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

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

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

Part 51

Postby Double Trouble » Sat Nov 30, 2013 2:09 pm

Part 51

With a tired groan, his body gave in to the weakness it felt and he sat down on one of the bar stools lined up along the counter in his kitchen. The room was unoccupied and the silence was just what his aching head needed right now.

Healing the Captain had taken massive strength from him, strength he normally couldn’t afford to lose, but there had never been a question if the risk of saving the man had been worth it. The Commander trusted his second with his life, so it was only fair that he trusted the man charged the defense of their kingdom as well.

Ava had done so much damage to Captain Valenti. He was still surprised he had managed to heal the man before blacking out in first place. Had he ever healed so much damage at once? He couldn’t remember. The few important people who had been brought to him for healing had all been hurt badly, but they had been Antarians or at least hybrids, so the damage had never been as extensive as what the human had suffered.

“I wondered if the healing had affected you.” A female voice suddenly disturbed the silence and brought his blurry gaze towards the entry. Tess closed the door behind her and walked deeper into the room. “You look like you’ve been run over by a transport, King Max. No offense.”

He snorted weakly and rested both of his hands on the counter in front of him for support. How long would it take before he regained enough strength to think straight again, he wondered. “What are you doing here?” It wasn’t the normal habit for his soon-to-be wife to approach him or wander around on his side of the castle – especially not in his kitchen. She tried to stay away from him as much and as long as she managed to most days.

“I heard what you did,” she said, her eyes carefully watching him since he looked like he could fall from the chair any moment. When she had come back to the castle, things had immediately seemed to be out of place. A feeling of unease and crept up her spine and it had taken less than 10 minutes to find out what had been going on in her absence. Ava – that traitorous bitch!

“And you are here instead of with the Captain?” Max lifted his eyes towards her, a hint of amusement in his features.

Tess looked back at him indecisively. How much did he know about Kyle and her? Learning about what her dupe had done to her lover had felt like a punch in the gut and reawakened the determined wish to rip the other woman’s head off, but Michael refused to let her into the interrogation cell where the bitch was imprisoned. “Is it normal for you to be so weak a few hours after healing?” She ignored his question.

“Always depends on the damage that has to be healed,” he admitted and held her gaze. He didn’t know if it should surprise him or not when he detected what appeared to be hurt and empathy there.

She clenched her fists to remain in control of the anger she felt inside of her. If only her stubborn brother would kill her! How could he still hesitate after what she had done to Kyle? How could he still stand in the way of letting her kill that bitch?

“Don’t be too angry with your brother. Anger only makes us blind to the truth. You have to trust him to do the right thing,” Max told her when her expression was easy to read for once. There was no doubt the woman in front of him was rattled from the shock of almost losing her… lover or whatever, and rage was now slowly overtaking the other feelings.

Tess couldn’t even hide her surprise at his words. “Those words out of your mouth, King?”

He chuckled hoarsely and rubbed one hand over his chest in an attempt to ease the pressure there. “I know, but maybe it helps you to hear it from me.”

Her jaw tightened when she swallowed her reply to him. Nothing could make her fury towards Ava fade. Not after what she had done!

“Why have you come to see me?”

His question reminded her to focus again and her vision became clearer – her features almost turning soft. “To thank you for what you did.” She approached him from the other side of the counter.

It was his turn to be surprised, but he shook his head. “There is no need to – “

“Maybe there isn’t, but just take it, Max. Okay?”

She hadn’t called him by name for what seemed like an endless time and he had to admit that it felt good to hear her say it. It wasn’t the only surprise she had in store though because a moment later her hands were on his and warmth tingled on his skin before a connection was established and he was so unprepared that he didn’t have time to form a barrier against the flashes.

Tess didn’t break eye contact while she transferred some of her strength to him in exchange for what he had done to save the man she cared most about. She took in the emotions and flashes she received from him and didn’t do anything to disguise her own. When she felt his heartbeat becoming stronger through the connection she blinked and removed her hands from his.

Max stared at her, unable to speak. What the Princess had just done was something so out of character that words were simply not enough to describe what was going on in his head.

“It seems like we all have our secrets, huh?” She winked at him before she left to go and see her lover in case the doctor had finally completed his examination.

“True,” he muttered when she was long gone and he stared at his hands on the counter. There was no doubt she was referring to Liz and something she had seen through the connection.

*****

Maria walked through the corridors with Satara close behind her. There was a note of urgency in her steps as she searched the castle for Michael. She had experienced a sensation that could only be called grief and it had quickly been followed by so much anger she was surprised it had been possible to contain it. The feelings were too close to the surface for him to be very far away and after a few inquiries she had discovered that he had returned to the castle a short while ago but he had immediately been summoned to a meeting.

“It is time for your daily appointment with Dr. Collon,” Satara reminded her.

She sighed and nodded. The checkups the good doctor insisted on running daily didn’t take long and she knew they were important. Not more important than finding Michael, but perhaps it would be best to have it out of the way before finding him.

The medical unit was buzzing with activity when they arrived and she nearly collided with Tess when the Corporal came around the corner, her steps hurried. She wondered what was going on when the woman barely spared her a glance before pushing through the doors and barking out questions as to the Captain’s location.

The Captain must’ve been injured, she realized. That would explain the emotions she had felt from Michael because he was close to the other man. She passed through a set of doors that housed the short corridor that led to the patient examination rooms and she saw the Commander leaning against the doorframe of the room with the most activity. His eyes were locked on Dr. Collon as he explained something and as she watched the rest of the medical personnel filed out of the room, careful not to touch the big man standing there.

Michael felt like he was being watched, but when he turned to glance back his sister collided with his arm and he immediately reacted and grabbed her. “Give him two more minutes to finish the last test.”

Tess frowned at him. “Why don’t you see to your own human?” she growled quietly. “I know how to avoid medical personnel and stay out of their way.”

He frowned and turned to see Maria watching him with a sorrowful look on her face. He sighed and pushed himself from the frame. “I’ll be right back.”

“Fine.” She waved him off and rolled her eyes.

Maria straightened when Michael started to walk towards her. She had no clue what news he had in store for her and right now she feared the worst judging from his looks. All day she had been looking forward to seeing him again after the things that had happened between them, but in that moment she wanted to be anywhere but here.

“Maria,” he greeted as he stopped in front of her. “What’re you doing here?”

“I was getting ready for my daily checks,” she said nervously and glanced over his shoulder. “What happened?”

“Kyle was injured during an interrogation.” He rubbed a hand over his face tiredly. “He’s in with the doctors now.”

“During an interrogation?”

He gnawed on his bottom lip as he nodded. “We captured Ava and unfortunately he was no match for the wall she hurled him into.”

Maria gasped. “Will he be okay?”

“Max was able to heal him. The physical damage is gone.”

“Okay,” she sighed in relief and wanted to touch him but there were a lot of witnesses around so she let the moment pass.

“This is your normal time to meet with Dr. Collon?”

“Yeah, he just takes my vital signs and then I can leave. It only takes a few minutes most of the time.”

“Have you made plans yet for the evening meal?” He knew he had matters to attend to but there were still decisions to be made before he could go back into the interrogation room with Ava.

“No, not yet.”

He turned to lean against the wall, his eyes on the doorway to Kyle’s room. He didn’t really understand all the tests when the King had already healed him and the waiting was driving him crazy. He hated waiting. “Will you be preparing the meal?”

“If you wish.”

“And if I do? Will you join me?”

A smile tugged on her lips. “I’d be happy to.”

He felt some of the weight on his shoulders lighten in response to her small smile. “Then I’ll be sure to be there.”

“Okay,” she glanced behind him once again before she decided it was better to leave for now. “I’ll see you then, Michael.”

“I’m sure Collon will have time for you soon,” he said, reluctant to see her leave.

“Don’t worry about me. Worry about your Captain.”

He nodded and wondered how she could doubt her own strength. “I’ll see you for the evening meal.”

Dr. Collon stepped towards him after the Commander had said his goodbyes to the human who was connected to him. “He’s ready now. Still weak, but we are positive he will recover from it quickly.”

“Thank you, Doctor,” he said and clapped the man on the shoulder. “I’d like to speak with him now.”

“Of course. I will be in the next room if you need me.”

“Maria was here to have her vitals taken. You’ll send someone to her so she doesn’t have to make another trip down here?”

Although it was formulated as a question, the doctor knew it really wasn’t one. “Of course.”

Michael nodded sharply. “Doctor.”

Tess hadn’t waited for the doctor’s okay when he had gone to talk to her brother and ignored her. As soon as the man was out of sight she had slipped into her lover’s room.

Kyle had already seen her out of the corner of his eye, impatiently waiting for him to be released. He didn’t like the worry and shock in her face. “They drugged me to keep me still,” he groaned quietly.

“A very smart call on the doctor’s part,” she said as her eyes swept over him.

He grunted in disagreement. “Not necessary. The King healed me and other than feeling a little wobbly I felt fine before they drugged me. Now I just feel...” he grinned goofily. “Kinda like I’m floating on a fat, fluffy cloud.”

“Shut up,” she snorted and dragged a chair over to the bed to sit down. Despite her best intention of putting on a brave face, she leaned in and buried her face against his neck for a moment, enjoying the warmth of his skin soothing her and telling her that he was still alive.

“I’m okay, Tess,” he mumbled, making a concentrated effort to lift his hand and direct it to her cheek.

She nodded against him and grabbed a handful of his clothes. “I can see.”

“Uh-huh.”

After taking a deep breath she lifted her head again and pressed his hand against her lips to kiss it.

“So soft,” he murmured and gave her a crooked smile. “Got lots of places you can kiss an’ make better when they let me outta here.”

She rolled her eyes at him. He was trying to make light of this situation, but it wasn’t working. Today she had almost lost him and it scared her like nothing else.

He knew she had seen right through his attempted humor but he didn’t want her to be upset about something that had been prevented. “I’m okay, Tess,” he said, his expression somber. “I’m not goin’ anywhere.”

“Because you’re drugged like a junkie,” Michael stood behind his sister, arms crossed as he looked down at his Captain.

Kyle gave the serious-looking Commander a sloppy salute. “We showed Ava, didn’t we?”

“We did,” the other man agreed and squeezed his sister’s shoulder.

The man in the bed nodded in satisfaction. “I think I’m ready to go,” he said after a moment. “This bed’s not very comfortable.”

“You’ll stay where you are,” Tess glared at him.

“She looks so fierce, doesn’t she?” he asked with a big grin. “She loves me.” He pressed a finger to his lips and made a ‘shh’ sound that dragged out for several long seconds. “Don’t tell anybody ‘cause it’s a secret.”

“I don’t think I like him drugged,” Tess leaned back in her seat.

“Yeah, me either,” Michael admitted. “No use on the field this way.”

“I don’t like me drugged either.” Kyle tried to leverage himself into a sitting position. “So let’s go.”

“Kyle,” Tess got up to sit next to him on the bed and placed both hands on his shoulder. “Take it easy, okay?”

“You can help me,” he said graciously.

“Alright. We’ll take you to my quarters to rest.”

“Okay.” He swung his legs over the side of the bed and got to his feet, swaying when the room seemed to spin around him. He was vaguely aware of the Commander grabbing his other arm to keep him from falling on his face. “Whoa... those are some powerful meds.”

“They’re for Antarians, never tested on humans,” Michael gave him a serious look and chuckled when the man’s face fell. “C’mon, Captain. We’d better get you outta sight for a while.”

“Human guinea pig,” Kyle muttered as his lover and the Commander practically carried him out of the medical quarters. “There better not be any weird side effects from that stuff.” He snorted to himself. “If I turn blue I’m not gonna be happy.”

*****

Max stood at the large window in the war room, his hands clasped loosely behind his back as he stared out at the fields that stretched in the distance. He had reviewed the events that had led to the Captain’s injured state and he didn’t know how they were going to contain Ava. He had spoken with Michael briefly after the Commander had left the infirmary and they had scheduled a meeting for later to go over their options.

He still felt drained, his head still ached, but rather than cancel the appointment he had agreed upon with his sister he had forced himself to his feet and made them carry him to the war room. One of the things he had learned from watching the Commander was that men in their positions couldn’t afford to let their people see their weakness.

The doors behind him opened and he turned to look at his personal guard. The Antarian soldier had been assigned to him since his return to Antar and in the beginning he had run the poor man ragged. Over time though he had grown up and learned to appreciate the stoic man.

“Princess Isabel has arrived, Sire.”

He nodded and made a motion for the man to permit her entrance. “Thank you, Rykar.”

The soldier’s fisted hand impacted with the chest armor and he bowed his head as he backed out of the room.

“I don’t understand why he feels he needs to verify my identity and ask permission before granting me entrance to visit with my own brother,” she huffed.

“Because it’s his job,” Max said as he met her annoyed gaze. “And since we’ve had an intruder breach our walls he’s even more cautious than normal.”

“An intruder?” she asked slowly.

“Yes, Ava was captured inside the walls of the castle.” He waved a hand dismissively. “But you didn’t come to talk about that.” He walked over to the table that dominated the center of the room and ran his fingers over its surface, calling up several files that blinked patiently on the screen, waiting to be opened.

Isabel let the subject drop for the moment, her curiosity piqued by what he had to show her. “Do you recall any of the images from Earth that you intend to show me? I mean, the locations you’ve chosen, do you remember them?”

“Some of them seem familiar. Whether it is because they’re places we visited or saw while on Earth, that I do not know.” His fingertips hovered above the first file. “Many of the images are quite unpleasant and disturbing, Isabel. The destruction Earth has suffered has been extensive.”

“I don’t need to be handled like a fragile piece of glass, Max.” She hated the way everyone around her seemed to treat her as if she might shatter in the face of unpleasantness.

He nodded. “I understand that, perhaps better than anyone else. But the fact remains that many of the images are devastating.” He called up the first file, glancing at her before he opened it. The images leapt to life before them, bringing to life scenes city that had been identified as San Francisco. The streets were teeming with life, vehicles and people constantly in motion as they went about their daily routines.

“It doesn’t appear to be devastated,” she said, her tone confused.

“At this point life continued as normal as you can see. The people went about their daily lives; conducting business, participating in celebrations.” His expression became somber, his eyes saddened as he waited for what he knew was coming within the next few seconds.

Isabel’s eyes widened as the images suddenly began to shake and the sounds of explosions could be heard. She watched as a giant plume of black smoke rose at the center and the cloud formed the shape of a mushroom as a fireball burst through its center and high into the sky. “What happened?” She moved closer to the image, pursing her lips as she observed thousands of people running from the explosion. Those who were closer had suffered the immediate effects of the explosion; wounded and broken, bodies lay all around. Some of them were nothing more than charred, blackened corpses, many of them unrecognizable as human remains.

She swallowed hard as some of the people at the outer edges of the explosion crawled away from it, dragging their bloody, broken bodies across the pavement in an attempt to escape. Their flesh was charred in places as if they had been through a fire, some were missing limbs, many had large gaping wounds, and the wailing and agonized screaming was painful to listen to.

More explosions rocked the city and she watched as large buildings began to shake and fall, crumbling on their foundations. The falling debris buried many of the humans and before the destruction and noise from one explosion could be silenced another erupted and the chaos worsened. In the background a might bridge shuddered, the thick cables and beams groaning as it began to sway. The images suddenly faded and she looked at her brother. “What happened?”

“That one was cut short because the unit transmitting the images was wiped out in one of the explosions. We lost everyone on that team.” He paused with his finger over the next file. “What you just saw, Alex survived it. San Francisco was his home. He came to us not long after everyone in his family was killed there.”

Isabel filed that information away and motioned for him to continue. The images of death and destruction only got worse with each new file that he opened and as she watched the planet began to die before her very eyes. The stockpiles had somehow destabilized and when the first one had exploded it had caused a chain reaction around the world. The wind had carried the nuclear radiation from the explosions halfway around the world, turning it into a life-threatening atmosphere for humans and animals. People had started to flee to other parts of the world, but things had gotten out of control. Crime, brutality and anger had broken lose – everyone focused on saving themselves and the people they cared about. It was only a matter of a few weeks before a world war had broken out. Every cities, states, and countries that hadn’t been totally contaminated had defended against those who tried to overtake it. In the end, the remaining atomic stockpiles that hadn’t exploded in the initial chain reaction had been attacked as revenge against those who still were able to live in healthy territories and as the years passed the effects of the explosions had manifested themselves in many forms. There were physical deformities, ailments, mental disease, organ failure, and others too numerous to mention.

Many of the cities had fallen to gangs and violence. There was no illusion of safety left and in spite of that many of the people still tried to hold onto some form of normalcy. It was no wonder they fought so hard to be accepted for positions on Antar, she mused. What was left for them on Earth?

Her gaze was following the movement on the projection when the scene in front of her eyes suddenly shifted to the inside of the castle she had called home in recent years. The darkened corridors flickered to life as torches were lit by the soldiers rushing by, their armor clanking loudly. She watched as they burst through one of the hidden doors and out into the courtyard and she gasped when she saw Khivar’s soldiers everywhere.

Her eyes were drawn to the Commander when she realized he was leading the men into battle. In spite of their desire to be with anyone but each other she did care what happened to him. Not that she would ever admit it, but the Commander and his sister were more like family than her own parents were. Pounding hooves drew her attention to the gaping hole in the protective wall and in the distance she could see Rath leading another regiment into the battle.

As she watched he drew a weapon, but it wasn’t anything she could recall seeing before. He reined his mount in as he neared the wall and he raised the weapon, lining the Commander up in his sights. She heard the sound and she watched as something impacted with his upper body, causing him to stumble back several feet. The momentary loss of concentration was enough to give one of the enemy soldiers the opening he needed to drive the tip of his sword through the Commander’s back.

Max turned to his sister when she suddenly screamed and he scrambled around the table to catch her when she began to fall. He carefully lowered her to the floor and was about to call for Rykar but she shook her head. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have shown you all of that at once,” he said apologetically.

“No, Max, it wasn’t the images,” she protested.

“Then what was it?” His tone was demanding as his concern for her safety overrode everything else.

She gripped his arm tightly. “The Commander. I saw the Commander die.”
Image


Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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

Part 52

Postby Double Trouble » Sun Dec 01, 2013 12:23 pm

Author’s Note:

- The news hit us hard last night. Paul Walker – as he’s present in a lot of our fics as the character ‘Tony’ – died in a car accident. RIP Paul, you went away too early! We will miss you!


- Unfortunately when Double Empire disappeared from the board this past week all of the reviews were lost along with it. So we’d just like to say thank you to everyone who reviewed Part 51!


Part 52

Maria used her fork to push the vegetables on her plate carelessly from one end to the other before she glanced out the small window in the kitchen to read the time according to the position of the suns. It had been a weird fact that there were no other devices to measure the time of day than the suns, but since there weren’t ever any serious clouds on the sky it had been easy to learn.

It was already past time for the evening meal and Michael hadn’t shown up yet. She didn’t want to be mad because she knew he’d had a bad day, but she couldn’t just ignore the disappointment. “Alright,” she muttered to herself and slipped from the chair to take her half-empty plate to the sink. Waiting here wouldn’t improve her mood and he’d know where to find her if he still wanted to see her later.

Without any hurry she placed the dinner she had cooked for them in some bowls that could be closed up and then put the rest of the dishes in the hot water waiting in the sink. To distract her mind, she went through a list of songs from Earth and started to sing quietly to herself while she ran the cloth over the fork and knife she had used.

It didn’t take long before her voice got louder while she sang one of her favorite songs and she even swayed her hips to the beat the was drumming on the back of the pan.

Michael stopped in his tracks when he walked into the kitchen. He had been prepared to find it empty and not to find a woman in there, who seemed to be enjoying herself with something that he remembered as music.

Without disturbing her, he leaned against the doorframe, his eyes travelling over her body as it moved to the sounds she was making. A smile appeared on his lips but it faded quickly when she got more into it and her body started to sway while going slightly down in front of the sink. The display of her moves sent a pulse down through his body and he shifted when his uniform suddenly seemed to be even more uncomfortable than usual.

Maria placed the pan she had been cleaning aside and turned to get the rest of the dishes from the counter. As soon as she detected the Commander in the doorway, her voice stuck in her throat and the heat of embarrassment flooded her cheeks. “Michael…” she said breathlessly and wondered how long he had been watching her.

He chuckled at her embarrassment and shook his head. “You don’t have to stop on my account.”

Was it possible that a person’s head could explode from too much heat, she wondered and grabbed the dishes before she turned to the sink. “It’s not something I’d do with audience.”

“You can pretend I’m not here.”

She glanced over her shoulder briefly. “Wouldn’t work.”

“That’s a shame.” He wandered over to the counter and reached for one of the bowls she had filled and then dug around in the drawers to find a fork. He took a bite and chewed slowly. It wasn’t hot, but it wasn’t cold and it had a good flavor. “This’s good.”

Maria wiped her hands on a towel and went to take the fork out of his hand. “It’s not even warm anymore. Let me heat it up again.”

He tipped his head to one side as he studied her sure movements. “Are you annoyed with me?”

“Just for watching me so shamelessly,” she countered with a slight shake of her head.

“You would prefer I not watch you?” Women were such fickle, confusing creatures, he mused.

“Not when I’m doing...” she gestured around her with a circling hand, “...stuff.”

“Well, how am I supposed to know when to watch you and when not to?”

She shoved the pan on the oven and then turned to look at him. “You’ll figure it out,” she told him and squeezed his arm.

“I’ll figure it out,” he muttered under his breath. He started snooping through the cabinets for something to snack on while he was waiting. “Did Dr. Collon send someone to you?”

“Yeah he did,” she rolled his eyes at him. “You made him do that, didn’t you?”

“Yes.”

“This wasn’t necessary, you know?”

“I felt it was.”

She smirked to herself while she used a huge wooden spoon to turn the food in the pan. “How’s the Captain?”

“He’s much better and in my sister’s capable hands.”

“Good. Must’ve been a real shock.”

“Yes, for both of them.” He shook his head. “We have no way of controlling or containing Ava’s powers and unfortunately when she attacked the Captain she... killed him.”

“She killed him?” she asked, horrified, and accidently dropped the spoon on the counter.

“Yeah.” He reached over and picked the spoon up, holding it out to her. “I was able to revive him...” he frowned and looked down at his hands. “I don’t even know how I knew to do what I did. It wasn’t an Antarian procedure. But it kept him alive until Max was able to arrive.”

“He can be really lucky you were there then,” she said quietly. What a horrible thing to happen. “Where’s Ava now?”

“We have her in an interrogation cell under guard.”

“She’s in the castle?” Her voice was a little higher than she wanted.

“She insists she wants to defect, that she had no intention of revealing anything of value to Khivar but...” he sighed and looked at Maria, suddenly realizing that Ava’s presence in the castle was making her nervous. “I’d like for you to remain in my quarters tonight.”

