but then I suppose I should not have expected anything normal from either you or Zalanar, Lissa. Max and Liz; I am sorry. I will adjust to your human names in time."

"Why do you call Max, Zalanar sometimes and Z'Antar other times? We know that Z'Antar is his title as the King. But I thought he and Liz just did this Kingmaking thing, so wouldn't he be Z'Antar now? Or, M'Antar, I guess," Maria giggled.

"The honorific contraction does not occur until after the coronation, Maria. The Kingmaking paves the way for further ceremonies. But yes, once Max has been crowned, he will be called M'Antar, at least in public. I'm sure you will all continue to call him Max in private."

A wave of disquiet flooded Liz, and abruptly she knew that Max didn't want to be crowned. It wasn't a new realization, exactly, but it had always been such a distant concept that they'd never really talked about it. Yet she also knew that he would accept that burden if he had to—and that she would accept it with him. They were a team now, in all things. "I guess that we should decide what to do next. Tomar, you obviously can't stay here. You'll have to stay at Max and Isabel's house; their parents are the only ones who know the truth."

The odd little man tilted his head with a smile. "Yes, that would be best, I agree. However, our first task is an important one, made doubly so because you are not pregnant, Liz. We must find Zathnar."

"Who's that?" Michael asked, his voice betraying his impatience with Tomar's slow speech and Maria's stream of questions. "Does he have something to do with what you and Liz had to do before you got stuck into the granolith?"

"Yes, Ra—Michael. Once the protectors had removed the pods to safety, I attended Lissa until Zathnar arrived. After he was safe, she began her communion with the granolith." He sighed. "Of course, we did not know that the pods would take more time than estimated to mature—it was the first time Lissa and her science team had used this technology. We thought that the protectors would be enough, even if the teachers had been lost in the crash, particularly since I would be released with the Kingmaking, and could act as a teacher then. Now," he smiled.

"Arrived? Arrived how?" Kyle inquired.

"In the usual way. Antarians too have live births, Kyle."

"Births?" Max choked out.

Tomar's brow furrowed at his King's shock. "Yes. Lissa gave birth to Z'Antar's son, and then she died."
Last edited by Tasyfa on Wed Dec 08, 2004 10:35 pm, edited 18 times in total.

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Tasyfa
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Chapter Forty-One

Post by Tasyfa » Fri Mar 28, 2003 7:20 pm

From Chapter Forty

A wave of disquiet flooded Liz, and abruptly she knew that Max didn't want to be crowned. It wasn't a new realization, exactly, but it had always been such a distant concept that they'd never really talked about it. Yet she also knew that he would accept that burden if he had to—and that she would accept it with him. They were a team now, in all things. "I guess that we should decide what to do next. Tomar, you obviously can't stay here. You'll have to stay at Max and Isabel's house; their parents are the only ones who know the truth."

The odd little man tilted his head with a smile. "Yes, that would be best, I agree. However, our first task is an important one, made doubly so because you are not pregnant, Liz. We must find Zathnar."

"Who's that?" Michael asked, his voice betraying his impatience with Tomar's slow speech and Maria's stream of questions. "Does he have something to do with what you and Liz had to do before you got stuck into the granolith?"

"Yes, Ra—Michael. Once the protectors had removed the pods to safety, I attended Lissa until Zathnar arrived. After he was safe, she began her communion with the granolith." He sighed. "Of course, we did not know that the pods would take more time than estimated to mature—it was the first time Lissa and her science team had used this technology. We thought that the protectors would be enough, even if the teachers had been lost in the crash, particularly since I would be released with the Kingmaking, and could act as a teacher then. Now," he smiled.

"Arrived? Arrived how?" Kyle inquired.

"In the usual way. Antarians too have live births, Kyle."

"Births?" Max choked out.

Tomar's brow furrowed at his King's shock. "Yes. Lissa gave birth to Z'Antar's son, and then she died."


*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
*****NEW Chapter Forty-One*****

"So, it worked? You were able to commune with the granolith?" Max watched Liz pace around her room, picking up framed photographs and other objects only to replace them immediately. She was rarely this restless and fidgety, and it made him uneasy. As did her tight emotional control—almost nothing leaked through to him. What had she learned?

Liz glanced at him, her demeanor softening. "Yeah, it worked. It was…amazing, Max. All that power, contained. Waiting. It was like—God, I can't even explain it. What it was like to touch all those lives."

"It's really the life forces of the priestesses, collected when they die?" The whole concept staggered him. As did the fact that he couldn't use the granolith at all. Max hadn't even been able to follow Liz into her communion—his energy was masculine, and so not allowed. Tomar's encapsulation had been a special case, and he hadn't been inside the granolith exactly. Not even Liz had understood the scientific explanation behind where the Antarian man had been. Max wasn't sure Tomar truly did, either.

She nodded, wonder written clearly across her face. "It really is, Max. It's just so," she sighed. "I don't have the words. I wish you could have come with me."

"Nah. I'd much rather stay male," he smiled, and Liz giggled softly.

"I have to agree." She came closer and Max sensed that her mood had lightened some with his teasing. Knowing that he could do that for her, the same way she often did for him; it felt good.

So did her hand, passing over his groin in a casual caress. "Yes, I definitely like you the way you are." Liz smiled. "I asked Tomar about that, you know."

"About fondling me?" Max pretended to misunderstand.

She laughed. "No, about the emotional cleansing. How sometimes our energy reacts to each other that way, kind of careening back and forth."

He raised his eyebrows in surprise. That wasn't what he'd thought she was going to say at all. "You did? What did he say?"

"Oddly enough, that it's normal, at least for a priestess. Apparently that's one of the functions of the order. People who need that kind of—treatment—come to the sanctuaries." Her eyes slid past him and fixed on the wall somewhere.

"What?" Pain blossomed in Max's midsection as he understood what she meant. He could not share her, not that way. Confessions or spiritual meditations or counseling or whatever most religious figures did, fine. But lovemaking? Having his lifebonded mate be physically intimate with other men? The idea alone made him burn with jealousy. Yet, it wasn't his choice; it wasn't his body, nor his life's work. If Liz wanted to reassume her full status as a priestess of the granolith, Max couldn't stand in her way. He wouldn't. Even if it killed him.

He noticed that Liz was looking at him with a little smile. "What?" he repeated in a slightly calmer tone.

"Thank you," she murmured.

"For what, Liz?"

"For being willing to stand back and let me decide." She paused and his gut clenched. "I wouldn't do that to you, Max—to us. The thought of someone else touching me is just…" Liz shuddered delicately, unable to articulate her discomfort. "It was almost more than I could bear to pretend with Kyle."

Max found himself sitting on the bed, his knees having given out in relief. "Liz." He had no idea what else to say. Too much emotion churned through him. He could see from her growing smile as she came to stand in front of him that she knew his feelings perfectly well, even if he didn't.

Liz held out her right hand, palm upturned. The filtered sunlight picked out the silver form of the symbol blazoned there. "Do you know what this means?"

He blinked up at her, confused. Of course he knew. Hadn't they covered that nearly two weeks ago, when Tomar had asked after he emerged from the granolith? Or wherever he'd been. Granted, the time since then had been consumed with studying and writing final exams and papers. And trying to explain to Tomar that just because Max thought it was more important to finish high school than to get Liz pregnant didn't mean that school was the only focus in their lives. Their new friend took things very literally. A fact that Max was sure had his parents laughing up their sleeves, since they had declared the house guest to be Max's responsibility. Which he couldn't fault, and indeed he felt grateful that they had accepted the situation and helped concoct a cover story with little fuss. But explanations and acclimatization? That fell largely to Max, and to Liz.

Liz, who was waiting for an answer. He gave it to her. "It means that we're bound together, physically and spiritually, for the rest of our lives."

"What about in the context of me being a priestess?"

Good question; he didn't know. Neither had she, but Max sensed that she knew now. It was one of the many things they'd been trying to understand, why Liz's calling was so unusual. All of a sudden it hit him. Lissa had been a full priestess and she had died.

"You should have become part of the granolith. Instead, you became human," he said wonderingly. "How is that possible?"

Liz smiled brilliantly, easing onto his lap, her knees cradling his hips. "I petitioned my sisters to be released from that obligation and they allowed it. I have the whirlwind galaxy symbol on my palm instead of the inverted triangle for the same reason: because I chose you, Max. I gave up my baby and my life and the promise of eternity to be with you—to be Liz Parker. In the last two and who knows how many other lifetimes, I chose you."

Max considered himself fairly enlightened, really he did. He believed in equal rights, and he meant it 100% every time he called Liz his partner. But the wave of utter possessiveness sweeping through him was elemental in its nature. He'd never felt so completely male, or so human. Strange that his lifemate should be the more otherworldly of the two of them.

"Yes," she murmured, her smile growing ever brighter. Max hardly noticed that she was divesting them both of clothing. He half expected her to begin glowing any second.

"Liz," he breathed, feeling a profound reverence that was not new. Only now he understood it more clearly, and more, it no longer frightened her. She accepted it as yet another facet of their deepening relationship.

"You know you make me glow, Max," Liz teased.

Yes, he did, and he had since the first time he'd laid his hand on her, while she lay dying on the Crashdown floor.

She kissed him at last, soft lips parting over his, and Max inadvertently projected his thought. «My own personal goddess»

Her eyes widened. "Max, no."

"Oh, yeah," he told her as he leaned back. Liz moved over him, and as she opened her body, taking him in, she also opened her soul. Max couldn't share what she had experienced with the granolith, but he could feel the same awe she had, a river in flood through his mind and heart. "Liz."

Max tugged her down until her swelling breasts pressed against his chest, needing her close. They rocked leisurely together, his hands on her hips, his mouth caressing hers. A slow, sensuous joining of souls.

«I love you. So much» Liz's dark eyes held the same message, her pupils dilated in pleasure.

«I know. Thank you for that» Had he spoken aloud, Max knew his voice would have trembled. His mindvoice wasn't much steadier as he added, «And you know I feel the same»

«I do, yes» Not even the radiance of her smile rivaled the building luminescence of her skin. Her skin and his as they reached completion together, merging in love.

Liz laid her head on his shoulder and relaxed against him, her breathing quieting. Max wrapped his arms around her. He sensed the source of her disquiet now, after being so intimately connected with her.

"You know where he is." It wasn't a question.

"Approximately," she sighed. "Zathnar's somewhere in the caverns by Carlsbad. Not the ones open to the public, of course, but that whole area is riddled with caves, a lot of them still unexplored." Liz paused. "I also found out a little bit about the chanting that I heard during the Kingmaking. It's some kind of prophecy. I heard women's voices because it was the granolith chanting. Or its occupants or whatever. I'm not really sure how to make that distinction, because they are the granolith, and yet there are some vestiges of personality. It's confusing."

A prophecy. Wonderful. Max finally had exactly what he wanted in his life and some ancient words were going to send things spinning in some pre-determined direction again. He groaned. "Remind me what it said, please?"

Liz giggled and recited the verses:

"Two as one
Shall defeat them
Two made one
Vreth de'ana

Bright the shining
Agent of unity
Part the darkness
From its evil self

Stand defeated
In the hour of triumph
Revive the heart
With the weeping soul

Earthly glimmer
On passion's hand
Seal the future
Repair the past

The doorway will open
Choose wisely which side
Birth shall decide
Look into their eyes

Dor she'ana kevara'ke daletga."


"It still makes no sense," he grumbled.

"Well, it makes some sense. Like, you and I are the 'two as one'," she pointed out.

"Are we also the 'two made one'?"

"I don't know." Liz laughed. "They seem to be talking about two different sets of two, though. At least to me."

"Did Tomar know any of the Antarian?" If that was even what it was.

"'Ana' means love. The rest is from the Enlightened time. There was a lot of language shift during the wars, and he doesn't quite understand it. It's like you or I trying to puzzle out Old English. The words kind of seem similar but they aren’t the same, and often they don't mean the same thing anymore either. But some of it seems familiar to me, too. I'll have to think about it some more."

Max turned his head to look at her, sensing apprehension burgeoning behind her light tone and linguistic explanations. "What aren't you telling me? Is it about Zathnar?"

The corner of Liz's mouth lifted ruefully. He knew she hadn't kept it from him deliberately; she had needed time to digest the information herself before sharing it.

"He's not alone, Max. Nicholas has taken him prisoner."
"Fan fiction is a way of the culture repairing the damage done in a system where contemporary myths are owned by corporations instead of owned by the folk."
~Henry Jenkins

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Tasyfa
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Location: Canada

Chapter 42

Post by Tasyfa » Sat Apr 12, 2003 9:50 pm

Took longer than I'd hoped, but here is the new chapter yay!:) In two posts for length.
hugs, Tas

FROM CHAPTER 41

Liz laid her head on his shoulder and relaxed against him, her breathing quieting. Max wrapped his arms around her. He sensed the source of her disquiet now, after being so intimately connected with her.

"You know where he is." It wasn't a question.

"Approximately," she sighed. "Zathnar's somewhere in the caverns by Carlsbad. Not the ones open to the public, of course, but that whole area is riddled with caves, a lot of them still unexplored." Liz paused. "I also found out a little bit about the chanting that I heard during the Kingmaking. It's some kind of prophecy. I heard women's voices because it was the granolith chanting. Or its occupants or whatever. I'm not really sure how to make that distinction, because they are the granolith, and yet there are some vestiges of personality. It's confusing."

A prophecy. Wonderful. Max finally had exactly what he wanted in his life and some ancient words were going to send things spinning in some pre-determined direction again. He groaned. "Remind me what it said, please?"

Liz giggled and recited the verses:

"Two as one
Shall defeat them
Two made one
Vreth de'ana

Bright the shining
Agent of unity
Part the darkness
From its evil self

Stand defeated
In the hour of triumph
Revive the heart
With the weeping soul

Earthly glimmer
On passion's hand
Seal the future
Repair the past

The doorway will open
Choose wisely which side
Birth shall decide
Look into their eyes

Dor she'ana kevara'ke daletga."


