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Re: Alex C Whitman, SAIC - Chapter 11 - June 07, 2011
Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 3:12 am
Chapter 11 – The Setback
“My Lord!” Larek exclaimed as he burst into the room. “You did not inform me that The Savior of Antar had been exposed to anti-matter!”
Max thought for a moment, “He did say something about a bomb,,,”
“Nicholas attacked Alex,” Michael interjected. “He had an anti-matter device secreted on himself.”
Larek charged to Max’s side. “That’s what must have caused his anti-matter poisoning. Tell me you didn’t connect with him! Tell me you didn’t try to heal him!”
“No, he wouldn’t let me,” Max answered, “But Claudia, my daughter, and Alex grew close.”
“That means nothing, a casual connection, but the two of you have never developed a bond?” Larek challenged Isabel.
“No,” Isabel answered softly. “He wouldn’t let me get that close to him.”
“Larek, tell me what’s going on!” Max commanded. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so,,, excited.”
“Alex hasn’t been responding to our treatments,” Larek answered. “We didn’t know why, but when one of his melders fell ill, several of Lady Isabel’s new research physicians broadened their search. All indicators point to anti-matter poisoning, which you have now confirmed,,,”
“What? Now someone’s poisoned him?” Isabel demanded as she fought down her shock at hearing of Alex’s deteriorating condition. “How the frack did that happen?”
“No my Lady, no one poisoned him,,, well yes, Nicholas did, but that was months ago,,,” Larek stammered.
“Larek!” Michael interjected coldly. “You’re not making any sense!”
“Let me try again,” Larek related before taking a deep breath to compose himself. “Nicholas set off a bomb in Alex’s presence. That caused a section of the building he was in to fall on him, crushing his arm. Since that time he has been sick, unable to eat, loosing weight, and his health steadily declining.”
Isabel sank back into her chair as her dreams of the future were shattered, one by one.
“No matter what we did for him, we were at best only able to stabilize his condition, but this morning, when his melder fell ill with symptoms that we haven’t seen for years, we were filled with a feeling of dread. One of our specialist performed a scan on Alex, and after finding anti-matter particles in his arm, we removed it,,,”
“The anti-matter?” Isabel asked hopefully.
Larek turned to face her squarely. “No my Lady,” he answered softly. “We removed his arm. It was severely infected, and it was killing him.”
Max rushed to his sisters side taking her hands in his.
“What about Claudia?” Liz demanded in a near panic. “About Max. Why were you so concerned when you first got here?”
“Lady Liz,” Larek turned towards her reassuringly, “As I said, Claudia is perfectly safe around her Uncle Alex. The type of connection a child of her age is capable of only allows casual communication. She will be capable of nothing more for quite some time yet. Max on the other hand, is capable of a much deeper bond, especially when he forms a healing connection. As you have yourself seen, he assumes the malady of the person he heals, and then has to fight it off,,,”
“So Max gets sick,” Michael interjected. “But you still haven’t answered our question. What the frack is anti-matter poisoning?”
Larek paused to gather his thoughts. “I’m sorry, I’m not a scientist. This is what I understand. At the moment Nicholas activated the device, a magnetic bottle containing a miniscule amount of anti-matter collapsed, allowing it’s contents to combine with ordinary matter. The two materials were drawn together by the gravity intrinsic to all matter, but with their opposite charges they obliterated each other, in the process releasing an enormous amount of energy. Now despite the fact that this occurs in an impossibly short period of time, some particles nevertheless collided and reacted before others. As a result, the early energy releases knocked a number of these later particles out of phase, preventing their own detonation,,,”
“What do you mean, out of phase?” Liz asked, desperate for any scrap of information that would allow her to help her friend.
“The energy pulse literally knocked the particles out of our reality,” Larek responded hesitantly, telegraphing the fact that he was repeating what he had been told and did not understand the process. “They ended up in a slightly different version of time and space, which prevented them from interacting with our matter, and as such, blocking their detonation.”
“This is good, right?” Isabel pleaded hopefully. “I mean it reduced the size of the explosion?”
“Yes,,, kind of, but not really,” Larek pondered. Upon seeing the frustration on their faces he quickly continued, “I’m sorry, I’m really struggling with this information,,, Yes, Alex was not consumed by the initial explosion, but he was subjected to the anti-matter that was ejected at the end of the blast, and while most of his body was protected by the concrete wall that fell on him, his arm, which was caught in the debris, was not. It, by that I mean his arm, was riddled with null particles.”
“That’s where the poisoning came from?” Liz reasoned.
“Yes, or at least I believe so,” Larek related nervously. “The particles embedded in his arm can not react with the normal matter in his body as they are out of phase with it, but lacking it’s magnetic bottle, there is nothing to contain them either. So over time they have been leaching into his bloodstream, where they have been slowly decaying. Being out of phase, the energy release in our reality from the break down of the anti-matter particles is miniscule, yet it is still enough to have destroyed most of Alex’s DNA,,,”
“Which is why Alex didn’t allow Max to heal him,” Liz concluded in defeat.
“Yes my Lady. We believe that Alex knew what would have happened. If Max had attempted to heal him, he would have been as doomed as Alex is,,,”
“The melders?” Liz asked with concern.
“Safe,” Larek answered reassuringly. “Their connection is not as deep as a healing connection, and while their minds began to mimic the symptoms that Alex has exhibited, there was no transfer of the null particles. But it is so kind of you to ask, considering,,,”
Isabel put her glass on the table and stood, walking out of the room as if on autopilot. Everyone started to rise, but Larek stopped them. “Please, I need a moment alone with Lady Isabel.”
Re: Alex C Whitman, SAIC - Chapter 12 - June 08, 2011
Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 10:57 am
Chapter 12 – Endgame
Later that evening, Larek was back at the Evans’, but due to the late hour Max came out onto the porch to speak with him. “I have a message from Alex for you my Lord,” he said softly.
Max felt a chill run up his spine as he took note of Larek’s demeanor. “Yes?”
“He ordered that I convey his good wishes in returning your Kingdom to you,” Larek repeated.
“You didn’t tell him that further travel was impossible?” Max challenged.
“No, my Lord. I didn’t think it was necessary to disappoint him,” Larek explained respectfully, “And I don’t think he held out any hope of returning himself.”
“That’s all he said?” Max said while sinking into his seat.
“No my Lord,” Larek answered respectfully. “He said that sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one. He also asked me to relate his best wishes to Vol,,, Isabel.”
Max looked at his new friend. “Tell me.” He did not notice that his sister had come up behind him.
Larek looked Isabel in the eye as he braced at attention. “I give to you that which you said I could never do. Your enemies are vanquished. Your government is no longer looking for you. I give you peace in your lifetime.” Larek closed his eyes and bowed his head. “He said that he always was, and would forever be, your friend.”
“Thank you,” Isabel replied softly, a single tear betraying the firm countenance that she struggled to maintain.
“Your cousin Serena remains at his side,” Larek continued softly. “She feels that the time is right to deliver the message that you asked me to convey,,,”
Isabel closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Please instruct her to carry out my wishes.”
Re: Alex C Whitman, SAIC - Chapter 13 - June 10, 2011
Posted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 6:45 pm
Chapter 13 – Out of the Mouth of Babes
The expanded Evans family was enjoying breakfast when Claudia skipped into the room. She greeted everyone as she made a circuit of the breakfast table, gracing everyone with a hug.
“You’re awful cheerful this morning,” Max quipped.
“I’m happy Daddy,” Claudia replied as she knelt at the table and watched excitedly as Liz stood to make her breakfast. “Uncle Alex came to visit me last night,” she related happily as she fisted her spoon. “And all of his boo-boo’s are gone. He doesn’t hurt anymore.”
Isabel’s face blanched as she slowly lowered her coffee mug to the table.