She looked at him nervously as she filled his plate. “Okay.”

“I don’t anticipate any trouble from her but I’d sooner be safe and keep you close by.”

Maria walked over and placed the plate in front of him. “She killed the Captain and you still trust her?”

“No.” He reached for her hand to hold her still. “No, I don’t trust her, but as long as she seeks to gain my trust she won’t make a move to step out of that cell.”

“Be careful around her, okay?” She squeezed his hand.

“Always,” he promised.

For a moment she got lost in staring at him and when she finally realized it she shook her head slightly. “Eat before it gets cold again.”

Instead of releasing her he tugged her closer and wrapped his arms around her, linking his hands at the small of her back. “I missed you while I was away.”

His touch sent shivers down her body. She had been waiting for it all day, wondering how it would feel, but her imagination hadn’t even come close to the reality. Instead of answering she felt encouraged enough to bury one of her hands in his hair. Slowly she lifted her head, her cheek brushing against his with the move. When her mouth was only inches away from his she gave his hair a little tug.

His gaze dropped to her lips and he nudged her nose with his before lowering his mouth to hers. He pulled her a little closer but kept his hold loose to make sure she wouldn’t feel threatened in any way.

It was a wonder to her how the touch of a man like him could be so soft, could move so tenderly over her. He kept the kiss simple, his lips moving over hers, nipping and teasing but with no pressure.

Michael’s hands shifted to settle at her hips as he gently broke the kiss and he leaned his forehead against hers for a moment. It still amazed him that even something so simple as a kiss could turn him inside out.

“You should eat,” she whispered thickly.

He chuckled. “Did you finish your meal?”

“Yeah, a while ago.”

“Then I guess you’ll have to settle for watching me eat.”

“I’ll do that,” she slowly retrieved her hands from him.

He shook his head. “You can’t possibly enjoy that.” But he enjoyed her fussing over him even though he’d never tolerated any such behavior from any other woman before.

“I’ll do the rest of the dish while you eat. Come on now,” she pushed him gently and placed her hands over his on her hips to release his grip on her so he would eat.

“I suppose there’s no reason for you to have to heat it up again,” he said as he settled down and reached for his plate.

“You’re right about that,” she agreed, although she wanted to be nowhere else more than in his arms. Maybe, if he wasn’t busy with his new prisoner she’d get some of that tonight.

He cut into the meat and took a bite, chewing slowly as he watched her move around the kitchen. “You’re sure you don’t wanna do that thing you were doin’ when I first came in?” he mumbled.

She pinched his side when she passed him. “No I don’t.”

He made a face and poked at the vegetables on his plate. She always made sure they were there and if Amela was around he made sure to eat them because it was a matter of setting a good example, but why did she insist on putting them on his plate when the little one wasn’t around? He shoved them all to one side and took another bite of the meat. “I guess that means I’ll just have to bide my time and wait to catch you unaware again.”

“A few veggies won’t kill you,” she smirked when he winced slightly when she spoke over his shoulder and obviously startled him. “Jumpy much, Commander?”

He turned his head and lifted one eyebrow. “Never,” he denied. “I don’t care for these. If I’m going to eat vegetables I prefer to not suffer this kind.”

She sighed. “Alright, you get a pass, but only for today.”

He lifted his fork in acknowledgment and smirked. Only for today, he thought with a shake of his head. Uh-huh.

“You still got a lot to do today?” she asked after they had spent several minutes in comfortable silence.

“I have a meeting with Max and my sister scheduled. We have to determine the best way to handle the situation with Ava.”

“You’ll be okay if I go to your quarters after dinner then? I was thinking about taking Amela to bed too.”

He nodded. “Yes, it would be best to keep her close as well.”

“I’ll get her after we’re finished here then.” She let the water out of the sink and cleaned it. “Your mother came to me today.”

He slowly lowered the fork to his plate and turned to look at her. “What’d she want?”

“I don’t know. Just to get to know me I guess.”

“She did nothing to make you uncomfortable?”

“No,” she shook her head. “She was very nice to me. She told me a bit about the connection and it actually felt good to hear something about it from her.”

“Oh,” he said slowly. “I’m glad you had a pleasant visit then. She seemed sincere when I spoke with her but she’s had very little interaction with humans and I wasn’t sure she should speak with you alone.”

“It went well; you don’t need to worry about it. It helped me to understand or... accept that this connection chose me.” At least she felt a little better about it now.

He studied her for a few moments. “You’re more comfortable with it now?”

“Yeah... I think.”

“Did she tell you anything we don’t know about it?”

“Not at all,” she leaned against the counter next to him. “She could see I was still wondering why it had chosen me and she said something about the connection choosing the parings wisely.” She looked down at her hands that were playing with the edge of her shirt. “Ya know, that it’s not only the gene that brings you together, but also the fact that you fit together.” Her gaze lifted to his and she forced a small smile. “I don’t know if it’s true or if she just said it to make me feel better.”

He smirked softly and shook his head. “My mother is full-blooded Antarian, Maria. She doesn’t flatter anyone and she doesn’t say anything she doesn’t believe to be true.”

She bit her lip before she could say something about his mother not being as coldhearted as he seemed to think, but she had a feeling he didn’t want to hear that. “Well, if that’s the case, then even better, right?”

“It’d be strange if she suddenly started to change her behavior pattern now.” He shrugged and turned back to his plate. “The most important thing is what you think and feel about the connection.”

“I’m still trying to sort it out in my head,” she admitted honestly. “But I’m glad it happened with you, Michael.”

He smiled slowly and took her hand. “You wouldn’t prefer someone more agreeable? The King perhaps?” he teased.

She let him pull her close again. “I think you’ve been pretty agreeable with me.”

He propped his elbow on the table and rested his chin in his hand. “Will wonders never cease,” he murmured. “Must be your influence on me.”

“My good influence,” she underlined.

“Do you have any other kind?”

“Nope.”

“I’m not so sure I can say the same.”

“Is that a threat?”

He snorted and shook his head. “No, never.”

“I know I don’t have to worry about that.” He would never hurt her intentionally, she just knew it and there wasn’t a doubt in her mind. Her gaze dropped to his full lips and she felt something tug inside of her. It almost seemed like the restless feeling when he was gone was – now that they’d kissed for the first time – replaced by a craving for his touch.

“Why the sudden worried look?” he asked when a frown appeared on her forehead.

She blinked and looked into his eyes. “I was just thinking…” How the hell was she going to formulate this with looking like a total fool?

“What?” He nudged her with his knee gently.

“Your mother said that I might feel things stronger than you because my human body isn’t as strong as yours, right?”

“That’s a possibility,” he agreed, wondering where this conversation was going. “You need more time to adjust so I think it’ll get better for you too.”

She bit her bottom lip and nodded. “Do you feel any different since… last night?”

Michael tried to determine what she meant. “Different how?”

“I don’t know,” Maria sighed. “It’s hard to describe.”

He looked at her wordlessly while his mind went over the day, but he couldn’t think of anything that had felt like a change.

“It’s like I… NEED you to touch me when you don’t.” A deep blush bloomed in her cheeks at the admission. “It’s not a feeling that I can’t resist for now but it’s there, subtle.” What would happen if he wasn’t there for a longer time again though? “You know, I always felt restless when you weren’t with me, but this’s kinda different.”

He wished he could really comprehend what she felt. He had never had the same restless feeling she was describing – not this strong anyway and now something else was taking over? Of course he’d thought about what had happened between them last night and he had anticipated seeing her again and repeating it, but wasn’t it something that could simply be explained with his human male hormone-driven side?

She took a deep breath. “Maybe I’m reading too much into this. Forget about it.”

Michael reached for her hand to stop her from pulling away. “I wish I knew what to say.”

Would he say it if he did, she wondered. Could he say it? He wasn’t a man of words; he was a man of action. He had his moments when he could be surprisingly verbal but those times were few and far between. “No, really, Michael, forget about it. It was silly.”

He shook his head and tugged her hand gently; giving her the opportunity to refuse if that was what she wanted. When she didn’t try to back away he shifted and pulled her closer to stand between his knees. He let the tips of his fingers ghost over her bare arm, watching the small bumps rise on her flesh in reaction to his touch.

“So, you can resist this feeling? The need to be… touched by me?” he murmured.

“Hmm?” Her eyes were locked on his hand, watching his fingers advance and retreat as they danced along her forearm, his touch so light, so teasing.

He smirked at her distracted tone. “You were telling me how you can resist the need for my touch.” He added just the slightest pressure to the caressing touch and lifted an eyebrow as he watched her expression.

“That’s not a thing to bring up when you’re doing it, Commander,” she answered a little breathlessly.

“So you can resist as long as I keep my distance,” he muttered and used his free hand to lift her chin up. “You want me to keep my distance?”

He was playing with her, she realized and smirked. “I guess not.” Her small hand reached out to fist the fabric of his uniform.

“You guess?” He suddenly stood, bringing himself to his full height and towering over her as he shifted enough to nudge her lower back against the edge of the counter. “That’s not a straight answer, Earthling,” he murmured and retrieved his hands from her to rest on the counter on either side of her, which brought their bodies dangerously close.

Maria swallowed hard and wondered if someone had set her on fire because she seriously felt like she was burning up inside. She had never felt an attraction like this to a man before and it was both fascinating and scary. Every nerve ending inside of her was tingling in anticipation of even his smallest touch, which was just ridiculous considering that he had only stroked her arm before. The gesture seemed so harmless but her body felt like they had been making out for hours with him keeping her on the edge the entire time.

For a few moments she thought it was the ringing in her ears considering what she was feeling, but she soon realized by the way his body suddenly straightened that something wasn’t right. “Michael, what…?”

He suddenly grabbed her arm and pulled her forward. “That’s the alarm.” He pushed the door open and pulled her behind him, using his body as a shield, while his hand lingered on the hilt of his sword. When the hallway was clear, he moved forward in a hurry and dragged her with him.

She was shaking uncontrollably behind him, fear overtaking every other feeling inside her as they moved forward. When he stopped at a fork in the corridors she almost bumped into him.

Michael turned and faced her when he couldn’t see anyone. “Maria, listen to me,” he said and reached out to place a hand on the wall. A cracking sound could be heard and a moment later a secret opening appeared where there had been a stone wall seconds before. “Follow the tunnel; it’ll lead you to a chamber. When you get there the door will close automatically. It’s dark, but don’t be afraid, you’re safe there.”

“What’s happening?” she asked fearfully.

“I don’t know.” He pushed her towards the entry. “Go! I’ll come for you when the danger has passed.”

“Okay.” She knew she had to trust him, so she let go of him and ran into the darkness on the other side of the corridor.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
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Double Empire - AUwA/CC/Adult - Part 53 - 12/15/13

Postby Double Trouble » Sun Dec 15, 2013 3:37 pm

Earth2Mama: The enemy troops are approaching and we won’t have long to wait to find out what’s going on.

sarammlover: Thanks! Time is certainly working in their favor.

Natalie36: Thanks for reading!

keepsmiling7: Lol, that was a labor of love we hope to not have to repeat anytime soon!

That does break down even more barriers between them.

Eva: We’ll catch up with the Commander again today and see if we can get to the bottom of that question.

begonia9508: Thanks, we’re enjoying Michael and Maria too!

LovelyPOM83: Lol, then you’re in luck because we do have a dreamer scene in this week’s update!


Part 53

Liz sat on the private balcony outside the King’s personal quarters, her feet propped up on the short wall that surrounded it as she looked out into the night sky. It was clear and cloudless, something she was still getting used to. The stars were so close she felt like if she reached up she could just pluck one from the sky. Back on Earth it had become a rare occasion to see a clear star-filled night sky. Hell, it had been rare to actually see the sky through the haze that hung over everything now.

She inhaled deeply, enjoying the clean crisp air. There was a slight chill to it but she didn’t care. She could happily sit out here all night just soaking it up. Inside the King’s quarters she could hear him moving around and she knew it wouldn’t be hard to get used to the sounds. He had asked her to have the evening meal with him and rather than have someone else prepare the meal for them she had done it herself.

It had been waiting when he had joined her and they had conversed about mundane things throughout the meal. Afterwards he had sat quietly at the counter, immersed in reports while she cleaned up from the meal. Something was distracting him but he hadn’t taken any of the openings she had provided to share it and she didn’t want to push. He had been called away while she was finishing up in the kitchen and after apologizing for the disturbance he had told her to make herself comfortable and he would return when he could.

She tipped her head back and looked at the open doorway when she heard his footsteps nearing and she smiled when he appeared. He carried two glasses in his hands and he offered her one as he stepped out on the balcony. She’d sampled the liquid before and it reminded her of wine, just without the alcohol.

He sat down in the chair next to her. “I took your advice,” he said after a moment.

“What advice was that?”

“About speaking with my sister and approaching her differently than I normally do.” Their meeting had gone surprisingly well; it was what had happened towards the end that was troubling him.

“Maybe that wasn’t the best advice I’ve ever given you,” she suggested uncertainly. His mood was far from good, so maybe it hadn’t really worked out.

He frowned. “No, it was good advice. It went better than expected. You were right, there are just a lot of other things on her shoulders and she handles it differently. We had a good talk.”

Liz nodded and turned the glass in her hands a few times, her gaze once again on the landscape. “But you don’t look very happy.”

“Yes, I know,” Max exhaled loudly. “There are other things on my mind.”

“You wanna talk about it?” she asked carefully. He’d had more than one opportunity tonight to share and he hadn’t taken them, so asking directly was her last option.

“I want to,” he admitted and his eyes moved from his glass to her face, “but I can’t. I’m sorry.”

“No,” she reached out and placed one hand over his, “don’t be. I know there’re things you can’t tell me and I won’t try to pry them out of you. It’s okay.”

He chuckled softly and bent to place his glass on the ground before he took her hand between his and tugged lightly to see if she was willing to sit in his lap. He got more comfortable when she stood and moved over to him. “Where were you all those years when I was on Earth, Liz Parker?”

She laughed and leaned her back against him, enjoying it when he rested his chin on her shoulder and his warm breath hit her neck. “Maybe I was with you and you just don’t remember,” she teased. “Just kidding.”

He wondered if it would be possible to forget someone like her and decided that he’d remember if they had ever met before. “I’d remember that.”

Liz smirked to herself. Hardly possible, she thought, but didn’t disagree. “True, I am hard to forget.”

“You are,” he murmured and tightened his grip around her. His thoughts went back to earlier that day when he’d had to heal the Captain and what had happened afterwards with the Princess. How much had she seen of him and Liz in the flashes and would she be discreet about it? Was it reckless for him to allow her that close when no one knew how it could affect her? He sighed without even realizing it. This day was really one to forget – the second in Command died for a brief moment and now his first was going to as well? No! That could not happen.

“Max, do you ever get a chance to just get away from everything? Even for a short while?”

“Rarely.” He chuckled quietly. “When we first came here I would try my best to sneak away from the guards at every opportunity. I wasn’t very good at it in the beginning. They’d find me before long and bring me back. It wasn’t until I discovered the network of hidden corridors that I became successful at avoiding them.”

“Your guards don’t know about them?” she asked skeptically.

“They don’t know about all of them and only the most trusted sentries are granted access to the hidden corridors.” He smiled and shrugged one shoulder. “I try not to give them more to worry about than I have to these days.”

“I’m sure they appreciate your restraint.”

“I’ve discovered that respecting them and their job not only earns their respect, it also grants me certain freedoms in return.”

She shifted to look at him. “What sort of freedoms?”

“The sort that allows us to spend time together without the worry that everyone in the kingdom will know about it. The sentries protect me, but they also protect my privacy, and as I’ve discovered, that is a rare and precious thing.”

Liz smiled and shifted to sit sideways in his lap. “Smart man,” she patted his chest.

He caught her hand in his and pressed it firmly against him. “Otherwise I couldn’t see you as often and do this,” he leaned forward and pressed a short kiss to her lips. “I’ve learned to trust a handful of people but it wasn’t easy.”

“Not a surprise in your position,” she said quietly, her eyes locked on his lips.

Yeah, and the newest events with Ava had once more shown them that not everyone in their ranks could be trusted, he thought.

“Who do you trust?” she asked gently.

“My sister, the Commander and his sister,” he started immediately, “because no matter how difficult our relationship is most of the time we hope to achieve the same goals in the end. My Advisor, the Captain, Miss Deluca, and you,” he squeezed her hand on his chest tightly, “of course.”

“You don’t even know me or Maria very well. What makes you trust us?”

“I don’t know. Maybe because you’re human and most of the time I feel more like a human than an Antarian. Your species is more open with things like feelings and emotions; it makes you easier to read. With an Antarian you never know if they speak the truth just by looking them in the eyes.”

“You don’t know for sure with humans either,” she told him, speaking from her own experience. But maybe his ability of reading people was much better than hers.

“No, I know,” he nodded. “In the end you can never be a hundred percent sure, but if you’re not willing to give your trust now and then, you’ll end up very lonely.”

“I’m glad you feel you can trust me. I’d imagine the position you hold doesn’t allow for much personal time or freedom so I hope us being together eases that stress somewhat.”

He smiled and was about to speak when a loud sound reached his ears. “The alarm,” he said as he urged her to stand and then stood as well. He was turning to go inside when a large sentry burst through the open doors, sword drawn as he stepped out onto the balcony.

Liz barely managed to cover her mouth before the scream building in her throat could escape and it took several moments before she recognized the man’s uniform and identified him as one of the King’s men.

“What is it?” Max asked.

“Khivar’s armies have been identified in the distance, Highness. For your protection – “

“No.” He straightened imperceptibly and shook his head. “No, I will not hide while my soldiers face danger.”

“Sire, your protection must come first,” the man insisted.

“What use is a King if he survives only to find his people dead?”

In spite of the approaching danger, Liz had to smile when Max countered the sentry’s words and judging by the mulish expression on both men’s faces, she had a feeling it wasn’t the first time they’d had this conversation.

“I will escort you to the war room where you will remain under heavy guard.” It was the only concession allowable and he’d be damned if the King died on his watch. The war room was well protected, secure, and heavily guarded. When he had first been assigned to see to the young King’s protection he had made the mistake of allowing him to remain in an unprotected area during an assault on the castle and when the Commander had found out he had been punished accordingly. The fact that several well-trained soldiers had remained at the King’s side throughout the incursion had mattered little to the Commander and he knew a repeat of that mistake would not be permitted.

After several moments Max nodded and then motioned to Liz. “You will have Nakona see to her safety and remain with her until the danger has passed.” His eyes burned with intensity as he met the sentry’s gaze. “Nothing will happen to her.”

“No, Sire. I will speak with Nakona personally.”

“Someone will come for you and they will take you at a safer place,” he told Liz with what he hoped was a calm voice. “You can trust them as you trust me.”

“Okay,” she nodded and wanted to hug him, but she held herself back in front of his guards.

“Sire,” the man at the door pressed.

Max looked into her deep brown eyes, hating the slight hint of fear there. “I’m coming… I don’t know how long this will take, but I will come to you as soon as the situation allows.”

“Don’t worry about it, I’ll be okay,” she assured him. He had things to focus on now and she would just hope that everything wasn’t as bad as it seemed for the moment.

He reached for her hand and squeezed it before he left with a determined stride.

*****

The others had already assembled in the war room by the time Max arrived with his escort party. As soon as he was safely seen inside the doors were drawn closed behind the soldiers and they were left to their meeting. He crossed the room, his gaze on the battle plans already pulled up on the screen.

“Rykar said Khivar’s armies had been spotted in the distance,” he said as he joined them. “Why would he risk another attack at this time?”

“Soldiers have been detected, but at this point their actions are more diversionary than that of a planned attack.”

“Diversionary tactics would imply that there is an attack planned,” Isabel spoke up, surprising all of them. “A diversion is created in an effort to draw attention away from the intended target.” She looked at her brother. “The vision. The Commander is the target.”

The room went silent and everyone stared at the Princess for a moment. “What vision? What’re you talking about?” Michael stepped forward and stared at her.

Before she could answer, the doors were opened again and Kyle walked in wearing his full uniform and sword.

“Captain,” Tess took a few steps towards him, “you’re not in any condition to – “

“I’m fine,” he told her. Although some of the meds were still clouding his mind it was getting better the more he walked around. “I’m not lying in bed while the castle faces a possible attack.” With that he went to stand next to the Commander, who was obviously having an issue with the Princess.

“Fill us in,” the man told her.

“Earlier, I had a vision. I saw an attack on the castle, thousands of Khivar’s soldiers storming our protection walls. You were leading your men into the fight, but…” She swallowed hard.

“But what?” he pressed.

“She saw you wounded from a distance by Rath. He was using some type of weapon, probably from Earth,” Max continued for his sister. “And then one of his soldiers saw his chance and killed you immediately after.”

Michael frowned at both of them for a long moment while everyone was trying to make sense of it as well. “So you had a bad dream and now what?”

“It wasn’t a dream,” she told him angrily. “It was a vision.”

“How do you know that?” he snapped. She could NOT have seen his death, it wasn’t possible.

“I just know. It will happen if we don’t prevent it. It was the future I saw,” she told him with determination and then shifted her gaze to the windows. “I know it because I’ve had the visions before.”

“You were obviously mistaken,” Michael insisted. “You’re talking about an assault that would require extensive planning. That’s too much troop movement for us to have missed.”

“All I can tell you is what I saw. Part of the protective wall had fallen and Khivar’s troops were pouring through the opening. You led your men out into the courtyard through one of the secret tunnels and into battle. As Max said, you were injured and before you could recover your focus one of his soldiers mortally wounded you.” She shook her head. “You have to believe me!”

Tess sighed when he crossed his arms over his chest. Isabel wasn’t one of her favorite people but there was too much conviction in the other woman’s voice for this to be false. “Ava must know if Khivar is planning a direct assault.” Her blood boiled in her veins as she glanced at Kyle and for a moment lost herself in the memory of her dupe’s attack on him. “We have to speak with her.”

Michael shook his head. “We can’t turn you loose in the same room with her.”

“You don’t have a choice, do you? If anyone can get the truth from her it’s me, and like it or not, you know it’s the truth.”

He growled something no one understood, his eyes icy as he considered a solution. A sound on one of the boards drew their attention and Max went to hit a blinking button, which brought a new picture of an Antarian man up on the screen. The reception was bad, so the screen and voice jerked now and then. “King, Commander,” he bowed his head slightly.

“Speak,” Max told him shortly.

“Hostile troops are nearing the west over the dunes. They’re using low flying transports to stir up the dust, so we aren’t able to determine a reliable number of soldiers.”

“How far away?” Michael asked.

“If they maintain current speeds they will reach our defensive lines shortly after darkness falls.”

