A Citadel of Stone (AU/CC , Adult) Epilogue - 02/13/12

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PML
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A Citadel of Stone (AU/CC , Adult) Epilogue - 02/13/12

Post by PML » Sun Feb 21, 2010 12:52 am

Well here we are again. Another new story for me. Sigh. Should I be posting another story with all the others I already have out there? Probably not. Is it going to stop me? Apparently not.

This is after all something I promised that I would continue. It is afterall the sequal to A Teardrop of Fire. Don't expect this story to be a full 50k words however. The rest of the story will be broken up into three sections, of which this is the first.

Anyway, I hope you folks enjoy.

A/N - This prologue is like the prologue to Teardrop. What is in here matters, but is not directly relevant to our heroes lives. That will pick up in chapter one. Which I will hopefully have sometime later this week.

Title- A Citadel of Stone

Disclaimer- Roswell is not mine. It is owned by Jason Katims, Melinda Metz, and Fox. This is for entertainment only and no infringement is intended.

Category- AU /CC

Rating- Mature (Violence, Adult situations)

Summary- This is the second book of the Elementals. The first book was A Teardrop of Fire. That book detailed the misadventures of two groups of people, one native to the planet of Antar, the group of friends once branded the ‘Royal Four’ at Caredon University, and the crew of the Roswell, a ship from the Aralian Worldship New Mexico.

The Royal Four barely survive the intrigue that is tearing their world apart, as the crew of the Roswell gets stranded on their planet. And now a choice faces them. Antar is being torn asunder. Do they intervene or do they let the world slide closer to hell? For the two groups have become fused into one, seemingly by chance.

But there remains the mystery of Antar’s past and the mysterious artifact known as the Granolith. As well as Antar’s Necklace, a group of powerful battle satellites that protect the world form outside invaders…. And trap the crew of the Roswell on the planet.

They are stuck with a downed spacecraft and many hard choices ahead of them. Choices that may resonate much farther and with much more importance than they could possibly aware of.

------------

Alaric Harden stared at the device he held in his hand. It was a small rod of crystal, of red crystal.

Who could believe how important this small thing was. Only four others existed just like it. Just four more Keys of Fire. Only twenty of the keys had ever been found. Who knew if there were more, if the ancient designers of the Granolith had made more and they lay hidden in some ancient bunker.

Impossible to say. Not even the height of Drathan science had even come close to understanding even a tenth of what the Antarans of old had possessed.

He did not relish the need to talk to the Arch-Duke, to make him understand how precarious their position truly was. The fool was from the inner provinces. He didn’t realize how much the power of the Drathan Empire depended on finesse, particularly this far out beyond the perimeter.

If Antar were not such a treasure trove, there was no way that they would have gone so far beyond Marcellen’s Time Table. No, they were over extended here.

Over extended and out of time. The locals were revolting, killing and destroying so much that Dratha had brought them. All because to many Central Aristocrats had no concept of finesse! That it took generations before a subject populace truly knew its place.

Fools. All of them fools.

And he would hold onto this satellite until they could evacuate everyone off the surface. His wife and children were already safe and gone.

He had seen what was coming. They hadn’t listened to him, and it had happened almost exactly as he predicted. Only General Harding seemed to be having any luck, but then he was a half-breed. He had some locals who were loyal to him through their primitive clan networks. Most of the other cities had been over run and destroyed. People were falling back to the last star ports available only to find another horror.

The Council had activated the Necklace against them.

Alaric had watched in tears as one after another civilian transport was incinerated by the massive fire from those ancient war machines. They had all been doomed.

But if it took at least one of each key to activate the system, surely it would take at least the same to stop it.

And all he had was one lousy Key. Just one.

But it would be enough. Enough to deactivate one of the platforms. To give a tiny window for his peoples ships to escape.

He wouldn’t be able to save them all, but he would do what he could to save as many of his people as he could.

So that they could escape this hellish world of barbarians.

He whispered a few lines from the Imperial Canticles to strengthen his soul before activating the communications link.

He bowed slightly, “Your Eminence.”

“Report.”

“I have seized one of the platforms. As long as we stay here we can stop this platform from attacking any out or in bound ships. It provides a tiny window that…..”

“That is unacceptable. I need you to recapture this colony. Where is General Harding?”

“He is still ground side. He has managed to rally a sizable portion of his field army, but…..”

“But what?”

“Sir, the civilians in the cities. They are being slaughtered. General Harding may be fighting with the courage of dragons, Your Eminence, but he is still cut off. And I, I can’t resupply him. I can only control the tiny area beneath me.”

“I can send you a flotilla of the best ships and….”

“Sir, they would be destroyed by the other platforms. Nothing we have can stand against one let alone all that they would have to face. I am sorry, sir. Evacuation is the only option. For now at least.”

“How long can you hold your position.”

“Forever sir. We can hold out forever……” He knew very well that none of his men were getting off this platform. As soon as he left the Council below would take charge of this platform and destroy him.

They were trapped.

But he would do what he could for as long as he could.

The Arch-Duke’s image vanished. And Alaric prayed for himself and for his wife and children. Family he would never see again.

And he steeled his heart and began to plan the path the transports would have to take to escape from Antar. Escape from Antar and back to civilization.

Someday he vowed, someday we will be back.

We will be back.
Last edited by PML on Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:14 pm, edited 15 times in total.

PML
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Re: A Citadel of Stone (AU/CC , Mature) Prologue - 02/20/10

Post by PML » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:14 pm

Thanks to everyone following along.

chanks_girl- Thanks. The story is just demanding to be told.

BlueStar8- Thanks. You are right about the FIre Key. Although note that neither Maria nor Liz know the significance of that crystal yet. So Max does not know that they already have the whole set. Fixing Liz is going to take a while. But we will get there.... eventually.

RhondaAnn- Thanks. Hope you continue to enjoy.

Disclaimer- Roswell is not mine and no infringement is intended.

A Citadel of Stone- part 1

Roswell Medical Bay, Roswell Crashsite, Northern Teven Mountains.

Isabel walked into the lab. It amazed her again how advanced the technology was aboard this ship. The sheer power that the crew of the Roswell took for granted.

She looked over at one long tube that contained Tess’s younger sister, Mara.

Liz had been adamant about placing those implants in the girl as soon as possible. Two day of workups, trying to study what had actually been done to the girl and she was in the tank.

Isabel had never spent that much time in the presence of a soulless person before. She had met some, had met a few of Ekedar’s Soulless Guard. But mostly she had avoided them.

They made her think of Topolsky. Of horrible mistakes made in her youth.

What would Liz think of them if she knew? If she truly knew what some of the source of the Royal Four’s power had sprung from….

None of them ever talked about it. Ever.

They had turned Topolsky in once they knew, truly knew what she had done. But that had been too late, too late to return what they had been given.

It was too bad Topolsky was dead. She more than anyone had understood the dynamics of someone being soulless. Of what the whole process had entailed.

Isabel had deliberately not studied it. Had not wanted to know the details. Denial. She had tried to deny what had been done for her. Done to her.

Max had sworn to perfect his enhanced Healing as an art. To save those he could.

Michael had gotten swept up in the war. Who knew what he might have felt himself pulled to do had patriotic fervor not sent him to the front. That and his doomed desire for her.

Isabel knew what had been done to him now. A Protector. They had made him into a Protector. Something that she knew that he had always hoped he could be for her.

Neither of them had known what that truly entailed. He strictly wasn’t even really human now. At least not as they were regarded on Antar.

Isabel shivered. Her father. Her father must have done this. He had always hated Michael and her affection for him. Dragging him off to the front must not have been enough.

Not after he became a hero. It was one thing for a lesser noble to marry into the Royal Line, but a hero…. Yes, Handled right, Michael could very well have become eligible for her hand.

Too bad that by then she had already been ensnared by Khivar.

She had loved Michael, but he had been so far away and Khivar had been so very persuasive. Khivar had wooed her away from Michael, even while Michael was busy fighting and almost dying for his nation.

Isabel was carrying around a substantial amount of guilt about quite a few things. Many of which she had shared with Alex. She hadn’t quite verbalized all of the details yet, but she had shared so much with him.

Things that she had never been able to discuss with either Michael or Khivar seemed so easy to discuss with him.

Topolsky. She needed to tell him about her. Tell her what they had done.

Isabel closed her eyes. But not today. Today she was going to discuss her own implant schedule with Liz.

Isabel wanted the sky. And now that she knew, knew that it was possible she wanted the stars. And she was determined to do what ever it took to get what she wanted.

Alex was telling her to go slow. To just get a few implants to acclimate herself. But that was simply not her way. She was afraid if she took the slow route she would never get to what she wanted. That Alex would try to protect her from getting all the implants that she would need to be a full pilot.

And frankly some of what Liz had said would be done to her was kind of scary. But it didn’t seem that real to her.

Of course, that could be what Alex was afraid of. That she didn’t really understand all of what she was going to be facing. But Isabel had never been one to avoid her fears.

She mastered them.

Liz wandered in from deeper in the Lab, or possibly from one of her Engineering Hubs.

This ship was huge.

Isabel watched as Liz coolly ignored her and walked over to the fluid filled tank that held Mara. She made a few adjustments and checked the monitors for a few minutes.

Isabel cleared her throat, “So how is she doing?”

“As well as can be expected. I have some better readings on what is going on in her head. And likely mine. It is a strange thing, not a normal break. It is much closer to a Drathan psionic link of some sort. More like an electrical bypass than a simple.”

As always there was an aura about the woman that just gave Isabel the chills. Soulless. The woman she was trusting herself to was Soulless.

But Alex trusted her. And so did Max.

Liz had already given Tess a couple of minor implants as well as the major surgery that had saved her life. Surely she could trust herself in Liz’s hands.

“Have you talked with Tess about it?”

“A little. But there is much that we need to know about it. Supposedly there are professionals in Ekedar who know more. I will have to visit them after we are more settled here.”

“I will help you. I lived there for a long time.”

Liz curtly nodded. “Are you ready to discuss your treatment?”

“Whenever you have it set up.”

“Very well. Follow me.”

Isabel watched as the cold brunette walked to a different room in the Medical Bay. She swallowed her fear and followed.

-------
A valley not far from the Roswell Crashsite, Northern Teven Mounatains

Michael stood on the back of the brook he had washed himself off in. After all the time he had spent in the Trenches on the Front, he was fastidious about his personal cleanliness.

Maria was much the same. She had gone first, claiming they would never get done if they washed together.

An astute observation. He had never truly felt like this before. He had been besotted by Isabel, years back. Had thought that he had truly found love.

But it had been nothing like this driving need.

He had cherished her, placed her on a pedestal and worshiped Isabel. Which Isabel had eaten up. She had loved it. Loved the attention.

Maria wasn’t like that. Oh, she wanted the attention, but it was not about being on a pedestal. It was about them being equals, partners. She truly expected to hold him even though she knew that he, the part of him that was Michael would fade as aspect of being a Protector took firm hold.

That he would become driven by duty, and not by her. That the wells of his emotions would dry up. And he would be gone.

But for now, and for as long as he could. He would be with her. Be hers and only hers.

He smirked as he saw her sunning herself on her towel. She was so beautiful.

His altered hearing warned him of the on coming horses. Tess had warned them that bandits made a home here. But he hadn’t listened hard enough. So certain that they would be safe so close to the Roswell.

He kicked himself for his lax attention. One hand shifted to a blade form as he began to move towards Maria’s position. There were around eight of them.

Michael was sure he could defeat them, but not without either he or Maria getting shot. He quietly circled around, using his powers to make him blend into the scenery.

He wanted maximum surprise.

-------
Maria opened her eyes to the sound of the horses trampling near her once relaxing spot. She looked up and sighed. “Can I help you boys?”

“Oh, I do believe you can. All alone out here? Surely you know that we own this area. And you need to pay the taxes to be here.”

“Really? I didn’t see any signs.” Maria sat up and stretched her arms wide. Giving them a good view. “Well then. Let me get my kit and I’ll pay those taxes right away. How much did you say this was going to be?”

“I think you’ll find out it doesn’t matter. Karl, Tam, grab her. Search for her belongings, I doubt she’s wandered into the mountains with nothing but a towel and her skin.

Two of the men dismounted and moved towards her. One of the others kept his gun pointed at her, while the rest began to search the area for her camp.

One of them cried out as he was ripped from his saddle by some bladed thing.

Michael.

Maria smiled, “I didn’t say I was alone.” She activated her phase pistol and started shooting.

A few moments later the bandits were broken and the two remaining living bandits were fleeing on horseback.

Maria looked at one of the horses for a second before dismissing the idea. She was not going to ride a horse completely naked. Besides the only time she’d ever used horse transport had been a disaster.

Maria was a girl of the technological age. If she needed a single person transport she’d use a hover cycle, thank you.

Besides, this could work out well. She detailed one of the local drones to follow them.

And was appalled at what she found. There was a camp of bandits alright. A large one. And penned up were a large number of ordinary citizens.

Why the bandits were keeping them Maria had no idea. But she watched as bodies were dragged from a tent and thrown into a mass grave. And a couple more of the refugees herded up to the tent.

She opened a link to Kyle. “Kyle we have a problem. I am sending you live video. We need to figure what we are going to do about this.”

“Understood Maria. You two get back here. Good job.”

Maria sighed. Play time was over. She walked over to the cloaked cutter and opened it up to grab a med kit.

Michael was moving toward her, still in a camouflaged form. The blades on his arms slowly retracting back into his arm.

Michael was always surprised at how she took this calmly. But why shouldn’t he? He never asked where she had gotten the pistol from. They both were top of the line augmented people, different only in the culture and tech base they came from.

But inside they were the same. Soul mates. She looked up at him. “We need to go home.” She absently rubbed the blood from a gunshot wound to her stomach. She reached into her flesh and pulled out the bullet.

That built in ballistic weave saving her yet again.

Michael just watched her, a mixture of worry and shock. “Are you, are you okay?”

“Fine, probably need Liz to take a look at the ribs. I mean it hurts, but considering what could have happened.”

Michael touched her belly, careful to avoid the wound. “I still can’t believe I can’t feel it. That its there protecting you and…..”