“Mommy? Can me and Auntie Izzy-bell have chocolate-chip pancakes for breakfast?” Claudia chirped. “Uncle Alex said they were her favorite.”
Isabel threw her silverware and slammed her chair back as she snapped upright.
“Iz?” Max asked in concern.
“Not everything can be fixed with a plateful of pancakes,” she sobbed as she ran out the back door.
“Iz!” Max exclaimed as he stood to follow her.
“I got it,” Liz commanded a she started towards the door, but seeing the pouting on her daughters face, she stopped. Taking Claudia’s face in both of her hands, the young girls bottom lip quivered as she was on the verge of tears herself. “That’s okay Baby,,,”
“I didn’t mean to make Auntie Izzy-bell cry,,,”
“Oh Pumpkin, Aunt Isabel isn’t crying because of you,” Max said as he rubbed her back reassuringly. “She loves you, but right now she’s upset because she misses Uncle Alex,,,”
“Now go ahead and eat your cereal, then Daddy’s going to walk you out to the bus,” Liz added reassuringly, “And when you come home this afternoon Aunt Isabel will have a big hug and a bowl of strawberry ice cream for you. Okay?”
“Okay Mommy,” Claudia answered with a shy smile.
Max poured milk into Claudia’s bowl of cereal while looking over head to his soul mate. He nodded towards the door, encouraging her to go to his sister’s aid.
“You’d better call the high school,,,” Liz whispered.
“I’d already figured that,” Max answered. “I’ll take care of it.”
“Isabel?” Liz asked gently as she came to a stop behind her sister-in-law. As the taller woman turned towards her, Liz’s breath caught in her throat. What little make-up she wore to school was being washed down her face by a steady stream of tears that she did nothing to stem. “It’s just a dream,,,”
“You underestimate her,” Isabel implored. “I tell you, Claudia was born into her abilities, and she is more powerful that any of you realize.” Seeing that Liz wasn’t convinced, she continued, “How do you think she knew that I would be upset, and knew to ask for chocolate chip pancakes?”
“She must have heard your mother,,,” Liz stammered.
“No, that’s pure Alex. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that he was here last night,,, when,,, when he,,,”
“We haven’t heard from Larek yet,” Liz replied hopefully. “Maybe your plan ‘B’ is starting to work out,,,”
“Liz, you’ve been listening, but you haven’t been hearing,” Isabel sobbed. “There is no plan ‘B’, not anymore. This anti-matter crap, there’s no cure. Even if we could somehow get him home, if Max had tried to heal him, Max would be dying too.”
“But your message to Serena last night,,,”
“Do you want to know what I told her?” Isabel snapped. “Do you? I warn you, be careful what you ask for, you’re not going to like it,,”
“It can’t be that bad, I mean you’ve been doing everything you can to help him,,,”
“Help him,” Isabel gasped. “He’d be better off if he’d never met me. All I’ve ever brought to him is suffering and misery,,,”
“That’s a bunch of crap Isabel, and you know it,” Liz exclaimed. “He may not have been in our lives as much as we wanted, but he showed his love for you in everything he did. Don’t cheapen his sacrifices by saying that they don’t mean anything, that you wish he’d never met you.”
“If he had never met me, he would be here right now,” Isabel sobbed, feeling she was under attack and striking back. “I told Alex to stop fighting, I told him that I was safe, that he had accomplished everything that he had set out to do, and that it was time to let go.”
Liz’s eyes filled as her mouth opened and closed wordlessly.
“Now do you understand the significance of Alex’s visit?” Isabel stammered, her emotions out of control again, yet with a couple of more minutes to absorb the news, she was able to guide her petit sister-in-law to a bench.
“You knew this last night?” Liz stammered.
“No. Nor did I think it would happen so soon. I wanted to talk to you and Maria,,, to warn you,” Isabel stated flatly. “But Larek did know what was going to happen to him. The red corpuscles in his blood were dying, and soon his blood would have been damaged to the point that it had the consistency of water, resulting in it pooling in his lungs. He was already fighting for every breath that he took, but by nightfall they felt that it would be as if he was drowning. His mind, starved for oxygen, was starting to fail, and his moments of lucidity were shorter and shorter. Soon his muscles would be screaming for oxygen, causing unbearable pain that would have him writhing on his cot,,,”
“But the melders,” Liz interjected.
“Their connections were already failing, and once his conscious mind went, they wouldn’t be able to block his pain at all. I couldn’t let him go on living like that,” Isabel sobbed breaking completely down. “I couldn’t let him continue to suffer just so I could hold onto some false hope that he would come back to me. I know you hate me for it, but I was weak, I had to let him go,,,”
“You’re not weak, I think that is the most incredibly brave and selfless act that I have ever seen,” Maria choked out as she crossed the patio and slumped down on the other side of Isabel, who pulled both of the smaller women against her breasts as they began the long process of dealing with their shared loss.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Max had returned to join Michael as they struggled to absorb the news.
“He is with the Ritual Keepers now,” Larek continued softly. “They are preparing to return him to you with the only means that we still have available to us.”
“I thought you said that you don’t have any ships capable of inter-stellar travel,” Michael exploded. “If you can send him now, why the frack didn’t you do something while Max still had a chance to do something?”
“We have no ships,” Larek stammered, visibly recoiling as Michael let a little Rath slip into his demeanor. “But we still have several ancient probes that are powered by chemical engines. The Ritual Keepers understand the symbolism behind the human need for the return of the vessel after a loved one has passed.”
“Symbolism,” Isabel gasped as she entered.
“Unfortunately, this is nothing more than a symbolic gesture,” Larek explained quietly. “Alex’s voyage home will take sixty-thousand of your years.”
Liz and Maria climbed onto their husband’s laps seeking comfort, which left Isabel the momentarily awkward chore of pulling out a chair and sitting alone.
“My Lady,” Larek continued hesitantly, “It may be small comfort, but Kivar is dead as well.”
“What happened?” Isabel asked offhandedly, seemingly uncaring of her inter-galactic stalker’s demise.
Larek took a deep breath, “In the strictest meaning of the word, he was murdered by his guards,,,”
“You disobeyed a royal edict,,,” Max challenged.
“You must understand that there is a code of honor within the Paladin Guards,” Larek implored. “They have borne decades of disgrace for their failure to protect the Royal Four. They view Alex as a great warrior, the Savior of Antar.” Larek’s voice lowered, hesitant to continue, “My Lord, yesterday Kivar attempted to escape, killing a number of guards in the process. He was severely injured during apprehension and brought to the same medical facility where Alex was being held. Once Alex learned of the escape attempt, he ordered Kivar’s execution, insisting that it was the only way he could protect Isabel,” Larek explained softly. “When it became clear that this would be Alex’s last request, the squad that was deployed to the hospital felt honor bound to carry out his wishes.”
“Well I guess I’m not sorry that he got what’s coming to him,” Michael relented.
“Oh no my Lord,” Larek rebutted. “He got much better than he deserved. Alex demanded that he be treated with more mercy than he had ever shown any of his victims. First a number of elders were escorted to view Kivar, and their testimonies of his atrocities were taken down as evidence against him. Kivar was then over treated with medications which stopped his functions, all the while a pair of Ritual Keepers implored the Architect of the Universe to heal the evil within his soul. Then his vessel was taken to a metal finishing facility where he and all of his possessions were lowered into a tank of acid, dissolving him.”
“Ewww! Why not just throw him on a trash heap and let the dogs get to him,” Maria complained. “Talk about carrying a grudge,,,”
“Really?” Larek replied sarcastically as he waved his hand towards the Royal Four. “Imagine what would happen if his followers were allowed to gain access to a single strand of his DNA.”
“No, we can’t risk someone whipping up another Kivar,” Max sighed while stroking Liz’s hair. “Once again, Alex seems to have taken care of my dirty work for me.”