"It still makes no sense," he grumbled.

"Well, it makes some sense. Like, you and I are the 'two as one'," she pointed out.

"Are we also the 'two made one'?"

"I don't know." Liz laughed. "They seem to be talking about two different sets of two, though. At least to me."

"Did Tomar know any of the Antarian?" If that was even what it was.

"'Ana' means love. The rest is from the Enlightened time. There was a lot of language shift during the wars, and he doesn't quite understand it. It's like you or I trying to puzzle out Old English. The words kind of seem similar but they aren’t the same, and often they don't mean the same thing anymore either. But some of it seems familiar to me, too. I'll have to think about it some more."

Max turned his head to look at her, sensing apprehension burgeoning behind her light tone and linguistic explanations. "What aren't you telling me? Is it about Zathnar?"

The corner of Liz's mouth lifted ruefully. He knew she hadn't kept it from him deliberately; she had needed time to digest the information herself before sharing it.

"He's not alone, Max. Nicholas has taken him prisoner."


*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
*****NEW Chapter 42*****

"Wow." Alex summed up how they all felt about the news of Zathnar's capture. Liz smiled at her friend and he widened his eyes comically.

"Why won't Nicholas just die already?" Tess exclaimed in frustration. "He shouldn't have been able to walk out of the school in the fall, but he was perfectly healthy looking in New York City. He wasn't even peeling."

"You know, that's a very good question. Why isn't he dead?" Maria remarked.

"Maybe Courtney didn't get all the husks when she smashed the life support system," Max speculated.

"No, his was down there. I saw it." Isabel shivered and Alex rubbed her shoulder soothingly. "I guess it's possible that it didn't get destroyed, though."

"Well, why would that matter, really? Even if he had changed into a new suit, he still should have been cinder pops when Tess firebombed the school," Kyle pointed out.

"Changed into a new suit…" Liz repeated slowly. "What if Nicholas did die that day, but his new husk had survived in Copper Summit? Could someone else have decided to grab for power and put it on? They are a type of environmental suit, after all. Is there any reason that one wouldn't fit a different Skin?"

"You helped Courtney change hers, Michael. Any insights?" Maria's voice held a slight edge and Michael rolled his eyes.

"I didn't see anything. All I did was fill the tub with water and give the girl a towel," he asserted. "She said the fit was good but the husk wasn't fully mature. That's why she had all those problems with it."

"She changed underwater?" Now Maria sounded intrigued and Liz smiled at the quicksilver transformation.

"Yeah. The atmosphere is poisonous or corrosive or something for them, remember?"

"Obviously not because of hydrogen or oxygen, then," Alex piped up.

"Good point. Tomar, do you have any thoughts on the matter?" Max turned towards the small Antarian man, seated in the desk chair. The group had trickled in slowly while Liz, Max and Tomar had been talking in Max's room, and somehow they never did move it out to the living room.

"I am sorry, your Hi—Max. They had not yet arrived on Earth when I was contained by the granolith. I do not know anything about the technology involved in creating the husks." He sighed. "I can confirm that neither hydrogen nor oxygen is the problem, however. Antar does have water. It is not the same, of course; we have different minerals. I suspect the reason for the husks is the amount of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere. It did not exist in such high quantities when we first discovered Earth, several generations ago. I myself find it more difficult to breathe when we have been in your vehicle for an extended period of time."

"Score one for pollution," Alex commented slyly. Everyone laughed.

"It's poisonous to humans, too, but I guess we have a much higher tolerance," Maria shrugged.

"Michael, you said that Courtney did mention the fit. I would think that implies that the husks could be inhabited by someone other than the intended Skin." Max got the discussion back on track.

"Okay, but does it matter?" Kyle glanced around the room. "What difference does it make if it's Nicholas or one of his underlings? Either way, the guy in the Nicholas suit is a psycho hose beast who needs to be put down."

Liz edged out of the group as they settled into debating the merits of various rescue operations, moving towards Tomar. He looked somewhat despondent. "Hey. While they're getting all bloodthirsty on us, I thought maybe we could try going over the prophecy again. It's nagging at me."

He brightened at that. "Yes, that would be good."

She pulled out pens and paper, and a few copies of the print-out of the prophecy's words. The Old Antarian Liz had spelled phonetically, sounding out each syllable to write it down as best as she could. Two dark heads bent over the desk, studying the text.

"Okay, we've established that Max and I are the 'two as one,' which is a different pair than the 'two made one.'" Liz chewed on her pen. "Could the second pairing refer to the Skins? We were just talking about someone else being in Nicholas's husk, but presumably that person would be the only one who knew he wasn't actually Nicholas. So essentially, he would be two people in one, right?"

"Yes! That makes a great deal of sense." Tomar jotted notes on the printout and smiled shyly at her. "I also like the implication that you and Max will defeat this not-Nicholas."

"I'm fond of that interpretation myself," Liz laughed. "It would follow, then, that the next verse, with the darkness being parted from itself, is talking about the destruction of the husk and the being inside. But we still don't have any idea what the 'shining agent of unity' refers to."

"Could it not be Zathnar? He is the product of your union with Z'Antar."

She considered that possibility, for what had to be the hundredth time. "It still doesn't feel like it's the right answer. It's the 'agent' part. To me, that means that this agent is something that creates unity, not something that happens afterwards."

"The granolith, perhaps?"

"It did bring Max and I together. It's stationary, though. I don't think I'll be able to feel it from Carlsbad, so unless we somehow bring the not-Nicholas back to the pod chamber, I don't think it's the granolith."

"What about you, for uniting the granolith with Max?" His black eyes grew equal parts excited and worried.

Liz grimaced. "Much as I would love to kick Nicholas's ass, I doubt it's me, either. All right, let's just accept that we don't know and move on, or we'll debate it all day."

"The next verse is as clear as it can become without any details. We know that winning will come at a price," Tomar said solemnly.

"Yeah." A chill ran through her body. "Details would have been nice. Maybe we could prevent it that way. Whatever 'it' even is."

He nodded, frowning at the paper in his hands. Liz placed her hand on his arm. "Tomar, you seem down. Is something wrong?"

His head tilted quizzically. "I am sitting to work on the prophecy with you, Holiness. Would you prefer I stand?"

"No," Liz refuted hastily when he began to rise. "I just meant, you seem a little sad."

"Sad is down?"

She couldn't help the smile. "Yes, sad is down."

"Is happy up?" he wanted to know.

"Frequently," Liz laughed. "I think it's smile-related. When we were little, Maria's mom used to say, 'Turn your frown upside down.' She meant she wanted us to smile."

"I see. English is fascinating. There is so much colloquialism." He returned her smile, and Liz fought to keep from laughing as Tomar frowned and then smiled several times in succession.

"Okay, let's get back to the verses, then." Before I embarrass myself by giggling like a maniac, Liz thought to herself.

Alex plopped down beside them, dragging a stool under himself with one long leg. "Where are you guys up to now?"

"'Earthly glimmer/On passion's hand/Seal the future/Repair the past,'" Liz quoted.

"Well, that's about Future Max," Alex remarked confidently.

"Why, just because it talks about time?"

"Future Max, he was your visitor in the autumn, yes? The one who sought to place his younger self with Tess?" Tomar wanted to know.

"That's the guy," Alex confirmed. "Not just because the verse is about time, Liz. If Future Max hadn't shown up, you and Max would have made love and eventually gotten married, right?"

"Yeah. Your point being?"

"You may have waited longer, but you and Max still did make love and you're like three-quarters of the way to being married. So, Future Max came back to repair his past, and in doing so screwed up your future, temporarily. Clearly the man was either a world-class idiot for thinking he and Tess would make a good couple, or he was a genius and didn't tell you the whole truth about why he was here. As in, not to break you up permanently, but to delay things. And make sure Tess stayed. Which she has, because Max didn't turn into a raving asshole to her this time around. Plus, she kind of prefers Kyle." He winked.

Liz had to laugh. It did make a strange kind of sense, though. "What about the rest of the verse?"

She was startled when Alex reached for her right hand, turning her palm upwards. The silver swirl shone faintly in the sun-filled room. He gave her a lopsided grin. "If that's not passion's hand glimmering, then I'm a monkey's uncle."

Liz flushed at the wicked sparkle in his eyes, knowing that Alex had figured out the interesting side effect of the brand by way of monitoring her heartbeat in the granolith chamber. "It's hardly an earthly glimmer, Alex."

Tomar gently added his hand, turning Liz's palm down. "But your jewel is from the earth, is it not?"

The tiny green stone winked up at her, cradled in the interlocked hearts. "Yes, it is. Emeralds are mined."

"You know, I think it was flashing during your lifemate ceremony, too. I remember it because Tess's eyes had turned the same color, and they were both glowing," Alex said thoughtfully.

Liz felt an almost physical shock. "The ceremony! That's where I've heard some of the Old Antarian. 'Dor she'ana,' that was part of the very last phrase that Vordatha said!"

"Right before she cut you both." Alex's head bobbed slowly.

"Could it mean, 'Blood of love'?" she wondered.

"The grammatical structure does suggest that 'she' is a preposition. This interpretation would make sense, particularly with your remembrance of the ceremony, Holiness." The small man beamed at her.

"Sealing the future, that could mean that you do something to make sure that the granolith can't ever be modified for time travel again," Alex speculated.

"Well if that's the case, then what's the opening doorway? I thought that was the granolith. Maybe about how it held onto Tomar."

"I do not think so. I cannot see how that verse would apply to me, as it also mentions birth. Perhaps it refers to Zathnar, instead of the verse of the agent of unity."

"Didn't she give up the baby, contain you and end her own life like right after she gave birth? Maybe that's what it's talking about, you and Zathnar both, and how you're intertwined."

"But then the reference to eyes doesn't fit. I mean, here on Earth, eye color is sort of an unofficial indicator of parentage. Zathnar and Tomar aren't even related," Liz said in frustration. "Oh, this whole thing makes me want to tear my hair out."

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Tasyfa
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Location: Canada

Chapter 42 cont.

Post by Tasyfa » Sat Apr 12, 2003 9:52 pm

"I think that would really piss off loverboy over there," Kyle drawled behind her. She began to turn to face him when his hands pressed down on her shoulders, rubbing the tense muscles. She sighed as a tendon popped, loosening the ache.

"You feeling useless too?" Alex inquired.

"I've played enough sports to be a half-decent tactical advisor, but once they start in on the powers, I'm not much help. Don't got any. I think Maria's only staying out of sheer stubbornness," he snorted.

"Yeah, or the fear that Michael will take off on his own." Alex rolled his eyes.

"Mmm, Kyle, you're an angel. Thank you." The innocent massage felt wonderful. She didn't feel ready to screech at the top of her lungs anymore.

"No problem, Liz. You seemed more hunched every time I looked over here. Figured you could use a break."

"I think 'angel' is really stretching it," Alex snickered. Liz giggled.

Max's amused voice drifted from the other group. "Hey, Valenti, get your hands off my wife!"

"Your who?" Kyle let go of her shoulders.

Liz whipped her head around, the end of her long ponytail striking Kyle's chest. "Excuse me?"

"Um, did we miss a wedding somewhere? Because if we did, Max, I am so going to hurt you," Maria declared.

He looked confused. "We missed a wedding? Whose?"

"Ha!" Isabel exclaimed. "At last, proof that you don't listen to what comes out of your own mouth. Complete with witnesses."

"What are you talking about? All I did was tease Kyle about L—oh. Sorry, Liz. I wasn't really paying attention." His cheeks reddened.

She shrugged, smiling, and Max's face smoothed into a smile of his own. "It's premature, not incorrect. Let's go back to planning." With that, Liz turned back to the desk, but her attention remained focused on Max.

«Is that really how you think of me now?»

«Sort of. It's almost more like it's on the tip of my tongue constantly, waiting for it to be the truth»

«I know what you mean» As tightly as they were bound together, legally Max was only her boyfriend. The implied impermanence didn't fit their relationship at all.

«I know you do, sweetness. Like you said, back to planning» He sighed. «Are you getting anywhere?»

«Actually, yes. Alex figured out one of the verses. I'll explain later. I think we've gotten about as far as we can without any more information. What about you?»

«My head aches from banging it against Michael's brick wall, but otherwise we're nearly done. Details to iron out, that kind of stuff. Most of which we'll decide a bit later, because everyone's starting to get that glazed look that means we need a break soon»

Liz laughed. «All right. We'll rejoin you in a few, and then maybe we can go raid the kitchen. I'm hungry!»

Max's presence faded to its customary background hum in her mind and Liz picked up the print-out she'd been scribbling on. "Moving on here, what about the Old Antarian in the first verse, Tomar? The 'de' is also a preposition, right? So it would read, 'X happens by love' or something like that?"

"Yes, if the preposition has remained unchanged, it corresponds to the English, 'by.' I am not sure, but I think that it is a reiteration of the second line in that verse, in a passive form. 'Vreth' is similar to a modern verb that means defeat in a military sense, such as a coup." He made a helpless gesture. "Or as modern as I know of, at least. I am sure that there has been much vocabulary introduced through the war, which I would not know."

"You don't feel much more useful than us humans, do you?" Alex remarked sympathetically. Tomar shrugged.

"I am a scholar. I can teach you of Antarian culture and customs, but I am not versed in war tactics. And I no longer know if my teachings are relevant." Sad black eyes met Liz's warily, as if he were apprehensive about her reaction to his statement.

She realized that Alex's casual observation was true. Her former self had expected the hybrids to be raised by the two remaining protectors, in full knowledge of who they were. Tomar's appearance after Max's Kingmaking would have resulted in a deeper instruction in the Antarian way of life, to four young adults who were already familiar with the basics. Instead, he had emerged from the granolith to be confronted by a racially mixed group who knew next to nothing about the otherworldly origins of half of their number. "It's really bothering you, isn't it?"

