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RED SHIFT - Part 2 Chapter 37

Post by WR » Fri Jun 16, 2006 2:08 pm

Hi everyone.

I am really, really busy right now. Two major things are going on in my life at the moment, and I'm afraid I don;t have the time to respond individually tonight. I truly am sorry because I really enjoy doing that, even though it does take time.

However, I will make two quick comment about if only Luke and Julia get the messages and why them? as well as are the dolphins aliens?
Other than the fact that so far, only Luke and Julia have been near the dolphins (Liz commented how Alison only saw them from a distance) there is a vital reason why Luke could understand them. (Julia couldn't)

Are the dolphins alien? There is a reason why the dolphins reacted the way they did. There is a major clue about this... way back - in the Antarian history section. Think laterally. :wink:

Red Shift

Part 2

Chapter 37

"Where can he be?" Leia paced from one side of her room to the other. "It' been hours since the shooting. He's been gone all night and all morning too."

"He's probably still at the hospital," Hans was sitting in a chair. Although he looked stressed, he was far calmer than Leia. "Which is exactly what we've told Alan and Debra. He won't leave until he knows she's okay."

"Do you think he told her the truth about us?" Leia came to a sudden stop.

"I don't know," Hans whispered. "If he tried to heal her... if he connected... She's going to ask questions. Luke won't lie to her."

"How can you be so calm about this?"

"Because I know that Julia won't tell anyone. I know that Julia would never deliberately hurt Luke."

"At least we don't have to worry about some kind of witch hunt," Leia sat on the bed for a moment."

"Did you get to everyone?" Hans looked at her.

"I think so," she nodded. "Everyone believes that the man who shielded Julia was a stranger who took off right after the shooting. A couple of policemen even had to rip up a few pages of their notebooks."

"Good," Hans nodded. "And near as I could tell, the Paramedics found a bullet inside Julia, so if Luke did heal her, he only did enough to keep her alive. So maybe there was no connection and no questions."

"So where is he?"

"You know how much he cares for her," Hans stood up and crossed to the window to look out. "He won't come home until he knows she's safe, or until he has to." He turned to look back at Leia. "I'll tell you one thing, though."

"What's that?" Leia looked up.

"Luke's not going to be happy leaving Florida knowing that there's someone running around who might want to come back and finish the job."

* * *

The back door opened, and closed. Upstairs in the bedroom, Leia and Hans listened as they heard the exchange of voices.

"Luke's back," Leia started to breathe again. "I expect Allan and Debra are probably cross examining him about what's going on. Maybe we should go and listen in."

"No," Hans shook his head. "What he tells them will be different to what he tells us. We'll wait for him. He knows he owes us an explanation."

A few moments later, they heard footsteps on the stairs.

"Luke," Leia almost exploded with relief when she saw her brother enter the room.

"How's Julia," Hans ignored the obvious questions. In spite of everything, Julia was still a friend. "You did heal her, right?"

"Yeah," Luke nodded. "Are you angry with me?"

"Nah," Hans shook his head. "If I could heal and it was Alison that he had shot..."

"She's okay," Luke nodded, sitting down on the edge of his bed. "I didn't heal her completely, just enough to make sure she would live. They took her into the ER at the hospital, but apart from removing the bullet, there wasn't much for them to do. I already repaired the major arteries, and fixed her damaged organs. They just think that she was one lucky girl. She's in a private room right now, hooked up to a drip to help replace her blood."

"You saw her?" Leia placed an arm around his shoulder. "You're her big hero now, huh?"

"No," he shook his head, bowing to hide his tears. "She didn't even know I was there. She'll have too many questions. Questions I can't answer. So I just hung around, hiding, and listening, making sure she was really going to be okay. No one saw me. I left as soon as Alison showed up."

"Alison is with her?" Hans frowned.

"Yeah," Luke nodded. "She turned up pretty upset. She wanted to stay, but... They were saying their good-byes when I left."

"Do you think Julia would say anything to her?"

"What can she say?" he shrugged. "She doesn't exactly know, or understand what happened anyway."

"Did you connect?" Hans looked at him.

"I..." Luke paused.

"Luke. Did you connect?"

"Not properly, no," he hung his head again.

"What do you mean?"

"I... it's complicated."

"Did you connect?" Hans demanded.

"A little, okay," Luke glared at him. His head fell once more and his voice dropped to a whisper. "A little. I couldn't help it. It was like it was already there, and I tried, but I couldn't close it fast enough."

"Okay," Hans closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "I'm really sorry that I have to do this to you, Luke, but with this Madly thing... I really think you need to break it off with Julia. A clean break."

"Yeah," Luke sounded destroyed.

Hans looked surprised that Luke hadn't argued with him.

"Her father came to see me earlier. He told me this whole..." Luke waved his hands. "It sort of goes like this."

Luke told them of his conversation with Mr. Cartier.

"Luke, I'm so sorry," Leia leaned against him.

"Yeah, sorry dude," Hans nodded. "That must have sucked. But you know, he's right. And as much as we don't like the guy, there was no denying that he was good at what he did."

"Yeah," Luke nodded.

The doorbell rang.

"As soon as Alison gets back to Mississippi, I'll talk to her. If you have to break it off, so do I. You too Leia."

"No," Luke looked up. "You don't have to."

"Yeah, we do," Hans nodded. "What if we don't leave for another year or so? Every time we get together, she's going to be there. It would be like... rubbing your nose in it. And I just can't do that to you, Luke."

* * *

One car, the DeLong's was already loaded, ready to go. Only the passengers were not inside. The other car, the Skye's was still being packed with the last of the suitcases. Everyone was gathered on the front yard, saying their good-byes. Even Lyle, Anders and Raul turned up, as they were all catching early morning flights. The kids congregated in one group, and the adults in another. The three guys wanted to know exactly what had happened to Julia. Luke told them the version that had become the de facto version, according to the police and the eyewitnesses.

"I'm not really happy about leaving though," Luke shook his head. "Not while there's a maniac out there who might have a grudge against Julia."

Hans and Leia exchanged a knowing glance.

"No need to worry there, pardner." Alison gave a weak grin. "I heard from one of the policeman that the suspect had been found. Apparently, he had stolen a car to make his escape and was involved in an RTA. He was DOA. And apparently, there was a warrant out for his arrest. Seems he was wanted for other similar robberies. His MO is that he holds up these tourist places, abducts a waitress, and... you don't want to know the rest. Let's just say that Julia owes her life to this mystery dude twice over."

* * *

The drive to the airport was again, a subdued affair. More so than it had been the last two times.

"Cheer up, troops," Allan called from the driver's seat. "It's not like you won't be back for the summer."

"Yeah," Hans nodded, knowing that in all probability, they wouldn't.

"Perhaps the guys might like to come over and spend some time with us, Leia," Debra called from the passenger seat. She turned and looked at Luke, the quietest member of the trio. "And perhaps when Julia's better, she might like to come up and spend the weekend with us?"

"Yeah," Luke nodded. "We'll see."

Debra did not see them all exchange knowing looks, but this was not the reaction she had been hoping for. She knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that something, other than Julia's shooting had happened. She was confused about that because Luke cared enough about her to spend all night at the hospital. You would have to be a special kind of friend to do that. What on Earth could have happened that would make Luke come home so miserable? A sudden realization dawned on her. Memories of long forgotten conversations.

"Does Julia have a boyfriend?"

"Yeah," Luke nodded and turned to look out of the window.

"Oh, Luke," she frowned. "I'm so sorry. So I guess she wasn't the one after all."

"Guess not," Luke lied through his teeth.

* * *

By the time they had all arrived at the Skye household and had the DeLong family settled in the guestroom, and Alison in with Leia, it was already late. Everyone retired to bed at the end of a most exhausting day.

Surprisingly, Luke was up early and made his way out to the garden swing. As the rest of the household awoke, only Hans, Leia and Alison went out to talk to him. Alison thought that the reason for Luke's quietness was his concern for Julia. She could hardly wait to pass that piece of news on to her friend. Luke, however, was not in the mood for company and everyone left him alone. Alison's Dad went off to his meeting and while her Mom spent the day with Debra, wandering around the mall. Hans stood on the verandah, watching his brother.

"Why don't you show me around," Alison came up behind him. "You know, this being your home town and all."

"Okay," he nodded. Taking one last look at Luke, he turned to guide Alison toward the road. "Where do you want to start?"

"Why not show me your High School."

They walked along the roads, turning this way and that, heading for the High School. Along the way, a few kids their age acknowledged Hans with a wave. One or two called him by name.

"I sort of imagined you as this loner," Alison seemed impressed.

"I am, kinda," Hans shrugged. "All these guys know me as Luke's brother. And Luke is the big soccer star, so I get honorary status because I hang out with Luke."

"You never thought of trying for the team?" she grinned at him. "I hear siblings often have this telepathic link. You two would be awesome together."

"What?" Hans looked shocked. "Telepathic..."

"I was just kidding," Alison rolled her eyes. "Sheesh!"

"Well, there it is," Hans pointed out the High School. "Pretty unimpressive, huh?"

"It's not the buildings that make a place impressive," Alison shook her head. "It's our memories."

"Over there," Hans pointed. "That's the soccer field. That's the place where Luke's been making a name for himself. He should have some pretty cool memories from that place."

"I kind of liked Luke's attitude toward the cheerleaders," Alison nodded. "At that big stadium when he played in the Championship game. You know, blowing them off like that. Or was he just doing that to impress me so I would tell Julia..."

"No," Hans shook his head. "That's pretty much standard for Luke. Julia's the only girl he's ever really taken on a date."

"Didn't he ever take that mystery girl of his out?"

"What girl is that?" Hans looked at her. "The only girl he's ever been remotely interested in is Julia."

"Remember last Spring Break? Your party?"

"Yeah," he nodded.

"Luke told me that he met this amazing girl. His dream girl, he called her. He went somewhere and saw her, only he wasn't fast enough to get her name."

"The day before our birthday party?" Hans narrowed his eyes. "He went to some Museum."

"The Museum of Science and Industry," Alison nodded.

"That's right," Hans gave a smirk. "The MOSI. Luke's into science."

"What?" Alison shrieked. "What did you say?"

"That Luke was into science."

"No, no, no," she shook her head. "Before that. What did you call that museum?"

"The MOSI?" he frowned.

"Oh my god, I don't believe it," Alison shook her head. "Why didn't I ever make the connection! They were both in friggin Tampa! All this freaking time and those two have been just so... Ugh!"

"What's the matter?"

"Okay," Alison turned to face him. "Luke goes to MOSI, okay. And while he's there, he sees someone and falls head over heels in love with her, okay?"

"Okay," Hans nodded.

"Now, meanwhile, Julia, she sees this guy, and she falls head over heels in love with him, got it?"

"Got it."

"Now, remember Julia's birthday party? Remember how I set them up on a friends only date?"

"Except that they looked pretty damned close to be just friends," Hans pointed out.

"Right," she nodded. "I told Luke that she had a boyfriend, right? And we all know that Luke would never muscle in on another guy's girl, right?"

"Yeah," Hans narrowed his eyes. "So? Is there a point to this?"

"I told Julia the same thing. That he had met someone else."

"O-kay," Hans rolled his eyes.

"Julia saw the guy she fell in love with at MOSI, on the same day," Alison squealed. She noticed that Hans had not made the connection. "Hans! They freaking well saw each other, and fell in love with each other! Only they both believe it was someone else that they were talking about... and... god! How dense could they be?"

"No, no," Hans shook his head. "That's not right, 'cause Julia's dating Richard Madly. He even set his goons on Luke. They damn near kicked the crap out of him."

"Was that why.... And Luke thought..." Alison frowned. "Oh, this is bad. Luke thinks Julia has a boyfriend? And he thinks it's Bozo?"

"Bozo?" Hans raised an eyebrow.

"Long story," Alison shook her head. "Oh, god. This couldn't get any worse. Hans, you've got it wrong. Julia's parents have been pushing her onto Bozo ever since they got it into their heads that she likes him. But she doesn't want to. She wants Luke."

"But her parents want Bozo," Hans narrowed his eyes. "Her father practically warned Luke off her. More or less told him to stay away from his daughter, that Bozo was her destiny."

"Yeah, well what does destiny know?" Alison growled.

They had made their way to the junior playground. In silence, they had both sat on a swing, thinking of the revelations that had been uncovered. Alison could not wait to tell Julia of her discovery. Summer was going to be so much fun watching those two slowly combust. Hans was wondering what difference it made. There was too much baggage now, anyway. Like it or not, Richard Madly had decided on Julia and Luke was in the way. And like Luke had said, he was one step away from the military.

"You know," she smirked. "All of this could have been avoided if they had just given in and kissed. They would have realized their mistake then." She started to laugh. "It's kind of like you and me, huh?"

"Huh?" Hans looked at her. "What are you talking about?"

"All this dancing around each other we do," she turned her hand upside down and ran her finger in a circle, as though she was stirring something. "When you know as well as I do that you just want to kiss me."

"Where did you come up with that idea?" he shook his head. "I do not want to kiss you."

"Ooo!" she called. "Talk about living in denial! You so do want to kiss me."

"I do not."

"Yeah," she smirked. "Right. That's why you're always looking at my lips."

"For your information," he jeered, "I'm always looking at your lips 'cause I can't believe that they never stop flapping?"

"Flapping?" Alison stood up from her swing. "Flapping?" she stood in front of him. "Listen! Just because I have a lot to say doesn't mean that I'm just flapping, okay? I talk because I'm like, this vibrator, okay? I have all these vibes and I know things that no one else knows, see? Like I knew that Luke and Julia were just so perfect for each other. And like I know that Anders and Leia would make a totally, totally sweet couple but he's not a strong enough character for her, and she would like, totally dominate him 'cause he would do anything for her and while Raul would take care of her, he would just slowly stifle her and not allow her to be who she needs to be which leaves Lyle and until he gets his head unscrewed from his ass which is where it's been lately he has got no chance of getting with her so when I say that I know you want to kiss..."

Hans watched... listened to her tirade in amazement. There was only one way that he could think of, short of a high powered alien blast, to shut her up. Hans climbed to his feet, placed his hands either side of her cheeks, and kissed her.

His kiss shocked and silenced her. And to Hans, it just felt so right. Their mouths opened and their tongues battled in silence. It was a hot kiss, filled with months of passion and frustration. It was just so natural, like it had meant to be. And then, as the two of them deepened the kiss, he felt the connection forming. Alarm bells rang, but unlike Luke, Hans lacked the willpower to fight it. Knowing that Luke would flay him alive if he ever found out that he did this, Hans gave in to the knocking and allowed the connection to open, to flow. Sit back and enjoy it, he decided. He just wouldn't tell Luke.

Hans saw Alison's childhood. The games and parties she attended with her long term best friend, a girl who looked remarkably like Julia. Anders was there, too. A good friend who often stayed over for sleepovers when they were younger. Lyle was there, even dating Julia? Hans hoped Luke never saw that. And then Luke was there, watching them. And he appeared, too. He was kissing her; he was kissing Alison. More strange images followed. Incomprehensible, images that just made no sense.

And then it happened. A bright blue spark of electricity engulfed the entwined pair. With a loud crack, the two were thrown apart, both collapsing to the ground. They lay dazed for a moment or two before they started to recover. They both slowly climbed to their feet, a little unsteady. The couple stared at one another for a moment, their hearts pounding, their breath rasping, as though they had just ran the one hundred meters sprint.

"Michael?" Alison gasped.

"Maria!" Hans gaped with widened eyes.

"Oh my god, Michael!" Maria ran into his opened arms.

They kissed again, very, passionately. Very, very passionately.

* * *
Last edited by WR on Sat Jul 22, 2006 3:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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RED SHIFT - Part 2 Chapter 38

Post by WR » Sat Jul 22, 2006 3:40 pm

Hi everyone,

I am so sorry for my prolonged absence. I'm afraid that my determintaion to get my career back on track (I have had a frightful couple of years) has caused me to accept something that that I ought to have taken a closer look at. The deadlines I have agreed to are something fierce! And I'm having to work real hard to keep up.

I apologise to TimeLord who posted I would be here, and then me not showing up. It was me, I asked him to, Sorry.

Anyway, here is the next installment, and I hope you can forgive me. I am hoping that I can get PW up tonight, too.

Without further ado...

Red Shift

Part 2

Chapter 38

"Maria," Michael held her to him, his hands caressing her long, golden blond hair. His voice was thick with emotion. "I thought you were dead!"

"I... I think..." there was a catch to Maria's voice. "I think I was, Michael. I remember... I remember an explosion. Someone... someone was there. Yes. Someone was with me." Her brow creased in concentration. "A friend. A good friend. And he tried..." Her face twisted in confusion. "He tried to help me, but I wouldn't let him. How could he do that?" She looked hard at Michael.

"Maria, I..." Michael began.

"Oh god," Maria's face fell. "I just remembered." She gave a wry smile, pointing upward. "You're Czechoslovakian, right?"

"Yeah," Michael nodded. "Does that..."

"Bother me?" she raised a single eyebrow. "I married you, Michael. I gave my virginity to you. It never bothered me then. Why would it bother me now?"

"'Cause we're kind of different now," he waved a hand at her body.

"Oh my god!" Maria exclaimed, looking at herself. "I look so young! I'm a freaking teenager again." She looked up grinning. "Does this mean you get a second bite of my cherry?"

Michael grinned back.

"Where are we?" Maria looked around at her surroundings. "No, scratch that," she shook her head. "I know where we are. What I meant was, why are we here and not in... Where do we come from?"

"I think..." Michael's forehead wrinkled in thought. "Maria, you know what's going on in New Mexico?"

"Wait... alien invasion? Shit! They're after you... us. Aren't they?"

"I think you're right," Michael nodded, sitting on the swing again.

"So what happened?" Maria sat on Michael's outstretched thighs, placing an arm around him. "And how did you come to be here?"

"The aliens... I think..." he was thinking hard. "After... you were killed," Michael managed to say.

"I got that part," Maria rolled her eyes.

"And that person, the one who tried to help you... He's someone.... Someone else. Someone important." He frowned. "We rescued him. After the explosion... he was hurt, too... the hospital... Soldiers. He was with you, and... Me and... someone else... we rescued him from the hospital. And then we ran when the aliens came. Lots of them. They killed... someone. I'm not sure who... she... yeah, it was a she. They killed her. I remember her falling. There was nothing he could do for her, so we ran again. But I got shot. I made him run, get away, while I tried to hold them back, but there were so many. That's all I remember."

He looked around at his surroundings.

"And then I woke up in a pod. And Luke was there, and Leia."

"You were in the second set of pods?" Maria's eyebrows knitted together. "But those were your dupes, from New York."

"Yeah," Michael nodded. "There were only two sets. So I'm not sure how there came to be a third set. Maria, I think... I'm... I think I'm important, too. Maria, I was a second in command. Do you remember?"

"Yes," she nodded slowly. "Michael, I think that other person... the one you were trying to protect... I think he was... I mean, is. I think he's your king... and those aliens you mentioned came here... to capture him."

"Yes," Michael nodded. "And that's why I keep wanting to go back there. Not because I think they're here to rescue us, but because I want to rescue my friend... my king. I have to find him, Maria. I have to go there."

"And so do I, Michael."

"What?" Michael looked like he wanted to argue.

"I have to help find him too," she stood defiant. "Your king... my best friend loved him. And she died trying to protect him."

* * *

"So basically..." Luke looked at Alison... no, her name was really Maria. "When you were killed by this... other woman, you were somehow reincarnated into the body of a girl who had been in a coma all of her life."

"That's right," Maria nodded. "I guess my soul went looking for somewhere to live and lucked out when it found Alison. Only, I couldn't remember any of this until this afternoon when Michael and I kissed."

"And you were second in command to our King, who was being hunted by this same woman, but you were killed trying to get him to safety."

"Right," Michael nodded. "And somehow, I was reincarnated as Hans, when we emerged from our pods a year and a half ago, in that light house where someone put us. Luke, don't you see? We're a team. You, me and Leia. You were my backup in case anything happened to me, and the King was... That's what this has been all about, Luke. This is why I've had that burning desire to get to New Mexico. Because my best friend, my King... 'our' King is in trouble, and he needs us."

"You think he's still hiding, don't you," Luke narrowed his eyes. "You think he managed to escape and has gone to ground."

"I 'hope' that's the case," Michael nodded. "If they had captured him, I doubt they would have stuck around. Luke? I think this is it. I think that the time has come for us to plan our trip to New Mexico."

Luke started to nod.

"You haven't really thought this all the way through though, have you?" his voice was soft and low.

"In what way?" Michael frowned. "I only said we should plan the trip. Not go out and buy our tickets in the morning."

"Not that," Luke smiled. "Think about it. You said you were second in command. To the King."

"That's right," he nodded.

"And who was in charge when the King wasn't around?"

"Me," Michael nodded, his eyes widening.

"So you don't need to ask my permission," Luke shrugged.

"I'm in charge," Michael whispered. "No," he shook his head. "That just doesn't seem right. How can I be leader? Luke? I've been making all the wrong decisions. If you hadn't stopped me, if you hadn't kept bringing me close to Maria, we'd never have found any of this out. We'd have gone to New Mexico ages ago and probably got ourselves killed."

"Until we learn for sure," Luke was adamant, "you're in command. But maybe you'll like, listen when I make a suggestion?"

"Works for me," Michael grinned. "Just make sure you make lots of suggestions." He stood up and walked to the window. "So we leave for New Mexico."

"Not without me," Maria shook her head. "No matter what you say, I'm involved in this too. I already died for you once. And I'm prepared to do it again."

"Okay," he nodded to her after a moment's hesitation. "But we're going to do this right. We were married before, we should be again." He walked up to Maria and knelt on one knee before her, taking her hand in his. "Maria? Will you marry me?"

"Of course I will," Maria grinned. She looked over at Luke and Leia with a roll of her eyes. "Jeez, you'd think I woulda learned my lesson after the first time, huh?"

"I think you two are forgetting a minor detail," Luke gave them both a smile. "Michael doesn't turn sixteen until next week and Alison, your birthday isn't till next month. It doesn't matter that you two were both in your twenties when you were killed. Right now, you're teenagers, and the law says you need parental consent. So at the very least, we need to wait till you're both sixteen, and then we have to ask for our parent's permission."

"We'll have to talk to them," Leia suggested. "Tell them the truth. I don't want to just sneak away in the night like we're just some runaways."

Luke looked worried.

"Leia's right," Michael nodded. "They're going to wonder what the heck they did wrong to make us take off like that. They've been good to us and I don't want to hurt them like that."

"Besides" Leia added. "If it doesn't work out and they say no, I can always 'suggest' what a good idea it is. I mean, I don't want to do that to them, but this is important."

"When do you want to tell them?" Luke nodded at her.

"No time like the present," Maria shrugged.

"You want to tell your parents too?" Luke was bordering on panic.

"Uh huh," she nodded. "They have a right to know. Besides, I might need Leia to suggest them into agreeing to the wedding."

* * *

The quartette of teens descended into the hall and stood outside of the living room door. Michael and Maria were the only calm ones there. Leia was a little apprehensive while Luke looked as though he wanted to run.

"We'll leave our alien status, and our reincarnation out of it unless we have to," Michael looked at all three of them. "I guess, because I have the memory of everything, I should do the talking."

"Okay," Luke nodded, wondering if there was any point to his being here.

Taking a deep breath, and holding Maria's hand, Michael led the gang into the room where the adults were sitting down, talking. They all turned to look at the kids.

"We need to talk to you about something," Michael spoke.

Allan and Debra exchanged nervous glances. So too did the DeLongs.

"What's that?" Debra was the first to find her voice.

"Mar... Alison and I... we..."

"Oh, for goodness sake," Maria pushed her way in front of him. "What my brain dead boyfriend is trying to say is that we want to get married."

Her comment was met with silence. The adults all looked at each other, no one said a word. The kids had expected shock, anger, questions, even dismay. Leia had even suspected that Mr. DeLong would grab his wife and Maria's hands and drag them to the nearest motel. They just sat there. They did not expect to see sadness, or resignation. And they certainly didn't expect to see the two mothers burst into tears and hug one another for comfort. The four teenagers looked at on another in confusion.