“My Lord,” Larek asked desperately as he faced Michael. “What of the guard?”
“Not now!” Michael insisted as he held Maria tightly, comforting her.
“No,,, now!” Isabel exclaimed. “You say that the guards felt honor bound to obey Alex in defiance of a Royal Edict? No wonder I got killed in the middle of a fracking civil war,,,”
“Iz, we don’t have to do this now,,,” Michael interrupted.
“I don’t agree. If Alex is going to die protecting his Princess, the least I can do is start acting like one.” She turned to face Larek, masking her loss and drawing on deep reserves to present a commanding appearance. “A question Larek, is there a special insignia unique to the Palladian guards?”
“Yes my Lady,” Larek stammered. “A gold braid worn on the left shoulder.”
“Your guards are to surrender this decoration, and are to be without it until such time as they earn it back with an act of service or honor.” Seeing the look of shock on his face, she continued, “We forget who we serve my friend. I order that the Paladin Guards be sent into the country side so that they may find opportunities to redeem their honor with their actions. There are bandits in the remote provinces. There is corruption within the provincial governments. Do something about this. The people need heroes. They need to have their faith in government restored. Surely they are capable of helping to build a hospital or defend the helpless.” Isabel’s countenance had slowly crumbled as she finished her diatribe,
“By your command, my Lady,” Larek acknowledged, but he lingered, “My Lady, there is another matter,,,”
“Not now. Be gone!” Isabel commanded, neither willing nor able to absorb another problem.
Re: Alex C Whitman, SAIC - Chapter 14 - June 11, 2011
Posted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 8:56 pm
Chapter 14 – Aftereffects
Max tossed his covers off in disgust, unable to sleep. He decided to check the house, but stopped himself from leaping out of bed when he heard Liz shift restlessly behind him. Max froze, one foot on the floor, until his wife settled down, and then he crept out of bed before silently pulling on his robe. Moments later he was sitting in his sister’s study. “Iz,” he said softly, “You need to get some sleep.”
“Aren’t you the pot calling the kettle black?” Isabel replied haughtily.
“Well at least I’m trying,” Max replied.
“Then go try harder,” she snapped. “I’ve got work to do.”
“Iz, school’s out in a month,” Max replied, by now immune to her moods. “If anyone doesn’t already have their college acceptance, it’s probably too late for them,,,”
“And what about my lower classmen?” Isabel snapped back. “I need to prepare an individual study plan for every one of them so that they can maximize their scores on their final exams, yet alone a reading list and work plan to keep them occupied during the summer,,,”
“I bet that’s going to go over like a fart in church,” Max teased, and when she turned to him in outrage that he would use such foul language in front of her, he reached around her and closed the lid on her laptop. This only served to heighten her sense of outrage, but he took her hands in his, and swung her around in her chair to face him. “Iz, this isn’t about your keeping your students busy for the summer, is it.”
“No,” She whispered, barely audible even with his enhanced hearing. “It’s about me staying busy.” Moments later big fat tears were rolling down her face. “I don’t know what I’m going to do without him,,,”
“The same thing you’ve always been doing,” Max replied, pulling her head to his shoulder and rubbing her back the way he did when she was little, long before she learned to control the terrors that visited her in the night. “You’re going to set yourself a goal, fulfill it, and then set yourself another. One day at a time Iz, we’ll get you through it. We all will.”
“Not anymore Max,” Isabel sobbed. “I don’t have that fiction anymore. I can’t fool myself that he has this happy little house with this happy little wife and these happy little children anymore, because I killed him.”
“I killed him,” Max deadpanned. “He died fighting my enemies, therefore I killed him.”
“Max! That’s ridiculous,” Isabel exclaimed, struggling to keep her voice down so she wouldn’t wake the house.
“He died restoring my kingdom,” Max continued. “I accept responsibility for that, so I am responsible for his death.”
“Kivar’s minions killed him,” Isabel snapped back. “I betrayed you to Kivar, therefore I killed him.”
“You keep forgetting Alex’s vid, Iz,” Max rebutted softly. “You don’t have that fiction anymore, either. You died fighting Kivar. So if I’m not complicit in Alex’s death, neither are you.”
Isabel was speechless for a moment as she tried to think of a chink in his statement, when they were interrupted. “Auntie Izzy-bell? Can you snuggle with and make the bad dreams go away?” Claudia pleaded, holding her pooh bear in one hand and rubbing her eyes with the other.
Max sat back, allowing his sister to come to his daughters rescue. “Of course Princess,” Isabel replied, discretely wiping her own eyes. She quickly crossed the room and took her niece’s hand. “Say night-night to Daddy.”
“Night-night Daddy,” Claudia chirped, the ill effects of a supposed bad dream nowhere in effect.
“Good night Pumpkin,” Max replied while making eye contact with his sister, her faint smile saying all that needed to be said.
Claudia knelt at the edge of her bed and repeated her prayers. While she continued to pray for Auntie Izzy-bell and Uncle Alex, she waited until she had snuggled next to Isabel before silently adding Cassie and Andy. She had picked up on the fact that the mere mention of their names brought tears to her aunt’s eyes, and she had promised her uncle that she would take care of her.
Re: Alex C Whitman, SAIC - Chapter 15 - June 12, 2011
Posted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 8:45 pm
Chapter 15 – Life Goes On
Several days later Liz had a quiet moment alone with her husband. “Max?” she asked softly. “What do we tell Claudia about Alex?”
Max sighed and sagged into a kitchen chair before answering. “She knows he’s living in the stars now,,,” he started hesitantly.
“Yea, I’ve been using the same reasoning to avoid the issue,” Liz added.
“She’s smart, I mean she’s at there age where she understands the meaning of death, but going to heaven,,, the stars,,,”
“I know,” Liz sighed. “Sooner or later she’s going to want to know when he’s coming home, and we’re going to have to be ready for that.”
“I know,” Max agreed.
“Can you believe the crap Evans piled on me?” Patty Troy muttered as she crashed the popular table in the Quad. “What a rag-witch.”
“Hey!” Yvonne Lydick snapped. “Nobody talks about Miss Evans like that while I’m around. She’s our only chance to get out of this one spaceship town, and if you had as much brains in your head as fat in your ass,,,”
“Stinking bitch,,,” Patty continued, but her diatribe was cut short when Yvonne’s fist slammed into her face, knocking her off her seat.
“What the frack?” Patty whined as she stood, rubbing her fat nose with one hand and her fat ass with the other.
“You should know better than to try my patience by now,” Yvonne stated offhandedly. “Miss Evans got me a full ride to Stanford, and if you say another bad thing about her I’ll kick your ass all the way back to the trailer park where your kind breeds,,,”
All of the girls froze when they heard, “Any problems here?” They turned as one to find Miss Leigh standing behind them with her hands on her hips.
“No Ma’am,” they replied in unison as they quickly gathered their stuff and beat a hasty retreat.
“Yvonne, a moment.”
“Yes Miss Leigh?” the young woman asked fearfully.
“That was a pretty mean punch, no wind up, no warning at all,” Miss Leigh commented with a smile. “Or so it would seem if such a punch had indeed been thrown.”
“Well if such a punch had been thrown,” Yvonne replied with a smile that betrayed her native intelligence, “I couldn’t take credit for it. I’m the youngest of five, with four older brothers who made sure I know how to take care of myself.”
“Mommy? Daddy?” Isabel asked in her softest voice when she found her parents alone in the kitchen.
Diane’s fears went into overdrive, hearing the child like endearment. “What’s the matter Sweetheart?” she asked in concern as she stood to guide her daughter to her chair. Once she had her arm around Isabel’s shoulder, she looked over to Phillip, finding him on high alert as well.
“Nothing really,” Isabel answered. “I mean, nothing bad,,, I hope.”