"It is, although not in the way you think, Holiness. It does not matter that I do not contribute much to the tactical advising, as Kyle named it. Max has little need of my thoughts there. Michael is his chief advisor, and that is as it should be. But in cultural terms…" he trailed off. "Biology aside, I am the only non-human in this room."

"Because the others were raised as human?" Kyle inquired.

"Essentially, yes. Consider Max's erroneous title for you, Holiness. On Antar, the vows that you have made to each other are holy—beyond marriage. Yet he feels that there is a piece missing in your relationship, because you have not had an Earth ceremony. It is not just about the legality. It is part of his belief system. It is who he is; who each of the four is. It is only their bodies which differ. Their hearts and minds are as human as yours."

A sickening feeling uncurled in Liz's stomach. "That wouldn't make Max an unacceptable choice for the throne, would it? If he's too human?"

Tomar shook his head. "He has passed all tests. He has the blood and the Seal, and he has been found acceptable by a priestess and undergone the Kingmaking. All that remains is to crown him."

"Except you don't think he should be crowned, do you?" At the Antarian's silent affirmation, Liz nodded at the other two men. "Give us a minute, would you please?"

Once Alex and Kyle had graciously departed, she leaned forward. "Why, Tomar? Do you think that Max would be a bad King, or too severely handicapped by his lack of knowledge for so long?"

He sighed. "Neither. He is a good man with sound principles. Idealistic yet, but he is young and he would learn all too quickly. I myself can compensate for a great deal of his lack of knowledge. The main reason that he would not be a completely suitable candidate, is that he does not want it."

"I wasn't aware that was a criterion," Liz commented dryly. He smiled.

"It is not, officially. Antarians place a tremendous amount of importance on the freedom to choose. It is part of why this war broke out, because Khivar's rule curtails that freedom. It is why Lissa was not punished when she broke her vow of chastity and lay with Z'Antar, thereby rendering herself ineligible for High Priestess. It was a choice freely made and so accepted by the current High Priestess, Ariya. I believe it factors into the reasons why the granolith allowed Lissa's actions and released her from her duty, to be reborn in you. Your soul and Max's are bound together of your own decisions and desires, and it has been so through countless years."

"I know that sitting on Antar's throne isn't Max's first choice, but he won't back down because of that, Tomar. It's still his responsibility. And mine, by extension." Thank goodness we're sure that I can breathe there!

"Yes, but… Do you know what it is that Max wishes to do with his life?"

The question surprised her, but it wasn't as random as it seemed. He'd simply changed gears in the middle of his thought. "Uh, get married, go to university, teach maybe."

"Yes. He wishes to see you in a shining white gown, and in a black gown with a peculiar flat headpiece, and with your stomach out to here." Tomar held his hands out in front of his body, simulating late pregnancy. Liz repressed a laugh, unsure if he understood what Max had meant by that remark. If she ever got as huge as his gesture suggested…

"He also wishes to see both your names in a journal on biology, and he said something about dreaming of Americans. I did not quite understand."

The American Dream. She smiled softly, knowing that part of the appeal for Max was the utter normality of such dreams. "What do you mean by both our names? Like, co-authors of something?"

"I do not know. He said 'Doctor Elizabeth Evans.' That is both your names, is it not? Elizabeth is the longer version of Liz, and Evans is Max? I am given to understand that a doctor is a medical person, or someone who has accomplished a great deal of study and specializes in an area."

"Yeah, that's a pretty good definition of a doctor. About the names, it's a social convention that the woman takes the man's last name as her own once they're married. She doesn't have to anymore, but many still do. So that would be just my name that Max was talking about, in the journal. Later on, after I'd done all my studies." Liz tilted her head in curiosity. "You and Max have had quite a few late night conversations, haven't you?"

He nodded. "I require little sleep compared to a human. Neither Max nor Isabel sleeps as much as their parents. Isabel stays in her bower usually. She has said that she reads until she feels tired again. Max interrupts his sleeping with wandering then returns to bed. Most nights he will seek me out, now that he knows I am not resting either. Sometimes there is ice cream."

Liz giggled. "I didn't know he slept in short shifts like that. I guess when we are able to share a bed, he just lets me keep sleeping while he's awake."

"How did you surmise that we had had speech late at night if you did not know of Max's sleeping patterns?"

"Oh, because of what he's told you. Max is sappy at three o'clock in the morning."

"Sap-y? He is treelike?" Clearly that concept didn't make sense to Tomar.

"No, no, not tree sap. Um, sappy means overly sentimental. Although you have a point; I haven't any idea how it came to mean that," she laughed.

Rising voices interrupted Liz and Tomar's camaraderie. "Maxwell, you're going to get yourself killed."

"Michael, we've been over this. I am going after Nicholas." Max's tone brooked no opposition.

"Not alone." Liz looked up at Max as she came to stand beside him. He offered her a brief smile and laced their fingers together.

"No, not alone. Never that."

"Does sharing a brain make you both idiots or something?" Michael snapped.

"Michael!" Maria scolded.

"What?"

"Did it occur to you that it'll be really weird for Max and Liz to see Zathnar, who's like older than both of them together, and that maybe in the middle of a potential battle isn't exactly the best place to say, 'Hi, son, how's it going?'"

"Of course it'll be weird, Maria, but—"

"It's OK. The prophecy seems to indicate that it will be Max and I who take Nicholas out, anyway, Michael. Relax," Liz urged.

"Of course, the problem with a prophecy is that it's so damn vague, it could mean any one of twelve million things." Kyle scowled. "Look, take Tess and me with you. That leaves Michael, Isabel, Alex and Maria for the rescue op. Tess can get you close enough to squish the wannabe and I can help provide muscle if you need it."

Max glanced at Liz. She sent him reassurance. It seemed like a good idea to her, but it was his call. Her only concern had been that he not try to go after Nicholas by himself. He nodded. "Yeah, that sounds good. Kyle, you think your dad can get us some Kevlar?"

"Eight bulletproof vests, coming right up." He smiled sardonically.

"Looks like we're as ready as we're going to get, then."

"Wait," Tomar interjected. "Am I to understand that you both intend to take part in this expedition? That is not possible."

"What do you mean?" Liz wanted to know.

"There is no heir if you fail, Holiness. Zathnar is already in the enemy's hands. You must not all join him there," he said earnestly.

She could feel the restless energy coiled within Max's body, but Alex beat her to speaking. "Look, Tomar, we work as a group. No one can hear Max without Liz, and yeah, so she doesn't need to be beside him to talk to him, but it's their kid. From another life or not, there's no way you're going to get them to sit on the sidelines for this one. Or any of the rest of us, for that matter."

Isabel added, "We learned the hard way that splitting us up doesn't work so well. The reason this isn't as insane as it seems is because Liz can keep us all connected. That advantage is lost if she's not there. And, well, we're a team now. All of us."

Tomar began to protest again and Max cut him off. "Look, Isabel and I are already in different groups, so it's as safe as it's going to get. She can take my place if something happens."

"She cannot. She is female."

"Michael, then," he barked. Liz squeezed his hand and he relaxed a minute amount. Max was wound so tight; they all were, to varying extents. But it was different for the two of them. Yes, the man they planned to rescue was technically no relation at all, but emotions rarely listen to reason. Both Liz and Max felt in their gut that Zathnar was their child, logistics be damned, and nothing would get in the way of exacting retribution against the Skin who had dared to take him prisoner.

"Michael does not have Royal blood. I am sorry, Max. Otherwise he would be a suitable candidate as an Heir Designate, but he must have some trace of Royal blood, however faint," Tomar explained apologetically.

"Some trace," Max mused. He shot a look at Michael. "We did it once when we were kids. You up for another go around?"

«What are you talking about?»

«You'll see» he answered cryptically, waiting for some sign from Michael. The lifted corner of his friend's mouth was apparently enough, because Max let go of Liz's hand and strode over to his bedside table. He rummaged in the drawer for a moment then turned, holding out the ceremonial dagger.

"Give me your hand."

Unhesitatingly Michael held up his right hand—his warrior's hand. Max swiftly sliced across Michael's palm and then his own. He closed the space between them and clasped hands with Michael.

A faint silver glow emanated from their joined hands, followed by the more mundane reddish glow of healing. When the two men released their grasp, each bore five shining circles on otherwise unblemished palms, arranged in a stylized V formation.

It happened so fast that everyone was frozen in shock. At last Maria broke the silence. "It's the Royal Seal," she breathed in awe.

Liz had a million questions that she wanted to ask but looking at Max, she knew that he didn't have the answers. He'd operated on sheer instinct, something deeper than words showing him the path he needed to follow. She settled on a warm smile.

Isabel stepped forward, breaking the tableau to put her arm around Michael's shoulders. Michael's expression was the most naked one Liz had ever seen grace his face, radiating a barely-suppressed, deep joy. Max's answering grin lit up the room as Isabel repeated words that she had offered to Liz several months ago, their meaning made new by these two blood brothers.

"Welcome to the family."
"Fan fiction is a way of the culture repairing the damage done in a system where contemporary myths are owned by corporations instead of owned by the folk."
~Henry Jenkins

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Tasyfa
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Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm
Location: Canada

Chapter 43

Post by Tasyfa » Sat May 17, 2003 10:04 am

*pokes head into thread* Hey there! Y'all remember me? :oops: I know it's been a while. I can't believe how much trouble this chapter gave me! It was so weird. I've been plugging at it and rewriting the middle all this time and it just refused to work. :bad-words: And then yesterday, I was on the commuter train coming home when the bloody Hoover Dam broke. I almost missed my stop! :shock: It's a good thing I didn't have any plans for the night b/c I spent the entire thing ensconced in front of my computer, typing like mad. God, it felt good. :D And so, here we all are with another chapter!! Um...which brings me to the question, y'all trust me, right? :| *Tas dons her full body armour, just in case* ;) I won't leave you hanging too long this time, I promise!

Where we left off: (Needs a little more explanation than the last paragraph of ch. 42 lol.) Max and Liz had consecrated their relationship by making love in the granolith chamber, thereby performing the Kingmaking ritual that meant that Max was eligible to wear the crown of Antar. The ritual released Tomar, an Antarian tutor, from his suspension in the granolith. Liz began to explore her role as a priestess of the granolith under Tomar's guidance. Communing with the holy object allowed her to discover that Zathnar, the son of Z'Antar and Lissa (Max and Liz's former selves), had been captured by Nicholas and was being held somewhere in the uncharted caverns near Carlsbad. The group discussed a rescue plan, while also attempting to figure out the prophecy Liz had learned of from the granolith. To circumvent any objections that he should be an active part of the rescue operation, Max made Michael his blood brother in truth and designated him as the Heir.

Jeez, I'm starting to need a map!:lol Posted in 2 parts for length.
hugs, Tas



*****NEW Chapter 43*****

[[We see him]] Michael reported tensely. [[Tomar's confirmed that he's the right guy, but there's a complication. I can see at least one other prisoner. Looks like Zathnar wasn't taken alone]]

[[Crap. So the other person could be completely ignorant of all this being alien-related]]

[[Too late to worry about it, Liz. We can do damage control after if it's necessary]]

Max nodded and she confirmed mentally to Michael, [[Do what you need to. Don't forget that Zathnar's probably drugged so he won't be any help once you get to him. Same for his friend or friends. Get in and get out, no heroics]]

[[I do know the plan, Liz. You can stop repeating it]]

She glared at Max when he chuckled faintly. [[I know you do, Michael, it's just that]]

[[You're trusting me with your kid. I've got it covered, Parker. Go squish the wannabe, as Kyle likes to say]]

Liz had to laugh. [[OK, OK]]

[[Hang on]] The teasing note had disappeared. [[One of the guards just mentioned Nicholas. Tomar says he's apparently on his way down here]]

«We'll intercept. Tell Michael to move as quickly as he can» Max's amusement had also disappeared, replaced with a hard purpose. Liz relayed the message and then dimmed her connection to Michael, allowing it to fade to a generalized awareness that would allow speech but wasn't a constant distraction. She and Michael were the communications leaders of the two teams; they’d decided that leaving it more open than that for non-emergency messages would quickly get confusing. Liz filled in Tess and Kyle, cautioning Tess to be ready to mindwarp at a second's notice. Then the foursome crept out of their sheltered area inside the cave, moving slowly forward.

Liz was keenly aware that they were underground. More than the sensation of weight above her or the enclosed space, what made her skin prickle was the scent. With each breath, she inhaled the earth, a primeval taste in her mouth.

[[There]] Kyle whispered. At the silent warning they halted and flattened against the wall. The air shimmered over their position in answer to Tess's will.

[[We need to split them up]] Liz fretted.

[[I bet that if we created some kind of disturbance up that branching passageway, Nicholas would be stupid enough to go investigate himself]] Tess offered.

[[Could you hold a double warp on him?]] Kyle asked cautiously.

The blonde shook her head, strain visible on her pale features. [[I don’t think so]]

[[It probably shouldn’t be visual, anyway, right? He’d expect to catch whatever he saw really quickly. Max, what do you—]] Liz stopped speaking as Max held up a hand, his brow furrowing. A few seconds later, the sound of falling debris echoed from the far passageway and the group of Skins coming down the wide, sloping corridor halted.

Nicholas barked a question in Antarian, the unfamiliar language sounding gutteral from his lips. Liz could feel Tess concentrating on holding the mindwarp and she laid a hand on the other woman’s arm, sending a flow of energy to bolster Tess’s powers. Gratitude flashed from her blue eyes and Liz smiled in return.