"So..." Allan finally spoke. "So when were you thinking of getting married?"

"As soon as possible," Michael found his voice.

"I thought we'd have more time," Debra wailed.

"Well..." Allan nodded, taking a deep breath. He looked across to Alison's father. "You certainly have mine and Debra's consent."

"Ours too," Mr. DeLong was barely holding back his own tears.

"Just one condition."

Stunned by the easy acceptance, Michael and Maria nodded.

"You wait till the end of the school year," Allan told them. "We hold the wedding as soon into the summer holidays as you want, but you finish the school year first."

Michael looked at Maria first, then Luke and finally Leia. All three of them nodded.

"We can live with that," Michael turned to Allan. "There's something else."

The two sets of parents nodded.

"We have this... important task to do."

"You'll be leaving, won't you?" Debra whimpered. "Right after the wedding."

"Yeah," Michael nodded. "How did you..."

"We knew this day was coming," she started to collect her thoughts. "We always knew that one day, you would be leaving to do something important. We just never realized that is would be so soon. That you would still be so young."

"You knew that we would want to get married, too?" Michael pulled Maria to him.

"We were told that you might one day want to marry someone, that it might even be totally out of the blue. We were told that if you asked, we were not to stand in your way. It was part of the deal."

"The same with us," Mr. DeLong nodded. "We were told that when Alison wanted to get married, that we were not to try and stop her. That if we did, we would lose her anyway. And here you are..."

"So you knew M... Hans and I..." Her head was spinning. "Is that why you aranged for us to come here?"

"No," Mr. DeLong shook his head. "We never knew who. Only that it would probably be out of the blue. And we had no idea that Hans... or that Allan and Debra... No idea at all. I can't believe we're going to lose you so soon."

"Where will you be going?" Allan asked.

"Probably better you don't know," Luke spoke from the back.

Allan nodded his head, seeing the wisdom in this.

"It's New Mexico, isn't it," Debra spoke out. "It all makes sense now. You have something to do with those aliens, don't you?"

There was an awkward exchange of looks.

"Yeah," Luke sighed. "But we're not their friends. We're their... enemies. And it might be better for everyone... especially us... if you never mention that to anyone."

The room fell silent. Leia looked at the stunned look on everyone's faces.

"Well," she finally spoke. "I can see that everyone has a lot to take in. And we all have an early start tomorrow, so... I guess it's time for bed."

Everyone exchanged goodnights, and as the kids started to leave, it was apparent that the adults would not be sleeping that night.

"Oh, and Alison?" her father called.

"Yes, Dad?" she turned, still holding Michael's hand.

"Just remember that you're not married yet. Separate rooms!"

* * *

"We should get married in Florida," Maria told them.

It seemed that the teenagers couldn't sleep, either.

"I want Julia to be my Maid of Honor," she continued. "I'd prefer my best friend, but seeing as I can't even remember her name and the fact that she's..." Her face fell. "Julia is the next best thing."

"I want to have Luke as my best Man," Michael nodded at him. "In the absence of my King, Luke is my next best friend. But with Julia being there... things might get..."

Michael and Maria exchanged an awkward glance. Even though they knew the truth about their feelings for one another, they both saw the wisdom with Luke's decision. This was not a path for civilians. Maria's path had been chosen years ago when she discovered Michael's secret, but Julia was just a very special, and very lovely young girl.

"Julia would come with us, if you asked her, Luke."

"No!" Luke was adamant. "No," his voice fell softer. "She's not involved in this, so let's not drag her into it. This is going to be dangerous, and as much as I want her with me..." His face fell. "I just... can't... do this to her. She has this other..." He looked up at Leia. "It might be a good idea to keep this from Anders, Lyle and Raul, too."

"Yeah," Leia nodded, a look of worry passing across her face. "I know they would offer to come along, but like you said. They're not involved. And we don't know how dangerous this will be."

"Will you be okay with Julia as my Maid of Honor, Luke?" Maria wanted to tell him the truth about Julia, but she knew that he was right. Why make things worse for him? If it was easier for Luke to believe she had someone else... Her heart ached for him.

Although Julia had an inner strength, this really might be too much for her to take. Maria could remember how she had freaked out when she found out that Michael was an alien, when her best friend had told her. How would Julia react when she discovered that the man she was head over heels in love with was not only a member of another species, but he was going to have to battle against the alien hordes, as well? And could Luke even handle that rejection? Luke and Julia were clearly not destined to be together after all.

* * *

Alone in her hospital room, Julia Cartier leaned back against her pillows and stared at the television, her fingers stabbing the buttons of the remote as though they could somehow change her situation instead of the TV channel. Just outside of her door, her parents were talking to one of the many doctors who had been in to see her. She looked down to the patch of skin, yellowed now from the surgical solution that had been applied to keep her wound sterile. She had a little slit in her skin where the black stitches held the darkened edges together. The skin around the wound tingled, not from any medication, but more from a... a memory. Earlier, Julia would have sworn that she had seen a silvery palm print just where Luke had held his hand over her. And once or twice, when she had not been looking directly at it, she imagined that she caught site of it again, but when she looked, it was gone. Her room had been a busy sideshow of this medical circus all night and all day. First, it had been the medical staff buzzing around her, performing tests, checking her wound, attaching various monitors and drips and generally doing things that she would have expected see on any similar situation on ER.

When the doctors said that she was stable - not that she hadn't been that way since Luke had... had what? - the police came to take her statement, wanting her answers. No, she had never seen the suspect before. Yes, she would recognize him again if she ever saw him. Yes, she was confident she could pick him out from a series of photographs. No, she had no idea why he had chosen her to get the money, other than she was the closet to the cash register. And the most important answer of all. It all happened so fast, and she was so scared, she never really noticed who had stepped between her and the gunman and prevented him from taking her hostage. She knew that Luke's identity would easily be uncovered, there had been at least half a dozen people who would recognize him, but until she spoke to Luke to find out exactly what happened, she would not breathe a word to anyone. Because she did not really know what had happened in any case. And whatever had happened, she suspected Luke would rather keep it quiet.

Her family was next. First, her Mom and Dad who expressed shock, horror, concern and finally relief that all was well and that her wound aside, she had not been badly hurt. Julia was sure that her parents must be sick of hospitals by now. Her Aunt and Uncle came in after them, along with her small cousins, who each brought her a homemade card showing Julia in bed and a man in a black mask standing with a gun in his hand. They were soon whisked away, especially when they discovered that Julia's bed had a motorized unit and insisted on helping to her get more comfortable.

A couple of reporters followed her family, eager to know who the young man who had saved her life was. Everyone wanted to talk to him. Everyone wanted a picture of Julia with her Knight Protector. Her father had to physically throw them from her room when they started getting a little too persistent and a little too personal.

Alison and Sandra had been the last. Both were extremely relieved to hear that she was truly alright, and could scarcely believe her luck at the bullet missing any arteries and any vital organs. A miracle was how one doctor had described it. A million to one chance. Ever a keen fan of the CSI TV series, Sandra had calmly informed Liz that stomach wounds were usually fatal. After those two, there had been a steady stream of school friends, all pleased to see her well. Everyone, though it was mostly the boys, wanted her to lift the covering and show them her now infamous gunshot wound. No one from their High School had ever been shot before, and Julia was now a minor celebrity. Surprisingly, none of Richard Madly's goons turned up to see that she was okay. Things were looking up on that front. Perhaps he actually did listen to Alison.

But Luke did not come to see her. She knew that he was close by. It had been just around the time that the sun came up when she realized that she could actually feel Luke's presence. And by the time breakfast had been served, she could tell beyond a shadow of a doubt which direction he was from her. But not once did he come to see her, something that upset and worried her at the same time. The strength of the feeling had steadily diminished all afternoon until it finally vanished. She had pointed to one of the walls and asked a passing nurse which direction it was. When she was told North, Julia knew that Luke was now on his way home and she would not see him again until the summer. For the first time since her ordeal began, Julia allowed her tears to fall.

"Is everything all right, honey?" her parents chose that moment to enter her room.

"Yeah," she nodded. "Just a little overwhelmed by everything, I guess."

"Are you in pain?" her mother reached for the buzzer. "Should I call for a nurse?"

"No," Julia shook her head. "I'm okay, actually."

Julia could not explain why it was that she felt absolutely no pain at all. She knew that with all that muscle damage at least, she should be in agony every time she so much as moved.

"Is there anything else you need?" her father

Luke, she wanted to tell them. She really needed to talk to Luke. Perhaps then, he could explain exactly what it was that he had done to her and explain why she saw those strange images of him in her mind. Of him as a seven year old boy climbing down from a school bus and seeing her playing with friends, when she knew that such an event was just impossible. Why she saw him watching her surrounded by friends she had never seen before at a high school she had never attended. And she especially hoped he could explain the image she saw in his head of her dating Lyle. But she knew that the possibility of seeing Luke, especially while the media would be bound to have discovered his identity by now was next to impossible. His departure notwithstanding. The last thing Luke would need was the spotlight directly on him. That would not be a good idea at all. But she wished he was with her, now. Not just because she wanted answers. She wanted the comfort that his presence brought. She wanted to be near him. She missed him.

"No," she shook her head.

"The doctors tell us that you are one lucky little girl," her mother smiled.

Little girl? Julia rolled her eyes.

"They expect a full recovery."

"That's good," Julia somehow knew that she should pretend to be at least in a little pain. She play acted a wince when she moved to make herself a little more comfortable.

"You know they found the gunman, right?"

Julia nodded.

"But so far, no one has identified the young man who tried to shield you. If it hadn't been for that unlucky ricochet... The police can't understand how the man even missed the guy who stood in front of you, he was standing so close. Are you sure you don't know who he was?"

"I told you Mom," Julia shook her head. "It's all a blur. And he had his back to me, in any case."

She wondered how it was that none of her work colleagues had told anyone that it had been Luke who had protected her. They all knew him; they all teased her every time he showed up. Even many of the regular customers knew him, at least by sight. Still, she wouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. As long as Luke remained anonymous, then so much the better for him.

"The doctors say we can take you home tomorrow," her mother continued.

"Yes," her father spoke with a little sternness. "And when we get home, there's something we'd like to talk to you about. A little matter about a pierced belly button and a tattoo."

"Oh, Dad," Julia rolled her eyes. "Everyone has them now. It's the fashion."

With a knock on the door, a doctor entered the room. He smiled at Julia's parents and then smiled at Julia.

"How are you feeling?" he looked at Julia's wound, shining a small flashlight over the stitches.

"Okay, I guess," she nodded, watching the light as it moved over her skin, trying to see any silver coloration. "Considering I got shot and all."

"I think she could do with a good night's rest," he produced a syringe and injected some clear solution into a feed line on Julia's drip. "I've just introduced a sedative which should help her sleep. You can stay until she falls asleep, but then you have to leave. Sleep is about the only thing she needs right now."

"Thank you, Doctor," her father shook his had.

You're wrong, she wanted to say. I need Luke.

Julia watched the doctor leave, feeling more and more drowsy by the second. She idly wondered how Alison was getting on at Luke's house. Wouldn't they have a lot to talk about in the summer? Sleep followed shortly after, a deep and dreamless slumber.

* * *
Last edited by WR on Mon Jul 31, 2006 12:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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RED SHIFT - Part 2 Chapter 39

Post by WR » Mon Jul 31, 2006 12:47 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm a little pressed right now, but I didn't want to leave it too long for your next part, so I decided I would take a break and post.

However, I can't do that without thanking you for you kind thoughts and wishes. It means a lot to me. And thanks for your nimoinations and your votes for me.

Oh, and although I don;t have time for individual replies tonight, I do need to explain some things.

Regarding the parent's reactions... If Julia's father was told things along the line of a destiny and being involved with a great leader (of course, WE now it's Luke), don't you think the other parents might have been warned that something might happen? Although that asks the question, if the parents were told this when the children were born... in a coma... how did this mysterious person know about their destiny?? :wink:

Regarding Maria and Michael's lack of understanding over Luke and Julia. Remember that as far as Michael is aware, his King and best friend is still alive. Michael thinks he is going on a rescue mission. So why would he believe that Luke is his king, and the Julia is Maria's best friend who was in love with his king? Julia is in love with Luke, not his king.

Regarding the gaping memories. Something is said in Chapter 1 of Part 2. Something important. And THIS is the reason Michael and Maria know nothing about Max and Liz except vague impressions. THIS is the reason they cannot make the association that Luke = Max and Julia = Liz. Something has not been done.

Anyway... hope you like this part. This one chapter was the idea that sparked this whole story!!!!

Red Shift

Part 2

Chapter 39

The start of the spring semester heralded a new time for Julia. A time with which she was most certainly not comfortable. When the rumor mill had started to inform the student body that Julia had dumped Richard Madly, she had frequently found herself having to say 'no' to a series of wannabe boyfriends. This soon stopped, however, and Julia could not help but wonder why anyone that asked her out appeared the next day looking as though he had been mugged. That was when she started to notice that she always seemed to have someone following her. When Richard started to 'hang out' with her, she knew that in spite of their best efforts, Richard had not listened to a word Alison had said, after all. To make matters worse, her parents were once again setting her up on dates with him. Dates during which he bragged about the commission that he would be given this summer when he headed up a battalion of the new volunteer force. He truly believed that the time to 'kick alien butt' was rapidly approaching.

Richard was the least of her worries, however. Coupled with the increase in school work, Julia was starting to suffer from strange symptoms. She regularly came home from school with terrible headaches. Sometimes, they were so bad, she had been forced to take some aspirin and lie down in a darkened room. And more frequently now, she was waking up from her sleep with these aches. They weren't as bad, but they made her day at school unbearable. They did help her to avoid dates with Richard, however, as she could use them as excuses to cry off. So they weren't all bad.

And then, the dreams started. Strange dreams that had no meaning, or reason. Dreams that she neither understood nor could figure out. They were shapeless and devoid of anything tangible. It was almost as though the dreams had not been fully formed. And then, after a particularly violent headache for which she took two aspirin and went straight to bed, Julia had the most peculiar, perfectly formed dream.

She was strangely dressed, like Sigourney Weaver in one of the Alien films. She was standing on a rocky promontory overlooking a kind of courtyard, surrounded by people, all dressed in outlandish costumes, all staring at a huge bonfire. She was feeling strange, a peculiar sense of lassitude. Down there was someone that she cared about. A lot. And she had almost lost him before she had even had him. She had just done something to make sure that she did not lose her chance to be with him. Something to help protect him. Over a loud speaker, someone familiar to her was counting down.

"Is everyone ready?" the familiar stranger called into the microphone. "8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. Blastoff! Yah!!"

From a cliff face overhead, a small spaceship filled with alien dolls started to slide down transom wires, sparks spraying from fireworks stuffed into gaps and holes. The spacecraft crashed into the ground, sending a showers of flames and colored balls of fire in all direction, and throwing the now burning dolls all around.

"Yeah!" the man yelled to the cheering of the assembled crowds.

But it all seemed a little sad to her, a little too close to home.

"Hey," a masculine voice called to her.

Before she saw him, she knew who it was. She was already smiling at him as she turned. And he was so handsome. He also looked like Luke.

"Hey," her eyes shone with the affection she held for him.

In the background, a shower of sparks illuminated their faces. The man who looked like Luke walked up to her. With a soft smile, he tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear.

"Oh," she sighed at his touch.

"You had a, uh..." he seemed as shy as she felt.

"A hair thing," she nodded. "Right. Thanks."

Things felt awkward around him, but she knew so much about him. Things that no one else knew. Why should he make her feel like this?

"Sure," he gave a quick smile before his face fell serious again. "Liz, it's not safe."

So in her dream, her name was Liz, and not Julia. Was he still Luke? Or was Liz Luke's lost soul mate?

"I mean," he continued, "for you and... and me to... it's not safe."

"I don't care," she shook her head.

And like Liz, Julia didn't, either. She would accept anything if it meant that she could be with Luke.

"Liz," for one split second, his eyes held a ray of hope. And then it was gone. "I really wish that this could be something, you know, more. But it can't. We're just..."

"Different." Julia, no, Liz nodded. The sparks went out, their faces fell into shadow.

"Yeah," Luke sighed. He started to turn. "I'll see you at school."

"Max?" she called out. "I never got to thank you, for saving my life."

She woke up with a start, the dream still fresh in her mind. Surprisingly, she had no headache. Only confusion. Why would she dream about her and Luke and give them different names? She had been called Liz and he was Max. Her momentary jealousy that she was dreaming about her rival passed. Their emotions seemed so real, as though she had actually lived them. And one thing she could sense, even through the dream, was that these two were in love and yet could do nothing about it. Just like her and Luke. With her body being cooled by the night air and her heart racing, Julia laid back on her bed but she was no longer able to sleep.

* * *

Julia was in a strange classroom. It was only strange in that she had never seen it before. With the scientific equipment around her however, she knew that she was in a science class. As well as their mutual appreciation of an unobtainable young man, it seemed that Julia and Liz shared an affinity with science. When Julia glanced at the empty seat next to her, she just knew that Liz was wondering where Luke... where Max was.

"Okay," her teacher called the class to attention as she wandered around the desks handing out additional items. "We've spent the last week talking about Genus and phylum, and now we're going to get a little more specific and talk about the difference between species. For today's experiment you'll be working in teams of two."

The door opened, drawing Julia's attention immediately. Luke walked into the classroom and sat down beside her, barely acknowledging her. He stuck his pencil into his mouth and started to arrange his books.

"Mr. Evans," the teacher looked over at him. "So nice of you to join us. Okay, everyone on the right prepare a slide with the vegetable sampling, everyone on the left, take a toothpick and get a sample from your cheek.

Julia sensed a change in Luke's demeanor. From embarrassment at being late, he suddenly felt... nervous. He was visibly uncomfortable. Taking the pencil from his mouth, he raised his hand.

"Mr. Evans?" the teacher interrupted her conversation.

"Could I get a bathroom pass?" Luke asked.

"High maintenance today aren't we?" she rolled her eyes as Luke scurried from the classroom.

The teacher then handed Julia a toothpick. She then proceeded to use the pick to take a sample of the fluids from her inner cheek.

"It's very easy to look on the outside," the teacher called to the classroom, "and say what differentiates humans from other species. But what about what's on the inside, everyone, look at the human cells and describe everything you see on your lab sheet."

Having prepared a slide from her cells' sample, Julia looked through the microscope at her cell structure. Glancing across at the pencil that had been in Luke's mouth, Julia could feel that Liz was suddenly on a mission. She prepared a slide using the saliva from the pencil end and placed this under the microscope. Luke's cells... rather, Max's cells looked nothing like hers. She could feel Liz's panic. What did this mean?

The sudden and loud slapping of her teacher's hand on her desk woke her up with a start.

"I'm sorry that my US Government classes are so boring, Miss Cartier," her teacher rolled his eyes dramatically. "Perhaps you might like to enlighten me as to exactly how I might make them more exciting, tonight, after school? During what we fondly call, detention?"

Julia flushed with embarrassment, her mind still in turmoil from her vivid dream.

"I'm sorry," she managed to squeak. "Can I be excused to see the nurse?" she started to gather her belongings, little caring about his answer. "I really don't feel well."

She left the room before he even replied.

* * *

She was with someone, talking to him. This young man who looked a lot like Anders was concerned over her well being. Just then, the door opened and the Principle along with a Deputy Sheriff entered the room.

"There she is," the Principle pointed to her.

"Ms. Parker," the Deputy informed her. "The Sheriff needs to ask you some questions."

The Deputy drove her to the Sheriff's department downtown, and she was sitting in front of his desk, waiting for him to speak.

"Afternoon Ms. Parker," The Sheriff walked in. He looked familiar to Julia, though she didn't know where from. "Your father said it would be all right if I talked to you. I'm sorry to have to show you these."

The Sheriff placed a series of photographs in front of her. In every picture, it was obvious that it showed a corpse. It also showed a large, silver handprint, like the one she had imagined seeing on herself.

"This man was found dead," the Sheriff explained about one photo in particular. "No apparent cause of death. Except that," he pointed at the handprint. "What do you make of that mark?"

"I have never seen anything like that before," Liz shook her head. Julia knew that she was lying.

"Kyle said he saw a similar mark on your stomach."

Julia wondered who Kyle was and why he had seen Liz's stomach. She also wondered why he might have seen a similar handprint on Liz's stomach.

"He was wrong," Liz shook her head.

"I'm sure," the Sheriff clearly didn't believe her. "Kyle's got a pretty wild imagination. I'm gonna need to see for myself Liz."

"Come on sheriff," Julia could feel Liz's panic. "I mean, I told you that I spilled ketchup, and I, I said that like, a thousand times."

"Liz, please?" Julia could sense a man on a mission.

Her mind a turmoil of reluctance, embarrassment and betrayal, Liz stood up and lifted her shirt.

"The mark faded on the corpse too," the Sheriff sounded disappointed, causing Liz to look down in surprise.

Julia could sense that Liz felt both relieved and disappointed that the mark had vanished. The Sheriff couldn't see it, either, but to Julia, the glowing palm print was as plain as day.

"What do you know about a kid named Max Evans?" he continued.

"Max Evans?" Liz's heart was racing.

"Uh huh."

"Um...." Liz balked. "I don't really know him all that well."

"Was he one of the kids at the CrashDown that day?"

Julia wondered what a CrashDown was.

"No," Liz lied.

"I see," the Sheriff watched her with suspicion.

"Can I go home now sheriff?" she asked.

"Excuse me?" the young man asked her, startling her into wakefulness.

"Uh, what?" Julia cleared her head and looked around her.

She was in a restaurant. Across the table from her was Richard Madly.

"I said, excuse me?" he did not look pleased.

"I don't understand," she frowned.

"Neither do I," Richard shook his head. "I mean, I'm trying to tell you all about my commission and you sit there all evening with this blank expression on your face like it doesn't mean anything, and then you ask me if you can go home now. And what's with the Sheriff comment? I'm going to be a Captain in the army. Not some two bit policeman."

"'Cause I want to go home, and it feels like I'm under arrest," Julia groaned. Her parents had trapped her on another date.

"You don't want to go home," Richard gave an indulgent smile. "I thought we would go up to Make Out Point and celebrate my commission. It's time we move our relationship up a little."

"You thought wrong," Julia snapped. "When are you going to get it? I'm only here 'cause my parents make me come. I don't want to date you., Richard. I've never wanted to date you. I won't ever want to date you? And as for making out, forget it. Or do I have to explain that in some other language 'cause you sure in hell don't seem to understand plain English."

"I understand," he nodded. "You're a little overwhelmed wondering if I might still be interested in you when I start my rise to the top. But don't worry, Julia. I could never forget you. You and me are going places. It's our destiny."

"This is 'our' destiny," Julia rose from her seat and walked out of the restaurant. "Me always walking away."

* * *

Julia could not stop her mind from wondering as she walked home from her shortened date with Richard. She had been suffering these strange dreams with an alarmingly increasing frequency now. She knew that this was not normal; that there was something wrong with her. The dreams seemed so real to her that it was almost as if she had been living a double life.

"It's almost as though I'm..." she narrowed her eyes. "I mean, maybe I'm developing... schizophrenia."

She looked around at the people out enjoying the warm evening.

"I need to speak to Luke," she sighed. "Maybe he can give me the answers that I need, because there has to be a reason why he always appears in my mysterious dreams. I mean, whoever this Max Evans is, he's important. And I know that I'm... I mean, Liz is totally in love with Max... in the same way that I'm in love with Luke."

As soon as she got home, she went straight to the phone. She typed in a phone number from memory.

"Oh, hi, Leia," she gave a weak smile. "Is Luke there?"

"I'm sorry," Leia spoke down the phone. "Luke's not in. Can I help?"

"No," Julia sighed. "I just... I wanted to speak to him is all. It's been ages since we had the chance to talk."

"Well, he's been kind of wrapped up with soccer and study and stuff," Leia apologized. "You know how it is."

"Yeah," Julia nodded with a tear in her eye. "Will you tell Luke that I called?"