“Why don’t you just tell us what’s on your mind Pumpkin,” Phillip asked kindly.
“Well Max is going to be moving his family into their house the first of the month,” Isabel started hesitantly, “And I’ve decided that it’s time for me to move out on my own also.”
Isabel’s pronouncement was met with a storm of protest from both parents. “You don’t need to do that,” Diane pleaded. “We love having you.”
“Mom, I’m going to be thirty in a couple of years,” Isabel declared in a voice that steadily gained confidence, “And it’s time that I go out on my own. It’s time that I face facts. Alex is dead,,,” Isabel stopped cold, before taking a breath. “Alex is dead. That’s the first time I’ve been able to say that. He’s not going to come and rescue me. It’s time I stop waiting and hoping,,, and move on with my life.”
Phillip saw the need in his wife’s eyes. “Isabel, now’s not the time to make hasty decisions,” he reasoned. “There’s no reason why a family can’t stay together. Until just recently it was common for families to stay together until the children were ready to start their own family. Hell in my parents day it was common for three, sometimes even four generations to live in one house,,,”
“Daddy, you make it sound as if I’m moving to the ends of the earth,” Isabel said reassuringly, a small smile competing with the single tear that slid down her perfect cheek. “In fact I’ve signed a lease on a townhouse in Midway, right in the same neighborhood as Max. After all, Claudia needs her Auntie.”
“When are you moving?” Diane asked with dread.
“I have it as of the first of August,” Isabel replied with a hopeful smile. “I figured that I could take my time to move, but I want to be in by the start of the new school year.”
Re: Alex C Whitman, SAIC - Chapter 16 - June 13, 2011
Posted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 8:49 pm
Chapter 16 – Remembrances
Two weeks later Michael was standing in Frazer Woods as the hot New Mexico sun sank towards the horizon. “Are you sure this is going to work?” he asked in a stage whisper to the nervous man standing next to him.
“I’m told it should work perfectly,” Larek said with a voice that lacked the conviction of his words.
“Last time we tried this, half the planet came hunting for us.”
“There was a fault in our atmospheric data for your planet, causing the orbs to be out of calibration when Max and Liz activated them. As a result, the signal was visible to local inhabitants, as well as being detected my numerous monitoring devices,,,” Larek explained.
“Faulty calibration?” Michael cajoled. “What happened to this advance technology you supposedly have.”
“My technology?” Larek snickered. “The Antarian Science Academy was a civil branch of the military. Guess who was in charge of the military?” Upon hearing Michael make little choking sounds, he relented. “In all fairness my Lord, the data we had was from Earth’s pre-atomic era. Numerous atomic blast over subsequent decades altered atmospheric conditions to the point that the orb’s signal was distorted.”
“And this flaw has been corrected?” Michael asked coldly. “No chance of interception.”
“Yes my Lord,” Larek answered confidently. “The Granolith advises that the orbs are in perfect calibration for current Earth conditions. After all, it would be counter productive for us to provide you with an insecure means of communication, wouldn’t it.”
Michael was going to remind him that they had indeed provided them with faulty equipment, but a well aimed glare from Isabel cut their discussion short.
“Ready?” Isabel asked of Liz, who looked at her tritium amplification generator. Receiving a nod confirming that they were alone, she turned to Larek, who activated the orbs. This time, the only indication that they were active was the softly glowing whirlwind symbol.
“Online, my Lady.”
Isabel turned to face the orbs, and began the one way transmission. She opened her hands and bowed her head slightly, an abbreviated gesture of supplication as befit her royal station. “Thank you for joining us this evening, you honor us with your participation.” From this point on she continued without consciously acknowledging her audience.
“I remember our first kiss,” Isabel said quietly. “Max and Michael had both broken our pact to keep to ourselves. Max went through this whole lost in space thing every time Liz walked into the room, while Michael and Maria were still trying to decide if they liked or wanted to kill each other. So in the middle of all this madness I decided to take a chance with a sweet boy who was learning all my secrets and simply didn’t care how different I was.
“So I showed up at the crack of dawn on his doorstep, getting him out of bed. He looked so adorable in his pj’s, his hair all ruffled as he tried to figure out what I was doing there. I didn’t know myself what I was going to do once I got there, but the moment I saw the look of pure innocence on his half-awake face, I had to kiss him. To this day I can’t remember what lame excuse I used, but I got my kiss. That kiss rocked my world, and I don’t think I’ll ever recover,,,” A single tear slid down her silken cheek, and without further comment she placed a single blood red rose (love & passion) on the top of Stargazer Rock.
Max cleared his throat and stammered a little, clearly uncomfortable with the task at hand. “I owe Alex a dept of gratitude, one that can never be repaid. But while I am indebted to him for his protection of my family, our entire planet owes him our freedom. In honor of his sacrifice, I bestow upon him the title Herzog Whitman,,,” Max quickly turned towards Larek, and receiving a nod that he had the pronunciation correct, he continued. “I name him Herzog Alex Charles Whitman, and welcome him as a beloved member of the Royal Family.” With his duty concluded his confidence drained, and as he stepped forward to place a single white rose (purity & innocence) on the stone, his voice cracked, “I will truly miss him.”
Liz smiled at her memory, “It took me a long time to figure out how Alex could eat so much at the Crashdown, then go home to a home cooked meal every night without gaining weight, that is until one slow day when I saw the Isabel factor in action.” she related. “That afternoon Alex came in and ordered his usual Will Smith burger with a side order of Saturn rings, a rather heavy snack that should have held him over until breakfast the following morning. The only problem was that as I put the platter in front of him, Isabel floated in and strolled to her usual booth at the back of the room. Meanwhile Kyle slinked in and took the stool on Alex’s other side.
“Over the next fifteen minutes I could barely contain myself as Alex mooned over the object of his affection all the while Kyle pilfered every morsel of food from the poor sap’s plate,” she explained with a smile, reliving the moment in her memories. “About then, Isabel finished holding court with her friends and glided out with a special smile and wave just for Alex, and when I asked him how his untouched snack was he simply said ‘Delightful as always.’ I have no idea how much food that poor guy bought Kyle over the years. Thank God he was able to go home to a second meal,” she finished as she placed a pink rose (admiration & joy) on the stone.
“I would trust him with the lives of my family,” Michael simply stated as he laid a peach rose (sincerity & gratitude) on the stone.
Maria never even considered hiding her emotions. Tears flowed out of her reddened eyes like water, but she kept her voice calm by sheer force of will. “I received an e-mail from Alex a couple of years ago, and while he was less than forthcoming about his activities, he did tell me that one of his greatest fears was that he would die alone and be forgotten. Thanks to Larek and Serena and the wonderful citizens of Antar, Alex was never alone, and as long as I live, he will never be forgotten.” She then stepped forward and added her yellow rose (friendship & joy) to the stone, before stepping back. “And now I have another promise to fulfill.” She began to sing in a voice as rich and pure as her love for her departed friend.
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me...”
Isabel built a charge in her hand before aiming at Stargazer Rock. When her hand began to glow, she fired, altering the chemistry of the surface of the granite. She embossed a photo of Alex into the stone. In it he had a happy carefree smile on his face, the photo having been taken while he was telling a story to the children at Maria’s reception. Under the photo she added the benediction; ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ (note: John15:11-14) As Isabel’s fusillade died down the stone returned to normal, it’s engraving invisible to human eyes without the assistance of a tritium amplification generator.
“I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.”
Sixty light years away, as Maria’s bittersweet voice began the second verse, Serena threw a switch causing a spark of electricity to flow into a century old ceramic igniter. Newly refurbished cryogenic super-pumps flooded the ignition chamber with a mixture of distal-carb and air-essence, resulting in a controlled explosion that rocked the Capital City. Planet wide the citizenry froze for a Minute of Respect as the ancient probe thundered into the evening sky on a column of fire, carrying the vessel of the Savior of Antar on the beginning of his long cold journey back to his home and the people who loved him.