She gave him a kiss. And finished bandaging herself up. Her hands were beginning to shake a little.

Post action jitters.

“I was worried about you.”

“I was worried about you, too. You’re not bullet proof, you know.”

“And if they had shot you in the head?”

“I’d have been badly hurt. Come on we need to get back.” Only she didn’t want to go yet. She wanted him again. Combat always did make her horny.

She caressed him, to see if he was ready and willing himself.

She smiled.

“I thought we needed to go home right away.”

She dragged him toward the cutter, “That is why they invented autopilot….. It allows your hands and other things more…. Freedom.”

--------
Onboard the Roswell, Northern Teven Mountains.

Alex paced back and forth. “What do you think it means?”

Max shook his head, “Not a clue, I’m afraid. The bandits have been in these mountains for a long time. I suppose that the plains are a bit hectic with the Revolution in Teven, but…..”

Alex sighed, “It is really bad out there. I’ve intercepted a large number of radio messages. it’s a massacre down there!”

Kyle spoke up, “And what can we do about it? There are limits to how much we can intervene, Alex.”

“I know, I know. But it hurts to know what is happening and to have my hands tied.”

Ava and Tess walked into the room. Tess’s recent experiences still marked her, making it easy to tell them apart. Kyle smiled at Tess. She walked over and sat next to him and held his hand.

Ava just remained standing. She still wasn’t entirely comfortable with them all. Particularly after Liz had commandeered her sister and made her into and ‘abomination.’ Of course, since she was already Soulless, Ava didn’t have much ground to stand on.

Besides Liz had been adamant about those implants for Mara.

“So what is going on?”

“Maria and Michael ran into some bandits. And apparently they are doing something with some people who fled to the mountains. Typical war tragedy stuff.”

Liz walked into the room, her presence noticeable immediately. “I have a theory.”

Ava looked at Tess and at Kyle. “Surely you all can do something. Intervene somehow.”

Tess gave Kyle’s hand a squeeze. “Why? If it helps us somehow I can see it mattering, but otherwise we have other things to worry about.”

Ava glared at her twin. “They are your people! You are their Queen, you have a duty to them, to use whatever you can to aid the greater good. Now is not the time to abandon them!”

Tess shot up, “MY PEOPLE! No, no longer. Not after they KILLED ME! For more than three days I felt that damn wooden spike dig deeper and deeper into me. No, they abandoned me. You are welcome to them, my sister. Save them if you can. I don’t care. Not anymore.”

And Tess fled.

Ava stood there and blinked a couple of times, with a mumbled sorry she followed Tess.

Liz cleared her throat. “As I said, I have a theory.”

Kyle still stared after Tess, wondering if he should follow…..

Max said, “Yes?”

“I think they are doing to those refugees what they did to me. I think they are draining the souls of these fleeing peasants and either using the power themselves or selling it to those willing to use it.” All delivered in a calm pleasant but cold voice.

As if she were not describing a horrific fate for hundreds if not thousands of people.

Kyle looked at Max, “Is that possible? I mean is there really a way that they can profit from it?”

Max looked away. “Yes. Yes there is.”

PML
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Re: A Citadel of Stone (AU/CC , Mature) Part 1 - 03/01/10

Post by PML » Sun Mar 14, 2010 3:49 pm

Thanks again for everyone following along this story.

chanks_girl- Thanks. Liz had on the show and to a degree in this story a habit of deferring to others if she did not feel the need to persuade them to her views. She simply doesn't care anymore. Her implants keep her from being unbearably rude, but she is still very blunt now.

Um, Isabel is getting a lot more than what she realizes. She really should have taken this in baby steps.

RhondaAnn- The Royals were already powerful, Topolsky made them more so. Michael was considered a Royal because he was all but seen as Isabel's consort. Also Ekedar is a republican land, they don't do royalty or nobility. It is quite possible that they did not understand how far a step down Michael's title put him.

As to Michael's situation, they will get to it. But its hasn't been long enough for Liz to figure out what was done to him.

valentinebaby- Thanks. Not a good tourist destination at the moment no.

mary mary- thanks.

Bluestar8- Thanks. You do not get the mind or abilites, just their power, the very essence that allows the souls to exist. Hope you continue to enjoy.

Jake17- Thanks. You are no slouch in the writing department yourself. Thanks, I try to make the titles fit the story as much as I can.


Disclaimer- Roswell is not mine and no infringement is intended.

A Citadel of Stone- part 2

Onboard the Roswell, Northern Teven Mountains

There was silence in the main lounge where they had taken to holding their meetings. Both Kyle and Alex seemed to be ruminating over the ramifications of what Max had just said.

That there was an active market on souls.

Liz’s cool voice filled the air, “Would you care to elaborate, Max? You said this was not a common practice, that what was done to me was fairly rare.”

“It is, it was. But I think things have changed. What was done to you Liz, what was done to Mara…. It is something different from what they did in Ekedar.”

“So you have never seen this done before? Not truly.”

“Yes. I wish that I could deny it, but yes I have. And I do not believe that they are doing to them what was done to you Liz. That seems like some new procedure. But I am afraid I know what is being done to them.”

“So there is more than one technique? This is a research subject on your world? Tearing souls from their owners! My God, how barbaric are you people!” Alex railed.

Kyle reached over, “Calm down, Alex.”

“Calm down? Kyle, you know my heritage. I’ve never tried to hide it. Half-Drathan. Drathan noble at that. You can’t see it, but I can. What they did to Liz and that little girl it just, it turns my stomach, Kyle.”

Max looked down at his hands, “As it does every rational good person on Antar. The practice started on Ekedar as a method of repayment for convicted criminals. The sort that have done horrible things. Killing them is what needs to happen to keep society safe, but it also removes any chance for them to repay society. And there are some advantages that the Soulless possess. High resistance to mental detection or attack. Properly trained they were very useful to the government of Ekedar.”

“I bet they were. How long before they trumped up charges to get men to join their Soulless army?”

“It never was widespread. Because it also kills their mental abilities. And anyone who can see them will know, its very obvious. Even Maria and Kyle can see it, right Captain.”

“Yes, ‘ Kyle’s voice was subdued as he took Liz in. She had changed so very much.

“Very well, Max. If what they did traditionally was different from what was done to me, and what you assume they will be doing to these poor refugees…. What exactly are they doing?”

“Nine years ago, when Michael and I first when to Caredon University in Ekedar, we met a woman. A scientist of some note, Dr. Topolsky. Isabel was already there, already cracking the shell of Tess. Those were heady years. All of us, even Michael, were treated special because of our status. The ‘Royal Four’ they called us. They must have included Michael because Isabel spent her considerable charms on him only. And I fell in love with Tess.”

“And this is relevant how?”

“Please, Liz, this is hard enough. Just let me tell it how I can. Please?” Max stared at his Soulless lover, wishing again for a cure to her condition.

Kyle turned to Liz. “Liz, what are you doing?” He could feel a variety of orders being routed through out the ship.

“I am preparing a drone strike. It will not demand to much of my concentration. And they will be needed.”

“Just don’t do anything hasty.”

“Yes Captain.”

Kyle turned to Max, “Go on. But as briefly as you can.”

Max nodded, his eyes still on Liz. “It’s relevant because while Topolsky had influence and a moderate amount of wealth, the good Doctor wanted more. A position that could be gained by finding a rich enough patron.”

“And your little group represented two of the worlds largest governments.”

“Yes. We didn’t realize this, didn’t understand just how important this was to her. To just how far she was willing to go to win our approval.” Max fell silent again, looking down at his hands.

“She used the souls of others to enhance you didn’t she?” Liz’s voice was calm and cool as it cut through the silence.

“Yes.” Max looked around the room, trying to appeal to Kyle or Alex to get some level of emotion from them. Emotion that he would not be able to get from Liz. Not anymore.

“My God.”

Kyle rubbed his face tiredly. “I can’t imagine you did this willingly. I know that Tess wouldn’t.”

“She had a serum. She had a theory that there was a certain energy lost when the cut was made. And Ekedar was interested to see if something could be found, if only to understand what they were doing to these men. She found a way to concentrate that energy. But it only stayed stable if the victim died. The government of Ekedar wasn’t interested in a drug that temporary increased mental strength. Particularly when the concoction lost potency as fast as this one did.”

“She offered these drugs to you. To boost your abilities.”

Max nodded. “We were already among the most powerful there. And this was an extra edge. But these drugs lost potency. Dr. Topolsky promised to find a way to permanently adjust them. And she did.”

Liz nodded and absently took a seat. “If I may theorize, Kyle?”

“Um, sure.”

“I am not truly soulless. Not in the way that you, or Alex, or I would think. They refer to it as the ‘cut’ and I believe that is indeed what has happened. They have cut away one of the main connections between body and soul. If we accept souls exist, and after our current experience there is definitely empirical evidence about there existence to be found here. They took the connection and they attempted to drain as much energy from it as they could. But once the connection broke the energy that flowed along the pathway stopped. Topolsky on the other hand…..”

“Topolsky’s process really drains the soul. She concentrated it into a liquid, a serum. And, and she gave some to us. For over a year, she fed us this serum It was purest ambrosia. What was more the power didn’t fade. Not the majority of it.” Max cupped his hands and let a little light pool in them. “It remains in me still.”

“So where is this Topolsky bitch. She seems like she might have a way to patch up Liz.”

“Yes she would, except that she is dead. I saw her hang. Once we realized what was going on, once we understood…..”

“You turned her into the authorities.”

“Yes, and in each of our cases tried to make amends. Tried to find forgiveness for what we had done. Tess tried to study it, tried to find a way to release, to release the souls we have trapped inside us. But even death might not be enough. We did not absorb their minds, just their energy. Their minds would have been left empty of energy, left to fade away and die forever. I, I…..” His gaze turned to Liz, begging forgiveness.

A forgiveness that she could not give him. Not truly. Not in the way that he wanted, in something that meant more than just words.

But she couldn’t. Oh it wasn’t that she didn’t know what he needed or wanted. Oh, intellectually she understood what he was asking for. But it would be dishonest for her to pretend. Not when it meant so much to him.

Liz couldn’t give him the comfort that he wanted. Not honestly. Because the part of her he strove to appeal to was gone. Cut away.

In his agonized eyes he could see the truth. The truth of why she remained silent.

And something inside of Max crumbled. He began to weep and cry.

Liz crossed the distance and held him. Tried to provide physically what she could not longer do emotionally.

Both Kyle and Alex got up and began to leave the room.

Liz looked up from the sobbing Max, “Drone preparations are complete. The Crashdown is ready for deployment Captain. Maria and Michael should be docking momentarily. I will remain her to coordinate the drones.”

Alex looked at her, “Can you call Isabel? I am pretty sure she would like to help.”

Liz shot him a confused look. “Isabel has begun her treatment. She’s in the Medical Bay now.”

“Treatment?”

“Standard implants along with a Class 2 Pilot Suite.”

Alex looked at her in horror and shot off towards the medical bay.

Liz remained holding the inconsolable Max.

Kyle just looked at her. “Class 2? Why? Even I only have a Class 4.”

“The woman wants the stars. When we leave she will be coming with us. And if her talents and skills mesh with her desire, I may very well try to induct her into the Scouts.”

Kyle shook his head. “I wish you had asked.”

“You said I could provide whatever implants I deemed necessary. She really wants this Captain.”

“But does she know what it entails, I wonder?”

“I went over the procedure with her. She still seemed quite eager.”

“And Tess? Did you do anything… extreme with her?”

“Standard civilian implants, nothing more.” Liz paused a moment and gave Max a small kiss on his forehead. “Is this going to be a problem?”

“I hope not, God I hope not.”

--------
Med Lab, Onboard the Roswell, Northern Teven Mountains.

Alex stared at the tube that contained the love of his life. She floated in the thick golden fluid, her face mostly obscured by the ventilation mask.

The rest of her he could see quite well. Large gaping gashes had already been opened, deep into her body, to her very bones.

A Class 2 Suite was a fighter pilot suite. Reinforced bones, musculature, circulatory system, respiratory system….. Isabel would be made anew.

12.3 percent synthetic. Still human amongst his father’s people. An abomination amongst his mother’s. Not that his mother didn’t have her share of implants these days.

He did himself.

But he still cried for his blonde goddess. How he wished he could be with her. Could protect her from the pain and confusion that would follow such an extensive piece of work.

He reached out with his weak gifts, to try to provide her some minor comfort.

Contact.

His soul clung to hers, now knowing what drove the deep shame and sorrow he had always seen. But it did not change that he loved her. That he had always loved her and always would.

------

Alex did not feel as Liz had the autonomic robots move his body onto a bed right next to the Isabel. Or the low level sedation that she placed him under.

For Liz’s condition was such that she could understand love. Could understand it and admire it and desire it.

She simply could feel it. Not anymore.

But she did understand.

Roswell Personnel Quarters, Northern Teven Mountains

Tess lay heavily on her bed. Hers and Kyle’s. It hadn’t take her long to persuade him to take her as his lover. His former lover, Maria would have made for tough competition. But luckily she was besotted with Michael of all people.

She closed her eyes and tried to let the sense of hatred and betrayal fade. Of what her people had done to her. Done to her family.

Oh, she knew that he father had been a tyrant. But she knew that she herself would have tried her best to make life a better proposition for all of Teven.

And they had killed her for it. Had placed her on a wooden pole and let her slowly be impaled. To suffer the stones and jeers of people she had hoped to help.

To feel her life slowly seep away.

And now they were dying like dogs amidst the chaos they had allowed? Whittaker was draining their souls and eating them for breakfast?

Good. They deserved nothing better. Not for what they had done. And not just to her. To all of her family.

Only herself, Ava, and poor Soulless Mara were left.

They had sewn the wind, so let them enjoy their whirlwind! Let them suffer as she had!

Tess cried into her pillow.

Ava opened the door. “Tess, I am sorry. But these people can help! The could do so much if they only got off their lazy asses and helped us.”

“Helped whom to do what?”

“Help us regain the throne, bring back peace and prosperity.”

“The people have already voted. Let them enjoy the fruits of their labors.”