[[He’s even stronger than he was last fall in the Crashdown. The others aren’t much of a match, but with Nicholas in the mix, I’m not going to be able to hold this warp too much longer, guys, never mind a second one. We need to act fast]]

Even as she spoke, the dissension among the enemy ranks had been resolved and Nicholas strode off down the offshoot from the main tunnel, followed by a single soldier. The rest picked up their original trail, heading down towards the prisoners—and the other half of the rescue operation.

«Tell Tess to cover me. I’m going after Nicholas» Max ordered tersely, already inching away. Liz frowned.

[[Tess, cover us, please. I’ll let you know the instant you can drop the secondary warp. Can you do it?]] She listened for Tess’s response but her eyes were on her lifebonded. He didn’t honestly think she would stand for him going alone, did he?

[[Now that I don’t have to keep Nicholas oblivious, no problem. Good luck]]

[[Once you give Tess the signal, Liz, we’ll circle around behind these guys and see if Michael and the gang need help]] Kyle asserted.

Max turned slightly and nodded at Kyle, agreeing with his plan. Then he looked back at Liz.

Instead of the stubborn resistance she’d half expected, his eyes showed a fierce pride. «Come on» He held out his hand for her. With an answering smile, Liz laced her fingers through Max’s and they moved carefully around the soldiers, following the man who had dared to endanger their family.

Out of the visual range of the soldiers, Max and Liz crept along the narrow tunnel after Nicholas and his guard, their presence no longer concealed by Tess. Every so often Max would dislodge more debris farther on up the path, giving the impression that someone was fleeing. Eventually the tunnel branched again. They hung back to remain unseen and Max doubled his efforts, making it seem like there were two escapees who had split up.

Nicholas stopped upon hearing the second noise and looked up, spreading his hands wide. He uttered one sharp word and Liz could feel Max’s amusement.

«Can you understand what he’s saying?»

«No. I feel as though I ought to. It’s like when Señora Villa talks really fast in Spanish class. I get the sense that I should know the words, but I don’t have any idea what she just said»

«What’s so funny, then?»

One corner of his mouth lifted in a smile. «I may not know Antarian, but I can certainly recognize a four letter word in any language!»

Liz stifled a giggle. Their quarry did seem very put out by this turn of events. Hope rose in her when the two Skins separated, each tracking a different phantom victim. «I’ll take soldier-boy»

«What?» Max asked reflexively, startled. «It’s dangerous, Liz»

«I can do it» she insisted. «Don’t baby me, partner»

The pointed use of his pet name for her brought a nervous smile to his face. «All right» He tangled a hand in her hair and pulled her roughly to him, taking her mouth in a brief kiss full of simmering passion. «Be careful, sweetness. Please»

«And you watch your own back, with Nicholas. Wait for me to come back, OK? You’ll need me»

«We could both go after the other guy first and come back together for Nicholas» he suggested.

Liz shook her head. «We’ll lose him. This is our best chance, Max»

He stroked her cheek. «I know. I’ll hold off as long as I can for you, but I can’t promise anything. If he notices me—»

«Yeah. I’m not asking for miracles» she smiled. Privately, she felt very much as though she were making such a request. But they couldn’t afford to lose Nicholas now. It wasn’t just their best shot, but possibly their only one. And his guard could not be discounted because he’d gone off in a different direction. He would come back, and they might not be prepared for it when he did. No, he had to be taken out.

Liz brushed a kiss across the back of Max’s hand and turned to follow the guard. She was as primed as she was ever going to be for this step. As she walked, she focused on remembering as much of the self defense training Kyle had insisted on teaching the women as she could.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

‘If he grabs you, twist your arm so that the side of your wrist points between his thumb and forefinger. Then jerk your arm free—hard. Preferably downward, so you can throw your weight into it. Even you itty-bitty girls can throw weight behind a move. Of course, Iz won’t have any problem,’ he grinned.

‘Kyle!’ all four women chorused indignantly.

He laughed. ‘Ah, I love that sound. Seriously, though, the most important thing is to never forget that your opponent isn’t human. None of the usual vulnerable spots apply. That means no knees to the groin, ladies,’ he elaborated impishly. ‘Go right for the small of the back, where the suit seal is. There is no other target, so don’t screw around. It could mean your life.’


*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Never forget your opponent’s not human, Liz chanted to herself. She wished that she could draw on the granolith’s power, but her initial guess had been correct: Carlsbad was just too far away from Roswell. The granolith might be a tremendous source of energy, but its range was limited. In their many discussions, Liz and Tomar had agreed that was likely how the sect of priestesses had begun in the first place, as guardians. None of which helped her now. Priestess or not, consecrated to the granolith or not, lifebonded to an alien King or not, Liz was on her own for this one.

She slowed as her straining senses caught a whisper of movement up ahead. It was all the warning she got before a bolt of power lanced through the air. Contorting in place, Liz narrowly missed the blast and moved forward, seeking her prey.

He stood in the middle of the pathway, hand up and readying another bolt. She tensed in anticipation, scanning the tunnel around him. This smaller branch had been left unsmoothed by whatever force of nature had hollowed out these caverns, and the walls contained many ridges and valleys. Her eyes widened as a plan formed in her mind.

As soon as he released the blast, Liz launched into an all-out run. Right towards him. His power dissipated harmlessly behind her as he gaped in confusion, no doubt having expected her to run away. The last thing he probably would have predicted was for her to barrel into him at full speed, using the impact of her slight body to propel him backwards and slam him against a protruding knob of earth and rock.

Liz coughed, muffling the sound in her sleeve as she tried to avoid breathing in the thick powder coating the air. She grimaced at the acrid scent, and then it hit her. She’d done it. She, Liz Parker, had been the cause of this dusty swirl around her. She supposed it would be inappropriate to let out a howl of triumph, especially since it was only half the battle, but she had won. A wicked surge of exhilaration spiraled from her belly as she retraced her path, heading back towards Max.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Max crouched behind a rock outcropping, watching Nicholas pause yet again in his continual ascent to search for some sign that he pursued a real person. He grew increasingly uneasy at the Skin’s frequent halts. It seemed like he was searching for more than Max was able to see or hear. And the tunnel kept sloping up. They had to be nearing the surface by now. What if there was an opening at the end of the tunnel, and Nicholas escaped?

Max could sense Liz’s near giddiness but couldn’t afford to lose his own focus to speak to her. It didn’t matter; her adrenalin rush told him that her mission had been successful. He had ambivalent feelings about that. Sure, he was thrilled that whatever she’d done had worked, but it also meant that she had killed. Once the high wore off, how would she feel about it then?

«Max, I’m fine. Stop it, OK?»

«Right» he replied noncommittally. Ahead of him, Nicholas’s frame stiffened. He must have found something, but what?

«I am fine. I shoved him onto a stalactite and he blew up. I think that’s what it was. Stalactites hang from the ceiling, and stalagmites grow up from the floor, so I’m not sure what the ones that stick out sideways from the wall are called»

Max’s initial urge to laugh at his mate’s thoughtful tone died when Nicholas spun around, finding Max with uncanny accuracy. Immediately Max dampened his connection to Liz. He didn’t know how it was possible, but the Skin seemed to have homed in on the signal of their telepathic speech.

“Well, well, well. Come on out, Zalanar,” Nicholas invited with a sardonic smile. Deliberately using his former self’s childhood name, and not the honorific due the King. “Or should I say, Max?”

Max stood and moved to the center of the tunnel. “It’s Max, at least for now.” Putting the pretender on notice that it wouldn’t be for much longer. Nicholas met his gaze, showing a faint hint of surprise, but it was lost on Max. Once their eyes locked, he knew.

Liz had been right; Nicholas had died in the fire at the high school and someone else had taken his place. But it wasn’t a flunky looking to gain power. It was Khivar.

«Liz, stay back! It’s Khivar in the Nicholas suit» He flung the words desperately, taking the chance even though he knew that Khivar could somehow sense his communication with Liz. He felt her answering shock. He also saw the flare of satisfaction in his enemy’s gaze, as though some question had been answered.

Max readied himself for—whatever. He had no idea what he was up against. The solid steel presence at the back of his waist, where the ceremonial dagger hung in a sheath clipped to his belt, no longer had a reassuring weight. The Kevlar vest was meaningless. It only stopped bullets. Was there anything that stopped a madman with phenomenal mental powers?

The two men stared at each other for an endless moment, and then Khivar offered a tiny smirk before he spun around and sprinted up the tunnel.

What the hell? Max followed, his legs pumping as he gained slightly on the Skin. Abruptly the floor leveled out, no longer ascending, and the tunnel turned sharply to the left. An odd glow suffused the corner. Max paid it no mind but careened around the angled area and found himself several feet away from Khivar, in a breathtakingly beautiful underground chamber.

The ceiling was veined with smoky quartz. Some part of the vein must have reached to the surface, because the crystal refracted light from somewhere into millions of tiny dancing rainbows, scattered over the rough walls and floor.

“Wow,” Max exclaimed involuntarily.

Khivar smiled. A real smile, one that spoke of the near-extinguished spark of decency in him. “Beautiful, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” he agreed. He watched in horrified fascination as the other man’s expression twisted into one of malicious glee.

“I’m hoping the light means that there’s another way out of here. Since we won’t be going back the way we came in.”

Khivar raised his hand, his actions too quick upon the heels of his words for Max to even react, and an ominous rumble sounded in the tunnel behind him. Where Liz was.

“No!” Max sent a burst of energy at Khivar’s outstretched hand, knocking it aside and interrupting the power flow. He dove at the Skin, intending to grapple with him. He didn’t know if physical violence was any better an option, but Khivar’s powers were stronger than Max’s and both men knew it.

Max didn’t manage to close the distance. Concurrent with a high-pitched scream that blistered his ear drums, he felt a crushing pain in his back and fell heavily to his knees, gasping. Liz. Oh, God. Liz!

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
"Fan fiction is a way of the culture repairing the damage done in a system where contemporary myths are owned by corporations instead of owned by the folk."
~Henry Jenkins

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Tasyfa
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Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm
Location: Canada

Chapter 43 cont.

Post by Tasyfa » Sat May 17, 2003 10:09 am

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

She screamed as white-hot agony rolled through her body, flattened against the stony ground. And again when the pain instantly numbed, because Liz knew what that meant. Her spinal cord had been damaged when the ceiling fell in, bearing her down under its immense weight. Max was up there with a psycho who had way more power than he did, and here she was, unable to move. Unable to breathe. She was going to die here in this filthy cave, shut away from the sunlight, and she was going to get Max killed too in the process. If only she could reach the granolith from this distance!

Desperately Liz tried anyway, sending her mind spinning out towards Roswell. She sobbed when she felt the light finger of awareness touch her.

//Yes, child?\\

//Help me!\\

//Come closer. We can barely sense you\\

//I can’t!\\ Weeping in frustration, Liz opened her mind as wide as she could, trusting that if she could touch the minds of the priestesses, then they could protect hers from Khivar, and whatever he could sense of her. She explained in a frantic rush of image and emotion, feeling their response. Shock, horror, anger. Lastly, and strongest, sorrow.

//You must choose, daughter\\

//What do you mean? Choose what?\\ she demanded.

//You are too far away. We can send you energy, but only a little, and you must choose how to spend it\\

I have to choose, Liz thought to herself. Between what and what? The phrasing suggested that there was a viable choice. More than that, she reasoned. The granolith wasted no words. If it was asking her to choose, then there was a purpose for that. A deeper one than she could currently see. The fact that the granolith was even offering an alternative to her original request meant that there was a bigger picture. That was how it worked: it supplied you with the bare bones of the necessary information, and oh so gently guided you towards enlightenment.

//What are my choices?\\ Liz asked carefully.

//You may use the energy to free yourself and heal your body\\

She closed her eyes; one of the few movements she was still capable of. She hadn’t heard the second choice yet but already she knew it would be the one she would have to take.

//And the other?\\

Tears leaked from her closed eyelids at the gentle pride that suffused the choral voice. //You may assist the Consecrated One\\

//I can help Max? How?\\ She seized at the possibility.

//He must not choose you\\

What? //I don’t understand\\

//In all the cycles, he has chosen you, and it has led to death. The Dark One has prevailed. To break the sequence, he must not choose you\\

The granolith surrounded her with the soothing balm of the priestesses’ souls, and in that delicate embrace, Liz found comprehension.

Kyle had said, months ago now, that she and Max were joined by a heavy bond, grown thick with age. With many lifetimes lived, together. But what the granolith was telling her, was that their bond had also been thickened by death. That Max’s inability to lose her was part of what kept dooming them to play out the same cycle, over and over again. Zan and Lissa. Max and Liz.

She could heal herself. She could take the energy from the granolith, heal herself, and walk up that tunnel to where two men fought. But if she did, only one of them would still be standing when she got there.

Max would die.

Suddenly, Liz found herself thinking of Future Max in a way she never had before. He, too, had chosen her. He had chosen his Liz, and it had led to war. It had led to his own death, when he had traveled back in time to try to prevent his younger self from making the same mistake.

And yet she still could not think of it as a mistake. The love and joy Max had brought to her life were not wrong. How could they be? How could something so impossibly wondrous be evil?

//Not evil, daughter. Nor wrong. Simply not the right time or place. That is all\\ her teachers promised. //It is time\\

In the end, there was only one decision Liz could make, and she had known it from the moment that she had been given a choice. There was no choice.

//Please tell me how I can help Max\\

She listened to the soft instructions, and her soul took wing.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

«Max?»

«Liz, what are you doing here? How are you here? I felt you—» he faltered.

«I’m not here, not really. I just needed to talk to you» She watched him kneeling on the cave floor, knowing that the pain she had felt so briefly had coursed through his body as well. Only Max could see her, standing in this rainbow room that reminded her of Maria. The memory of her friend gave her pause. She was going to miss Maria.

«What is going on? I need to get down there, see if you’re all right»

Liz placed phantom fingers on his shoulder, preventing him from rising. «No, Max. It’s too late. What you need to do is to kill Khivar. He is evil, Max. Evil in a way we’ve never seen before» In a way Max couldn’t see now, with purely corporeal eyes. She shuddered that Khivar was this close to her but she was beyond his reach. Beyond the reach of anyone, human or otherwise, now.