Re: Alex C Whitman, SAIC - Chapter 17 - June 15, 2011
Posted: Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:50 am
Chapter 17 – Fallen Hero
Maria was the first to notice Brody enter the Crashdown, looking very much out of his element. “This doesn’t look good,” she muttered to Liz as she slipped out of the booth. She approached her friend and guided him off to the side. “Larek?” she asked softly.
“Serena,” her friend answered hesitantly. “”You are female, yes? Does that mean you are Vilandra, I mean Isabel?”
“I’m Maria,” she answered. “Come with me, where it’s safe to talk.”
Within minutes the group started to trickle into the break room while Liz activated her tritium amplification generator, insuring the lack of listening devices while preventing any sound from leaving the room.
Isabel looked around the room as she entered, and finding that she was the last to arrive, approached Brody. “Serena?” she asked gently.
“Lady Vilandra?” Serena asked with awe in her voice.
“No, I am Isabel. Vilandra’s clone.”
Serena threw herself to one knee, her forehead touching her bent knee, with her arms outthrust, palms forward in supplication. “My Lady,” she gasped.
“Serena,” Isabel commanded in embarrassment. “Please stand. You guys are going to break poor Brody’s back one of these days.”
“You don’t know how happy it is for these old eyes to see you again,” Serena said in a voice rich in emotion.
“I am honored by your visit,” Isabel replied respectfully. “But what of Larek? Why isn’t he here?”
“Larek is dead,” Serena reported flatly.
“My God, what happened,” the girls cried out in unison.
“There was a fire in a dwelling across the street from where he takes breakfast before he reports to his labor. The fire was fast moving, as is the case in many of the damaged buildings within the city, and the suppressors had not yet arrived. A woman who was being pulled from the building was hysterical. Her babe was in a room that she could not reach, blocked as it was by the flames.” Serena needed a moment to compose herself, which gave the girls a chance to guide her to the couch and comfort her. Isabel went to the kitchen for a glass of water, while Maria, who was much more comfortable with her friend Brody, took his hand in hers.
“Larek rushed into the building and found the child. He carried the child to an outside wall and then used his sword to break a hole in the wall, just enough to allow some breathing air. He then wrapped his cloak around the child, her face near the hole so she could breath. When the suppressors finally entered the room, they found that my brother had sacrificed himself to shield the child from the flames.”
“Larek is your brother?” Maria gasped.
“Yes,” Serena replied solemnly. “He was my brother. He made me promise that I would not reveal his relationship to you, but with his death, I release myself from that obligation.”
“Oh my God!” Liz exclaimed as she crossed the room and sat next to Brody on the edge of the couch. She reached to hug him, but hesitated, pulling her arms back before making contact. “I don’t know what to do. Is this you, or Brody?”
“Your kind words are enough,,,” Serena answered.
“Serena? A question?” Michael ventured.
“Yes my Lord?”
“You said Larek used his sword. Why would a politician carry a sword?”
“I can see that he told you little of his shame,,,” Serena answered with a small smile.
“Shame?” Isabel gasped. “Your brother has been instrumental in the changes during the past weeks. Surely there is no shame in that?”
“Only in his own mind,” Serena answered solemnly. “Larek was not a politician Lord Rath, he was the Captain of your Royal Paladin Guards. Many years ago you entrusted him to secrete the technology of the Royal Science Academy in the mountainous provinces. He has never forgiven himself that he was not present when Kivar attacked the Royal Family.”
“There is no shame in that,” Max insisted. “He was away from the palace on orders.”
“Yes my Lord,” Serena replied. “He knew that in his mind, but he never believed it in his heart.” She took another moment to gather her thoughts. “We do not have a culture of death, so he didn’t go out and cast himself off a cliff or anything foolish like that. Instead he led the resistance for decades, insuring that Kivar was never able to consolidate power and take complete control of the Royal Court.”
“Serena, I’m so sorry,” Isabel gasped.
“My Lady,” Serena implored. “This is a time of sorrow, but it is a time for celebration as well. My brother drew no comfort from his labors against Kivar, but the Princess Isabel Edict to serve the public invigorated him, as it has the entire Paladin Guard. He chose for his penance to labor tirelessly in order to return the Royal Science Academy to the capital city, hoping to regain your respect, and I am confident that he is now with the Architect of the Universe.”
Isabel looked to her brother, her eyes questioning.
“Don’t stop now,” he simply replied. “You seem to be on a roll.”
“When Alex,,, passed,,,” Isabel said, her voice cracking, “Larek said that you have Ritual Keepers,,,”
“Yes my Lady,” Serena replied. “They are responsible for assisting the departed in their journey to meet the Architect of the Universe,,,”
“But there are rituals,,,” Isabel pleaded, “Ceremonies, during this time? He lies in state?”
“Yes my Lady.”
“Good. I order that Larek’s honor has been restored,” Isabel commanded, her voice gaining confidence. “I order that his Paladin Decoration be returned. I order that he be buried with full military honors, and that the population be apprised of his contribution to the restoration of the Royal Court. Finally, I order that the Paladin Braid be renamed in his honor. Will you see to these orders are carried out for me?”
“Yes my Lady,” Serena replied with tears in here eyes. “Thank you. For my brother, and my family. Thank you.”
Max awoke, again, with a feeling of restlessness that was becoming all to familiar of late. He crept downstairs and out to the back yard. Finding his sister sitting on the glider staring at the stars, he approached slowly. “Iz?” he asked softly.
“When does it stop Max?” she asked coldly. “When the frack does it stop.”
Max was shocked when she turned her tear streaked and reddened face towards him, but he recovered quickly and slid onto the glider next to her, pulling her head down to his shoulder while rubbing her back in small circles just like when they were children. “Ssssh,” Max whispered reassuringly. “Ssssh, everything’s going to be alright.”
“How the frack is everything going to be all right?” Isabel challenged. “First Alex comes home sick, then he,,, he,,, and now Larek? “I don’t know how much more I can take.”
Re: Alex C Whitman, SAIC - Chapter 18 - June 15, 2011
Posted: Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:55 pm
Chapter 18 – School’s Out
Isabel slammed her hands into her hips and stared at her mother’s china cabinet. Although it was only ten o’clock in the morning, she had rearranged it three times now, but was still not satisfied with it’s appearance. Disgusted with the fact that her demons were already manifesting themselves during her first full day of summer vacation, she fought down the urge to tear into the cabinet again. Instead she went into the kitchen and yanked a bottle of water out of the refrigerator and tore the top off the container. Downing half the bottle in one pull, she looked at the clock on the microwave, three minutes after ten. Claudia finished school for the year at noon, and Isabel was picking her up. Maybe they could go to the zoo, no wait a minute, this is Roswell. We don’t have a zoo, but before she could torque herself into another frenzy the phone rang.
“What?” she snapped.
“~~Isabel?~~” a slightly familiar voice asked. “~~Isabel Evans? This is Angela from Edgewood Elementary,,,~~”
Isabel’s blood ran cold as she realized the significance of the call. “Claudia?” she demanded.
“~~She’s not hurt or anything like that,” Angels stated quickly, “~~But she’s upset about something. She’s screaming her head off for you.~~~”
“I’ll be right there,” Isabel promised.
“~~Should I call her parents?~~” Angela asked.
“No,” Isabel commanded, sensing a Czechoslovakian problem. “Max is up at the Torranco county courthouse, and Liz is all the way out at Meta-Chem. I can be there in five minutes.”
Angela hesitated a moment before replying, “~~That’s fine. You’re on her list, so there’s no problem with you picking her up.~~”
Minutes later Claudia was sitting on the passenger seat of Isabel’s Prius while her aunt knelt in the door trying to calm her. “Just tell me what’s wrong, Princess,” Isabel pleaded.