“We need to talk to her.” Tess stepped in front of her brother and looked at him intently. “Now!”

“Keep us informed and try to determine the number of soldiers as well as the weapons they’re carrying with them,” he ordered and the transmission went dark again afterwards. “Captain, I want every available soldier fully armed at the gates. Archers on the wall. Contact the units around the castle and prepare them for backup if it comes to that.”

“Yes, Commander,” Kyle saluted.

Michael continued to ignore his sister and went to talk to Max in private. “Maria’s in the secret chamber, my side of the castle, kitchen end,” he muttered and looked at the man. “Everyone I trust with this information is in this room; it can’t get to anyone else.” He paused and his gaze shifted towards Isabel for a second. “So if your sister is right, you know where to find her.”

The King nodded. He knew it wasn’t the time to convince anyone that nothing would happen because none of them knew for sure. “She will be safe either way.”

“Good,” the Commander straightened and nodded at him before he turned to finally pay attention to Tess. “You need to focus. This isn’t about the Captain.”

“I don’t need you to tell me that,” she yelled at him angrily.

“We’ll see.” He turned, ready to leave and was surprised when the Princess was suddenly at his side, looking him straight in the eyes.

“Be careful, Michael. Promise me you’ll consider what I saw.”

“I don’t make promises,” he told her, but his eyes softened for a short moment when she seemed to be genuinely concerned.

“Then the least you can do is to make an effort to take extra precautions.”

“He’ll take the extra precautions,” his sister spoke up. “And now we’ll go talk to Ava because she must know what’s going on.”

“She’s probably right, Commander,” Max spoke up before he could say anything to contradict her statement. “If she knows something it’s imperative that we discover it immediately.”

“We will go and speak with her, but,” he shook his head, “you are not to get into a direct confrontation with her. What happened to the Captain has no place in that room. The two of you meet up on the field at some point that’s between you.”

Tess narrowed her eyes. “Are you implying that you might release her?”

“He’s not implying anything of the sort,” Kyle denied.

The Commander and King’s eyes met and nodded at each other, sealing the silent agreement that he would do whatever needed to be done, that he would take the path of whatever the best option was for them. “I’m going to assign another of my best men to you for your safety.”

“That’s not nec…” Max started, but just nodded when the other man glared at him warningly. It wasn’t worth getting into a fight.

“Let me do my job, Max,” he told him firmly but quietly. “What kind of Commander do you think I am to not insist protecting the Kingdom and its King with everything I have at my disposal?”

“I’ll keep you informed of the situation,” the King said and motioned to the radio clipped to his belt.

Michael nodded and headed for the door, waiting without turning until Tess followed him. “You let me do the talking, Corporal.” His tone made it clear that it wasn’t a suggestion, it was an order.

*****

It wasn’t as quiet as usual when the Commander and his sister made their way through the corridors to reach the secure area where Ava was imprisoned. Soldiers and servants ran around making the necessary preparations for a possible attack. For a moment he thought about Amela and considered detouring to make sure she was safe, but they didn’t have any time and he knew he had to trust his people to protect the child.

“Where’s Maria?” Tess asked, walking fast beside him, her sword making screeching sounds whenever it brushed against the stony wall.

“She’s safe,” he told her shortly and stopped to look at her when he heard the deep sigh. “It’s better if you don’t know. We’re not sure how easily Ava can get into your head when you try to do the same to her.”

Her eyes narrowed but after a moment she nodded, conceding his point. She knew it was true but she didn’t have to like it. “Do you think she knew about this when she snuck into the castle?”

“I don’t know.” He ran a hand through his hair. “It would seem unlikely. The timing is rather convenient with her being inside the castle and – “ Loud noise interrupted him and when they realized the racket was coming from the area where Ava was being held they began to run.

They rushed through the door that opened into the corridor where the interrogation cells were and they saw two of the guards bracing the cell door with their bodies. Something inside rammed into the door, momentarily pushing it outward and forcing them to move.

“What is the meaning of this?” Michael demanded.

“She’s been insisting that she be allowed to speak with you, Commander,” one of the men said.

“When did this behavior begin?”

“Not long before the alarms sounded,” the second sentry answered, his voice jumping when the door was blasted again. “Your orders were that she was to remain incarcerated until your return regardless of her actions.”

He nodded. “Release the locks and step back. Once we’re inside, lock it again and stand your post.”

He placed himself right next to the door when the guards opened it. “Stop that act or you’re dead,” he called inside and waited for another moment until the noise had calmed down. He gave a nod to his sister and then appeared in the doorway, one hand held outstretched in front of him in case their prisoner tried anything.

“I’ve been trying to talk to you for – “ Ava started, but her voice came to an abrupt stop when she noticed the woman following him before the heavy door fell closed again.

Michael narrowed his eyes on her, trying to decide what game she was playing. Her actions hadn’t really made any sense so far and with Khivar’s army nearing he knew he had no time to think about it for long. A decision had to be made and the King had trusted him to make the right one.

Tess kept her hands at her sides, tightly fisted to control the anger at the woman who had almost killed her lover. Her dupe seemed rattled more than angry, but she could be a good player from the things she heard about her.

“As you might have heard I had more important things to take care of first,” he told her and gestured to the chair. “Sit.”

“I’d rather stand.”

He exhaled loudly through his nose and took several angry steps forward to come face to face with her. “No, you wouldn’t.” With a tight grip on her shoulder, he moved her sideways and pushed her into the chair himself. “You tell us again why you’re here and you will let my sister into your mind to prove the truth in your words.”

“We have more important things to discuss, Commander,” Ava told him, her voice almost pleading. “Khivar – “

“You will do it or I will kill you right here for harming my Captain,” he snapped. He knew what was going on outside and if she had information they needed it, but he couldn’t trust her without proof, so how much would her information be worth if it was all a trap?
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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

Part 54

Postby Double Trouble » Sun Dec 29, 2013 5:28 am

Earth2Mama: That’s possible, but they have a way to determine the truth.

Eva: Now that Isabel’s stepping into her position as the fourth things may begin to turn around for them.

Natalie36: Thanks for reading!

begonia9508: Lol, they thought so too!

You make a good point about Ava... if she is to be trusted though, she has to prove it to them and they won’t be easily convinced.

keepsmiling7: Max’s position is a very lonely one. He does have a few people he can trust, but he’s been estranged from them for quite some time.

They weren’t too thrilled about that either.

sarammlover: Here’s to hoping you survived the two-week suspense, lol. We’re very happy you enjoy Max and Liz here. Being Candies ourselves, we always take that as a high compliment.

LovelyPOM83: Well, if Khivar and other interruptions would just cooperate with us we wouldn’t have all of these interruptions... we’ll have to speak with them about their timing.

Alien_Friend: It was a labor of love, but well worth it in the end. ;)

Tess and Max are creating a bridge that will help them in their fight against Khivar and perhaps later, if it becomes necessary to fight against their parents‘ wishes to marry.

Kyle would’ve been in serious trouble if not for Max’s abilities.

We will be seeing more from Isabel as she has finally taken her place with the other hybrids. Now that she’s opened up to Max perhaps we’ll see some thawing in that direction as well.

Thank you so much! The threat of danger is always there, but those little moments help to ease the tension that would otherwise swallow the characters whole.

We’ll learn something from Ava today. It would’ve been nice if our girls could’ve spent that time together, but they’ll be together soon.





Part 54

“It isn’t a trap, Commander.” She shook her head when he glared at her. “It’s not mind reading. Your suspicions are clearly written across your face.”

“I have every right to my suspicions. You infiltrate the castle and hours later we receive word that enemy troops are moving in. I don’t believe in coincidence.”

“I didn’t say it was coincidence. Khivar is using my captivity as an opportunity to breach the castle walls.” She paused a moment. “I have orders to kill you.” Her eyes flashed dangerously. “And we both know I could kill you with nothing more than a thought.”

“Not as long as I’m standing here,” Tess said before her brother could respond.

“I have no intention of harming the Commander.” She’d had no intention of harming the Captain earlier either but she wouldn’t explain herself or beg their forgiveness. “We have very little time and you’re wasting it.”

Michael glanced at his sister and gestured for her to come closer. “As I said, you will tell us why you’re here and you’ll let my sister in.”

Stubborn man! Ava shot an evil look at him. “Fine! Let’s get it over with quickly though because we’re running out of time.” Her gaze shifted to the woman in front of her when she took a chair to sit in front of her. Tess’ face was riddled with anger and now that she had discovered her … thing with the Captain, she understood why.

Tess concentrated on her task, eager to keep her emotions in control to get answers rather than revenge. For now. She stared her opponent right in the eyes and it only took seconds until she felt the light tingling which indicated the mental connection that was needed to determine if the woman was telling the truth or not.

“Why did you slip into the castle?” the Commander asked again.

“I acted on Rath’s orders,” the woman stated. “He wants information about the human woman he had held captivate. I have to follow his orders and I wasn’t able to reach you to tell you my plan. I’m not here to harm anyone, but Khivar will know if I just make information up.”

“Have you told anyone about the warnings you gave us or about the knowledge we have of the human woman Rath is looking for?”

“A few of my own men who were loyal to Zan know I’ve been talking to you about the planned assaults. I told no one about your knowledge of the human any my men don’t know she exists at all.”

Michael looked at both women as they stared at each other and felt his sister trembling slightly because of the strength her mental power needed and he was pretty sure she was trying her hardest to block anything from being revealed to Ava. “Why do you want to work with us?”

Ava hesitated a moment, but then spoke. “Because Zan believed our only chance to live was to form an alliance with the real Royal Four against Khivar. Neither of us chose our destiny, we were engineered and the only ones responsible are the people who created us. The war needs to end and if Khivar wins he’ll eliminate all of us anyway.”

“You said Zan believed, but what about you?”

“I didn’t,” she told him honestly. “I wasn’t sure there would be a way to gain your trust.”

“What changed?”

“Zan died and I’m the only one left to fulfill his plan so I took the risk.”

Tess broke eye contact when it became too exhausting to go on any longer. She leaned back and took a few calming breaths before she got up again and looked at her brother.

“Was she telling the truth?” the Commander demanded.

“She speaks the truth,” Tess answered and wished it wasn’t so. She’d like nothing more than to wipe the defective hybrid from existence, but if she was useful to them that wasn’t an option.

He watched the intruder for a moment. “You said Khivar would know the truth if you lied to him. How?”

“He has great mental abilities,” Ava answered.

“Surely you’ve lied to him before. How do you protect your mind from his abilities?”

“I can feel his presence just before he accesses my thoughts and I can form a barrier to protect myself. That doesn’t surprise him, he expects that reaction.”

“Then why is this different?”

“Because for this to be successful he has to believe that I’ve killed you. They think I believe that you executed him and because of that when he enters my mind he knows he won’t run into that barrier. If I believed you had killed Zan nothing would stop me from killing you and I would do so in the same manner in which I was told he was killed. For him to believe that I succeeded in killing you, I have to believe that I killed you.”

Tess studied her for a moment. “You want me to implant that memory.”

“You’re the only one with mental abilities strong enough to do it.” Ava met her gaze directly. “And you know that.”

“I don’t see any advantage in implanting a memory in you,” Michael told her. “It won’t be long before they discover it’s not true.”

“You, of course, would have to stay out of sight for – “

“No,” he barked. “I’m not hiding from the enemy while my men die out there. They need me to be there.”

Ava leaned back. She knew the Commander wouldn’t like that suggestion so his response wasn’t surprising. “You might as well kill me then.”

“Don’t be pathetic,” Tess snarled.

“It’s true,” the other woman yelled at her furiously. “If I go back to them without information about the human and without a proof that I’ve killed the Commander or done major harm, I’m as good as dead. Rath or Khivar will kill me, whichever gets his hands on me first.”

Michael ground his back teeth together while he thought about every possible option. “You can stay with us, might as well fight for us.”

Both women stared at him with wide eyes, their expressions so much alike that it was almost funny. Almost. “What good would that do?” Ava shook her head. “Nothing would change.” She leaned forward to look at him. “Think about it, Commander. If they believe I’ve killed you, I would gain Khivar’s trust. I could find out more about the weapons he’s building, about the book you’re looking for, and about their plans for further attacks.”

“And how do you suggest we get rid of the armies nearing our castle if everyone believes he’s dead?” Tess asked, shocking her brother by considering the dupe’s suggestion. “They’d see their chance and fight back hard to get into the castle.”

“No, Khivar would recall his troops. There’s a code of honor when a Commander dies. Three days, no fighting.”

Michael snorted bitterly. “Your sick leader won’t give a damn about the code of honor. He’s broken it before.”

“He won’t break this one.” Ava looked at him, trying to hide any of her own doubts. “Zander and Khivar were at this point before, a time before we were even created. Zander killed the Commander of Khivar’s armies. He happened to be close to the man and they followed the code as well.”

“Doesn’t prove Khivar will do the same for us,” Tess wasn’t convinced.

“No, maybe it doesn’t,” Ava said impatiently. “Look, if my plan fails, you still have your Commander alive and you can fight back. Khivar will know I lied and kill me; you won’t lose anything for trying. We’re running out of time.”

Tess’ mind flashed back to what Isabel had seen and a worried look spread over her face when she looked at her brother. Would he die if they ignored Ava and went ahead with fighting the nearing troops themselves?

Michael frowned at the expression on his sister’s face. “What?”

“As much as I’d like to ignore her, I think she’s right.”

“About which part?” he asked cautiously.

“We have nothing to lose if she’s wrong and if she’s right we stand to gain a great advantage. If Khivar believes your death is real – “

“The only way for such a plan to work is if everyone believes me to be dead! How long do you think we can pull off something like that?”

The more Tess thought about the plan Ava had proposed the more she believed it was the right path to take. She looked at her brother. “As long as we have to. I can implant the memory deeply enough that even she will believe she killed you.”

“For what reason?” He pointed at the other woman. “Even she doesn’t believe that I executed Zan! If she believes she killed me then why would she help us?”

She leaned back and thought about that. It would be difficult to create the illusion that Ava had carried out his execution while allowing her to maintain the knowledge that she hadn’t. But he had a point about Ava. It would be pointless to turn her loose thinking they were still enemies. Of course, she and Ava were still enemies. “I can create the illusion we need to fool Khivar.” Her gaze landed on her double. “There will be a high price on your head for ‘killing’ the Commander of Antar. If you’re captured by our soldiers your life will be forfeit.”

“I’m aware of it,” the woman nodded. “It’ll bring me closer to Khivar and his plans though.”

Michael’s hands clenched at his sides. The thought of letting his men believe he was dead was unbearable. “My men will lose hope if they believe I’m dead. I don’t see this as an advantage.”

“Revenge can be great motivation though,” Ava said meaningfully. “Believe me, I know. And you have other good men to take the lead. The Captain,” she started and glanced at her dupe, “your sister… and one day you’ll be able to look into your enemy’s faces again and enjoy the shock on their faces.”

He looked at his sister and she nodded briefly to encourage him. With a sigh, he turned on his heel and pounded on the door until it was opened. “Send for the King,” he told one of the guards and then returned.

“We don’t have much time left,” Ava said impatiently.

The Commander ignored her and looked at Tess instead. “We don’t make this decision without him.”

As much as she wanted to be unaffected by the Commander’s words, Ava was fighting an internal battle with herself. She wasn’t comfortable being in the same room with the King. It was one thing to see Zan’s twin from a distance but there was something incredibly disconcerting about seeing him up close. It didn’t matter that there was no way to mistake him for her dead lover; there were enough physical similarities between the two men to dredge up the memories it took so much work to bury so she could get through the day.

*****

Isabel was studying everything going on around her as her brother and his Advisor discussed the activity occurring beyond their walls. They had brought up multiple screens and while she had a rudimentary understanding of what she was viewing, she found herself really studying the information displayed on them. For so long she had felt like she survived on the outskirts of this life and now she was realizing that in many ways she had put herself in that position.

A heavy knock on the door sounded and a moment later the guard opened the door and one of the Commander’s sentries appeared in the doorway. “Sire, the Commander requires your presence in the interrogation chambers,” he said as he saluted.

“I will see to his passage,” Rykar suddenly moved past the sentry and into the room. “Return to your post.”

“I should go with you,” Isabel said as she looked at her brother.

Max turned his head to bring her into his field of vision. In all of their time on Antar, Isabel had never shown the slightest interest in becoming involved in anything that required more of her than scathing commentary.

“Max, please.”

“You can come with me,” he nodded approvingly and turned to his advisor. “Make sure all of the servants and women living in the castle have followed the safety instructions. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

“Of course,” Alex nodded and even in a situation like this he felt proud of the Royals. No one really seemed to notice it, but the fact that the Commander was asking for the King’s presence spoke volumes.

“We’ll take our leave,” Max told his sister and went ahead before she and his personal guard followed.

With a hurried pace they crossed the castle much faster way than normal. “What do you think he wants?” Isabel wondered aloud. The Commander had never cared much about her brother’s opinion so why now?

“Whatever it is, Ava seems to be the reason,” he answered shortly and they made the rest of the journey in silence.

When they reached the interrogation cells a guard went to open the door and as soon as they stepped into the room the tension was palpable. Max’ gaze landed on the sitting dupe briefly before he looked at his second. “You requested my presence?”

Tess walked into his line of sight before Michael had a chance to answer. Her brother wasn’t convinced about the plan so he couldn’t be the one to tell the King. “We need to discuss our options.”

He frowned when the Princess spoke instead of the Commander. “Fill us in,” he replied with a nod and shifted to let his sister step up beside him.

The Royal Four united, Ava mused as she watched them. She had no clue what the King would decide, but for a moment she just watched in amazement as the four formed a square to discuss the situation.

“What are our options?” Max asked, his gaze focused on the military half of their group.

Michael spoke up first. “We can take to the battlefield and defend the castle and our people.”

“Or we can implement another plan that would allow our enemies to believe the Commander was executed by Ava as revenge for Zan’s death.”

Isabel frowned at that. “We’ve heard nothing to indicate Zan was killed.” She may not stay on top of many things that involved the war, but killing one of the highest-ranking officers in Khivar’s armies? Even she would’ve heard about that!

“Releasing that information would only allow the situation to spin out of control,” Ava interrupted them. “The only ones aware of his death are the two who executed him,” her eyes darkened dangerously at the memory, “and a select group of soldiers who were loyal to him.”

“Why is she being allowed to speak?” Isabel glared at the woman.

“She may have proposed a plan that allows us to gain the upper hand,” Tess answered, the words not holding their usual bite.

“Tell me more,” Max nodded for her to go on.

“I could implant a memory in her mind that would show a scene where the Commander was killed by her while she was in the castle. Khivar is coming to us because he knows Ava is in our castle and I’m pretty sure he’s using the attack as a distraction for the real task.” Her gaze shifted to Michael and her face was sad for a second. “To kill my brother. He has strong mental capabilities, so he would know if she just made it up.”

“What kind of advantage would we have if everyone believed he was dead? Our men would be too devastated to fight and Khivar’s troops will still be out there without our best man to lead them.”

Michael looked at Isabel in surprise. Our best man? Since when?

“According to Ava Khivar will uphold the code of honor and will stop the fighting for three days as the laws require after the death of a Commander.”

“What if he doesn’t?” the King asked, looking at the dupe.

“Then you can still send the plan to hell and send your Commander out there.”

“But Khivar would kill you.”

Ava shrugged. “He’ll kill me if I come back without creating major damage as well.”

“Again,” Isabel interrupted, “where is the advantage? We would have to pretend even for our own men that the Commander was dead.”

“Only until we can leverage a massive counterattack that would include Michael,” Tess said. “And until then there’s the possibility that Ava will be able to provide us with important information.”

“I’m not convinced.” The tall blonde crossed her arms over her chest, her icy gaze locked on Ava. “This could all be a part of their plan.”

“We’ll know for certain if Khivar’s troops fall back when Ava’s released,” Max said.

She shook her head. “We’re putting a lot of trust in someone who’s fought us at every turn. How many times has she led her men against our own soldiers?”

“Tactically it’s a sound move,” Tess insisted.

“It could be a trap.”

Michael was certain he was beginning to develop a headache as he listened to Tess and Isabel arguing over whether or not trusting Ava was a mistake. He pushed away from the doorframe and moved to stand between them. “Enough. I think this plan should be given consideration. I know it could be part of Khivar’s plan, but for that to be true she’d have to be mentally stronger than Tess and I don’t believe she is.” He looked at Max. “We’ve heard from everyone but you. What do you think we should do?”

“The plan is lacking in some points, but I can also see the advantage if it works out.” He glanced at Ava briefly, who almost looked pleading as she looked at him. “We don’t know how long we’d have to hide the fact that you’re still alive, which will restrict you to a very limited area and only a few people to talk to. Will you be able to do that, Commander?” He wasn’t someone who sat back and watched; the man needed to be out on the field with his men, so how feasible was the plan really?

“If that’s what we decide,” Michael said sternly and clenched his hands, “then I’ll do whatever’s necessary to make it work.” Or perhaps I should say, I’ll do nothing to make it work, he thought frustrated.

“The Captain will be one of those aware of the plan; you’ll at least be able to discuss tactics with him and he’ll carry out your orders.”

“Him and my sister,” the Commander agreed.

Max nodded and looked back at the dupe for a moment as he contemplated the situation. He slowly turned and began to pace the room for several minutes before he came to an abrupt stop. “Let’s do it! Tess,” he gestured to the prisoner, “your turn.”

“Alright,” she nodded and went to stand in front of Ava. “You’d better not put up any barriers I’ll need to overcome first. We don’t have the time and it’ll be hard enough without that.”

The other woman grabbed the Corporal’s hand and placed it on her head while she locked eyes with her. “Start! And take care with my brain, Princess.”

*****

Khivar watched his armies from the safety of his transport, carefully monitoring movement of Antar’s armies. He turned from the screens when the door behind him hissed, its opening signaling Rath’s arrival. “I summoned you some time ago.”

The Commander’s stance was tense, his dark eyes feral as he stared at the man he had sworn his allegiance to. “I do not have time to be at your beck and call.”

“I have yet to detect sufficient troop movement.”

“They know we’re here. Another direct assault on the castle would be a waste of manpower and he’s prepared for that.”

“Why do you think they would anticipate another strike of that nature?”

“Because I would.” His back teeth were grinding as he met Khivar’s steady gaze. “Were you able to contact Ava?”

“I was successful. She understands her orders.”

“If she kills their Commander we have a window of opportunity to strike. The entire kingdom will be in mourning and soldiers will lay down their swords for three days.”

Khivar shook his head. “We abide by the agreement. There will be no fighting for three days if she carries out her orders successfully.”

“You would abide by that agreement and defy the rules of war by directly attacking the civilians in the Sun Valley.” Rath shook his head at the stupidity the man exhibited.