"Yeah, I will," Leia agreed. "Bye, Julia."

* * *

"Who was that?" Luke emerged from the kitchen.

"Wrong number," Leia shrugged.

"Right," Luke nodded as he made his way to the stairs.

"Julia?" Michael mouthed from behind him.

Leia nodded and waited for Luke to disappear into his room.

"I can't keep on making excuses that he's never in. And what if he answers the phone."

"He agreed to this," Michael shrugged. "Maybe she'll give up soon."

"She's been trying to reach him for a month, now."

* * *

"Julia," her mother called as she placed the phone down on its cradle. "Do you think you could join us in the living room?"

Julia made her way to join her parents.

"How did your date go?" he father looked at her as she came in.

"Same as every other date," she rolled her eyes. "You have got to stop insisting I go out with him. It's giving him the idea that I actually like him."

"But you do like him," her father insisted. "He's a good match for you."

"Did you want something?" Julia did not feel like getting into another argument right now.

That was when she noticed that they were not on their own. A third person was sitting in the corner of the room. He looked to be of medium height but with a rather heavy build. He had short white hair and a medium length white beard. A pair of gold rimmed glasses perched on the end of his nose.

"Julia, honey," her mother started.

"Uh, oh," she thought.

"We've been worried about you," her mother continued. "You know, these headaches you've been getting..."

"I don't get them anymore," Julia shook her head. Ever since she had been having the strange dreams about Max and Liz, her headaches had vanished.

"And what about these, uh... bad dreams you've been having?"

"How do you know about them?" Julia frowned. "And they're not bad."

"No?" her father shook his head. "Then why do you wake up crying, or whimpering and shouting in your sleep? And we also know that you've fallen asleep once or twice at school."

"Julia, this is Doctor Hassler. He's an... uhm, a kind of mind specialist."

"Oh, god," Julia groaned. "You mean he's a shrink.

"No," Julia's Mom shook her head. "Like I said, he's a mind specialist. Our family doctor has referred us to him and he's agreed to talk to you, to see if he can help you. We're so concerned... we gave him a call. And he's agreed to come and talk to you."

"I can't believe you're making me see a psychiatrist," Julia shook her head. "I'm not sick!"

But she couldn't help but wonder if maybe she was.

"Not all people who see a psychiatrist are sick, Julia," Doctor Hassler smiled at her. "And cases of people who have recovered from long term comas having nightmares are not at all uncommon. It's as if they are subconsciously trying to rebuild their missing past. And in light of your recent... uhm, experience, it's likely that you might be building that past in such a way that you insert the violent images from your short term memory."

How could she tell him that lately, her dreams had been highly charged while this Liz and Max were fighting their feelings for one another? In the same way that she and Luke had been fighting theirs.

"I would initially like to see you twice a week," he told her. "You can come to my office on a Monday and a Thursday night, right after school."

* * *

"What is your earliest memory, Julia?" Dr. Hassler asked her while she was laid on his couch. He sat in a seat behind her with his notepad ready. On his table, a small recording device was ready to record every word.

"I was in a hospital bed," she nodded. "All of these doctors and nurses were running around, like something impossible had happened. Everyone kept asking me if I was okay. And when I nodded and said yes, they all frowned."

"Yes," the doctor spoke. "That was the day you woke up from your coma. According to your file, you had been in one since birth. You should not have been able to speak at all. And they couldn't understand how you had full and total use of your limbs. Muscle atrophy usually sets in when you are inactive for any length of time, yet your body maintained itself in tip top condition. In short, Julia, you are a medical phenomena."

"Oh," Julia didn't know what to say.

"Can you remember anything before you woke up?" he asked. "Sometimes, it's possible for the subconscious mind to pick up details of things going on around them."

"No," Julia shook her head. "Although... I can remember things that I really shouldn't have any memory of at all. Like, I've never seen any of the Star Wars films, yet I know the plot, the characters, the names of the actors... lines. Lots of other films and shows, too. I just don't have any memory of any people."

"And these nightmares..."


"Excuse me?"

"They're dreams, not nightmares. At least, I think they're dreams. Sometimes, they feel so real, I'm not sure if they're memories after all."

"So these dreams... They're not bad? Or frightening?"

"No," she shook he head. "Sometimes, they're sad, but usually, they're really, really great. Just... a little disturbing."

"I see," he nodded. "And do you see yourself in these dreams?"

"Yes," Julia nodded. "And my friend, Luke, too. Only... we have different names."


"Yeah, my name is Liz, and Luke is Max."

"Are you the same age in these dreams? Or are you younger?"

"No," she shook her head. "Older. But only by a little. I'm already sixteen, and so is Luke. Well, Luke already turned sixteen last March, but in my dreams, it's later. It's Autumn."

"I see," the Doctor scribbled some more notes. "Usually, a patient dreams of a fabricated childhood, yet you seem to be dreaming of growing up, of your adolescence. Perhaps you wish for something to happen between you and this Luke, but you know that nothing can and so you recreate yourself in these new personas."

"But why does it seem so real? :Like it really happened?"

"This is what we'll try to find out," Dr. Hassler smiled. "I'll have to ask more questions, and it might be a long journey, but we'll get there, Julia. We'll get there."

* * *

"There's something there," the doctor finally told her after a few sessions during which Julia told him some of her dreams' contents. "A void... but not the void I would have expected to find. And this void... it's affecting you. And it does all seem to stem from your coma, rather than a desire to create any kind of background for it. When you answer questions about these dreams... it's as if they happened ten years ago, and not only recently, even though you are younger than the couple you dream about. And I can't understand this. Julia? I'd like your permission to try hypnosis. I want to see just how deeply into your subconscious that these... dreams run."

"What have I got to lose?" Julia shrugged. Other than my sanity.

* * *

"So how's it going?" Sandra asked her while they ate their lunch.

"Okay, I guess," Julia nodded. "I'll tell you one good thing to come out of it, though."

"What's that?

"Every time my Dad tries to set me up on a date, all I have to do is ask for an aspirin and the date's off."

"You still get the headaches?"

"No," Julia smirked. "But my parents don't need to know that."

"Are you still having the dreams?"

"Oh, yeah." Julia smiled. "I had a great one last night."

"You going to tell me?"

"The basics," Julia smirked. "Okay, I'm in the kitchen of that diner I told you about. And Luke comes in, okay? And he's like, making sure we can still be friends, like we must have fallen out or something. And then he kisses me. I'm sitting on this table and he's kissing me and like, it's just so... And strawberries. There are strawberries everywhere. And it was so..."

"Hot..." Sandra breathed.

"Yeah," Julia nodded. "Very hot."

* * *

The doctor had been very surprised at how difficult it had been to place Julia into a trance, but he eventually managed it.

"Let's go back, Julia," he leafed through his noted. "To the beginning of last summer. It's June twentieth, 2007. Are you there?


"How old are you, Julia?"

"I'm fourteen," she responded. "But I'll be fifteen soon."

"And where are you?"

"I'm at Scoops. In Siesta Key."

"Good, good," he made a note. "What are you doing there?"

"I'm working," she smiled. "I'm a waitress."

"And how does this make you feel?"

"I'm excited. It's my first job and I really enjoy it. Plus, my new friend, Alison, is working with me now. And we're meeting my other new friend, Luke, tonight."

"I see," he nodded. "And this Luke. You like him, don't you?"

"Yes, I do," Julia grinned. "I'm in love with him, but he's in love with someone else."

"How does that make you feel?"

"Sad," Julia frowned.

"Is that all?"

"Frustrated sometimes."

"Why is that?"

"Because sometimes it feels like he loves me, too. But it's so confusing."

"Why don't you tell him that you love him?"

"Because then he might have to end our friendship."

"And this causes you pain?"

"Yes. A lot of pain."

"Okay, Julia. That was very good. Now, let's go back again. Further, this time. It's now October fifth, 2006. How old are you?"

"I'm fourteen, but I feel like I'm only one."

"Why is that?"

"They tell me I've just woken up from a long coma."

"And where are you?"

"I'm at my new home in Miami."

"What do you think of Miami?"

"It seems big. And noisy."

"Do you like it?"

"I suppose," she shrugged. "I hardly know it."

"Would it upset you to move away from there?"

"Not really," she shook her head. "Especially if we moved somewhere more quiet."

"Wouldn't you be afraid that Luke might meet someone else if you moved away?"

"Who's Luke?" she narrowed her eyes.

"Luke, the boy you are in love with."

"No," she shook her head. "I don't know anyone called Luke. At least, I don't think I do."

"Okay, Julia. It's now November tenth, 2006. How old are you?"

"I'm fourteen."

"And where are you?"

"I'm at school."

"And where is school, exactly?"

"In Siesta Key."

"Didn't you use to live in Miami?

"Yeah, but we moved here last week."

"What did you think about that?"

"I was a little nervous at first, but I love it here."

"And how are you doing in school?"

"It's really weird," Julia pulled a face. "I shouldn't know any of this stuff, but I do. I understand everything the teacher teaches us, but I know even more. Isn't that weird?"

"And is everything okay with Luke?"

"Who's Luke? I don't know any Luke. Sorry."

"Do you have a boyfriend?"

"There's lots of nice guys, and I've been asked out on dates, but there's no one I feel I'm supposed to be with."

"You think you're supposed to be with someone?"

"Yeah," she nodded. "Yeah, I do."


"I..." she frowned. "I don't know."

"Okay, let's go back again. It's October fourth, 2006." He took her back to the day before her recovery. "How old are you?"

"I..." she hesitated. "I don't know."

"Where are you?"

"I don't know."

"What can you see?"

"Nothing. It's dark." She became a little agitated. "And I can't feel anything. I don't like this place. I'm alone." There was concern in her voice. "He's not here."

"Who isn't here?"

"He isn't. He left me. And I can't feel him." She started to panic. "He's not here."

"Who's not here?"

"He's gone. Why can't I feel him?"

"I don't know."

"The connection, it..." she was becoming hysterical.

"What connection?"

"No! She broke it! She broke it! She hates me!"

"Who? Who? Alison ?"

"No Not Alison," Julia starts screaming. "He's next! I know it! She'll go for him next." Julia sat up. The doctor grabbed her, trying to hold her down.

"Who, Julia. Who? Who is she? And who is she going for?"

"I don't know. I don't know. He's gone."


Julia fainted.

* * *
Last edited by WR on Fri Aug 04, 2006 3:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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RED SHIFT - Part 2 Chapter 40

Post by WR » Fri Aug 04, 2006 3:55 pm

Hi everyone,

well, RL is easing off a little and this evening finds me with enough time to post. So thanks for you patience, and thanks for all of your feedback, and support.

Okay, I goofed. When I directed you to th Chepter 1 of Part 2 for a clue to the memory problems, I SHOULD have pointed you to Chapter 2. I am really sorry about that. That should make it a little more clear now. :wink:

So... I have lots to do this evening and I promised my self I would work on the next chapter (I'm in the middle of, not the next chapter I'm posting :wink: ) so ...

Oh, it's a long chapter, so it you're at work or you left the iron on, or... :lol:

Red Shift

Part 2

Chapter 40

"Are you okay?" Doctor Hassler offered her a glass of water as she woke up.

"I have a huge headache," she pressed her palm to her forehead.

"I'm sorry," he gave her a soft smile and reached for some aspirin. "Perhaps we have tried too much for the first session."

"So did you discover anything?" looked up at him. "Useful, I mean?"

"I'm not sure," he shook his head. "You do seem to have some knowledge from the day before you woke from your coma. You kept telling me that someone left you, that some girl broke the connection and that she was going for him. Do you have any idea what that could mean?"

"No," Julia shook her head. "I'm sorry. Do you think that it might have anything to do with Max and Liz that I keep dreaming about?"

"Perhaps," he nodded.

"But if I've been in a coma all my life, how could I possibly know what happened between some other couple?"

"Perhaps it's just a fictitious couple," the doctor suggested. "Maybe a nurse watched some films in your room in the days before you woke up, or was reading a book to you and your subconscious is aware of that story line and is now manifesting itself as memories. That would explain why it is you know about so many films and things. These dreams appear to have started coming out as a result of the trauma you suffered from your gunshot wound. Perhaps you are suffering from a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But that's enough for now. I'll see you again soon. Make sure you get plenty of rest."

* * *

It was all a blur to Julia. The weeks had just flown by. Alison's wedding was only around the corner now. So far, the sessions with the doctor had served only to confuse her. She hoped that the doctor was able to make something of them, as well as her growing fear that she was suffering a split personality disorder. However much she wanted to believe him, the fictitious character theory did not sound right to her. The dreams she had were far too detailed. Like the time Alison picked up the strawberry, bit it and said, sweet. She could feel every single one of Liz's emotions.

Julia just knew that if she could just speak with Luke, perhaps some sense might be made of it. After all, the dreams had started after she had been shot. She just knew that something else had happened that night, and that Luke could help explain it to her. But whenever she had called him, Hans or Leia told her he wasn't there. She did manage to talk to him once or twice, but she could hear the others close by and she knew that Luke would not want to talk about it around them. She could also sense a kind of barrier between them now.

Hoping for a sweet dream about Luke for a change, Julia dreamt instead about Max and Liz again, and a journey into the desert where Liz had been frightened by an old native American medicine man. When she woke up and thought about the dream, she remembered that day when they were at the Water Park, when Luke had been fascinated by the Native American architecture. So that morning, Julia did something that she had never even considered before. She skipped school.

Instead of school, Julia caught the bus to Tampa. When she arrived, she made her way to the huge library there. Under the American History section, Julia started to root through the books, reading everything she could about the Navajo, about when Geronimo had been exiled to Florida, and about Hogans, in particular. By late afternoon, frustration was setting in. She knew exactly how to build both a male and female Hogan - that had surprised her, there being two varieties - and knew all that there was to know about them. But she had uncovered nothing that might explain Luke's fascination for them. But then her hand seemed drawn to a strange book that she had never seen before yet seemed so familiar to her.

"Lost Treasures," she read. "By Claudia Parker."

A sudden chill swept through her body. In her dreams, Parker was Liz's last name. A sudden memory swept through her. A memory of Liz, Alison and a strange old woman and a conversation about soul mates. Sitting down at the table, Liz opened the book at the first page. She felt as though she was reading something of great value. Her hands were shaking. The dedication caught her eye. It was a strange dedication. She had never seen anything like it.

"Juliet," her voice was hushed as she read. "The dice were loaded from the start. When are you going to realize that it was just that the time was wrong?"

Beneath the text was a hand written inscription.

To my own darling Juliet. Find your Romeo and follow your heart this time.

It was half an hour before Julia removed the lump from her throat.

Looking through the book, Julia discovered many strange things that seemed so familiar. It was almost as though she had already read this book before. Then she turned a page and gave an audible gasp. Depicted on the page was the same shape, the book called it the Whirlwind Galaxy, that Luke had given her on her necklace, that was now tattooed on her back and on Luke's arm. Her eyes found the text beneath it. It said that the pictogram had first been found in the ruins of Chaco Canyons, New Mexico. It went on to explain that it is believed to depict a distant galaxy from which 'visitors' came. No one had ever been able to determine the tense. So it could actually mean, 'will come'. Julia suppressed a shudder.

* * *

"Okay Julia," the doctor had again had to work hard to put her into her trance. "I want to take you back even further this time. I want to find out when it was that your subconscious first became aware of your surroundings. So we'll go back to the previous month. It's now September. Say... September the eighteenth. I already know you won't know your age, so we'll skip that question. So instead, why don't you tell me where you are, Julia."

"Roswell," Julia spoke clearly.

"You're where?" the doctor jumped with surprise.

"Roswell, New Mexico," she repeated.

"What are you doing there?" he frowned.

"I've come to tell Max that I'm planning on getting married."

"Max," Dr. Hassler nodded. "Of course. It's one of the characters we're trying to isolate. I wonder why you were in such a panic only two days later? You're calm now. What is your name?"

"Liz. Liz Parker."

The doctor nodded. Of course.

"And who will you be getting married to?"

"No one," Julia shook her head.

"But you just said you were going to tell Max you're planning to get married."

"That's correct."

"So..." he narrowed his eyes and shook his head with a wry smile. "So why are you telling him that when you don't plan to get married."

"I didn't say that. I only said I'm not getting married. But I am planning to marry Alastair Harris."

"I see. If you are planning the marriage, why is it you won't get married."

"Because Max won't ask me."

"Okay," this was complicated. "Why won't Max ask you?"

"Because," for the first time, Julia, or rather Liz, showed some emotion other than fear. Her face fell. "He hates me."

"But you are in love with him?"

"He's the love of my life," she shrugged. "He's my soul mate."

"Does he know this?"


"And he doesn't feel the same way? About you?"

"He still loves me," she nodded. "I can feel it. I'm his soul mate too. But I... I betrayed him and now he hates me. But we still have this connection. I doubt we'll ever lose it."

So, Max was the person she was upset about. The one who had left her, who the other girl was after. Liz clearly had a rival.

"You mentioned that before," he leafed back though his notes. "What do you mean by this connection?"

"We saw into each other's souls," Julia gave a dreamy smile, as though it was the best thing that had ever happened to her.

"How did you do that?" The doctor was confused. There was no film or book that he knew of matched this story. How would a sixteen year old understand what it was to see into someone's soul?

"Max is special."

"I see." he nodded. "Special how?"

"I'm not going to tell you," Julia shook her head.

"Yes you will, Julia," he spoke in an authoritative tone. "You want to tell me, because you know that I can help you. When you tell me, you know that you will feel better."

"No," she shook her head. "You can't trick me. No one will ever trick me again. You won't get Max's secret from me."

"And what is Max's secret?"

"Is there a point to this?"

"You want to tell me his secret, Julia," he urged. "It's important for you to tell me."

"No, I won't!" she was firm in her denial.

Dr. Hassler frowned. He had never met a barrier like this before. People in a trance always told him what he wanted them to tell him. That was the whole point of hypnosis. Yet Julia refused point blank to divulge Max's mythical secret.

"Let's move on a few hours," he decided to try from a different angle. "Where are you now?"

"I'm with Max. We're in his trailer."

"How do you feel?"



"Because I can see that Max is as unhappy as I am. I can see that he still loves me, that he doesn't want me to marry Alastair, but he's letting me go."

"Why is he letting you go if he loves you?"

"Because he wants me to be happy."

"And can't you be happy with him?"

"Not while he's looking for his son."

"Who has his son?"

"She does. Tess."

"And where is Tess?"

"I'm sorry. I can't answer that."

"I see," he nodded. "This is because you don't know?"

"I know," she nodded. "But I just won't tell you."

"Yes, you can, Julia. You really do want to."

"No, I can't and I don't."

"It's not real, Liz. This is all fiction. You're not really betraying anyone."

"If you say so," Julia shrugged.

"So where is Tess?"

"I'm sorry. I can't answer that."

Doctor Hassler wanted to scream in frustration.

"Okay, let's move ahead by one hour. Where are you now?"

"I'm in my car."

"Where are you going?"

"Home. I'm going to tell my mom and dad what's going on because I want them to know the truth."

"And what is the truth?"

"That Maria and I are trying to trick Max into admitting that he really does want me back. I don't really like what we're doing... it was Maria's idea. But I like being apart from Max, less."

"So you've left Max in his trailer, huh?"


"How do you feel?"


"Are you crying?"

"Of course," she nodded.

The doctor was surprised to see tears forming in Julia's eyes.

"Okay, I want you to go forward twenty four hours. It's now September 19th, 2006. Where are you?"

"I don't know," Julia looked worried.

"What can you see?

"Nothing. It's dark. And I can't feel anything." Panic started to build again. "I don't like this place. I'm alone. He's not here."

Sensing her panic, the doctor jumped up.

"Julia. I want you to come forward again. It's June twentieth, 2007."

Julia relaxed and the tears stopped. She started to smile.

"When I count down from three, Julia, I want you to wake up. You will feel refreshed, as though you have just woken from a deep sleep. You will feel no after effects, no headaches. You will be feeling really good in yourself. Three, two, one."

Julia stretched and gave a large yawn.

"Sorry, Doctor," she placed her hand over her mouth. "How did it go?

"This book, or film," he shook his head. "It must have been one heck of a story. But I don't understand why it is you do not see yourself in other films. There must be something particularly special about this one. If you have any more dreams, try to remember, it's not real. But tell me... in this story... just what was Max's secret anyway?"

"I have no idea," Julia shrugged.

* * *

"Hi, Dr. Hassler," Julia sat down on the couch.

"Julia," he smiled, pulling an ever-expanding sheaf of notes to him. "How are you feeling?"

"Okay, I guess," she nodded.

"Have you been having any dreams?"

"Sure," she smiled. "I've uh, typed them up like you asked." She held a bound bundle of pages to him. "I better warn you, though," she chuckled. "I've had them copyrighted, In case I can use them later and write a bestseller."

"Good idea, Julia," he laughed. "That's if someone hasn't already written this. I still think you are experiencing something you 'sensed' while you were in your coma. A film, or a book."

Julia wasn't convinced. She just knew that is was real, that somehow, she had been living someone else's life.

"So where are we going today?"

"This book, or film... Whatever it was, it's deeply rooted into your psyche now. You believe in the characters so much that you believe them to be real. So real, that you refuse to reveal the lead character's secrets, as though to you, that would be a betrayal. So I plan to take you back to a time when you wouldn't know anything about these characters. Then, we can start to move forward and I can undo the damage, a day at a time if I have to. Now, where we went back before, you were still fourteen, so I want to take you back to when you were seven."

"That's as good a place to start as any," Julia shrugged, "Okay then Doc. Do your stuff."

* * *

"I want to take you back, Julia," the Doctor nodded. He was sweating. Instead of getting easier, it was getting harder to put Julia in a trance. "Back in time. It's now September 18th, 1999. Where are you Julia?"

"I'm in Roswell, New Mexico," Julia told him.

The doctor looked up, dismay in his eyes. How far back did he have to go before there was no Max and no Liz?

"Are you sure?"

"Uh huh," she nodded.

"Where exactly in Roswell are you?"

"I'm in the CrashDown café," she smiled. "It's uh, on Main Street."

"What are you doing there?"

"I'm working. I'm a waitress there."

"And what is your name?"

"I'm Liz Parker," she continued. "My parents own the CrashDown."

"So why don't you tell me what's going on?"

"Okay," Julia nodded. "It's busy. We have the Crash Festival coming up and the diner is full of mainly tourists, though there are a couple of locals around. Like Michael and..." her voice changed. She spoke the next name with affection. "And Max."

"Max?" the Doctor smiled. "He's here?"


"How old are you, Liz?"

"I'm sixteen."

"Hmmmm," the doctor nodded. "Okay, this Max. He's your boyfriend, right?"

"I wish," Julia sighed. "No, Max Evans would never notice me in a million years. Although... Maria does keep telling me that he's always staring at me. Besides, I'm with Kyle. Sort of."

"What do you mean, sort of?"

"Well... we date and stuff, but it's like, this casual thing. You know, for the summer." She started to giggle. "He asked me to let him tell people he made it to second base with me, you know, to preserve his rep, because no one is getting there with me anytime soon."

"But you prefer Max?"

"Yes," she sighed again. "I do."

"This is a little bit like Julia and Luke, isn't it?"

"I'm sorry," she frowned. "Who are they?"

"Tell me what's happening now."

"I'm serving food to some tourists. I show them my picture I have of an old doll and convince them that it's a snapshot my Grandma took at the crash site. They're kind of gullible and they totally believe it."

"Why do you do that?"

"Two reasons," Julia shrugged. "It makes them feel like they're now part of the conspiracy, that they've seen proof that it was all real. And it helps with the tips. Good for them, and good for me."

"What's Max doing, now?"

"He's talking with Michael."

"He's not looking at you?"

"Sometimes, I think I catch him but he looks away so quickly, I think I imagined it."

"Please continue."

"Maria is teasing me about Max now. Telling me that we would look good together. Now she's taking her coffee pot to offer refills."

"So it's just like any other ordinary day, right?"

"Yeah," she nodded."

"Okay," the doctor continued. "I want..."