“Uncle Alex!” Claudia implored. “He can’t breathe! We got to go to him!”
“Oh Sweetheart,” Isabel gasped as Claudia’s distress ripped her own unhealed wounds open, “Uncle Alex is living in the stars now. We can’t go there, but you saw him. He doesn’t hurt anymore.”
“Auntie Izzy-bell, he’s drowning!” Claudia screamed. “They can’t help him, we have to do something.”
Isabel’s heart broke as she realized that Claudia was witnessing events that she herself had only heard about, and she feared for her young charges ability to cope with such a dramatic connection, but before she could intervene, Claudia took aim at the steering column and started the car’s engine.
“Claudia!” Isabel exclaimed as she looked around nervously before reaching across her niece, far enough into the car so she could discretely shut down the engine.
Claudia took advantage of her aunts proximity to slap her hand on Isabel’s face.
Re: Alex C Whitman, SAIC - Chapter 19 - June 16, 2011
Posted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 9:36 pm
Chapter 19 – New and Improved
“The pod chamber?” Isabel exclaimed. “Claudia, how do you know about the pod chamber?”
“I don’t know Auntie,” Claudia whined, upset with these events that were far beyond her grasp.
Isabel stopped to gather her thoughts, taking into consideration her own contention that her niece possessed powers far beyond her own. “Do we need to go there?” she asked softly. Seeing her niece nod in confusion, she made up her mind. “Okay Princess,” Isabel declared as she leaned in and kissed her young charge on her forehead, calming her. “Lets go.”
Isabel concentrated on her driving as she navigated the mid day traffic of downtown Roswell, but as she reached the eastern outskirts of town she noticed that the usually exuberant Claudia was being unusually quiet. “Claudia? Are you okay?” she asked softly.
“I’m scarred,” Claudia replied in a tiny voice. “I don’t know what’s happening.”
“That’s okay Princess,” Isabel said reassuringly. “I won’t let anything happen to you, and we can call for help if we need to. Your Mom and Dad, and Aunt Michael and Aunt Maria, we’ll all take care of you. And if we have to Uncle Jim will help. No one messes with him because he’s the Sheriff,,,”
“And Auntie Amy?” Claudia added, noticeably calmer now that the Czechoslovakian Army was on her side. “Even Uncle Michael’s afraid of Auntie Amy.”
“Yea,” Isabel answered with a laugh. “Even Aunt Amy.” By now they were in the desert, and Isabel decided that back-up was indeed called for. She used her voice command to dial her brother. “Max? Where are you?”
“~~I’m just leaving Estancia, why? Is everything okay?~~”
“I had to pick Claudia up at school,” Isabel explained rapidly. “Something’s upsetting her and she’s insistent that I take her out to the pod chamber.”
Max bit down a stinging retort about his daughter’s safety, realizing that his sister would kill or die before allowing any harm to befall her. Nevertheless, he wasn’t happy that they were charging into a unknown situation. “~~Okay, I can be there in about half an hour. Don’t do anything until I get there,,,~~”
“Hang on Max, Michael’s on call waiting,,,” She reached for the bracket on the dashboard and touched her phone. “Not a good time Michael!”
“~~Something’s going on,~~” Michael barked. “~~Serena came into the Crashdown and started babbling about the pod chamber,,,~~”
“Same with Claudia,” Isabel replied. “We’re almost there,,,”
“~~We’re on our way,,,~~”
“Max too, I have him on the other line.”
“~~Don’t do anything stupid before we get there!~~”
Isabel switched lines. “Max, Serena showed up at the Crashdown. Something’s definitely going on,,,” but before she could finish the shadow of Maideckizne Rock blocked her signal. Isabel slid to a stop at the base of the path, kicking up a cloud of dust. She unbuckled her seatbelt and climbed out of the car, waving her hand in front of her face, but as the dust settled she saw Claudia scrambling up the rock strewn trail. Isabel quickly caught up to her. “We’re going to wait at the car for your Daddy and Uncle Michael,,,”
“Nooo!” Claudia implored. “No waiting. We’ll be too late. Besides no one’s going to hurt us.”
Isabel decided to continue to follow her instincts, knowing without doubt that her niece would not lead them into danger. “Okay,” she relented, “But hold my hand. I don’t want you to fall and get hurt.
“Hurry,” Claudia pleaded as she chafed at her aunts restraining grip, and when they finally reached the end of the trail, she stormed into the chamber as soon as Isabel opened it.
“Claudia!” Isabel screamed in dread as her niece disappeared into the dark cave, but her fears turned to confusion when she saw Claudia touch the chamber walls. As if the youngster had flicked a switch, the interior of the cave was flooded with a soft blue light that seemed to emanate from the stone itself. Isabel looked around in wonder, while Claudia made a bee-line across the pod chamber.
Isabel gasped as she found Claudia bent over a chrysalis on the floor at the base of her and her family’s pods. The base and sides of the new pod appeared to be an open-topped sarcophagus, seeming of an alive fibrous material, dark green in color. A tough parchment like membrane rose out of the sides of the pod, bulging out slightly as it softly glowed and pulsated in sync with the life-force within.
“Claudia! Get back!” Isabel commanded, but the young girl had already knelt next to the pod, placing her hand on the pulsating membrane.
“He’s coming out Auntie!” Claudia exclaimed. “Help me! Help me Auntie Izzy-bell, he can’t wait any longer.” As she said this the membrane split open as Alex struggled to sit up.
Isabel knelt on the other side of the pod and supported Alex’s shoulders as he wiped his face, spitting out clumps of green slime in a desperate attempt to breath; then, remembering her own naked trek after coming out of her own pod, she ripped several sections of membrane off his pod and placed them across Alex’s legs. “Claudia, make me a towel so I can dry your uncle off, then make him a blanket we can wrap him with.” She then used her powers to enhanced the drying effect of the towel as she tenderly wiped her boyfriend’s back and shoulders. As soon as she finished Claudia draped her blanket over his shoulders and then took a hold of the hard shell of his pod and raised it, bringing it forward to form a back rest that he could lean back against.
“We have to get him dry,” Isabel said nervously.
“No Auntie,” Claudia replied confidently as she placed her hand over his chest. “Being wet’s not Uncle Alex’s problem, but I think I can help him.”
Isabel nearly panicked when she saw Claudia form a connection, but she bit back her retort as Alex’s breathing began to settle down. “Claudia, will you and Uncle Alex be okay alone for a minute?” she asked, her voice cracking nervously. “I want to go outside and call your Dad.” Receiving a nod and a smile, she rose up and scurried to the chamber entrance, fighting her growing sense of unease all the way. Under normal conditions she felt agitated when she wasn’t in charge during a crisis. Right now however, she felt totally useless, and she didn’t like this new sensation at all.
As Isabel emerged into the daylight, she looked down at the base of the rock pile. Max was just climbing out of his car, while Michaels VW Passat was pulling up besides him. Moments later Max, Michael and Brody were scrambling up the trail.
Isabel led the new arrivals into the pod chamber and quickly checked on Alex. “How’s he doing Princess?” she asked as she settled next to Claudia, rubbing her back in support.
“Uncle Alex is breathing okay now, Auntie Izzy-bell,” Claudia answered with her child like innocence. “He’s dreaming that he snuck me some of Grampa Jeff’s strawberry ice cream, but Grampa really saw him and is smiling.”
“Pumpkin, how are you making Uncle Alex breathe?” Max asked softly as he settled besides her.
“I don’t know Daddy,” she answered nervously, but she gained confidence as Max nodded and smiled at her. “I just think of him when he was better, when we were looking at the stars, and he can breathe better.” She then looked at her aunt mischievously. “He doesn’t want to be with me though, he wants to be with Auntie Izzy-bell.”