“We. Will. Abide. Do you understand me, Commander?” Zander had given him the time to put everything back together after his men had killed the former Commander of his armies, his brother, so they would be given their time as well. IF Ava was successful, he thought. Either way, something good would come out of it. If King Max’ Commander survived the day, Ava would have to die – something he had anticipated for a while now because he didn’t trust her.

“Understood,” the other man muttered and saluted. Ava would never be able to kill him. HE wanted to kill that bastard with his own hands. “What if she isn’t successful?”

“Then it’s up to you,” Khivar looked at him. “Zander’s Commander has to die, by her hand or your own. They know about the human’s importance, so they’re hiding her, and it’ll be next to impossible to find her. The only man on their side who would be able to impregnate her with a powerful child needs to be done away with. Without him, the human is useless to them.”

“So that order is our priority?”

“It’s the only order,” he corrected the military man and walked straight towards him with a slow, dangerous stride. “One that says: Either one of you fulfills it, or heads will roll.”
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
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Part 55

Postby Double Trouble » Sun Jan 12, 2014 7:05 am

Natalie36: The plan has great potential for danger.

Eva: It is a plan and as with even the best of plans, things can go wrong.

begonia9508: Thanks! There’s a lot riding on this plan so hopefully it’ll play out well.

sarammlover: There are quite a few questions surrounding Ava... and they’re good questions. After Zan will she even allow herself to fall for someone else? She’s suffered a great loss and right now her plan to avenge his death is really the only thing that keeps her going. We’ll soon find out about Michael’s intentions for the plan and Maria.

keepsmiling7: That has yet to be seen.

Michael doesn’t trust him either.

Alien_Friend: Isabel is finding her place among them and it’ll give her a strength that has yet been unseen. There is a possibility that this is part of the vision, just perhaps with a twist to it. We’ll have to see if Ava pays for the plan with her life.

We’re happy to add a good note to those Sundays!



A/N: We posted the last part of our X-mas fic today, which means we are going back to weekly updates for DE and TT - starting next Sunday.




Part 55

It’s done,” Tess said and slumped back in her chair. Implanting a memory that would be real enough to make Khivar believe it had not only taken work; it had also taken an emotional toll that she would never admit to. In order to create the memory she’d had to witness her only brother’s execution and she had to look at him to convince herself that he was still alive.

“You’re sure it’ll fool Khivar?”

She looked up at the King’s sister and nodded. “I have no doubt he’ll believe what he pulls from her memory to be true.”

“It’s true,” Ava agreed even though no one had asked for her input. She could tell the difference between a true memory and a false memory and the Corporal had used the information and the dark emotions she’d pulled from her mind about Zan’s execution to create the false memory. It would fool Khivar and he would gloat with satisfaction at the Commanders’ death.

“What do we do now?” Isabel asked.

“Now we stage the death of Antar’s highest Commander,” Max answered somberly.

Michael grimaced at the thought. “Where did I die?” he asked his sister, the question surreal to his ears. He. Was. Not. Dead.

“In the corridor leading out of your personal quarters; she was waiting for you. The alarm sounded and there was a lot of chaos in the castle itself. Ava showed up behind you, pretending to be me so you were hit by her powers unprepared and were thrown into the wall. She came after you, bent over you, and looked into your eyes… She said, ‘This is for Zan,’ and then laid your carotid artery open with her sword.”

“Nice,” he muttered and looked at Ava with a glare.

“Hey, I didn’t do that. Remember that, Commander.”

He ignored her and looked at the King. “I need to talk to the Captain first. He needs to know the plan before we spread the news.”

“No,” Max shook his head. “He’s your second and he’ll know exactly what to do in a case like this. Let him believe it to be true until he returns to the castle.”

“But…” Tess started angrily.

“This whole situation will be a lot more convincing if the Captain does not know the truth. His reaction will be true and very convincing.”

“It’s cruel to let him believe that.” Tess looked at Michael pleadingly.

He knew how cruel it was. “Max is right. Even the slightest slip will make Khivar question the validity of my death.”

She didn’t like it but she accepted their decision. Tactically it was sound, but knowing what Kyle would go through during the time he believed Michael to be dead was just painful.

“We don’t have long to wait before Khivar sends his troops into battle.”

They all turned to look at Ava.

“I realize this isn’t your first choice, but it’s only a matter of time before Rath and Vilondra turn on Khivar, and when they do the rules of war that he does abide by will be discarded. They will attack and they will not stop. The attacks will begin with civilians; farms, food stores will be destroyed, and the valleys will be flooded.”

“We have the picture,” Isabel snapped.

“How will I contact you?” Ava turned away from the Princess to focus her gaze on the Commander. “When I have information to share you would be the best choice. No one will suspect that I’m filtering information to you, but it would have to be done mentally to avoid further suspicion.”

“I am not communicating mentally,” he muttered at her. The day he let someone in his head of his own free will was the day he would die. Die for real. Letting the King heal him had been a necessity, living with the fact that Maria could look into him some days was still terrifying, so there was no room for anyone else in his head.

“But – “

“Never,” he said finally.

“I’ll do it.” Isabel stepped forward.

“You?” Ava frowned and it was obvious to see everyone else was surprised as well. “How?”

“I can transfer a copy of myself to different locations, I prefer to visit people in dreams because it’s much easier when their mind isn’t fighting it, but I can also do it when you’re awake.”

“You can do that when people are awake?” her brother asked, stunned. She had never said she was able to do anything like that. Sure, he knew she dream walked people, especially those she didn’t trust, but it had never occurred to him she was able to do that with people who were awake as well.

Isabel just nodded at the King briefly and focused back on Ava. “We can work on schedules to meet when you’re alone. Nobody will know I’m there. I only reveal myself to people I want to, so it’s a safe way and no one will be suspicious.”

Michael and Tess exchanged a look before turning to the King who was trying his damnedest not to look so surprised by his sister’s revelation.

“There had to be a reason they put the four of us together,” Max said without looking at them. He could feel their eyes on him but he remained focused on Isabel as she and Ava worked out their first meeting. He understood the necessity for her involvement – Khivar would never suspect her – but at the same time he worried for her safety.

“Rath will be suspicious of her,” Michael said when silence once again fell over the room.

“He doesn’t have the mental abilities to gain access to my thoughts. He’ll have to take my word and Khivar’s word that my claim that the execution was carried out is true.”

“And there’s also the fact that the entire kingdom will believe it to be true.”

He looked at Isabel when she spoke. She seemed to be gaining confidence as she navigated this new path. “Would it be possible for Khivar to detect your presence if he were to search her mind while the two of you are meeting?”

Isabel thought about it and wasn’t quite sure if it was possible. She wasn’t really there at all so the memory Ava would have afterwards wasn’t like one she would experience with a real person, but who knew the true extent of Khivar’s powers? “Maybe he would find something, there’s no guarantee with this method, but it’s less risky than her trying to contact any of us mentally from such a great distance. I believe Khivar would detect such a thing much easier.”

“She’s right,” Ava agreed. “Khivar doesn’t know about her powers, I don’t think Lonnie has the same, although she’s your dupe.”

“Maybe she just never told anyone?” Tess lifted an eyebrow.

“True, but first, that woman would not be able to keep something like this a secret because she’d use it whenever possible, and second, I don’t think they’d have used me to get into the castle if she had powers like that. She’d have tried to get into the human’s head to find her location.”

So many IF’s and wary assumptions, Max thought and rubbed his forehead when he could feel the headache.

Michael stared at Isabel directly, but in his thoughts he was running over every possibility they had, but to be honest, he couldn’t come up with anything better. “It’s the best option we have.”

Ava’s serious expression softened for a moment. Zan had been right; the Commander – as thickheaded as he was – could be convinced and maybe even trusted. “Khivar doesn’t know of that kind of power, whether Lonnie has it or not. So if he doesn’t know, he won’t know what to look for in my memory, and it’ll make it harder for him to find any information should it come to that.”

*****

Maria paced back and forth in the small corridor. The sounds of battle were distant, muffled, but she didn’t know if that was because she was in the hidden chamber or if it was because the battle was taking place some distance from the castle. She had tried to stay focused on positive thoughts but the more time passed the more her unease increased.

Emotions she could now identify as belonging to Michael were assaulting her and it worried her that his feelings were running so close to the surface. Or maybe it was just because they were connected and it allowed her to detect his emotions when someone else couldn’t. There were too many of them running together to really decipher them but there was no way to block them.

Something had to be wrong. It wasn’t just anger. She would understand that emotion given the situation. It was the frustration, the resignation that concerned her most. What was going on that was bothering him so badly? She wished there was something she could do to ease his mind, to provide him with some sort of comfort that would allow him to be free of these troubling emotions.

She turned and stared at the entrance when she heard the familiar rumbling that indicated the stone door opening and closing. Trepidation filled her as she waited for someone to appear in the darkened hole that had opened up. She could hear footsteps and she moved back into the shadows when no one stepped through the entry immediately.

Satara took a moment to allow her eyes to adjust to the darkness before she walked deeper into the room, all of her senses engaged in case something was out of place. There was no one in sight when she stepped into the light of the chamber and for a moment she wondered if she had entered the wrong secret corridor, but then her eyes caught movement in one corner and a moment later the human stepped out of the darkness surrounding her.

“Are you alright, Maria?”

She nodded. “Yeah, yeah, I am. What’s going on? Why’re you here?”

For a moment the Antarian soldier frowned. Why did humans always ask multiple questions at the same time? “We have come under attack. I was sent to protect you.”

“Michael thinks it isn’t safe for me here?”

“The Commander is taking precautions,” Satara assured her charge. “There is nothing for you to be concerned about.”

Maria turned to look at the wall when the floor beneath her shook slightly and some of the mortar between the bricking was shaken loose and fell to the ground at her feet. “That would seem to contradict your words.”

“I will protect you to my last breath.”

“Not that I doubt your loyalty to the Commander or anything, but what if they kill you?”

“I have been assigned to see to your safety. While I remain loyal to the throne and all that it entails, my allegiance is now directly to you for the remainder of our lives. Failure to do my duty would result in my death; at the hands of Khivar’s soldiers or at the Commander’s own hand.”

“I don’t understand.”

“The Commander requested a Blood Oath and there is no more sacred oath in the land. Your life must be protected at all cost and it is my sworn duty to ensure your safety.”

Maria shook her head. “No, the Commander means well, but he has no right to order anyone to undertake such a job.”

“It is not a job,” the soldier said quietly, “nor did the Commander order me to take the sacred oath. It is a privilege to be chosen for such a position. Very few are chosen to become the protector and companion of any of the mates belonging to the Royal Four.”

“But I’m not… We’re not…” She blushed when the Antarian soldier’s white eyebrows lifted above golden eyes. “I mean, he’s already promised to the Princess.”

Satara relaxed after a moment. “The Commander and the Princess are ill suited to wed. He has chosen you, Maria, and it is an honor to be your protector and companion.”

*****

“Captain,” Hektan yelled from his position on the protection wall to get his attention, ducking when an arrow flew just inches from his face, making a whizzing sound as it passed.

Kyle lifted his head to look at the Antarian man, the sky blurred by dust from the ongoing battle.

“Additional troops nearing from the west.”

“How many?” he yelled back, but his voice was absorbed by an explosion in the south and he turned to see thick clouds of smoke appearing behind the castle. “How many?” he yelled again.

Hektan lifted his head slightly to peer over the wall and then turned back to his Captain. “150, maybe 200 soldiers.”

Kyle clenched his fists and grabbed the radio. He knew radio communication was risky, but when troops were so close he had no choice but to order more soldiers the fastest way possible. “Captain speaking. Ground forces, Unit 5 to the North Wall.”

The radio crackled and a moment later a male voice could be heard through the static. “Understood. Unit 5 ground forces to the North Wall.”

“Unit 6, explain the explosion at the South Wall.” He went on and stalked off towards his horse, frowning when the radio remained silent. “Lieutenant Bartor,” he yelled into the radio. “Report.”

Another few seconds passed before the radio finally crackled again and someone spoke. “Corporal Segar, Unit 6 speaking, Captain.” The voice sounded young, hectic and disturbed. “We lost the Lieutenant, I repeat, we lost the Lieutenant.”

Kyle mounted his horse with one swift move. “The explosion, report.”

“A crashed enemy transport, Captain. It ripped a hole in our wall. Not fully destroyed but the upper half was taken down.”

“Damn it,” the Captain yelled into the air before he brought the radio back to his mouth and kicked the horse in its sides. “I’ll send you reinforcements. Hold the wall.”

“Understood.”

He clipped the radio back to his belt and took the reins, prepared to spur his mount into a run, but a sharp, jarring signal suddenly drowned out all other noise from the battle going on and he stopped abruptly. “What the hell,” he muttered under his breath, a tight feeling building in his chest when he saw soldiers all over the place suddenly stopping and turning to look at the tower at the east end of the castle.

With a nudge of his knees and the lightest touch on the reins he turned his horse in that direction and watched in horror when two men appeared, pulling on a rope to raise a black flag.

*****

Khivar watched from the safety of his transport, triumph rising in him when his attention was called to the black flag now flying high above the east tower of the castle. She had succeeded, he thought, his eyes gleaming as he took in the scene before him. The Commander of Antar was dead and it was only a matter of time before the throne fell into his hands.

“Satar, order the withdrawal of the troops,” he said to the soldier seated in the cockpit.

“At your command.” The man saluted and turned to the communications station.

Not far away Rath sat astride his horse, his fisted hand taut on the reins as he automatically shifted to stay balanced in anticipation of the large animal’s movements. His eyes narrowed as he stared at the black flag snapping in the wind. How had she managed such a feat? Gaining admittance to the castle was one thing, getting the drop on the Commander was something altogether different.

She was driven by revenge but he found it difficult to believe she had managed to come face to face with the Commander and contained it long enough to take him to his knees. He knew they would know the truth soon enough. Khivar might be enjoying this victory but as soon as Ava returned he would insist on seeing the Commander’s death through her eyes. He rolled his shoulders at the feeling of discomfort that washed over him at the thought of Khivar gaining entrance into his thoughts.

He frowned when the order was given to withdraw the troops, but it was too soon to play his hand so he did as ordered and recalled the men. Khivar’s order was a sign of his weakness. It was the perfect time to strike against the enemy, to take advantage of the chaos the Kingdom would be in.

****

His mind was drawing a blank as he rode along the protection wall of the castle, seeing Khivar’s troops retreating all around him where just minutes ago the battle had been raging. He could feel the heavy weight on his chest as he watched his soldiers – Antarian and human – stand with their swords in their hands, their horrified gazes lifted towards the back flag in the dusty sky.

He forced himself to finish his route around the castle, making sure none of their enemies were going against the code of honor and continuing to fight. A few moments ago he had wished this battle would end one way or another, but now he wanted it to go on instead of whatever had happened.

“Captain,” Gerald – a human man who had fought for the Antarian army longer than himself – called him and pointed upwards.

Kyle stopped his horse and followed the man’s gesture, realizing that King Max and both Princesses had stepped out next to the raised flag. They were too far away to decipher their expressions, but the missing presence of one royal stood out anyway.

The black flag announced the death of a royal. Antar’s Commander had fallen. Michael was dead.

Minutes passed where everyone just stood in silence and remembrance of the fallen man. How could this have happened? Had he even been out on the field yet? Who had managed to kill a man like him so easily?

His thoughts were interrupted when the three other royals went back inside and a man replaced them, bearing an instrument that looked a little like a trumpet, but made a louder and deeper noise when he blew into it.

He reached up to rub a spot over his uniform-covered chest and only then did he realize that everyone’s attention on the ground had turned to him.

The Captain’s spine straightened and he turned in the saddle, his gaze scanning the sea of filthy faces as the men looked to him for guidance. He had been trained for this but he had never expected to step into the Commander’s place to lead their armies. It was a reality that any of them could be killed at any given moment, but the thought that the Commander was dead seemed impossible to comprehend.

Battle weary soldiers began to move in when he turned his mount towards a mound of debris. Reaching his destination he dismounted and climbed to the top, clearing his voice as he sought to capture the words necessary to provide the encouragement and guidance his men needed. He adjusted his radio so that he would be heard by all of them.

“Today is a day that will be remembered for generations to come.” His voice boomed loudly, carrying across the fields. “The Commander of Antar has fallen in battle but his death will not be in vain. He has tirelessly led his soldiers into battle after battle, fought this war against Antar’s greatest enemy, and when the suns rise in three days’ time we will seek retribution for his death. The Kingdom of Antar will not fall into Khivar’s hands as a result of our loss today. Our mission will take us into his camps and into his very kingdom and we will not rest until those responsible for the Commander’s death have been brought to their knees!”

Battle armor clanked loudly as swords were lifted high above the soldiers’ heads, their fisted hands striking their metal breastplates with a force that resounded throughout the valley. For several long minutes they stood motionless, a silent tribute to their fallen leader, their comrade in arms.

Kyle finally lowered his own sword, carefully sheathing it before reaching up to remove his helmet. He bowed his head for a moment before lifting his gaze to the men once more as he dismissed them. He waited until they began to disperse, allowing them the opportunity to speak if they felt the need to, but he wasn’t surprised when they remained silent. Their heavy footfalls were synchronized as they automatically fell into formation and every strike of their booted feet against the ground caused a vibration that could be felt for miles in every direction.

*****

Max, Isabel, and Tess walked through the cold dark corridors of the castle after watching how every soldier and person living in the castle had taken the news of the Commander’s death.
Telling the people that their army’s leader was dead almost felt as horrible as if the news were true. Their faces had been blank with shock and disbelief, their loyalty to the Commander unmistakable.

“How do we maintain the illusion even in front of our parents? And his mother?” Isabel asked. Suddenly the idea seemed to be bad again.

“Let me worry about my mother,” Tess said and stopped in front of the others. “I’ll go and talk to her as well as fill in the Captain.” Not in that order though, she thought and hoped she could find Kyle soon. He needed to know the truth. Anything else was just too cruel.

“You do that,” Max agreed with a nod and turned to his sister. “We’ll take care of the rest. There’s damage to the castle that needs to be repaired and other formalities that must be addressed in response to the death of a royal. Meet us at dawn so we can make a plan to handle the situation. We have to remove personnel from the castle to maintain the secret.”

“At dawn,” Tess nodded and left.

Isabel waited until the other Princess was gone before she spoke to her brother. “You intend to fill your advisor in?”

Max nodded. “He needs the truth to do his job.”

“What about your little human friend?” She raised an eyebrow.

“It would be pointless to hide the truth from her. She and Maria have become close and I see no reason for Maria to bear the added stress of maintaining this falsehood with one of the few people she trusts and feels safe with.”

“You place a lot of faith in a woman you know little about.”

“What I know of Liz Parker may not seem much to you, but I would stake my life on her being trustworthy.”

She stared him down for several long moments. “I hope so, Max, for all our sakes. Because it isn’t just your life you’re staking by allowing her to have this information. You run the risk of putting an entire kingdom in jeopardy.”

“You would prefer that she remain in the dark.”

“I would, yes.” She studied him before sighing in resignation. “But you don’t intend to, do you?”

He stared at her – long and intense – before he shook his head. “She’s not a threat. And it’d be even more suspicious if we suddenly moved her from the castle again. Humans are curious, Isabel, it’s in their nature.”

“I don’t think that’s why you want her to know the truth,” she placed one hand on his arm and shook her head when he started to speak. “You have to find a good explanation for her to remain close to the royals if you plan to minimize the people with access to the castle.”

“I’ll find one,” Max said as they started to walk again. For all he knew, Liz was good at many things. “She’s our cook and we still need to eat, don’t we?”

“I suppose,” Isabel agreed and stopped when they reached a split in the hallways. “Shall we?” Her eyes wandered along the dark corridor on their left.

“I think we must,” he told her with the slightest hint of a smile because he knew she wasn’t looking forward to meeting with their parents anymore than he was after the recent events.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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

Part 56

Postby Double Trouble » Sun Jan 19, 2014 5:14 am

Eva: Lol, the games are definitely beginning. Well, some questions will be answered and knowing us, it’s likely there’ll be more to take their place.

Earth2Mama: We’ll find out in this part what Maria is to know.

sarammlover: Oh, Rath isn’t a fool as much as we’d like for him to be, lol. Hopefully Tess’ abilities to implant a memory that he’ll believe was successful.

keepsmiling7: Well, someone has to make sure they’re fed, right? Lol, can you imagine Isabel having to cook?

begonia9508: That’s very true! In order for the plan to work to its full advantage they need secrecy.

LovelyPOM83: We’ll be getting a couple of reactions from some of our characters in today’s part.

Alien_Friend: We’ll catch up with Kyle in this next part and he’ll receive the news.

Ah, yes, the connection... it would seem that it would provide Maria with the truth, wouldn’t it?

Max may perhaps be a bit biased about letting Liz in on what’s going on but he’s found his own connection with her and he needs that. And considering what Isabel’s probably like in the kitchen, it’s also a matter of self-preservation, lol.

We’ll see Isabel stepping up more as we move forward.

That’s a good point about Zadira.

The combination of their specific powers finally working together is one of the most important strengths in their battle strategy. The plan may not be perfect, but the fact that they’re working in sync finally will give them a necessary edge. We’ll be catching up with Alex very soon.




Part 56

Tess waited impatiently. Her steps were agitated as she paced the length of her quarters and then retraced her steps over and over. Kyle had been busy with the troops as she’d known he would be, so it had been impossible to get him alone to tell him the truth of the situation. She knew he’d come to her when he could but it bothered her that he was carrying this burden alone when he should’ve had knowledge of the plan before it was carried out.

As a soldier she understood the necessity of allowing the second in command to believe that the Commander was dead. But as a woman, as his lover, she despised the necessity for such deception. It didn’t help that it wasn’t a question of trust; no one would dare question the Captain’s loyalty to the Royal Four or to the throne. He had earned the right to be informed of such events, but due to circumstances they’d had little choice but to leave him in the dark.

She wondered how he would react to the news, if he would be angry with her. He probably would, she mused. She knew if she were in his place she’d be madder than hell for being allowed to believe such a lie. She paused in her pacing when she heard his weary footsteps and she rushed to the door, pulling it open before the sentry there could knock.

“I am expecting the Captain. Leave us now. Stand your post at the corridor’s entrance.”

The Captain maintained his rigid posture as he waited for the sentry to carry out her order. He saluted and held out the report he was bringing as a cover for his presence in her quarters. She could almost feel the weight of his grief as she looked into his eyes and as soon as the sentry was at his post she motioned for him to enter. Before the door had fully closed she dropped the report to the floor, mindless of the papers scattering around them as she pulled him into her arms.

