The Roswellian Codex. CC Teen/Mature. 42nd bit (05/06/

Finished Canon/Conventional Couple Fics. These stories pick up from events in the show. All complete stories from the main Canon/CC board will eventually be moved here.

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Post by Patroclus76 » Fri Mar 31, 2006 11:48 am

Excerpts of a conversation recorded by the President over a secure link between herself and Michael Guerin. June 3rd, 2055. New York City.
Conversation 15 minutes and 23 seconds.

MG: it was really funny, god you should have seen her face, a total surprise! (noises off link) its Alex, yeah –President Alex! Hey Maria says hi

P: I am sorry I missed it Michael, I was just completely up to my neck in stuff, but Julian told me all about it

MG: Hey no problem, we didn’t want Presidents at our anniversary anyway, it puts up the cost! It was great to see Jules, he looked really great, and well – pause – well

P: Like Max?

MG: Yeah, I guess, he looked so much like Max, it was unreal. I wasn’t really prepared for that. (laughing) He even sounded like him!

P: Michael, listen, I am calling you from a secure line because I need you and Maria to come for dinner

MG: Wow, you need a secure line for that! Sure, when?

P: Well I was thinking as soon as possible, like tomorrow?’

MG: Holy crap, I am not sure we can make it – we have the grand children around - is everything ok?

P: No, no not really. Listen, I need you and Maria to come to see me tomorrow, I need it to look like it’s a normal event. It’s the last instalment of the codex so it can look like we’re celebrating its success or something. It is very important that you attract no attention.

MG: Alex, what the fuck is going on? (noise in background) Is this about Max?

P: No, no, no Michael, it isn’t. Well not immediately –

MG: Because if it is about Max I’m over there now Alex, this minute,

P: Michael, I am sorry – its complex – Julian thinks – look, (pause) Michael, come tomorrow. I have asked Isobel and Kyle, I can’t get hold of Liz

MG: It is about Max, isn’t it – hey Maria – get off the link, (line break-up) Maria! Sorry, Alex? Kyle is in Tibet or somewhere

P: I’ve got hold of him, I am bringing him out on a special flight tonight

MG: A special flight? Can you tell me anything? Maria is going to give the third degree, Alex, and if you’ve found something, you have to tell me, you’re a friend of the family, you owe us -

P: (interrupts) I haven’t found Max, really! But I have something that might explain what happened to him. Listen I have to go to a meeting with the European Federation in a minute, but before I do I need to ask you something now, because I have to message Julian on Antar immediately who is trying to see S’eeth Sia Ova in secret

MG: What the fuck! (pause) Yeah sure

P: Michael this will sound bizarre –

MG: Alex just ask me the goddamn question!

P: When Grey died, you were with him, and so was Max and S’eeth Sia Ova, is that correct?

MG: Yeah, in his study. He’s had his bed brought down there to die, he liked the view. Is this about the codex?

P: Is it true he asked to see a painting?

MG: Yeah – he wanted to see a painting, I can’t remember off hand, it will be in his journals

P: He can’t have kept his journal entries going in such a state, not towards the very end?

MG: S’eeth Sia Ova wrote the last entries for him, Grey dictated them to her, or sometimes to Max. Grey asked to see a painting from a room up in the house.

P: Michael do you know why he wanted to see it. What was the painting of?

MG: Alex it was like over forty years ago! (pause). I mean, I didn’t see it, Max and S’eeth went to fetch it, I stayed with him. He wanted to see if it had changed

P: Changed?

MG: I think so, yeah I am sure. Something about he wanted to see if it had changed, it was a sign of something, a signal.

P: Michael did he say anything else about the nature of the change? What it meant to him? Try and think!

MG: Alex, he was a sick man in great pain, he was hallucinating! It probably meant nothing! He kept confusing Max with Julian, he kept thinking Max was a small boy (voice breaks) shit is was so long ago, and it was so terrible to see him, I loved that guy so much. He’d been like a father to us, and he just wouldn’t have any treatment -

P: Michael, I am sorry to ask this, I know how painful this is – but Grey loved you all, you were incredibly important to him, and so was Max, especially Max,

MG: (quietly) I know that – what is all this about?

P: The painting was clearly important to him, I don’t believe he was hallucinating, I think he was acting perfectly rationally. I think he was trying to warn Max about something – I don’t know – did he ever see the painting? Did you?

MG: No, I don’t think they got far from the room before he left us. Alex I can’t honestly remember, it was a really hard time. (pause) I don’t think so, I think he died before they got anywhere near and they came running back. S’eeth sensed Grey was close to the waters, he turned back.

P: Ok Michael, I am sorry I have to ask, really, but this is very useful and immensely important. Listen there is one other thing

MG: Sure

P: Was S’eeth alone with Grey for any length of time in the last few days? Did you see S’eeth give anything to Grey before he died? Anything?

MG: (pause) No. No, we were always with Grey in pairs, and he liked being with Max and S'eeth, it reminded him of the old days on Antarwhen they had spent time with Gabriel. He gave S’eeth nothing that I saw

P: Are you quite sure about that?

MG: Yeah, quite sure, but S’eeth asked for something back, something she had given Grey for safekeeping.

P: (silence)

MG: Alex?

P: Ok, ok Michael, that’s enough – that’s really helpful, tell me more in person. Look get over here tomorrow, and bring the entire codex with you, including all the edited parts – all of the entries until his death?

MG: I can’t Alex, I don’t have them. Julian asked for them as well earlier, at our anniversary, I don’t have them.

P: Who does?

: Henry Maitland, they were given over to the Attorney Generals office following the Court Case

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Post by Patroclus76 » Sat Apr 01, 2006 3:54 pm

April 17th, 2006.

I awoke this morning to the habitual pile of mail, lists of proposed interviews and meetings, and several pressing organisational matters about the house. I had sat up in bed, bewildered, requiring at least half an hour of silence and powerful coffee before I could face any of them. The only exceptions are Liz, who brings Julian the Younger in to look at me and to talk about S’eeth Om, Max, who wonders about in his pyjamas a great deal now and worries about Antar, (does he sleep at all?) and Kyle, who wants to ask me questions about Antarian spirituality (or lack of it). I detect that Kyle is S’eeth Sia Ova’s latest project. Michael’s latest scheme is to write his autobiography. Maria seems relaxed since she believes he will tire of it once he gets down to actually producing something. Until this happens it has kept him quiet. Isobel seems unhappy. This morning I realised that I had not left the Bone Hill House estate since my visit to The Companion Bookshop in Wenatchee. That was in another time, another world, BR, Before Roswell, (or is that BM, Before Max?). The Parkers and Philip Evans are leaving today. I like the Parkers, especially Nancy, a brave determined woman, handsome with an intelligent, quick look about her. Diane Evans is a little vacuous at times, and her husband I find odd, cold even, or is he just overwhelmed? (or am I just jealous, petulant that there are others older than Max who have known him longer and are slightly deeper in the mystery than I!). Since speaking with S’eeth Sia Ova I struggle against this possessive protectiveness. Isobel and her mother had a curious, animated but slightly indirect row by the swimming pool. I could not help overhearing since I was in the lab trying to go through the information and data that S’eeth Sia Ove had given me the other day. The row was about Jessie.

Four paragraphs sequestered under article 15/7.

Since the night of the Antarian ships and the sleepover in the basement – dubbed by Michael `The Battle for Bone Hill’ – the vessels have remained in their impressive wide sweep about the house. Endless small planes and helicopters had ferried sightseers to have a glimpse, but at lunchtime several of them suddenly broke formation and drifted upwards slowly like great airships. It was an impressive, inspiring sight. As if on queue, S’eeth Sia Ova cascaded down in front of me, narrowly missing a chair arm (I presume they cannot materialise in things, a violation of the first law of thermodynamics?). She informed me that the fleet was dispersing and that most were returning to Antar. Several members of the S’eeth had been allocated the job of becoming permanently liased to the UN and the American government, but there was already some squabbling with the Europeans and India (?!) over equal access to the Antarians. S’eeth Om would hatch* around the 22nd, but it might be earlier, and then almost immediately we were to leave for Antar with a large gaggle of scientists and politicians (as well as, no doubt, a few spies). `S’eeth Om will then return to Earth with you and Max’ said the emissary, as if sensing my doubts, my anxieties for Liz. `There are pressing matters on Antar, and we need to bring out representatives of the Shalloth and other races, with all the difficulties that may entail. Like Earth, we have our own jealousies’.

We had looked at each other – complicit now, as in a sense we had always been – and not for the first time did I find S’eeth curiously human. Did it come from long years (centuries?) of observing our culture? For a race that had shown the contempt of a superior race, exemplified through the habit of casual abduction, she showed great respect and interest in Earth. We had walked back to the library in silence, (did S’eeth read my thoughts constantly? Could the S’eeth monitor more than one person in such a way?). The weather had turned warm and slightly thunderous, inside the dark interiors of the House were cool, chill even, but pleasant. As I had turned to say goodbye, S’eeth had looked up about her and asked `am I right in thinking that a majority of your art work came with the house when you bought it in 2003?’ It was a sudden, rather pedestrian thing to ask. I had said yes. `None of the works here are valuable, they are all reproductions, some of them good, but nothing original’
`But you keep them?’ Nothing with S’eeth was irrelevant, yet she never did or said anything more than was strictly necessary for her purpose. She was an exemplary scientist, and as such she had a remarkable economy of scale. I had found myself suddenly attentive, yet irritated by her interest.
`Well’ I had blustered, `I mean there are so many. When I arrived I had started a catalogue but I gave up, or rather I was distracted by the arrival of my young friends!’

`You have many that I like. On Antar we had little tradition of representational art like this, I like the way they convey meanings, how they play on established imagery’ she said to my surprise. I thought of her curious, often nocturnal wanderings about the place – had she really been looking at paintings! `Someone unaccustomed to this form of representation could miss a great deal, a message intended but unobserved' I looked at her bewildered. Ignoring me, she pressed on `this one in particular is –‘ there was a pause `beautiful’. It was the first time I had heard an Antarian use that word. I looked up curiously. A large canvas, showing what looked to be a European soldier arresting a man, dominated the lobby outside the library. It was for the most part dark, but the composition was dynamic, the face of the prisoner highlighted by someone holding a lantern, caught in the moment of surprise. I had looked at this on and off over the few years I had lived here, but I have rarely noticed it, and I had noticed it less since my wife died. As I looked carefully I saw that behind the soldier, someone was leaning forward to kiss the prisoner. A chill ran through me. `Caravaggio’ I had said.
`The Taking of Christ’ S’eeth Sia Ova said simply.
`Very clever! Is this a lesson in betrayal or forgiveness? ‘ I had been stung to anger, and S’eeth had stood away as if such human traits were still something she did not – could not – anticipate. `It is a depiction of both, Grey. We must be vigilant, and we must trust to each other and what we have agreed’.
`Do you have any religion on Antar?’ I had asked, in part an attempt to mask my temper, in part my own surprise at how easily I had been provoked. Perhaps I though she was playing on my complex, symbolic obsession on Max and Christ, an image that despite my professed secularism, had struck me from the time I had confessed to him about Boston and which haunted me still.
`No, there are no doctrinal faiths, some worship Zan, some worship Rath, some will no doubt worship Max on his visit and some S’eeth Om, but we have exhausted our spirituality in keeping alive. For a race that cannot breed and lives for millennia there is little room for god – it is to humans that we look for renewal. The shalloth are divided, but for the most part have no eschatological foundations left, no forgiveness.’
`And betrayal?’ S’eeth did not answer. It was a childish, ungenerous remark, for which I had apologised.