“Oh God!” Isabel exclaimed in embarrassment, much to Michael’s amusement.
“No silly,” Claudia corrected with a grin. “He wants to brush your hair.”
To hide her embarrassment, she turned her Rath on Serena. “How did you get him here?”
“The research team working on the wormhole device were somehow able to activate it,” Serena stammered, “But it was an accident. We don’t know how they did it. I saw this as the chance we’ve been praying for, so I commanded them to send the Savior of Antar home before the wormhole collapsed, then the Architect of the Universe working through the Granolith. Brought him here. We had send him now, we couldn’t take the risk we wouldn’t be able to re-activate the wormhole in time.”
“But why didn’t you tell us about him? I,,, we’ve been going crazy since we lost him.”
“My Lady,” you need to understand,” Serena implored, “The most lasting impression that the Savior of Antar made on the Council of Regents was his love for you. That’s why they sanctioned an attempt to recovery him, a momentous decision considering the odds against it’s success and the whole Royal Four Square fiasco,,,”
“Excuse me?” Max demanded indignantly. “Now we’re some kind of fiasco?”
“Wait a minute,,,” Isabel commanded. “What odds?”
“Forgive me my Lady,,,” Serena implored, turning to Max, who outranked her. “Please understand that your recovery process was never intended to take forty years,” Serena explained. “Your recovery should have taken at most six months, and you would have emerged as adults with your memories intact, at which time you would have returned to Antar and retaken your throne,,,”
“Then how do your explain keeping us in the oven for as long as you did?” Max asked testily.
“With your recovery, everything went wrong that could go wrong,” Serena explained nervously. “Kivar was tearing through the mountainsides, searching for us. This caused your ship to be launched before your pods were ready. During your escape your ship was ambushed and damaged before it could engage it’s FTL (faster than light) drive. Once here, the ship crashed, killing your technicians and damaging your pods. With your team dead, the Granolith was never activated, then without it as a power source, a process that should have taken weeks instead took decades,,,”
“And Alex?” Isabel demanded. “What do you mean the odds were against him?”
“The anti-matter that had infected his body did its job of poisoning him all too well,” Serena pleaded. “We were able to recover bone marrow from his lower leg, containing DNA that had sustained less damage than that from the rest of his body,” Serena continued, “But after we extracted it, we didn’t think it was viable. The Council decided to go ahead despite the risk, but they also decided that you not be informed, as they feared that he would be lost again and in doing so, break your heart.”
“So what happened?” Michael interrupted impatiently. “How were you able to save him?”
“He is not saved yet,” Serena reminded her audience. “But for his reaching this point, you’re going to have to thank both the Architect of the Universe and the Gandarium. The Architect guided the Gandarium through millions of damaged DNA strands to isolate enough truncated segments of his genome base pairs that a recovery attempt was possible. But all is not well, his vestal has numerous defects in it. Without Zan’s assistance, the Savior of Antar will surely die.”
“Who provided his Antarian DNA?” Isabel wanted to know.
“There is some mystery to that,” Serena said hesitantly. “I had wanted to use my own DNA, but my brother forbid it. He said he didn’t want any ‘cousin’ loving’ going on, so he collected a number of samples from many of the scientist at the Academy, and the Gandarium again parsed these strands, selecting the base pairs that they wanted.”
Max smiled in amusement at Serena’s confusion as he knelt at his daughter’s side. “Okay Pumpkin,” he said softly, regaining her attention. “I need to look at your uncle now,,,”
“No Daddy,” Claudia whined fearfully. “Uncle Alex’s boo-boos will come back if I let go!”
“That’s okay,” Max said reassuringly. “You go over to your Aunt while I take care of your Uncle.” He really didn’t notice his daughter ran to Isabel, who hoisted her up to her hip. Claudia buried her face against her aunts shoulder as Alex’s desperate attempts to breathe on his own caused everyone within earshot to fear for his safety.
A look of grim determination washed over Max’s face as he quickly leaned down and placed both of his hands on the side of Alex’s chest. To his surprise, he was able to form an instantaneous connection that was deeper than any he had ever experienced, even with Liz. “Sorry Max,” he heard in his mind, ”But I really need some help here.”
“Alex! Is it really you?”
“In the flesh, well what’s left of it,” Alex replied cheerfully. “How do we do this?”
“You just sit back and let me do all the work. It’s time you let someone take care of you for a change.”
Max then scanned Alex looking for problems. The first thing that he found was that on the right side of Alex’s chest wall a massive section of his parietal pleura was missing. This resulted in the fact that Alex’s lungs did not move when his chest expanded to take a breath. Max quickly excited the existing edge of tissue, growing it until the void was closed, and after adding a small amount of plural fluid, Alex was breathing normally and pain free for the first time in almost a year.
“Lets see what else is wrong,” Max said softly as sweat began to form on his forehead. With the immediate crisis adverted, he scanned Alex’s heart and brain next. Max repaired several more obvious problems, having found defects in both his nervous and circulatory systems.
Meanwhile Isabel was bouncing Claudia on her hip. “Don’t worry Princess,” she said with a reassurance she didn’t fully feel herself, yet, “Uncle Alex is going to be fine.”
“I know Princess,” Claudia replied with a smile. “And he isn’t going away this time? He’s going to stay and make you happy?”
“Oh you had better believe it!” Isabel declared. “If he’s one minute late for dinner I’ll come over to your house and get you and we’ll hunt him down and drag him home by his hair.”
Claudia thought her aunt’s response was funny and giggled, not realizing just how serious Isabel was.
“I’ll take all the doors and windows off our house so he’ll have to stay inside,,,”
“But Auntie Izzy-bell, if you do that me and Uncle Alex could come and go any time we wanted and you’ll be stuck inside,,,”
“Hey I have powers too,” Isabel protested.
“Maybe,” Claudia replied as she looked back towards her Uncle.
Max was near collapse when he heard Alex. ”Hang on bud, I’ll help you.” Moments later Max felt a wave of power flow through their connection, energy more powerful and pure than anything he had ever experienced in his life.
Isabel was the first to notice the change in her brother’s appearance. “Max?” she asked nervously. “Are you alright? Is he,,,”
“Actually I feel fine,” Max replied enthusiastically. “It’s as if I jump started him. I think he’s combining the knowledge from his Science Academy donors with my healing ability and is now taking care of himself. He’s fixing blood vessels to nowhere, synapses that aren’t firing, and making little corrections everywhere. It’s amazing to watch.”
It was amazing, for moments later Alex was feeling better, resulting in his starting to stand.
“Alex No!” Isabel snapped, holding Claudia’s face to her shoulder and turning her away from her uncle. “We don’t need a wardrobe malfunction.”
Alex looked down at himself with a grin, noticing his state of undress. He reached down and touched his improvised covering, morphing it into a crisp pair of kakis and a fresh plaid shirt. “Better?” he asked.
“Much better,” Isabel said in relief as she lowered a squirming Claudia, who ran over to her uncle and gave him a big sloppy kiss on the cheek.
Michael raised his hand defensively, “How do we know you’re one of us?”
“Michael,” Isabel exclaimed in disbelief. “Max and Claudia were both in a connection with him. Don’t you think they would have known?”
“You’ve better be careful where you point that thing,” Alex quipped as he made a beckoning motion with his wrist, drawing a charge from Michael’s hand. He waved his fingertips in a circling motion causing Michael’s blast to orbit the cave, hissing and boiling off energy with every circuit. Finally when the charge had evaporated to the point where there was only a speck of power left, he lowered his aim and shot Michael in the ass.
Michael jumped off the rock he was leaning against and hopped from foot to foot, holding his ass. “What the frack you do that for?” he demanded. “That hurt!”
“I owe you that for taking so long to make an honest woman out of Maria,” Alex teased.