Kyle sighed as his arms came around her. She was brave, hadn’t shed a single tear yet from the looks of it, although her brother – the Commander of Antar – was gone. “What happened?” he asked, his voice so raw that it broke.

“All is not as it appears,” she said and leaned back to look at him. “He’s not dead, Kyle. He’s not dead!”

He frowned at her words. What was that supposed to mean? He had seen the flag, the little ceremony on the tower. Was she so taken back by the loss that her mind couldn’t let it be true? “Tess…”

“No, listen. It’s all part of a bigger plan.”

“What?” He dropped his arms from her and looked at her as if she spoke a different language. “I don’t think you should – “

A rumbling in the walls caused him to stop and he turned when one of the hidden passageways suddenly opened and the Commander stepped in – in one piece and quite obviously alive.

The Captain stared at him like he was looking right at a ghost and for a moment he thought the ground was being pulled out from under him. “What the hell – “

“You didn’t tell him yet?” Michael looked at his sister, his expression pissed off due to the situation.

“I was about to,” she glared at him. “Kyle, we need to fill you in on the plan.”

His head snapped to the side, his gaze locked on his lover. “So you let me believe he died and THEN you fill me in on a plan where it just looked like it? In THAT order?” he asked angrily. Relief washed through him though – the Commander lived.

“No one liked playing our hand that way,” the Commander interrupted. “But unfortunately there was no time.”

“No time?” Kyle bit out. “Hours ago in the heat of battle perhaps there was no time! Directly after the black flag was raised perhaps there was no time! There would not have been a second thought given had I been summoned by the King once the troops had retired from the battlefield out of respect for a fallen Commander!”

“Max has had his hands full with – “

He cut her off before she could say anymore. “The hell with Max! I should’ve been notified immediately upon returning from the field!”

“As inconvenient as this has been, it was necessary for the men to see that you were affected by the news of my death,” Michael said, his tone forceful. “And even more important was that Khivar and his troops see for themselves that – “

The Captain couldn’t believe just how officious the Commander’s tone was as he rattled off all of the reasons it had made sense to allow him to believe the greatest of lies. Had he been on the other side of the lie he would’ve seen it clearly, but as it was his relief at seeing his Commander, his friend, alive and obviously well, mixed with the anger at being misled and allowed to believe the man to be dead, and without thinking beyond that he swung on him.

Michael hadn’t expected the move, so when he realized what was going on it was too late to protect himself from the hard fist that collided with his face. He managed to stay upright, but the pain, which spread in his face and neck from the hit was stronger than he had expected.

The taste of blood filled his mouth and he wiped the back of his hand over his lips. Yes, there was a cut.

Tess stayed out if it, knowing her brother was in no real danger and neither was her lover. He needed to get his anger out of his system and if it was Michael who got the worst of it, she wouldn’t try to redirect it.

“Fuck you, Michael,” Kyle hissed. “This plan could’ve easily backfired. What if the Khivar’s troops hadn’t retreated after the flag was raised?”

The Commander stared at him as he took a step closer to his second. With nothing more than a look he made sure the other man knew that another assault on him wouldn’t go without a response from him. “We were positive Khivar would follow the code of honor.”

The Captain snorted. “Because he’s been so honorable in the past? What if he hadn’t?”

“Then we would’ve discarded the plan immediately and I would’ve been out there.”

“We had convincing information that Khivar would lay their swords down after Michael’s death,” Tess intervened.

“From who? That bitch?” Kyle’s had snapped towards her.

“Yes! We had to risk it for a lot of reasons.” Especially because of Isabel’s vision, she thought.

“And where is she now?” He glanced between them and his eyes narrowed. “You let her go.” His expression turned incredulous when neither of them denied it. “You released her? Are you insane?”

“It was necessary,” Tess insisted.

“She’ll carry the news to Khivar that her mission to assassinate me was a success,” Michael added.

“What makes you think he’ll believe her? He has ways of finding the truth and she’s one of them!”

“She’s working for us now.”

“Have you suffered a recent brain injury I’m unaware of?” he asked as his gaze landed fully on his commanding officer. “She can’t be trusted!”

“If we’re to put an end to the war and finally see Khivar’s reign come to an end, we have to take the risk.”

Kyle exhaled audibly through his nose, causing it to flare for a moment. “You’re so sure of it.”

Michael shrugged. “Once in a while you have to form an alliance with the enemy to fight a mutual enemy.” That’s what Ava’s motives had been in the first place and he believed it could work.

“She gets into contact with Khivar, gives us information about their plans and tactics,” Tess agreed. “We need someone like that to win this war.”

Her lover looked at her, stunned. “You of all people believe she can help?”

“I do,” she told him. “I still hate her and the things she did to you, but we have to set our personal feelings aside.”

“And what’s she get outta this? What’re her motives for helping us?”

“Revenge for Zan’s murder is her first priority,” the Commander shrugged. “A place to live after as well, maybe.”

“You’re willing to accommodate her?”

“It’s too early for such a decision,” Michael said as was preparing to leave. He needed to get Maria out of her hiding place because she had been there for too long now. “But if she emerges to be a truthful ally then I’m willing to consider it.”

*****

Maria’s nerves were on edge as she counted off every step from one end of the chamber to the other. 23 steps back and 24 on the return trip because she had to step around a loose stone in the floor. The vibrations beneath her feet that indicated troop activity had ceased some time ago and then the most haunting sound had filtered in through the walls.

She hadn’t missed the way her guard’s eyes had shot to the doorway, hadn’t missed the narrowing of the golden irises, or the way Satara had momentarily frozen before collecting herself. When she had asked about the trumpet being played she hadn’t expected to learn that the sad tune was played to announce the death of a royal.

It wasn’t Michael. It couldn’t be. She had argued with herself for several hours, trying to make a convincing argument. Rationally she was certain it couldn’t be him. The connection was still strong, she could still feel him, which told her whatever had happened, it hadn’t happened to him. Surely if one of the royals were dead she would be able to detect some sort of sorrowful emotion coming from him, but as it was, that was the one emotion she didn’t feel.

She was making another pass across the room when she suddenly realized the feelings were getting stronger. She reached up to rub her hand over her heart and she turned to face the entryway when a rumbling sound preceded the heavy stone shifting back and into the wall.

“Commander,” Satara saluted, her tone relieved when her golden eyes were able to detect the man in the dark hall.

The door closed behind him again and his heavy footfalls echoed through the stony passageway when he made his way towards the dimly lit chamber. He wasn’t expecting it when a small body crashed into him for a tight hug.

“Michael.”

He sighed and returned her embrace for a second, but then straightened again so as not to reveal too much affection while they weren’t alone.

“You okay?” Her eyes wandered over his body for inspection and she couldn’t detect any obvious harm.

He stopped her searching hands and looked at her. “I am unharmed.”

Something was wrong though. She could feel and see it in his behavior. “What happened?”

Instead of answering he guided her to the other end of the chamber and placed his hand over a rock that looked like all the others. A deep cracking sound announced the movement of another wall and a few moments later it had moved aside and revealed another hallway. With a slight urging nod, he told her silently to follow it. “It leads to my quarters. Wait there for me.”

“Okay,” she agreed, knowing it wasn’t the time to ask questions.

Michael waited until she had left before he turned to Satara.

The Antarian woman was looking at him in anticipation of new orders and information about what had happened. She didn’t expect it when the Commander reached out to place a hand on her shoulder and visions hit her: visions of a battle and the fall of the Commander himself at the hand of Ava. Her eyes were wide and confused when the superficial connection ended.

“That’s the only truth you will know when you step out the door,” he told her quietly, but she knew it was an order.

“Understood, Commander.” She didn’t know why he wanted everyone to believe that he was dead, but she wouldn’t question it.

He nodded towards the entry he had come through. “Now go, the Captain needs assistance with our troops.”

“Yes, Commander,” she saluted again and then went to escape the chamber.

He waited until she was gone before he turned and walked down the second hall, which led to his personal quarters.

*****

Maria was confused about what was going on as she stepped into the Commander’s quarters to wait for him. Something was wrong and she didn’t know what it was. Michael was alright, he hadn’t been harmed in the battle, but she knew something wasn’t right. Was it possible that his sister or the Princess or the King was dead? Satara had said a royal had been killed, that was the only reason they would hear the trumpet being played.

She moved to the window and looked outside, her gaze locked on the black flag flying over the tower. Normally the flag that was raised above the tower was that of the Zander family crest. She had never seen this flag and she surmised that it must represent the death of one of the royals.

She turned away from the window when the heavy door behind her opened and she watched as Michael came inside but remained in the shadows. “Is everything – “

“Cover the windows,” he ordered. His voice was low and gruff but held the unwavering tone of authority.

“Why?” she asked fearfully, but turned to do as he had requested. The feelings she was getting from him were confusing and she didn’t know how to read them, it wasn’t something she had ever felt before.

The room appeared to be shrinking with every new curtain that she pulled over the large windows and she suddenly felt trapped. What if the dead royal was Michael and the man with her was Rath? It didn’t feel like Michael was dead, but what did they really know about the connection? Maybe his dupe had been able to somehow overtake it with his death? It would explain the darker feelings she was suddenly getting from him.

Her hands started to shake when she moved to the last window to cover it and her gaze swept to the door of the bedroom next to her. Could she flee quickly and barricade herself until help came?

Heavy footsteps announced that he was finally moving further into the room and she jerked around to face him with wide eyes, her hands still clutched on the last closed curtain.

Michael frowned at her behavior but only noted it in an absentminded manner. So many of his thoughts were still on what had happened in the cell hidden deep below their current location. He was unaware of the way the shadows played over his features, lending a darker quality to his presence. He reached up to unbutton his uniform jacket, rolling his shoulders to send it sliding down his arms. He rubbed one hand over his face, not noticing the way that she flinched when he did something he rarely did and tossed it across a piece of furniture rather than hanging it up.

His thoughts drifted to the memory Tess had implanted in Ava and his features became taut at the realization that the entire kingdom, save for a few, believed him to be dead. Khivar and Rath would be celebrating his demise and hopefully biding their time until the end of the three days. His sister had given him the details of Zan’s death and given the relationship between Max’s dupe and Ava, he supposed he could understand the need for revenge. It was a weakness and it left one open to attack, but as with anything else, revenge was necessary at times. But in order for it to be successful, in order to avoid the pitfalls that came with acting without caution, one had to be patient.

Ava had been patient. She had meticulously planned the way she would kill those responsible for her lover’s death. It was the only thing she lived for. And they were counting on that single minded determination to allow her to keep truth from fiction separate in her mind. The memory Tess had implanted had been very detailed as it accounted the moments of his death and he knew Khivar would revel in the agony she had inflicted. There was little more painful than dying from that type of wound, little to do but wait and pray for death to come and put an end to the suffering.

How poetic, he mused angrily as he moved around the room. He felt confined, caged in, trapped like an animal, and until the plan was carried out, he had no other recourse but to wait. The one thing more painful for a soldier than death on the battlefield was sitting it out and letting someone else fight the battle. His soldiers would be back out there in three days, fighting his battle and dying in his name while he hid in the shadows. Hid like a scared child. His hand swept across a shelf, upsetting everything there, and it only served to enrage him.

He whirled around when a sound came from behind him, his eyes flashing dangerously as his gaze swept the room for the source of the sound. He froze when he saw Maria and only then did he realize that since coming into the room the only words he’d spoken had been that of an order to cover the windows. He forced himself to relax as much as he was capable of at the moment and he started to move towards her.

Hey eyes darted to the door of the bedroom again when he focused back on her. With every step he took towards her she moved back, but her space was limited and she found herself backed up against the wall. Be strong, she told herself. It’s Michael, he’s just very upset. But fear overrode the attempt to stay calm when another wave of dark feelings rolled over her.

No, no, this couldn’t happen again! She couldn’t fall back into the hands of the man who had done all of those cruel things to her. Her body was tense, drawn taut like a bow, and her suddenly burry gaze made it impossible to see him clearly. Images from Michael got mixed up with Rath and it was getting harder with every passing second to tell who was walking towards her.

“What do you want?” Her voice sounded cracked as it wavered.

He stopped as the frown on his face deepened. The darkness in the room made it hard to see her features, but her voice sounded scared. Was she still worried about what had happened earlier? She must’ve heard the sounds from the battle being waged outside. “You,” he told her and it was the truth. It wasn’t meant the way most men would probably be suggesting, but she seemed to be the only one who was able to give his mind a little peace once in a while.

His single-word answer startled her. “No,” she cried and suddenly pushed away from the wall to sprint for the bedroom even though she knew she was never going to be able to prevent him from coming in. All he needed to do was use his powers.

Although she knew better, she made it to the room and slammed the door shut, turning the key and pressing herself against it. “Leave me alone!” she yelled furiously. “I’m not going with you, I’d rather die!” Her gaze moved over the room, trying to find something, anything that could work as a weapon, but there was nothing.

Michael started to chase after her, but stopped dead in his tracks when she slammed the door in his face. His irritation with the situation only increased with her refusal to open the door and when he heard the key turn in the lock his hand shot towards the barrier. He caught himself just before his palm could make contact with the door and he slowly lowered it to touch the heavy wood with the gentlest of pressure.

He stood there, so close he could see the pores in the wood, and he backtracked over the past couple of minutes in an effort to recall everything that had been said. It wasn’t her words that had gotten through to him so much as her tone. There was anger in her voice, but it was the underlying fear that made it quiver that brought him up short. Why would she be afraid of him? She hadn’t shown any fear since…

And it hit him like a punch to the gut. Feelings and emotions assaulting him; images of himself, facial features twisted into a grimace of anger and malice. It wasn’t him. But it was, he realized. She had come face to face with the monster in her nightmares because he had gotten so caught up in the darkness of his thoughts that he hadn’t realized how he would appear to her. It had apparently been just enough to push her over the edge, to make her think that Rath had come for her.

Maria held her breath, trying to be as quiet as possible so she could hear what was happening in the other room, but she couldn’t make out a sound at all. Had he given up? No, she thought bitterly. He would never give up!

Frustrated tears ran down her cheeks, but she brushed them away and glanced around the room, her eyes finally locking on the balcony outside. Maybe she could scream for help? There had to be others outside to hear her, right?

Okay, she nodded to herself and took a calming breath before she went for the huge glass door, frowning when she found it locked. “No,” she cried out quietly and tried it again, but it didn’t move an inch. Why was it closed? Her hands touched the glass, but she knew she wouldn’t be able to break it. Antar’s glass was different because of the suns outside and it wouldn’t be harmed by anything thrown by a human being.

Slowly she went back to the door and pressed her ear against it to hear something, but there was still nothing. “Go away,” she whispered quietly.

Michael sighed and dropped his head forward to rest against the back of his hand. How was he supposed to fix this? He hadn’t meant to scare her but he could hear the panic in her voice, could feel it coming from her in unrelenting waves. He was exhausted and this was the last thing he’d anticipated doing after the nightmare of a day he’d had. “Maria,” he said quietly, “he’s not here.”

She squeezed her eyes shut and slid down the wooden door, sitting on the floor with her legs pulled tightly towards her. Don’t trust him, he’s trying to fool you, she told herself and rubbed her chest from the contradicting feelings there.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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

Part 57

Postby Double Trouble » Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:40 am

Natalie36: Yeah, that might not have gone quite according to plan.

Earth2Mama: He probably should’ve, but his emotions were running high after everything that’s happened and he wasn’t thinking about Maria’s reaction to his mood. We’ll catch up with them in this part.

Eva: Kyle did have a right to be angry. And he’s lucky Michael understood and accepted that, lol.

We’ll see Michael get to work on that in today’s part.

begonia9508: Kyle does react strongly to things that affect him deeply. It wasn’t the first time we’ve seen that, and it’s not likely the last.

keepsmiling7: It certainly did. Wonder what it’ll cause when the kingdom finds out it was a false announcement?



Part 57

“I know this must be confusing,” he said as he turned to lean his back against the wall, sliding down to sit on the floor. He raised his right knee and braced his elbow on it, rubbing his forehead and trying to stop the headache that was building.

She wouldn’t call it confusing, more like scary. Why was this nightmare starting all over again?

“I come in after the day you’ve had and I can only imagine I scared you. There were some unexpected complications and the short of it is that for all intents and purposes I’m dead.” He shook his head, still not convinced that the plan was sound. “There was no time to do much more than put the plan into action and leaving my men to fight my battle, essentially lying to them, and hiding from our enemies are not things I’m comfortable with.”

What he told her didn’t make any sense. “Why would you let your men believe you’re dead?” she asked after long moments of silence.

“I had to. Have to,” he said quietly and let his head drop back to rest against the door. “Maria, if Khivar believes I’m dead it’ll give him a false sense of security. He thinks Ava executed me and if the plan goes the way it’s been suggested it’ll allow him to take her into his confidence.”

It would explain why she hadn’t really felt like he’d died, she thought. If Michael really was dead, shouldn’t she have felt something very strong through the connection? But what if Rath had killed him and the connection had just slipped? She sighed heavily and shook her head. This was a lot more than her brain could work through at the moment. “I want to believe you,” she spoke, but her tone revealed her doubts.

“But you don’t,” he said with a tired nod. “I don’t know how to prove what I’m sayin’, Maria.” He closed his eyes and pressed his thumb and forefinger to them. How was he going to make her believe that he was telling the truth? “Do you remember when I asked you what you like to do? While you were still in the infirmary?”

“Tell me,” she said and thought about something totally different in case he was reading her mind.

“You asked if we had a kindergarten here on Antar and said if help was needed you’d enjoy that. It’s also when you accepted my offer of personal quarters.”

“Tell me more,” she requested quietly.

“On our next visit I tried to encourage you to eat and you insulted the ability of Antarians to make decent coffee. That’s when you said you liked grilled cheese sandwiches.”

“I don’t like them,” she denied. “I love them, and I’m still insulting your coffee here.”

“I’m aware of that,” he said with a small smile.

Maria could feel the slightest hint of relief and wondered if it came from him or her. She leaned her head against the wooden doorframe and closed her eyes for a moment, trying to concentrate on the man on the other side of the door. They had never really tried outside of her attempt to reach him when he had been out in the field for too long, but maybe if she could have a look inside of him as well... there would be something to let her know if he wasn’t the man he claimed to be, right?

What could he tell her that would convince her? “Do you remember the day I brought you an Aurelius?”

He was talking about the flower, she realized after trying to remember the name and smiled. “I do.” It had been a gesture which had surprised her since it was such an unusual thing for a man like him to do.

“It was the first time I told you I think you’re a beautiful woman.” He swallowed with difficulty and rolled his eyes to the ceiling, grateful that she remembered it.

“Why haven’t you tried to kiss me then?” she asked, biting her lip in anticipation to see if he would fall for her trap or not.

He frowned at the question. “At that time it was too soon. It wasn’t until days later that I kissed you. The night I was in my quarters working on reports and you joined me, sitting by the window and reading.”

She relaxed a bit. “Guess you passed that test, buddy.”

He smirked slightly. “Not bad for someone who didn’t enjoy school.”

“You remember school?”

“I have vague memories, but what I can’t remember I can fill in with a fair amount of accuracy. I know how much patience I have for such things, so it only makes sense that I didn’t enjoy it.”

“I liked high school.”

He chuckled. “Of course you did.”

“Not all of it,” she chuckled. “In fact I hated it at times, but now looking back, I so wish I would’ve realized how lucky we all were, ya know?”

“Lucky?” What did luck have to do with it?

“Yeah, lucky that we had a nice life without the constant danger.” She closed her eyes. “Mom and I didn’t have much money, but we had a happy life.”

“Where did you live?”

“A town on the outskirts of Seattle. It was a nice place.”

He scratched his chin. He knew from reports that little remained of Seattle. “You stayed there after it was destroyed?”

“Just for a short while. Until the gangs went around taking everything from those who survived the damage.”

“Where did you go after that?”

“We stayed in Roswell for a while because a friend of Mom’s lived there. It was pretty quiet for a while and I met some Antarians from your castle there, they said they were looking for humans who were willing to transfer to Antar so they could help. My mom made me apply.”

“That was a brave thing for her to do.”

“Yeah,” she swallowed at the memory of Mom. “I miss her.”

“We will find out what’s happened to her, Maria.” He couldn’t promise he would reunite them because he had no way of knowing if the woman was even alive, but he would at least find an answer for her.

“Where did you live on Earth? Do you remember?” She didn’t want to think about Mom right now because it would only depress her further.

“I remember very little, but I do know we lived in Washington DC. I wish I had better recall, but unfortunately those memories are locked up.”

“Maybe one day you’ll get them back.”

“Perhaps.” He used his elbow to knock on the door. “Do you think we could speak face to face?” His ass was getting numb sitting on the hard floor.

She looked up at the doorknob for a long moment and then moved slightly, still sitting on the floor, and opened it up.

He shifted to avoid falling through the door when it opened just a crack. “I could probably have you teach evasive maneuvers,” he said with a teasing smile when her features came into view.

“Yeah, why not,” she agreed seriously.

His right eyebrow quirked up at her response. “I would like to see that.”

“Maybe you can teach me some self defense first?”

“You should learn self defense tactics. Satara is your sworn protector for life, but it’s wise to have the ability to defend yourself should a time come that you need to know how to do so.”

“I wish there was some self defense against alien powers,” she looked up at him weakly when he got to his feet again and stood in the doorway.

“There is a device that can cause powers to be suspended, but we have not discovered a way to make it effective against a single subject. It would suspend the powers of any Antarian or hybrid in the vicinity as long as it was activated.”

“I guess that wouldn’t really work in your favor at all then. You think you could use it against the new weapons Khivar’s using?”

“I don’t know. The trithium amplification generator emits a burst of energy, something that our scientists have been attempting to correct because it’s disruptive...” he trailed off, wondering if it was possible to use the device as she had suggested.

“Okay, I’m lost already. Never been that good at physics or whatever.”

“Neither was I,” he admitted. “The device has never fully operated as it was intended. It disrupts power fields, not just Antarian powers. But if our scientists could modify it to disrupt Khivar’s new weapons it would be more powerful than it is currently.”

“True,” she gave him a tiny smile.

“I’ll have...” He sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “I’ll have to notify the Advisor,” he said, his teeth gritted in annoyance.

Her face softened and she finally got up from the floor. “So you’re really dead in the eyes of everyone?”

He nodded. “Outside of you, my sister, Max, Isabel, the Captain, the Advisor, and possibly my mother everyone believes I’m dead.”

“I’m sorry, I know this has to be hard...” Hard was putting it mildly. He was pissed as hell and it now explained his radiating feelings better. Michael was a man of action not of thought; he’d go mad in no time if he was trapped.

“How long is this plan supposed to take?”

“That has yet to be seen,” he ran a hand through his hair, the muscles in his back so tight that it was practically visible to her.

“Well, there is one good thing.”