“Tess.” Ava stopped for a moment. “Tess, were you serious about relinquishing your claim to the throne? Of abandoning your people.”

Tess looked over at her sister, the sister who had tried to avoid politics as much as she could. “If you want them, they are yours. I swear I will never rule again. I don’t give a damn about them.”

Ava looked away, “But if I did. If I did care, if I took up that mantle. Something I have spent my life avoiding…. Would you help me? Would you help me, my sister?”

Tess stared at her pillow for a moment. “Yes. Yes I will. But understand, Ava. I do not consider myself one of them any more. I go where Kyle goes, for as long as he will have me. I am one of them now, not one of you.”

Ava’s breath caught. She recognized that tone. Tess meant what she said. “Do you really think these, these people will ever consider you one of them? As something more than a primitive barbarian.?”

“They already do. If you wanted to, you and Zan could be one of us as well. I know that will never happen with Zan. He thinks only of Avidar. Just as now you think of Teven.”

“Why?”

“Because they see a larger picture. One that in time will encompass both Teven and Avidar. And lands beyond. They are trying to bring back the ancient days, Ava. Once our people roamed the stars, and they seek to bring us that again.” She stood up and walked over to Ava, placing a hand on her shoulder. Intent to make her sister truly understand. “And what is more, they love us. They really do.”

“You’re talking about that little group you used to belong in? The ‘Royal Four’?”

“Yes. Isabel’s mate, Alex. He thinks it was fate that brought us together. I am beginning to think he was right. And so I have no problem helping you, but I will never consider myself a daughter of Teven ever again. They are yours, Ava.”

Ava just stared at her older sister, the elder by mere minutes. “Thank you.”

Tess wiped the tears from her face, “I still love you as well, you know. And for that, I could forgive much. Come on, let’s see what our friends have planned for those bandits.

------
Onboard the Crashdown, Enroute to the bandit camp.

Maria was fully dressed in her uniform. She looked over at Michael. Their little foray this morning had been fun.

But playtime was over. Time for serious business.

Seated in the hold behind them were Kyle, Tess, Zan, and Ava. The later three had been told to remain inside the Crashdown until the site had been cleared.

Zan had begged to help. Had tried to convince Kyle and Michael that he would be of more use to them than Maria.

Maria was after all a female.

It had made her so proud of Michael and Kyle how energetic they had been in her defense. Which was good. She’d have hated trying to explain a badly broken up Zan to Max. Max had enough troubles in the form of Liz.

The merest thought that they might be doing to these refugees what had been done to Liz…. Or as hinted at by Kyle something worse.

No those bandits would never see it coming. Maria used her implants to watch the crowd of drones that Liz was sending.

“Save some for me, Lizzie.” she sent quietly along their private band.

“Try to keep one of them alive for interrogation.”

“I’ll try.”

“They don’t have to be very alive. Just enough to talk.”

“Blood thirsty this morning, Lizzie?”

“I know both you and Kyle. Tell him to be careful of that Plasma cannon of his. We are trying to save these people, not burn them to a crisp.”

Maria giggled slightly. Liz had made a joke! Maybe, maybe everything would be okay in the end. Maybe that could save her!

“Approaching target. Placing the Crashdown under your control Liz, try not to crash us.”

“Contact in sixty seconds.”

Maria turned to Michael, “Showtime.”

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Re: A Citadel of Stone (AU/CC , Mature) Part 2 - 03/14/10

Post by PML » Fri Apr 09, 2010 5:31 am

Thanks again to everyone following along. I am currently writing like a million miles an hour on a different story. But it is almost done and soon I should be able to focus more on this one. Sorry about the wait. This part will introduce someone else who will be of some help to our heroes.

chanks_girl- Thanks. This part deals with the attack on the camp. You will see more of AI in the next couple parts. Particularly when Isabel wakes up. (won't that be fun)

jake17-thanks

keepsmiling7 - Thanks

RhondaAnn- Yes, but not for a part or two. They will be busy with the refugees. But he will tell her everything. That situation with Maria was fun. She does not accept fools gladly.

BlueStar8- Thanks. Ava doesnt want to rule, she just accepts that Tess won't. Isabel is in for a shock.

Disclaimer- Roswell is not mine and no infringement is intended

A Citadel of Stone- part 3

Bandit Camp, Northern Teven Mountains

Arkady Ross was hiding amongst the many refugees that had been captured. She had once been a member of the High Court in Harding Castle.

But she had recognized the coming storm. Tess Harding meant well, and under different circumstances would be a wonderful Queen. One that could slowly drag Teven into the modern area.

But Arkady had been part of the Organization for Internal Peace. She knew that Tess was doomed to fail.

And worse. That many of her bosses and coworkers had not only seen the coming storm, but had already made friends with the rebels.

She had been warned by a friend. One that warned her that if she did not leave, he would turn her in.

That he would have to. And then he described the choices that she would have.

Arkady had been instrumental in the fall of Vanessa Whittaker. There was no way that would be forgiven. Arkady would be treated like all the other nobles. Impaled or Soultaken.

She hadn’t even heard of the last until that night. That last night in her lover’s arms as he described it. Described what it did the subjects, and told her with a tear that he himself had accepted some of the power from the ruptured soul that had been used in demonstration.

He had suspected, and been right, that those who had gotten that far into the Skins power base and refused would be Soultaken themselves.

And they had been. After their souls had been ripped from their still living bodies they had been stripped and flayed…. And…..

Roger was a Skin now. He had become one of them to protect himself. But they both knew that would not be an option for her.

So he had helped her escape.

She had tried to flee, had tired to get to Ekedar, to what she thought would be the last safe place in the world. Only she found there were no safe places. Revolution had struck Ekedar as hard as it had Teven.

She had been at train yards to the Port City of Ryall when she heard that the city was being destroyed, its citizens Soultaken in tribute to the God-King Khivar.

And she had just fled into the wilds.

She had not been alone. Larger and larger groups had slowly coalesced, and she had tried to avoid them. She had known that they would be captured, that any large group would be doomed.

There were times when she wished she wasn’t right so often.

Now she was here in this death camp. For that was what it was. Some of the denser proles and peasants accepted that they were being fed and did not comment on the fact that the people that were taken away never came back.

The guards said they were sorted and sent to the factory or work farm that their talents would improve best.

But Arkady was more than just a talented spy and cop. She had her talents, one of which was to hid said talents. So she hadn’t been chosen yet.

But she could feel the power radiating from the tents that the ‘sorting’ was taking place.

That wasn’t normal. Not normal at all.

And if some people were going elsewhere, why were there no caravans heading out? Why just work parties that busied themselves over the hills?

No. This was a death camp. One in which her Soul would be wrest from her body to serve the new government. Or possibly this Khivar.

Hell, at this point there was likely a black market in stored souls.

Arkady shivered.

She looked again at the defenses and tried to plan a way out.

She was still looking at the Northern Guard post when the first explosion hit.

Several rapid flying machines zipped over head releasing bombs.

Arkady looked up. Whose were those? As far as she was aware of there was nothing in the Teven armory that even came close. Beravan? Avidaran?

She stopped trying to hide and stood up and watched in horror as the sky was filled with an enormous ship. It was like a modern battleship had taken to the sky!

No larger. Much larger. She couldn’t take in the scale. But it was simply impossible.

A couple of small figures drifted from it.

And the guards began to die. Anyone who tried to fight against these things died. Either torn by incessant machine gun fire, or in a plume of fire hotter than anything she had ever seen.

It left glass behind.

Arkady hit the dirt. What was the world coming to? Where was there safety?

Where?

--------

Tess got out of the shuttle that had dropped them from the still waiting Crashdown above them. There were panicked people wailing and praying for aid all around her.

After eliminating the guards, Maria and Kyle had stunned the survivors. IF only to provide some level of control.

She looked at the group of several hundred people and thought, ‘what are we going to do with all of them? We can’t just send them on their way…..’

--------

She was not the only one to note that. Kyle hovered around the field searching for possible threats while Tess and Ava moved toward the tent.

“Liz are you watching this.”

“Yes Captain.”

“How long can we feed these people?”

“I have already done the calculations, Kyle. We can maintain near parity while supplying basic foodstuffs. It will cost us some extra time to produce manufactured goods to produce living quarters and basic goods. I foresaw the need and already have several plans in the works based on your desires.” There was a pregnant pause in her cold clear voice.

“What is it Liz?”

“Sir, this isn’t the only wandering band. I have sent a wider band of scouts out. Sir, we are looking at a mass migration.”

Kyle closed his eyes, “How many.”

“Several hundred thousand at least, Captain.”

“My God. What are we going to do now?”

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Re: A Citadel of Stone (AU/CC , Mature) Part 3 - 04/09/10

Post by PML » Thu Apr 29, 2010 1:52 am

Well here I am. Sorry about the wait. Thanks to everyone following along. And just to be safe, this is going to Adult.

keepsmiling7- Thanks. Yeah. This is going to be a problem.

RhondaAnn- Thanks

Valentinebaby- Thanks. Its a real problem, with no neat solution.

BlueStar8- Thanks. It might come to that. If they don't intervene it definately WILL happen.

As for Topolsky, we shall see. As for beign dead, being an inconvenience.... Well these souls come from someone. And their death is horrific.

Disclaimer- Roswell is not mine and no infringement is intended.

A Citadel of Stone- part 4

Max-

Max ran his hands along the sweaty body of his love. Of his Liz.

This close he could still feel it, still feel their bond. It was still there, had somehow survived Liz’s loss of her soul.

But it was so very weak. So weak and most of what he got from it was static. Like a damaged radio. But she was still there. The woman he loved was still there. Locked inside of herself.

She had started this bout of lovemaking. She’d been on edge maybe, perhaps a bit nervous. Reading her emotions now was more guess work than anything else.

Liz had been a very willing lover, driving a blistering pace. Racing to ecstasy. One that he was proud to have given her. She lay on his chest, slowly gathering her breath.

His own gasps filled the room as he used his gifts to examine her. She had done something to her implant, the one that made psionic contact with any of the four off worlders problematic. When he was close he could feel her now.

His hands pushed healing energy into her, probed her body and felt along for what might be wrong with her.

Max could feel the spots where she wasn’t normal. Her bones were strengthened by a honeycomb of complex carbon compounds. Complex to the point that he wasn’t sure he could replicate them.

And then there were the… devices inside of her. That was the only thing he could think of them as. Tiny machines that were part biological and part mechanical. Somehow it was all interwoven into her.

Because he never would have thought that you could do this, could put machines into a body. Not and make it all work together. Not and have a healthy body. But Liz was healthy.

All of them were. And they were so much older than their bodies seemed to make them. Had their culture stumbled on some sort of fountain of youth?

If only they could figure out what exactly had happened to her. Find out how to cure her. Because she was right, she did have emotions.

They just weren’t normal human emotions. At the height of their lovemaking all the emotions he could feel boiling off her were simply selfish animalistic ones. No connection with him at all.

Liz pushed herself up. And got off of him. She walked into the bathroom without once looking back at him.

He heard the shower start up.

There had been a time when he would have snuck into the shower to see if he could get seconds. Or maybe just to play a little bit in the water. There was a part of him that still wanted to.

But Liz wouldn’t understand. Not now. What made it worse is that her implants would tell her exactly what he wanted. And she would look at him with that expressionless gaze of hers. That cold chilling gaze that made anything his sister used to through pale in comparison.

And it is just possible that she would then pretend to have fun with him in the water. Or let him make love to her again. Assuming it didn’t disrupt her time schedule.

Because that mind never stopped. Never ever, ever.

He was curious in a way what she had been thinking about while they had started out. Something important, something frustrating to her.

The shower stopped. She walked out, toweling herself off.

He couldn’t help but admire her trim but athletic frame. A dancers body.

She looked at him staring at her. She turned and looked into the mirror for a moment. “I wish I could still understand what you see in me. I wish I didn’t hurt you so much.” She shrugged casually and set her cold eyes back on him. “You will need to take a quick shower yourself. We have a lot of work to do.”

“Work? Doing what?” He slowly slid from his bed.

“Setting up a refugee camp. We have a few hours before Kyle and the others get all the refugees ready and aboard the Crashdown.”

“How many?” Max walked toward Liz.

“Slightly over three hundred. I will have to divert resources to food production. This will naturally disrupt our timetable some. But there is more.”

He was close enough to touch her. Close enough to feel the intensity she was concentrating on this whole situation.

Something was very wrong.

“Okay? What exactly is the problem. Three hundred shouldn’t be much of a strain. You said yourself this ship could feed thousands.”

She looked up at him. Examining him coldly, but with a slight tinge of lust. She placed on hand on his chest and rubbed him. “And we will have to. I am not certain, with Kyle one never can be totally sure. But I doubt he will let the other groups moving in this direction starve.”

“How many?” Two could play this game. He placed on of his own hands on her shoulder and slide them along her until it cupped one of her breasts. He gently brushed his thumb across her nipple.

It hardened at his touch.

Liz moaned softly. She then looked at him, calculating. “I am afraid we do not have time for another round of copulation. We only have few hours for the first camp. And the others….. Max, last I checked there were slightly more than a quarter million people seeking refuge in these mountains. Kyle, Maria, the others… They all have soft hearts. They will wish to help them, save them if they can. I need to figure out a way to do that. And more. Because based on my analysis once people realize there actually is a safe haven here….”

Max paled. “More will come.”

“Exactly.” Liz quickly wrapped the towel over her head to help her hair dry. Max was about to comment as she began to walk out the door, with just a towel on her head.

Except there was no one else on the ship. Liz would have known that automatically. The only other people were in the Med Bay.

“Liz?”

“Yes, Max?”

He both wanted to know and not. “Why did you sleep with me just now.”

She placed both hands on her hips, “I could have used some drug to deal with my tension, but while I may have been born on the New Mexico, there are some traditions of the Massachusetts that I think work better. Plus it gave me a chance at natural conception. Another tradition from the Massachusetts that I think works best. No, in the shower Mr. Evans. We have work to do.”

He watched as she stalked out.

She had been using him. Using him for a natural high and genetic material. At no point had she mentioned love.

But then she was Soulless. What exactly did he expect?