"Wait. The two men are arguing."

"What two men?" Doctor Hassler looked back over his notes.

"There's two rough looking men by the wall. They look pretty mean. And they're arguing. Oh no. One of them has pulled out a gun. Maria is screaming something but I don't know what. All I can see is that gun. Oh no! They're struggling and, oh... the gun is pointed at me."

"Why don't you hide?"

"I... I don't know. I'm so scared, I'm frozen. Aggh! The gun just went off."

"What's happening now?"

"I'm cold. It's dark. I feel so far away, like I'm going somewhere. I feel so cold and weak. I just want to go to sleep now. Wait, someone's calling me. It's... it's Max."

"What's he doing?"

"He's talking to me," she furrowed her eyes in concentration. "He's asking me to... to... No! No!"

"What is it?"

"No! You're not going to trick me like that." Julia started screaming. "No!"

To the doctor's surprise, Julia sat upright on the sofa. She was clutching her head, crying out in agony. The doctor held her shoulders and pushed her back down onto the sofa, trying to calm her, to soothe her. She resisted at first, slowly giving way to him. When she had regained her composure, he released her and turned to his desk. The Doctor then gave her some tablets and a glass of water.

"Something very odd is going on," he told her when she was calm enough to speak. He was shaking his head in disbelief. "As soon as I asked you what Max was doing, it's like this Liz... It's like Liz threw you out of her mind. You woke up from a hypnotic trance, which is practically impossible. That is one powerful secret that Liz is keeping. I'm going to need to talk to some people at the hospital you were at. I think I might have to speak to all the nurses who ever cared for you to find out what this story is."

Julia knew, however, that it was no film, and no book. She could still feel the other girl's anger at her for allowing the doctor to come so close to Max's secret. She could feel that Liz was furious with her.

* * *

"They're all coming down tonight, right?" Sandra emptied her locker, filling her bag with the last few bits of her personal items.

It was the last day of school. Summer was officially here.

"Straight after school." Julia nodded.

"I can't believe that Alison and Hans are getting married," Sandra shook her head. "I mean, last spring, they hadn't even kissed. And now..."

"I know," Julia chuckled. "Two days time, Sunday, they're husband and wife. For better or worse."

"With those two," Sandra smirked, "I get the feeling it's going to be worse. Talk about your fireworks. I don't understand what all the rush is about."

"They fell in love," Julia shrugged, her face turning sad.

"Luke will be there," her friend placed a sympathetic hand on her arm. "I'm sure the two of you can work this out."

"How bout you, Sandra?" Julia nodded with the beginnings of a smile. "Are you still seeing Anders? With all my therapy, I've kind of lost touch with what's going on with you."

"Not really," Sandra shook her head. "We sort of prefer being friends, you know? We might try again. When we're older. We'll see."

"How's my girl?" Richard appeared next to Julia and placed an arm around her shoulder.

"Go away, Richard," Sandra rolled her eyes. "Can't you take a hint?"

"Julia," Richard ignored her. "It's a little over three weeks to your sixteenth birthday."

"I'm aware of that," Julia closed her eyes and took a breath.

"It's time to get your form filled in."

"What form?" she frowned.

"Your signing up papers. To join the Planetary Defense Force. You need to sign up now before we all get shipped out or else I can't guarantee that you'll get assigned to my unit."

"How many times do I have to tell you, Richard? I'm not joining up. Just like I'm not dating you."

"Course you are," he smiled. "Everyone knows it. I'll come by tonight. I already gave the forms to your dad. I asked him to fill them in. All you have to do is sign them."

"Can't," Julia shook her head. "I have that batcholerette party with my friends. A good friend of mine is getting married on Sunday."

"You really should check these things with me, honey." He pulled a diary from his shirt pocket and started to search through it. "I have a pretty hectic schedule right now. I don't think we can make it Sunday. We have a prior engagement."

"Uhm, you know what Richard?" she rolled her eyes. "You're not invited."

"Of course I am, babe," he grinned. "You're my girl. If you're invited, so am I. By proxy. So where is this wedding?

"St. Andrews Chapel, over in Sarasota," Julia told him. "Three thirty. And as I'm going with the Bride, you'll have to meet us there."

"Totally unsatisfactory," he shook his head. "You and I are going to have to talk about your lack of communication skills. But I guess I can fit it in... this time. I have a kit inspection at sixteen hundred hours, so we'll have to leave straight after the ceremony. This is something you should see." Richard moved to kiss her but unable to completely escape, Julia twisted to offer only her cheek.

"Isn't Alison getting married on the beach behind Hans' grandparents house?" Sandra frowned as Richard left, along with his two 'bodyguards'. "And it's at three."

"Oops," Julia grinned. "These therapy session are playing havoc with my short-term memory."

* * *

Alison's party at the restaurant had been fun. In spite of the concern she felt over her strange dreams, and her desire to talk to Luke, she put everything aside and concentrated on her friend. The small gang of girls had a blast. Although they accepted the occasional invitation to dance, it was only the fast songs and they declined any further offers of drinks or the merging of groups. When the girls finally had to go home, Alison and Julia headed off together.

"So why the big rush, Alison?" Julia finally asked when they were alone. A sudden thought came to her. "You're not..."

"No! Of course not!" Maria exclaimed, glad of the chance to make an outburst and cover her feelings of guilt. She hated lying to Julia, and maintaining the fiction that her name was Alison was hurting her. "What do you take me for?"

"Sorry," Julia looked down. "I was kind of trying to tease you."

"Not your style, Jules," Maria smiled. "You are just way too nice to treat people badly, you know?"

"But why are you getting married so soon?" she was still puzzled over that. "I mean, last spring, you were just getting closer and then the day after you leave, you call me up and tell me you're getting married. I mean, wow."

"What can I say?" Maria grinned. "Let's just say that cupid's arrow had an electrical effect on us."

"I'll say," Julia rolled her eyes. She fell silent for a minute. "Did you see much of him between spring and now?"

"Oh, yeah," she nodded. "We took turns to visit each other. One week, my place, the next week, his."

"So what's been happening with Raul and Wendy?" Julia nodded her head. "I mean, she wasn't there tonight."

"That finished when they said goodbye last spring," Maria smiled. "And you clearly know about Andy and Sandra."

"Being just friends," Julia gave another nod. "Yeah. How about Lyle?"

"He says that he hasn't dated a single girl since spring. According to him, he's fed up with meaningless relationships. How long that's going to last, I have no idea."

"Right, right," Julia was looking down at the ground as they walked. "And Leia? She seemed kind of quiet tonight. I mean, more so than normal."

"She still goes out on dates with guys from her school," Maria shrugged. "But they're meaningless. She just plays this role, you know? Like an ice princess. Look but don't touch. No one gets close to her."

"Okay," Julia exhaled.

"You can ask about him, you know," Maria gave her a warm smile. "Yes, Luke's okay. Yes he's here and no, he didn't go out on a single date since spring. He never dates, other than you. And he's going to talk to you."

"He doesn't like me anymore, does he?" the tears started to fall.

Maria's heart started to break for her.

"It's not that, Julia," she started. "It's just... Ah, heck! Michael made me promise not to tell you, but I can't stand seeing you hurt like this. If I don't cave, Luke will, and it's better that I get into trouble with Michael. I kind of have him wrapped around my finger."

"Uhm." Julia frowned. Who's Michael?"

"Remember how at the end of Spring Break, we went back to stay with the Skyes?"

"Yeah," Julia nodded.

"We'd better sit down for this," Maria pointed to the bench just back from the path.

"Okay," Julia wondered what was going on. Sitting down was usually done when about to receive a shock.

"Do you believe in reincarnation, Julia?"

"I guess," she nodded. "I'm not sure. I mean, scientifically, no. But as a Christian..."

"So you believe that we have a soul?

"Yes," Julia nodded

"Last spring, Hans and I went for a walk, okay? He showed me the school, the soccer field... places he spent his time. And we started talking about you and Luke. Oh, and by the way. You know that girl Luke was always pining for?"

"Uh huh?" Julia narrowed her eyes.

"Luke saw her at the MOSI. And guess what? Julia, it was you. He's been head over heels in love with you since the day you met, and when I asked him to be your friend's only date because you had a boyfriend..."

"Oh," Julia gave a whimsical smile. "That figures. Just my kind of luck, huh? All that wasted time." Her eyes grew wide. "But that means that Luke... and I..." They narrowed again. "What does that have to do with this Michael person?"

"I said to Mi... to Hans, that everything would have resolved itself if you two had just kissed. And then I made some comment about him wanting to kiss me."

"Who?" Julia frowned. "Luke?"

"No," Maria smirked. "Hans. Only he said he didn't. Want to kiss me, I mean. So I told him that he did. I kind of went into this whole rant. And anyway, he shut me up by kissing me. And then the strangest thing happened. Listen, Julia. You have to promise me that you are not going to flip out."

"Flip out, Alison?" Julia gave her a tolerant smile. "Hey, it's me."

"Okay..." she nodded. "After we kissed, we were looking at one another and that's when I realized... Julia, it wasn't Hans. It was Michael. Hans was Michael. And I wasn't Alison. My real name is Maria."

"Uhm..." Julia frowned. "Are you okay?"

"I know this sounds strange, okay? But please, Julia. Trust me on this. This is real. We both lived a couple of years ago. And we had these... enemies. And these enemies were after someone. A friend of ours. They had already killed my best friend, and were working through us one by one. Anyway, I was killed in like, this explosion, okay? And then... as near as I could tell... my soul wanted to be reunited with Michael, so it somehow found Alison's body, still in a coma and kind of... moved in."

"So how did Michael recognize you? I mean, what's the chances of a girl being in a coma looking just like you?"

"Maybe he recognized my soul, or something. And it wasn't until we kissed that he saw who I really was. And near as I can tell, I looked the same. Or maybe I just think I did. I don't know."

"Aren't you kind of young to have enemies who would plant bombs to kill you?"

"No, no," Maria shook her head. "In that other life, I was like, twenty two when I died. And we had been kind of fighting this constant battle for four or five years."

"And Hans... I mean Michael was still only... what? Fourteen?" Julia wrinkled her nose.

"No," she shook her head. "Michael was the same age. After I died, these enemies went after them. There were three of them left as far as we can remember. We both still have these gaps in our memory. But one of them got killed, and then Michael was killed, leaving the third one on his own. Then, Michael was sort of reborn as Hans. I guess he came looking for me, too."

"How could he be..."

"Complicated," Maria shook her head, "and you're not ready for that yet. Michael and I were married in that other life, and we want to get married again before we go to look for his... friend."

Julia remained silent.

"So where does Luke factor into all of this?"

"He's part of Michael's back up team. In case anything went wrong with the first. Leia, too."

"Wait!" Julia held up her hand. It just hit her. "You're going away? All of you?"

"Straight after the wedding," Maria whispered. "I'm sorry, Julia."

"You're taking Luke away from me?" Tears rolled down her cheeks.

"This missing friend... he's... their leader, Julia. They're part of a group opposed to the aliens in New Mexico. We have to find him. And if the aliens have him, we have to rescue him. It's what the three of them were meant to do, before two of them were killed and the third captured. And if they don't do it, I think Earth will eventually become enslaved by these evil aliens."

"He's leaving?" Julia could no longer see for the tears that flooded her eyes.

"Michael's been afraid that if you found out the truth, you would want to come, too, and as much as Michael likes you, he really needs Luke to be focused. And well... he's afraid that you'll be kind of a liability."

"You're leaving," Julia started to cry. "And you're taking Luke with you. After the wedding, I'll never see Luke again."

Maria just nodded.

Julia stood up and took a few paces toward the path. She stopped and turned to face Maria. Her face was shining with the wetness of her tears.

"Why do you have to lie to me, Alison?" she demanded. "Why do you have to make up such a stupid lie? Why can't you just tell me the truth, that Luke doesn't want to see me anymore?"

Crying her heart out, Julia ran the rest of the way home.

* * *

"Where's Michael?" Leia entered the kitchen to find Luke on his own, finishing his breakfast.

"Already over at Grandma and Grandpa's," Luke nodded to his sister.

"He's the regular eager beaver," she grinned.

"Just cautious," Luke smirked. "He says that with his luck, she's going to come early. And he can do without bad luck as well as having to put up with her tantrums."

"They really do love each other, don't they?"

"Yeah," Luke nodded. "It must have been fun seeing them in that other life. I wish I'd been there."

"Me too," she smirked. "So... I expect you're really going to miss Julia after today, huh?"

"Yeah," Luke nodded, falling quiet. "But it's for the best, really. I don't think we'll see many nice places for a while. We're going to be roughing it, I'm afraid. We'll probably be living in dirty motel rooms, busses and ditches."

"She'd follow you, if you asked."

"I could never subject her to the crap we're going to face, Leia. It's just not fair."

"How about Anders? Or Raul, or Lyle? Could you see them roughing it?"

"Not sure," Luke narrowed his eyes. "Why?"

"What do you think about them? Honestly."

"Anders is okay," Luke nodded. "He's good with computers, electronics and things. He's a really nice guy. Raul... I'm not too sure about him. I think he's a great guy and everything, but sometimes, I think that he has his own agenda. And Lyle... The guy goes out of his way to piss me off. He really enjoys showing me up. But if our back was to the wall, and I had to count on one of them, Lyle is the one I would turn to. He's the one I would trust with something important."

"Like looking after Julia?" Leia narrowed her eyes.

"I know he likes Julia," Luke nodded. "And if the two of us were romantically linked, then I would trust Lyle to look after her and not try... I mean, pissing me off isn't really a crime and at least he's honest and open about it. But I know I can trust him."

"What about the others?" Leis narrowed her eyes.

"I trust them, too," Luke nodded. "They're all great guys. But at the end of the day, it's going to come down to which one you prefer. Isn't it?"

"Yeah," Leia nodded. "And kind of moot, seeing as we leave at first light tomorrow morning. It's just..."

"You feel like you want to tell them... or one of them," Luke nodded, his voice coming out in a low whisper.

Leia didn't answer.

* * *

"Where have you been?" Leia demanded when Maria had finally arrived, almost twenty minutes late. "We have so much to do, you know, and a wedding doesn't just organize itself. There's your hair, your make up..."

"Yeah, sorry," Maria shrugged. She did not give the impression of a young girl about to get married. "I've been over at Grandma and Grandpa's"

"What?" Leia squeaked. "That's where the boys are getting ready. Maria, you know that you're not supposed to see Michael until the ceremony."

"Relax," she rolled her eyes. "I wasn't seeing Michael. I just needed to talk to Luke."

"Luke?" Leia sounded surprised. "How come?"

"Leia?" Alison looked like she might burst in to tears. "Would you mind being my Maid of Honor today?"

"Uhm..." Leia could not hide the surprise from her face. "Sure. You know I will. But... What's happened to Julia?"

"I caved last night," Maria sighed. "Julia's been so upset over the way Luke's been avoiding her and I just felt so sorry for her last night, you know? I told her."

"What?" Leia gasped.

"Not about the Czchechoslovakian angle," Maria gave a soft smirk. "But about me and Michael and about how we're going to be leaving tomorrow."

"Oh..." Leia was quiet for a long time. "How did she take it?"

"Not very well," Maria shook her head looking down at the floor. She accused me of lying to cover up the fact that Luke doesn't like her anymore. She, uh, ran off crying."

"But Luke's in as much love with her now as he's ever been. Which is a lot. He's been fearing this day for ages now. Telling her goodbye. The guy's besotted with her."

"I know that," Maria nodded. "And you know that. But Julia... All she knows is that she's hardly spoken with Luke since Spring Break, and given that she knows Luke did something to her... I think she's feeling a little fragile right now."

"And you don't think she'll show up?"

"No," Maria had a tear in her eye. "And I'm so going to miss her."

"Well," Leia gave her a sympathetic smile. "If Julia doesn't show, then I would be honored to stand in for her. But don't underestimate what those two feel for each other. Deep down, she knows that Luke still cares for her and if she thinks that this is her last chance to see him, Julia will be here. Even if it's only to confront him over it."

"Leia, Alison," Omi called from the bottom of the stairs. "Julia's here!"

* * *

The wedding was simple and understated. Beneath a simple canopy laced with Forget-me-nots, Hans stood at the far end with the minister and Luke as his best man. To the accompaniment of a portable boom box, Alison walked through the sand with Julia, her Maid of honor following. While their family and friends sat in collapsible chairs, the minister presided over the proceedings. There were many looks of confusion when it appeared that the minister had read out the wrong names, and even more questioning looks when the couple responded using the names Michael Guerin and Maria DeLuca. Apart from the married couple, only Luke, Leia and Julia did not look surprised, although Julia's head did drop for a moment.

* * *

"So it's all true, huh?" Julia looked up into Luke's face while the two of them danced together for the seventh consecutive song. "You're really leaving?"

"Yeah," Luke nodded. "I'm sorry, Julia. I really wanted to tell you myself, and in person. I just couldn't tell you over the phone."

"Will you ever come back?"

"I don't know," he shook his head. Like Julia, his face was filled with great sadness. "I doubt it."

"Not even if you find this... uhm... leader of yours?"

"Somehow... I think when we find him, Julia... I think that's when the real mission starts."

"Luke, how can you have a mission?" her eyes narrowed in confusion. "You're only sixteen years old."

"But I feel so much older," he sighed. "Like I've already lived a dozen lifetimes." There was a pause as his eyes went distant. "And it feels like I lost a little piece of my heart in every one."

"Luke?" her eyes were blazing with determination. "Let's go away tonight. After the wedding. Just you and me. Spend the night with me, Luke. Give me this one night for the rest of my life and then in the morning, when you go... I'll always have this... memory of you. Inside here." She placed a hand on her heart."

"Julia," he smiled, closing his hand over the one she had placed on her heart. It was so close to her soft breast. "You have no idea how all of my insides are glowing right now. And you have no idea how hard it is for me to say this, 'cause I'm really flattered. And I really want to. But I can't. There's just so much you don't know about me. We're just..."

"Different," Julia could not help the strange sense of déjà vu.

"You have this whole destiny, Jules," he gave a wry smile. "Your father believes that you are going to marry Richard Madly and give him the strength and determination to defeat these... aliens."

"No, no, no, Luke," Julia shook her head. "You don't understand. I don't even like Richard. Not like that. We make our own destiny, Luke. And my destiny... It's you."

"You don't know how badly I want to believe that, Julia," Luke rested his forehead against hers and closed his eyes, allowing a tear to trickle from beneath an eyelid. But you're going to be with a great leader. You're going to achieve things that no other human could ever do. Don't you see, Julia? If I held you back... If I prevented you from becoming this person you're supposed to become..."

"When are you leaving?" Julia closed her eyes and just nodded. She couldn't listen to any more of this.

"First light tomorrow morning. We're giving Michael and Maria their wedding night. And then..."

"Stay with me, Luke," she tried again.

"Julia, I..."

"We don't have to do anything, Luke," her eyes burned into his. "We'll get a room and... we don't have to do anything. Just... stay with me tonight."

"Okay," Luke wished that when it came to resisting Julia, he could be stronger.

* * *

Dawn was just a streak of rosy light against distant clouds above the far eastern horizon. Michael and Leia crept from the house that had been their home for some amazing holidays. Across the road, where they all slept, giving Michael and Maria some privacy, their family members still slept, unaware of the plans to leave under such secrecy.

"Where's Luke?" Maria finally emerged from the house holding a last slice of toast in her mouth while she threw her bag over her shoulder.

"He said he would meet us at the end of the road," Michael shrugged. "Come on."

The threesome moved through the still dark streets, casting a last glance over their shoulder.

"Bye, Mom," Leia wiped a tear from her eye.

* * *

His internal clock woke him up. Outside, it was still dark. He was on his back, laying on the double bed of the motel room he had rented. Across his chest, Julia's hair was splayed like a sheet of finest silk. They had both remained fully clothed; Luke believing this a very necessary step to prevent himself from crossing a line he believed should not be crossed. They had talked long into the night, and even though they had confessed their true feelings for one another, Luke had remained adamant that Julia's destiny lay in another direction. And it had killed his very soul to tell her that.

Moving slowly, Luke managed to slip from beneath her protective hold. He gave a soft smile when he heard her murmured complaint. Changing into a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, he picked up his bag and turned to take one last look at his sleeping beauty.

"I wonder if I will ever gaze upon anything more beautiful?" he sighed. "Anything more precious to me than you are?"

Luke picked up his buttonhole from his suit jacket. With a wave of his hand, he turned it into a white rose. He kissed the glorious bloom and laid the flower in Julia's open hand. Walking away from her seemed wrong and at that moment, his soul was crying out at him, urging him to take her with him. Shaking his head clear of such thoughts, Luke slipped from the motel room.

* * *

"Where have you been?" Leia demanded when Luke finally turned up.

"Bookstore," Luke shrugged, holding up a bag with 'Barnes and Noble' written across it.

"Are they open this early?" Maria widened her eyes.

"Uh, no," Luke shook his head. "But I left the money with a note on the desk. And I remembered to lock up after myself and reset the alarm."

"Impressive," Maria nodded with grin.

"What's the book?" Michael shrugged.

"Something Grandpa recommended."

"All set?" Leia interrupted as the bus pulled up.

Michael and Maria climbed up into the bus, followed by Leia. Luke hesitated. This was all wrong. Every fiber of his being was demanding that he run back and get Julia.

"Luke?" Leia called.

No, he would never expose her to the dangers he knew he would be facing.

"Goodbye, Julia," tears burned his eyes as he climbed aboard.

* * *

End of PART 2
Last edited by WR on Sun Aug 13, 2006 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Red Shift Part 3 Chapter 1

Post by WR » Sun Aug 13, 2006 4:48 pm

Hi everyone...

So Part 2 comes to a close with Julia and Luke no closer than Max and Liz were... and both still afraid to really tell the other what they want.

A clue. Someone is TOLD something in Part 2 Chapter 2. Id you can find that something, and think about what happened to Maria and Michael, you will have the answer.

I hope you don;t mind me skipping my fb tonight. I really want to get this posted this weekend, so...

A note about this chapter. The words I use actually DO translate to something close to Navajo labguage. :)

Red Shift

Part 3

Chapter 1

Part 3

Chapter 1

A light breeze blew across the desert, whipping up little clouds of dust where it swirled and eddied around the irregular contours of the rocky ground. The pale moon, a mere sliver of itself, did little to illuminate the surroundings, but any creature venturing forth into the desert night did so only because it had developed a good sense of night vision, or other awareness.

Any creature, that is, except the man on horseback who was following the contours of the terrain more as a means of concealment than any sense of purpose. As he crested yet another rise, he stopped his mount, allowing him to survey his surroundings. Things were starting to look more familiar to him now, although it was clear from the way that he moved that he had ridden this barren landscape from one end to the state to the other.

His eyes finally settled on a distant smudge of gray, an almost black smear, silhouetted against the near darkened night sky. A few small lights helped identify it as a town, but it was easily apparent what this smudge in the distance was. The man could remember a time when this very same town was filled with lights, laughter and even love. It had once been a town that knew how to enjoy itself. But that was before the aliens came.

Shaking his head, trying to push away the memories of a happier time, he urged his horse onward once more, and dropped below the ridge and into the welcome obscurity of the shadows. It did not do to expose yourself like that in any case, no matter how many fond memories you had of a place that was now nicknamed 'Hell'. He turned the steed to follow a new ridge and to angle himself around the distant smudge. There was no purpose or need for him to go to this place, anyway. Maybe one day, but not tonight.

He lifted his hands to his face, holding them a short gap away. One hand pressed a button on his watch, the clock face giving off a pale blue glow. He knew he had plenty of time before the sun would rise, but why take chances? Especially in this particular neck of the woods.

A sudden sound off to his left caused his entire body to shift in demeanor. When before, he was loose, laid back, almost calm, he now sat bolt upright, his mind alert and even tinged with a sense of urgency. His eyes scanned his surroundings, and spotting a small cleft between two large boulders, he urged his horse into the gap. He spotted the cause of the low buzz that was disturbing the night silence. An alien space ship, one of their fighters passed close, but it was evident that even in the poor hiding place, it did not see him.