“I’m more interested in how you did that,” Max interjected.
“Almost seventy years of research. I’m the new and improved model, although it doesn’t hurt that Larek gave me base pairs from almost fifty donors, every one a scientist.”
“Okay everyone,” Isabel interrupted. “I want to thank you all for helping bring Alex back. Max, don’t forget to take Claudia with you, Michael, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out,,,”
“You’re throwing us out of our own chamber?” Michael asked incredulously.
“Yes!” Isabel answered without shame as she loosened Alex’s top button and adjusted his collar. “I need to welcome my boyfriend home, and I don’t want an audience when I do it.”
Re: Alex C Whitman, SAIC - Epilog - June 17, 2011
Posted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 9:16 pm
Epilog – Mixed Pronouns
Alex looked out the window, drinking in the simple pleasure of sunlight on his face. He had been doing that a lot lately, enjoying the little things in life that the rest of us took for granted. Taking a deep breath without pain in his side, going for a walk around the block without worrying that he could make it back, playing with Claudia without having to worry about re-breaking his fragile wrist. Or getting a good night sleep. It had been years since he could climb into bed and sleep through until morning,,, Well the truth be told, he hadn’t had an uninterrupted night’s sleep since he had left the pod chamber, Isabel had made sure of that. But on the other hand, Alex wasn’t complaining.
Liz took a deep cleansing breath, happy that the stress of the past several weeks was over. By her count she had committed at least three crimes, but after all, what’s a couple of felonies between friends. With a sigh she dismissed the thought, for after all she would do it again in a heartbeat. She would do anything for her long lost girlfriend Alex. The offenses that she had committed weren’t really crimes, at least not in her mind. Instead they were deceptions, admittedly elaborate, that she and her extended family didn’t hesitate to commit to keep themselves safe. She had used her position at Meta-Chem to requisition Alex’s medical records from the Bethesda Naval Hospital. As soon as the two banker boxes arrived, she had spirited them home, where she was more than happy to incinerate them, while Alex had used one of her workstations, with considerable assistance from the Granolith, to eradicate every trace of his long and complicated medical history from several government databases.
Finally satisfied that she had tweaked her outfit to a level that would pass even Isabel’s critical eye, she turned to check out her partner-in-crime’s progress. “Aagghh,” Maria groaned, shaking the little piece of fabric in her hands. “I don’t know why I’m doing this.”
“Because Alex asked you to,” Liz answered reasonably as she stepped behind her petit friend. “Here, let me help you with that. I have to do it for Max all the time.”
Max paced back and forth, nervous about, well, everything. He looked at his long lost friend, and fixated on one of the few scars that he could see, this one just above Alex’s right cheekbone, received when the Hoover building blew.
Alex limped up to his friend. “Max! Relax! Take a breath,,,”
“Just checking,” Max replied honestly. He was nervous about the newest member of the Alien Abyss, but unlike the rest of them, Alex had led a high profile existence within the government. His numerous injuries were well known, yet his newly cloned body had emerged from it’s pod without blemish. Max had spent hours pouring over his medical records, creating calcium deposits on his skeletal system that would pass as healed breaks on the most thorough of x-rays along with a multitude of faux surface scars that made the alien healer cringe with their frequency and ferocity.
Claudia ran to the group, throwing her arms around her newest uncle. “Lots and lots of people are out there,” she advised excitedly as Alex scooped her up. “Don’t forget to limp,” she whispered secretly.
“It’s impossible for me to forget,” Alex teased. “You and your Aunt Tess made sure of that.” Although he believed this, it wasn’t entirely true. After Isabel had finished supervising her brother’s recreation of his injuries, she invoked Tess’ abilities as well. Isabel wouldn’t take the chance that he would forget his injuries at an inopportune moment, so a mind warp was clearly in order; only Tess couldn’t do it. Tess struggled all morning, attempting to implant instructions to favor his left wrist and to continue limping, but she had no effect on the new and improved hybrid, that is until Claudia took her hand and offered to help. ‘How long Auntie?’ the little one asked. ‘For three months Princess. Let him get gradually better every day,’ Isabel had commanded, then, without conscious effort on either woman’s part, the suggestions took root.
“Okay, places everyone. We don’t want to keep Isabel waiting, do we?” Serena commanded as she stormed into the gazabo. “I mean, we really don’t want to keep Isabel waiting!” But before she turned and walked back out, she lifted her hands and pinched both of Alex’s cheeks. “You look so handsome,” she gushed before giving him a grand-motherly kiss right on the mouth.
Michael watched her leave before snickering, “You realize you just got mouth-kissed by Brody, don’t you?”
“Michael, Michael, Michael. You do realize that I met Serena on Antar, don’t you?” Alex mumbled. “The genetically pure Antarian version of Serena? The over one-hundred year old great-grandmother version of Serena? To tell you the honest truth, I think I’d rather kiss her as Brody.”
“I don’t know if I’m ready for this,” Phillip whispered warily while standing behind his daughter and looking over her shoulder to sneak a peek out of the tent. “It’s only been a month. You’ve barely had time to start one of your list.”
“Daddy, I’ve been planning this for years,” Isabel answered with a smile, a condition that Phillip had to admit she had been in ever since she co-opted his participation in her little venture, “Although I have to admit, I had given up any hope I would ever be able to go through with it.”
She listened with satisfaction to the gasps and murmurings of surprise as her brothers and Alex’s girlfriends took their places at the top of the steps.
“What a wus,” muttered a guest, well within earshot of the Mother of the Groom. “Girls for his best men,” a catty comment out of character with the splendor of his black dress tunic.
“And I suppose you would have the balls to invite your two lifelong friends to stand by you despite the fact that they are women?” Gloria demanded.
“Not me,” the guest backtracked. “I’d never hear the end of it. I’d get laughed out of the Marines”
“All right then, I guess we know who wears the pants in this family,” Gloria answered with a self satisfied smile. “Besides, I think the girls look good.”
Indeed, then entire wedding party looked good. Max and Michael were resplendent in their Armani tuxedos as they lined up on Isabel’s side of the gazebo, but what really caught the attention of the congregation were the twins. Alex had chosen to have Liz and Maria stand up for him at his wedding, and Isabel had spent hours and a considerable amount of her powers creating their outfits. While the girls were also wearing Armani, the tuxes there were now Evans’ originals, and were in a word, stunning. Their trousers, complete with the traditional satin stripe, tapered to just above their ankles, revealing a tantalizing expanse of black nylon sheathed skin, encased in strappy Zanotti evening sandals. Their fitted jackets brought out the best features of their still youthful figures, while at the same time concealing, for the moment, their daring halter shirts.
Everyone stood and turned to watch as Isabel emerged from the reception tent and lined up with her father at the end of the red carpet, waiting for the organist. She looked down the aisle, her gaze locked on Alex, her smile lighting up the area. Her dress, admittedly off the rack due to time constraints, was nevertheless stunning in it’s elegant simplicity. The strapless dress in a rich satin brocade, was crafted with a side draped waistline which was richly embellished with delicate embroidery and beading. Isabel’s sash also served to conceal the natural waistline on the floor length wrapped A-line skirt, which continued the embroidery and beading down the side of the skirts edge which ran from the waist down the front of Isabel’s left leg.
“Lets go Daddy,” Isabel whispered.
“But they haven’t started the wedding march yet,,,” Philip protested.
“I don’t care,” Isabel answered confidently. “My life’s been on hold long enough. Time to start my future.”
“So where are they spending their honeymoon?” Jeff whispered.
“I don’t know, it’s a big secret,” Nancy replied honestly. “Alex promised her a month free from all earthly distractions so they could catch up on all the things they have been missing out on, but he did promise Phillip and Diane one thing. When they get where they are going, Isabel will be treated like a Princess.”