April 20th 2006.

I spent most of the day with Maria Isobel, and Liz, sitting in a secluded part of the gardens planning Maria’s wedding. Julian was being overly mothered by all three women, and hopelessly pandered by me. What a beautiful, self-contained child he is! I sat listening dreamily to distant recollections of Isobel’s marriage and the critical role that Maria and Liz had played in it. Michael was off being interviewed, Max was with S’eeth Sia Ova and Kyle trying to teach S’eeth a card game. Max was light hearted, and when he laughed Liz would look at me with one of her crafted, elegant frowns. `He’s in an awfully good mood today!’ I had shrugged and looked across at him. They were near the pool. From the disposition of S’eeth Sia Ova’s body language (Antarians squat, they do not sit) I formed the opinion that there was little water on Antar and that S’eeth took a dim view of being in such close proximity to it.

Suddenly three S’eeth appeared in curious grey blue livery and I had sat up, attentive. `Oh yes’ I had said, to myself, but Liz had heard. In a few minutes it had become clear that S’eeth Om was about to be re-born. Max stood up, the cards falling out of his hand, and Maria and the others had fallen silent. Kyle walked over `it is time, we all have to go, apparently’ We had stood up, Liz was holding Julian who was soon asleep. Max came towards her, running his arm around her waist and pulling her gently towards him. There had been just the slightest sense of anxiety. `Should we change or something?’ asked Isobel. The weather was warm, even hot, and most of my friends were in T-shirts or vests. `There is not time’ announced S’eeth from some way away, well beyond earshot. Michael appeared, he had run through the House from the Terrace. We drew together, like a shoal forms on the approach of something unknown, something potentially dangerous. Until this moment none of us had ever travelled a la Antar, we had used small automatic shuttles, with no visible signs of propulsion. On this occasion, just as I was about to call for Wilcox, everything in my immediate field of vision twisted and blurred and the next moment I was standing with the others in the great nebulous interior of the flagship.

The ambient light was all around us, evenly dispersed, as if we were in a fog. The effect was rather claustrophobic at first, and everyone looked discoloured, vivid, as if under uv light. There had been a general gasp as we had materialised. Liz was still holding Julian, who was still asleep. S’eeth, anticipating a mild rebuke from Max, had apologised. Her voice had been flat, almost two dimensional, as if she had been speaking in a vast space. I was then aware of the maturation chamber, the grey white pod where Max had gently placed Julian’s brother eight days ago. Maria had sough out Michael and was holding him, not quite averting her face, but clearly worried. I wondered what memories this brought back for Michael and Isobel, would they like Max, find themselves suddenly overwhelmed? The pod had darkened. It seemed to be free standing, without anything around it or under it. The surface was hard, and covered in a sort of dried ectoplasm, probably a form of protein. `Can we touch it?’ Michael asked, his voice falling away.

`Only Max’ said S’eeth in our heads. At that moment the surface of the pod shook and cracked. Max moved forward, and placed his hand over it. He seemed to draw into himself, to transform in front of us all, and as he did so, a soft blue light spread from his palm. Unseen for days, the Antarian Royal seal spread out from the back of his head, but this time quietly, almost dimmed. The pod shook again, the crack sharpened and the edges of the fissure started to liquidise. The entire egg seemed to roll forward, as if whoever was in it was trying to stand. Max’s seemed to be concentrating hard; his eyes open but far away, his face ghostly in the light, his hair startlingly black. Suddenly a hand, a grey-blue hand, human, palm out, broke out and gently felt for Max’s hand.

We had stepped back, surprised. The palms had touched, rested together, and then S’eeth Oms fingers had laced into his father’s, an intimate possessive gesture and more of the surface broke away like melting ice. Max seemed to take on the weight of the Antarian, because he gasped slightly, and adjusted his footing. He backed away, and suddenly an arm and a shoulder appeared, at which the entire top part of the pod caved in. What we saw took our breath away. S’eeth Om – Gabriel – had been born on April 12th. Eight days ago. In the maturation chamber his growth has been phenomenal. He stood before us as a human adolescent, possible between 16-18 years old, just shorter than Max. The exoskeletal structures across the shoulders, upper back and spine had hardened now and formed a sort of protective cover not unlike the plates of Greek body armour. His physicality was extraordinary, the musculature defined and separated, and so exaggerated by the viscous fluid left by the pod, that he appeared to have no skin.** The cuticle like structures tapered out over each side of the top deltoid , while the face was that of a human youth except that the cheek bones and forehead seemed overlaid by a hard substance, almost like scales. The result was to give Om a slightly Native American look, disturbed only by the green-grey eyes and white short hair showing evenly through the scalp. We unashamedly stared in amazement.

Max and S’eeth Om looked at each other. They looked long and hard as if for an age, as if searching for recognition, something that would make them remember, Max;s dark tawny eyes locked onto his son’s. Around them, we struggled to try and conceptualise, to even imagine, what process, what mysteries, had brought Om forth so dramaticallt**. Liz, holding Julian, looked at her son in frank incredulity. Then slowly, Max turned to us, still holding his hand, and introduced us each simply with out name. As he did so millions upon millions of questions exploded inside my head. Could S’eeth Om speak? Had his brain matured at the same speed as his body? (if so, how?) Is this how the Antarians had once looked, beautiful bejewelled beings that seemed the stuff of myth? If so how and in what awful way had they been reduced to the blasted grey remains of S’eeth Sia Ova and over what period? For the first time I think I fully appreciated what the S’eeth had lost and why they had for so long sought to find themselves again

There was the outstanding issue of the tail, which I am afraid to say in my scientific curiosity I could not help looking for. S’eeth Sia Ova had discreetly wrapped a gown around S’eeth Om’s waist to hide his genitals, but the tail, tapering away from the base of the spine, curved out onto the translucent floor of the ship from behind. I moved my head discreetly to catch a glimpse of it only to find that Maria and Isobel had beaten me to it. It was a curious evolutionary glitch surely, since the Antarians were a bipedal species what could it be used for – it was hardly an issue of balance? It was nonetheless an impressive sight, clearly mobile. As each of my friends had said their name S’eeth Om had looked intently at them, over their faces, at their clothes, while with Isobel he had touched her hair with his free hand. Kyle had looked the likeliest of us to faint when so scrutinised. I had nodded and Om had touched my face, surprised by the texture of my skin, no doubt aware that I was the oldest of them. Finally, Max lifted Julian from Liz’s arms and had passed him for S’eeth Om to see. The Antarian had frowned, a dramatic expression suddenly, and I had noticed what I thought was a slight change in the colour of the skin – possibly an electro-chemical reaction caused by fear. Max persisted; Om seemed to relax and, copying Max’s hold, collected the baby in his arms. Julian stirred and looked up at his brother. It was the most extraordinary thing I had ever seen. And then, quite unexpectedly, and to our obvious surprise Om said simply `How small he is!’
* The Antarian word for hatch is literally to be re-born - malaquev - Antarians have three distinct rebirths - from the womb to the pob,they remain male for about 40 years, then the tails shed and they are cacooned to become female, and then they can return to being male, although until OM none of these had been witnessed in living memory.
**Antarian growth is complex. Om did not grow at all for the next 12 years, allowing Julian to almost vcatch up with him!!
***In some senses Om had no skin, although it hardened rapidly. I regret very much not having taken my digital camera with me but it would have looked insensitive
Last edited by Patroclus76 on Mon Apr 03, 2006 5:41 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Patroclus76 » Sun Apr 02, 2006 3:31 pm

April 20thth (continued)

More questions, more huge, infinite vistas opened in my mind as Om spoke. How was this possible? He spoke almost like Max, almost with the same intonation. I was not the only one to be surprised by the words or accent. Max too looked speechless.* S’eeth Sia Ova looked as impassive as ever however, watching us interact with inscrutable eyes. Om looked intently at Julian, marvelling over him. `He is your brother’ said Liz, standing forward. In the ambient, unidirectional gloom she looked incredibly small, Om already taller. She was holding her stomach with both hands, as if doubting that she had carried this young man so recently inside her. Om looked at Liz, and with great care handed her child back to her. `And I am –‘
`Manbap?’** asked Om hestitantly. Liz looked to S’eeth Sia Ova who had nodded very gently, at which Om smiled broadly, revealing a row of incredibly white teeth. Liz took her son’s remaining free hand, and then held Max’s, a spontaneous circle of life, inexplicable to me, again I found myself using a word I would never have used a few years ago, miraculous.
`We have 48 hours before we depart for Antar. We shall remain on Antar for a month. We shall then return.’ Never one for un-necessary comment, S’eeth had bowed to all of us and then there had been another twist in the corner of my eye, a wrinkle in the physical dimension of the space around me, and we realised we had been transported into the library. Curiously, the gown with which S’eeth Sia Ova had modesty invested around Om did not reappear with him, a fact he seemed entirely disinterested in until Wilcox was sent to find some overalls.

There was, as was perhaps to be expected, a certain controversy over the examination of Om. S’eeth Sia Ova had promised the Earth governments that I would lead up a team of international scientists once he had be re-born from the maturation chamber, and a great deal of my time had been spent dealing with demands from specific institutions and governments to be included. I had assembled the team about four days ago, but Om appeared two days ahead of schedule, clearly impatient, and so he had a day of relative peace while I confronted the anticipation and competitive enmity of my profession. Om (who oddly no one initially called Gabriel) was a curious mix. An exuberant and demanding adolescent, precocious and a little wayward, part sage (Kyle took to him immediately) and part rebel. Indeed he reminded me of the central character in Huxley’s Brave New World, which probably in a way described him perfectly. Isobel performed outstanding feats of tailoring for him, but never really satisfactorily dealt with the tail, and Om was prone to knock things over with it when turning or trapping it in doors. People were also inclined to tread on it as well; Maria seemed especially prone to this. Being trod on was, by the noise Om made, acutely painful. Michael had suggested that first night that he might have it `shortened’ upon which there was an outcry and no one spoke to him for several hours. None of his other physical features was as difficult to deal with and Om took all the bewildered interest and affection in remarkably good stead.