They had found out from experience that the alien's infrared viewers could not see him unless he was standing totally exposed in the open. They could not differentiate between the heat given off from any large animal and that given off by background rocks. Standing against a rock wall, or between two boulders could render you totally invisible. They had worked that out in the early days, but they never took too many chances. On more than one occasion, he himself had been forced to lay down flat on the ground and hope for the best.

He waited until he was sure that this ship did not have a second accompanying it, flying tandem. They often did that, but the strange buzzing their ships produced easily warned them of their tricks. It had been decided long ago that these patrols were mostly to prevent easy movement rather than actively trying to catch anyone. The aliens felt very safe with their technology and their abilities. Once he was sure he was safe to come out, he continued on his journey, his early carefree manner reappearing. When he passed a set of strange, jagged peaks, he stopped for a moment to look at them. With a shake of his head and a lonely sigh, he continued his journey. Another crest to rise, and he knew that his destination was close by. His journey was nearly over, but not his mission. He released another sigh and wondered if he would ever see a day dawn that would not find him on one mission or another.

* * *

A short distance away from the lone traveler, a group of men were standing in a circle, around a pit in the ground which held a glowing fire. The fire provided them with warmth although the light was scant, hidden as it was in a pit. It did enough, however, to identify their features as Native Americans. Their voices were low and soft. Their speech was strangely guttural. The sudden howling of a distant lone coyote distracted their attention. A large heavy blanket was suddenly dragged from the side to cover the fire pit. Another native, much younger then than those talking, appeared from the shadows.

"Dineh do lin bi-chi-ol-dah," he used his rifle to point into the darkness.

"A-nah-ne-dzin?" one of the elders was staring into the gloom as though his night vision was perfect, even though he had been standing in the light. "Eh-do-dah-goh neh-hecho-da-ne?"

"Do-bay-hosen-e," he answered.

"Naz-pas di dineh," the older man waved at the darkness around him.

Figures appeared from nowhere to move in the direction that the first man pointed. They moved swiftly and silently. Some held rifles while others were carrying the traditional bow, with a quiver of arrows strapped to their side. The elders moved toward a rising hill, to stand atop a rock ledge from which they could see the approaching horseman without being seen themselves. It was better to be safe than sorry and there were many humans who spied for the aliens.

All fell silent and in the stillness of the night air, the man on horseback rode into the clearing, his mind perhaps still wandering.

"Ta Awai!" a voice called out.

The horseman stopped abruptly and peered into the gloom, trying to make out any shapes.

"Who-neh?" the voice barked again.

"It's me," the man called back to his unseen challengers. "Hash-kay-gi-na-tah."

"Huc-quo tehi, Hash-kay-gi-na-tah," the voice called to him.

The man slid off his horse in a slow, exaggerated style that showed he knew that he was being watched closely by many more men he could not see. Once clear of the horse, he stepped away with his arms held aloft.

"Welcome, my brother," an old man emerged from the shadows, approaching the man.

"River Dog," he met the man with an embrace. "Good to see you."

"And it is good to see you, Jim," River Dog smiled. "You are looking tired."

"Goes with the territory," ex Sherrif James Valenti shrugged.

"You are the most wanted man of the a-na-ih-la," River Dog indicated that Jim should join him by the fire pit. The blanket had been removed to reveal the glow again, once Jim had been identified as a friend and not an enemy. "And still you take these risks when others can do the job for you. I have many braves who would willingly act as your messengers. They might move faster, too."

"And just sit around the caves all day?" Jim shook his head. "I took that girl in, River Dog. I gave her a home, I treated her like a daughter. And how does she repay me? She killed my boy, River Dog. And the other's too. She killed them all. Max, Liz, Michael, Maria, Kyle, Isabel, Jesse. Hell, she even had a hand in Alex's death."

"It is not just your war, my friend," River Dog nodded. "There are many who will fight when the time comes, but few are they who will lead."

"How are those grand-kids of yours?" Jim deftly changed the topic of conversation.

"They grow every day," the old Native American shook his head. "They grow eager to take the test of manhood so that they might join the braves when the time comes to fight. As do all my people. For many, especially among the aged who can remember such times, it is as if the old days had never ended."

"I wish it weren't so," Jim shook his head, accepting a cold beer that someone had produced from somewhere.

It was the same thing. Every time Jim visited River Dog, there was always a cold beer offered to him. He wondered if someone had been sneaking across the border, but he knew how impossible that was. River Dog had once told him that he knew of a way in and out of New Mexico, and that he would let him know about it when the time came.

"No one deserves to live under these conditions, and it sickens me to think that my people once treated your people no better than this."

"Wisdom comes with age," River Dog shrugged. "The new comers have not yet learned that."

"Well," Jim took a big gulp. "Let's hope that they're not around long enough to learn different.

"That is so," the old man nodded. "Let us hope that together, we will find a way to defeat our enemies. But come. You have ridden far and my daughter will scold me for having you stand out here all night when there is a stew on the fire."

Together, the two men headed toward a collection of stone houses.

* * *

"The trouble with riding horses," Jim emerged from the bathroom in a deerskin robe, toweling his hair dry, "is that after a while, you start to smell like one."

"As long as you don't start behaving like one," Tanisha, River Dog's willowy daughter rolled her eyes. "Sit at the table, and no talking business until you've eaten."

"You're worse than my wife," he shook his head.

"And how is the new Mrs. Valenti," River Dog had a twinkle in his eye. "Is she pregnant yet?"

"Pregnant?" Jim sputtered, nearly choking on his food. "At our age?"

"Age is no barrier," River Dog started to chuckle. "Perhaps I should prepare for you a little potion."

"If she even knew I was having this conversation, I'd be a dead man."

"Well, that's even more reason for you to let the younger men do this work," Tanisha scolded. "Leaving her all alone while you go gallivanting."

"It's hardly a holiday," Jim shrugged his shoulders. "Besides, she's got her friends."

"They are your friends, too."

"Yeah," Jim nodded. "And I guess, when this is over... I'm going to need all the friends I can get."

"When this is all over," River Dog laid a hand on his arm, "you will be surprised just how many friends in the world you have.

* * *

Tanisha had banned all further talk until Jim had had a good night's sleep. Undisturbed, under Tanisha's watchful eye, it was nearly midmorning when Jim finally awoke. After another shower, he emerged to a bright and hot day. He found River Dog with the other elders sitting at a picnic table.

"So what do you have for me, Jim?" River Dog moved over to let Jim join them.

Jim reached into his saddle bag and pulled out a sheaf of hand-written messages, all of them in code.

"These need to get out right away," Jim told him as he handed them to his friend. I think something big is going on. We've noticed fewer ships in the skies right now, and my scouts tell me that there are six or seven locations in the desert around New Mexico where they are all parked up, just sitting there. Some groups are bigger than others. I can't be sure, but if you asked me, I would have to say that they're going to be used in some kind of assault. Except that we can't find any concentrations of ground troops. So unless they plan to just start running some hit and run air raids... Anyway, Clayton ought to be told in case they're planning to start attacking any military build ups outside the boundary."

"Perhaps," River Dog was nodding, "they plan to strike areas that are not as well protected. Maybe they plan to attack another part of the world."

Jim was deep in thought. No one spoke.

"Well, if it was me..." he considered, "and I knew about our dependency on oil... Heck, if I wanted to paralyze the armed forces, I would take out the Middle East oil fields."

"As would I," River Dog nodded.

Others nodded with him.

"But surely Tess knows about the Federal Reserves," Jim narrowed his eyes.

"But how long will they last if we have no more oil being supplied?" another elder added.

"There's more than the Middle East who produces oil," a third contributed. "Texas, the Gulf, which includes Mexico and Venezuela. And then there's Canada, and... North Sea oil, and South East Asia."

"Wait," another interrupted. "Doesn't Nigeria have oil, too? I count seven major oil producing areas."

"And you say you counted five or six groups of aircraft?" River Dog looked at Jim.

"Holy mother of...!" he exclaimed. "River Dog, them messages just got more urgent. Can you write another one warning that we think they're planning a strike against all the oil producing regions? Can you also send runners out? We need to keep a close eye on those ships and let Clayton know just as soon as they leave."

Jim started to think again.

"The trouble is, how can we get a message across hundreds of miles of desert in time? By the time we get the message out, those ships will probably be parked back at base."

"Leave that to me, my friend," River Dog nodded. "It is time for you to return to your wife. And give our blessings to the rest of our friends and know that we pray to our ancestors for the day we may all feast together."

"Amen, River Dog," Jim started to rise. "You tell your braves to be careful."

"I will," the Dog confirmed. "Do not worry about the message. Clayton will have it in her hands before the sun has reached its highest point."

* * *

The eleven men, hot and dusty, wearing desert camouflage moved along the edges of the boundary between alien controlled New Mexico, and US controlled Texas in a loose, alert formation. Platoons of soldiers had been regularly sweeping the boundary, now marked with large red flags, for so long now, they knew almost every bump, ridge and crevice. Each flag they passed, at one hundred yard intervals, they checked a small set of devices the checked for motion. No one would me able to sneak in, or out of the occupied zone without triggering any number of detection devices.

"Damn, it's hot," one soldier stopped to remove his kevlar helmet and wipe the moisture from his brow.

"Quit your whining," another smirked at him. "It was hotter in the Gulf. Plus we don't have extremists trying to blow us up."

"No," the first man grumbled. "We got aliens instead."

"At least they ain't taking pot shots at us. I'd rather be here than there any day."

"That's for sure," a third joined them, taking a swig of water from a tin container that had been on his hip."

"Shut up!" the man near the front called back to them. "Keep your mouths shut and your eyes and minds on the job."

A sudden coyote howling from the alien side caused all of the men to react at once. Eleven men took cover, either lying flat on the ground, or behind any kind of raise terrain that afforded any protection. Eleven M16 rifles pointed toward the alien zone.

"That wasn't no coyote," someone's voice drifted from their silence.

"No shit," another answered.

A strange hissing sound filled the air, followed by a click. An arrow decorated with colored feathers was sticking up from a soft part of the ground.

"What the hell?" the nearest soldier yelped.

"Fucking unbelievable," someone shouted from their cover. "Who do they think we are? General fucking Custer?"

Another arrow hissed in the air, landing close to the first.

"Anyone see him?" a voice demanded.

"Since when do the Indians fight for the aliens anyway?"

"They're Native Americans, smartass."

"Shut up," the man in charge bellowed.

Another arrow flew through the air to land close to its' brothers.

"Over there," someone pointed. "I think he's behind that boulder."

A number of guns zeroed in on the boulder, the clicks of safety catches being removed echoed across the floor.

"Hold your fire," the leader was sounding exasperated. "There are messages attached to those arrows.

Everyone turned to look at the arrows, just as a fourth landed in the middle of the three. They could all see something attached to the shaft, near the tip.

There were six arrows in total. When it became clear that no more would be coming, the soldiers collected them and pulled off the notes. Every one of them tried to read what was written.

"What kind of language is that anyway?" someone shook his head and passed his message on to someone else.

"Probably code," another answered. "Do you really think whoever sent them wants dumb asses like you reading top secret information?"

"Come on," the platoon leader gathered up the notes. "We'd better get these back to HQ."

"Amen to that," someone chuckled. "Anything that gets us out of this heat and into an air conditioned bar is fine by me. There's a cold beer with my name on it back at base."

* * *

"Gentlemen," the President greeted her committee as she entered the large, underground stateroom.

"Madam President," they all rose, waiting for her to sit down before they took their seats again.

"As you know, this is an emergency meeting, so I think we'll move straight to business, if you don't mind," she was seated now, pulling out the latest messages from a manila folder. "Have you all read these latest messages from Jim Valenti?"

Everyone nodded, each one looking again at their own copies of the decoded messages.

"So Jim believes that aliens may be planning a major strike on the oil producing regions of the world. What do you military men think?" She looked in particular at the Secretary of Defense, Avi Bernstein, Fleet Admiral Anthony Bellview, the General of the Army, Edgar T Wallace II and the General of the Air Force, Arthur Hollis.

"How old is this message?" General Wallace looked from the handwritten annotations he had his tactical experts make.

"We received it from New Mexico a little after fifteen hundred hours," President Clayton confirmed, glancing at her watch. "You all received the decoded copies one hour ago, one hour after the patrol received them earlier."

"It makes perfect sense to me," the general continued. "They don't rely on oil and we do. If I had the resources to cripple their fuel supply, then I would do it. We'd better suggest to all the oil producers to place SAM batteries around their wells and refineries."

"Do we have any spare?" Paul Anstolini, the Secretary of the Interior asked.

"None," the Secretary of State, Johnathan Teague shook his head. And any we did have are already on their way to our own wells."

"I've already ordered the Atlantic fleet to the gulf," Admiral Bellview added. "We can use our anti-aircraft capabilities to protect the offshore wells. Ours as well and Mexico's and Venezuela's."

"I think we need to pass this message on to the rest of the world," Clayton nodded at the men's responses.

"I'm on it," Vice President Leroy Brown spoke over the speakerphone. "I'll make a call to the UN, and address the house as soon as can be arranged."

The door burst open and a smartly uniformed military policeman entered the room. He marched to the President ands saluted.

"Ma'am," he held out a folded sheet of paper. "This just came in for you. And I have to tell you that you have urgent calls waiting for you from the Ambassadors of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Jordan... heck, every country in the Middle East."

Hillary Clayton's face went white. The room fell deathly silent. The president took the note and read it twice before she folded it back up and handed it to Terrence Maynard, the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

"Ladies and Gentlemen," her voice was hushed. "The Directorate of the CIA has just advised me that two hours ago, the whole of the middle east was subjected to an alien invasion. It looks as though they have been as successful there as they had been in New Mexico, achieving complete surprise, and now appear to be in total control of the region. I have also been informed that oil fields around the globe are currently under aerial attack. There's not a single oilwell that's not burning out of control."

"Dammit!" the general pounded his fist on the table. "What was that Valenti playing at? Why couldn't he have warned us sooner?"

"I'm sure he got that message out as soon as he could," Monica Tate, the Secretary of the Treasury stared at the distant wall. "How was he supposed to know they would attack this soon? And how would he know what they would attack. He probably only made a guess. And it's not like he can pick up a telephone."

Hillary Clayton sat back and listened as her committee discussed the latest news, all at once, without listening to anyone else.

"Ladies and Gentlemen," she called for order. "I'm afraid that this changes things."

She paused, waiting until she had everyone's attention.

"I really don't think I have an alternative to this." She released a heavy sigh and climbed to her feet. "As duly elected President of the United States of America and in accordance with Title 10, US Code 331, I hereby declare that as of," she glanced at her watch, "Seventeen forty five, EST, on the third day of June, 2008, a state of Martial Law exists within our country."

The silence in the room was oppressive. No one said a word.

"Ladies, gentlemen," she nodded to them. "I'm sure you know what to do."

After another moment of silence, everyone started to move. They gathered their notes, rose from their seats and still in silence, made their way to the door.

Hillary Clayton watched them leave. When she was alone, she gave a heavy sigh and wiped away a tear that had threatened to show her for a weak fool in front of her committee. She reached for the phone. Why did she ever enter politics in the first place? This country needed a leader like Winston Churchill at a time like this. Not a woman who came to office with good intentions of turning the US down a more 'friendly' path. She whispered a swift prayer that God would send her someone. Like Bonnie Tyler once sang, she was holding out for a hero.

"Get me the Secretary General of the UN," she spoke softly.

* * *

In a cool, and damp office, deep in the bowels of the old UFO museum in the heart of Roswell, the undisputed Alien Capital of the world now, Nikolas sat in front of a three dimensional holographic image of a series of data elements. His fingers reached into the image, twisted and pulled at the elements which caused them to change. He was studying them, like a human would read a newspaper article.

The door behind him opened, admitting a blast of warm, dry air, as well as a blonde young woman. When the door hissed closed behind her, an ultra fine mist of water sprayed the room, cooling the new air.

"Do you even know what that spray does to my hair?" Tess shook her head.

"Probably not as bad as what the dry air does to my HUSK," Nikolas rolled his eyes.

"Why on earth did you form your HUSK into the shape of an adolescent teenager, anyway?" Tess ran her hand across his back.

"Back on Antar," he looked over his shoulder at her, "I learned that adults talk about things around kids that they wouldn't talk about around adults. So I figured that if I looked like a kid, I could learn things that might have otherwise remained secret from me. But I still needed to be old enough for when I found you..."

"But you still look... while I..."

"Don't worry," he smiled. "When we get back to Antar, you know we hardly age at all, and I'll have my own form back... We'll look the right age for each other."

He pulled her onto his lap, his hand guiding her face to his. They shared a deep kiss.

"So how's it going?" Tess nodded at the image in front of them.

"Complete success," Nikolas shrugged. "Traydn has achieved all of his objectives with his attack on the Middle East. He has seized eighty-five percent of all oil producing capability there. Anything else, as well as all known oil fields in the whole world have been destroyed. Texas, Canada, North Sea, Asia, Nigeria... Thanks to your intel. Without oil, they won't be able to use their mechanized force to attack us. Or resist us if we decide to strike first."

"You are aware of the Federal Oil reserve, right?" Tess gave him a smile.

"Yeah," he nodded. "What do you think Whittaker was up to? Her mission was to work her way into the political arena to locate where these reserves are stored. She failed."

"But the reserves are estimated to last only a year," Tess pointed out. "And that's normal, everyday use. If either one of us launched an offensive, I doubt it would last that long."

"Probably not," Nikolas conceded. "But whatever, the rest of the world will have problems of their own now, and no one will send any assistance to the U.S. when they believe they themselves might be subjected to an invasion."

"Did Traydn meet much resistance?"

"Resistance?" Nikolas snorted. "We met more resistance here in Roswell then Trayden did in the whole of the Middle East."

"Well, he did achieve total surprise," Tess pointed out.

"And we would have too, if you hadn't have used so much explosive that sent Zan to hospital. If those soldiers hadn't been out in the streets..."

"I'm no expert," Tess rolled her eyes. "I told you that you should have let me do it my way. How was I to know that Zan would try to shield her and not himself? She wasn't Parker."

"Talking of Zan," Nikolas eased her from his lap. He stood up beside her. "Have you managed to find anything out yet?"

"No," she shook her head. "I tapped into their internet and have been searching for any strange reports that might have anything to do with four orphans turning up out of the blue. But these were the days right after our invasion. There was a lot a craziness going on. Nearest I could find was a report of some militia men finding three kids washed up on a beach in North Carolina. But that turned out to be some survivors from a private jet that got shot down thinking it was one of our ships."

"He's out there," Nikolas stared at the laminated map of the USA that hung on the wall. "I can feel him." He turned to face Tess. "He and I have unfinished business."

"Unfinished?" Tess laughed. "You killed him yourself once, you heard how he blew himself up a second time. What else is there?"

"I want to obliterate him," Nikolas growled. "I want to wipe him from existence. I want to rid the universe of him."

"And to think," Tess laughed, "that back on Antar, he really admired you. It really bugs you that you were never able to defeat him, doesn't it. That it took a double cross from Kivar to finally defeat him, and even then, he was one step ahead."

"He got lucky," he spat. "But his luck ran out years ago. Now he's just a weak kid."

"We hope," Tess reminded him. "What if he's like, in his thirties or something? What if those pods hatched decades ago, and he's already been through some top military academy? Maybe he's one of the generals who are right now, planning the invasion of New Antar."

"Bring it on," Nikolas gave an evil smile. "It's time we ended this dance, Zan and me."

* * *

Thousands of light years away, on a distant planet in the heart of the same Galaxy that was now tattooed to the small of Julia's back, and to Luke's arm, Lady Dalena moved through the cool halls of the large palace. The palace was located deep within the ice kingdom of Kalacia, situated at the planet's southern pole. Although secretly, this had been one of the many areas that had remained staunchly loyal to the house of Deryn during the war, even as it had remained loyal to Zan after Deryn's execution. Like the other locations, they all waited patiently for the day that Zan's promised return would dawn.

Kivar always suspected that loyalty, but as there were few troops trained in the art of warfare in the frozen tundra, he left them alone. The Kalacians were formidable warriors, but only in the snow. Outside of their own kingdom, they were next to useless and besides, they were few in number. They scarcely constituted a threat. Allowing Dalena to hide herself in such a distant, isolated location did more to remove her as a political threat than any form of imprisonment.

But Kivar did not know that making Kalacia her base gave Dalena two advantages. One was the fact that in the subterranean caverns below the main palace was a state of the art training base. Capable of housing large numbers, people loyal to Zan would come here for training and then return to their homes where they would pretend to be loyal subjects working hard for Antar and Kivar's supremacy. All across Antar, small cells of highly trained warriors waited for the coded message that would tell them of Zan's return. That would be the signal to start their resistance. For all the cells that would spring forth, what the forces loyal to Zan lacked was a large army, a place to gather and train, and a platform from which to launch their assault when the time came. But big things grew from small seeds.

The second advantage was that Kivar detested the cold and did not come to visit. Instead, he would call her on the comms units. Given the choice, Dalena would have preferred that Kivar had no contact with her at all, but she was not that lucky. At his summons, Dalena entered the communications room and studied the holographic image of Kivar as he appeared in front of her. She pressed the button that would cause her own image to appear in front of him.

"Good day, Kivar," her voice was as cold as the outside temperature. "To what do I owe this pleasure?"

"It's just a courtesy call, that's all," his voice had sibilant quality to it. "I'm just concerned for your well being, Dalena. Down in that frozen waste."

"I thank you for your concern," she nodded at his holographic image stiffly. "But I happen to like it down here. Did you know that there are no reptiles in Kalacia? I don't like reptiles, I'm afraid."

"Yes," he nodded. "You have told me that on any number of occasions. If you return, I can see to it that every reptile is removed from the immediate vicinity of the palace. It seems such a lonely place without you."

"There will always be at least one reptile who would manage to escape your vigilance," she shrugged. "And as you never lived in the palace when I was there, how would you know if it would feel any less lonely were I there now? Besides, what would people say?"

"I don't intend to take you as a mistress, my dear lady. It's your hand in marriage I want."

"But you forget, Kivar," Dalena widened her eyes. She knew he had been hoping to marry her for a long time now. Not because he thought her a beauty, or because he was in love with her. Kivar wanted to try and remove the division that after all this time still threatened his rule. He wanted nothing more than to announce the union of their two houses, and the two factions. "I am already married."

"But your husband died years ago," Kivar pointed out in a soft voice. "Decades ago."

"And at your hands, as I recall," Dalena pointed out.

"It was purely political," Kivar shrugged. "It was not motivated by any personal feelings. Surely you can see that."

"In the same way that you can surely see that I will not dishonor my husband's memory or our vows by marrying the man who ordered his... execution."

"He was tried in a court of law, my Lady," his voice wheedled in such a way that made Dalena's skin crawl. "I had no part of that."

"And you claim to rule this planet?" she widened her eyes. "You could have showed leniency. You could have commuted the sentence to some banishment, like down here, or maybe even to another planet. Instead, you let him die. In the same way that you... let my children die. For that alone, Kivar, I can never forgive you. I was there when you promised them they would go unharmed. So please refrain from telling me that this was purely political. They died at your hands out of spite and vengeance. So please do not ask me to marry you again."

She closed the comms link and fought back the tears that threatened to flow. Every time she spoke to Kivar, something would remind her of her children's murders, of her husband's sacrifice. And every time, she would make the same accusation, and then worry afterwards that perhaps, this time, she had pushed him too far. Fighting back her tears, she ran all the way to the safety of her own suite.

"My Lady?" a man spoke at the door, opening it slightly but not coming in. Everyone knew the state Dalena was in after talking with Kivar. The man gave her a moment to compose herself.

"Ah, Count Heldin," he turned to the door. "Please, come in."

Count Heldin was older by perhaps ten years but still looked in remarkable shape for a man his age. He had been one of Deryn's best friends, and most trusted advisors.

"I can't thank you enough for letting me stay here while we wait," she smiled warmly at him. "And for allowing us to use your lands as our base."