«But—»

«You can do it» she encouraged, interrupting him.

Max looked up at her and swallowed hard, painful understanding filling him. «Without you»

«Yes»

He started to shake his head. «Liz»

«Max, I love you. I have for uncountable years, and I will forever. But right now, right in this life, you have to let me go»

«I love you too» The vow was the merest whisper in her mind, and Liz’s eyes stung at the emotions it stirred. «Will you wait for me, as long as it takes?»

«I will» she pledged. «I always do, Max»

He nodded and glanced down at the floor. Trying to do what she had asked, and let her go.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Liz found herself back in her own body. She should have been able to feel the wrenching sobs that tore through her, but the only physical sensations were the tears pouring down her face and the trembling of her lips.

//You did well, daughter. Now rest\\

She was tired. So tired. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to close her eyes, just for a while…

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Freed from Liz’s pain, Max forced himself to his feet. He felt new strength flowing in his body, and in his powers, and he knew she was the source. It was her energy that imbued him. Maybe it would be enough.

It would have to be. Because his pain would only find release in Khivar’s death.

“Up so soon, Max? I rather liked you kneeling in homage. That is what you were doing, isn’t it? Of course, I suppose you must go rescue your girlfriend now. Your lifebonded girlfriend, if I’m not mistaken.” The Skin’s mouth stretched in an oily grin that managed to disgust and charm simultaneously.

Max smiled grimly. “Oh, I was kneeling in homage, all right. But not to you, Khivar. To Liz.” I was saying goodbye.

Khivar stared at him, his veneer cracking a little at Max’s seeming nonchalance. “You’re actually going to stay here and concentrate on me, while your lifebonded is dying down there alone?”

No! His heart refuted the accusation. Except, he was doing just that. He hadn’t been able to sense Liz’s beloved presence since her projection had faded. He knew it meant that her spirit was slipping away, a little farther every second.

He also knew what he had promised her.

“I don’t know that ‘concentrate’ is the correct verb for what I plan to do to you,” Max said casually. He dropped into a slight crouch as Khivar’s eyes darted from side to side, loosening his stance so that he could move at an instant’s notice.

None too soon, either. Max ducked as a sizzling ball of energy flew at his head and countered with his own blast. The two men circled each other warily, right hands raised, searching for openings. Weak places to attack.

Through the volley of energy crackling back and forth between them as they fired, Max gradually became aware of a tingling in his spine. Once he noticed it, it spread rapidly throughout his body until his fingers trembled and his ears rang with a buzzing noise. A buzzing he had heard somewhere before. His left palm itched crazily. The symbol that marked him as Liz Parker’s forever yearned towards the instrument of their union—towards the very source of the tingling sensation. A verse from the prophecy floated to the forefront of his mind.

Bright the shining
Agent of unity
Part the darkness
From its evil self


Operating on blind faith, Max reached behind his back and drew the dagger. He heard the soft hiss of steel on leather as the sheath relinquished the weapon to his hand. Max didn’t question the fact that he wasn’t left-handed, or that he’d never even played darts, let alone thrown a knife this size.

Nor did Max miss the fear and dawning awareness in Khivar’s gaze when he brought the dagger in front of his body, balanced lightly in his hand. “That’s right,” he confirmed. “This is what she is to me. This is what you’re destroying.

“This is what will destroy you.”

“You can’t,” the Skin rasped.

“Try and stop me,” Max snarled.

Relying on some deeper instinct, one that felt ancient even in the face of the many cycles of his own soul—the same one that had compelled him to join the tangible symbol of his love for Liz with the agent of their unity—Max snapped his wrist back, and let go.

The dagger sliced through the shield Khivar threw up with the screech of shattering crystal, and embedded itself in his chest. The bioengineered husk disintegrated but the dagger hung in the air, shimmering brightly against the amorphous dark shape that remained. Max could feel its hate and rage, the insane fury directed solely at him, and he knew that this was the evil Liz had meant. This was the reason he had stayed, to destroy it utterly, and so he stood his ground. Slowly, the silver glow intensified and spread through the darkness, culminating in a crystalline explosion of light.

Even before his vision cleared, Max knew it was over. The overwhelming sense of malevolence that had emerged when the Nicholas suit turned to dust had been eradicated by the dagger. By Max.

By Liz.

Aching with each step, he shuffled to where the long knife lay sparkling in the captured light. It was clean and unmarked. Max replaced it in its sheath, his skin shying away from the cool steel. He exited the spectacular underground chamber, unmindful of its beauty now, and began the long descent to the caverns’ entrance, wondering dully what he was going to say to the others when they met up at the cars as they had planned.

But first would be an unplanned detour. He had a body to take care of.

Liz’s.
"Fan fiction is a way of the culture repairing the damage done in a system where contemporary myths are owned by corporations instead of owned by the folk."
~Henry Jenkins

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Tasyfa
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Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm
Location: Canada

Chapter 44

Post by Tasyfa » Wed May 21, 2003 8:06 pm

Well, this is supposed to be longer, but I figured the end section would fit just as well as the beginning of the next chapter, so I've come to put y'all out of your misery. :D
hugs, Tas

FROM CHAPTER 43

Operating on blind faith, Max reached behind his back and drew the dagger. He heard the soft hiss of steel on leather as the sheath relinquished the weapon to his hand. Max didn’t question the fact that he wasn’t left-handed, or that he’d never even played darts, let alone thrown a knife this size.

Nor did Max miss the fear and dawning awareness in Khivar’s gaze when he brought the dagger in front of his body, balanced lightly in his hand. “That’s right,” he confirmed. “This is what she is to me. This is what you’re destroying.

“This is what will destroy you.”

“You can’t,” the Skin rasped.

“Try and stop me,” Max snarled.

Relying on some deeper instinct, one that felt ancient even in the face of the many cycles of his own soul—the same one that had compelled him to join the tangible symbol of his love for Liz with the agent of their unity—Max snapped his wrist back, and let go.

The dagger sliced through the shield Khivar threw up with the screech of shattering crystal, and embedded itself in his chest. The bioengineered husk disintegrated but the dagger hung in the air, shimmering brightly against the amorphous dark shape that remained. Max could feel its hate and rage, the insane fury directed solely at him, and he knew that this was the evil Liz had meant. This was the reason he had stayed, to destroy it utterly, and so he stood his ground. Slowly, the silver glow intensified and spread through the darkness, culminating in a crystalline explosion of light.

Even before his vision cleared, Max knew it was over. The overwhelming sense of malevolence that had emerged when the Nicholas suit turned to dust had been eradicated by the dagger. By Max.

By Liz.

Aching with each step, he shuffled to where the long knife lay sparkling in the captured light. It was clean and unmarked. Max replaced it in its sheath, his skin shying away from the cool steel. He exited the spectacular underground chamber, unmindful of its beauty now, and began the long descent to the caverns’ entrance, wondering dully what he was going to say to the others when they met up at the cars as they had planned.

But first would be an unplanned detour. He had a body to take care of.

Liz’s.



*****NEW Chapter 44*****

There wasn’t nearly as much blood as Max had expected. Shouldn’t there have been more blood? Wasn’t that what was supposed to happen when someone died?

Only she wasn’t supposed to have died. None of this should have happened. He shouldn’t be standing in a subterranean tunnel, staring at the beautiful face of the woman he loved—all that was visible of her, left untouched by the heavy falling rock. Her cheeks were still flushed, pink and vibrant looking, and a tiny smile curved her lips.

Max didn’t even know how he’d made it here. He’d simply put one foot in front of the other. The only indication that he’d been moving had been the changing of the earthen walls. He couldn’t feel his body at all. He couldn’t feel anything. He still had a physical heart, or so he assumed since he was upright and walking. His heart must still be pumping blood through his circulatory system, oblivious to the fact that its beating was the only sign of his life. The rest of him…well, it belonged to Liz, no matter where she was now.

He slid down the wall and slumped over, watching her face. The irrational urge swept through him to wave his hand and cleanse her dark hair of the dust streaking it. He ignored it. He needed to move the debris; he would not leave her here. But he couldn’t seem to get back up.

“Why?” Max whispered. “I did what you asked me to. Khivar is dead. He’s gone, but so are you. I can’t feel you anymore. Liz, I don’t know how to go on without you.” His voice broke as the tears came at last, blurring everything but the awakening pain.

“Max?” Such a soft breath, he almost didn’t hear it. His head snapped up and he wiped frantically at his eyes to clear them enough to see.

“Liz?” Did he dare hope?

“Can you get this stuff off me, please?” she smiled. Her eyes were open, and she was smiling at him!

Apathy forgotten, Max jumped to his feet and began heaving the broken rock away from Liz, before she’d even finished her sentence. “How?” he panted between his efforts.

She coughed at the dusty air. “As near as I can tell, it’s because you were willing to give me up. You had to be able to do it. But you didn’t need to actually have it happen.”

He swore. Threw another piece of rock, and swore again, his vocabulary becoming more colorful as he continued to work to free Liz. It became a litany, each exertion punctuated by an expletive.

Liz giggled and then groaned. “Max, stop it, please. It hurts to laugh.”

Max froze. “It hurts?” He’d felt the pain as the collapsing tunnel crushed her small frame. She shouldn’t be able to feel anything. Hell, she shouldn’t be alive but she was, and he would be grateful every day of his life for that miracle.

“Head to toe, yes. Everything hurts.” Her dark eyes blinked wetly. “I think what hurts the most is that I can feel my body now, but nothing else. No one else.”

He sighed. “If it helps any, I’m equally blind.” Of course, he’d been half blind to begin with, but the total lack of Liz’s presence was what had convinced him she was already dead. Abruptly Max knelt beside her, stroking her cheek. The contact soothed them both. “Liz, you’re alive. Nothing else matters. We’ll figure out a way to restore our link and the comm. circle. I’ll do whatever it takes. I can do whatever it takes. I can do anything as long as you’re still with me.”

He wiped away the moisture at the corners of her eyes and pressed a swift kiss to her forehead then got back to work. Soon, all the rubble had been cleared except for one large boulder. The one that covered most of her supine form. Max shivered as he took in the size of it. Resolutely he threw himself into levering it away. But no matter how he strained, the rock wouldn’t budge.

Sweating and shaking, Max halted and leaned against the wall, studying the massive object while his breathing normalized. There didn’t seem to be any distinguishing characteristics on any side of the boulder, implying that it wouldn’t matter which direction he tried to move it from; the result would be the same. But he couldn’t leave Liz alone while he went for help. She was incredibly vulnerable, and without her telepathic abilities, they had no way of knowing if the others had been successful.

His mind ran in circles, getting no closer to a solution. Liz cleared her throat. “Max?”

“Yeah?” he answered distractedly.

“Max, you’re an alien. Use your mind.”

I am, I’m just not getting anywhere, he thought, and then realized what she meant. His powers. He was so wrung out, it hadn’t even occurred to him to try.

Max took a deep breath and gathered his energy. He didn’t have a lot left and he needed to conserve as much as possible for his lifebonded, but he couldn’t help her if he couldn’t free her. Distilling his focus down to the rock barring his way, he began to shift its molecules until it ran like liquid, dripping in a steady stream to reform a few feet away. He couldn’t liquefy the entire mass but he didn’t need to. He only needed to reshape it so that he could move it physically.

Once he’d flattened some parts of the boulder and rounded others, Max manipulated some of the run-off into a crowbar-like shape. He used the bar as a lever to pry the rock up. His body protested at the effort but he kept applying pressure and at last, the stubborn obstacle lifted and rolled away.

A physical shock ran through him as the underside came into sight. Carved into the bottom was a slender groove—one just barely wide and deep enough to accommodate one petite woman. “Liz?” Max tossed the bar aside and dropped to the ground beside her.

“Max.” She lifted her hand and placed it on his knee, hissing in pain with the movement.

His questions could wait. Tenderly he cupped the back of her neck. “Let me take care of you, OK? You’ve been, God, so brave and strong, I can’t even describe it.”

“I love you,” Liz whispered.

“Me, too. Always.” He brushed a kiss across her cheek and sank into a light trance, sending his mind seeking inside her body.

What he found astounded him. All the major repair work had been completed. Her bones and organs: intact. No sign remained of any internal bleeding.

Max looked more closely at her vertebrae, and the rush of anguish that filled him nearly threw him out of the connection. There were chips in the bone. Small fragments that no longer existed, laid out in a pattern that told him her spinal cord had been severed; her chest partially crushed. He didn’t know if he would even have been able to heal injuries that severe.

He pushed it all aside and began the task of restoring Liz to full health, gradually eliminating every non-life-threatening injury that remained, right down to her broken fingernails. When he was finished, he wanted to collapse on the spot and sleep for a week. It didn’t matter that he’d used more energy than he thought he’d even possessed. Liz was whole.

Physically, at least. The place in his mind where she usually resided had remained blank.

“Max.” Her fingers ran through his hair, alerting him to the fact that he was stretched out on the ground beside her with his face in the dirt. He didn’t remember moving. Max lifted his head to be greeted with a shimmering smile.

In the next moment she was in his arms. From somewhere he found the strength to move, to rain kisses on her face and her dusty hair.

To find his body responding to her proximity despite himself—answering the call of life. He groaned. “Liz.”

Tears stood in her huge eyes. “I can’t feel you, Max. There’s this hole where you’re supposed to be—where everyone is supposed to be.”

“We’ll get it back, sweetness. I promise.”

“What if it was the price?”

“Price?” For what? Hadn’t she paid enough?

“For us. For me, being alive. They said it was a gift, but,” Liz began to cry.

Max rocked her gently. “From the granolith? It healed you?”