Having been re-born `prematurely’ we had out-foxed the press, but word had quickly got about and by evening we had the fourth estate back in force. Max and Liz were, quite understandably, concerned that Om was not to be treated as some form of exhibit, a point the Antarians had impressed on me soon after his first birth, and I was acutely sensitive to this. I knew however that he would be the life work of almost every scientist that would see him.*** I had pointed out al the ethical dilemmas to Om in the presence of Max and Liz, and explained to him that he had the right to refuse this if he did not want to proceed. He said he understood what was expected of him and as long as we did not hurt him, he did not mind being scrutinised. He then went off to eat (which he did a great deal of actually, and much to Kyle’s joy, he seemed adverse to meat and addicted to oats and bread of any kind. He was, however, oddly unable to digest milk). I had looked at Liz and Max, trying to gauge their reactions. `Are you two ok?’
Max had flopped back on the bed, exhausted and Liz had laughed `Yeah, we have a baby and an adolescent in less than six weeks after unprotected sex’ at which Max had protested and we had all laughed. In some small way I had thought them both still in denial, about Om, and about the imminent departure to Antar. Max would be gone for a whole month to a place that increasingly sounded not just self-evidently alien, but dangerous.

I will not detail here the provision findings of the committee. I will note in passing that it was a long and exhausting day and that, once more, I was indebted to S’eeth Sia Ova who never once lost her temper (?!) or sought to irritate the self important assembly of scientists, initially agreed at twelve, but doubled later to including two separate teams. For my part, long secluded from professional jealousies, and now habituated into dealing with people younger than myself, I felt exasperated by the proceedings and fell out, especially with some cravat wearing Frenchman who remarked that Om looked like a Lizard. The meetings took place in my lab. S’eeth gave a `simplified’ summary of the genetics (since much of the provisional findings had been released after the first birth) and then Om appeared, incongruously in a green operating gown, smiling bashfully and looking oddly handsome if not entirely alien. He was examined for about four hours, with a break in between, in which he held Julian.

Om emerged as a very complex individual indeed. Many of his physical characteristics appeared to be pelagic (such as his ability to change skin colour, and to produce florescent hives on his skin when stressed)+. A large majority of his organs were humanoid, but the blood was different, and he had a particularly complex and robust cardio-vascular system. There was also evidence of a lot of genetic redundancy (the tail for the most part), which might have been the product of his accidental birth. In 2001 the Japanese had sought to design a woolly mammoth using mitochondrial DNA removed from the tooth of a fossil and combining it with its nearest living relative on Earth, the African Elephant. Although the foetus had died, the product would have been a hybrid. Om’s DNA was Antarian, but reconstructed using human DNA (which was distinctly un-related).

There was no way of knowing if we were looking at S’eeth Sia Ovas ancestors restored, or something unique. Clearly from records and existing data, Om looked like his ancient forefathers, but the human DNA, insidiously located in the genome, probably would account for some changes. It was clear that Om had powers of telepathy, but he did not appear as yet to be able to manipulate his environment nor did he possess the powers of his father. The press of course had a field day. The headlines of the London Times read `Alien Youth is a Griffin’, the New York Times suggested that `Antarian child-youth related to Giant Squid’ while a Spanish paper mistranslated the location of his six foot tail and caused a minor sensation in tabloids throughout the world. Towards the end, exhausted, I had started to sketch Om, sitting, stripped to the waist, while various photographs and scans were taken. I would have gladly thrown everyone out except that Om had smiled at me, and behind him, S’eeth Sia Ova, Liz and Max had also encourage me to grin and bear it – as if it was me who was being examined and not their son.

S’eeth Sia Ova meanwhile was preparing for her return to Antar in her incredible thoroughness and attention to detail. She allowed Om to spend all of his remaining time with us in Bone Hill House, even to sleep, which was difficult because he did not sleep much and was inclined to interrogate everyone over everything. I watched him with Max and Liz and Julian and, for the first time since my revelation with Sia Ova felt hopeful about the future. I felt utterly unprepared to leave though. I had not left Bone Hill since I had left Boston, and even before that I was not a natural traveller. Ought I to pack? Should I take warm clothing! I was about to go furthest than any living human – 12 light years to what we knew of as Tau Ceti – the brilliant youngish star of the Antarian home world – what was I thinking of! In that moment of profound panic Max had walked in, Julian in his arms, a paragon of modern fatherhood. `hey!’
`Max, I am scared’ I had said weakly. I was in my study, a suitcase open on my sofa. I had been packing books I could not live without. `I am terrified’ he replied. `We shall be terrified together, I can’t do this without you’. He walked about, trying to get his son to sleep. `Do you think Om can shape shift?’ he had asked suddenly.
`I am not sure. I am not sure that S’eeth Sia Ova can either, or rather, I don’t think it can be easily done’ I removed Ovid’s Metamorphoses from my case on the grounds that it was too heavy `Did you once say that Langley had demonstrated an ability to keep the same form for a long period of time?’
`Yes, until I almost killed him. I am just curious. I just saw Om do, well, I am not sure’
I had looked up, curious. `Not change shape surely?’
`Not exactly.’ He did not elaborate.

Our last dinner together before our voyage brought with it memories of an earlier, near catastrophic departure several years ago. In a reversal of his role then, Michael had demanded the right to go with Max and had almost succeeded but for the planned wedding which was to take place later that evening. Maria’s complex and lengthy plans for a wedding had collapsed into a need to simply make Michael her husband as soon as possible. Amy and Jim Valenti had encouraged this, and had stayed on a few days extra, and Max had agreed to be the best man. Liz was the maiden of honour along with Isobel, a touching reversal of roles from her own marriage. Wilcox had managed, with typical efficiency, to procure a priest. After dinner we had trouped off to an old chapel that was attached to the house, but which with some improvised alien dexterity was soon reconverted from a storehouse. I gave Michael my own wedding rings until he could get his own. Despite being something of a rushed affair, the ceremony was moving, intimate and entirely appropriate to our collective mood that evening. Maria – a women I had a huge amount of affection for – looked indescribably happy when Michael kissed her. The priest on the other hand appeared to be slightly un-nerved, if not by the gloom of the chapel, than by S’eeth Om who had asked endless questions quietly and persistently until Jim Valenti had taken him out. Alas Isobel had looked a picture of utter misery throughout and later Max had found her sobbing uncontrollably in the gardens.

It had been a day of soft cloud and out of focus sunlight, and as dusk fell, a slight misty rain had fallen, obscuring the views from the House. I had cracked open a rare case of 1964 champagne and we had, with the usual exceptions, tucked into it with vigour. I had a curious urge to get spectacularly drunk, as did Maria and the Valentis. I had then seen the priest off, a young man, who had virtually ran to a waiting car as if the hounds of hell were at his heels. I stood, my tie undone, a bottle in my hand, waving him off. I was light headed, profoundly alive, the rain warm on my face. I then heard the sound of a car coming towards me, a black Ford saloon. I had frowned, in no mood to deal with the press. The car had stopped opposite the main entrance to the house. I looked back, to the sound of merriment, and crunched off over the gravel. A man was leaning against the bonnet of the car, looking towards me. He was wearing a black suit and a white open next shirt, and the shirt set off his dark, handsome looks. As I approached I screwed up my eyes, my glasses having been left behind. He had laughed and then a voice I had not heard for many years said

`Now my charms are all o’erthrown,
and what strength I have’s mine own…
Unless I be relieved by prayer
Which pierces so that it assaults mercy itself
And frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon’d be
Let your indulgence set me free

Jessie smiled at me `Professor Grey?’ He looked knowingly at the bottle.
`Jessie’ and I had hugged him to his genuine surprise. `Julian man! How very Latin of you! What happened to that cold remote man I saw crying in a theatre?’
`He died’ I had said factiously. And he had laughed, flashing a smile at me. `It suits you, the bottle, the tie – did I get my quote right?’ I could not speak for a while and then I said
`I think you missed a bit' He did a mock look of horror
`it was an abridged version!' I had stood looking at him as one stands in a dream, and then I had heard Isobel, a single cry of joy, and the sound of running.

We left in the grey morning. Max, myself, S’eeth Sia Ova and S’eeth Om. Everyone turned out to see us off. Liz and Max, Isobel and Jessie, Michael and Maria, Kyle and his parents, Maria was holding Julian. We had stood on the terrace. I had looked up at Bone Hill House and its exuberant neo-Elizabethan skyline, and then I had looked at my friends, silent and apprehensive in the foggy dawn. Max drew away from Liz, his lips reluctant to leave hers. She had turned to me and said `Bring him back safely, Julian, and bring back Om’ I nodded. I was suddenly fearless, as if all my life had been an illusion, a shell that had burned away. I had died many years ago and Max had brought me back to life, the stone rolled from the tomb, the darkness gone. Julian had stirred and Max had briefly held him, his strong arms wrapped about his son, and then he had passed him to his wife. `It is time’
What had I, I who had died already, have to fear of a second death?

*When Max held Om’s hand he transferred a great deal of information to his son, including some cultural norms.
**Manbap is Antarian for mother-father. Because sex is a function of age, an adult Antarian could be either a mother or a father to one of their children, although the distinction was less fluid than we initially thought. This had very interesting consequences for sexual identities and for gendered social relations.
***Indeed Antarian genetics became a sub-field of all major genetic research on Earth and the official report on Om, immodesty edited by myself and Liz Parker-Evans, is a classic. I would have felt happier about Om’s examination if I had realised that the S’eeth had already examined him on the ship themselves.
+I appreciate that humans too originated as sea dwelling creatures and that some of our characteristics – the chemical composition of blood – replicates sea water to an uncanny degree.
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Post by Patroclus76 » Mon Apr 03, 2006 1:37 pm

President Alexandria Sayyid Quarishi of the Federated States of America sighed and removed her glasses. Through the great windows of her office she could hear the distant growl of traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue. Several holotexts were stacked up waiting to be viewed, and she was about to chair a committee 4,000 miles away from the comfort of the Oval Office, but her mind was unfocused, distracted. Last night she had `dined’ with four old friends, older than her, friends of her parents. Dined had been a euphemism for a long haul to Washington State in the company of her bewildered guests, several operatives of the FBI, and some one from the newly re-constituted CIA with particular links to the Ministry of Antarian Affairs. The flight had been absurdly short, her conception of distance and time distorted by technology, and after just a few minutes the stark, rather sinister turrets and spires of Bone Hill House had shown up below. What had then transpired had deeply frightened her – there was no other word. They had been led through long cavernous hallways and chambers into a long room and they had stood before a painting that had been verified, beyond all doubt, as somehow depicting an event over fifty years ago, the moment when my guests had stood and watched Tess leave for Antar with Max’s child. The painting was part of a wider and disturbing puzzle that had, in some invidious way, slept for almost fifty years, or rather, had burned away slowly, like a fire in the deep hold of a ship, undetected. On returning to Washington DC she had been up ever since, at first with the National Security Council, and then through the need to convey normality. Henry Maitland had been arrested in the early hours of the morning along with several European diplomats. She had the recovered, unedited codex in front of her as well as several of Grey’s other journals and papers.