He wanted her love back. He wanted HIS Liz back. Max’s tears were washed away by the shower along with their mingled sweat.

-------
Maria-

Maria walked into the headquarters of the bandits. She badly needed something to drink. Maybe a few uninterrupted hours with Michael. Something that would help wash away what she had seen here.

The bandits had slowly killed over eight hundred people. This must be a staging area for them, because as far as what she had gotten from Kyle, the current group hadn’t been that large.

All of them had been slowly electrocuted, a device siphoning off the soul’s energy as the poor person died in agony.

Maria shuddered. She saw a bottle of what looked like spirits on the table. She opened the bottle and used a chemical scan to detect the composition of the fluid.

A whisky variant. No chemical traces that would give her system any trouble.

She took a hefty swig and felt a delicious burn settle into her. Good stuff.

And there was more. She felt… different. Better somehow. It wasn’t just the normal warmth. This seemed to warm her in ways not liquor ever had.

She took another heavy swig, tempted to just chug it down. This was the best liquor she had ever had.

Maria wasn’t quite finished when Michael swat the bottle out of her hand. “What the hell was that for?”

“How much?”

“What are you talking about? I’m a grown girl as you should well know by now, and….”

“How much Ambrosia did you drink?”

Maria felt very warm. Very warm indeed. And so very good. So very refreshed in a way that she had never been. She itemized her armor and clothing and prepared to de-phase it. The gun she’d leave phased just to be on the safe side.

She wanted, no needed him inside of her.

Her armor disappeared first, followed by her clothing. Now that she had access to the Roswell, she could keep an armory in phase if she wanted to. She’d done it before with the Boston, keeping the right equipment for the situation on standby at all times.

She and her fellow cohorts of the Boston had learned this trick fast. It helped if you wanted a quick fuck between bouts of action. The use of sex as a means to lessen the destructive effects of combat fatigue and to build unit cohesion were considered worth the heightened drama that naturally resulted.

She just smiled and began to work on his clothes. Unfortunately they weren’t quite close enough yet to phase them out. She didn’t think she would. It would be more fun working through the layers to get to him.

“Maria, we are not doing this now.”

Maria was already ripping the shirt from his body. She could always have the Roswell send her another. Oh, God, she felt so very good. So good and so hot. She felt hotter than the sun, burning for him.

She could feel him now. Feel the sense of Michaelness that he claimed came from some wonder bond that the folks of Antar shared when they were deeply in love. She wanted to mix herself with him.

And he wanted her too. She could already see his pants tenting up in arousal.

She slid her hand into his pants and caressed him. “We have plenty of time, as long as we make it quick.”

“What if the others catch up with us?” Maria could tell that he was wavering.

“They’re grown ups. They can deal.” She didn’t feel like kneeling for this part. With one hand she pushed his pants down. The other she lifted his crotch to eye level.

Being able to bench press tanks had their usefulness. And she really did hate kneeling sometimes.

He was still half heartedly complaining. But she knew. If he wanted to stop her, he’d fight her. He was one of the few men who might be able to beat her in hand to hand combat on this world.

She took him into her mouth. He’d better be ready to repay the favor later or there would be hell to pay.

Only this time as she could feel little electric eddies of pleasure from him inside of her too. Alex had mentioned something about that, a little bonus from his Drathan heritage. But despite rating high on a psi test she had taken on a whim, she had been only above average normal sensitive. Nothing like Alex.

She glanced up at Michael was balancing himself against the wall, thoroughly enjoying himself. His normally brown eyes smoky with pleasure. Only when he met her eyes, horror seemed to fill them.

He even went soft in her mouth, the dick still hot, but shrinking.

She just held him there and watched as a slight glow affected his whole form. The musculature didn’t change as much as she thought it would. But he softened around the edges, his hips wider. She watched in fascination as his dick shrank and shrank until it slipped among the warm folds of his or rather her sex.

Maria listened in fascination at his/her higher voice, still all Michael.

“We can’t do this. Not now. Not while your under the effects of Ambrosia. We don’t know what it will do to you.” He/she still looked back at her balancing along the wall.

Maria looked up at him and then looked straight ahead. Did he really think this would turn her off? She was from the Boston for heaven’s sake!

She smelled his/her arousal. That hadn’t changed. Maria just shifted her grip, held him/her closer, and changed technique.

And from the renewal of the moans, she new that it was working. The strange electric feeling she’d had before from him, she felt again.

Michael pulled her hair a bit. Maria stopped and pouted. “What? I know you’re enjoying this.”

In his/her, now soft high voice, Michael said, “I’m not going to stop you with this. You are just determined to….”

“Get some sort of satisfaction, yes. I don’t care how, Michael, but you will make love to me.”

“Set me down please. It’ll go much faster.”

Maria set him/her down. “So how do you want to do this?” She was happy to discover that he wasn’t much taller than her in this form.

Michael bit his/her lip. “Um. Like this? I mean outside of training, I have never really done… this.”

“Training?” His/her eyes were more a grey than a green in this form, but he actually looked a bit like Maria. The boobs were a little smaller, closer to what she’d had before her pregnancies. The same with the hips.

Interesting.

He/she flushed, “Maria, we are trained to protect the Royals and many of the High Nobles. Not just in the way you think, but also in providing a safe outlet for sex. Its one of the reasons we can all change into male and female. You never know…..”

“Kinky, I like it.”

“Apparently.”

Maria looked him/her over. She accessed her com-links. “Kyle, Michael and I are going to be busy checking some stuff out here in HQ for about a half hour. Call me if there is an emergency.”

Kyle’s reply was classic, “Maria, do you ever think of anything else? I mean seriously, now is not the time.”

“Just a half hour, Maria out.” She looked up at Michael, “Okay, I bought us a little time. Speak what you meant about that Ambrosia stuff.”

He/she looked at her seriously. “That Ambrosia is what this camp was producing. Seeing it here…. I was hoping that concoction had died with Topolsky. But apparently not.”

“What are you saying?”

“That drink, that horrid wonderful drink contained some of the souls of those tortured here.”

Maria just looked at him with absolute horror.

And Michael held her.

--------
Kyle-

Kyle just shook his head in disgust. Trust a Bostonian to think of sex at a time like this.

He turned to Tess. “Come on, we are going to have to work harder. Maria has decided its time to play.”

Tess chuckled, “Poor Michael.”

Kyle glared at her, “More like poor us.”

“Poor us what? You have your robots carrying all the unconscious refugees to your ship. What exactly did you need her to do?”

“I don’t know. Maybe look around. Try to find out what is going on here?”

Tess laughed, “Yes, but this is Maria. She’ll be much better after she has had her happy time with Michael.”

Kyle shook his head, “That woman is corrupting you.”

Tess giggled and pulled him close. She said huskily, “We could follow their lead?”

Kyle looked at her, “No, damn it. One of us has to remain aware.”

Tess was about to reply when Ava’s voice interrupted them.

“Hey, Tess, Kyle! Over here!”

Kyle looked over.

Ava was lifting up some woman.

“What is it Ava?” He asked.

“I know her, I can’t remember her name but….”

Tess said quietly, “It’s Arkady.” She looked up at Kyle. “Is there anyway you can wake her? She worked for my father and briefly for me.”

Kyle used his com to have a robot bring an antidote capsule to his location.

Both Ava and Tess silently regarded the woman.

Kyle said, “Who was she?”

“She was a member of the secret police.”

Even Ava looked surprised.

Tess continued, “She spent a lot of time infiltrating parts of the nobility. We didn’t just watch the proles, Ava.”

Kyle had the robot deliver the appropriate dose.

Arkady woke with a start. “What? Where?” Her eyes were very wide. “Your Majesty? I thought you were dead. I, I saw you be impaled.” She looked in fascination at the various machines now recovering the bodies that lay everywhere.

Tess held Kyle’s hand. “He saved me. I am not Queen now, I am one of them. Ava, however hasn’t given up on you yet.”

Ava just quietly asked, “Why are you here?”

Arkady laughed bitterly, “I had no where else to go. Why not search for the mythical Citadel?”

Kyle looked at Tess and Ava in curiosity. “Citadel?”

Tess smirked, “The Citadel of Stone, from which our ancestor supposedly held off his enemies long enough to build up a counterstroke and defeat them. Forming the nation of Teven in the process.”

“Could it still be out there?”

“It was abandoned centuries ago, if it was ever real.”

Arkady laughed, “Well considering the alternative, people will flee for any safety now. Even imaginary.”

Kyle looked at all three of them. “Okay. Here is what we are going to do. You three will tell me all you know, and Lizzie will use her drones and try to find it.”

“Are you serious?”

Kyle smiled, “We have time. A half hour at the very least. Start talking.”

Tess looked at him as if he had gone insane, “But its only a legend!”

Kyle looked at her seriously, “Tess we have, by Liz’s current estimates some 275,000 people headed our way. If it is only an abandoned mine, we can use it. So all of you start talking.”

And Kyle listened as they told him the founding of Teven.

There was no doubt now. This world had indeed had contact with the Dratha before. It had been a colony centuries ago.

Antar was very far from civilized space, but what would the Drathans do if they heard that a Republican ship was playing around in their former back ground.

They had to let home know what was going on.

Somehow.

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Re: A Citadel of Stone (AU/CC , Adult) Part 4 - 04/29/10

Post by PML » Tue May 18, 2010 12:04 pm

Thanks again to everyone reading this story.

keepsmiling7- Yes, the need to find a way to fix her. But understand those implants are not neccessarily what the problem stems from. In some ways they are keeping her from being worse.

RhondaAnn- Its going to be a little tough for Maria these next few parts. Not the least of which is that Ambrosia is HIGHLY addictive.

As for Michael, from the designers point of view, that aspect is merely another form of protection for the client. Shapeshifters are incredibly durable, and so can take a lot of punishment. And this is just one of many reasons why their designers want them to consider themselves as less than human.

As for Maria, the Republic is highly expansionistic, and this means colonies. One of the taxes the Republic levels on all citizens is a portion of their reproductive capability. On the New Mexico, it is just sperm samples and the removal of some eggs. ON the highly sexually charged Boston, and in Massechusetts in general, that is considered too cold and impersonal. So all the embryos have to be inseminated the old fashioned way. Maria has seventeen children, only one of which was carried to term. All the others were removed in the first trimester and shipped off as embryos for the colony vessels, to be raised on a colony world as dictated by law.

valentinebaby- Well in a lot of ways its probably close to E than regular whiskey. There is a lot of stuff in there, not just soul stuff. Yes, Maria is going to have some real problems soon. Not only the existential angst that comes from what the drink is made of, its also highly addictive. Which will cause other trouble shortly.

BlueStar8- Maria is hooked on it. We will see the Citadel in a few parts. The keys are to use the Granolith, which keeps getting puton the back burner. Which is another mistake, albeit a natural one.

Disclaimer- Roswell is not mine and no infringement is intended.

A Citadel of Stone- part 5

Bandit Camp, Northern Teven Mountains

Maria connected to the Roswell and used her link to summon back her clothes. She made some alterations to what she ordered for Michael. She turned to him, “Are you sure you want to do this?”

He/she shrugged. “I spent a lot of time wandering around the woods like this with Max. Its good to get comfortable in other forms.” He/she smiled. “And this one makes me feel so light on the feet.”

“So are you up for another dance?” Maria smile provocatively as she spun out another armored shirt around her size. Just right for Michael’s female form. Her eyes raked across it. It was so similar to her own form.

Like making love to her own twin.

Now there was an exploit her mother never had! Maria would love to see Amy Deluca’s reaction to Michele Guerin.

Maria pouted, her mother would probably ask to share.

Michael just stared at her. “How do you do that? I mean, its, its like magic.”

Maria smiled as she handed Michael one of her favorite lace style panties. She watched admiringly as Michael/Michele slipped them on.

No, it may be tacky according to Massachusetts to monopolize a lover, but Michael was hers. Well at least as long as he loved her. Maria was possessive, but he/she wasn’t her slave.

Michael was just watching her, still waiting for an answer.

Maria smiled, “Well right now there is a robot in my room back at the Crashdown placing things of mine in hyper storage. I contact the ship, it dematerializes the item, I track it with my link and call it here. Works as long as I am in hyperlink range of the ship.” She frown as she looked at him. “Now pants or skirt?”

Michael nodded thoughtfully, “Pants of course.” He shook his head, “I get what you are doing, but how?”

Maria shrugged, “Ask Liz someday. Something about hyper relays and the interaction between the ships hyper cache and mine. Its pretty heavy math.”

“So how do I learn?”

Maria looked at him, “Mostly you don’t. We need to know more about the alterations of your physiology before we start packing you with high tech implants.” She bit her lip, “Liz could probably make the parts to do it, although I doubt they are in stores. But even if she could, it would put you in the med bay for a long while. Longer than poor Isabel is going to be there.”

Michael’s eyes widened. “She is going to be okay, right? I mean you said it’s what only 12.7 synthetic.”

Maria’s eyes were pitying, “And that is all it will be. But a lot of the manipulations are simple biotech and nanite reconstruction. She is basically going to be built from the bottom up. At least three full days in med lab, followed by weeks of sensitivity training before she can actually start using most of those implants. A class 2 pilot mod?” Maria shivered. “That is some serious work.”

Michael looked away, “I am surprised she didn’t ask for a class one.”

Maria’s voice was soft, “She did. Liz refused. Isabel wouldn’t have been human afterwards. As is, I doubt Isabel realizes what she has asked for. But no, not even as Liz is now would she make someone a level one pilot.” Maria finished warping things in, giving Michael a gun belt and pistol. “And Michael? Unless that gun you brought with you has sentimental value just leave it. It’s a toy compared to what I just gave you.”

Michael put on the holster and holstered the pistol. He/she gathered up the pistol that was laying with the pile of torn clothes he had worn into the bunker. He/she grabbed another bottle of Ambrosia and took a small glass and filled it a quarter of the way full. He/she handed it to Maria, looking longingly at the bottle himself. Michael swallowed hard and did not take a swig.

It would be too easy to get hooked again. Much too easy.