She nodded. “A p-p-parting gift. I didn’t think I could reach it but I did, and they helped me help you. I was so tired, Max. I was so tired, and I could feel tears on my face but not my body, and then they said that I’d made the right choice. I’d chosen you, and you chose me by not choosing me, and so I had to be free for you but I couldn’t be while I was dying. They did something to the rock, and to me, and suddenly I could feel all the pain but there was nothing in my mind. They’re gone, Max. It’s all gone,” Liz hiccupped through her sobs.

She’s not a priestess anymore. That’s what she was telling him. That’s what she had given up. But why? Why would that be necessary?

“I’m here,” he soothed aloud. “I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere.”

“Don’t leave me,” she pleaded.

“Never.” Never again.

Her mouth sought his with rising desperation. Cloth shifted, freeing bodies for needy exploration Poised above her, about to claim her welcoming heat, Max paused. God, she was beautiful!

“Marry me.”

“What?”

“We’ll go meet up with the others, and then just keep driving, all the way to Vegas. Run away with me, Liz.”

“Oh, Max.” She let out a startled laugh and pulled his head down for a kiss. “Yes…and no.”

“Yes and no. What does that mean?” he asked, bewildered. What had happened to his guarantee?

Liz smiled, tracing his shoulder. “Yes, I’ll marry you, but not in Vegas, and not right now. I do want a wedding day, Max. I want to worry my bridesmaids about what hideous get-up I might make them wear. I want to find a gorgeous gown that makes me feel as beautiful I do when you look at me. I want to fight with you over seating plans and complain about your sister taking over everything.”

They were both laughing now. Max removed the slim gold ring from her right hand. Liz grinned. “And one more thing. I want Michael in a tuxedo, with a decent haircut.” She looked thoughtful. “But he can wear his boots, provided they’re cleaned and polished nicely.”

“Done,” Max promised rashly. He would find a way to make Michael agree. Blackmail, bribery—whatever. He didn’t care, so long as Liz agreed.

“Then yes. Yes, Max.” Liz’s eyes shone up at him when he slipped the emerald ring on her left ring finger, a promise fulfilled, even as his body slipped into hers.

Coming home.

As their pleasure spiraled upwards, Max felt barriers dissolving. Glass shields shattering and merging. Minds opening wider until Liz’s essence flooded in, filling all the empty spaces in his soul.

«Liz» he murmured, knowing it would hurt him less than it would her if they still couldn’t hear each other. Somewhere along the line she’d gone from fearing the changes in her to glorying in them, and in the closeness they brought to her relationships.

Before Liz even replied, Max knew she’d heard him from the joy saturating them both. «Max! You’re inside me»

Well, if that wasn’t a case of stating the obvious…he tried unsuccessfully to stifle a laugh. «I am, yes»

«You know what I meant» With one conveniently placed hand, she pinched his buttock in retribution.

«Liz!» To forestall another assault on his tender anatomy, Max rolled them over. Liz rose above him like a midnight phoenix, her dark hair dancing down the luminescent curve of her torso. He marveled at the smooth flexing of her abdominal muscles and the enticing sway of her hips. Her body held a brand new level of fascination for him because he knew just how miraculous this act of love was.

Max’s wonderment dissolved in a roaring swell of sensation as Liz arched, uttering a soft cry while her inner walls contracted strongly around his cock. Unable to resist her peak, he followed, anchoring himself with his hands on her waist as he shuddered in release.

Liz curled onto his chest with a sigh of contentment. «Everything’s gone back to normal. I can feel them all again»

He smiled that her definition of ‘normal’ included being able to telepathically communicate with half a dozen people. «Better contact Michael then and let him know we’re OK. Mind if I listen in?»

«Of course not» She lifted her head to brush a light kiss across his cheek. «I want to keep you close, anyway. I missed you»

Max stroked her hair, dredging up a minute amount of energy to answer his original urge and remove the grime coating the dark strands. Liz smiled and put her ear back against his heart.

[[Michael?]]

[[Liz! Holy shit, what’s with the radio silence?]]

[[Sorry about that. I was unconscious for a while, but I’m fine now. What about you guys? Did it work?]]

[[Oh, yeah. They never knew what hit ‘em, especially with Tess and Kyle coming in from behind. We dusted the whole bunch, so you shouldn’t have any problems getting out. We got some bumps and bruises. Only major thing was Maria breaking her arm. Turns out Zathnar has some of Max’s abilities. He healed her and fixed up the worst of our assorted cuts, too]]

[[That’s wonderful, Michael]] Intense relief and a touch of pride washed through Max in a double echo. [[We got Khivar, too]]

[[You WHAT?]] Michael’s shock was apparent even secondhand.

[[Max can explain when we get down there. It happened when I was kind of out of it]]

[[Fine]] he replied grumpily. Clearly he wasn’t in the mood to wait and Max had to smile. [[Get your asses in gear then, because I want to hear about this. You sure you’re OK, Liz?]]

[[There’s nothing that a long, hot shower wouldn’t cure, Michael]] she said longingly.

Michael laughed. [[I hear you there. See you soon]]

Max lay quietly holding Liz while she dimmed her link to Michael. He didn’t really feel much like moving. He had no idea what the ramifications were of the granolith releasing Liz from her role as priestess, or how they were going to deal with Zathnar and the others, or Antar in the bigger picture. Right this second, he didn’t care. Liz was alive and had agreed to marry him. Khivar was dead. Everyone else was all right. They had won.

Life was sweet indeed.
"Fan fiction is a way of the culture repairing the damage done in a system where contemporary myths are owned by corporations instead of owned by the folk."
~Henry Jenkins

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Tasyfa
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Chapter 45

Post by Tasyfa » Fri Jun 18, 2004 9:59 pm

Note to follow after. :)
hugs, Tas

Getting up to date: The gang mounted a rescue operation of Zathnar, who is Zan and Lissa's son (Max and Liz's prior Antarian selves). Nicholas, his captor, turned out to be Khivar. Max killed Khivar thinking that Liz was dead, only to find that she was in fact alive.


*****NEW Chapter 45*****

The first thing Max saw was thick, blonde hair. That’s all he was allowed to see because the second he rounded the corner leading to where everyone waited by the cars, Isabel crushed him in a hug.

“Iz, I need my ribs intact, please.” He couldn’t help the laughter when she let go and brushed her hands down her hips, trying to look dignified. Then she spoiled the image by enfolding Liz in just as hard a squeeze.

Max fought the urge to tell his sister that she needed to be careful with Liz. He knew that her injuries had been completely healed, but he still felt the impulse to protect her. She flashed him a smile when Isabel released her, thanking him wordlessly for not jumping in.

Freed from that worry, Max glanced at the rest of the group and frowned when he noticed people missing. “Where’s Tomar? Zathnar and whoever else was with him?”

Michael stepped forward. “I sent them on ahead in Alex’s car. We thought it would be safest for them to get the hell out of here and meet us at the pod chamber, for a few reasons. Not least of which is that we were about to go back in to find you, when Liz finally contacted me.” His friend’s voice was steady, his body language impassive, but when Max met his eyes he saw an echo of fear. He nodded approvingly.

“Good call, Michael. No need for a rescue mission now, thankfully. We’re fine, and there’s no one living left in there.” Max didn’t know how Liz wanted to handle telling the others about what had happened. Or even if she wanted to tell them. So far, she’d only said to Michael that she’d been unconscious.

“Listen Maxwell, there’s something you should know—” Michael stopped in confusion when Max held up his hand.

“They’re all healthy and uninjured, everyone you sent on ahead?”

“Yeah.” Michael drew out the syllable, clearly not comprehending.

“Tomar and Zathnar both have powers, so they’re well protected, right?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Then that’s all I need to know right now, Michael. I trust your judgment.” He smiled as Michael scratched his eyebrow, clearly taken by surprise.

“Okay then. In that case, mind telling us what the hell Liz was talking about when she said you took out Khivar?”

The overwhelming need to sit down had Max searching for a suitable rock before he said anything. He sighed in relief as his severely taxed body relaxed a little, smiling when everyone else clustered around him, looking for their own perches. “It’s pretty simple, really. Remember speculating that someone else might be in the Nicholas suit? Well, we were right, and that’s who it was: Khivar.”

“Did Khivar and the other guy you were following split up? Is that why Liz didn’t see what happened?” Alex inquired eagerly.

Max controlled the immediate wash of pain. «I’m fine» Liz soothed, and he cast her a grateful look. “Yeah,” he answered.

“So what happened to the other guy then?” Kyle wanted to know.

Liz frowned. “I took care of him. What did you think happened?”

“You went alone?” Maria gasped.

Max found six pairs of accusing eyes trained on him. “We couldn’t afford to lose Nicholas, but we also couldn’t have that guy coming back for us. We might not have seen him until it was too late. Liz said she could do it, and she did.” It was beginning to sink in that it truly was over, and he found that pride in his lifebonded swelled higher than fear did now. He smiled at her and touched her arm gently. She squeezed his shoulder in reply, then Max prepared to finish the story.

“Oh my God, Liz! You lost your ring!” Maria interrupted.

“What?” Hurriedly, Liz held up her left hand. “Don’t scare me like that! It’s right here.”

“But that’s on the wrong hand,” Tess commented in confusion.

It hit Isabel first. “You got engaged!”

Suddenly the men were left sitting there while three feminine whirlwinds whisked Liz off to one side, jabbering questions a mile a minute.

“Oh, Evans. What’d you go and do that for?” Kyle groused.

“It seemed like a good idea at the time?” he quipped. He knew his friends understood how deeply he felt for Liz, so he didn’t mind joking about it, but he also knew that they couldn’t possibly comprehend what had prompted him to actually ask her, today.

“Ah, hell, it’s not like we didn’t know it was coming. I want to hear about Khivar, Maxwell.”

Max emitted a brief laugh at Michael’s casual dismissal. “Shouldn’t we wait for the girls?” He looked encouragingly at the others and with varying degrees of grace, they consented and listened to the prevailing conversation for a moment.

“So Liz, do you have any idea what color scheme you’ll want?” Isabel queried.

“I was thinking red and white, actually. I love white roses, and, well, I think that you and Tess both look terrific in red, if you’d be my bridesmaids,” Liz offered a bit shyly.

Kyle winced when Tess squealed in excitement. “Crap. She’s never been to a human wedding before. This is going to make living with her a nightmare!”

“Wait, what about Maria? Won’t she be in red, too?” Tess wanted to know.

“Maria and I made this pact about the maid of honor’s outfit a number of years ago, so…” Liz grinned and raised her hand. Maria slapped her palm in a high five as they chorused, “Black and white, baby!”

“Oh, God,” Michael groaned. “How much do you want to bet this pact happened during one of Maria’s anti-men years, and she’ll wear a damned tuxedo just to be all feminist? I swear, if she and I end up wearing the same fucking thing to your wedding, Max, you are on your own.”

Max smiled “If you take off, Michael, who’s going to stand beside me and take care of the rings?”

His brother shot him a startled look before a pleased expression settled onto his features. “Okay, when you put it that way. I’ll stick around.”

“You two in, for usher duties?” Max asked.

“Escorting women to their seats? Hell yes!” Kyle grinned.

“Even when said women are someone’s grandmother. Count me in.” Deep annoyance flitted across Alex’s face and he looked heavenward. “Correct me if I’m wrong, Max, but Liz likes white roses, yes? As in, plain white. Not hint of pink, or very pale peach, just white.”

“Yeah. Her favorites are the ones that are so pale they’re almost green. Why?”

Alex took a deep breath and stared straight at Max. “Because Isabel isn’t listening to me about Liz’s preferences. Maybe as the groom, your word will carry more weight than mine.”

“Wha—uh.” He abruptly understood. “Um, congratulations?”

Michael started to laugh, surprising the other three men. “Whitman, I sincerely applaud your brass balls. You knew Iz would get like this once Max popped that question, and you gave her access to your head anyway. Bravo, man. I can’t take listening to it, and I can get away!”

Max had to laugh; Kyle had already succumbed. Alex merely smiled. “I can handle one Isabel Evans, no matter how ferociously she plans. I have my ways of dealing with her.” He wiggled his eyebrows lasciviously.

“Oh, that’s my sister you’re talking about! I’m happy for you, really, but I do not want to hear any details. Please!” Max cringed to more laughter.

“Sorry, buddy,” Alex apologized. “I would have said something sooner, if it had affected the comm. circle at all. It didn’t.”

“That’s okay.” Max sobered immediately, feeling a faint pang that even though all four aliens had lifebonded, he remained voiceless in the mental communion of the group. Nonetheless, he smiled at his Antarian-style brother-in-law, and they moved on.

“Evans, they’re not even paying attention to us. It’s all wedding, wedding, wedding.”

Michael nodded. “I vote for details now. Who the hell knows when they’ll be done.”

“I—I don’t know,” Max prevaricated. Truthfully, he wasn’t sure he was ready to talk about it, but it didn’t seem like he was going to get much of a choice as Alex snorted.

“Max. There are four very intelligent people over there, but they’re still women. Whatever happened to you five minutes ago isn’t nearly as important as planning what kinds of torture they can put you through in the future.”

“He’s got a point, Evans.”

“Khivar, Maxwell.”

“Right.” Max nodded in acquiescence, choosing his words. Despite the steady stream of happy excitement from Liz, his stomach clenched as he retraced events in his memory.

“Obviously we didn’t know right away who it was. I only found out when Liz told me she’d taken out the guard and was on her way back to my position. It was like he could track our telepathy somehow, home in on our bond. We opened up enough to talk to each other and Khivar spun around in the tunnel. He looked directly at me. I’d thought from his body language that maybe he was getting a message from his people about your end of the operation, but he must have been focusing in on me and Liz. He knew exactly where I was.”

“Freaky,” Alex pronounced.

“Yeah.”

“How did you know it was Khivar? He still looked like Nicholas, didn’t he?” Michael inquired, furrowing his brow.