She ignored another soft subliminal bleep from a waiting transmission and instead, reached over to her glasses and replaced them on her face. She reached up to the right eyepiece and gently pressed it. `Play last transmission of the Codex: October 14th, 2018’. A text appeared almost instantaneously on the plastic inside of her right lense:

I will not be able to write for much longer. I shall have to dictate to either S’eeth Sia Ova or to Max, and then, eventually, I shall fall silent, my thoughts lost in the grey entropy of illness. There are still good days, days when the pain is less, when I can sit on the terrace and think clearly and precisely on the nature of my vigil, when I can see the great glaze of the Fall and smell the autumnal air. When I know who I am. These days grow less and less, and soon there will be no more of them.

Max sits with me in the evenings of his impossibly busy life and reads poetry. Sometimes he is older than I recall, his face distinguished, heavily shadowed, other times he is a boy again, impossibly young, full of caution and anxiety. I look out at him from the dusk of my life and he looks back at me; no lie, no illusion. He will take me to the margins of the world, those open, liminal spaces where the Antarians bury their dead, and he will carry me over the threshold when the time comes. All these long years I have looked over him, watched his every move, and guarded him with my life. Every waking moment I had sought to anticipate the betrayal, the moment when they will come for him. As I die I have no comfort in the knowledge that I had won, just the hope that S’eeth in her long patience will be there when the moment arrives, if arrive it ever will. How can one outwit time? The painting is the same, it shows no signs of change. My acts of pilgrimage grow less, and soon S’eeth will ask me for the key to the Granolith. In the collapsing walls of my memory I find it, cold and hard, hidden. There are visions here, dreams even, but they are not mine. There are moments when I am terrified of this final journey, when I am insane with terror, and yet always there is Max, numinous, a force of nature, someone to whom this journey is no challenge. Who are you?

Max is a young man on a beach with a kite, he splashes towards me until the air is candescent with light and then we run, hard and fast, close to the waters, until the curve of the beach takes us out of this world, and Max gently lets go of my hand and I drown.

The President stopped the text. She looked across her desk to a clutter of photographs and frames, the usual paraphernalia of a life. She reached towards one and lifted it towards her. It was of a group of people in a hallway, laughing. They were half posed,informa. Liz, heavily pregnant, was off centre, Max stood stiffly in a curious uniform, looking self consciously into the camera. Michael was putting two horn like fingers up behind Liz’s head, while Kyle Valenti, on the other side to Max, was rubbing her stomach and frowning. In the background stood a tall man in tweeds, white haired, with glasses on the end of his nose and, incongruously wearing a dressing gown over his shoulders. He was not looking at the camera, he was looking away slightly, myopically at Max. Alexandria had been twelve when this picture had been taken. She had lifted it from a web journal and in framing it, had sought to possess it, to insinuate it into herself like a false memory. Later she had got hold of the original digital picture and had kept it with her.

She stood up. If she did not operate the holotexts soon one of her principle aides would come in and do it for her. Before she did so, she read once more through a message she had received from Antar at first light, 4.23 am EST. It was from her ex-lover Julian Evans:

I have returned from the funeral games of S’eeth Sia Ova. There is a conspiracy on Antar. It has been in place for over forty years and although I have no idea how deep it lies, we are all in gravc danger. I am returning to Earth immediately. In the meantime I am providing a list of people who you need to detain on some premise or other as soon as possible…………………….
Ok guys - I am off to sunny spain - I shall be back this coming sunday and I shall press on with the rest. I will keep the stories together - I just want to thank you all for comments and supports - and I shall see you all (with a slight tan!) Patroclus 76 - ps the best pm I have had about this is the one liner that said `wilcox did it with the lead piping in the library' wrong but bloody funny! SO until we meet again....
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Post by Patroclus76 » Sun Apr 09, 2006 11:23 am

sorry about the interregnum - Codex II follows immediately from the scene with the President on Earth above.

Private Communication from Ambassador Julian Evans to President A. Sayyid Quarishi:Transmitted from the Fast Earth Clipper: The Santa Fe. Two days out of Antar
Priority: Secret and Confidential.Transmitted: FTL multiple encryptions.
Adjusted time June 5th 2055.
Dear Alex

I have returned from the funeral games of S’eeth Sia Ova. There is a conspiracy on Antar. It has been in place for over forty years and although I have no idea how deep it lies, we are all in grave danger. I am returning to Earth immediately. In the meantime I am providing a list of people who you need to detain on some premise or other as soon as possible. It is IMPERATIVE that you arrest Henry Maitland and search his premises, including his offices and reclaim anything from the Bone Hill House estate. I think you will find a great deal of material has been illicitly removed over the years. I will brief you in person when I get back.

However you need to be aware that there are multiple versions of the codex. The version that Michael had, and which he handed over to Maitland, already contained forgeries, not just deletions. In some places the dates have been changed completely. Luckily I have with me the original copy that S’eeth Ova took from Grey just after he died. I am transmitting the last entry Grey made. It contains crucial information, in addition to that which we saw in the Maitland version. I repeat: every other version we have we must treat as either corrupt or fake until we can compare it against the one I have now. S’eeth Sia Ova went to the extraordinary degree of having the original codex implanted in her arm, evidence of her extreme need for caution!! From what I have read of it, a rushed examination at best, it is literally beyond belief. We are on the brink of a catastrophe that will provoke a civil war here which could, indeed would, involve Earth in a war with Antar. Yet it is worse even than that.

Alex I have no right whatsoever to advice you on politics. Yet I offer it to you now in extremis, to take or leave as you see fit. Trust Jesse Ramirez and appoint him as Attorney General, he is deep in the thread of things here, deeper than I realize, and it was a post he was recently under consideration for anyway. Max trusted him, and so did Grey, it was of course Jesse who led Max to Grey (I now understand how!). It will get him into the government without looking unduly suspicious and then you should confide in him on a broader remit.
You must get someone sent out here to Antar to cover for me, a safe pair of hands, someone who know the ropes. I want to suggest two pairs of hands, actually. I want to suggest that you try and send out Michael and Kyle together.

Michael is much respected here on Antar, and although he has not been out for some years, his last trip was a great success. The Rath cults are minor but important, and prevalent among the Shalloth. I sense Michael has some part to play in all this yet. Kyle has a profound understanding of Antarian mysticism and is familiar with some of the more esoteric aspects of Antarian culture, as a Yantra Hathman he is also respected and close to the Valaen, and the Icinii races here. It is an odd pairing. I am not sure how we could explain their joint dispatch to the current government. We would have to think of something plausible.

The Ministry for Antarian Affairs will need someone we can trust. Aunt Isobel has made enough political and social capital over the last forty years to sink a battleship, she is widely liked and has helped out before in the odd emergency. She could be a shadow appointment to a career politician, I leave that to you, but she is canny and wise. I am suggesting we keep this in the family.

Alex, I know this sounds mad, even implausible, both practically and politically, but I see no choice. None of my family is getting any younger. They are at that stage in their lives when they should be thinking of a peaceful retirement - but that is not the life they have been given. On Antar there is a saying `Yuvak ma num’ina qu’ - (')trust to no one but the blood(') - we must trust in the original Roswellians. They will understand that. If all fails Alex, invoke the name of my father, hold them to their allegiance, command them if necessary. The world is coming undone, and they must not fail us.

Regarding the Antarian Legation, trust no one there and curtail any visits whatsoever to Bone Hill House by anyone. Maitland worked for the previous Administration, and I fear that key members of the former government on Earth are heavily involved in this conspiracy. There is also reason enough to suspect that some of the original instigators of the conspiracy go back even before the Bone Hill Protocols, and may even be linked to the original Special Unit that was set up within the FBI in the 1950s. S’eeth Sia Ova showed me convincing evidence that Pierce might have been working with the Shalloth all the time. I know how this sounds. I can explain. In all of this, the shalloth are primarily - but not entirely - involved, but some of the S’eeth are also implicated. The three other races of the former Antarian Imperium are also involved to some extent, with the exception of the Qu’ell, who seem to have played no part in any of this.

How this links to the current Coalition Government for Restoration I am afraid I also have little idea. S’eeth has given me a list of Antarians who can be trusted, most are the second generation of S’eeth males, and their female partners who, like Om, have just come of age. The current Earth Council here, headed by Valaen Menan is, according to S’eeth, a bed of intrigue, Menan is an important individual and worked closely with Ki’var. We need to be aware of this. I am bringing a S’eeth male with me in great secrecy. He is a disciple of S’eeth Sia Ova. He knows everything as well.

At this stage it is VITAL that we continue to give the impression that all is normal, to everyone and especially the Antarians. We have to watch the Faster-Than-Light (FTL) communication traffic using multiple encryptions. The transmissions are safe but highly unusual, and I have been asked already if there is anything wrong because of the high level of recent transmissions between the legation and Earth. I also suspect that some of the transmissions from The Ariel were intercepted but not decoded. I have explained my recall because of a friends illness, but the Antarians are highly skilled in illuvatar - mental interpretation - watch any causal conversations with them! They are highly skilled.

As for Liz, I am baffled by my mother’s behavior, but I believe it is intimately tied up with what has unfolded in the past few weeks. Her link with my father was, as you know profound, even spiritual. Over the last few years in particular she had convinced herself that Max was dead but I now have reason to believe that this was a deliberate pretence. Om’s involvement is more complex, I will explain when we meet, but she knows far more than anyone and has been an accomplice of S’eeth Sia Ova for many years. I believe they are on Earth, in Roswell, New Mexico. Do nothing until we have spoken about this face to face.

I am exhausted after my interview with S’eeth Sia Ova. Some things now I understand, some things still make no sense. I am going into stasis for the remaining few days to think things through. I have commandeered the fast clipper ship The Santa Fe, much to the outrage of the Terrain Trade Authority, the TTA is already filing a complaint, but it holds the record for the Earth-Antar Run so I shall be with you in the next few days.

And Alex, my father is alive……….

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Post by Patroclus76 » Mon Apr 10, 2006 1:27 pm

Extracts from the personal papers and diaries of Julian Evans, Earth Ambassador to Antar.
Dictated on Voice activated DRS format. Classified. June 5th, 2005. (10th Cur, Qu’ra Novaa’ta).

I am exhausted. I am so exhausted I find it hard to speak let alone think, and yet I need to dictate this before I get to Earth if only to clarify my own thoughts and to calm myself.