He paused to look at her. From his position he couldn’t come up with a single good thing that was happening as a result of this plan. “What?”

“I get to spend more time with you and can skip the restless feelings for a while.” She shrugged. “Okay, guess it’s more a good thing for me than for you.”

“Well, that is the one good thing.”

“Told you so.”

He smirked and shook his head. “You’ll be ready to send me back out on the field before long.”

She chuckled and then yawned. Now that her rush of adrenalin was finally over she could feel the exhaustion from spending all night in a cold dark chamber with strained nerves and senses.

“You’re tired, you should get some sleep.” He turned to hide the yawn that came on in response to the one she had just emitted.

“And you’re not?” she asked, amused.

“Perhaps a bit, but I have reports to go over.” He glanced at his desk and the tablet lying there amidst the stacks of folders. He may be dead to his people but there was still work to be done.

“You haven’t slept the whole night, Michael. I’m not sure how much alien sleep you need, but last time when you were starting to feel tired you kind of blacked out in my bed.”

He glared at her. “I did no such thing,” he denied.

“Everyone’s battery needs to be charged now and then,” she shrugged, feeling more at ease now that her fear was gone and she felt comfortable around him again. Why hadn’t she listened more to the connection? Sure as hell it would’ve told her more clearly if something had happened to Michael.

“Everyone’s battery,” he mumbled under his breath. Battery, battery, the word sounded familiar but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. “Be that as it may, Commander’s do not black out.” He snorted derisively.

She held her hands up in defeat. “Okay, okay. I’m gonna go to my quarters and rest then while you do your work and not black out.” When her back was to him, she rolled her eyes.

His mouth dropped open at her retreat. What was that about? “I had thought you would stay here.” He didn’t want her to go, needed to be with her, and wanted to find that peace he only seemed to feel when she was near.

Maria stopped, but didn’t turn around to meet his eyes. “I would like to take a shower before bed.”

He huffed impatiently. “Do you not think I have a shower?”

“You do, but my clothes are in my room... unless you have something for me to wear while I sleep?”

He gestured to his closets. “I’m sure you’ll find something suitable.” He couldn’t really explain it, but he couldn’t tolerate the thought of being separated from her right now.

“Okay, Commander. I’m staying.” She went to dig through his clothes, relieved when she found some normal human clothes a man of his age would have worn on Earth and she wondered if hybrids like him would think a woman wearing his clothes as sexy as a human man would.

“Very well then. I’ll see to the reports while you…” he looked down when his stomach growled and he realized he hadn’t eaten since… was it yesterday morning? And she’d been in the hideout for many hours without eating. “Perhaps we should eat something first.” He shrugged. “Or I can make something while you bathe,” he offered.

“You didn’t have a chance to eat much last night,” she agreed. “A little bit of food would be good. But please, no Antarian coffee,” she made a face.

He smirked and nodded. “No Antarian coffee,” he agreed. “The Captain agrees with you about the coffee and he’s referred to the taste being similar to warm camel piss.” He chuckled at the face she made. “I would imagine that’s just his way of insulting our coffee, rather than an accurate description.”

“Well, I hope no one’s really tasted warm camel piss,” she said and shuddered, before she grabbed a large tee shirt and made her way to the bathroom. “See you soon, Michael.”

“Soon,” he murmured, his gaze following her until the door closed behind her. He growled under his breath and went to the kitchen, searching for something quick and easy to make. He rummaged for a few minutes and finally settled on a meal he and Tess had remembered from Earth and done their damnedest to bring to Antar. It had taken several years and had required importing some very specific people and things to their planet. It took a little longer than just slapping a sandwich together but it would be worth a little extra work and he had a feeling Maria would enjoy it.

*****

Max rubbed his eyes tiredly while he walked along the corridor towards his quarters accompanied by two guards. There was so much to do right now to keep the Commander’s death a secret and also believable, but he needed to fill Liz in. No matter how unimportant it seemed to his sister, it was all he could think of since the attacks had stopped.

“King Max,” Rykar bowed his head when the man stopped in front of his quarters where he had stood guard at the door since he had brought the human woman back here. He wondered what it was that made her important to the King, but it was only his business to fulfill his orders and not to ask for reasons.

“Rykar,” Max greeted, his tone exhausted. “You’ll wait here while I speak with Miss Parker.”

“Of course, Sire,” the Antarian stood straight. “May the Commander rest in peace.”

“Yes, yes,” he nodded. The good thing about being so tired was that others would easily decipher his expression as grief. “May he rest in peace.” With that, he opened the heavy door on his own and stepped into his quarters.

His eyes moved over the room quickly and his heart sank when he recognized her fragile frame at one of the large windows facing the tower with the black flag slowly waving in the wind. “Hello, Liz, I don’t have much time and I know you need to rest after the circumstances this past night, but I needed to speak with you quickly.”

Her head snapped around when she heard his voice. How had she missed that someone had opened the door? “What’s going on? The Commander...” she ran towards him, her face one of shock and concern. “Where’s Maria?”

He reacted instinctively when she threw herself against him and his arms came around her protectively. “Maria’s safety has been secured,” he assured her. “But that is not what I wish to discuss.”

She shook her head. “I need to see her, Max. She can’t be alone now.”

“She isn’t alone.”

Her frown spread over her face. “Who’s with her? The Princess? Max, with all due respect, I think I can understand her better than – “

“Liz,” he captured her hands, pinning them to his chest and drawing her gaze to his, “listen to me. The Commander is not dead.”

Her mouth shut when she was about to protest again and it took several moments before his words sank in. “He’s not?” With a turn of her head she looked out the window. “But the flag...”

“Is a decoy,” he finished. “Our enemies, our people, everyone must believe the Commander is dead.”

“You’re letting your own people believe he’s dead?” Her eyes widened.

“If our plan is to work the Commander’s death must be believed by all.”

“But you’re telling me.” As she said the words she realized that there had to be some important reason for him to let her know and though she tried to ignore it, her heart made a little flip.

“You are one of only two kitchen staff that will be permitted to stay. You’ll need to select the most trusted person on your staff to remain in the castle. He or she is not to learn that the Commander lives. This will increase your workload but it is imperative that we minimize the staff to contain this situation.”

“But what will you tell the people? You can’t just ban them from the castle with no explanation.”

“Tradition dictates that for the three days following the death of a royal there is a period of mourning that takes place. Removing staff to allow this to occur in the privacy of the castle walls will not raise suspicion.”

“And after?”

“The Commander’s immediate family may carry that period over beyond the three days. Routines will resume on my side at the end of the three days unless a royal decree is issued to extend the mourning within the walls. Should his mother or sister require more time we would honor the request.”

Liz let out a breath when the relief finally came. No royal had died, that was good news. “How are you doing? You look very tired.” Her hands came up to frame his face.

“We’ve had to place our trust in someone I can’t imagine trusting under normal circumstances.” He sighed. “If she proves trustworthy it could turn the tide of the war.”

“I hope it works out.” She had met the Commander only briefly, but she could imagine how happy he was with the idea of being dead to his men.

“I look forward to the day when we end the war for good.”

“It’ll happen,” she told him, convinced it was true.

“The people deserve peace, to live without the constant fear that the next attack is coming.” He lifted his head to look out the window. “It seems as if the war has been going on forever.”

“It can be a very dreadful and horrible thing for people to live in constant fear,” she agreed. “I’ll take Nisha.”

His eyebrow lifted in surprise when she suddenly switched topics. “Nisha is a good choice. She came to us from an outlying village after one of Khivar’s attacks destroyed her home and family.”

“She has become somewhat of a friend,” she agreed.

He nodded. “She’s been a loyal servant.”

“Should I start to fix some breakfast? It’s been a long night for all of you.”

He had to look out the windows again, surprised to see the first faint streaks of dawn reaching across the sky. So much had been going on that he hadn’t even realized how much time had passed. “You must be exhausted as well.”

“I got some sleep overnight when the battle stopped,” she lied. She couldn’t have slept if her life had depended on it.

“If you’re sure you feel up to it then perhaps a meal would be a good idea. But then you should rest until the time comes to prepare the evening meal.”

She nodded. Rest sounded wonderful, but if there was something she could do to help them in the castle then she would postpone her rest until later. “I will begin immediately. So Nisha is not allowed to know about the Commander, right?”

“No, I would prefer that you keep the information to yourself. I don’t care to lie to my people but the fewer people who know the truth, the better the plan will work.”

“Okay,” she agreed. It would be hard to hide the truth from Nisha, but for the kingdom’s sake she would make sure she acted accordingly.

“I know what I’m asking is not easy but it is necessary.”

“I’ll be fine,” she assured him.

He nodded. “Very well. Maria is aware of the situation so if you should feel the need to talk about it then I’m sure she would welcome a visit from you. And I am also here for you.”

She smiled, but it disappeared quickly. “Yeah, I know.”

“That does not please you?” he asked, unsure of her response.

“Oh no, it does, but you have a lot to do,” she looked at him and shook her head. “And that’s okay. I mean, you are the KING, and you’re promised to another woman.”

“And if I were not already promised to another?”

“Then you would still be the King and I would still be a normal human and a servant to your castle.”

“I do not understand. You are no longer... interested?”

“That’s not what I’m saying,” she shook her head and put both of her hands on his chest. It’d be the best way to go, but who really always went after what seemed to be the best and most logical? Liz lifted her eyes to him. “I’m just saying we’re not in for a happy ending.”

He watched her for a moment before slowly nodding. He enjoyed the time they were able to spend together and she made him feel things that no one else had ever made him feel before. But how could she be happy knowing what his future held? In the end it would only hurt her and that was the last thing he wanted to do. He cradled her cheek in his palm. “I am not good for you,” he said regretfully.

She snorted at the irony of his words. He was the King and yet he wasn’t good for her. “In some ways you are, in others you aren’t.”

He dropped his hand to his side and backed away from her. How could he ask her to continue this, this dance they were doing when he was unable to promise her anything? “I have meetings to attend to and I should not keep you from your work.”

“I’ll see you around.” She resisted the urge to go after him. He was afraid he would hurt her, but the reason why she held back was not worry for her own self – it was worry for him. What would happen if someone found out about their... affair? And how much could he concentrate on his real task, if she was a distraction all the time?

He kept his gaze locked on the sky by sheer force of will. He wanted to call her back, to insist that she stay, beg if need be, but he knew he shouldn’t. He couldn’t. He was trapped at the moment and if they continued he would only end up hurting her and likely exposing her to danger if the truth was ever discovered. His shoulders flinched at the sound of the door closing behind her, the quiet click somehow feeling so final.
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Double Trouble
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Part 58

Postby Double Trouble » Sun Feb 02, 2014 9:10 am

Eva: The darkness has yet to lift, but there is hope.

Earth2Mama: That could cause problems, but the girls know how much is riding on this plan so hopefully nothing unforeseen will happen with them.

keepsmiling7: Quite the description, wasn’t it? Not exactly a glowing review.

Max and Liz are in a difficult situation and there doesn’t appear to be a good ending in sight for them.

begonia9508: Thanks!

There’s no telling what the future holds and unfortunately right now there doesn’t appear to be a happy ending in sight for Max and Liz.

Alex is still searching for something that will allow them to find a way out of these arranged marraiges.

Natalie36: And what a horrible way to end such a bad day!

sarammlover: Oh, they haven’t given up. But, right now the odds are stacked against them and if they were found out it could cost Liz her life so they’re probably right to be so cautious. Look forward to a conversation between Maria and Liz soon. Lol, six days down, which means it’s posting time!



Part 58

The Commander’s bathroom, like the rest of his quarters, was masculine and sparsely decorated. Antarians weren’t exactly famous for their interior decorating skills. They went for function over fashion and reason over emotion, and it definitely kept their personal lives uncluttered. As far as Maria was concerned everyone needed a little clutter. If nothing else, it kept things interesting.

She stepped under the spray and sighed at the hot water beating down on her. She would love nothing more than to sink down into a nice hot bath and she wondered what it would take to get Antar’s High Commander into a bubble bath. She could just imagine his confusion if he were to walk in and see her settled into a tub surrounded by bubbles. She giggled when a picture of his indignant expression came to mind when she considered his reaction to actually getting into a bubble bath.

Liz had mentioned during a recent conversation that she was learning to make soap and she made a mental note to ask her about making bubble bath. Now that she had the idea of Michael in a bubble bath she couldn’t shake it. No one else could ever know of it of course, but it would help him relax and ease his tight muscles after being out on the field all day. If she could convince him to try it. She glanced over at the sunken tub that dominated the center of the room and she shivered as she pictured sharing it with him. He was a big man and he would take up most of it. She was certain they could work out the logistics in a manner that was satisfactory to both of them. She turned her face up to the water, letting the spray wash over her though it did little to cover the blush she could feel heating her cheeks.

With every day that passed she was finding herself more and more drawn to him and it wasn’t just the connection. He was a good man, an honorable man, and she was attracted to him. Part of her still fought it but that part grew smaller with each passing day. The memories of what she had suffered at Rath’s hands weren’t forgotten by any means, but she was better able to distance herself from them emotionally. She believed that was largely responsible for her ability to look at Michael and not see his evil twin looking back at her.

Michael was his own man and he was kind and gentle. He could be very sweet and, she smiled, a little awkward. But she knew he also possessed a darker side. The side that came out when he was on the battlefield; the face his enemies knew and feared. She had never truly witnessed that side of his personality and she wasn’t sure she wanted to. Not that she feared he would ever turn it on her, but knowing it existed and seeing it were two different things.

She paused in her musings when she caught the scent of something so familiar it didn’t seem real. She peeked around the edge of the glass wall that surrounded the shower and sniffed the air. It wasn’t possible. She turned the water off and stepped out of the shower, absolutely loving it when she stepped on the thick mat and warm air from every direction suddenly brushed her skin, drying it quicker than she could have on her own.

She reached up to run her fingers through her hair, amazed to find that it was nearly dry as well. There were definitely some perks to being a Commander, she mused as she dressed and then moved to the counter to check her reflection and fix her hair before leaving the room to go and join Michael.

“If I didn’t know better I’d say I smelled some totally unhealthy and yet so delicious fast food.”

He glanced up from a file and his frown turned into a blank stare when his eyes landed on her. She was only wearing one of his tee shirts that he’d brought from Earth. It ended at her thighs and left the rest of her legs bare. Her hair was up in a high ponytail and not styled in any manner, but it looked… the word was on his tongue, but it refused to come to him. Michael blinked to shake himself out of what had to look like awkward staring. “What did you say?”

“I said it smells like fast food, but I must be wrong.”

“Fast food?” he asked, his tone showing his confusion. How could food be fast?

“Yeah,” she walked further into the room where he had placed several things on a table, but the food was still locked in a small container to hold the temperature. “Ya know, like McDonalds or Burger King.”

He scratched his head while he got up to join her. Was he supposed to feel this way when he saw her in his clothes? All he could think was how stunning she looked in the shirt and how much he wanted to pull it off of her at the same time. “Burger King? I know of no such thing, but my sister and I brought one meal from Earth back with us, swearing we would never forget the taste of it.” He opened the box on the table and steam filled the air, making his mouth water.

“Oh my God, are these – “

“Cheeseburgers,” he pulled the plate out with a smirk.

Maria groaned just from the thought of biting into one of them. “You can’t be serious. Is it my birthday?”

His gaze shot to her. “Is it?”

“No,” she laughed and settled a calming hand on his upper arm when his expression was one of shock. “It’s just a saying. I…” she frowned when she realized she really had no clue when her birthday would be since Antar had no monthly calendar. “I guess I have no clue when my birthday is since you don’t use a calendar like us humans.”

He gestured to the food as they sat down. “Then for all we know today could be your birthday.”

Maria smiled at his attempt at humor and greedily reached for one of the cheeseburgers. Her eyes widened when he uncovered a second dish and she couldn’t help the gasp of surprise. “No, you made French fries too? I didn’t even know you had them here.”

“There are certain perks to being part of the Royal family. There is only one way to manage these foods so it required the importing of certain livestock and agriculture as well as people who understood their care and cultivation. It is not available to those outside of the castle.”

She shook her head and chuckled at that. “Cheeseburgers and fries as royal food. Who would’ve ever expected that?”

He watched her as she bit into the food, intrigued by the blissful expression on her face as she slowly chewed. She was pleased, he realized with satisfaction.

“This’s so good,” she mumbled and reached for a fry.

His gaze dropped to her shoulder when the material of his shirt slipped down to reveal more of her skin but she was too preoccupied with the meal to pay much attention to it. She made a half-hearted attempt at shrugging the material back into place, but before long it inched its way down again. He could see the edge of a scar that curved along her shoulder blade and he knew it was the result of Rath’s work.

“Michael?”

He lifted his gaze to hers, unaware of the troubled look in his eyes. “Yes?”

“You’re not eating,” Maria prodded gently.

“When is your birthday? Based on the Earth calendar?”

“August 21st.” She frowned while she tried to count the months in her head, but she had no clue how much time had passed since she had come to Antar and was taken by Rath. It could’ve been weeks or months; every second had felt like an eternity with that man. It could be sometime in the summer on Earth right now, but it was really just a guess.

Michael took a large bite of his cheeseburger and then went to get his tablet from the desk. He sat down again, taking his place next to her and chewing while he put the device on the surface of the table, leaning over it with his upper body.

“Don’t you think work can wait until after you eat?” She grabbed another fry but instead of eating it herself, she offered it to him by holding it in front of his mouth with an alluring grin.

He lifted his gaze to her and smirked before taking the food from her with his lips. “Not work,” he denied with a full mouth and tapped the touch screen a few times. “August 19th,” he muttered after a few more seconds had passed.

Maria lifted an eyebrow, surprised. “Really?”

“I checked the connection to one of our Earth bases,” he leaned back and ate his burger while he mused about something.

“Well, it’s not a big deal. No one cares about birthdays here,” she shrugged. And it wasn’t like she could celebrate with a bunch of friends and family anyway.

“It’s not important on Antar,” he agreed, but his eyes didn’t leave her while she ate without looking at him. Her thoughts had probably wandered to her mother once again and he hated that he still had no news for her. August 21st,” he made a note in his head. He wouldn’t forget about it as she most likely thought he would. Antarian days were slightly longer than those on Earth so he had to set his device to remind him about the right time. Maybe he could also talk to the human cook Max was so infatuated with – she would have a clue what to do on a birthday.

*****

Alex was busy going over protocols for the three days that would follow in the aftermath of the death of a member of the royal family. The requirements were mindboggling. He was familiar with the protocols concerning such an event, but while he had observed them in action with the passing of the Commander’s father, there were some very big differences.

The Commander’s ‘death’ was the result of a direct confrontation with the enemy and the rules dictated that the observance be carried out differently. The silence after the death of the Commanders’ father had been oppressive as not a word had been spoken for the full three days. Breaking protocol could result in punishment and no one had dared to defy the royals. It had quite possibly been the longest three days of his life.

He pulled his glasses off as he turned the page in one of the heavy scrolls, pausing when he heard a quiet shuffling behind him. He turned his head slightly, shaking it when the sound didn’t repeat itself, and turned back to the archives. He pressed his fist to the pages to keep them in place and rubbed his forehead before slipping his glasses back on.

“You aren’t required to memorize protocol.”

He sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “As the King’s Advisor it is my duty to be aware of every rule to avoid making him look like a fool.” He was aware that the King had been the object of criticism for placing a human in such a position and he had done his best not to give them anymore ammunition against the man.

“You made no mistakes after the death of the Commander’s father.”

“The Commander’s father didn’t die as a result of a confrontation with the enemy. The most important thing to remember and observe after his passing was the silence.”

Isabel watched him as he pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. “You appear to be in pain. Are you unwell?”

“Just a headache. Going over pages of things to remember was never my strength, not in high school and not now.”

“Really?” She lifted one perfect eyebrow. “I figured you were at the top of your classes.”

“Depended on the classes really,” he chuckled. “I’m good at logical thinking, strategies, creativity. Not so much forced memorization.”

“Forget the rules then,” she waved her hand and the scroll he was reading shut on itself in one flowing movement. “Everyone but those who are privy to the plan is in the process of leaving the castle right now, so inside these walls you don’t need to worry about any of those rules. Considering the amount of work that needs to be done, you won’t be able to leave the castle, ergo you’ll do okay. The only time you’ll need to watch your actions is when King Zander or the Queen is around.”

“They haven’t been filled in on the plan?” Alex didn’t try to hide his surprise. Keeping this a secret from people who lived inside the castle would be really hard. The old royal couple had their own section and rarely left it, but it had the potential of becoming problematic.

“The Commander’s mother will be told, but that’s all. Zadira was never an advocate of the marriage arrangement, so we’ve decided it’s safe for her to know.”

“You hope that Zander will deviate from his plan of marriage after the Commander’s death.”

Isabel nodded. “I obviously can’t marry a dead man and maybe it’ll be a chance for my brother in the end as well.”

“It still amazes me that a civilization as advanced as yours would revert to something as archaic as arranged marriages.”

She tilted her head as she studied him in an effort to detect the slightest hint of condescension in his tone. After several long moments she decided there was nothing there but surprise and she straightened, moving around the room to stand across the table from him. “Why does that amaze you? I’ve read many stories of Earth civilizations encouraging such unions.”

He shook his head. “Not for many generations. What benefit is there to marrying someone you may have absolutely zero in common with?”

“Our fathers sought to unite two families to combine their power and wealth.”

“Politically that may be a good move, and perhaps if the four of you were pureblooded Antarians it might not seem so unhealthy, but they’ve done nothing more than trap you into a form of slavery.”

Yes, she was well aware of that. “You would not marry to increase your wealth and power?” she asked curiously.

“No.” His voice was soft, his right hand moving to unconsciously rub the twisted piece of metal that hung suspended from the chain he wore around his neck. “No,” he said, his voice stronger after taking a moment and clearing his throat. “I would marry for only one reason and I could care less if the union made me rich or powerful.”

“You were married on Earth,” she guessed, though it came out sounding more like an accusation.

“No.” He shook his head. “We were supposed to be married but…” he lowered his head to stare at the scrolls piled on the table and he squeezed his eyes shut for a moment. “She was killed in one of the first explosions that hit San Francisco.”

It was obvious – even to her – that he was still in pain over it. What did it feel like when you lost someone you thought you would spend your life with?

“Tell me about her,” Isabel found herself saying before she thought about it.

“Why?” He couldn’t hide his surprise.

She shrugged and straightened. It had been a mistake to ask something as private as this. “Forget about it,” her tone was distant again and she prepared to leave.

Alex sighed and stared at the surface of the desk in front of him while her steps echoed in the high-ceilinged room. “She was right for me,” he finally spoke and put her departure on hold.

Isabel stood frozen, her hand already resting on the doorknob.