Maria looked at the cup. “What is this? I am not having any more of that, that evil concoction!” She shrugged a little at a nagging ache she was starting to feel.

She ran a medical scan on herself. Aside from a few small anomalous brain chemistry secretions that could probably be explained by some of the euphoric elements in the whisky she had drunk coupled with her recent orgasm.

But it didn’t explain how she was beginning to feel.

“Its beginning to hit you isn’t it?” He/she shook his/her head, “Oh, Maria, why did you have to drink so much? The most we ever had at one sitting was a shot. You had what, half a bottle? You need this Maria. Here take it.”

“I am not drinking someone’s tortured and liquefied soul!” Her body began to break out in a cold sweat. And the liquid in the cup smelled so inviting.

Just a little sip. Surely it would not be that bad. Not after what she had already done.

With a quick prayer for forgiveness she took the cup and drained it.

And they left.

Michael was carrying a couple of the bottles. Maria would need it.

------
On board the Roswell

Liz was agitatedly moving around the bridge. Things were not good. Not good at all.

The number of refugees was now nearing 300,000. And by the rate of growth, there were undoubtedly more. And sooner or later what was driving the refugees would make itself known.

People don’t flee to the hills unless in dire need.

The camp for the first few hundred was ready not far from the crash site.

And now Kyle wanted her to look for some Drathan military relic? Some sort of base in the mountains?

She growled in frustration. She was good, she knew that she was one of the best. But there were only so many things she could do simultaneously. She knew Max would help, but there were limits to what he could do with the Roswell’s technology.

Time to wake Alex.

Play time was over.

The implants that she used to remind her of her past self, and the basics of emotional interactions warned her that Alex would not be pleased. That it might degrade his abilities to a significant degree.

That was why she had let him go join his mate in his Drathan mind link.

No. He would not be happy. But there simply was no choice. They needed every active body. If she could halt her operations on Mara and Isabel she would. Both of them were way past the point she could stop without potentially killing them.

At least Mara would be conscious in approximately sixteen hours.

Liz could have her man communications if nothing else.

Yes. That was a good plan.

Liz wrote out a high order communications protocol program to be loaded into her implants. It would add ten minutes to her med lab stay, and likely a few extra days of conditioning. But it would be usable right out of the tank.

It might be somewhat disconcerting for the girl to be all but paralyzed but attached to the Roswell’s main communications grid, but the girl was tough. She would be able to deal.

Besides the girl was Soulless like she herself was. The lack of emotion should be able to make her more efficient without all those emotions complicating things.

She knew Max wanted the old Liz back. And in truth that Liz had been happier in the main. But the added complications….. How had she dealt with it all?

No, her current condition was a blessing in disguise at the moment.

She paid no attention to Max as he came onto the bridge and watched her.

She had more important things to deal with at the moment. So she rolled a few more drones out of storage and began to fly them over the mountains. Without looking she pointed to a console. “Max, I need you to locate the most likely site of the legendary Citadel of Stone for me. You will have options to change the drone flight patterns. Please notify me if you have found anything.”

“Liz?”

Liz turned around and looked at Max. She didn’t have time for this!

Max swallowed as he looked at her, “I just wanted to say I love you. I didn’t tell you back there. When we….”

“When we copulated. Very well. Thank you. The console will activate at your touch.”

Max walked up to her and touched her cheek, “Liz, I love you.”

Liz looked at him. Complicated feelings, things she could no longer truly understand moved through her. Things that were no longer fully a part of her make up. But things her implants told her what those feelings meant. What they had meant to her back before her mind as crippled. Back before her Soul was lost. “It is a strange thing Max. To feel something and yet not feel it. I don’t really understand it anymore, but, I do love you too.”

Max smiled at her sadly.

She smiled back at him, “Sorry. I just, I just can’t. Not anymore.”

“I know. I understand. And I love you anyway. But I will get you back, the real you back. Somehow.”

“Okay, but Max?”

“What?”

“We really need to get to work.”

Max laughed slightly and walked over to the console she had pointed out to him.

Liz looked at him for a moment longer, still confused. Still empty. So very empty when she knew she should be full.

Whoever had done this to them would pay. Pay and pay large.

Liz let the anger go and got back to work.

-------
Roswell Medical Bay, Northern Teven Mountains

Alex and Isabel were again on that beach. That wonderful beach on the coast where they had both landed.

Where they destinies had finally intertwined.

He held her naked form in his arms. “I wish you had talked to me first, before you had gone to Liz.”

“I just wanted to get it over with you know? And I wanted to be a full pilot, you know?”

Alex sighed. “I don’t think you realize just how major this operation is.”

She wriggled a little in his arms, to get a better look at his face. “I know it’s a serious operation, but I mean, she made it sound as if it wouldn’t be obvious or anything.”

“Isabel she is going to rework your whole body. Your circulatory system, your nerves. Hell, much of your skeleton is going to be replaced! Your muscles will be enhanced….. Isabel you have to understand those ratings, those synthetic ratings only include the non living devices inside of you, like the bone reinforcements. The things you need maintenance for.”

Isabel just looked at him with growing comprehension. “I didn’t know. I mean she said it was pretty major, tried to push a level three or four, but I….. I wanted to be the best you know.”

Alex smiled and began to ran his hands along her back. “You wanted a level one didn’t you?”

“Damn straight! And she wouldn’t give it to me.” She sounded a little annoyed, even knowing how severe a level two would be.

Alex kissed her. She was always pushing to be better than anyone else at everything. “Well that would have ended our relationship pretty quick. Did she tell you?”
Isabel blinked disconcertingly. “She showed me just what it entailed. Why would anyone do that to themselves? It’s just your brain at that point. I mean its kind of cool that they would harvest and use all my eggs, but still. Having that many children and not having any sex at all? Not for me.”

“Like sex do you?” They kissed again.

Her pupils were smoky and a little dilated, “Even this dream sex of yours, Mr. Whitman.”

Alex just smiled and they began. They had just started on a happy rhythm when he began to fade. He began to wake up.

Not willingly. But still, there was only so much he could do to avoid the chemicals Liz was feeding his body.

He could still remember Isabel’s plea not to leave her echo in his head.

He started to remove the various sensors attached to his body.

Liz Parker had better have a damn good reason for waking him!

Alex stalked toward the bridge where he would have words with his former lover.

PML
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Re: A Citadel of Stone (AU/CC , Adult) Part 5 - 05/18/10

Post by PML » Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:32 am

Thanks again to everyone reading this story.

keepsmiling7- Thanks. Fixing Liz is one of the major things they need to take care of. It is just that they have so many more immediate crises.

valentinebaby-Thanks. Amy probably would ask, if only to see her daughters reaction! And yeah, Isabel bit off a lot more than she thought. But then this is essentially designed to make someone and instant astronaut, able to survive zero g and high g's, pilot spacecraft, etc. It was a big thing she was asking. The question is how will she react.

Disclaimer- Roswell is not mine and no infringement is intended.

A Citadel of Stone- part 6

Bridge of the Roswell, Northern Teven Mountains

Liz was stretched thin. So many active scouting drones. Added in the massive amounts of repairs and industrial demands, even poor computer was having trouble keeping up.

She needed Alex on the bridge as soon as possible.

Max was selecting and placing the new encampment that was being built.

Liz looked over at him. She wasn’t sure she would have done as well considering the vast disparity of the technology between what he grew up with and what she was forcing him to use now. She had vastly simplified it, but there were still a large number of factors to consider.

An alarm tripped. One of the long range scouts had been damaged.

Liz switched her attention to the damaged drone and clenched her teeth. It was by no means destroyed. But its speed had dropped to under ten kpm.

It was down to simple gravitics for speed. Its jet intake had swallowed a biological, some bird or bird analogue for this world.

Could her luck get any worse?

She could break out another of her scouts and let the wounded one limp home. Something that would take a couple of days. Or she could send one of her few combat-retrieval drones. That could get it working quickly.

But those drones were currently seconded to doing repairs on the Roswell herself. Not the sort that they would need to lift off. They didn’t have the tools to make the tools for that. No, those drones were repairing some of the damaged industrial sectors of the Roswell.

Sectors that Liz would need. Not only for her eventual long term goal, a plan that now stretched decades, but also to produce the items that the oncoming horde would need. If only to build tools so that they themselves could produce them.

Liz gritted her teeth. She DID not need this!

Which is why the need to medivac half of her friends at the bandit camp…..

Liz was developing a desire to KILL something. To lash out, to do something that might relieve some of the now oppressive stress that was bearing down on her.

-----
Bandit Camp, Northern Teven Mountains

Michael followed Maria out of the bunker, still toting a couple of bottles of Ambrosia. Maria would still need them.

He just hoped he was strong enough to resist taking a sip himself. It was more than the rush of increased power, Topolsky had laced the drink with a couple of very strong compounds. Compounds she said aided the permanent retention of potential.

Michael could already feel Maria’s gift starting to bud. It would be strange to see what would happen in someone who did not have any true talent. Would Maria be able to do things? Could she still be trained?

Learning psionics was like learning a new language, easier the younger you were. Michael himself had been trained almost from birth. Not in practical things, but in the little games that had been made to optimize power growth.

Michael had not asked how old Maria was, but from what she had described, the girl was much older than him. Possibly by a decade or more.

Not that you would know it to look at her. She looked to be in her twenties.

Just looking at her, watching her move, made his body react.

He shook his head. He had it bad.

Had he been in his normal form it would have been one thing. He was used to lusting after chicks while in his male form. He had done it before he had been changed, and it had stuck with him.

No, he was lusting after Maria in a female body.

That had never happened before. Always it had seemed strange and different in all of his training encounters. And they had trained him for everything.

Or so they had thought.

They had warned him that some of the nobles could get quite kinky. That they often used the resilience of the Protectors to do things that would seriously hurt or kill a normal person.

Maria would never do that to him. Maybe. From the little she had described her homeworld….. The trainers he had sounded like amateurs.

For all he knew they were amateurs. Maria was GOOD. Very, very good.

Michael shook his head. Focus on the task at hand.

Max and Kyle needed to know about all that Ambrosia. There was likely base stock stored somewhere here as well.

Michael had not mentioned it to Maria, but this whole operation worried him. Because it was so sophisticated compared to what had happened to Liz and Mara.

What happened to them was horrific. In some ways worse, but in others vastly better than what had happen here in this camp. As far as he knew only Topolsky had the formula for this. Only Topolsky was dead.

Right? That bitch was dead? The High Council had assured them all, had staked the honor of Ekedar on it.

They were almost to the others when it came to him. Either they had cut a deal with Topolsky, or some other force had shielded her. None of the Royal Four were going to be happy about this. About the woman who had used them, had made them so much more powerful than any others they had known.

But at SUCH a cost! More so to others, but the personal horror once they truly understood what had been going on…..

Kyle looked over at them, a smile on his face. “So Maria, would you like to introduce your friend? And where is Michael?”

Maria walked up and clasped Kyle’s hands. “This is Michael, or rather Michele….”

Tess and Ava looked at each other, eyes wide. Arkady rolled her eyes.

Zan stared at Michael with open interest.

Michael walked over and grasped Maria’s arm. His looks filled him with distaste and fear.

Maria turned around, her eyes bright, pulled her close and gave him a kiss. Her breath smelled of Ambrosia, and he felt his heart beat faster.

Gods, he loved her.

Zan was less than pleased. “My brother keeps you on a long leash I gather. Well this has gone on too far. As Heir I am assuming your bond. You are mine now. When we return to the ship I will need you to… attend to me.” He glared at Kyle, “When you abducted me you made me leave my own Protectors behind. Since then I have had to make do with the paltry options I had available to me.”

Ava’s intake of breath was the cross between a sob and the reaction to being punched in the gut.

Kyle’s face became very calm.

Tess’s was anything but.

Oh. Of course. Ava and Zan would have been the only two not paired up. Maria had mentioned something about it, but he simply didn’t care. And he had been trying to avoid Zan as much as possible.”

Ava’s voice was almost desperate, “You said you loved me! You said….”

“Oh, don’t worry. I will still marry you. The brat you carry will be legitimate. But don’t expect me to give up my comforts simply because you don’t understand. Trust me, when I am ruler of the combined nations of Avidar and Teven I will still sheath myself in you from time to time. If only to make sure we have more children. But as to being equals! Hah! Your nation is completely broken. You need me more than I need you.” He absently waved his hands at her, “We will deal with this later. Recovering my property is more important now.” His eyes bore into Michael’s, “Come to me Protector.”

Michael felt as his hope died inside of him. This was why they had told him to crush his humanity. Because in the end he wasn’t human. They were not going to treat him as such, and so holding on to who he had been would only cause him needless pain. “Yes, sir.” He began to charge up his abilities to shift form….

Zan waved at him. “You may keep your current form. Perhaps a few minor adjustments when we get home.” He was looking at Maria, a leering at her.

The bastard. He was going to have Michael take Maria’s form so he could degrade her, since he couldn’t degrade her in real life. How Michael hated what had been done to him. How he hated the ruling family of Avidar!

“Wait! You can’t do that! Michael is his own person!” Maria said loudly, grabbing his arm again.

Michael turned to her, “I am sorry Maria.”

She looked searching in his eyes, “Do you want to do this? Do you really want this?”

Michael choked on a sob, “No.”

“Then don’t.”

“I have to. The implants, they respond to the Royal line of Avidar. And he is heir…. I have to do what he says.” Michael gripped at Maria. Possibly his last time to be with her. There were even tears rolling down his cheeks.

“Fine. We can solve this another way.” She kissed him again and turned to face Zan. “Let him go.”

Kyle looked moments from an explosion, only Tess whispering in his ear keeping him from acting. Tess was looking at her sister, who was being attended to by Arkady.

Zan looked at Maria with open lust. “Perhaps we can come to an arrangement. Allow you to use my Protector for say, service rendered?”

Kyle simply would not be stopped, “Do you have any idea who you are messing with? We could wipe your pathetic little nation of the face of this planet!”

Zan smiled at him, “Oh, I think not. Not if you are willing to take in so many peasants and proles. No, you have soft hearts. And you will need my nation. We can make your return how so much faster. Even resettle those displaced in this war. If you make them suffer the winter in the mountains, many will die. Surely one creature is not worth the lives of so many others?”