I feel my head is going to explode. Images whirl though it, snippets of surreal, unbelievable conversation, and with S’eeth dead and Gabs missing I feel utterly alone, unable to confide. I miss my mother suddenly, profoundly. Liz would know what to do. Beyond all of this I miss my father, more painfully now that I know he is alive, that he has been trapped all these long years in darkness. Tears start in my eyes. I can’t help it, I feel like a child! Max! Father!! Do I scream his name, or is my voice in my head! I try to calm myself. Anxious faces at the cabin door, my secretary is asking me if I am well. Why is knowing that he is alive like a second death to me? And S’eeth, the last of the old guard, withering away in front of my eyes into a translucent husk, her last words lingering still like a curse. S’eeth was my life. Always, at every moment, S’eeth was there, the four square of all that was safe: Liz, Max, Grey and S’eeth. As I fight back the tears over my father, I realise they are not just for him, they are for S’eeth, the gaunt, taut monolith of my childhood and youth, and they are oddly for Grey as well.

I see Grey, eaten away with cancer, sitting on the long terrace at Bone Hill House, my father walking towards him with a blanket. Max is in his late 30s, he approaches Grey wearing an Antarian cape, magnificently, shockingly scarlet. It is wrapped over his broad shoulders and billows behind and around him like a flame. Max’s thick hair, still tangled about his face, blows and snakes in the wind. He wears it long now, in dark thick tresses and it is blue-black, like the feathers of a raven. He is all animation, like a vision. It is cold. The air smells of rain. My father arranges the blanket on the old man’s knees with infinite tenderness, and then kneels, as if in submission. Grey’s claw like hand holds the hem of his cloak, and Max playfully throws it over him, protectively, like a giant red wing. This memory haunts me. I am 12. I am standing outside Grey’s study windows looking for a ball with S’eeth, but my father has distracted me because suddenly he seems incredibly powerful, almost luminous, a great splash of color against the lowering autumnal sky. Max sees me. He smiles, and I feel something like sunlight on my face, something hot inside me, something almost frightening. I turn to see S’eeth holding out a ball, and looking quietly, contemplatively at my father as well. Her face bears the look of someone who has seen all, understood all, and yet said nothing.

Always, as a child, as a young man, right up until my father disappeared, I tried to see Max for who he really was. Always I would try and catch him unawares, to look upon him quietly by stealth, before, in some vital sense, he prepared a face for me, for his son. I wanted to see if there was a difference. Even as a small child I had heard the rumour that Antarians could change their shape. So I would go and watch him while he slept, to see if beneath his humanity there was something else, something alien within him, exotic like Om, or dangerous. I remember walking through the early morning chill of Bone Hill House and stealing into my parent’s room, and sitting quietly close to Max’s face. I would search it for hours, until aware I was there, he would either wake up and pull me into him for a hug, or Liz would sleepily take my hand and lead me back to bed. Sometimes Om would find me, and kneel down with me like a fellow conspirator until bored, he would entice me to climb onto his back and play dragons with his shoulder plating. Sometimes if I was especially difficult, Liz would consent to letting me stay with them, and snuggled in her arms I would watch Max very carefully, pretending to be asleep, peeping through my eyelashes, waiting for him to change into an angel or a devil. In the ten long years since I last saw Max, I still remember ever last line and shadow on his face, a fortunate unintended consequence of my childhood vigils. God I am so alone. I feel so desperately alone.

When I close my eyes now I see the black expressionless face of S’eeth, and the extended arm, stretched out towards me. Through the glass like thinness of her skin I see her morphology perfectly, the thin bird like bones, the tiny lines of blood, and then a bright silver disc implanted in her forearm, Grey’s original codex. `Your father is alive Julian, you must help him return, he has not yet done what he set out to do, the sign has been given - the painting - `Where is my father?’ I had asked. S’eeth had looked at me for one final time, `Zan is on Earth, waiting to find you’ Was he, like Grey, delirious, he so rarely called Max by his Imperial title? He made no sense to me. `Where?’ I had asked softly, a whisper. The life force of S’eeth were ebbing. In a moment she would let go and cross the threshold. `When’ said S’eeth. `It is a question of when’ and then silence. I shudder at the memory, of the soft disintegration of the body into a fine grey-green ash. We had been in the huge vast ruins of Eqbatana, surrounded by the silent mass of the new born S’eeth, the second generation of Om’s genotype, with some of the older females. When S’eeth had died they had all let out a moan of sorrow. I had placed his remains in a vial and taken them down to the nearby ocean for burial. I had placed the codex in my boot, in a space beneath the sole and the heel. When I returned the games had started.

I shake my head. I must try and focus. The Antarian orbital has just given clearance for our departure, despite the outcry from the TTA and threats of legal action. The Antarian Valaen are curious, but polite, they are bemused by excess emotion. They are curious about my visitor, who came aboard rather theatrically cloaked and hooded and went straight to his quarters. The fact I am constantly in tears adds at least to the cover story that a friend of mine is ill. I have been at pains to state that the Roswellians are fine, otherwise there will be huge interest and anxiety. I am filing my account of my conversation with S’eeth as an appendix to this entry. It is rather long and overly detailed, but I have no time as yet to edit it. It reads emotionally and inconsistently but that is how I am at the moment. I am going into stasis, despite the relatively short journey to Earth.
As I strip off and climb into the cubicle I wonder `why now?’ If this conspiracy has been ticking away for so long, why did we stumble upon it now? Why had I so overlooked the reference to the painting? Ten years after Max vanished from Antar, and almost forty years after the birth of myself and Om? The painting - changed to show Tess's departure as a warning? I still cannot understand or grasp what a temporal incursion means. To change or alter time? And if it succeeds? I and all the people I have known and loved will never have existed? It still makes no sense. All that makes sense so far is that it has not yet succeeded. I close my eyes and breath deeply.

Excerpt from the personal papers and diaries of Julian Evans, Earth Ambassador to Antar. Attached as a separate entry to June 5th 2055 log.
Dictated on Voice activated DRS format. Classified.

Eqbatana lies on the northern continent of the Antarian home world, a bleak unpopulated wilderness about 8000 km from the nearest major city. This is my second visit. I am the only Hathman to have made the journey, a difficult and dangerous one, over the heartlands of the old Imperial territories totally destroyed in the wars. In places there is so much radiation that we have to climb into the upper atmosphere or suffer the discomfort of wearing protective suiting at low altitudes. Once past Z’arath the landscape is one of desert, purple blue lines of dunes stretched to infinity, as if a great ocean has washed over and vanished. There is no sign of life. It has taken me three days of hard diplomacy to get permission to come. How I miss Om! She would have facilitated this trip in a minute, but she is away somewhere with Liz, somewhere I cannot as yet follow. In the end the provisional government allow it, knowing that S’eeth Sia Ova is virtually a relative. They are unhappy and superstitious though, I can sense it. S’eeth has withdrawn from the world, and he has invoked anger in some by choosing to follow the old S’eeth tradition: the waters of Eqbatana, the great boundless ocean, and the ancient liminal(??) spaces of his ancestors. As dusk falls on the second day out, I see below us the great bastions of the Monastery etched into the mountains. There is difficulty establishing contact, but eventually they direct us in. we(We) are expected. It is a place empty of all things save memory. And what memories!

The hopper touches down awkwardly and my crew - two of my Legation colleagues (Shalloth) and a Valaen called Durvan, look visibly relieved. I apologise for dragging them into this adventure again (I apologise on average about once every hour and sometimes twice) but they seem intrigued now, genuinely interested. I climb out onto an ancient landing strip, weathered dangerously in places and over grown with scrub. It is perched precariously over a sheer drop, a wilderness of scree and stone. The wind is cold and dead, howling like a lost spirit from the plains below. Eqbatana translates literally as `the city of the dead’. I wait for several minutes, unsure what to do, blowing on my hands. Durvan suggests we call again to remind them we have arrived. I am inclined to agree. I then see three male S’eeth mendicants approaching. They are wearing white tunics, seemingly luminous in the thick dusk, and as they draw near I see that their shoulder bones and neck fascias are decorated with piercings. They have one long tress of hair tied back from their foreheads and each is carrying a stave, usually decorative spears - but these are heavy and long and of a kind that are unfamiliar to me. I see also they have painted their faces. For a moment I fear it is with ash and water, that S’eeth Sia Ova is already dead. They are young, probably a month or so out of the pod. I look to see if any females are approaching. There are none.

There is an ominous silence. I am being scrutinised as are my colleagues. Yet the S’eeth males are as much curious as hostile. They have already mind read us. `S’eeth Sia Ova is close to the waters, he is not dead’. It is bad etiquette now to close my thoughts - to practice halaq (a meditative technique to retain privacy) they will suspect I have something to hide. I go to speak a formal greeting but one of the Mendicants steps forward. `You are just in time, Julian Evans. S’eeth Sia Ova will see you, but you must come quickly and alone’ I look at my colleagues, they look relieved for the second time since we arrived here. `I am S’eeth Sia Maraq - you may call me Peter’. Through his low cut tunic I can see his torso and the top part of his chest - it is red - the color of war, of combat. Blue is safer. I bow and say `I am sorry to disturb you at this moment; I know it is highly unusual. Please take me to him’ I nod at my colleagues. `Wait for me -‘ `No, they must rest inside. You cannot leave until First Light.’ S’eeth Sia Maraq - Peter (?) - turns to them, addressing Durvan and yet he is looking at the two Shalloth. These are probably the first he has seen. `We will take you to your quarters’. We walk off hesitantly. It is now utterly dark and bone chillingly cold, the only illumination comes from the top of the staves, a single orb of blue-white light. I am worried, anxious, I do nothing to disguise my thoughts, and they run ahead of me in great wheels of fear. Something unusual is happening here. Suddenly, to my surprise S’eeth Sia Maraq turns and looks straight at me. He is unashamedly scanning my thoughts, too young to disguise it or to think to ask for my consent. For my part I am too concerned to be affronted but before I can think of a response he turns around and continues. I am bewildered. I think suddenly, longingly of Om, of my childhood. I think I hear Maraq laugh.

Durvan and his associates part after about half an hour of hard up hill walking. We are in a series of long, pillared tunnels, carved out to connect a series of natural caves. I am oddly reminded of Bone Hill House, a disconcerting, haunting familiarity. I walk on with my silent hosts until I reach a wide space on the shoulder of the mountain, where the caves are opened to the sky. When I look below now I do not see the blank ruinous plains but the great northern ocean. We walk along a natural terrace and enter into a chamber, from which another series of caves spread out, sloping downward into darkness. The chamber is lit dimly, and I can just make out at the end of a vast hallway, a dais on which something - someone - is lying. Maraq is still in front of me, leading me on. The others follow. I am brought to S’eeth Sia Ova. The three mendicants stand around and the stave light grows brighter and as it does so I feel the hairs on the back of my head rise: the chamber is full of S’eeth standing in silence, row upon row of them, shading off into darkness, possibly as many as a 1,000.

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Post by Patroclus76 » Tue Apr 11, 2006 2:18 pm

ok - goggles on!