“He did, but I just knew. I recognized him.” Max automatically tensed upon seeing that malicious expression again in his mind’s eye. Suddenly he felt a warm stream of comfort and love from Liz, reassuring him and giving her permission to tell the whole tale. His muscles relaxed some.

He turned to Kyle. “Remember when you said that Liz and I had been linked for a lot of life cycles?”

“Yeah, sure. When we taught you how to shield.”

“Right. Khivar—or his essence, rather—has been linked to us, too.”

Three identically stupefied faces looked back at him, and Max sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. “I can’t give you much in the way of details; it’s all instinctive knowledge, and some things that Liz got from the granolith.”

“I thought Liz couldn’t reach the granolith from here,” Michael remarked in confusion.

“She couldn’t, not until she really needed to.”

Kyle stiffened slightly. “What do you mean, she needed to?”

Max stared into space, not meeting any of their inquisitive gazes. He had to say this his own way. “Khivar is—was—very nearly pure evil. I don’t even mean the way that Pierce was evil. He was bad, but comparatively speaking, Pierce’s kind of evil was normal. Khivar was sheer malevolence embodied.” He made a frustrated sound when someone started to interrupt. “I don’t know how to explain it any better than that.

“In previous lives, I was…tested. Khivar and I have been enemies, for I don’t know how long. Just this side of forever? And in almost every life cycle, events have come to a head and we have engaged in combat.”

“Combat? You fought him?” Alex’s eyes widened.

“I’m getting to that.” He let out a brief, mirthless laugh. “The thing is, Liz has always been involved in these battles. On the periphery, anyway. She is my Achilles heel—the biggest point of weakness for me. He knew that to hurt Liz was to cripple me.”

Max glanced at Michael, half-expecting to see censure and a triumphant ‘I told you so’ in his eyes. But his brother returned a look of comprehension and compassion, and Max’s throat tightened sharply.

Nonetheless, Michael did comment. “Liz was hurt, then. She was out of it for a long time.”

Max nodded, pressing on slowly. “That’s the test, you see. The one I always failed, because I could never leave her in pain and finish the task I was supposed to do. And then today, she projected her spirit to me while I faced Khivar, and she told me that I had to let her go. There wasn’t—I knew from how she felt that there wasn’t going to be anything I could do for her, so I did as she asked. I let her go, and when I couldn’t feel her anymore I destroyed Khivar.” His voice hardened to a sharp rasp as he finished speaking, and silence fell heavily among the group of men.

He knuckled his eyeballs in a fierce determination not to cry. He’d done his falling apart already, and Liz was whole now. There was nothing left to mourn.

Alex stepped in with a subdued question. “How bad was she?”

Max exhaled, fisting his hands at his sides. “If not for the granolith, we’d be on an alien hunt right now, and I’d be facing the rest of my life alone.”

“Jesus Christ.” Kyle’s soft exclamation spoke for all of them.

“At that, there was a price. It healed her life-threatening injuries and then severed her connection to itself. She’s not a priestess any longer. And no, I don’t have any idea what that means.” He scrubbed a tired hand across his face. “God, I could use some sleep.”

“You did the rest of the work on her, after duking it out with Khivar?” Michael asked intently. When Max nodded, he continued, “You drained as bad as after Phoenix?”

The pediatric ward. A small smile curved his mouth at the memory. “Pretty much, yeah. Only passed out for about thirty seconds this time, though.” His eyes found his fiancée, still talking weddings with her girlfriends, and his smile grew. “I can draw on Liz’s energy if my powers are truly needed, Michael. That’s one area where the granolith totally finished what it was doing. Parting gift, maybe.”

“As gifts go, it doesn’t suck,” Michael opined.

“Right.”

Kyle sighed, a long, drawn-out sound of exasperation. When the others all turned their attention to him, he pinned Max with a mischievous smirk. “In light of everything, I suppose we can forgive you for making our lives hell for the next, however long your ass is still officially single.”

The tension broke in shared laughter, colored with relief.

“On that note, don’t we have places to go, and people to meet?” Alex quipped.

“Yeah, we do,” Max agreed, smile firmly in place. «Sweetness? Ready to go?»

Warm affection pulsed through their connection. «Yes. Thank you, for telling them. I hadn’t planned on getting sidetracked like this!»

He laughed. «I’ll bet. You’re sure you don’t mind, then?»

«Positive, partner. I only wanted to wait to say anything until after they’d all seen me, you know?»

Max understood completely. «Right, so it’s just a story»

«Exactly» she sent back. «How are we splitting for the drive now? You and Michael still in separate cars, obviously, and then whomever else?»

«Right» He watched admiringly as she walked over to him, accompanied by the other three women.

“All right then guys, let’s head off to the pod chamber and get this done. Michael, you take the Jetta, and we’ll take the Jeep. Might as well stay in the same op teams.”

Michael nodded agreement and he, Maria, Alex and Isabel climbed into the little red car.

Max tossed the keys to Tess. “You drive. I plan to sleep right through this trip!”

Kyle sniffed, bearing a wounded look. “Aw, Evans!”

He laughed. “Deal with it, Valenti.” He only laughed harder as Kyle muttered something about being whipped, which remark earned him a swat from Tess.

Max crawled into the back seat of the Jeep, pulling Liz up after him. Once they were all buckled in and Tess had the vehicle following Michael down the road, he tugged at Liz until she curled up with her head on his chest, smiling.

Everything he’d ever wanted—everything he needed—was right here. In the woman in his arms, and in the persons of his friends and family around him. Max could only pray that when they reached the pod chamber and he met the man who was his son, his life wouldn’t go spinning out of control yet again.







*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Author's Note It's been a loooooong time since I updated, I know! And I'm sorry that my first new chapter out of the gate is transitional kinda stuff, but that's the way the cookie crumbles, I'm afraid. :roll: But there are only a few more chapters to go and I'm rolling now, so let's keep our fingers crossed! :D I think this has been just so hard for me to write b/c I've had these climactic and ending chapters in my head for SO long, and have denied myself the freedom to write them all that time b/c I knew I'd get stuck in the middle if I had the end written. LOL it's a stupid catch 22!!!
love you guys, Tas
"Fan fiction is a way of the culture repairing the damage done in a system where contemporary myths are owned by corporations instead of owned by the folk."
~Henry Jenkins

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Tasyfa
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 155
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm
Location: Canada

Post by Tasyfa » Sun Jul 04, 2004 9:38 pm

Arianne Well, not quite before July, but not long after! July 1st is Canada Day and I spent it very appropriately: watching fireworks and drinking beer. :D

Angel Scary old nun helps, yup. :lol:

icequeen & alexceasar (aka the numb butt squad ;) ) Welcome! Wow, it's exciting that people are still discovering this old thing!

Smooches to everyone. Thanks for your wonderful comments. :flasingsmile:
hugs, Tas

*****from Chapter 45

“All right then guys, let’s head off to the pod chamber and get this done. Michael, you take the Jetta, and we’ll take the Jeep. Might as well stay in the same op teams.”

Michael nodded agreement and he, Maria, Alex and Isabel climbed into the little red car.

Max tossed the keys to Tess. “You drive. I plan to sleep right through this trip!”

Kyle sniffed, bearing a wounded look. “Aw, Evans!”

He laughed. “Deal with it, Valenti.” He only laughed harder as Kyle muttered something about being whipped, which remark earned him a swat from Tess.

Max crawled into the back seat of the Jeep, pulling Liz up after him. Once they were all buckled in and Tess had the vehicle following Michael down the road, he tugged at Liz until she curled up with her head on his chest, smiling.

Everything he’d ever wanted—everything he needed—was right here. In the woman in his arms, and in the persons of his friends and family around him. Max could only pray that when they reached the pod chamber and he met the man who was his son, his life wouldn’t go spinning out of control yet again.



*****NEW CHAPTER 46*****

“Max? Max, we’re here. Time to wake up.”

Liz shook him gently, watching as his eyes fluttered open. She knew the exact second that he came fully awake, because knowledge of where they were and what was waiting for them flooded through him and before Max could control or hide it, so did the overwhelming desire to simply close his eyes again and shut out everything but her.

He blinked, twisting his mouth wryly. “Sorry.”

“No need.” She stroked his jaw and leaned in for a kiss, her lips brushing lightly over his. “I understand.”

Max sighed. “It isn’t Zathnar. It’s that I have the feeling that meeting him, here, has some meaning beyond the obvious. That what happened with Khivar changes things, you know? It’s just…it’s time.”

He didn’t have to explain any further. Liz felt the same prickle of awareness that once Max entered the pod chamber, he would have to commit to a course of action before the granolith would allow him to leave.

She opened their lifebond a little wider, letting her love thrum back and forth between them and entwine with his. Max touched her face in gratitude then gathered his courage and exited the Jeep to lead their group wherever they might have to go.

The two teams reunited at the bottom of the pathway leading to the chamber. As soon as everyone arrived, Alex spoke up.

“Guys, I was thinking about the prophecy on the drive back. I think that Max and Liz covered the middle verses in Carlsbad, just like we thought.” His face scrunching in concentration, Alex recited,

Bright the shining
Agent of unity
Part the darkness
From its evil self

Stand defeated
In the hour of triumph
Revive the heart
With the weeping soul
.”

“Okay, so the darkness/evil self and triumph would be offing Khivar, and Liz almost dying would be the other part,” Kyle nodded thoughtfully.

“Which reminds me, you are both on my shit list for letting Michael tell me about that,” Maria glared at Liz. “And if you hadn’t been asleep you would already have gotten an earful, believe me!” She shifted her glare to Max, who held up his hands with a smile.

“Hey, I started talking. It’s not my fault you were more interested in a piece of jewelry than in listening to the rest of the story.”

She grumbled at his irrefutable logic, still looking annoyed. “I guess you’re off the hook then.”

“Thanks.” Liz smiled at her best friend, swinging around to give an equally grateful look to Tess and Isabel. She knew they would have felt the same, it was only that Maria talked faster.

“The only thing I can’t figure out,” Alex continued as if Maria hadn’t interrupted, “is what the ‘shining agent of unity’ is. I mean, how did you kill Khivar, Max? With your powers?”

The group looked at Max, awaiting his reply. Liz realized that she didn’t even know the answer. Her eyes widened as he unsheathed the dagger from its makeshift perch on his hip and held it up. “I used this.”

Of course!” she breathed. “We must have known, without realizing it. I only knew that you needed to take it—not why.”

Isabel’s mouth hung open. “You stabbed him? Are you insane? He could have swatted you like a fly!”

“Not exactly,” Max admitted. “I threw it.”

“Oh, that’s so much better!”

Kyle groaned. “You threw your only weapon?”

Max sighed and held up his hand. The mutters stopped. “First of all, as Alex pointed out, I do have powers, so this was hardly my only weapon. Secondly, it was almost like the dagger told me what I needed to do. It just happened, as if it were all pre-ordained to fall into place exactly as it did. I wish I could tell you more, but it was pretty much all instinct, and I was…a little distracted.” He glanced at Liz, and it relieved her to see him smile. Unburdening to his friends and getting some rest had started helping him put it into perspective. She herself hadn’t quite begun dealing with the reality of events, particularly where the granolith was concerned. Liz wasn’t sure she was ready yet; she felt its loss keenly, despite having been connected to it for only a few weeks out of her lifetime.

“Well, it kind of was,” Maria commented.

“Was what?” Michael grunted.

“Pre-ordained. Alex just said that what Max did fit the prophecy. What’s a prophecy about if not pre-ordained events?”

“Deductive reasoning from DeLuca. What’s next, the end of the world?” Kyle teased.

“That’s not funny, Kyle,” Tess spoke up. She’d been unusually quiet and as Liz looked at her now, she noticed that a touch of fear haunted her friend’s blue eyes.

“Tess, do you feel it too?” Liz asked. She regarded each group member in turn. “Do all of you feel it?”

Guarded expressions coupled with the vague uneasiness she could sense told her yes, even before they verbally confirmed it. Maybe the reason it had felt so strong to Liz all this time was because she was receiving it from everyone, in addition to her own feelings.

“Do you think we’re in danger, Max?” Kyle grew serious.

He shook his head, absently rubbing the back of his neck. Liz felt a twinge of sympathy for what she knew was the beginning of another tension headache for her lifebonded. “No, there’s no physical danger. Not in the pod chamber, anyway. After that…” he shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe just the King will be enough.”

“It won’t be, Max. You know it won’t,” Tess said. “It’ll have to be all four of us, which means—”

“Which means all eight of us,” Maria concluded firmly.

“You’re all sure?” Max glanced around. “You guys know that if it comes to that and we leave the planet, chances are we won’t ever make it back.”

“We know that, Maxwell. We trust you to make the right decision for everyone,” Michael told him gruffly.

Max nodded, a faint smile lighting his features. Liz could feel both his bashful pride at their faith in him, and the shouldering of full responsibility for everyone. She slipped her hand into the crook of his arm. «Never alone, partner»

He patted her hand, his smile brightening. «No, not with you in my life» Aloud, he spoke to the group. “Let’s go up, then, and see where today leads us.”

Calling out to Tomar upon entering the pod chamber, the group discovered that he and the others had moved into the inner granolith chamber. Liz hung back while the rest crawled through the pods, unaccountably nervous now that the moment was at hand. Finally she followed, stepping into the dimly lit room dominated by the massive black cone.

Her nerves fled when she saw him, and her heart took over. Liz flew across the room to throw her arms around Zathnar’s neck.

“You’re here! You’re really alive,” she murmured in wonder.

He chuckled, and it was a warm sound. “You must be Lissa.”

Flushing, she drew back. Of course, he doesn’t even know me. And I don’t exactly know him, either. “Liz, yes. I didn’t mean to—to be so familiar. I’m sorry if it made you uncomfortable.”