"I am but one of many patriots, My Lady," he bowed. "I am not the only one on this planet who hides soldiers from Kivar. Yet I feel blessed that it is I who can boast of your presence."

"You old scoundrel," she grinned. "I can imagine what other boasts you make."

"My Lady!" he gasped his objection, but Dalena couldn't help notice his blushes.

"I'm just teasing you, Heldin," she smiled. "But come, we are old friends, are we not?"

"From happier days, My Lady," he nodded. "And I hope that I live to see the return of those happier times."

"Then when will you start calling me Dalena, as I have asked countless times over these long years?"

"When King Zan gives me permission," he gave her a soft smile.

"Did you just want to chat, Heldin," Dalena indicated the sofa. "Or was there something else?"

"I have two visitors for you," he smiled at her. "The first you had better see at once. He looks to have been travelling hard and I fear for his health. He refuses any treatment until he speaks with you."

"Then you had better show him in," she nodded to the door.

Count Heldin crossed the room, spoke to someone outside, and seconds later a disheveled young man entered, alone. It was as the Count had feared. He looked dreadful.

"My Lady," he gasped. "I bring news."

Her heart started to pound. She now knew that this was one of the team that had remained hidden on the island from which Zan had laid his plans. This team's sole purpose was to monitor the heavens for a signal from Earth. For decades, they had heard nothing. A few years ago, they received word that Zan was alive and well when the beacons had been activated, but since then, nothing.

"The first set of the Royal four have been betrayed," he managed to splutter. "And the second set have been born. My lady, the clock is ticking. We can expect Zan's return imminently."

"How long ago did this happen?" Dalena demanded.

"Our calculations show that the real Zan was reborn a year and a half ago. We just got the transmission."

"Surely a transmission from the Granolith would take seconds. As soon as Zan was born, he would have notified me."

"The transmission wasn't from Zan or from the Granolith," he shook his head. "It was from the sole remaining protector. Apparently things did not go quite to plan... and Zan miscalculated the effect that the human DNA would have on them. Although he is Zan, My Lady," he swallowed. "He is also not Zan."

"Will he return?" her face went white.

"Yes," he nodded. "The protector said that even though he is different, he is also the same. He is bound by honor and he will return, even if the protector has to drag him kicking and screaming."

Once he had departed, complete with Dalena's orders to seek medical attention, food and rest, in that order, Count Heldin returned the room.

"I have another visitor for you," he seemed nervous about this one.

"Is it..." she looked worried. "No, it can't be. Not unless he's playing games with me."

"No, my lady," he shook his head. "It's not Kivar. It's... it's Senator Larek. And I have taken the liberty of having him placed in the Sun Room."

* * *

"Hello, Larek," Dalena breezed into the Sun Room, so called because the glass windows magnified the weak light of the sun, and turned the room in to a bright, warm haven. "It has been too long since I have seen you, my old friend."

"I have been busy," he gave her a smile of apology and embraced her. "How have you been?"

"Oh, you know," she shrugged. "It gets tedious down here with nothing to do except needlepoint, sewing, painting, drawing..."

"And training soldiers," he smiled.

"I have no idea what you are talking about," she frowned.

"Uh huh," his grin grew.

"Did you come to discuss something with me, Larek?" she recovered her composure. "Or hurl accusations against me?"

"Back before the civil war," he smiled away her protests. "Zan and I had started to build a good friendship. I really wish I had been privileged to have served as a Senator under him. He listened, he paid attention and he learned well, as he proved when he acted as General to one of Deryn's battalions. I believe he would have made an even better King."

"Thank you, Larek," she nodded. "Your words bring me great comfort even though it has been so long since his passing."

"I also believe that we might have been great friends. Many times he spoke to me of his plans. Of course, he was young then, and with his youth came impetuousness. He wanted to do so much, and so quickly. Left alone, he might have brought an even greater ruin to Antar. But I told him that he had to learn to walk before he could pilot a star cruiser."

Larek started to chuckle.

"Yes," Dalena smiled at his joke. "That sounds like Zan. Thought and deed were often one with him. I have missed him so terribly. And Vilondra, too."

"I'm sure you will be pleased when they return," he gave her a smile of sympathy.

"Yes," she nodded. Her face burned when she realized her mistake. "What do you mean? I mean..." she stammered. "Larek, they're dead. Everyone knows that."

"Just like everyone opposed to Kivar knows that Zan has promised to return," He spoke softly.

"Larek, I don't..."

"We are old friends, Dalena," he sat on one of the chairs. "I hid you from Kivar during the fighting. I am not, nor will I ever be a lackey of the viper."

The viper was what those opposed to Kivar called him in private.

"I met him, you know."

"Who, Kivar?" she frowned.

"No," he shook his head. "Zan. Rather, the Zan that was reborn. The one on Earth."

Dalena blinked for a moment, her desire to learn all about Zan overriding her desire to maintain the secret.

"When?" her voice was hoarse. "And when did you go to... where he is?"

"Oh, maybe... five, six years ago," he shrugged. "And I never went to Earth. I possessed a human male there and spoke through him. We all did."

"We?" she raised an eyebrow.

"Kathana, Sero, Hanar and myself," he nodded. "We took part in a summit. Kivar arranged it, although he would not risk a possession. He had Nikolas there representing him."

"I see," she nodded. "He doesn't want to risk a possession so he gets someone else to do it for him."

"No, you misunderstand," Larek shook his head. "Nikolas was there. In person."

"What?" he voice grew tight.

"I thought you knew," he narrowed his eyes. "Someone betrayed Zan and told Kivar about the plan. He sent Nikolas and a squad of soldiers after them. They were only a few weeks or so behind them."

"And Zan attended this summit? Was Vilondra there?"

"They all were," he nodded. "Although it was confusing."

"Confusing how?" Dalena cocked her head to one side.

"Neither Rath nor Vilondra were anything like I remembered of them. They seemed more... selfish. Self centered. And they were... uh... romantically linked."

"That doesn't sound like them at all," she shook her head. "What of Zan and Ava?"

"Ava was as I remember her. Clingy. She scarcely left Zan's side. As for Zan... he seemed different, yet the same. And I could sense this huge sadness within him."

"And what was the summit about?"

"What else?" Larek shrugged. "The Granolith. We discovered then that Kivar is not in possession of it, as he has been saying. And we were to help persuade Zan to surrender it to Kivar, to send it home. He promised us a cut in taxes if we managed to persuade him. Everyone was urging him to return, even Rath and Vilondra, and for a moment, I really thought he was going to do it. He seemed so... lost. So weak. But he seemed to reach inside himself and he suddenly grew this... inner strength. Maybe it was the girl, I don't know. But he refused, and the summit ended."

"What girl?" Dalena frowned again. "You mean Ava? She gave him some inner strength?"

"No," he shook his head. "I had occasion to meet Zan a couple of other times after that summit. It seems that the human I possessed knew Zan personally. Oh, Zan liked to be called Max, by the way."

"Oh," she shook her head, remembering the message about Zan not being quite Zan. "But what of the girl?"

"Every time I saw him, after the conference, he seemed to be with this human girl. A pretty little thing, and so intelligent for her race. And Max... Zan, I mean... he seemed to care for her a great deal. But he was always so sad around her. I would like to say that his sadness was because his affection was not returned, but it was. She seemed as attracted to him as he was to her. They both seemed so sad, though. Almost as though they really wanted to be... together, but were prevented from doing so."

"Because he is still married to Ava," Dalena pointed out bluntly. "They got married when they were deciding whether or not to accept Kivar's deal. And Zan is in love with Ava."

"Is that what you think?" Larek seemed surprised. "I never felt that Zan was in love with Ava. And in any case, from what I learned, Zan was reborn as a six year old boy. Why wouldn't he fall in love with another girl as he grew up?"

"But she's a human," she wrinkled her nose.

"And so is Zan," Larek shrugged. "Yes, he has Zan's soul, and his mind, but he has a human heart, and it beats loudest when this other girl is in the room."

"The sooner we get them home, the better," Dalena shook her head.

"Dalena, do you hear any news of what Kivar is up to?"

"Not really. Some reports of troop movements but he never seems to do anything with them."

"That's where you are wrong," Larek shook his head. "Kivar has already sent two invasion forces to Earth. The second one left a year and a half ago, its mission to destroy the regions that produce the fuel the Human's machines of war rely upon."

"And the first?"

"The first arrived on Earth just as the second left Antar. Their mission was to find and capture Zan and Granolith."

"Except they failed," Dalena nodded. "Or rather, they ended up killing Zan, right?"

"I had hoped to break the news to you a little more gently," Larek whispered. "I just heard the other day. As soon as I did, I possessed my human, and read his thoughts. They were all killed, I'm afraid. From what I could work out, Ava vanished some time ago. I'm assuming she died although my human does not know how. And he overheard someone close to the kids talking about how they were all killed out in the desert, during the invasion. I'm so very sorry."

He looked to Dalena expecting to see her break down. She was sitting deep in thought.

"When I first heard the rumor of Zan's promise to return," he continued. "I had hoped... But now..."

"Hold on to that hope," she urged him. "Zan had planned further ahead than that. He created two sets of clones, not one. The first were the decoys, to lure out the one, or ones betraying him. That seems to have been accomplished. From what you were saying earlier, my guess is that it was Rath and Vilondra. So now Zan has been reborn in the second set of Pods and is even now preparing for his return, with his young bride, Ava at his side. The once and future King and Queen of Antar."

"I look forward to the day," he nodded with a smile. "Tell me, Dalena. Out of friendship, a love for the same people, and a mutual desire to rid ourselves of a serpent, is there anything I can do to help?"

"There is," she nodded with a smile. "Indeed there is."

* * *
Last edited by WR on Sat Aug 19, 2006 12:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Red Shift Part 3 Chapter 2

Post by WR » Sat Aug 19, 2006 2:24 pm

Hi everyone!

Thanks for all you comments and personal messages, with you guesses and questions. I hope things are becomong clear now regarding the memory issues ;) Someof you are nearly there.

Guess what? I have some time to reply individually again :)

roswck - remember that Zan's Mom is not aware of what is going on with the podsters. She will remember that the original plan was not to get involved and so on. So to her, Zan not being with Ava is bad news.

Arianneleigh - I like to give these little insights to what else is going on. It's also a good way to set up future events. :wink:

Timelord31 - I'm not sure if there will be a Part 4. I might break part 3 into 2 though, depending on how long it takes me to get to a certain point.

Ellie - Yes. It was hard for me to do that to. But I had to in order to set some other stuff up.

roswell3053 - no one is sure as to who did or did not betray Zan. That was the reason for a part of Zan's plan. And Zan's mother knew nothing of the human involvement

AlwaysRoswell - Well, I hope that I am known for my interesting plots and my complexities :) Glad you are enjoying it.

frenchkiss70 - Aw, you should know me by now! :wink: NO, Zan's mother knows nothing, only that she believed Zan had fallen in love with Ava. And please remember!!! FMax was a hoax that the skins played on Liz. There was NO Future Max.

Emz80m - Yes. Jim is there and involved, and clearly moving on with his life. As to whether or not they will ever meet Jim... time witll tell.

Roswelllostcause - Thank you :)

sonii - even if you haven't left fb before, you are still always welcome. Thank you for doing so now. :)

tequathisy - You are almost on the right track. But it's not something Zan?Max?luke wanted. but something he was told. And part of Luke's problem is, yes, he doesn't want to drah Julia into the abys. And why might that be? ... clue tonight.

roswellluver - thank you :)

paper - Remember that the there was NO future Max. He was a hoax played on Liz. But otherwise, you are nearly there. YOu are just missing a little elemant. And yes, you are right about Jim and the urgency. But how were they to know? An he's hardly been trained for the job, has he? :wink:

VeronicaB - Yes, Luke and Julia do need to be locked in a room somewhere ;) preferably with a threat to Julia;s life to make Luke see sense :wink: LOL As for Zan's Mom and the knowledge of traitors... she's totally in the dark.

AJK001 - Where would our couple be without someone or something in their way? :lol:

Red Shift

Part 3

Chapter 2

Leia sat in her seat, her back against the window while her long legs stretched across the other seat and just hung in the aisle. Across from her, the newlyweds, Michael and Maria, sat together. Their heads were close, as well they should be. She watched them for a while. When they weren't dozing, they were making out. Other times, they were deep in some conversation. When they were talking, it was almost as if they were in another world. Or perhaps they were just in another time. A time that only they could remember.

Leia often found herself wondering what their lives were like back then. What their other friends, who they could only remember as vague impressions had been like. From the few things they had been able to remember, it sounded as though their lives had been filled with danger, as well as close friendship and love. She would give anything to have been a part of that group.

And she couldn't help wondering about their king, the man they were now on a mission to rescue. What kind of man was he? Was he tall, dark and handsome? Was he the typical Prince Charming from the fairy tales? Or more like the one from Shrek? She knew that at one stage, he had fallen in love with a friend of Maria's, but that friend had died, murdered by their enemies. Did this make the King available? Maybe she... A shudder coursed through her body. No. That thought just didn't seem right, somehow.

Luke sat alone in a seat two rows behind Michael and Maria. He was staring out of the window. He hadn't moved, except with the motion of the bus, ever since he had sat down a couple of hours ago. He still looked so lost and vulnerable. Leia couldn't help wondering if maybe it had been a mistake not to bring Julia, or at least given her the option of coming. She did seem to give Luke something he seemed to be missing when she was not around. It was as if she made him complete.

Leia continued to watch him. She knew that he was upset, and she also knew that he needed this time to mourn her absence. He needed to let it out, to work it from his system in his own way. But at the same time, she did not want it to control him. Somehow, Luke not in control seemed as wrong as... well, Luke without Julia. But she would wait, and watch, and when the time seemed right, she would sit with him and get him talking. But for now, she would give him the time and the space he wanted.

* * *

Anyone watching him might have thought that Luke was watching the passing Florida countryside. That was the farthest from the truth as you could get. Luke was concentrating solely on the feeling of Julia's presence. He could feel her like she was a part of him, and he cherished that feeling so much, he was trying to remember it forever.

And as she grew further and further away, every particle of his existence was being pulled back to her, almost as if they all knew he was supposed to be with her, even if his mind had rejected that idea. What had those dolphins said to him?

'Oh, great, Luke,' he chastised himself. 'Get a grip! So now you're cracking up, thinking that what happened that day was real and not some hallucination caused by a mild form of sunstroke!'

While he knew that he could do things that no one else on the planet could - excepting a certain portion of the population of New Mexico, and two other passengers on this bus - he doubted that becoming Dr. Dolittle was a part of his repertoire. So instead of thinking these strange thoughts, he concentrated on that special feeling and counted the mile markers at the side of the road.

But the problem with mile markers was that there was a long gap between them. A mile, to be exact. And travelling in a bus at fifty miles an hour allowed you 1.2 seconds to make the count and a whole minute to think of things while waiting for the next one. And in this case, 'things' consisted of a certain dark haired girl who was... who always would be, holding on to his heart.

* * *

Time passed, as did the miles. When Leia saw him do something other than sitting and staring, when she saw him turn from the window and bring his knees up to press against the back of the seat in front of him, she slid from her own seat and joined him.

"I remember," she spoke softly, "when I came out of my pod, in that room, you were there, waiting for me. You already had that towel and you wrapped me up in it at once, helping me to feel safe and warm in that new environment."

"I remember that, too," he nodded.

"I think if you hadn't have been there, Luke, I would have been really scared. I really think I might have freaked out or something."

Luke did not know what to say.

"But you 'were' there. And you were by yourself."

Luke nodded again.

"That means that when you emerged from your pod, you were all alone. There was no one there to help you, to wrap 'you' in a towel and make things seem better for you."

"I guess," he shrugged.

"Well, think of me as that towel you never had, Luke," she smiled. "Let's talk about it."

"There's nothing to say," Luke shook his head. "I'm here, Julia's back there. I miss her."

"You love her," she smiled. "Of course you miss her."

"It's more than that, Leia," Luke sighed. "I really can't see myself with anyone else. Ever. And I have let her go to be with someone else. Just because she has this... destiny."

"She would have come, if you'd asked her to."

"I want her to be safe," Luke looked at Leia. "You, me, Michael, and even in some way, Maria... we have no choice. We have to do this. But Julia, she has the choice."

"Which you took away from her."

"I already feel guilty enough, Leia," Luke's eyes grew hard.

"Why do you feel guilty?" Leia was surprised. "I know you did this because you wanted her to stay safe, so why feel guilty about that?"

"I don't know," he shrugged. "I feel like I've broken a promise I made to her. Except I don't ever remember making her a promise."

"I always thought that the way you two felt about each other was weird," Leia chuckled. "I, uh, mean that in a nice way."

"You don't know the half of it," Luke gave a soft snort. "Ever since that day... you know, when she got shot, I've been having these... uh, dreams. These really amazing dreams about Julia."

"Oh, please," Leia rolled her eyes with a grin. "Spare me the details."

"No," Luke shook his head. "Not like that. Well... not entirely. In my dreams, we're getting closer, and then we're dating..." His face fell to a frown. "In some we're fighting. I don't care for those dreams. I prefer the others."

"Who wouldn't," Leia smiled. Luke and Julia, fighting? That would be a true Kodak moment. "But I don't see what's so bad about that. I mean, there's nothing weird about having dreams about a girl you're in love with."

"In my dreams," he looked around. "We're not Luke and Julia. We're this other couple. We're called Max and Liz. And we live somewhere else. The desert, I think. And you guys are in them, too. Michael and Mari are there. They fight a lot, but they make out just as much. And you're there, too. But you have different names. And Anders. Lyle appears in them too, and we don't get along because he used to date Julia... I mean, Liz. It's... Like I said, weird."

"Do you think Julia has these dreams too?" Leia widened her eyes.

"God, I hope not," Luke shook his head. "If she ever suspected that I was, you know..." he pointed upwards, "she would probably take off down the road, screaming."

"You don't believe that any more than I do," Leia shook her head. "You know as well as I do that Julia wouldn't care. Just as long as you were still you. So don't you dare sell your memories of Julia short, okay? She like, totally loves you. And I'll tell you something else about her."

"What's that?"

"She'll wait for you, Luke. As far as she's concerned, there is no one else. She's going to wait for you to go back and get her. No matter how long it takes."

As Leia fell silent, Luke couldn't help wondering what would have happened if he had allowed that strange connection he had felt with Julia those two times to open. Would she have seen him, the real him? Would she have taken a step back, looked at him, and thrown herself in his arms, never to be parted again? Or would she have run to the nearest authorities, or worse, Richard Madly, screaming 'alien', alien'. As much as he wished for the former, he couldn't help fearing the latter. Luke really believed that seeing her rejecting him would destroy him. Which was why he fought so hard to resist the temptation of kissing her while they held one another all of last night.

The bus arrived in Orlando a little after eleven o'clock that morning. The bus depot was hot. Surrounded by the concrete and asphalt of the station, and with the tall buildings stifling what little breeze there was, it felt hotter. They had to wait an hour for their connection, so Maria suggested that they wait in the air-conditioned waiting room. Michael had asked who made her the brains of the gang.

Luke couldn't help considering that they should be thinking about their plan, but the crowded waiting room was not the place to do that. They had yet to discuss what they would do once they reached their initial destination of El Paso. From there, he knew they would have to find a way into the alien controlled lands of New Mexico, and then on to Roswell, which was the last known location of their King.

Luke excused himself and went to the large bookstore at the far end of the bus depot. Maps. He knew they would need some maps of the area. He bought one that showed the whole of New Mexico, and another, that he found right at the back of stack of newer maps, one that detailed the terrain to a range of 1 to 25,000. The detail was incredible, showing contours, and terrain, even remote buildings. Every two and a half inches on the map represented a mile of terrain. This is just what they would need. Once paid for, he tucked the maps at the bottom of his bag and returned to the waiting room.

He looked across at his friend, Michael, and wondered about the relationship he had with his King. He had called him his best friend, which in a strange sort of way, had hurt. He hoped that Michael's friendship with the King had formed a bond. How were they going to locate him? And once they had, would they have to fight to free him? What did they, a couple a sixteen-year-old kids - even if two of them had lived before - know about springing a person from a guarded location? Or what if the King was hiding? If he was as powerful as Michael and Maria had suggested - and why wouldn't he be? He would have had years to work on his powers - how could they ever find him? Luke was starting to feel grateful that Michael was the one in charge of this expedition. Luke had no idea where to even begin.

They left Orlando around noon, heading for Tallahassee. Even though the bus was comfortable, with air conditioning, Maria was already regretting their choice of transport. It was just so boring. Still, she was glad of the alone time it afforded her with Michael. They had spent much of the time trying to fill the gaps in their memories... well, some of them. She just wished she could remember the names of their friends, especially her best friend. Why couldn't she remember her best friend's name? Or even what she looked like? After all, they had done practically everything together. Including falling in love with a couple of aliens. How the heck had that happened, she wondered? Why would two sensible small town girls fall in love with a pair of aliens, who for all they knew devoured their partners after mating. And why would two aliens doing their level best to go by unnoticed risk everything to reveal themselves to a couple of human girls who might have turned them in to the nearest authorities? God, she thought. The risks they must have taken.

Leia was sitting next to Luke again, bringing him out of his depression. At least he looked a little like he was alive, now. She knew he was really missing Julia, and that he was upset by the thought that he might never see her again, but at least he was with them again. She noticed that he was even reading from time to time. She wondered what the book was, but turned back to Michael to continue their conversation. Or their making out. Whichever.

As they were nearing Tallahassee, a little after seven that evening, Maria was noticing that more and more now, a lot of activity involving army vehicles and the police was taking place. She wondered what was going on. If she didn't know better, Maria would have said that they were in the process of setting up roadblocks.

When the bus pulled into the Tallahassee depot, a uniformed policeman leapt through the doors before anyone could even think about getting off.

"Can you all listen up please?" he called out, attracting everyone's attention. "I want everyone to collect their belongings and get off the bus."

A few people voiced their objections.

"Yes," he sounded less friendly now. "Even those of you with tickets beyond Tallahassee. Please get off the bus. And do it now."

As everyone climbed off the bus, the policeman told them to join a growing crowd of people at the far end of the depot, thankfully in the shade. There were soldiers everywhere, all of them holding a rifle, forming a perimeter. With most people grumbling only to their neighbors, everyone made their way to the gathering.

Under the watchful eye of the many guards - for that was what they appeared to be - the people waited for whatever was going to happen next. Many of them were feeling very nervous.

"I don't like this," Michael murmured to Luke, so that only the four of them could hear. "We should think about getting out of here."

"Let's wait," Luke spoke to Leia and Michael via telepathy. "Let's find out what's happening, then make up our minds after that. Michael, tell Maria."

They both nodded, and Michael leaned closer to Maria, his lips moving almost silently. Everyone returned to waiting, with more people joining them as other busses pulled into the depot.

At last, a uniformed officer climbed the steps to a makeshift podium that had been hidden from Luke and his friends by the vast crowd. In his hands, he held a megaphone. He held this to his mouth.

"Can I have your attention please!" It came out as an order, and not a question. Everyone fell silent. "As of seventeen forty-five this afternoon," he continued, "a state of Martial Law has existed within the United States of America. Just so you know, this makes the military the police force and you should treat us with the same respect you would show them. Only more so, because unlike the police, we don't have to worry about any paperwork if we shoot you. Our soldiers are trained to shoot to kill, and to ask questions later. If you don't want to get shot, then obey the law."

There was a soft murmur throughout the crowd. Luke and Michael exchanged glances.

"All unnecessary travel has been suspended. This means that unless your journey is essential, you will be travelling no further."

"How do we know if our journey is essential or not?" a man called from the crowd.

"We will make that distinction for you," the officer nodded at the man. When I have finished speaking, you will form orderly lines at each of the desks we will be setting up. We will check your ID's and if your journey is not considered essential, you will be issued with transit papers to your home address, as specified on your ID. And nowhere else. The only exception will be for any soldier who is returning to base, or for any volunteers heading for the training bases to sign up. If this is the case, make sure you inform the soldier when you get to the desk. He will issue your papers to the nearest base."