I do not recognize S’eeth Sia Ova at first. I have not seen him for about four years, and the transformation in that time is dramatic, frightening. He is almost translucent, a watery pale grey. His head is resting on a hard stone pillow, and his arms are folded across his chest. Around him are the vials and grave goods (Menoth) he has elected to take with him. I had imagined a private conversation, not an audience. I look about me hesitantly. Maraq looks at me closely. His eyes are incredibly blue. He says in my head `You must speak quickly Julian Evans, the waters are coming’. I squat down close to S’eeth Sia Ova. There is no movement. I feel out with my thoughts and I touch the dim, flickering life force of my old friend, very far away, on the very edge of the horizon.

`Julian’ the voice is an echo, not words, but the ghostly outlines of words. `You have come at last. You must forgive me for excluding you. It was my hope that I could keep this a secret between Grey and myself, and then Om your brother-sister. I have known about this conspiracy from the very moment I set eyes on your father, and on Yantra Parker’
`Conspiracy?’ he is mind speaking, unable to physically talk at all. I feel suddenly un-used to the S’eeth, like someone out of practice.
`There is a conspiracy on Antar. Listen to me carefully. Clear your mind. Listen and then you must act’ I look around at Maraq, anxious not to give offence but equally anxious for my security. S’eeth grows impatient `Julian, you are among those dedicated to Max and the causes of the coalition government - we are safe. Listen to me.’ S’eeth Sia Ova begins to tell me a story, but it is also a story with images, visions. They appear in front of me, in some ways within me. It is a skill I have heard about but not seen (Max claimed on several occasions to have found Om doing this).

I repress my excitement, my sheer amazement, and listen. I clear my mind. I hear a story I am in part familiar with, a story of how the S’eeth perfected the art of genetic manipulation and how they sought to extend their own life and their own powers. How they created the five races of the Imperium, but how eventually they triggered a horrendous aging process that robbed them of the ability to procreate. S’eeth then spoke of Earth, of the long era of experiments wherein they sought to use human DNA to regenerate themselves and how this threat had triggered fear and loathing in the Shalloth who, citing years of racial discrimination, had rebelled. K’ivar, had led the war and had, through his liaison with Velandra, overwhelmed the Palace and killed the S’eeth royal house. S’eeth Sia Ova’s voice now comes through the images. `Before this outrage we had perfected what we believed was the necessary degree of hybridity between human and Antarian DNA to produce an off-spring that would restore the Antarian genome. We had planned to use this on other subjects but in the wake of K’ivar’s coup we were compelled to use the royal four.’ A pause, the sound of silence.

`Yet unknown to me at the time, K’ivar had infiltrated the Science Guild that operationalised the Era of experiments and discovered our plans just before we dispatched the ship. He ensured that S’eeth Sia Kur Var- known to your father as Nasedo - was smuggled on board the mission as joint protector. His mission was to ensure that Max impregnated Tess and returned to Antar with the child as a gift to K’ivar. If Nasedo was to die, Tess had been brought up to betray Zan and to return the child here, on the promise that K’ivar would make her son king. In reality - having discovered the plans to restore the S’eeth genome, K’ivar would have destroyed the child and the others. Tess returned, but with a human child - a complete failure of our experiments but one that saved the child’s life. At this time I was still collaborating with K’ivar. He needed the S’eeth still, even though the war was raging, and the vast resources of the Imperium were being laid to waste and ruin’.

`He thought it a great victory to parade the child in front of me, to gloat at out failures. He ordered me to examine the child and to examine Tess and then to kill them.’ There was a pause. S’eeth’s strength was failing; I could feel it as it was my own. ` Nasedo had trained Tess well, she was resourceful and willful. In my long interviews with her I learned a great deal. Some information she gave me out of genuine remorse, some out of a powerful urge to survive. I learned that her attempts to betray Max, his sister and Lord Rath had failed through the intervention of a human female, a female that Max had bonded himself to. I also discovered that Max had saved this women’s life. I had found that part of the story most curious. I learned that Max had used this power often. No doubt K’ivar came to hear of this as well, and of Liz.’

`The powers of the S’eeth kings are well documented, and yet I had overlooked them, and the likely affect this would have on the DNA of anyone saved by them. I promised to help Tess escape, with the baby, if she promised me that she would not frustrate the love that Max had for Liz and the real possibility that they might have children of their own. I also wished to communicate to Max that K'ivar knew of his presence on Earth and would most likely kill him and any off-spring he might produce with Liz Parker’ . For a moment S’eeth lay silent, gathering his thoughts. Are the vast numbers of S’eeth listening? Behind me I feel just a solid wall of attention, a gaunt silence. `After Tess had escaped, I secretly conducted experiments on some remaining samples of Zan’s DNA and had discovered that in saving life, Max might rearranged the human genome to be compatible with his own, but it still appeared to lack stability. There was a hope for us, slim, incredibly remote. Meanwhile the war was destroying the entire Imperium, and K’ivar was slowly going mad, murdering his own ministers, building massive cities to his name populated by a destitute and bastardised race’ - I felt emotion in Sia Ova for the first time - a deep swelling of shame.

`I was now an exile, hunted down after K’ivar found evidence for my complicity in Tess’ escape. The Shalloth, embittered that they had overthrown one tyranny only to be entrapped in another, approached me with a deal to murder K’ivar and hand over power to a coalition government, representing all the races. We were all exhausted. Our old primacy would be at an end, as would be the genetic technologies we had perfected and abused. In the end we agreed in principle to assist’.
` I argued long and hard that we must complete the last experiment to restore the genome – by being allowed to encourage Max and Yantra Parker to have children, to see if this would produce the break through we were looking for. Eventually, despite their suspicions, the Shalloth agreed on the condition that the monarchy be abolished, and all the ancient customs and power of the S’eeth be ended. I was allotted the job of killing K’ivar. The Shalloth ambushed him and I removed his head with his own ceremonial knife, here, in this chamber. The Shalloth argued that the head should be taken to Zan as an offering of peace.’

I am stiff with cold, my head is hurting, through concentrating hard. Much of this I know, yet I listen to it now differently, as if it is a familiar story taking off into a differing direction, or narrated from a different point of view `We occupied the old Palace below the monastery. Our immediate need was to stop the fighting and to put together some form of peace and some working government. My own concerns were to get a ship to Earth and to find out what had happened to Max and the others. My attempts to contact the remaining protector - Langley – had failed until suddenly he made contact and informed me that Hybrids had escaped with their lives from Roswell and were somewhere north. He also told me that Liz was pregnant. My joy was soon to be out weighed by anxiety, for on that same day we made a strange and disconcerting discovery. I found a key to a Granolith’.

He senses my momentary confusion, although it is a term I think have heard before. I am about to ask for an explanation but his images bust through. `A Granolith is, in essence, an emergency form of transport. It is a power source that enables a small vessel to be catapulted at great speed. It is also possible to enable objects to move through time, although to many this remains a hypothetical issue. However, as such it is something invested with particular spiritual significance on Antar, especially the Shalloth who worship time as a deity, and who believe that time is a cycle into which they are re-born. A Granolith is operated by a special crystalline key, one for each Granolith only, a unique power source. It can only be made once and cannot be reproduced.’

`Moving through time?’ I say and think this simultaneously. I must try and control my emotions. I feel Maraq close to my thoughts, his natural inquisitiveness. S’eeth Sia Ova, who must feel it also, talks through images once more. `We bred the Shalloth to be workers for us, to be a compliant and satisfied caste. Yet they proved remarkably restless and innovative. They showed little aptitude for genetics but an interest in mechanics and physics and in temporal mechanics especially. They were able to manipulate time as skilfully as we manipulated genomes. The granolith was one of many devices they perfected. They designed, and during the war deployed temporal charges that displaced entire populations out of a given time frame and thus whole peoples `disappeared’, sometimes permanently. Granoliths required enormous skill to build and were expensive to construct. Only one to my knowledge had been built, the one we placed under the pod chamber on Earth. Now there was proof that another had been constructed. But for what purpose? I thought at first that it was literally an emergency escape vehicle for K’ivar. Even in his madness, he must have understood that the end was near and his reign was disintegrating about him. Yet the Granolith could not be found either below in the Palaces, or here in the Monastery. To be an effective escape device it needed to be close at hand' How much more strength had S'eeth left? I willed my life force towards Sia Ova. Finish before the end, tell me.

`I entrusted this information to only two other S’eeth for I was soon distracted by the news that Max had been located and that Liz was showing signs of an unusual pregnancy. I took the precaution of taking the key with me – without it the Granolith would be useless - I hid it inside K’ivar’s head for fear that the Shalloth would search the ships. They were suspicious of the news of Yantra Parker, and feared we would return with her child and renew the war. Ever in our long years has treachery been our greatest enemy. The Shalloth loathed us but they loathed K’ivar, even in death, and they would not look upon him. It was a safe if not surreal place to hide the key.' There was a faint smile at the irony.

`The time had arrived for us to depart to Earth, Langely had warned us that elements of your own governments were close behind Max and Liz and the others. Just before we left I spent one long last day searching through Eqbatana, through all of K’ivar’s possessions and through his chambers for the whereabouts of this Granolith. Long we searched, even as the ships were readied. We looked through each and every hallway and dungeon, and we found nothing resembling the sort of structure we were looking for. But we found something else, just on the eve of my departure. We found a series of diagrams and architectural plans, images and data for a huge building - a place existing on Earth - a place called Bone Hill House’
Last edited by Patroclus76 on Wed Apr 12, 2006 4:50 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Patroclus76 » Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:22 pm

extract continues.........

My head spins, I feel suddenly nauseous, as if I am suffering vertigo from too many images, I panic, short of breath. Then, someone – Maraq – touches the top of my head with his hand, and a huge wave of endorphins floods my mind. `What does this mean?’ I ask out loud. There is silence. S’eeth’s life hangs by a thread. `For a while I did not know, Julian. I thought at first that K’ivar had hidden the Granolith on Earth, and indeed I was to be proved right, but it took me thirty years to realise where! My immediate concerns were how did K’ivar know about Bone Hill House? How did he know that Max and Liz would go to Grey’s Palace to have their children? That they would seek him out? How could he have obtained such information? Towards the end of the war he was unable to launch missions within the Imperium, let alone as far as Earth?’ These very questions are swarming through my mind as well. `I had made no immediate connection with the temporal technology that the Shalloth had perfected. I took the plans of Bone Hill House with me, and when there was time amid the excitement of the births and the great accords signed with the Earth governments – I searched the great house from top to bottom to see if anything was amiss, to see if there were signs that, however impossible it seemed, K’ivar had been there and hidden the Granolith or some similar device.’ I smile, even in such extremis. I cannot help it. I think of Grey’s entries in his codex, his bemusement and irritation on finding S’eeth roaming about at night looking over the house. I recall Grey’s exact words ` I would come across her tall locust like stance in odd rooms and chambers almost as if she was trying to work out the physical dimensions of the place’

I have not disguised my thoughts, and I see a faint smile on S’eeth’s lips, like a ray of winter sunlight, as he traces the outlines of the memory with me. `How fortunate it was that the first Hathman I met on my visit to Bone Hill House was Grey, in his laboratory, piecing together the puzzle in that slow but methodical way of his. It was only at our first meeting – in the hallway with the other hybrids – that I recalled his father and the coincidence that Grey was related to Max. But was that a coincidence? Grey once said to me, when discussing the extraordinary episode of Clayton Wheeler and the double chromosomes, that he did not believe in coincidence. I `warmed’ to Grey, I felt his enormous attachment to his young friends, and to Max, his inner struggle to be forgiven, to seek redemption. I empathised with him. I should have confided in him sooner’ suddenly I feel Sia’s life force dip, like a candle caught in a draught. The mendicants stand forward. They do something again I have not witnessed before. They throw out a bright blue aura that suddenly stabilises Ova and pull him back. I feel the light rushing back into him. The power that surges through them from this display is breathtaking. Where has this power come from? I control my thoughts, and close in around the question, discreetly. I am concerned that in touching me, Maraq has made a direct connection to my psyche.