Zathnar shook his head. “No, dear lady. It settled one haunting question about my mother’s feelings about giving me up.” He met her gaze frankly and Liz understood. Tears prickled her throat.

“Never doubt that she loved you.”

His smile bloomed over his face in a network of lines grooved into his skin, crinkling the corners of his eyes as they, too, smiled at her. Looking up at this unknown man, really seeing him for the first time, those eyes were strangely familiar.

“You look…” she trailed off, uncertain how to phrase it.

His gaze flickered to the man standing not far behind her, the one whose wordless support bolstered her. “Like Max Evans. Yes, I know. Ever the scientist, my mother did some in-utero genetic tampering during the spaceflight. One thing she did was to fix my base form with some of Max’s donor’s DNA.”

“You’re a shapeshifter? Never mind, of course you are. You’re a full Antarian, what else would you be?” Liz’s face heated at the inane babble she couldn’t seem to stop spewing.

“Not completely. Like I said, I do have some human DNA mixed in. Chiefly for the purpose of assisting me in adapting to Earth’s environment and the ability to enjoy close to full use of certain senses.”

An answering smile graced her mouth. “I bet you like Tabasco sauce on everything, too.”

Zathnar laughed. “I confess to a weakness for the spicy, yes. My adopted mother used to preserve chilies in honey for me as a child.”

Liz’s expression turned wistful at mention of his childhood. He saw it and touched her arm comfortingly. She wanted to weep and laugh simultaneously that it was a gesture Max would have made in this same, impossible situation. He looked so much like Max. Older, obviously, but the main difference she could see was that Zathnar’s coloration was darker. True black hair, so midnight-dark it shimmered with a hint of violet in the granolith’s light; deep bronze skin that shaded towards russet. She noted that he wore his hair long—much longer than Future Max had, even, with most of it caught in a loose braid that tumbled down his back. Recognition teased the edges of her mind then retreated at the sound of a woman’s voice.

“Zane?”

“It’s all right, you can come out now,” he called back. Zane. Another variation of Z’Antar, Liz thought bemusedly. Was it a nickname, or a humanization of a name that would cause raised eyebrows on Earth? The way that many European immigrants had shortened their surnames when they arrived in North America?

Liz blinked in shock as one of the panels in the walls of the granolith chamber slid smoothly open to reveal a slender female figure, carrying something in her arms. Not even during her time as a priestess had she known that there was anything concealed beyond the chamber walls.

The mystery woman paced forward to stand at Zathnar’s—no, Zane’s—side. He placed an arm around her shoulders in affection and possession, smiling at her lovingly. Liz’s jaw dropped as she recognized that what Zane’s significant other held was a small infant. She felt Max’s identical shock through their lifebond; this was what the others had wanted to tell them about.

“Liz, this is my wife, Serena, and our son, Maxwell,” Zane said with gentle pride.

“Serena?” she whispered, lightheaded. The couple smiled at her as the baby gurgled, and suddenly they all blurred and faded as Liz blacked out.
"Fan fiction is a way of the culture repairing the damage done in a system where contemporary myths are owned by corporations instead of owned by the folk."
~Henry Jenkins

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Tasyfa
Addicted Roswellian
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Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 4:58 pm
Location: Canada

Chapter 47

Post by Tasyfa » Sat Jul 17, 2004 10:03 pm

You know what's funny is that I didn't think that was such a terrible cliffhanger, but apparently I was wrong. :lol: I guess after the one where Liz died, they don't seem too bad anymore. ;)

Thanks for all the wonderful comments, guys. Much appreciated!
hugs, Tas

FROM Chapter 46

The mystery woman paced forward to stand at Zathnar’s—no, Zane’s—side. He placed an arm around her shoulders in affection and possession, smiling at her lovingly. Liz’s jaw dropped as she recognized that what Zane’s significant other held was a small infant. She felt Max’s identical shock through their lifebond; this was what the others had wanted to tell them about.

“Liz, this is my wife, Serena, and our son, Maxwell,” Zane said with gentle pride.

“Serena?” she whispered, lightheaded. The couple smiled at her as the baby gurgled, and suddenly they all blurred and faded as Liz blacked out.



*****NEW Chapter 47*****

“Is she all right?”

Max glanced up at Zane, finding the older man’s appearance only slightly less unnerving as time passed. He offered a brief smile. “Yes, she’s fine. She’s had kind of a stressful day.” Understatement there, but he didn’t think Liz would appreciate it if he elaborated further. Max was thankful that he’d been close enough to catch his lifebonded and ease her gently to the cave floor.

Having satisfied himself that Liz had simply fainted, he covered her more securely with the blanket from the pod chamber and stood up. She would regain consciousness naturally soon; Max had no plans to rush that.

Evidently his own lack of concern reassured the group, too, because Kyle snickered, “Guess she’s not up for being Grandma.” He subsided at Max’s glare and the rest of the group moved to the far end of the chamber to give the odd little family some privacy.

Zane’s eerily familiar gaze widened in surprise. “She didn’t know yet?”

Max shook his head and sighed. Perhaps they had been shortsighted in wanting to defer the information overload, but it hardly mattered now. “No, I deliberately requested that Liz and I discover who the others with you were, by ourselves. So much had already happened, and she was nervous about meeting you…” He shrugged, trying to seem nonchalant. “She’ll wake up in a few minutes. No harm done.”

A little smile played around Serena’s lips, as if she knew more than Max was letting on. He studied her for a moment and it dawned on him finally what it meant that her coloring matched Zane’s: long, black hair worn in a single braid, framing chestnut skin. “Um, I apologize if this sounds incredibly ignorant, but I wasn’t expecting you to be Native American,” he addressed Zane.

“What were you expecting?” he asked, genuinely curious.

“If it was planned for you to stay in New Mexico, I suppose Hispanic would be the most logical. You’d blend better,” Max answered thoughtfully. “I don’t know where the four of us were originally supposed to land.”

“Perhaps that wasn’t the idea. Something that marks you as obviously different yet still wholly human can often defer suspicion better than less than perfect blending. Hiding in plain sight, as it were.”

“True,” Max conceded. He shifted uncomfortably. This wasn’t as easy for him as it had been for Liz. His few memories of his life as Z’Antar—even the dream he’d had, when they’d realized Liz’s former presence on Antar—said nothing about being a father. Zan had known Lissa was with child, and then he’d died.

And how were you supposed to be a father to a man who was older than your own adopted parents, anyway?

His gaze flickered to the bundle in Serena’s arms. “Were you a baby? I’m guessing that podding is an unusual method, even given a different sapient species and all.”

Zane laughed. “Yes. When I was born I looked pretty much the same as Maxwell or any other human newborn. My parents have a few photos, somewhere.”

“And you knew about me? About all of the rest of us?” He couldn’t ask the question he really wanted an answer to. It seemed the absolute height of conceit to think it would be so, yet at the same time, it was the salient possibility.

“I grew up knowing that you existed, yes. It wasn’t until much later than I learned you had hatched and survived.” An undercurrent of tension shaded his voice, which automatically put Max on the defensive although he couldn’t say why. Refusing to rise to the unconscious bait, his eyes drifted to the baby again, and this time Serena spoke.

“We learned that long enough ago to be able to name our son after you, Max. Would you like to hold him?”

“Oh, I don’t know if that’s such a good idea,” he prevaricated, even as he flushed with pleasure. His mind shied away from calling the baby his grandson, but it felt unbelievably amazing to know that these people had thought enough of him, of their connection to him, to want to pass on his name.

“Nonsense,” Serena grinned. “Just make sure you support his neck, okay?”

She deposited the infant in his arms, carefully arranging his head in the crook of Max’s elbow. When she was satisfied, she patted Max’s cheek. “I’ll tend to Liz while you two get acquainted.”

“Thank you.” He glanced over his shoulder as she knelt beside Liz then returned his attention to his namesake.

“He’s something else, isn’t he?” Zane’s statement held deep pride.

“Yeah, he’s beautiful,” Max agreed. He stroked the baby’s chubby cheek, marveling at its softness. It surprised him less than he might have expected when he noticed wide hazel eyes staring up at him with familiar flecks of green and gold. He could be mine, he thought to himself, and with that realization came a surge of longing so intense that his knees trembled and his chest tightened. He looked up at Zane, blind with wonder.

“How were you able to wait so long?”

Dark emotion flashed across the older man’s face, too quickly for identification. He shrugged. It wasn’t the easy lifting and lowering of the shoulders that typified the gesture, but a movement fraught with unspoken pain, and something more. “We didn’t think it would be wise, for a long time. It was too uncertain. Seri’s young yet, only thirty-five to my fifty-three, so we kept putting it off. Then…well, things changed.”

The tension reappeared as Zane continued talking. With acute shock, Max finally recognized it as resentment—directed at him. It made no sense whatsoever, but he was completely positive that that was how Zane felt. He didn’t understand, but he wasn’t sure that he needed to; he had only to identify and acknowledge it as valid.

Max played with the baby’s hair while he sought for the words to express himself. He found it soothing. It also entertained him because Maxwell’s downy head had a swath of full, black hair down the center that looked for all the world like a too-wide, too-soft mohawk that ended in a large curl over his forehead. The rest was dark peach fuzz. Overall, the effect reminded Max of John Travolta’s 1950s-style look in Grease, one of Isabel’s favorite movies.

“Oh my God, Max.”

“What?” He swung around to see Liz on her feet, right behind him. He’d been so absorbed that he hadn’t noticed she’d awoken.

Liz spared a smile for Zane, who returned it, then rubbed Max’s arm. “Run your hand over Maxwell’s forehead, slowly.”

Baffled, he did as she requested and then froze with his palm centered over that large curl. There, glowing faintly on the baby’s skin, was the crooked V formation of the Royal Seal.

“Holy cow,” he breathed. “I didn’t see that before.”

Of course not. You were too engrossed in playing with his hair,” Liz commented with a knowing smile. Max felt his ears burn red, a condition that only worsened when he glanced at Zane to find the older man’s lips twitching in amusement.

“Do you have it, too?”

Of course,” Zane replied shortly, his mouth firming. “I am the first-born son of the King.”

That hit Max in the gut. Reluctantly he transferred Maxwell back into Serena’s arms, then stared directly at Zane. “Look, I’m sorry for…I don’t even know what exactly, but I feel like I should apologize. You obviously have some issues with me, or at the very least with who I used to be, and I’d like it very much if we could just get it all out in the open so we can deal with it.” Blunter than he’d wanted, but maybe that was for the best.

“You do, do you? I’m basically three times your age, Max. The fact that you contributed DNA doesn’t mean you get to tell me what to do, nor does that invisible crown,” he snapped.

Serena laid a hand on her husband’s arm. “Except Max isn’t the one currently acting like a teenager, dear. Don’t go making assumptions that may not have any basis in fact.”

Zane sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. “That wasn’t called for. It’s just been a long day.”

“No kidding,” Max snorted. He echoed the older man’s sigh but summoned a smile for Liz when she tucked her hand around his elbow and nodded at Serena.

“That’s why you did it, Max. So that babies like Maxwell could grow up not knowing ultimate evil,” Liz remarked seriously.

“I know, sweetness.” He pressed a kiss to her dark hair, uncaring of their audience. It had been a long day, and far too much had happened. “Though it’s going to take time to adjust to the knowledge that I can kill, even something as foul as Khivar.”

“Wait, Khivar? You took out Khivar? What about Nicholas?” Zane queried intently, his stance losing its weariness.

Liz answered for both of them. “Tess killed Nicholas last fall, when he came after us in Roswell. His new husk apparently got spared when we destroyed the Harvest, but it was Khivar inhabiting it, not Nicholas.”

Serena was nodding. “So while the others were getting us out, you two went after Khivar.”

“Right,” Max confirmed.

“Excuse me.” They all looked over at Tomar as he joined them. “I am sorry for intruding. The chamber is not large enough for true privacy, and I could not help but to hear what you have said. Khivar has been killed?”

“Yes.” Max’s gut twisted with that one syllable, and how it changed Tomar’s face.

“Then we no longer have the luxury of time, your Highness. We must take the advantage given to us by your actions and return to Antar, immediately.”

The others fell in around Max and Liz as Tomar spoke. None of them had anything left to say; they had already given their support to Max. He knew they were all prepared to follow him to another world—another galaxy. The only problem was, Max didn’t want to go.

«This is the change we felt, Max. The throne is unoccupied, and Khivar died alone. It will be some time before news of his death reaches anyone on Antar, and if we can get there before that, we can reverse the coup—possibly bloodlessly»

«I know» he answered heavily. «I know, and I’ll do it, but—»

«I love you» Liz’s warmth flooded through him. «We’ll set things right, and then we’ll come back. We can do this if we’re together»

«Partners» he sent back; all he needed to say to her. Merely feeling her love and support had him on firmer ground.

“I understand, Tomar. How exactly do we go about getting to Antar?”

The small man turned to Liz, his black eyes grave yet snapping with excitement. He, after all, was going home. “Holiness, you—”

He fell silent as Liz shook her head. “No, Tomar. My link to the granolith was a casualty along with Khivar. I can’t commune with it anymore.”

Max felt her grief at the loss, and its texture told him that she’d shunted it to a corner of her mind for the moment in order to deal with the rest being thrown at them. All he could do was let her know that when she was ready, he would be there. Her gratitude hummed along his skin in answer.

Tomar grew visibly agitated. “It is imperative to have a priestess to instruct the granolith. Without one, we cannot leave, and we must!”

Max noticed the long look that Zane and Serena shared. Zane took their son in his arms, and his slender wife stepped forward, her head high.

“I will instruct the granolith, Tomar. I have been an acolyte and priestess since I was fifteen years old, in preparation for this very moment.”
Last edited by Tasyfa on Sat Jul 17, 2004 11:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Fan fiction is a way of the culture repairing the damage done in a system where contemporary myths are owned by corporations instead of owned by the folk."
~Henry Jenkins

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