Maria placed on hand over towards Kyle, “I can handle this Kyle.” She focused on Zan. “I wouldn’t sleep with you if you were the last sentient being in the universe. Our deal is going to work like this. You are going to free Michael, and I won’t hurt you. You see, my nation has a long line of freeing slaves and oppressed peoples. Even if you go so far as back to Earth you will find that we have stood against this crap for CENTURIES! You are not going to pull me away from my chosen mate because you fucking think you OWN him.”

Michael could already feel the protection bond hardening between himself and Zan.

This was not going to end well. He had to somehow calm his love down. Maybe there was a way. Maybe Max would be able to make Zan see reason….

“Please, baby, just let it go for now. We will think of something….”

Maria didn’t look at him, focused solely on Zan. “No, Michael. This isn’t something I can accept. Not just because it is you, but simply on principle. People do not OWN other people. It is wrong and I will NOT stand it.”

“So what are you going to do about it, whore? Shot me down right here? Gun me down before the woman who will bear my children simply because you do not understand my cultures mores?”

Kyle said slyly, “She’s got my vote.”

“Kyle….” Maria glared at Zan, “If that is what it takes, then yes. But more likely I will restrain both of you and we will deal with this on board the Roswell. I wonder what your brother will think of this situation. Michael is supposed to be his Protector after all. He can give him freedom if he wishes to.”

Michael sighed. If only it were that easy…..

Zan nodded his head. “I see. Well, I guess we all part ways then. Ava, Michael, come we are leaving.”

Ava’s voice was weak, “No.”

Arkady beamed at her.

Tess walked over to Ava and gave her a hug.

Kyle was just flabbergasted. “You saw what we saw right? There are hundreds of thousands of refugees heading this way. They wouldn’t be doing it unless there was something really awful spurring them on. Like say death camps.”

“We will make it through. Even if Ava has decided to desert me for now. But I will be back for her and the child.”

Maria crossed her arms, “You aren’t going anywhere.”

“So you will not let me leave?”

“Not with Michael.”

“Very well. Michael, kill her.”

The despair he felt before was just a drop in the ocean to what he felt now. He watched as Maria’s eyes opened in shock as the first bullet hit her in the gut.

He knew how fast she could react, he had to fire quickly or he would have done something with greater lethality. His old gun would have just left a scar on her skin that the nanites would have buffed off in no time. But this gun, this was one of hers. And at this range, it penetrated her armor.

A second bullet fired from the gun and into his lover. This one a little higher.

The next would be a head shot. Something that she would not survive, no matter what miracle these people could whip up….

His hand suddenly felt on fire as it and the gun it held exploded under a plasma blast from Kyle.

He saw the gun form in Maria’s hands, warped in from her hyper cache. He waited for the flash and pain that would follow when she shot him. Her eyes flicked away from him and the gun fired.

Michael could feel as Zan died. He could feel the bond send him into a killing frenzy.

And then Michael knew no more.

-------
On board the Roswell, Northern Teven Mountains.

Alex grumpily stomped onto the bridge. He glared at Liz.

Liz just looked back at him in that cold stare she always wore now. “I need you to go back to Med Lab. We have several severe trauma cases.”

“The refugees?” Max asked

“Maria, Michael and Zan.” Liz turned to Max, “It is doubtful that your brother will survive. I am of half a mind not to even try.” She shook her head, “Kyle will fill you in. Get back to work, Max. We need those camps ready.” She turned back to face Alex, “Alex I need you to slave your implant to a couple drones. You will be looking for an old Drathan military bunker or complex. Let me know if you find it.”

She looked between the two men. “MOVE IT! We have a lot to do and no time. GO!”

Alex turned around. There had to be a way to fix Liz. Because it wasn’t that she didn’t have emotions anymore. You could see them if you knew how to look.

It was that she didn’t have a normal outlet for them anymore. She was winding tighter and tighter…..

Alex was frightened of what might happen if she snapped. All of them were capable of mass destruction, but Liz was the Engineer. If she tripped the hyper engines in several ways she could destroy them all.

And leave nothing but a ring of rubble for the rest of their people to find.

Alex shivered and moved to prep Med Lab.

PML
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Re: A Citadel of Stone (AU/CC , Adult) Part 6 - 06/12/10

Post by PML » Sun Aug 15, 2010 10:33 am

Sorry about the delay in the part. Thanks to everyone reading along.

keepsmiling7- Thanks. Poor Liz. She is trying very hard to be humane. There is a large part of her that just wants to go on a killing spree. To let the tension go.

Bluestar8- Thanks. And yeah, Maria is addicted. The masses begin to arrive in this part.

Disclaimer- Roswell is not mine and no infringement is intended.

A Citadel of Stone- part 7

Temporary Refugee Camp, Near Roswell Crash Site, Northern Teven Mountains

Max felt as his boots crunched on the ground. The robots Liz had sent to build the site had done a good job. When he had pictured a refugee site he had mentally pictured a group of tents or quickly set up shacks.

To be honest, it was quite possible that Liz’s temporary housing might very well have been better than the housing that these people had fled from. Amazing just how advanced Liz’s people were.

Max closed his eyes. He just wish that there were advanced enough to find a cure for what afflicted Liz. She was so very close to breaking, Max could feel it. And she could be so very dangerous.

Max did not think that she would go as far as Alex feared. That he would, what were the words? “Change the local space time topography leaving only a ring of finely ground dust where Antar once was….”

No, he did not think Liz was so far gone as to desire to destroy them all. But he was very much afraid that she was very frustrated and wanted to break something. Something or someone.

And she had access to so many of the tools to do that.

In reality they probably should have relieved her. Should have given her some task or duty where she could not threaten the peace so much.

But there were only four crew members of the Roswell.

That too boggled the mind. A race of people so advanced they sent a ship slightly less than ten miles long and it was crewed by FOUR people?

Sure there were an awful lot of machines that automated everything. But what if they lost someone? Alex had confided that each of the four were highly skilled and near the top of their respective fields.

He had also said that they were also immensely expendable. That the mission they had been sent on hadn’t exactly been a suicide mission.

But if they did not return, their superiors would not be surprised.

That more than anything spoke to him of how mighty Liz’s people were. That something like the Roswell could be cast aside on the chance that it might find something.

That something so valuable and mighty could be simply tossed aside.

The people of Antar were going to have to be very careful. Max liked his friends. But while he planned on spending his life with Liz, using it to find a cure for her somehow. He did not want to find his poor world ensnared in some massive interplanetary war.

Because Liz’s people had enemies. Alex was apparently half Drathan. And from the little Max had been able to get out of Alex before Max had been sent to take care of the new arrivals, Antar itself had once been a Drathan colony.

So much to learn. So much to do.

But for now…..

Max heard the massive engines of the shuttles that were bringing the first refugees. The ones from the camp.

He went forward to greet them.

------
Bandit Camp, Northern Teven Mountains

Tess and Kyle went through the few remaining building alone.

Almost alone.

Liz had combat drones circling the sight. Tess wasn’t really sure what they could do, but from the little she had heard from her comm unit, Liz really wanted to kill something.

Tess shuddered. So much power in the hands of someone Soulless.

But they trusted her.

In truth, Tess did to in an odd way. Those implants she spoke of really did make a difference. They limited her behavior in ways close to what a somewhat cold person might do ensouled. It limited the inherent psychopathic nature that was the hallmark of the Soulless.

They walked into the building where Maria and Michael had been in. Michael had mentioned that they had found something here.

Kyle’s voice was kind, “Hey, honey, why are you shaking? What is wrong?”

Ambrosia.

Even after all the years it still called to her. Still beaconed its blazing warmth. The feel of personal magnification, of the limitless possibilities…..

Tess closed her eyes and tears slipped out. She wasn’t sure she could trust herself in here.

Tess was different from her Avidaran friends. Her gifts were different.

She could feel the bottles of Ambrosia sitting behind the counter. Could feel the pent up energy just waiting to find a new home.

Energy that had been ripped and torn from a tortured person as its soul was torn from his or her body. As elements of that persons soul were filtered into the waiting matrix in the liquid.

The alcohol and other drugs came later. To magnify the experience and to transfer some of the energy to the imbiber.

Oh, yes. Tess knew more, much more about this than her friends.

It had not been enough to know that she had partaken in some horrible crime. She had wanted to know all of it. To make sure that it never happened again.

And now in the nation of her birth it had happened again.

Only Topolsky had known how to build the fluid matrix. Others had tried. Tess had used every ounce of her power to shut them down, but mostly their plans had come to naught. Because without the matrix all you were doing was torturing someone to death.

An oddly enough that was a crime in every major nation. Tipping off the local police had never been hard.

Kyle walked over and held her for a moment. “Want to share, honey? I can’t help you unless you let me know what I can do.”

Tess looked up his blue grey eyes. He was a good man. “Can you have Liz copy everything here? Can her robots do that?”

“Probably. She’ll likely scream at me she doesn’t have time, but yeah I could.”

Tess waved her hands around. “This whole camp is an ambrosia factory. The only person who knew how to make it should have died, but…..”

“We are in a production facility to make the stuff, so probably not. Okay, I will get Liz on it. Only, why? It’s not like we are going to be making any of this stuff.” He cupped her chin and smiled at her.

“Topolsky knew more about souls and Soulessness than anyone. If we can find her maybe we can fix Tara, fix Liz. But if we can’t, maybe we can figure out some of what she knows by examining all this.”

Kyle nodded. “That’s a good idea. But this wasn’t what was done to your sister or Liz.”

“The ambrosia may be able to help them a little. But you will have to be careful. It is highly addictive… and all of us, all four of me, Isabel, Michael and Max are addicted to it. You will HAVE to watch us. It is utterly evil stuff, even recommending it as a palliative for Tara and Liz is distasteful. But it calls to me. I can feel it. Feel it in the cabinets wanted to be drunk. Wanting to be alive again.” Tess was shaking with horror… and desire. “We need to get out of this room. Or I will, I will.” She clung tightly to Kyle.

Kyle lifted her up and carried her from the room, kissing her lightly on the forehead.

It was so very hard to leave that room. To leave the lingering presence of the Ambrosia.

Tess closed her eyes. One day at a time. Just as always.

But it had been so much easier when she had known all the Ambrosia had been gone. When she had known she would never be tempted by it again.

Surely just a single sip wouldn’t do anything irreparable?

NO!

She breathed in in the scent of Kyle and his armor. The mingled scent of metal, oil, and underneath it all him. He would be there for her.

It would have to be enough.

-------
Bridge of the Roswell, Northern Teven Mountains

Akady was in the middle of a dream. A dream in which every technophile she had ever met had gone to heaven and beyond.

From the machines that had whisked her here to massive building that had somehow crashed into the side of the mountains….. Too much. It was all much too much.

Only Arkady wasn’t some backwoods Tevenite peasant. She knew her history. Including the secret files that few were allowed access to.

General Alexander Harding had not been a simple Antaran. He had been one of the provincial generals under control of the planetary governor. And when her people had swept the interstellar invaders back to where they came, he had used his troops to forge his own nation.

One that had swept most of the North under its control.

As if they didn’t have enough trouble with the War and now a Revolution….

The Enemy was back.

Arkady closed her eyes a moment. She would need to learn as much as she could. And decide whether to support the invaders or to help build a resistance to them.

But first she HAD to learn. She HAD to work with them.

Arkady had watched as a tiny handful of these people had taken out the bandits who had captured her. And she was happy about that. Particularly considering what would have happened to her if they had not done so.

Her soul in a bottle to be drunk like some heady vintage. Arkady shivered.

A short brunette seemed to be running the show here in this room. She issued orders and growled in the strange foreign language they used. It was only when she caught the woman’s eyes she realized the true horror.

The woman was Soulless.

Was this nightmare ever going to end?

A kind faced man walked over and gave her a headset.

She put it on and suddenly there was a voice translating all of the conversations on the bridge. Arkady still didn’t recognize all the words and acronyms, but then it would take time to do so.

But this, this was a godsend. To be able to instantly translate a language…..

The kind faced man began to report to the woman in charge. “Liz, we have Michael and Maria stabilized. Fixing up Maria shouldn’t be a problem. But what are we going to do with Michael?”

Liz growled a moment about having too much to do already….

Arkady was sure the woman was about to snap. That Liz was Soulless and still functional under all this stress was amazing, but still. Everyone had their limits.

The Soulless only more so.

Instead the woman took a deep breath. “We will have to find the institution that handled his implants. I can fix a lot of the damage, but his hand…. Maybe a prosthetic will do for a little while. Along with the psychological conditioning…. I don’t know Alex. But I owe Maria this.”

Alex said, “Liz?”

Liz’s eyes hardened almost immediately, “Alex, you know the project I set you on. You now have a helper. Supposedly she knows the legends regarding the Citadel well enough to maybe be of some assistance. Right now I can use anything. If you can find this place good. If not just list every mine entrance and metal deposit you can find. I need to get cracking on our industrial output or we will never leave this rock.” Liz turned away to look at another bank of screens.

Alex held out his hand to hers, “Hi, I am Alex. Come on over here and I will show you what we are looking for.”

Alex lead her to a set of what looked almost like windows, but were obviously highly advanced monitors. Only the tiny bit of the mountains they had mapped was more detailed than the best of the old maps she had seen.

Alex smiled at her, “Now I need you to see if you can see any human buildings out here. Now we are really looking for your mythical Citadel of Stone, but I seriously don’t expect to find it. But there may be roads or valleys that might have survived. Just if you see anything strange, let me know.”

Strange. Right. Arkady’s eyes laced across the room. All of it was strange to her.

But she needed to work with them for now. To find out why they were here. And whether she needed to learn to help or hinder them.

Behind her she heard Liz’s voice sound excited.

“Really Kyle? Weapons free on any bandits I see. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Arkady just shuddered again. Something to make someone Soulless HAPPY?

Someone was about to have a bad day.

Hopefully it wasn’t her.

Arkady watched the screen.

--------
Across the Northern Teven Mountains.