"I need to see a map," Luke spoke to Leia. "A map of the training bases."

Leia nodded to him. Luke grabbed Michael's shoulder and gave a gentle tug. Together, the four of them moved to the back of the crowd. Already, the desks had appeared and the people were rushing to form lines. Luke shook his head. He wondered how many soldiers would be tied up administrating this military law. Soldiers that could be better used against the aliens, in the event of a conflict. When they had reached the back of the crowd, and effectively the end of the lines, they could see that already, soldiers were removing all of the local maps.

"The border area," Luke informed Leia. "Between southern New Mexico and Texas. I need the closest base to El Paso."

Leia looked at the soldiers, trying to determine which one might have a suitable map. As a soldier walked past her, she turned to face him, her eyes closed tightly.

"You should speak to that guy over there," he nodded to her.

Leia smiled and looked over at the soldier the first one indicated. He shook his head and approached the quartet. From an inside pocket, he produced a map. He started to unfold it, revealing the westernmost regions of Texas.

"Here you go," his Texas accent indicated why this man would be carrying a map of the Texas region. "The nearest base to El Paso would be here," he stabbed the open map with his finger. "Midland."

Midland was situated on the I-20, perhaps forty miles due east of the south eastern most corner of New Mexico. More importantly to Luke, if was on the way to El Paso. With a smile of thanks to Leia, Luke led the others to join the nearest line.

"Where are we going?" Michael demanded. "If you think I'm going home to Raleigh and let Maria go to Jackson... Luke, we have a mission, remember?"

"We're not going home," Luke smiled.

"Our ID's?" Michael held his up.

"We're going to volunteer," Luke grinned at him. "We'll go directly to this place called Midland in Texas. We don't even need to change our ID."

"Uh, how does that help?" Maria held up her hand. "I mean, I have no doubt that you two might make excellent soldiers, but what if you get posted to some other town to man roadblocks? No searching then. And what about us? Luke, we might all get split up."

"When we get to Midland," he grinned, "we change our papers. Then we just... slip away."

"Just like that?" Maria narrowed her eyes.

"Just like that," Michael grinned with narrowed eyes. He liked this plan.

* * *
Last edited by WR on Mon Aug 28, 2006 3:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Red Shift Part 3 Chapter 3

Post by WR » Mon Aug 28, 2006 4:25 pm

Hi everyone!

Sorry for the delay in posting this weekend, but it was a Bank Holiday over here. You know the old saying, make hay while the sun shines. :lol:

Thank you so much for you comments and feedback. I'm glad you are still enjoying the story, and I hope this next chapter will help those of you concerned about the separation of Luke and Julia.

Just a reminder, there is a reason why Maria and Michael cannot reconcile Julia with Liz and Luke with Max. And that reason has been mentioned already and can be found in Part 2 Chapter 2.

Emz80m - Yes. You can take Max out of the leader, but you can't take... nevermind :wink:

roswellluver - Well... getting that way :wink: lol

thetvgeneral - welcome! :) and thank you.

Ellie - Ah, remember that Maria acnt remember her friend's name. And nwither can they remember the leader's name. So telling Maria wont help. :wink:

roswell3053 - As yet, Leia has not considered dreamwalking Julia

frenchkiss70 - Ha Ha! Like it! Yes, he knows it was a mistake but you know Max and how much he hated putting Liz in danger. Why would Luke, who went to all that trouble to make sure Julia did not have happen to her what Liz did... uhm... you see what I mean?? :lol:

Roswelllostcause - They won't realize Luke is anything until something happens. :wink:

BehrObsession - Like I said earlier, the names would mean nothing to Maria and Michael. It seems that part of their memory is missing.

Jull_ana - Well, I am glad that you "unbanned" this story and have enjoyed it thus far. And I hope that url I gave you has helped sate your demands for more! :wink: And thats me. Mr. Think-outside-the-box. :)

paper - It's not so much that Luke is being dense, as trying so hard not to subject Julia to any dangers. Think back to Max's confession to Liz at her graveside. That should help explain a lot of Luke's actions.

roswck - Ah. Maria and Michael don;t have enough memory to put two and two together yet. Sorry :wink:

Okay, on with the story. I wonder how Julia is taking Luke's dparture?

Red Shift

Part 3

Chapter 3

As soon as the door clicked, signifying that Luke had left, Julia rose from the bed and crossed the room to the window. She watched him as he walked down the road, heading to meet up with his friends. Tears were streaming from her eyes. It was so hard not to just rush through the door and go after him. But she had promised him that she would stay behind, where it was safe. In turn, he promised that if he ever there came a time when believed that she would not be in danger around him, he would call for her. Although she doubted he meant it, it gave her at least a little hope. She really hoped that this was not the last time that she would ever see Luke.

She looked down to her hand, at the white rose he had placed there. She wondered where he had found it. She lifted the bloom to her face and inhaled its' bouquet. She kissed the petals and looked again to his receding shape.

"Goodbye, Luke," she whispered.

Still crying, she pulled on her shoes and gathered her few belongings. After checking to make sure she had left nothing behind, she slipped out of the room. It was time to go home and face the music. She knew that she would be grounded all summer for this. But that didn't matter, because without Luke, there would be no summer. She would probably be forbidden to go within a hundred yards of Luke now in any case. Her summer, if not her life, was over.

* * *

The confrontation with her parents had been bad, but nowhere near as bad as she thought it might have been. Their anger had once tempered Julia had explained that nothing had happened between them and that all the two of them had done was to talk until they had fallen asleep. But Julia had been correct in the fact that she had been banned from all contact with Luke, at least until her sixtieth birthday. That was the condition of her not being grounded. Julia had agreed to that condition, because she knew with Luke gone, it made little difference anyway. But she needed what friends she had left around her right now, and to see them, she needed her freedom.

The worst part of her punishment, however, was the realization that she could no longer say any negative things about the blue eyed wonder boy, Richard. It had not been Richard who had kept her out all night. And they had also been rather angry at her little 'lie' to Richard regarding the time and place of the wedding. They had naturally assumed that she had told him those things under Luke's influence. Richard had apparently called round to see her last night, and had told her parents everything. He had been livid.

"I'll talk to him," she sighed with a slow shake of her head.

It promised to be a long summer.

* * *

"So he's really gone then," Sandra sat down next to her at Scoops.

"Yeah," Julia nodded, staring down at her hands as she twisted a paper packet of sugar around her fingers.

"You okay?"

"No," Julia shook her head. "I don't think I'll ever be okay again."

"He'll come back, babe," Sandra pulled her into a friendly hug. "That guy was just too much in love with you not to. I mean, come on! You guys danced for fourteen songs in a row, not once breaking apart. And only the first song was a slow one."

"I don't think he will," she looked up with tears in her eyes.

"You never really explained what it was he had to do," Sandra looked puzzled. "I mean, he'll be back next spring break, won't he?"

"Hey," Anders called a greeting from across Scoop's patio.

He, Lyle and Raul were walking toward them.

"Where's Luke and Leia?" Lyle looked around as he sat down opposite the two girls.

"They left," Julia was fighting back the tears.

"They only just got here," Raul showed his surprise. "They not staying for the summer?"

"No," she looked down again.

Julia didn't see Sandra shake her head or draw her finger across her throat.

"So where did Alison and Hans go on their honeymoon?" Anders asked.

"And what was with the funny names?" Raul remembered the confusing situation at the ceremony. "Why did the priest call them... what was it? Michael and Maria?"

"Don't know," was all Julia could mumble. How could she even try to explain what she herself did not fully understand?

The three boys looked at each other in confusion before turning to Sandra.

"Julia's been banned from seeing Luke," she told them, knowing how that alone would explain Julia's mood. "So even if he was here, she'd still be upset."

"Banned?" Lyle's eyes widened. "Bummer."

"How come?" Anders shook his head. "I mean, Luke's probably the nicest guy I ever met."

"Because I spent the night with him, okay?" Julia snapped. "We went to a motel after the wedding and I didn't go home until this morning, after Luke left. Okay?"

The boys stared at her with widened eyes of shock. Not only at her statement but at the way she said it.

"So you and Luke, huh?" Lyle smirked, trying to lighten the mood.

"Shut up Lyle," Julia spat.

"Never mind," Raul squeezed into the spot next to Julia and wrapped his arm around her. "You still have us, right guys?"

"Right," the others answered.

"It's not the same," Julia shook her head. "Not by any means."

"Yeah," Raul nodded. "But you know, maybe if you like... you know, maybe spend some time with us... maybe you'd, you know, maybe you might like... one of us. Just as much."

"I gotta go," Julia looked at her watch.

She moved out from under Raul's arm and after climbing from her seat, she headed toward town.

"Was it something I said?" Raul looked in surprise at the others.

"Jeez," Anders shook his head. "Couldn't you at least have given her a few days before you hit on her? She really likes Luke."

"What?" Raul objected. "Like neither of you thought about asking her out."

"Thought about it," Lyle nodded. "But do it? No way. She and Luke?" He crossed his fingers. "They're like that."

"She only had to say no," Raul shook his head. "It's not like I was forcing myself on her or anything."

"She really did have to go," Sandra informed them. "She has an appointment with her doctor."

"Oh," Anders looked full of concern. "Is she sick?"

"Nah," Sandra shook her head. "It's a psychiatrist."

"Her parents are making her see a shrink just 'cause she slept with Luke?" Lyle's jaw dropped.

"For the record," Sandra glared at him, "that's all they did. Sleep."

"But why the shrink?" Lyle persisted.

"Remember last spring, when she got shot?" Everyone nodded. "Well... she started having these dreams. Really, really strange ones, that's all. And he's trying to help her."

* * *

"It was a really weird dream, Doc," Julia was laying back on the couch, her eyes staring unfocused at the ceiling. "And it wasn't like any of the others. This was the first dream that I've had that really scared me."

"Let's talk about this dream before I put you under, Julia," the doctor scribbled a few notes. "Maybe we can use something from this."

"If you think it will help," she nodded.

"Proceed," the doctor smiled.

"Okay..." she took a deep breath. "I'm in the Crashdown, kay? And I'm just about to start my shift. Max came into the café and just took my had and said let's go. Just like that. He wouldn't even let me tell Maria that I was going which is so not Max at all."

"I see," the doctor was writing in his pad.

"Anyway, Max takes me to this black sports car. You know, soft top and everything? It was just really strange."

"Why is this strange?" the doctor looked at her.

"Because Max drives this old army jeep. It's like, on it's last legs. I think he keeps it running with his willpower alone."

"I see," the doctor snorted. "Okay, please continue."

"I ask him about the car. He says it's a loaner 'cause his jeep's in the shop. I guess I should have known something was up because Max never puts his jeep in the shop. Anyway, he says let's go for a drive. He's my boyfriend, you know? So I say yes. But I learned he was not really Max. He..."

"Wait," the doctor stopped her. "What do you mean, he was not really Max?"

"In my dream," Julia reminded him. It wasn't Max, it was someone else. Pretending to be Max."

"How did he do that?" the doctor frowned.

"It was a dream," Julia shrugged. "I mean, I don't know."

"How did you find out it wasn't him?"

"I... I can't remember," she narrowed her eyes in concentration. "I did something. And whatever I did, I saw something that let me know it wasn't Max. It was... strange."

"What was strange?"

"I don't know," Julia gave another shake of her head. "All I can remember is that I got scared when I found out it wasn't Max."

"Why did this person pretend to be Max?" the doctor persisted.

"I don't know," Liz shrugged. "No, wait! Yes I do. He told me. He wanted to use me as bait. That's what he said. I was the bait. For some kind of trap."

"And how did that make you feel, Julia?"

"Not me," she gave him a blank stare. "Liz. It was Liz who was being used. And it made her feel sick. That after everything, she would be the cause of Max's capture. She thought that the trap was for Max."

"And was it?"

"No," Julia frowned. "It was a trap to catch someone else. Wait. I think it was a trap to catch the FBI."

The doctor's eyes widened.

"Why would this... duplicate Max want to trap the FBI?"

"I think... I think it's because the FBI were after Max, and this man was supposed to protect him. But there was something off about him. I don't think he liked Max."

The doctor scribbled rapidly. There were too many questions rising from this dream. He decided to stay with one thread at a time.

"Why would the FBI be after Max?"

"Because they think that Max is a..." she hesitated. "They think Max killed some people."

"I see," he nodded. "And did he?"

"Max? A murderer?" Julia seemed surprised. She stared to shake her head. "No, Max is gentle and kind... There is absolutely no way could he ever hurt anyone."

"How do you know?" he raised his eyebrows.

"I... I'm not sure," her eyebrows knitted together in thought. "I just... know."

"So what happened when this trap sprung?" the doctor decided against pursuing this line any further. "What happened when the FBI came to rescue you?"

"This is where the dreams get kind of confusing," Julia seemed to collapse in on herself. "And a little frightening. In the car, I managed to use my phone to let Max know that I was in trouble. The real Max, I mean. Him and the rest of the gang came after me. Leia, Hans, Anders, Alison, and..." Julia's voice went tight. "Her."

"Who is that?" the doctor looked up. Another reference to this mysterious female.

"I don't know her name. Liz did, but I never heard it. In the dream, I mean. But she's evil. I know that. And I don't, I mean Liz doesn't... trust her. But they do. After all, why wouldn't they?"

"I see," he nodded. "And they rescued you? Just like that?"

"The fake Max took me into the hall of mirrors," Julia started to shed some tears. "The real Max found us and came after us. With all the mirrors, it got real confusing. But before Max could get to me, the FBI got to the real Max. I... I mean, Liz was never more scared in all her life. They took him away somewhere. Leia managed to find out that they took them to this place... a secret place. Somewhere out in the desert, unused."

"How did she do that?"

"I don't remember," Julia shook her head. "She just did. And we went to rescue him."

"Why would they take him to this secret place if they thought Max was just a criminal?" the doctor asked. "Why didn't they just take him to jail? What kind of secret places was this?"

"I don't know," Julia squeezed her eyes shut.

In a quiet recess of her mind, something clicked. His power, she told herself. Max had the power to heal. And when he healed, he left a silver hand print, which was similar to a mark left by someone who had been killed... Killed by that other Max. The FBI wanted him because of his powers.

"They thought Max could heal people," Julia spoke out loud before she could stop herself. Her eyes squeezed tight against a sudden pain in her head.

"I see," the doctor gave a very exaggerated nod. "Now we're getting somewhere, Julia. Do you think that this has something to do with your experience last spring? Do you think you are perhaps giving Max this power because subconsciously, you wish that your friend, Luke had some secret powers? Perhaps in your subconscious mind, you wish that Luke could have healed you?"

Oh my God! Julia's eyes flew open. He did! She realized now, that Luke had healed her of her gunshot wound. Not completely, but enough to save her life and yet not raise any suspicion. Suspicion that would point any fingers at him, or at her. Luke was trying to prevent the same things that happened to Max... almost as if... Wheels turned in Julia's mind. As if Max had really lived before, in the same way that Alison had said Michael...

Her eyes opened, wide. She sat up quickly.

Doctor," she pulled her sneaker on. "I have to go."

"But the time's not up, and we have made such progress...

"Sorry," she shrugged, heading for the door. "I gotta go before it's too late."

"Before what's too late?" the doctor called at the closing door. "Julia! Julia!"

* * *

Hurrying through the streets, Julia was replaying her conversation with Alison... no, with Maria. She had said that they were going to find Michael, Luke and Leia's leader, how this leader had tried to do something to her before she died. Julia knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this leader had been trying to heal Maria. And that dream she had, the one where the gun had gone off. When she was feeling cold, and sleepy, Julia knew that Liz had been shot and that Max had healed her. Max had been so in love with Liz, even in secret, that he had risked everything to heal her. Just like Luke, who she had discovered was in love with her, had risked everything in healing her. She remembered that 'memory' of a silver handprint. She never had it because Luke made sure she didn't. But Max did not hide it on Liz. Max had not even known it would appear. This time, Luke had got it right.

But not everything. Michael, Maria, Luke and Leia were right this minute on their way to New Mexico to find the missing leader, a man who could heal. And that made Max the leader they were looking fore. And that also made Max... Luke! They did not realize that the person they were looking for was Luke. Luke was Max. They were really looking for Luke and they were going to put themselves in danger doing it. They were going to put Luke in danger! They were going to deliver Luke to 'Her'. She had to stop them.

As soon as she reached home, Julia moved with a great purpose. She thrust handfuls of clothes into an old backpack. She grabbed her bankcard and hurried for the door. She paused for a moment wishing she had time to leave her parents a note, but they would just not understand. With a heavy sigh, she left her home behind her.

Her first stop was the bank. She withdrew her maximum daily limit, $500. After she withdrew her money, she hurried for the bus station, hoping that the ticket would not cost anymore than that. She might even have to break up her journey. She glanced at her watch. It was seventeen forty-five. The line at the depot was longer than she had hoped, and stood, rather impatiently, waiting for her turn.

Just as she got to the window, a man stepped out from an office.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he called out with his arms upraised. "Can I have your attention please?"

Everyone stopped and looked to the speaker.

"I'm sorry to have to tell you that due to some major alien related incidents that have been occurring around the world today, the President has declared a state or Martial Law.

The uproar was loud and long. The poor man struggled to regain everyone's attention.

"I'm afraid that means all unnecessary transportation has been forbidden. If you need to travel home, then you're to report to the nearest police stations. I'm really sorry, but there will be no more busses today."

Julia was trapped.

* * *

"Julia?" Anders called from behind her.

She was on her way home, and with the news that her pursuit of Luke was impossible, she had lost all of her enthusiasm. The bag seemed heavier now and she was struggling with it.

"Oh, hey Anders," she offered him a weak smile.

"Running away from home?" he looked questioningly at the bag.

"Something like that," she nodded sadly.

"Except you're headed in the wrong direction," he smiled. "Aren't you heading towards home?"

"I guess," she nodded.

"You want a soda or something? You look beat."

"Okay," she sighed.

"Let me get that," he lifted her bag over his shoulder. "Come on, Scoops is just up there."

"So what's with the bag?" Raul asked when Anders had dumped it on the ground next to Julia's chair.

"I..." she looked around. "I was trying to catch up with Luke."

"You mean you were making your way to Raleigh?" Lyle asked her.

"They're not going to Raleigh," she shook her head. She looked at her friends. "Look, if I tell you, promise you won't laugh at me or anything?"

"Sure," they all nodded.

"Okay," Julia released her breath. "'Cause this is going to sound really weird, okay?"

After taking a deep breath, Julia retold them the story about Maria and Michael, and their plan to rescue their leader. For Luke's safety, she omitted her own thoughts on his true involvement. She also left out the fact that their three friends were aliens. Reincarnation was one thing. But that might prove a little too fantastic for her friends to bear.

"So they're going to bust into the biggest prison camp in the world, rescue their friend, and what? Kick the aliens off our planet?" Raul gave a soft snort.

"I don't really know what they planned to do once they found their friend," Julia shook her head. "I don't think they do, either. I think they're hoping this friend will know what to do." Only he doesn't, Julia reminded herself. He's as much in the dark as the others.

"You should have told us, earlier," Lyle told her. "We would have come too."

"You would?" Julia looked surprise.

"Hell, yeah." Anders nodded. "They're our friends, too, you know. We wold have helped you. Of course we would."

"Well, we're not going anywhere now," Raul shook his head. "Not with this curfew that starts in like..." he looked at his watch. "Two hours."

"Not unless we rustle ourselves some horses and make our way there under cover of darkness or something," Lyle shrugged.

Julia's head jerked upright.

"Really?" she demanded. "Are you serious? Do you really mean it when you say you would have come with me?"

"Of course," Lyle was nodding, along with the other two.

"Okay," Julia's eyes were burning bright. "Listen. You need to pack, okay? Clothes, money, and as much food as you can carry. Preferably stuff that won't go bad. Canned food, cartons... plastic bottles of water. Lots and lots of water. Tons of it if you can. Do you know where Azalea and Persimmon Drive meet?"

"Yeah," Lyle nodded through narrowed eyes.

"Meet me there at ten."

"Ten?" Raul frowned. "That's after curfew."

"Either you're helping me or you're not," Julia glared.

"We'll be there," Lyle climbed to his feet. "See you at ten."

"Ditto," Anders followed him.

"I hope you know what you're doing," Raul shook his head, looking less enthusiastic than the others.

"Of course I do," Julia nodded with a sweet smile. "As soon as you guys get there, we're going after Luke."

* * *
Last edited by WR on Sun Sep 03, 2006 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Red Shift Part 3 Chapter 4

Post by WR » Sun Sep 03, 2006 2:34 pm

Hi everyone!

As always, thank you so much for leaving me your feedback. I always enoy the comments, and I especially enjoyy speculation as to where this is leading and what might happen next.

These next two chapters will be enjoyable to those of you who live in the regions mentioned. After reading my beta teams comments, I think you might find these chapters easier to follow (especially to those of you who don't know US geography) to find a good map of the south. I made extensive use of Google Earth and Mapquest to get my coordination right.

YOu will (I hope) be pleased to know that next week, I should be back to my regular Friday night posts.

sylus27 - Well, on half of the duo had worked it out. What about the other half?? :wink:

polar vixen - No, As yet, Julia does not see herself as Liz, but when she can stop worrying about him...

katydid - Now, it seems Luke and Michael's choices are in place... sort of. What about Leia's?

Ellie - Yes, she worked it out. Now all she has to do os convince Luke :wink:

Smac - Eeep!! You mean you weren't happy with it??? :( But you are right. They are rounded up and pointed in the right direction! :)

Timelord31 - Can you imagine the saddle sores?? :lol:

AlwaysRoswell - Well... one half remembered. Now for the second!

roswell3053 - Julia will do her best to catch them up - but what a journey it promises to be!

smokie - I wait for you vacation to post all my most informative parts :wink:

BelevnDreamsToo - That would be a great chapter! They get caught horse rustling ans Luke rides in to save her from a lynch mob! :lol:

tequathisy - Thank you :)

Emz80m - Ah, but too late for what? :wink:

nibbles2 - lol. Well, just be thankful that Luke is not immune to her charms :wink:

frenchkiss70 - I like stories in which they work together. I have this saying, "If it isn't broke, don't fix it." Shame Max and Liz never heard of that. :wink:

roswck - I don;t think the coma's really are to the front of their minds. :wink:

omwf - Sorry about that double post :(

roswellluver - yes, only partly. the rest will follow, I'm sure.

BehrObsession - I hope you read Jull_ana's post. :wink: That mioght help you figure it out. :)

aurorasky - Then I am sure you will enjoy the reunion... if they have one :wink:

AJK001 - LOL - Just like you never left, huh? Welcome back :) what great parts to return to. :)

Jull_ana - Like I said, if it's not a unique idea, I don't run with it. :) Reagarding you comments..... Yes. :) Except that you missed a bit.
You have no attachments, to this life or any other. It's all about freedom, and the ability to choose for oneself.
In all of creation, every living being has the freedom to choose for themselves, the path they will take. Choose to perform my task. Choose to ignore it. You have the right. The journey is yours to make.
Which I hope explains why it doesn't matter how many times Luke tells Maria and Michael about his dreams. They will not make the connection because doing so will constrain Luke into making a choice based on duty, or on a past connection. Someone else is making the decision for him.

Julia has in part, made a choice. She wants to be with Luke and help him. As yet, Luke has not chosen to let Julia help him.

WHAT??? YOu were in London! You never let me know in advance??? :(:(:(:(:( I only live 45 mins from London!

Red Shift

Part 3

Chapter 4

"This is not exactly how I envisioned our honeymoon," Maria laughed as the four of them sat around a small desk that they pulled away from the wall, so that they could play cards.

"You want us to leave?" Luke looked across the desk, the softest hint of a smirk on his lips. "Me and Leia can go back to our room, if you guys, you know..."

"Relax, Luke," Maria chuckled. "I was just kidding. I thought that by now we would be somewhere like Mississippi, or maybe even Louisiana. Not stuck here in Tallahassee, in some fleabag motel... Why do I think of a place called Sultan's?"