“A normal woman, you might call her boring or weak, but she wasn’t... not to me.” He hadn’t spoken about Victoria to anyone in an eternity and now he felt guilty for pushing her memory so far away.

“Why do you think I’d call her any of that?” The Princess walked back towards him, but kept her pace slow.

“Because you judge feelings and love as weakness, don’t you?”

“It’s not something I do,” she shrugged and had no clue that her defensive tone brought a little smile to his face.

She wasn’t as unaffected at she pretended to be all the time, he thought. “You should try it.”

‘Why? It brings nothing but hurt in the end. As you’ve obviously experienced.”

“That is one point I can’t argue. There’s always the risk of being hurt; it’s a fact of being human. And it’s especially true if you open yourself up to the possibility of love. It’s the greatest high, the most powerful feeling that exists, but it has the potential to destroy too.”

“Then why waste your time?”

“Because to me the risk was worth the reward.” He smiled slightly. “And yes, before you ask, if I’d known our time together would be so short I’d still follow that path.”

“But… you suffer.”

He nodded and gave a small shrug. “I still carry the grief,” he said and rubbed his chest right over his heart. “But I also still carry my memories of her, of our time together.”

“Do you still love her?”

If the question had come from anyone else, or even if it had come from her in her usual tone, he would’ve declined to answer. But, he could hear the genuine curiosity in her tone tinged with confusion so he drew in a deep breath and nodded. “It’s an emotion that runs deep and even though she’s gone and has been for a while it’s still there.”

“Then you can’t possibly wish to risk such pain again.”

“You wouldn’t think so, would you? But, see, that’s one of the great things about being willing to open yourself up to that risk. Humans have an amazing capacity for love and Victoria wouldn’t have wanted me to spend the rest of my life alone.”

“Are you planning to go back to Earth one day?” She lifted one eyebrow. “Human women are pretty rare here.”

“I don’t recall saying my interest was exclusively in human women.”

Isabel snorted. “Antarian women rarely take human men. Emotional distance and all, remember?”

He chuckled and shook his head. “You’re not full-blooded Antarian though, are you?”

Was he suggesting... Her eyes glared at him while her cheeks flushed; something they rarely did. “You could be killed for what you suggest.”

He shifted, straightening to his full height, which actually gave him nearly five inches over her. “Having me killed seemed to be the last thing on your mind during that recent meeting.” He smiled slowly when her shocked gaze locked on him and in a heartbeat her expression changed to outrage. “You don’t fool me, Isabel. You can threaten me all you want but we both know you have no interest in seeing me dead.”

“So tell me,” she growled and raised her hand behind her until she heard the clicking of the locks on the door, “how do I see you, Advisor?”

“Very much alive and bringing you more pleasure than you could imagine. If it was that intense just in your mind, what do you think it would be like for real?” He braced his hands on the table and leaned forward slightly. “You’re a woman who won’t be satisfied by just any man. You may allow them to bed you but afterwards you’re left feeling empty. And you can deny it all you like, but the reason that you can’t seem to find fulfillment with any of them is because neither of you cares about the other. You look for satisfaction with men who are content to let you walk all over them and then come to heel when you snap your fingers.” He shook his head. “I’ll do neither of those things. I could make you happy, I could satiate your appetites in every conceivable way, but you have to be willing to open yourself up to the possibilities.”

“You think pretty highly of yourself,” she held his gaze and ignored the wet feeling of her panties. “Where do you get your confidence?”

“I wasn’t alone in that little fantasy, was I?”

“Fantasy, you got that right.”

His lips turned up in a smirk. “And do you always come that hard from just a fantasy?” He rolled his shoulders. “Your brother may have had no clue what was going on or why you were suddenly so uncharacteristically flustered, but a good orgasm will do that to you.”

“You didn’t even touch me.”

“But you felt like I had.”

Her gaze dropped low to the dark jeans he wore, but they were too tight to see if he was affected right now or not. “You are walking on a thin line, Advisor. If my father knew how you speak to the Princess, he’d have you not only killed, but also tortured before.”

“You keep making threats that you have no intention of carrying out.” He shook his head at her but couldn’t stop his lips from lifting at the corners when he caught her checking him out. “There’s one very certain way to answer that question, Isabel.”

“There is,” she mused with a secretive smirk and concentrated on his eyes again. In moments like this it was easy to slip into other people’s minds, so she pushed past Alex’ little barrier to do so, transferring herself right in front of him with her hand right above the hard bulge in his jeans before she blinked and the little daydream walk was over again.

“Too bad that’s not nearly as satisfying as the reality,” he taunted with a smile.

“No, it certainly isn`t,” she admitted.

“We should do somethin’ about that.”

“And what would that be, Alex?”

“Let’s go to my quarters and I’ll show you.”

She chuckled. “What makes you think I’d go to your quarters with you?” Before he could answer she moved around the desk and stood behind him, letting her hands wander down his chest and over his jeans so she could feel him for real this time.

“Why wouldn’t you?” He allowed her free range with her exploration, not bothering to try and hide the fact that he was very affected.

“Because I am the Princess,” she whispered into his ear. “I don’t go to other men’s quarters. I let them come to me.” Her hand flexed over his hard-on and she grinned against his neck when he moved against her.

“I’m not like every other man you’ve had,” he muttered, “and I won’t be one of your lap dogs. Socially you may outrank me, but sexually we’ll be together as equals or we won’t be together at all.”

“You like to take control in bed?”

“Sometimes,” he answered with a shrug, “if the mood’s right. But it’s not really about control. If it’s right there’s a lot of give and take, it’s not just one-sided.”

Isabel had always been in control. She couldn’t imagine any other way, it just wasn’t in her. Was this really a good idea? She knew he wouldn’t be like other men and let her have her way.

“You’ve never experienced that before, have you?”

“It’s not something I do.”

“And until you’re with someone you can trust you won’t be able to.”

“Trust,” she muttered and let go of him.

He released a frustrated breath. “It isn’t a bad thing, Isabel.”

“It’s something I can’t afford,” she distanced herself even more from him and pulled up her normal cold appearance.

“You should give it a shot. Start with just one person and if you’d like that to be me I’d be honored.” And not just because I’ve got a hard-on that won’t quit, he thought.

She stared at him from across the room, hating that he made her even consider it. Her thoughts were interrupted though when the door swung open and Max walked in. “Why did you lock the door?” His gaze bounced between Isabel and Alex.

“My mistake,” Alex said, irritated at the interruption. “We were just discussing the days’ events.”

It wasn’t hard to see that it wasn’t even a half-truth, but his own mind was too exhausted to press the subject. “We still need to make a plan for our troops in the far country. We can’t order them back to the castle, but we need to make sure that the right news is spread.”

“Word has been sent by messenger that the Commander has fallen and that the soldiers are to lay down arms until the sun rises on the third day.” He paused, his fingertips drumming against one of the scrolls. “The Captain is concerned that the mourning period will not be honored by Khivar and I’m inclined to agree with him.”

“If it comes to that, we won’t be unfit to fight. The Commander and the Captain are in the war room to discuss our military tactics.”

Alex nodded. “Was there something else you needed to discuss?”

He had definitely interrupted something, Max thought. “No, I came to tell you to join us in the war room.”

“Of course.” His hands clenched into white-knuckled fists. “If you’ll give me a few moments to straighten up I’ll join you.”

“Take your time,” the King said and shot a final look at his sister before he closed the door behind him.

The Advisor growled under his breath. “Will you be attending the meeting?”

“I will,” she nodded.

“Well, at least you won’t have the inconvenience of focusing on details while trying to ignore a hard-on.”

She smirked. “If you gave up control I could help you with that before.”

He sighed and shook his head. “It’s not about control, but what exactly would you do with me?”

“Something quick and probably not as satisfying as the real thing, but it would work for the moment,” she told him. Realization that she had offered something that would only give him pleasure and leave her on the side came way too late.

He wondered if she was aware that something of that nature had little to do with control. “I’d like the enjoyment of true satisfaction.” He could handle a quick hand job alone if that was all he was in the mood for. “You wouldn’t be disappointed if you decided to take me up on my offer.”

“No time for that,” she denied.

“There would be if you decided to come to my quarters tonight.”

Her body straightened. It wasn’t something she would agree to or decline right now. “We have a meeting to attend, let’s go.”

“Very well.” He adjusted himself as discreetly as possible before gathering up the things he would need and following her to the door.
Image


Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
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Part 59

Postby Double Trouble » Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:08 am

Earth2Mama: Yeah, lol, the clock’s ticking down on that explosion.

It’s hard to say what the Commander might do for Maria’s birthday.

sarammlover: Oh, you know she’ll fight it until the inevitable happens. Michael and Maria are coming along nicely. If Isabel does do that we’re sure she’ll have a list of reasons why it was her idea in the first place, lol.

Eva: Thanks! Michael and Maria do complement each other very well adn with their personalities that balance will be very important.

Lol, Isabel is responding to Alex whether she wants to admit it or not. We think he’s getting to her.

begonia9508: We have a feeling Isabel will continue to deny it, but Alex knows better.

keepsmiling7: Michael will do his best to make it memorable, whatever it is.

Roswelllostcause: Thanks for reading!



Part 59

Rath watched from the shadows as Ava was escorted into the throne room by several of his soldiers. He had sent them for her the moment he’d gotten word that she had been spotted riding through the valley. He intended to observe as Khivar scanned her memories, to watch her for any sign that she was trying to fool the biggest fool of all. Their leader may be able to determine the truth through her mind, but he would know if she was lying by her expression.

For a moment his gaze moved away from her, pausing on Vilondra where she lay draped over Khivar’s throne. Soon that throne would belong to him. He didn’t care that she screwed Khivar on a regular basis. It was simply the means to an end. Attachment of that kind was nothing more than a weakness. They did their own thing and claimed no ownership of the other. They came together to sate their needs and that was it.

When the time was right they would overthrow the throne and do away with Khivar. Then they would take Zander’s kingdom by force and slaughter anyone who stood in their way. He would kill King Max for no other reason than he looked like Zan and he’d hated him. They would execute the Commander’s sister because of her similarity to Ava.

The King’s sister, the Princess of Antar, she was a different story altogether. He had special plans for her. He shifted and forced his thoughts back to the present when Ava strode through the room to stand before the throne, her posture rigid as she stared straight ahead and waited for Khivar to approach her.

“Ava, Ava, Ava,” the huge man moved Vilondra from his lap and got up to walk down the three steps to stand right in front of her. “My little Ava, have you made it to the top of my list of favorite hybrids today?” His voice and his hand on her cheek were gentle, but his eyes as well as his smirk showed off the coldness.

She held his gaze and mimicked his smirk, but stayed silent and concentrated on focusing on the task. Her thoughts had to be focused on her fulfilled order to convince the man that everything he would see was the truth.

He circled her while his eyes stayed on her face. “It almost seems surreal that you only needed one chance to kill the man our Commander couldn’t even get close enough to look into his eyes.”

Rath clenched his hands into tight fists, ready to blow something up, but Vilondra, who knew he was there watching, just shook her head in silent warning.

“He obviously approached his task the wrong way,” Ava replied shortly.

Khivar chuckled deeply. “Could I really have underestimated you all this time, little Ava?”

She forced her body to be still and her eyes focused on a spot in front of her. “Some people say underestimation can be your greatest advantage.”

“Hmm,” he mumbled and pretended to really think about it and then leaned even closer to whisper into her ear. “You know what creates the most power?” He walked to stand in front of her and again his hand caressed her dirty cheek. “Vengeance.” His grin was evil as he moved his hand up to her hair, preparing for the mind reading. “Did you enjoy killing the man who took your lover’s life, valiant Ava?”

“I derived great satisfaction from taking his life,” she said, her voice cold enough to send chills down the spine.

“And how did you do it?” His tone was bloodthirsty, seeking to gain enjoyment from the suffering of his enemy.

“I made him believe I was his sister and by the time he realized the truth I had impaled him with my sword. Let him die an agonizing death,” she spat out, the words vicious and hate-filled. “He deserved no better for his execution of Zan.”

His golden eyes lit up with interest. “You watched him die?”

“Of course I watched him die,” she snapped. “Zan was not allowed the dignity of a quick death and the Commander surely deserved no better. Had I had the time he would’ve suffered a much longer and significantly more painful death.”

Khivar was positively gleeful as his fingertips began to seek out specific points to ensure the connection would draw those moments to the surface. “I wish to see for myself.”

Ava prepared herself for the coming assault on her brain and nodded at him with a stern face once she had focused.

The skin on her head started to tingle when the connection began and shifted into a light pain when Khivar forced himself inside with no deference. He found the right memories easily because she didn’t fight him like she normally would, but she didn’t let down all of her walls. The man knew she would never give him that much.

Horrible scenes of the Commander’s death flooded though her body and in front of her eyes, memories which her counterpart had implanted in her head along with the feeling of rage and the strong need for revenge.

When Michael’s hand fell from the gaping wound at his throat, his eyes suddenly unfocused, Ava gave Khivar’s presence in her head a light push in the direction of her escape. To her satisfaction he went with her without suspecting her interference and sucked up the information of how she had left the castle in the enemy’s uniform – unnoticed by the grief-stricken soldiers who were listening to a speech by the Captain.

Khivar let go of her suddenly, leaving a feeling in her head as if someone had blown a fuse. She blinked a few times to regenerate, her breaths as heavy as if she’d just run a marathon.

“So she was successful,” Vilondra purred, her tone doing little to hide her contempt.

“Yes, Lonnie, I succeeded in my mission.” She turned to gesture at the long windows behind her. “As you can see by the fact that the Zander Kingdom is now in mourning.”

“We shall see.”

Ava watched her, not missing the surreptitious glance Vilondra sent towards the shadows. Rath was there even though he hadn’t shown himself and she was aware of their suspicions where she was concerned. It didn’t matter that Khivar had been fooled. The two of them were like a couple of wild animals; playing with their prey until the moment came to strike. They wouldn’t rely on memories dredged up from her mind.

“Sorry it wasn’t you that took down the Commander?” Ava sneered.

“We have only your word that you killed him.”

“Enough!” Khivar’s voice boomed throughout the throne room. “She could easily lie but she isn’t able to fake a memory. Such a feat is not possible, therefore it must be true.”

Rath slid deeper into the shadows and contemplated Ava’s so-called victory. He would contact his spy in the castle and verify that the Commander was indeed dead. Only those most trusted would be allowed to remain in the castle during the three-day mourning period and if this was some sort of trickery his spy was in a position to learn the truth.

*****

Happy laughter escaped the baby girl’s mouth, filling the room with a light mood in spite of the mourning, which hung over the castle like a thick dark cloud.

Maria smiled and tickled Amela again until she rolled herself back and forth on the huge bed. “You like that, huh?” she asked, amused, and stretched out on the mattress beside her, one arm bent and her head resting in her hand.

“Ma, ma,” the little girl chanted as she reached up with both of her small hands to make a grab for the woman’s larger one.

She has no clue what’s going on, Maria thought and felt bad for all the people around the castle and loyal to King Zander who believed that the Commander had died early that morning. In spite of the lack of emotion in Antar’s population, you could feel the grief spreading quickly across the country. Yes, partly – and mostly, it was because of the war and not because of any personal feelings for Michael, but it still felt heavy on everyone’s shoulders. “Thank God, we don’t have to worry about him, huh?” She leaned down and kissed the girl’s belly, making her giggle all over again.

It was early evening and Michael had been gone when she had woken up from her sleep. She wondered if he had rested at all after finishing his reports. Waiting in his quarters had started to bore her after several hours, so she had gone back to her own, picking up Amela before.

A knock on the door made her look up.

“Da?”

Maria chuckled. “I don’t think so, sweetie.” She waited until Satara opened the door from the outside and stepped into the frame.

“Miss Parker wishes to meet with you.”

“Oh, sure, let her in,” she nodded happily and sat up when Liz entered the room. She looked tired and a little hung over, but had a smile on her lips as well.

“Hey, girl, wanted to check on you after the shock last night,” the brunette girl greeted when her friend’s personal guard backed out of the room and closed the door again.

“It was a shock,” Maria admitted, thinking about immediately after she and Michael had been alone in his quarters and she’d begun to question his identity.

“I’m so glad it’s not true.”

She nodded. “I’m glad Max told you. I wouldn’t have wanted to have to keep up false pretenses with you.”

“No, and that would’ve been too much to have to pretend. How’s Michael?”

“Not happy with the situation.”

Amela’s gaze bounced back and forth between them, her eyes widening for a moment when she heard a familiar name.

“I can imagine.”

“It’s hard for him to carry on this charade. It’s not just that he’s used to being in the middle of the action, but he’s the one who leads those men into battle. Hiding in the shadows and letting others do that,” she shook her head, “it’s just not who he is.” She reached over to touch Liz’s hand to draw her gaze. “You kinda look like you’re not here, what’s going on?”

“I basically ended things with Max.”

“You… dumped the King?” Maria asked incredulously.

“Dumped is such a harsh word,” Liz groaned and fell on the bed next to her, making Amela giggle when she bounced up and down with the movement of the mattress.

“What happened?”

“Nothin’ at all,” the brunette gave a one-shouldered shrug. “The mood in the castle and the situation out on the field is getting more and more constricted. He needs to be focused on the war and the fact that he lets me stay in the castle and gives me insight to something of this magnitude shows how much of a distraction I create for him.”

“But isn’t that his choice in the end?” Maria asked gently and squeezed her friend’s shoulder.

“Sure it is, but he’ll never just end things between us and I can’t be so egoistical. His people need him.”

“You might be a distraction, but what if you also give him strength, girl? And peace of mind.”

“Then there’s still his marriage to the princess.”

“Yeah, the marriages,” Maria mumbled and pulled the blanket over Amela when her little eyes suddenly became heavy.

“I’m sorry,” Liz started when she realized it wasn’t a good idea to list all the reasons to stay away from an Antarian royal when her friend was connected to one of them. “Hey, the Commander’s kinda out of the deal right now. The Ice Princess can’t marry a dead man.”

“Yeah,” the blonde snickered. “At least some good news until his return from the dead, huh?”

“He shouldn’t be so important to me. Given the length of time I’ve been on Antar and the little time we’ve actually spent together it shouldn’t bother me that we shouldn’t see each other outside of our regular duties.”

“But it does.”

“Yeah.” Liz sighed tiredly and rested her head against the pillow. “Yeah, it bothers me a lot. I can see the differences in him and not to sound conceited or anything, but I have a feeling without our encounters he’ll go right back into his shell.”

“You bring him out of himself and that’s a good thing.”

“It could be a very bad thing if the wrong person noticed it though. Working as a servant in the castle does have some advantages. People talk as if you’re not even there, as if you don’t exist, and they let things slip without even realizing it. There are some who believe it was a mistake to put the hybrids into positions of power.”

“Have you heard any threats against them?” Maria asked, her eyebrows lifted in anticipation.

“No, but I have a feeling there’s something beneath the surface that’s just waiting for the right moment to explode.”

“You think there’s some sort of anti-hybrid faction being cultivated right under their noses?”

“I think there are enough people who see the hybrids as a threat to the pure blood of Antar and that it could cause problems for them if nothing else.”

“True,” Maria bit her lip while she gave that deeper thought.

“Nothing we should worry about, I’m pretty sure the King and the Commander are aware of that possibility. They’re not stupid.”

“It’s really not easy to be in their shoes, is it?” She stretched out to caress Amela’s head for a moment, checking her temperature since her caretaker had said she’d had a slight fever that morning, but she seemed to be fine now. “So putting what you think is good for the King aside, how do you feel, girl?”

“Me?” Liz asked with a confused frown on her pretty face.

“Yeah,” Maria smiled, “you! What about you? How do you feel about taking a step back from him?”

The brunette’s nose scrunched up. “I don’t like it.”

“You would consider him as someone for the real thing if he wasn’t the King and promised to someone else?”

“It’s too early to tell.”

“Uh-huh,” the blonde girl lifted one eyebrow. She had a feeling Liz was holding back her true feelings, she just wasn’t sure why.

“In a world…or even in a universe such as this, ya think relationships are even worth a try?”

Maria made a face. “Well, I hope so. You encouraged me to not consider my connection to the Commander as a bad thing, remember?”

“Yeah, but at least you have that connection and who knows what it could lead to? Max and I don’t have that.” She sighed roughly. “I mean, there’s definitely something there and under normal circumstances, sure it’d be something I’d wanna pursue, but… we’re so far from anything resembling normal, Maria.”

“Nothing’s really normal in this world or the other. Not anymore.”

“No doubt about that.”

“And you can’t give up on believing in real relationships!”

“Have you?” Liz countered, her expression serious.

“I had,” she admitted. “It didn’t even seem worth hoping for and after Rath…” She swallowed and shook her head, her eyes locked on the ceiling above the bed.

“You had. Past tense implies that you’ve changed your mind.”

“Starting to, yes,” Maria agreed and turned her head slightly to look at her friend out of the corner of her eye.

She chuckled and shook her head. “Do you love him?”

“It’s too early to say that. We’re just getting to know each other.”

“But you can see yourself really falling for him,” she said as she rolled to her side to face the other woman. “Can you see the same thing for him?”

“I don’t know. With the connection involved it’s sometimes hard to say, but I remember how my first kisses on Earth felt even if I was young,” she rolled her eyes. “And it felt good with Michael as well.”

The brunette’s eyebrows climbed high on her forehead and she pushed her upper body up. “Wait, you kissed him?”

Maria blushed. “Yeah, we... a few times.”

“Don’t hold back on me, girl! That blush says it was better than just good!”

The other girl rolled to her side as well to face Liz and it really felt like she was back in high school and sharing first experiences with her best friend. “It’s really the best kind of kisses I’ve had so far.”

“What kinda kisser is the Commander?”

“He’s many things. Gentle, passionate...”

“Commanding?” Liz teased with a playful wiggle of her eyebrows.

Maria snorted. “No. Well... I guess he’s holding back on my account though.”

“Um-hmm, I’ll bet he can be.”

“Yeah, maybe... I think he’s collected some experience.”

“Can you imagine a man that powerful being inexperienced?”

“No,” Maria chuckled, “not really. And I really wouldn’t want an inexperienced man at all. Could you imagine the awkwardness from high school again? No thanks.”

Liz grinned and shrugged one shoulder. “I don’t know, it might not be all that bad.”

“You think so?”

She laughed and nodded. “Yeah.”

“You... prefer to take the lead?”

“Sometimes, and why shouldn’t a woman enjoy that? Besides, I already know what I like and what I want.”

Maria hadn’t had a lot of experience with sex considering she hadn’t been very popular in high school or later and then the accident on Earth had happened. “Did you have someone on Earth?”

“Yeah, for a while. He was in the military and he was killed on a mission.” She shook her head. “I mean, we were together but it wasn’t something that was gonna last a lifetime or anything.”