Bandits had always been a problem in these parts. Now it was made so much worse by the massive numbers of refugees fleeing anywhere that might be safe.

Long ago the Lord of the Mountains had protected them. So their myths said. And without any other options they fled to the Northern Teven Mountains, because even a feeble hope is better than no hope at all.

Needless to say at first the bandits had a field day. But something changed on that day. Bandit groups started to disappear across the mountains, leaving only charred corpses behind. Bandit camps hit with flames hot enough to turn sand to glass.

All the peasants knew was the Lord of the Mountains had returned.

And their numbers swelled.

PML
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Re: A Citadel of Stone (AU/CC , Adult) Part 7 - 08/15/10

Post by PML » Mon Aug 30, 2010 12:57 am

Well, fifteen days. Getting better. Hopefully I can have the next one in a couple weeks. Thanks to everyone following along.

BlueStar8- Thanks. A lot is going on. Liz is pretty close to the wire. What happens in this chapter calms her a little. But in the end, that snap is coming. And it won't be pretty. Who and what the Lord of the Mountains was will be discussed in later chapters. Think King Arthur legends.

keepsmiling7- Thanks. Finding Topolsky would be very helpful. Alex hasn't found it yet. But he is looking...

Valentinebaby- Thanks. Its sadly not just Tess who will have problems with this. All our Antaran main characters were actually the test bed to refine the drug. They are all addicted to some degree.

Liz will get some help in this chapter. But in the long run it is still an issue.

Disclaimer- Roswell is not mine and no infringement is intended

A Citadel of Stone- part 8

Whitaker Estate, Outskirts of Harding City, Teven

Roger Ekhardt marched purposefully down the long corridor leading to Premier Vanessa Whitakers office. Despite all her claims, she and her Skins were very much in firm control of the nation.

Roger had seen what was coming and had chosen his side carefully. Only now he was no longer sure it was worth it. But then he was part of the inner circle, and knew very well how evil they were.

Worse he knew of Khivar and his plan to make those he considered worthy unto Gods.

Roger shuddered at the memory of the man’s eyes. Khivar was not human. That much was true. But if he was to be what the world’s new rulers would consist of…..

Perhaps it would have been better to have died. To have fled with Arkady…..

How he wished that she were safe now. That she had found some safe haven in this world gone mad.

But he doubted it. There was no place safe. Not anymore.

He saluted the door guards. “Comrade Roger Ekhardt with dispatches for the Premier.”

One of the guards slipped into the room beyond to let Premier Whitaker know of his return. He rapidly walked out. “She is expecting you.”

It was late. He knew that. But even so he did not expect to be greeting the leader of his nation in such a state of undress. She wore a just a sheer silken shift that while it directly revealed nothing, did not conceal that while she was no longer truly young, Vanessa Whitaker was still a handsome woman.

In one hand she sipped from a wine glass and looked at him appraisingly.

He told her all that he had seen at Khivar’s beachhead on the northern shores of Teven. Of the camps he had seen where ‘undesirables’ had been gathered…. And ‘harvested.’

He did not express his horror at the manner of their deaths, nor the madness he had seen in Khivar or his men. He could not be sure exactly what Premier Whitaker would think.

His wisdom proved true when he finished and Vanessa poured him a glass of the wine she had been drinking.

She stood and smiled as she handed it to him. “Here, my dear. You are one of us now, one of the elite. No need for the stiffness. Go on, take a sip.”

His mind went to poison. But then if Whitaker wanted him dead, she didn’t need to step to such subterfuge. She could just order him killed.

He took a sip.

It was like no liquor he had ever tasted. The fire was more like a fine brandy or whisky. The taste…. He could never quite describe what Ambrosia tasted like. Not then, nor in any of his subsequent tastes. But it made him feel very good.

And very aware of the woman in front of him.

Vanessa had a smile on her lips, “Its called Ambrosia. And it truly is divine. Khivar warned me that it was a bit of an aphrodisiac. It would be unseemly and bad for discipline if I slept with one of my guards. But you, you are one of us now. Perhaps you don’t believe it yet, but you are, my dear Roger.”

“Vanessa, I…..” He could feel her mind wrap around his. Using her gifts to make her desires his. To make him hers. Domination had always been the basic power of the elite of Teven.

His body was also betraying him. As he had said, Premier Whitaker was a very handsome woman. He placed one hand on her shoulder and took another sip of his Ambrosia.

Yes he could feel it affect him. Could feel it and her making him want this.

Oh Arkady, I am so sorry. But I have always been too weak.

So very weak.

And he kissed her.

-------
Med Lab, Roswell, Northern Teven Mountains

Michael woke up screaming in the med lab of the Roswell. It was so like the horrible memories he had carried since the procedure that had changed him into a Protector.

Even so his light feminine voice sounded strange even to his own ears.

He was still shifted into the form he had tried to escape Maria’s attentions. Only he was in pain.

Lots of pain.

For some reason they had him tightly secured to the bed, but he was not in one of those fancy tubes of liquid he’d seen Liz put Isabel and Mara in.

He balled both of his hands together….. Only there was something wrong with his right hand. He could feel it move, even through a mass of pain that came from it. But he couldn’t feel it touch anything.

He stretched until he saw the hand. It was gone. Slightly more than halfway from the elbow his lower arm and hand were simply gone.

Only now did memories of the fight begin to return to him. His fight with Maria. The knowledge that the hyper velocity bullets would penetrate the abdominal armor she had. Knowledge that he had killed the woman that he had loved.

Now the med labs filled with his bitter tears. Why hadn’t they just KILLED him? It would be a mercy compared to this.

The door opened and Alex walked in. He took Michael’s new form in. “You know you are kind of cute like that.”

“Why am I still alive?” Michael demanded.

Alex stopped and looked perplexed. “Is there a reason you shouldn’t be?”

“I can’t be trusted. The damn Protector programming. And Maria. Damn it, I killed her!” The last ended in a soul rending wail.

Alex smiled. “Maria Deluca? Killed? Easier to kill a star or planet. That lady is TOUGH. I’ll admit you hurt her. And Lizzie’s got some upgrades for her. Won’t up her percentage, may drop it by tenth of a percent actually. Give her a couple of days and she’ll be swaggering along the hallways just like always.”

Michael’s eyes tightened, “And Zan.”

Alex’s voice was flat. “Dead. Not going to be happy explaining to Isabel that her older brother is dead, but I think she will understand. If not, well it will be our first relationship challenge. Slavery…. Just, no.” He shook his head, “My people are far from perfect, but that is a sin we left behind long ago.”

Michael closed his eyes. At least he wouldn’t have to worry about the man trying to command him. There was still Max and for that matter Isabel. But neither was really the type to abuse him.

Still the loss of control, the feeling of total helplessness as he felt the compulsion to do as he was told….. He had never felt such a level of despair. And then the gun Maria had just gifted him, cutting into her…..

“You would probably be better if you just leave me here. I don’t know if I can be trusted anymore.” Michael closed his eyes, feeling the tears slip down his face.

He heard Alex sigh. “Can’t do that I am afraid. We need everyone to help with the refugees. Liz did fit you with an inhibiter. You won’t be able to shape shift. And she can shut you down if you go berserk again. So don’t worry about that. We’ll have a prosthetic fitted for you in an hour or two and then you will be off.”

“No magical repairs for me, huh?”

Alex place a hand on his shoulder. “Michael,” He laughed, “and it is going to be hard to keep calling you that when you look like a version of Maria.”

Michael looked up at him and glared.

Alex just smiled down at him, “Glare like her too. No, Liz didn’t tank you for the simple reason is she doesn’t understand your implants. And explaining to Maria why we hurt you would take more bravery than I think even Liz possesses. Just sit tight, everything will be fine

Michael closed his eyes and tried to calm himself.

Alex continued,. “As for fixing you up proper, once we have dealt with the refugees we are going down to that lab they worked on you and taking it apart.” He worked on a few more monitors and began to leave. “Michael we are not going to leave you like this. It is not right. We won’t be able to save everyone. But our friends and family….. Michael you will find we are willing and able to move mountains to help each other.” There was a pause, “And you are one of us now. Get better.”

Michael heard the door close. Part of him wanted to find the tube Maria was in and to watch her. But he was still so tired and hurt.

But he was still what he was. And Alex had meant every word he had said. Michael had felt it.

Michael was truly among family now. And while he would blame it on his feminine form, in truth it wouldn’t have mattered.

For it had been so long since he had truly felt cared for and safe.

And so he cried.

-------
Bridge of the Roswell, Northern Teven Mountains

Liz was at the center of the storm. She could feel her reaction speed slowly degrade with fatigue and over work. But who else could do what she was doing?

She set into motion a plan to automate much of her personal actions, but like all things it still needed to be checked on from time to time.

Leaving her tasks would lessen efficiency by a noticeable margin. They had areas where they were better than her. But this, building infrastructure was not among them.

And it was a race. To build the infrastructure to support all of the people that she needed to support while at the same time not slowing down her industrial capacity development. Small improvements at the beginning of the process would show fruit later down the line.

So she continued her work.

Max was already back and Michael was now dealing with the first camp. One of the tasks they would need to do was pick out members from the first camp to help run the subsequent ones. And that would mean monitoring them to reduce corruption and abuses of power and….

It really didn’t end as far as her projections showed. Within a few weeks the crew of the Roswell would in effect be the leaders of a small nation of refugees.

She stared blearily at Kyle and Alex and Max staring at her on the bridge.

Kyle spoke first, “Liz you have been here for well over twenty hours. Its time for you to get some rest. That is an order.”

Liz stared at her Captain, “Sir, you know how important this is. And Alex has been running as hard as I have…..”

Alex smiled, “Lizzie, I just got off an eight hour break. You didn’t even notice. You need to unwind. To rest. To relax.”

She looked at Max. She could think of one way. But he had seemed hurt before. It had taken her a few hours but she had realized that she had been too cold to him.

It was her damn condition. It was so hard to think about anything other than the mission now. People just seemed…. Inconvenient. Their emotions unimportant, even her own.

But she had built algorithms to try to catch her worst offenses. The trouble was that right now she wasn’t sure exactly what she should say to Max. She wanted to simply walk up to him and demand sex from him. But she was fairly sure that would hurt his feelings.

He wanted her love too. And she wasn’t really able to produce it now. And she wasn’t quite sure how to emulate it.

She took one step towards Max.

She noticed the smiles shared between Alex and Kyle before both of them got involved with other things.

Max just smiled at her. “Come on, Love. We have something we want to try. Something that might help you. That might help all of us.”

Liz grasped his arm, feeling the firm muscle tone underneath it. He truly was a magnificent specimen. She would be a fool to let him go.

The walked towards his rooms, slowly at first. Breathlessly fast by the time they reached them. He was giggling and happy.

Liz tried to pretend she was the same. She wasn’t sure exactly what was planned here. But if dinner, a shower and sex were involved she was due to be a happy woman.

Sleep would be nice too, but really secondary at this point.

The door opened before they got to it. Tess walked out.

Liz was a little annoyed at seeing the other woman. She knew that Max and Tess had once had a relationship, but that had ended.

It had ended right?

Liz did not understand the sudden burst of anger that surged through her at the thought of Max with Tess. Still the algorithms kept her from killing the other woman in time to access the relevant camera footage.

Tess had spent the last few hours cooking and preparing Max’s room.

Why?

Tess smiled at Max, placed a hand on his cheek and pinched it. “You owe me one, mister.”

Max just smiled and said, “Thanks. No go. Liz and I have a lot to discuss.”

Tess looked at Liz sadly. She placed a hand on her shoulder, “We should talk tomorrow, okay?”

Liz nodded, still uncertain what was going on. But somehow Tess had worked so hard for Max’s benefit. His benefit and Liz’s?

That didn’t really make any sense.

But some of the aroma of the dinner wafted over to her. And Liz really was hungry.

Tess took them both in and left.

Max looked down at Liz, “Come on, let’s eat.”

The dinner was very good. But Max kept glancing at a bottle of liquor that rested on the living room table.

His glances were strange. A combination of resolve along with a hunger and desire.

What was in that bottle?

As they finished, Max walked into the living room and opened the bottle. He carefully filled only one glass. And he handed it to Liz.

Liz looked at it. “Aren’t you going to have some?”

The resolve was back, firm. “No, its better if I don’t. But you need it. Please, drink it. For me.”

Liz looked up at him. And trusted him. She took a sip.

She felt the warm burn is as it settled into her stomach. But there was something else there. Some ethereal quality to it. She took another sip.

And another.

One tear slipped down her face. She could feel. She could feel as the emotions rushed back into her. As for a while she understood it all.

And she saw the love on Max’s face. His worry and hope.

The tears were pouring from her eyes now as she took another sip. As for a time the emptiness in her was filled. She could feel something wrong with it. That what filled her didn’t quite fit.

But at the moment that was the last thing on her mind.

Her voice was thick as she said the one thing Max desperately needed to hear. Said them and meant them. “I love you Max. Oh, God, how I love you.”

He clung to her fiercely, unwilling to let her go. She clung to him as tightly.

Max could taste the Ambrosia on Liz’s lips as she kissed him. He drank her in as their kiss deepened. His powers, his senses could feel her as he had not been able to since her Soul had been taken.

The Ambrosia had worked.

Once more their minds and souls and bodies intertwined.

And they were content.

-------
Hours later, Max’s Quarters, Roswell

Max lay there next to his exhausted lover and he felt as the stolen energy slowly drifted out of her. As she became once more empty.

Once more Soulless.

The Ambrosia would work. But it would not last.

Max felt as a tiny bit of hope faltered and failed. He clung to Liz, even as he felt her Soul empty. And fought against the desire to go into the living room and finish the bottle.

Maybe just a taste? Just a sip?

He could go and get it and give some more to Liz. Yes. He could feel her fill again with warmth and life. Feel the real Liz in his arms.

If only to have that taste on his lips again. If only to have just the tiniest bits of Ambrosia for himself…..

Max cried then. For Liz.

And for himself.