`There is not much time, Julian. Clueless, the only thing I could do was to examine the key. The S’eeth can have flashes – recollections – even from inanimate objects. You know this. One evening I tried to scan the key. It was a difficult and painful job, and in the process I was indiscreet and Grey found me, in the library, my hands in Ki’var’s head. What I discovered I had not anticipated, but Grey was with me when I found the truth. Many hands had been on the key, Shalloth, Valaen, but even the S’eeth were involved. The conspiracy was simple. Somewhere between the escape of Tess and my discovery of Max’s kingly abilities, K’ivar had devised a plan. He planned to move back in time to prevent Max from saving Yantra Parker’s life. This was the neatest and most precise way to alter the timeline. It had a certain economy. He intended to use the Granolith to send someone back to September 1999. If he failed in preventing Max’s intervention, there would be other opportunities. Ultimately he could kill them both, but the temporal ramifications would be more dramatic. Later opportunities would involve preventing Max meeting and saving Wheeler, for the additional chromosomes were vital to Om’s birth. How easy to simply stop him meeting or saving Liz. How important Liz had been! How important, how central to Max! Without her, Max would have been killed by Tess, without Liz he would have been killed in New York! Yantra Parker! What a fool I was Julian. Exhausted from these revelations I had congratulated myself on having the key secure, and on bequeathing it to Grey far from Antar and the machinations of what I took to be a simple Antarian conspiracy’.

S’eeth fell silent. He nodded to Maraq behind me. `I am leaving you now. Maraq is to replace me in your council. He will finish this story. He is young, but you have brothered with the S’eeth and are his kinsman. I brought him out of the pod with the others. I passed on to him all of my knowledge and my long affection for Earth, as well as my regrets and shame. He has taken my knowledge and he will not fail you, until the King returns, or else we are undone’. I look behind me. Maraq has his head bowed, but he is glancing up at S’eeth Sia Ova. He seems so different to Om somehow, so less human, striking and powerful, dangerous? I am too preoccupied to think through another mystery. Suddenly S’eeth Sia Ova says `I failed your father, Julian, in the end. When you see him again, ask him to forgive me.’ I look at my old friend in disbelief. `Your father is alive Julian, you must help him return, he has not yet done what he set out to do, the sign has been given – the painting – ‘ My heart lurches in my chest. The news is more than I can bear. Tears start in my eyes and I sense the S’eeth all start with my sudden emotion. Maraq gasps audibly behind me. `Where?’ I ask, fighting for control, disciplining the mind. I think of my training here, and I think of Kyle too. The life force of S’eeth is ebbing. In a moment he would let go and cross the threshold. `S’eeth where is my father!’ I shout this.
`When’ S’eeth whispers. `It is a question of when’ and then there is silence. I have never witnessed a S’eeth death before. I think I see something literally pull away from the body, and I feel it tug me as well, like a tide. S’eeth Sia Ova’s arms unfold, and fall down by his side. The limbs are virtually translucent. I can see the bones and the tiny web of blood vessels. On the right arm, below the elbow, I see a shiny metal disk implanted deep in the flesh. The body begins to contract slowly from within, disintegrating into a fine green-grey ash. The metal object falls to my feet. I look at it, half seeing it, my vision blurred with tears. A huge groan goes up about me. I fall to my knees. Are all the things I have loved destined to leave me?

I stand up slowly, my limbs aching. I have no idea how long I have crouched here. I pick up the disk. It is warm. S’eeth Sia Ova has completely disintegrated. The mendicants gesture me to fill the vial with his ashes and to pick up his grave goods. `What is this?’ The disk fits into the palm of my hand. Maraq says in my head `It is the original copy of the codex, what you call the Roswellian codex. Grey gave it to S’eeth Sia Ova when he died, and he know passes it to you’
`I don’t understand?’ Maraq ignores my question at first, and walks me back towards the entrance of the chamber. `You will do’

No one follows. Alone, we walk down a great stair way cut into the mountainside. The stave is now brilliantly lit, although dawn is coming and the line of ocean and sky is slowly growing distinct, grey upon grey, purples upon blues. As I follow Maraq I notice how the steps have been worn thin over the centuries. When we reach the shore it is quite light. Maraq takes the vial and to my surprise removes his clothes and then without further ado, wades out into the thick, viscous water. He pauses for me to follow. I hesitate; he looks at me in the way the Om looked at me as a child, a coded message of `how can you not know what to do?’ I start to strip. The water is curiously heavy here. It is one of the many things I first noticed when I came to Antar and then forgot. It moves over my skin like tar, an unpleasant feeling, greasy and cold. It makes me feel unclean. We struggle out until the water is up to our waist (Maraq’s tail is a distinct advantage here, it gives him stability). Then to my surprise Maraq sings. He chants something deep, male, and melodious. It sounds like a prayer. He then curves his arm behind him. I see the muscles slide back and contract, and then like an athlete, he throws the vial as far as he can into the sea. He throws it far. In that instance I think I see something odd, the surface tension of the water alters colour – like the skins of the Antarians– a silvered shade of a change, but it may be the light, for at that moment the rim of the sun crests the horizon and great lines of shadow spring around me.

On the shore I sit and weep, holding the codex in my hand. Maraq squats nearby watching me intently. At first I do not notice him and when I do I am both angry and embarrassed. I must talk with him soon about how to deal with no-telepathic races. I realise I am the first human he has seen, but the sense of his presence is almost overwhelming. At that very moment I feel Maraq follow through my rebuke. He both hears me and reads my thoughts at the same time, a habit it took Om many years to abandon. It is bewildering for humans because the result is that the Antarian S’eeth answer questions and respond to events not yet verbalised or even thought through. `Forgive me Julian Evans, I am fascinated by your emotional complexity.’ I smile weakly, `try and let me speak them first and then answer me. Try to slow down and wait’. I start to dress, despite the fact that the water has left me feeling oily and hot.

`Tell me about the codex.’ I ask. `Why in god’s name did S’eeth have it in his arm in that horrible way!’
`I will tell you, but first I have to show you something’. Maraq is still naked. Again he reads my censure and turns, picks up his tunic and stave, and dresses. I watch, intrigued as to how the cartilage on the back and shoulders does not tear the material. We walk back up the stairs. Eventually we reach the chamber where S’eeth Sia Ova died. The sun is warm on my back. I am sweating and exhausted. We enter. It is now empty of the S’eeth. We walk until the chamber narrows and we enter a long tunnel, and then, eventually we come to a hallway. To our right, the chamber is open to show a high vista of mountains and sky, a vast panoramic that almost gives me vertigo. The Antarian moons are visible, and a great fume of grey and red cloud lie over the heads of the high passes. To our left, the hallway is divided by a series of single pillars. It is an elegant place, tastefully if not simply furnished. Clearly someone has lived here. Maraq turns left and takes me to a huge doorway set in the walls. It seems to be made of dark matt coloured wood, beautifully and intricately carved. I have seen these doors somewhere before. Maraq places his hands on each handle and pulls.

He opens it with effort. I see his back muscles tense and the veins in his shoulders knot, but eventually they open outwards with a great groan. They reveal a brilliant interior. At first I cannot understand what it is I am looking at. I see through the doors another long room, but at a slightly different height, as if the two chambers are built on differing levels. This other room is flooded with clear yellow sunlight, but the light is different. It is coming from a different position and from a different sun. Through one of the windows I see the roots of what appears to be a tree, growing and flecking the light with shadow. And then comes the shocking realisation that I am looking into the long gallery of Bone Hill House. Still the perspective confuses me. I have recently stood in this very room, with Liz and Om. Why does it look odd? I am not looking through any door, and there are no interior windows that would give me this perspective. And then suddenly to my horror I realise I am looking into the room through the painting that has so obsessed Grey, the painting of Tess’s departure to Antar.

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Post by Patroclus76 » Thu Apr 13, 2006 2:16 pm

extract continues

Involuntarily I give out a great cry, a cry of horror at this new revelation. Maraq flushes red and swings in front of me, the stave expertly flashed through a full circle to be held above his shoulder like a javelin. His other hand is up and out-stretched, the fingers splayed wide. Through the doors the sunlight falls steadily and undisturbed into Bone Hill House on some nameless ageless day. He turns grey-blue quickly when he realises I am not in any immediate danger. I look from the one mystery to the other. Om was not born with our father’s powers, and although he acquired some as he matured through his long male adolescence, she has not half the powers that Max retained. Yet Maraq, still an infant, has clearly advanced abilities – how is this possible? Where have they come from? Is the result of the genetic program?

`I am of less immediate interest than the portal’ Maraq says candidly. I turn back to look through the doors. `Is it real?’ I ask inaccurately. What I mean to ask is can I walk through it.
`It is real, although it not necessarily now.’ I look at him and frown. ` You must remember Julian Evans that, given what is about to unfold before us, you must change the way you think, especially about time. You must no longer think about time in a linear way, think of it always in the future tense, always at the moment of becoming. S’eeth Sia Ova’s long vigil failed but three weeks ago, and the key passed to the enemy. The Granolith was activated. But three weeks means anything the Granolith wants it to mean – fifty years, a hundred. For us it means that the conspiracy has already been happening since 1999. You and your family have lived through it. So far it has failed, but it exists in the past already, behind you in the time line. When you read Grey’s unedited Codex you will understand. You will even see that the familiar story of the codex is radically altered by this changed context. The events are the same, but it is as if you are seeing them, like this room, from a startling perspective.’