“How long were you together?”

“Almost two years I guess. We met while he was on leave and he spent a lot of time with his unit, so it’s not like we were living together or anything.”

“It must’ve been hard anyway.”

Liz swallowed with difficulty. She tried not to think about it. Life on Earth had already gone to hell by the time she and Jack had met and she’d lost any illusions she’d held that happily ever after existed. Jack had loved a good time and he’d been so dedicated to the military and it had made him the perfect guy for her. “Yeah.”

“I’m sorry you had to go through that,” Maria whispered and reached out to squeeze her friend’s hand.

Liz tightened her hand around Maria’s for a moment. “He went out the way he wanted to.”

“Yeah,” the other girl sighed. “Death’s become quite the companion during the last few years.”

“Yeah.” She drew in a slow breath to calm herself. “You think the war here will ever end?”

“I hope it will. I don’t know if it’s gonna happen though.”

“I hope so too. It’s so pointless.”

“Yeah. I understand that they’re fighting for a cause, fighting against an enemy that would destroy their way of life and eventually the planet itself, but until it actually comes to an end it does seem to be pointless.” She glanced over at Liz when she sighed quietly, her gaze locked on the ceiling. “Are you thinking about him?”

She smiled sadly. “Jack would’ve been in his element here. He thrived on the action and he lived for his cause.”

“Does Max remind you of him?”

“No, Max is quiet and contemplative, reserved, and just a bit uptight, and Jack was the complete opposite. He believed in fighting for what you want no matter what it takes.” She ran a hand over her face tiredly. “But sometimes no matter how much you want something you know it can never be yours.”

“Because he’s already promised to the Commander’s sister.”

Liz snorted softly. “There’s really no way around that, Maria. It’ll require a lot more than making a wish on a falling star to put an end to that nonsense.” She shrugged one shoulder. “And I stopped believing in things like that a long time ago anyway.”

“But you haven’t stopped believing in the possibility of love,” Maria murmured.

“Love does exist,” the brunette said quietly and took her friend’s hand to squeeze it without releasing it afterwards again. “But in this life it seems like it’ll always lead to more hurt because sooner or later you lose the ones you love.”

“Yeah,” the blonde whispered with tears in her eyes. She had lost everyone as well and there was no sign of her mother. Chances where higher she was dead than she was alive, which only left Michael and Liz as her closest friends.

“Shit, I am such a klutz,” Liz muttered when she realized she had managed to make her cry with her depressed mood. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to bring you down. There’s enough going on and I’m just in a really bad mood right now. There’s always hope, you know?” She rolled onto her side to face Maria again. “And the Commander’s strong and has this indestructible connection with you, so you have enough reason to believe that your relationship with him will be carried on to something even bigger.”

“Do you really believe that?”

Did she? Liz wondered. No matter how meaningful the connection was, what would happen if the wrong people found out? And what would happen to Maria if the Commander really died in one of his battles? “No one can know how long things will last, but would you rather stay away from him than know how good it could be?”

“Same question goes right back to you, girl.”
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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

Part 60

Postby Double Trouble » Sun Feb 16, 2014 8:48 am

Natalie36: The girls are becoming very good and close friends.

begonia9508: The girls really do need that companionship and their friendship is growing stronger with each passing day.

sarammlover: It won’t be long before he or she is revealed. Liz and Max are going to find it difficult to stay apart and Liz and Maria will continue to encourage each other.

Earth2Mama: Hmm, well... we’ll find out soon who the traitor is.

Liz has shut herself off because of everything she’s survived on Earth. She’s seen the death and destruction and knows that nothing lasts forever. She’s not prepared for anything more than what’s in the here and now.

Eva: His or her identity will be revealed soon.

Maria’s advice is wise and after all she’s been through it says a lot that she’s still willing to reach for love.

keepsmiling7: Yes, he was. We’ll learn more about him in the future.

Maria and Liz will continue to encourage each other.

LovelyPOM83: Lol, ice cream is the perfect thing to go with those talks and Liz has figured out how to make it already. Next time she may just bring some along with her.

Roswelllostcause: Thanks for reading!

Alien-Friend: Hey sweetheart! ;)

Kyle is over the first shock by now… and maybe his lover helped him. ;)

Maria was scared for a moment, but we can’t really blame her with her past, right? Michael is bad on her good side now and he is about to make sure it stays that way.

Liz took appropriate steps, that she thought were necessary at this point, before maybe she and the King get caught in a certain situation… this would be really bad at this time. We know you are a dreamer, lol, and you know you don’t have to be afraid that they won’t have their reunion eventually. ;)

Yeah, Rath and Violandra are up to something…




Part 60

The Commander moved through the corridors of the hidden passageway soundlessly, his steps sure even in the near darkness. He paused when he reached his destination and he pressed his ear to the stone, listening in earnest to the muffled voices coming from the other side. After several minutes he placed his hand over the appropriate location and the stone slid back into the wall with a heavy growl. He stepped out into the war room and he nodded when he saw the King, the Advisor, and the Captain standing in various positions around the table.

“What took you so long?” Max bit out.

Alex attempted to catch the Commander’s attention, hoping to intercept him before he could take offense to the King’s question, but that wish fell to the wayside. Max was not in the best of moods and he had yet to confide in him. Combine his mood with the one the Commander was sure to be in and it could easily set off a confrontation the likes of which he had no interest in being in the middle of.

“Avoiding detection tends to take one longer,” Michael said after a moment of studying the King’s drawn features.

“Alex and I were goin’ over the troop movement prior to the flag,” Kyle interrupted when he saw the Commander draw in a deep breath as he prepared to fire a response back at the King. He tapped the surface of the table, pulling the images up to stand before them. “If you look here,” he moved to draw attention to a grove of trees near the forest that surrounded the valley to the north.

Michael let the King’s attitude pass – for the moment, and moved to follow the movement in the area Kyle was pointing out. “Why are you observing Miren’s unit?” he asked. He had read the report that had been turned in, the emotionless accounting of an encounter with the enemy that had left him injured and his men dead.

“Keep watching.”

He watched as the Lieutenant he himself had trained scanned the area and he frowned when the Antarian man froze. His gaze shifted slightly, following his line of sight until he detected just the hint of movement where enemy soldiers lay hidden among the rocks. As he watched Miren used the blade of his sword to catch the sunlight and one of the enemy soldiers immediately returned the signal. Moments later he gave his unit the appropriate hand signals, declaring their path safe, and sending them to their deaths.

The Commander’s fists clenched tightly at his sides when he witnessed the betrayal of one of his highest ranked men – a man he had trained with all of his knowledge. “Traitorous bastard.” If his blood had been boiling before, he was ready to explode now. “Where is he?” he demanded to know.

“In the infirmary near Sun Valley,” the Captain replied.

“How badly is he hurt?”

“The damage was wondrously minimal. Well… not so wondrous looking at it now. The enemy spared his life but the reason is quite obvious now. A few broken ribs and an injury caused by a sword in the side. Looking at it now, he could’ve even done it himself.”

“We’ll move him to the infirmary here,” Max growled. A traitorous officer of high rank in their midst? This man wouldn’t receive any mercy if the suspicions were proven.

“It would make the enemy suspicious. They might try to kill him if he’s moved because they know we would try to press information from him.” Alex moved around the table and flipped though a file. “There are twenty-two injured men in that infirmary right now. We could move them all to make it look like a logistical change in general.”

The Captain massaged his forehead. He was tired and exhausted to his limits. “The recent attacks have left hundreds of wounded men. We’re short of staff in the medical units.”

“Perhaps we need to utilize other options,” Alex suggested quietly.

“We have no other options.” Max frowned. “All medical personnel have been utilized.”

Kyle glanced at the Advisor and his eyebrows lifted when he caught the man watching the Commander. Oh, no, he was not about to suggest what he thought he was about to suggest.

“We have people on Antar that have had medical training and are not working in fields directly related to medicine. Even the most rudimentary training could be helpful.”

Michael’s head snapped up when he realized they were all waiting for his input and for a moment he frowned as he contemplated what it was they wanted. His brows pulled in tighter when realization dawned and he shook his head. “No.”

“She worked in a field hospital, Commander,” Alex reasoned. “She would be safe.”

“And I said no,” he growled, his tone menacing as he leaned forward over the table and into the Advisor’s space.

Max rubbed his head. “How long does it take to train more people in the basics?”

“We could select those with the highest scores in academy and train them with the basics,” Alex agreed, “but we’re still looking at time. Even a few days will cost more lives.”

“We could have a look at nurses on Earth who would be willing to transfer to Antar,” Kyle suggested. He could understand why the Commander didn’t want Miss Deluca to work in the infirmary again after what had happened to her.

“We are looking into that option,” he said with a nod of his head, “but the fact of the matter is that it takes time to screen transfers from Earth.” He ran a hand over his face. “Not to mention the little fact of the Commander’s death. No one arrives or departs from the planet in the three days following the death of a royal.”

“Too bad we don’t have an army of men with healing powers,” Michael looked at the King.

“Can you imagine the threat they would constantly be under if we did?” Max sighed as his ability to heal was brought into the conversation. “If Khivar were ever to get his hands on that power we’d never see the end of the war.”

“What’re we gonna do with Miren?” Kyle brought their focus back to the main problem that had started the conversation.

“For now we watch him,” Michael said. Even though he wanted to tear the man apart with his bare hands they had a better chance of learning more about the man’s traitorous actions if they simply observed him.

“We could give him some... special medical care,” Alex suggested.

The Commander’s eyebrows lifted. “Special?”

“We could implant a tracker in him that would enable us to watch his steps.”

“Something more in-depth than the biometric trackers?”

“Maybe something with a microphone.”

“Wait,” he frowned, “since when do we have that capability?”

“Since a friend of mine worked in the CIA,” Alex told him with a grin.

Michael and Max exchanged a look. “And we have this technology available to us?”

“We do.”

“Then why didn’t we use it on Ava?” the Captain asked.

“It has to be implanted in the body.”

“And what reason would she have for saying no if we’d suggested it?” he countered.

“It would leave a wound for a while and Khivar could’ve gotten suspicious about it,” Alex countered. “Besides that, what would it have been good for if she knew she had an implant in her body? If she isn’t on our side, she could just communicate silently with Khivar to let him know about it and they could put on a show for the microphone.”

Michael growled under his breath. “And what makes you think Miren won’t be suspicious?”

“He needs surgery for his injuries. It’s scheduled for tomorrow. We can implant it without his knowledge.”

Max gnawed on his bottom lip as he considered the ramifications of using such technology. “This is only for the purpose of learning what Miren’s next action will be.”

“We have to find out how involved he is with the enemy,” the Commander nodded.

“We should also review his prior engagements with the enemy,” Kyle said. “Pull up the reports and determine if there were any discrepancies between what he reported and what his men reported. They may not have been obvious at the time but now that we know about this, they’ll stand out.”

“Collect the reports and bring them to me,” Michael told the Captain. “Might as well do that while I sit around and wait.”

He nodded. “I’ll pull the reports and bring them to your quarters.”

“How many men did we lose last night?”

“We lost 177 men to the last battle.”

Too many, Michael thought. “And how many losses on their side?”

“Based on reports I’ve accounted for 253 losses,” Alex said.

“Still too many on our side considering they attacked us at home. We need to be more prepared and we need to find a way to defeat their new weapons,” Michael said and thought about his conversation with Maria that morning. “Do you think there’s a chance that the device against our powers could help with that problem?”

“Modifications on the TAG,” Alex paused when the King and Commander looked at him with a frown. “The trithium amplification generator,” he clarified. “Anyway, modifications on the TAG were abandoned when no useful progress was made after several seasons of attempting to focus its function to one specific area.” He scratched his chin. “You would need someone very knowledgeable in that area to pull it off.”

“Could it work against their weapons?”

“Khivar’s new weapon is Earth-based technology. If the TAG could be altered then yes, I believe it would be effective against his weapons.”

“What about an EMP?” Kyle looked at Alex.

“If it could be modified to target a select area, then yes, that could also be effective.” His thumb tapped against the table as he considered it. “It could be very effective.”

Max frowned. “EMP?”

“Electromagnetic pulse,” the Captain explained. “Their Earth weapons would fall from the sky like stones.”

“How do we go about procuring such a weapon?” the Commander asked.

“It’s not really a weapon,” Alex denied. “You can’t really harm anyone with it. You just shut off every electronic device in its working radius. I’ll have to look, but I’m sure it shouldn’t be too hard to get information about it.”

Michael was confused. “We would not be utilizing a weapon to destroy Khivar’s ships?”

“Well the EMP wouldn’t destroy it; it would just shut off all electronics, so it won’t be able to fly again. Of course once their weapons don’t work anymore, they’ll be easy to destroy.”

“Would this device work on other things as well?”

“Anything with an electronic base.”

“Will it disrupt solar facilities?” Max asked.

“Yeah, we should make sure to not use it near those,” Alex nodded.

He still didn’t fully understand how the device worked. “And you can control the zone that’s affected?”

“You can regulate it using the pulse’s intensity. That’s pretty much it.”

“If this technology is so effective why hasn’t Khivar implemented its use?” Max wanted to know.

“We don’t use any weapons that could be harmed by it,” the Captain told him simply. “An EMP doesn’t work against swords or alien powers.”

He nodded slowly. “Where would we find this weapon? On Earth?”

“I’ll look into it,” Alex made a note on his tablet. “I’m positive it won’t be a problem.”

“Very well.” Max stared down at the table. “Have you made any progress in your research regarding the pending marriages?” he asked. He hadn’t meant to ask. It wasn’t even relevant to the current situation, but he couldn’t rid himself of the hollow feeling that seemed to exist in his chest since Liz had left his quarters.

Alex frowned at the sudden change of topic. “Uh, no. There were other things to worry about. With the Commander’s fake death we have one side of the marriage off our backs for now, maybe there’s a chance Zander can be convinced that the deal is broken with his death.”

“Yes, the deal that his daughter will marry the Commander,” he growled.

“Maybe he’ll let go of the deal now that it can’t be fulfilled as planned.”

“He still plans to have that baby with my sister’s gene though,” the Commander crossed his arms.

“Okay,” Alex held his hands up, “I understand that this is an important issue for you both, but our immediate concern is using these three days to make a dent in the fight against Khivar.”

“Have we heard anything from Ava yet?” Kyle wanted to know.

“No, but it’s unlikely Khivar’s left her alone since her return.”

Michael glanced up when the King took an uncontrolled step to the side and then shook his head. “When’s the last time you slept?”

Max frowned at him. He couldn’t recall the last time he’d eaten or slept. He shook his head and reached out to brace his hand on the table.

“You have to gain your strength back.”

“Now is the time, Max,” Alex said with a nod. “We’re safe until we reach the end of the three-day period.”

“We should all get some rest,” Michael agreed. In no time, he would start to feel like the King if they kept going.

Kyle nodded in agreement. “I think that sounds like a good idea.”

“Alright,” Max agreed. They wouldn’t be very productive in this state. “Dinner was prepared and taken to your quarters a while ago. I will see you all in the morning then.”

Alex started putting his reports away, taking his time and wondering just what the odds were that a certain blonde-haired temperamental Princess would put in an appearance in his quarters that night. He snorted softly. Probably about zero to none, Whitman.

*****

Michael cursed when he hit his head in the secret hallway that was narrow and dark, once more damning the ridiculous plan of faking his death. He had returned to his quarters just a few minutes ago only to find them empty.

The hidden passageway to Maria’s quarters wasn’t one he had used often – if at all – so it was filthy and he had a feeling he had walked into more than one spider web. Tomorrow he would make that woman move her things into his rooms so she wouldn’t have any reason to not be there. Even though he was surrounded by darkness he knew when he had reached the end and he placed his hand on a particular stone to open the wall.

Maria walked out of the bathroom and dropped the towel to the floor when she stood in front of her closet to get something to wear for the night. It was already dark outside and as far as she knew, Michael was still in meetings with the King, which could take forever.

Her eyes settled on a pair of sweatpants and a tank top as her outfit for the night, but before she had the chance to pull any of it on, a deep rumbling sound disrupted the peace in her room and she jumped in shock and fear.

A moment later the wall next to the closet moved inward and to the side, revealing another secret passageway and the outline of the Commander’s strong tall figure in the dark.

“Don’t you dare come in now,” she shouted and held the open closet door in place to hide behind it.

His eyebrows rose at her tone and he smirked when he identified it. “Why not now?” he asked as he took a step closer.

She peered around the door to look at him, her cheeks flushed. “Because I – “ She narrowed her eyes at him. “You think this’s funny, huh?”

“I find it amusing, yes.” He lifted his foot to take another step but dropped it back in place at the warning look in her eyes.

Maria rolled her eyes and turned back to her closet to pull on her clothes really quickly before she closed it. “Okay now,” she stepped into his view.

“It was okay before,” he said with a teasing smile.

“I’m getting comfortable around you, but not THAT comfortable,” she denied and wondered if in the future that might change. But how much of a future did they really have, she wondered after the depressing conversation with Liz that afternoon.

He nodded and looked around the room. “I went to my quarters to retire for the evening but you were absent.”

“I was bored so I went back this afternoon to find something to do and then I thought it might draw suspicion if I went to your quarters when everyone thinks you are dead.” She took a step towards him and caressed the front of his uniform with her fingertips. “Figured when you were done for the day and if you were still in the mood for my company you’d find me.”

His eyes dropped to follow the movement of her fingers and just that brief contact caused something inside of him to feel most peculiar. “I’m done for the day and definitely in the mood for your company.”

Her head lifted to look him in the eyes with a small peaceful smile on her lips. “Good. I like your company also.”

“Have you eaten?”

She chuckled. “You do realize that’s always one of your first questions, don’t you?”

He smiled and shrugged one shoulder. “It’s an important question and one that you have not answered.”

“I had a light meal with Amela a little while ago. She seems to settle down and eat more if she sees you’re eating too.”

“Yes, otherwise she’ll play with her food.”

“And makes a royal mess,” she said with a quiet laugh at his confused expression.

“Where’s Amela now?”

Maria took a step into the bedroom and gestured to her bed. “She’s been asleep for a while, but I don’t think it’ll last long. She’ll be hungry again later and she needs to have a bath as well.”

He nodded. “Dinner was brought to my quarters a while ago, so I’ll take both of you with me.”

“Aye-aye, Commander,” she quipped, earning another frown from him.

“Take whatever you need for the night and the morning.” His eyes followed her when she went back into the bathroom. The sweatpants were sitting low on her slim hips and showed off a small line of skin before her tank top started.

“Think you can carry the baby girl without waking her?” Maria asked when she came back while combing her hair.

“I’ll carry her, but no guarantees about the second part.” He moved to the bed and looked at the peaceful child sleeping on the large mattress. She seemed so tiny and vulnerable in the big bed, which caused his protectiveness to grow at the sight.

“You look tired.” She stood next to him and studied his features. “Did you sleep at all this morning?”

“No, there was too much to do.”

“And have you things to do tonight as well?”

He thought about the reports for Miren and his unit the Captain would deliver to him, but he shook his head. “I think I’ll give my brain a rest for a few hours.” Overlooking something when he was this tired would be too easy and they couldn’t afford a mistake like that.

“Good,” she smiled and wondered if he could be convinced into taking a relaxing bath with Amela.

*****

Rath waited until Ava was alone.

Khivar had spent nearly every minute since her return praising her abilities and congratulating himself for having the foresight to have selected her to infiltrate Zander’s Kingdom. What a fool, he thought as he caught sight of her and his eyes flashed dangerously in the moonlight. He followed her from a distance, careful to avoid detection as she made her way to her quarters that were housed in the officer’s barracks.

He watched and waited from the shadows as she emerged minutes later, her feet taking her to the showering facilities. There were only a few other soldiers there and they left her alone amid a flurry of salutes and congratulations. It sickened him the way these men treated her as if she was someone worthy of their respect. They were his men and there was no reason for them to hand over the facilities as if she were royalty.

The minutes ticked by as he listened and when he heard the water begin to splash against the concrete floor he looked around and then stepped inside. His fingertips brushed against the hilt of his sword as he walked directly to the stall she had taken ownership of. His eyes slipped over her naked, wet body and he felt the immediate stir of arousal. He took a step forward and froze when she turned her head to look at him over her shoulder.

“Say what you have to say and leave me in peace,” she growled menacingly.

“You didn’t kill the Commander.” His irritation with her and the situation only notched up when she didn’t bother trying to hide her body from his sight. “I don’t know what’s going on, but you’re not responsible for his death.”

“Why? Because you couldn’t kill him?” She knew he was waiting for her to hide her nudity, to shrink away from his feral gaze, and for that reason she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. “You saw Khivar retrieve the memory, and even you aren’t fool enough to think I’d try to fool him.”

He shook his head. “I don’t know how you did it, but you did.” He took a step closer and his lips turned up in a cruel smile. “There are ways to make you talk.”

She controlled the urge to recoil when he stepped close enough to her that she could feel the heat coming off of his large body. “Step back, Rath, and mind your place.”

His eyes dropped lower, raking over the shadowed apex of her thighs. “I could easily make my place wherever I wanted to.”

“You’re not half the man Zan was, Rath, and if you value your ability to have a dick that functions properly you’ll think twice before you take another step.” She shook her head when he ignored her words, propelled forward by her slighting taunt as she compared him to her dead lover. “I won’t warn you again.”

He shoved her back against the wall, his right hand at her throat as the other ran down her side, but before he could revel in the brief moment of satisfaction he felt a sharp jarring pain as an invisible hand grabbed his balls and twisted them viciously.

“You bitch!” Rath shouted and dropped his hands from her. With his body bent over painfully, he covered his jewels with an agonized look on his face and moved away, limping.

Ava crossed her arms over her chest loosely and offered him a smug smirk. “I’ve warned you. I don’t let just anyone touch me and sure as hell not an asshole like you.”

“Just wait…” he growled dangerously. “You’ll soon be laughing from the other side of your face.”

“Are you threatening me, Commander?” She turned the shower off and swiped her hand over herself to dry off. “You should be thanking me. I killed your immediate competitor. THIS – for once – makes you the only real Commander of Antar.”

“What do you fear more,” he asked and ignored the assault on his appearance because otherwise he’d kill her right here and now, “the fact that Khivar is going to torture you when he realizes the truth or the fact that you’ll end up dead next to your lover anyway?”

“Just because you’re cranky about me killing the Commander rather than you doesn’t make it any less true.”

Rath laughed loudly, the cruel sound echoing through the facility and would’ve caused an uncomfortable feeling in anyone, not only Ava. She waited with a stern face until he had left and then she sank down against the tiles of the wall behind, her whole body shaking from anger and something she would admit to no one else – fear.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas


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