PML
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Re: A Citadel of Stone (AU/CC , Adult) Part 8 - 08/30/10

Post by PML » Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:54 am

Thank you all for following along this story. And I think I just made the two week mark. Hoping to keep that up with this story and hopefully my others as well. Wish me luck.

keepsmiling7- Thanks. This Tess isn't evil. And Ambrosia holds some promises... and some perils as well.

valentinebaby- Thanks. Yes, both Maria and Liz are addicted. Maria bad enough to be in the potentially lethal withdrawl zone. And lets hope the rest can avoid getting addicted. The thing is they didn't know it would leak out of her. This will be key to fixing her. Assuming they ever can.

BlueStar8- Thanks. Thats an interesting idea. But Ambrosia has considerable promise in helping Liz, and perils as well. Nope, next part we find out who the Lord of the Mountains was. Its not the Roswell.

Disclaimer- Roswell is not mine and no infringement is not intended.

A Citadel of Stone- part 9

Max’s Quarters, Roswell

Liz awoke.

She was not alone. Immediately her brain began working out tactical profiles and combat routines. Because the person in the room was not Max.

Her body tensed then immediately calmed. Either the intruder meant her no harm or did not plan to attack her while she was sleeping. Liz let her eyes open just a slit.

The room was dark, but Liz let her implants use the vague images she was seeing and knit then together into a brighter picture. One that was ruined when there was a bright flare from the cigarette Tess was smoking illuminated her face just slightly.

Tess puffed at her cigarette, “I already know you are awake Liz. And we both know you could kick my ass from here to eternity so why don’t you let the combat routines subside?”

Liz lay there. How? Could the woman read her mind?

Another puff, “No, I can’t read your mind. Not in the way you are thinking. But I can see your mind, what parts of it are active and what you have shut down. The cybernetics, those took me a little while to figure out, but they are hooked up to your normal brain in the right spots, so I can usually figure out what they are for. No clue how they work, but I’ve been doing a little casual study. Fascinating really. Your people are so advanced.” She finished the cigarette and squashed it on a plate. “Bah, such a bad habit. I haven’t smoked so much since I…. Well that is part of why I am here to talk to you.”

Pretty close to the last thing in the world she wanted was to talk to Tess, Or anyone save Max really. The euphoria she had felt last night was long gone. And now she felt empty.

So very empty and bereft. She hadn’t felt this way since right after her soul had been ripped from her. Tiny wisps of lost emotion enabling her pain.

That last part would pass. The emptiness, that would stay. And it would pull at her.

Kind of like being in a vacuum really. Only instead of air, she had no emotions. Only they were still there. Crippled pathetic things that she couldn’t even really feel.

Except for last night. Last night everything had been vivid. Love and life and all of it had been so very vivid. For just that one golden moment life had seemed more real than it ever had.

Glorious golden sensations she had never thought she could possibly feel, her mind nearly shattered by bliss.

Gone. All gone.

Liz’s dry lips cracked as she asked, “What did you give me?” Her mind quickly made a guess, “Ambrosia?”

“Yes.”

Liz’s eyes narrowed and she saw Tess’s shadow reach into a pocket and put another cigarette in her mouth. There was a bright flash as it lit by itself.

Liz had to remember that these people were like the Drathan Noble Caste. They had abilities. Tess was Teven born, and from what she heard, their strongest ability was domination.

Liz had the standard implants, and had even done some tweaking with them to balance them against the frequencies she had noted the Antarans using. She would have to hope it would be enough to keep the woman from instilling some sort of mental implant.

Liz continued, “Isn’t the drug you said Maria took? The one that is highly dangerous and ridiculously addictive.”

A puff, “Yes. Highly addictive. All of us that were part of the Royal Four were addicted, likely still are addicted. She sighed. “So is Maria. Her treatment started failing as she began withdrawal. I had Alex add a measured amount to the woman. Her progress has continued to improve. But it will take a while to wean her off the drug.”

Liz closed her eyes. At least Maria was okay. “So why did you decide to drug me?”

“Experiment. And Alex said he was starting to get afraid you would begin nuking the enemy. Whatever that means.” Tess paused a moment, “I don’t know if you can understand this at the moment, but we all really care about you and worry about you.”

“So you all experimented on me without my permission. How sweet of all of you.” She decided to simply ignore Tess. Maybe then she would leave.

Liz rolled to the side of the bed. Some of her muscles ached slightly from the exertions of last night as she moved, and she felt residue of sweat and other fluids tackily sticking to her.

She really wanted a shower. Like yesterday.

Couldn’t Max have woken her just for that?

A nice hot shower.

“Activate lights please.“ Nothing happened.

Tess said quietly, “We wanted to let you rest.”

That shower was calling her. She wasn’t sure she was going to leave to be honest. “Roswell, Parker override, activate lights please.” She glared at a blinking Tess, “How long did you all plan on keeping me here?”

Tess looked at her firmly in the eyes. “At least twelve hours. I figured you probably would wake up long before that. That is why I am here. Max is at one of the survey sites you had for one of the camps.”

She consulted her internal clock. Ten hours. She tried to reach to her programs but Kyle had locked her out. She could see a timer slowly counting down. Two hours, fifteen minutes before she could log back on.

When she got her hands on that, that man…..

Liz stalked over to Tess. She reached out and grasped her by the throat. She didn’t have the heavy duty implants that Kyle or Maria. But she DID have implants. Lifting the small girl was easy. A tricky balancing act as their weights were similar, but still easy. “Where is Kyle? I have too much to do and I need to get back at it.”

“Sleeping,” rasped Tess, “Like you should be.”

Liz began to feel a measure of feedback filling her implants. An annoying buzzing noise, along with intermittent pain slashing along her body.

Liz tightened her grip, “Are you doing that?”

Tess couldn’t answer, her face turning red. But she closed her eyes.

Pain. Indescribable pain lanced through every fiber of her body. Liz could feel herself black out….

----
She woke a few minutes later according to her internal clock. She lay in a heap on the ground.

Tess was still was rubbing her throat laying next to her. In a raspy voice, “Okay, so now that you have shown some of your tricks, and I have shown mine. Can we move on to business?”

“Tess…. I feel really icky right now and desperately need a shower. Can we do this afterwards.”

“Liz… No you really can’t. Not until I have figured out what dosage to give you. Small enough to not fully affect you, but enough so that Alex and Kyle don’t feel like you are about to vaporize Antar!”

“Right.” Liz ran simulations based on her past performance the last few days. She wasn’t locked out of the video data banks thankfully. And she noted the growing alarm on the others faces when they entered the bridge.

Had she truly been getting that close to the edge?

She remembered the drone attacks she had authorized. At the low level pleasure she had felt at the bandits deaths. Not pleasure that they were dead, but that they had ceased being a factor in her equations. Her parameters were under a considerable level of stress, and she hadn’t been hiding it nearly as well as she thought.

Maybe…. Maybe she did need this.

Tess smiled. “Just a couple of quick tests whipped up between Alex and I. There is a robe on the bed for you, why don’t you put it on and we can get started.”

Liz got up, “I really need a shower, Tess.”

“I promise you, you will thank me for this.”

-----

Fifteen minutes later Liz was in the shower whistling. Tess had been right. It was one thing to enjoy the physical feel of being clean, of feeling the water course over her.

Another to have the attendant emotions of joy at the sensation. Totally worth it.

The concoction Alex had whipped up was a slow releasing dermal patch that would need to be replaced in a few hours. Her emotions felt faded and pallid, but they were there.

They were there. And for the first time in a long time she felt hope. Hope that there was indeed a method to cure her affliction.

Liz made the most of her Captain ordered rest break.

------
Bridge of the Roswell, Northern Teven Mountains.

Alex sighed. He had just gotten back from a few hours spent dreaming with Isabel.

She had cried when she heard about her brother Zan’s death. She had also been horrified by his last actions, by his command for Michael to kill his lover.

It had been so hard to leave her.

But he’d had so much to do. It would be good when Liz finally was cleared for duty, because the woman simply did so much. So easy to miss until she was gone.

He hoped that Tess was right and that the drug he had made for her would work. She’d seemed pretty confident.

In fact he had been surprised at just how much she understood about psychoactive pharmacology. And her delving into the implants and what they could do was impressive.

All for Mara. All for the sister who was as soul deaf or possibly more than Liz herself.

Liz had demanded that those implants be given to her, and that she be given the opportunity to help. To keep her busy. Apparently inactivity made things worse for the Soulless.

Alex shuddered.

He had also been told that he was the one completely in control of the drug. And to be wary of anyone trying to get access to it.

Nasty stuff. He would be happy to go over with its composition with Liz. Maybe find an antidote or something to counteract the negative effects.

Maria had nearly died from shock before they had realized what the problem was. All of her scans had shown normal, just that she was dying.

It had been Michael who had reminded Alex about the drug, to call Tess to help him with it. And Tess had.

But Alex could see the need and desire for her own use nakedly displayed on her face. She hadn’t asked, but he could see it.

Tess had been the one who had told him to make sure it was completely secure. That the others could manipulate matter to a degree, but a heavy metal container should be sufficient.

Alex used depleted uranium. Just to be safe.

He shivered again. Nasty, nasty stuff.

Arkady sprinted onto the Bridge. She was panting but a smile plastered her face. “Good, Just the man I wanted to see.”

Alex looked at her nonplussed. “Aren’t you supposed to be with Ava at the refugee site sifting through the refugees for help managing the other camps.”

“Yes, but I have something better. I think I know where the Citadel is.”

“What? Where?” Alex demanded.

“Hold on.” She looked over at the consoles she had used the other day. “Can you make that map appear again?”

Alex walked over and activated the current map structure, more complete than when Arkady had last seen it. Liz’s drones had been busy mapping it. Alex looked over at her, “Well?”

Arkady was touching various sections of the map, “It came to me when you were shuttling us from one place to another. That Theodore Harding would have been high tech like you guys. And we keep looking for roads. But there wouldn’t BE roads.”

“What do you mean?”

“Okay, you’re the history buff on the Drathan Empire, would they have had anti-grav tech five centuries ago?”

Alex nodded, “Yeah they had working anti-grav. That was one of the technologies they never fully lost. One of the things that put them on top of their rivals to rule their section of the galaxy.”

“So it was something they probably would have had, but limited to their own forces right?”

“Um, probably, yeah.” Alex put his hand up to his mouth to think for a moment. “I think I see where you are coming from. But wouldn’t they have tried to keep access to it?”

Arkady touched the middle of the mountains, in a section without a nearby pass. “What if they couldn’t. What if the place were so isolated and defensible you could move all your forces out of it without much fear of the locals. But so isolated that once you have done that, once you have conquered all the local area….”

Alex felt a thrill pass through him. The drones had noticed signs of high tech mining activity, but they had merely noted the potential when their infrastructure needed more than local material access…..

There was no way it could be reached easily without relatively high tech. Navigating a Zeppelin through those peaks, with those heavy cross winds…. Possible but not likely. Helicopters would have an easier time, but still, the altitude would mandate high tech engines.

But grav craft…..

--------
Refugee site seven, Northern Teven Mountains.

Max was bored.

It had been interesting the first time he had seen the shelters all but build themselves, but it rapidly got boring. The survey work Liz wanted him to do wasn’t any more exciting.

Max flushed a little at the memory of last night. That had been one of the most intense experiences he had ever had. She was definitely the one for him.

And when she was Souled she felt the same. But it had been so very melancholic to feel as the energy that had filled her from the Ambrosia had leaked out of her.

What had happened to her was vastly different from what had been done in Ekedar under Professor Topolsky. Some local variant?

No, it had been done to Tess’s sister Mara as well. So obviously the technology had been spread around.

But by whom? That was a major question that needed to be solved.

In truth Max was getting worried about Avidar. The mere fact that they had no news of his homeland during this time of travail.

Sure they had killed Nicholas, but had that been enough? Had his father returned to his normal taciturn but sane self? And the capital and his mother…..

Max sighed.

“Max, you are to report to the Roswell immediately.”

It was Mara, who Liz had put in charge of routine communications and logistics.

Max returned the call, “What is going on Mara?”

“Liz has returned to the Bridge and is recalling all necessary personal.”

There was something about the fifteen year olds cold soprano that let you know that she too was Soulless.

There had to be a way to fix that condition! There had to be! Ambrosia might cover some of the gap, but it wouldn’t be enough. Not to live a full life on.

No a way had to be found. Topolsky was likely the answer, they needed to find her. Because no one had ever been able to find her notes, no one had ever been able to understand her notes even when she had been alive. Max now thought she was alive.

Perhaps she had cut some sort of deal with Ekedar. Or maybe he was missing some small critical key, just not seeing the whole picture….

“Maxwell Evans, do you copy? Are you inbound returning to the Roswell?”

His mind still on finding Topolsky, he said, “Well what exactly is going on anyway?”

There was a brief pause. And the next voice on the line wasn’t Mara. It was Liz. “Max, will you stop wool gathering and get back here. You are driving poor Mara insane.” There was a harsh sigh on the other end of the line, “Alex and Arkady think they might have found something. We are assembling a team to recon it. So come on and get back here because you are on the team.”

Max smiled faintly, “Yes, Ma’am.”

“And Max?”

“We need to talk, seriously talk about last night.”

Max swallowed nervously. He wasn’t completely positive what her reaction to his romantic ambush would be. She had been ecstatic last night, but now when all the energy was gone….

Max sighed heavily. “I am head in.”

And he flew back to the Roswell, not certain just exactly what kind of reception he would get.

-----
Liz met him at the dock. And kissed him.

Max was a little surprised at the kiss, but he soon found himself enjoying it.

Liz pulled away and hit him lightly on the arm, “You should have told me about the Ambrosia. You took a serious risk and I wish I had been consulted. As it is, well you got lucky mister.”

Max looked at her. She wasn’t fully Souled, but she wasn’t Soulless either. There was a faint wispy essence to her. But the wispy cloud was steady.

Strange.

Tess and Alex must have found a middle ground of sorts. This wasn’t perfect, but it would do for now.

“Next time, I promise.”

Liz grabbed his arm, “Come on, we’re late.”

And Max followed, filled with a tiny seed of hope. One that he had worried would never come.

But would it flower? Would his dream of love and life with Liz truly come true?

He would have to hold on to that hope and see.

Locked