I want this to stop. I want everything to fall back into normal. `Maraq – slow down! I have no idea what you’re talking about! Is this the Granolith?’ I point to the doors. I point into the brilliant room on earth, not now, a room that was, that will be?
`Yes, in a way. From what S’eeth was able to deduce, the Granolith is both in Bone Hill House and in Eqbatana. S’eeth Sia Ova’s mistake was to not realise that the Granolith did not need to be a thing – a structure – it could be on the threshold of time itself. Before the key was inserted, this portal connected the two structures of Bone Hill House and Eqbatana simultaneously – in synchronic time. Since the key has been inserted the two ends of the Granolith have diverged, and appear to have done so at random.’ I thought of the supreme irony – that S’eeth and Grey had both thought the key to the Granolith safe while hiding it on the very threshold of the device.

`Who went through the portal three weeks ago?’ I had thought somehow this would connect with Max’s disappearance, but that was ten years ago. I want desperately to ask about my father, but for the moment I cling to the realisation that he is alive. `Three Shalloth, including the former Ambassador to Earth, one Valaen and one human. Six in all. S’eeth Sia Ova was meditating. He had been unaware of the existence of the portal. They came through it from Bone Hill House, found the key easily, and then left. As soon as the Granolith was activated, it was impossible to use the portal to follow’

My mind is racing. I recall Alexandria’s letter to me complaining that the Antarian Ambassador had made several unofficial visits to Bone Hill House. And one human? Maitland? Maraq is following my thoughts again, as intimately as if he is sitting in my head. I look at him, my head crammed with questions.
`But surely the Ambassador knew where the Granolith was, if he had been part of the original conspiracy?’ Maraq looks intently at me, and then the doors. He seems to be waiting for something. `It is confusing. Perhaps the Ambassador did not know where the portal was exactly? Or perhaps they had finally come to know that the key was on Antar, in Eqbatana, and that they could now use the portal and take it?’ I was feeling faint from exhaustion. `Maraq, I have to get back to my ship – I need to rest’ I thought to myself `I am not like you’

Suddenly there is a noise, the sound of someone walking on a carpetless, wooden floor. It is such a bizarre sound to hear, in this vast stoned monastery. I turn back to look through the door. Some one has walked into the long gallery! Maraq shows no surprise, but rises gracefully and stands closely besides me. `Can they see us?’ I ask.
`No, and they cannot hear us either’.

Someone is walking slowly, out of view. The light is less brilliant now, our eyes have adjusted. It looks like early spring sunlight. I am conscious of holding my breath. Suddenly on the other side of the room from the painting a man walks across my field of vision. He is late middle aged, grey haired, his hands thrust deep into a dressing gown thrown over his jacket. `Oh my god!!’ Julian Grey muses through the window, he looks at the room in an odd absent-minded sort of way as if he has not been here before. He takes his glasses off and then puts them on again. He walks aimlessly for some time, as if trying to resolve some abstract problem in his head.

Then someone else approaches and before I am ready, I hear my mothers voice. Grey turns and smiles, looking behind him. Liz walks into view looking absurdly, impossibly young, heavily pregnant. They start to talk about novels and metaphors. Liz seems upset. Grey goes over to her, comforting her, a soft whisper. And then I hear a voice that literally screws my heart into a tight ball. I hear my father say `Hey, what’s wrong with Liz?’ Max walks into the middle of the room. I blink helplessly, my eyes failing to focus. He too is extraordinarily young, vivid, boyish. His skin is dark, his cheeks clouded by a haze of stubble. My eyes prick with tears. `Oh my god, they’re beautiful’ I whisper, simply overwhelmed, close to breaking. I reach out, I want to scream their names, I want my father to look at me, to see me. But Maraq, gently takes my hand away `be careful, do not cross the threshold’. Behind us, several S’eeth males are approaching. Maraq leaves me gently, half watching me, and goes to talk to with his peers. I look back through the doorway.

In the room Max embraces both Grey and Liz, and then Grey walks directly towards me. I stand back, looking behind me, I see Maraq smiles, as if to reassure me that I am still invisible. Grey is looking straight at me and then, as if seen through a one-way mirror, I see his eyes swiveling around as he looks at something closely. He is looking at the painting. Suddenly I turn around. I see the S’eeth standing together, and behind them the dark tunnel entrance that leads back towards the stairs. To their right I see through the open walls, the huge daunting view of the mountains and the sky. The deep fume of cloud is still there, tinged red, as if a great fire is consuming the heavens. And I realise that this view - the view of Eqbatana is the picture that Grey described in his journal. `The cave was on a high mountain, a dark ragged sky, dimly lit as if by fire. I suddenly realised that the cave was a tomb. It had sent a chill down my spine.’ He is seeing through the portal.

Before I can think about this, about what it means, Max comes over to Grey. My father – I am as yet unborn – stands looking into my eyes – standing next to his old friend. He is searching my face but he sees what? The ruinous walls of Eqbatana? A painting showing Tess escaping to Antar, or does he see me, his son to be, weeping, wanting him to hold me more than life itself?

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Post by Patroclus76 » Sat Apr 15, 2006 7:24 am

Extract continues...

They walk away. It is April 2006. Yet did Grey see through the painting? Max had looked at it as well – Liz hadn’t – not as closely. Then why had she been so adamant that she `remembered’ the depiction of Tess and her departure to Antar just a few weeks ago? Max would have noticed, surely, it the painting was of the pod chamber? I am lost again. Did the picture change after these events, but if so how? A signal? The trouble is that Grey’s description could actually fit both images. Every time I think I have a hold on this conspiracy, that I think I have found a way to comprehend it, the kaleidoscopic fragments of events and places shifts and the pattern is lost.

Maraq comes to back to me. `We have to leave for Earth, Julian Evans. You are not safe here.’ I wonder what news he has just received. I think of my colleagues, Durvan and I think of the Shalloth. `Maraq, can the Shalloth be trusted? I have two with me from the Legation?’
`They are deep in this, but S’eeth Sia Ova was insistent that this is not about Hienaq – he uses the Antarian word for race - `We cannot risk another war. Many of the Shalloth are loyal to the government, and although they have resentment still over the way they were treated, we are changed and with the help of Earth, we have tried to make amends. Many see the S’eeth as changed and remorseful, and that the healing process is at last beginning to bear fruit. If we revert to the old ways all is lost. That is what K’ivar would want. Even if the timeline holds, another war would lead to our destruction.’

I look at him closely. I practice Halaq, discreetly. I think of the oceans on earth, their vast deep waters and the curve of a giant wave, curling over as the depth fails and the top collapses in on itself. Behind this image I think hard. Do the Shalloth know about you, Maraq? Do they know about your kin here, in the deep fastness of the mountains? You are different Maraq, somehow – and the sheer number of S’eeth males here – as if S’eeth Sia Ova was breeding an army, does the government know about them? Is this not exactly what the Shalloth feared? That Om would restore you to your former greatness? i realise that the newly hatched males will mate with Om's generation of clones, now all female. Surely some of the Skins are afraid about this? And I recall S’eeth’s odd expression `Maraq has taken my knowledge and he will not fail you, until the King returns, or else we are undone.’ In all the long years I have known S’eeth Sia Ova, she never once spoke to me about restoring the S’eeth Monarchy. Yet had she not also oddly, if somewhat inconsistently, referred to my father as both Max and Zan?

I have to break Halaq gently, my thoughts pre-form behindit otherwise Maraq will rush through my self-consciousness. I let the image of the great wave roll and crash away, and I re-direct my thoughts to another line of questions: how can we stop someone changing time, but before I do this one simply question forms in my mind about Maraq, a question that Grey so often asked himself in his codex about Max – who are you? Exposed now, I think about time. The ability to change time. It seems futile. I see my parents as unprotected teenagers, growing up in Roswell, their identities hidden, utterly vulnerable to someone determined to change how things turned out. All it takes is a thoughtful, small intervention. So often during their time at Roswell, and then in the years leading up to Bone Hill House, were my family exposed, open to the threat of extinction.

I look up at Maraq who is watching me with a puzzled expression on his face. For the first time, I see him as human, a sharp, distinctly male face, young, attractive even. `That is a very effective technique Julian Evans, who taught you that?’ He speaks this and for the first time I smile at him, relieved to some extent that Halaq works even on someone so powerful. `A very old friend of my father, a Buddhist who I hope you will soon meet!’
`Ah, you are speaking of Kyle.’ Maraq’s eyes narrow and then he does something extraordinary – he frowns in a way deeply familiar to me, a way I have knowledge of. `Come, we can talk on our return to Earth’ He turns to go. I reach out and take his arm. The muscles are firm and hard, and I can feel the exoskeletal structures near the top of his shoulder rooted down into the tendons. `Maraq, why does the portal show April 2006, you have seen that before? Is it random?’ He looks at me, and again, as with the burial of S’eeth Sia Ova, there is the look, almost the reproach, of `how can you not know?’ `It is complex’ he says mischievously.
`You will tell me soon, everything, from the beginning!’ he then gives me such a human expression of mock surprise at my firmness that I am speechless. Eventually I say `And you will tell me how on Earth, or rather, how on Antar, we are going to be able to stop someone from changing the time line!’ We are walking fast now. I shout ahead in the gloom, my voice echoes.
`That bit is very simple. We have already gone after them’
`Maraq! How is that possible!' I am once again startled, not much by the revelation, but by the tone. Thought-speak is usually without accent – the Antarians say `without color’ – but I sense someone inside Maraq, somehow, like a refraction of light, broken down and revealed, for just a moment, but enough to sense it. My mind returned momentarily to the image of the camber filled with the S’eeth – are they all as capable – as quixotic?

We do not go back to the high landing bay. The hopper has been brought down to the plain and when we finally emerge into the hot blistering heat of the desert I realise it is nearing the evening of another day. I feel like I have walked for years in darkness, down hill, steeply and without a break. My calves are aching. As I stand shielding my eyes from the Antarian sun, Durvan runs towards me. `Julian, thank the gods, we were worried! You have been gone for an age!’ He whispers this, looking at Maraq suspiciously `What happened in there? Did you speak with S’eeth Sia Ova?’ The Shalloth are inside the hopper, the heat is too much for them. `Yes, I did speak with her, but I am not sure if it was of much use. How have you been treated?’
`Well, surprisingly well’ he says, `we are all well rested. The Shalloth were also well treated, although they wouldn’t eat or drink anything’ I sigh and he rolls his eyes.

`Eqbatana means many things to them, I sympathise. We have to return to Anta Satr immediately. Maraq will come with us’ I anticipate some problems here, but Durvan is too relieved to be going back to the capital to complain. We bustle on board. The shalloth are happy to see me. They look tense, frightened even. Maraq is the last to jump through the closing doors as the hopper whirls up into the colbolt blue heat. He has been speaking to several other mendicants, giving what appears to be instructions or advice. I watch him, curiously, like an ethnographer. As he parts from his kin, Maraq does something that is unusual for the S’eeth, especially for one so young and so as yet unexposed to differing customs. He embraces his brothers closely and then shakes their hands.

[end of appendix attached to June 5th 2055 entry] log resumed.
Last edited by Patroclus76 on Tue May 02, 2006 3:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.