"Sultans?" Michael narrowed his eyes as he stared at his cards. "Like, 'of swing' or something?"

"Nah," she shook her head. "It was just something that, like, jumped into my memory. Things keep doing that. I remember little things, but nothing really important."

"Talking about remembering little things," Leia laid a card on the pile and selected a new one. "Is anyone else hungry?"

"Yes," all three of her friends nodded.

"But with this damned curfew, we can't go out and get anything," Maria pouted.

"And no one's delivering," Michael shrugged. "Why did those freaking aliens choose now to start all this up? Why couldn't they have waited until we had slipped over the border? It's gonna be watched heavily now, you know."

"I could go and get some snacks," Luke fanned his cards out and placed them on the desk face up to show that he had won another hand.

"How do you do that?" Maria demanded, throwing her cards down in disgust. "Are you like, cheating or something?"

"Luke?" Leia gave an exaggerated gasp. "Cheat? Only when the world ends."

"So where were you thinking of getting these snacks from?" Michael was not so interested in the cards anymore.

"The garage across the road," Luke indicated with a nod of his head. "They had a whole stack of vending machines out front."

"In case you hadn't noticed?" Maria rolled her eyes. "There's like, soldiers walking around out there? And not to mention the police cars that go cruising by. You want to get arrested?"

"I won't get arrested," Luke gave Maria a grin. "I won't even get seen."

"Go for it," Michael grinned. "Consider that my command."

Luke gave a soft snort and stood up. Crossing to the door, he took the handle in his hand and concentrated.

"Holy crap!" Maria almost fell off of her seat when Luke bent the light around him, effectively turning invisible. "Where did he go?"

"He's still there," Leia shrugged.

The door opened and closed.

"That's one neat trick," Maria's eyes narrowed. She turned to look at Michael. "How will we know that he's not like... you know... spying on us?"

"We can still see him," he pointed at Leia and then himself. "Luke thinks it has something to do with the speed our brains react to the light. Like we see faster or something."

"So we can't use that when we get to New Mexico?" Maria sighed. "I was just thinking maybe he could sneak in, get... uhm... our friend, and leave."

"Not as easy as that," Michael shrugged. "But that little trick will come in handy when we actually get to the border."

The tapping at the door made them all jump. Leia rushed to the door and opened it. A few seconds later, Luke materialized in front of them, a large cardboard box in his hands.

"It's the best they had," he shrugged. "Sorry."

Inside the box were a number of cold, prepackaged hamburgers, packets of potato chips, chocolate bars and cans of drinks.

"Well, apart from the fact that we're supposed to microwave theses," Maria picked up one of the burgers and gave it a look of disgust, "it's better than nothing."

"Who needs a microwave," Michael chuckled, taking the burger from her hand and pulling back the sealed covering. "How do you want it done?" Holding his hand above the burger, it started cooking right in front of Maria's eyes.

"Man," she shook her head. "There is so much I have forgotten."

* * *

It was still during the early hours of the morning. Luke was on his bed, tossing and turning, completely unable to sleep. Finally fed up with his insomnia, he climbed to his feet and pulled on a pair of jeans. Easing the door open, he slipped out into the night air and sat on the bench just outside. He was hoping that the cool air would calm his troubled mind. After a few moments of looking up into the night sky to get his bearings, he looked in the direction he had calculated Siesta Key to be.

"I miss you, Julia," he whispered. "But I am so glad that you will stay safe. I couldn't live with myself if anything bad happened to you."

Perhaps he was concentrating so hard on her that he had failed to sense his own danger. He was not aware of the men around him until one of them spoke.

"Being out after curfew is in violation of Military Law," a stern voice pulled his mind back from where his heart remained.

"Sorry," Luke blinked a few times, getting his bearings. He stood up to face the small squad of soldiers. Incredibly, they were all aiming their rifles at him. Luke swallowed and had his shield ready. "I, uh... I couldn't sleep. My uh, room was too hot," he indicated the door that was just slightly ajar. "I thought that if I stayed here, next to the door, I would be okay."

"Well, it's not," the man glared at him. "The law says no one is to be outside. This is outside, unless you have a different understanding of the word and you can convince me of it. So you're going to have to come with us."

"Aw, c'mon, sarge," one of the men whined. "If we take him in, then we gotta fill in all that paperwork and shit. He's just a kid. Tell him off and send him back indoors. If we're gonna arrest people, at least let's arrest people who are really doing something wrong. Last thing I want is the locals to be angry with us."

"Okay," the sergeant gave a heavy sigh after a few moments thought. "You get back inside, punk. And don't let me catch you breaking curfew again, or I'll break your skull. Got that?"

"Yes, sir," Luke nodded.

"If it gets too hot again," the soldier who had changed the sergeant's mind added, "open a window."

"I will," Luke nodded, backing into the door. "Uh, thanks."

He closed the door and let out his held breath.

"Thank you," he leaned forward and placed his forehead against the door.

"Don't mention it." Leia spoke from the shadows behind him. "It seemed appropriate."

"Yeah," he gave a soft chuckle. "Michael would have a fit if he had to come and bail me out.

"Why don't you get some sleep?" Leia guided Luke back to his bed. "Maybe you'll dream of Julia."

"Liz," he reminded her. "When I have these dreams, it's of a girl called Liz."

"Except she looks exactly like Julia," Leia nodded. "You said."

"Yeah," Luke gave a weak smile. "It's just..."

"I know," Leia sighed. "Different. I understand. Look, I could, you know... dream walk her if you want."

Luke looked up.

"I... I don't know," his head shook slowly.

"It's just her dreams, Luke," Leia assured him. "She won't know I'm there, and if I see anything I shouldn't, I'll jump right... I know. How about if I take you with me? And only you slip into her dream while I like, wait outside."

"Can you do that?" he widened his eyes.

"I don't see why not," she smiled at him. "Come on, lay down and scoot over. I'm going to have to lie beside you."

It seemed completely strange to Luke, to feel his sister's presence beside him as they both relaxed under her whispered guidance. And then, she was no longer beside him, but sort of all around him. He was surrounded by a large number of spheres. Too many to count.

"How can you tell which one is which?" Luke voice seemed almost detached.

"You don't have to shout," Leia laughed. "I'm still right here."

"Sorry," he felt himself blush.

"We go this way," he felt himself being carried above the sea of spheres. They flew past them like the pebbles of a shingle path. "The ones that belong to people I know have different feelings about them. I can sort of feel where they are. I think it's related to geography but I never really sorted that part out yet. Ah, there we are, look. Some of our friends."

There seemed to be four spheres close together surrounded by an ocean of others. And they did look familiar although Luke could never have explained to Leia how it was that he knew that."

"Can you spot Julia's?" Leia was almost mocking him.

"Yes," he nodded. Of course he could. He felt drawn to it. As though she was a magnet pulling him to her.

"Just ease yourself inside, and that's her dream," Leia's voice was soft and sympathetic. "You won't be able to interact though, she won't even know you're there. So don't try, okay?"

The skin of the sphere felt strange as he simply squeezed through it, as though a small gap had just opened and merged around him. His eyes found her at once. And Luke started to smile. Julia was dreaming that she was on her boat, sailing under the stars. She was standing at the wheel, intently looking out into the darkness. And she seemed to be thrilled, excited almost. After that day he had spent with her, Luke had often had this same dream, only his were daydreams. He was on a boat, alone, with Julia, sailing under a blanket of the stars. To see that she had the same dream caused his heart to swell. He was filled with a longing for her. His heart was pounding so hard; it felt like it might burst.

In her dream, Julia turned to the hatch, looking almost right at Luke. She cocked her head for a moment as if concentrating on something.

"Ooooo," her eyes lit up, visible to Luke even in the darkness. He wondered for a moment if she saw him. "You're an angel. I love you."

Luke turned to see who was at the hatch, expecting to see his dream self climbing up the stairs. He saw Lyle instead.

Leia screamed with pain as they both sat upright on the bed. Luke's emotional meltdown had been so violent, it had thrown them both out of the dream plane.

"What did you do that for?" she slapped his shoulder. "Jeez, Luke," she rubbed her temples. "Jeez!"

"Sorry," Luke could barely bring himself to speak. He leapt up from the bed before Leia could even look at him. "I'm going to take a shower."

"That hot, huh?" Leia grinned in misunderstanding as Luke hurried into the bathroom to hide the tears of his broken heart.

Julia had moved on already.

* * *

The curfew had lifted at eight a.m. A steady stream of people had made their way from the hotel to the diner up the road, intent on a huge breakfast. When Leia woke up a little before nine, she was surprised to find the note from Luke telling her that he was at the diner. After slipping a similar note under Michael and Maria's door, she made her way to join her brother. She found him in a far corner nursing a cup of coffee.

"You look like hell," Leia stared at him critically. Her eyes narrowed. "Are you okay?"

"No," he shook his head. "I can feel her now, Leia."

"What do you mean?"

"After I... you know, healed Julia... ever since then, when ever I'm close to her, I can feel her."

"How close?"

"I'm not sure," he shook his head. "When we left last summer, I... maybe a hundred miles. I don't know."

"But after last night..."

"I can feel her," Luke looked around. "Or maybe I'm just thinking I can feel her. Leia, I think... I think I might be cracking up. And last night, in her dream... I saw..."

"Hey gang," Maria slid in next to Luke. "What's good?"

"Did you bring your travel papers?" Luke looked at her. His problems were now masked.

"Yeah," she nodded. "Why?"

Luke pointed to a large sign on the wall. Only people with valid travel papers could order any food.

"Great," she frowned. "What about the people who live here?"

A passing soldier overheard her.

"By the end of the week, we'll have rationing in place," he told her. "For now, we just need to make sure to restrict the use of café's and restaurants for all the traveling people. Everyone should be where they got to be within a week."

* * *

Their bus journey that day was long and boring. Although they were in a very comfortable Greyhound bus, complete with air conditioning, it was stopping at almost every major town and village on the way. People got on and people got off, always under the watchful eyes of a squad of armed soldiers. As the morning progressed, the feeling of Julia's presence was leaving him. Luke was starting to believe that it was only the result of his attempt to dream walk her. And every time he thought of that dream, another stab to his heart caused him to groan in unbelievable pain. He couldn't help thinking back to his strange dreams of the girl called Liz and how she looked just like Julia. Max was just like him, and most disturbing of all, in some of the dreams, Liz was dating a boy called Kyle, whose resemblance to Lyle was heartbreaking.

But then, what had he expected? He had left Julia behind to follow her own destiny, to remain safe. What right did he have to expect her to follow the destiny her father believed was for her. Julia had the right to see whomsoever she wanted, no matter why Luke had given her up. What really hurt was the speed at which she had forgotten him.

At last, they reached Mobile. As they climbed off the bus, more soldiers checked their papers.

"You wait over there," the soldier that checked their papers pointed to a growing group of teenagers.

There were men of older ages too, but the group was predominantly their own age. All of them had the look of volunteers. As they joined the group, more busses pulled in and more youths joined them. After a short wait, a number of military trucks arrived.

"If you all get on the trucks," another soldier called through a bullhorn, "you will be taken to a transit camp. From here on, you will be travelling courtesy of the United States Army."

* * *

"Remind me never to complain about travelling by bus again," Maria groaned as they climbed down from the back of the open trucks.

"Or flea bag motels?" Leia smirked as she looked around at the sea of tents.

Small two man tents were set up in row after row after row. They were effectively just shaped canvas sheets folded over a ridgepole. Dotted here and there were larger ones, which seemed to be used for dining tents. At the far end was a collection of what were clearly latrines.

"Eeeew," Leia wrinkled her nose.

A soldier assigned them two tents and another led them to their allocation. The doorways were little more than canvas flaps with securing ties.

"I'll tell you one thing for nothing, buster," Maria turned to look at Michael. "Honeymoon or not, I am not doing anything in a tent, surrounded by so many strangers, most of them, guys. It's probably better that me and Leia share."

"Michael and I should take turns on watch," Luke suggested. He would not be sleeping much in any case. "I think that's a habit we should get into anyway."

"I'll take a turn too, Luke," Leia offered. "It's not fair on you and Michael. Besides, it's not like I can't suggest that any dumb moron who comes looking for trouble to go dunk his head."

"In the Latrines," Maria finished.

* * *

For a camp the size it was, Luke was surprised by how quiet it was. In the early hours of the morning, having relieved Michael's first watch, he now sat outside the tents, staring up at the stars. He tried so hard to keep his thoughts away from Julia and how she had moved so easily to Lyle. Or had she always been attracted to him, he wondered? She had always seemed too attracted to him, but had she always been attracted to Lyle? Had he just been in her way and she was too nice to tell him? Luke thought about the night he gave Julia that necklace and she had declared that the galaxy had belonged to them, as a couple. What would it have been like to take her home with her, to show her to his family, to declare her as the human who had captured his heart? Would they have liked her? Would she have liked them? Would anyone even care? After all, who was he? Just a backup to a plan that he had no idea about.

And here they were, following another ill-conceived plan that was merely a vague idea. Ride into town, rescue the King, and ride on out again. If they succeeded, what then? Would Luke then be surplus to requirements? Would he be allowed to lead his own life, then? Or was he destined to become a soldier, fighting for his king to help reclaim his crown?

But suppose he was allowed to lead his own life? What would he do? If Julia now preferred Lyle, what then could he do? Because he had meant it when he told Leia that there would never be anyone else for him. Without Julia in his life, it would be better to be a soldier, fight for his king and have a meaning to his life. He looked around the quiet camp, studying the grim conditions.

"Get used to it, Luke," he murmured softly. "This is your life now."

"Hey, Luke," Leia yawned as she climbed out from their tent.

"Hey, Leia," Luke helped her out. "It's pretty quiet. Everyone's asleep. No one should bother you, but call me if they do, 'kay?"

"Okay, Luke," she smiled at him. "Get some sleep."

Sleep was next to impossible for Luke, however. The more his mind kept on drifting toward Julia, the more he could feel her presence. It was growing stronger by the minute. He couldn't understand why he would feel her like this now, in the early morning, and not at any other time. Was it when he was trying to sleep that his subconscious was more open to him? Was he merely feeling some pangs of guilt at breaking that promise he couldn't quite remember? But then, if she did not feel the same way for him, bringing her along would not have been what she wanted after all. So if she was happy where she was, with who she was with, shouldn't he be happy for her?

No, he told himself. He wished now that he had blasted Lyle into kingdom come.

Breakfast in the mess tents was every bit as disgusting as their dinner had been the previous evening. The hamburgers Luke had found in those vending machines had seemed like a cordon bleu banquet by comparison. When it came to the time for them to leave, a fleet of olive green busses turned up.

"You have got to be kidding," Maria's face fell.

They were clearly old school buses, hastily repainted. No air conditioning, little suspension and the world's most uncomfortable seats.

"Can this journey get any worse?" she demanded.

"I doubt it," Luke muttered to himself.

As the bus headed west, the feeling of Julia's presence faded. When it finally disappeared, he couldn't help the sigh of relief, even though he was missing it already.

* * *

The bus journey had been every bit as terrible as Maria had predicted. Although they were no longer stopping at every town en route, the journey was slow, hot and uncomfortable. Arguments had broken out among the various gangs of teenagers and once or twice, one of the accompanying soldiers had to step in to prevent any serious altercations.

Luke, however, ignored everything around him. Reading his book, the cover of which he had transformed to look like some fiction novel, he was always lost in his own world. He would just sit there and read, taking little notice of anything that went on around him, unless it was someone pestering Leia in which case his brotherly protection drive kicked in.

"What's the book anyway?" Maria asked Michael. "I mean, it's not that thick. He could have read it three or four times by now."

"I really don't know," Michael shook his head. "He said it was something Grandpa once told him about."

By the time the bus pulled into the temporary military encampment to the east of Baton Rouge, they were all hot, sticky and thoroughly miserable.

"Is this part of basic training, do you think?" Maria groaned as they climbed off the bus in front of another sea of tents.

After finding their allocated tents, although bivouac was a more accurate description, they took it in turns to head for the shower tents to remove the days sweat and travel grime. The water was cold by the time they got there, but that was no problem to Leia, Luke and Michael. Leia even heated the water for Maria.

After forcing down another meal that was probably only marginally more nutritious than nothing, they returned to their tents. No one wanted to sit down, however. They all remained standing, trying to work their muscles back into some kind of normal feeling.

"I'll take first watch," Luke offered when it was time to get some sleep. He had been dreading the night. The feeling of Julia's presence was both welcome and feared. He was hoping that maybe if he actually slept, he would not feel her this time. By offering to stand watch first, he might just be tired enough to really sleep.

The few passing sentries gave him a peculiar stare as they walked by him in the night. Luke just sat there, staring up at the night sky while his fingers traced patterns in the soft dirt beside him. When Michael took over, Luke gratefully climbed into his bunk.

* * *

It had worked. Luke woke up that morning to the sound of Reveille without the feeling of Julia's presence. He was both relieved, and disappointed. He actually missed it. Perhaps he was coming to terms with her moving on, which was after all, what he wanted. Wasn't it? He climbed out from the tent ready to face another nightmare journey.

"What's with the art work?" Michael, standing with the other two, pointed down at the ground, next to where Luke had been sitting last night.

"What art?" Luke stood up and looked at where Michael had been pointing.

A picture had been drawn in the dirt. It looked like some kind of dome, with a long torpedo shapes sticking out from it, pointing up. Apart from the strange extensions to the 'torpedo', it looked like a missile silo. A memory tugged at Luke. It looked like something else, something he had seen once, somewhere. Some when.

"I know that from somewhere," his eyes narrowed.

"Well, duh!" Maria rolled her eyes with a laugh. "You drew it. Of course it does. The question is, what?"

* * *

The bus journey today had been even worse then the day before. The day had been hotter, and even with every single window open - some of them had been punched out - it was unbearably uncomfortable. Tempers had been fraying all day and a few fights had already broken out.

"Michael," Luke leaned forward from his seat. "We need to stay alert. In case some of these guys start thinking... Leia and Maria..."

"Yeah," Michael nodded. "I've already stared one guy down. Won't surprise me if he makes a move later. If he does, I'll have to make an example of him."

"Just do it normally," Luke's face fell. "And nothing permanent."

"Is castration considered permanent?" Michael's grin was almost chilling.

The next camp, set up outside of a small town to the east of Houston, was a most welcome sight. Even the drab olive green sea of tents did little to dampen their joy at journey's end. People were almost singing with relief as they all fell out of the bus. Some even climbed through the windows.

Exhausted by the tedium of the journey as well as the heat, hot and sticky, the gang collapsed into their designated tents. They just laid there, allowing their bodies to cool.

"I swear," Maria groaned. "I might kill someone tomorrow." She looked around. "But right now, I need a shower. Space boy? Do your stuff and make sure my change of clothes are clean and fresh, 'kay?"

"Jeez," Michael muttered as Leia and Maria headed for the shower tents. "I thought that was the woman's job."

"Welcome to the twenty first century," Luke chuckled.

Luke woke up the next morning to the strongest feeling of Julia's presence he had felt since actually leaving her side that morning in the Motel room. He had sensed it growing even through his sleep. Why was this happening, he wondered. Why today like this when he felt nothing yesterday?

While he laid in his tent, listening to the early morning sounds of people rousing from their sleep, he couldn't help wondering if she was dating Lyle, as she so clearly dreamed of doing, or if she had maybe started to date Madly yet? Of the two, he preferred her being with Lyle. At least he would treat her right and not like a possession. But had Julia forgotten him already?

One thing was certain, though. No matter where his life took him, Luke would never forget Julia, in the same way that in his dreams, Max would never forget Liz, even though it appeared she had abandoned Max to his destiny and had slept with Kyle. In so many ways, he and Max were so alike.

After breakfast came some news that had cheered Maria right up. There would be no travel today. The buses were in use elsewhere, so they were all granted a full day of rest. Not that there was that much to do here. But being bored in camp was way more preferable to a boring trip on a hot, sticky bus. Luke had to concur. A full day's rest would be good for all of them.

"We should check out the area," Michael finally climbed to his feet a little after noon. He had spent most of the day napping. "If we get stuck here, we might need to sneak out. We have to be somewhere else, and here is not it."

"Yeah," Luke nodded. "We could just take a stroll around the perimeter and look for the best way to sneak out if we need to."

For an hour they followed the fence line, which wasn't really that much of an obstacle.

"It's not like anyone actually signed up yet," Luke shrugged. "So technically, we are all free to leave. But getting travel papers might be difficult."

"Not a problem for us," Michael considered. "But we don't need the hassle. It might be better to travel by night if we have to."

"Agreed," Luke nodded. Maybe then he wouldn't be haunted by the feeling of Julia being near him.

"That's the main gate," Maria pointed at the large brick built complex where the buses had dropped them the previous evening. "I don't suppose we want to try to sneak around this point. Better somewhere at the back or something, huh?"

"We don't want to get caught," Leia watched a Jeep with the top up, pulling into the compound.

Large white letters were painted on its side. "MP." There were four occupants inside. Three wore steel helmets while the fourth, sitting in the shadows in the back, wore none. The two men in the front climbed out and pulled revolvers from their holsters. The third climbed out and used his own pistol, already drawn, to wave the fourth man out. Bound in handcuffs, the prisoner nearly fell as his feet caught the doorsill. As his head popped up, all four members of the alien gang gasped in recognition.

"That was Raul!" Leia exclaimed as the three MP's took Raul into the brick built building.

* * *
Last edited by WR on Fri Sep 08, 2006 2:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Red Shift Part 3 Chapter 5

Post by WR » Fri Sep 08, 2006 2:58 pm

It's Friday!

And yes!!!

There IS an update! :)

I hope that normal service will now be resumed.

Thanks for supporting me through this turbulent time. I do hope that despite my chaotic posting, you have nonetheless been entertained by my story(s).

Are you all following with a map?? Makes it easier, you know. :) It will pay dividends with this part.

BehrObsession - All Luke had to do is to make a choice.

raemac - Ah yes... if Raul has been captured... the others must be... uhm :wink: Not in a WR story. Never that easy! LOL

roswck - Uhm... she is? :wink: How did she get caught up so fast???

Ellie - I think, even in steel helmets, out friends would recognise Julia et al :wink:

roswell3053 - Hmmm.... why would you need a decoy? No one is under arrest... except maybe Raul... :wink:

mezz - thank you :)

tequathisy - until recently, Michael was a little bit haywire with hios powers. As yet, he has not fully explored them. Remember that Michael was Zan's seconf in Command so he was more than just a warrior. :)

frenchkiss70 - I think Luke is luking for a way out of his guilt. You know, leaving Julia behind was the right thing because she preferred Lyle. And if he saw her dreaming about sailing under the night sky, and proclaiming her love for Lyle... what's he to think?? :wink:

Jull_ana - What's to understand? Luke saw her on the baot, under the might sky.. and she told Lyle she loved him. :wink: Next time you come to London, please let me know. It would be awesome to grab a coffee together! :D That goes for anyone!

omwf - Suffer? You mean I make my readers suffer? Me? You must be thinking of someone else. :wink:

BelevnDreamsToo - LOL!!!

mareli - Why angry at everyone? Luke, I can understand, although he left her behind for a noble reason... But Michael and Maria aren't really in a position to make people come with them. And Maria did tell Luke that Julia would have come if he asked her...

AlwaysRoswell - You're welcome :) And thank you.

smokie - Oh, a heads up! I was thinking of you for some of this chapter! :D Wicked? Wicked?? Me??? :twisted: Guilty as charged. I actually need to borrow Julia for a little bit. So Luke can have her back as soon as I finished. :lol:

Timelord31 - Thank you :)

Red Shift

Part 3

Chapter 5

Julia was waiting for them, on the corner of Azalea and Persimmon Drives, as she had told them. She was hiding in the shadow of a large cluster of fire bushes. Back at home, her parents thought she was in her room, fast asleep. Exhausted from the lack of sleep from the night before, and her earlier session with the doctor that day. There was even a bundle of rolled blankets under her covers to make it look like she was safely in bed. She didn't really like deceiving them like that but this was an emergency.

Lyle was the first to arrive, a large backpack strapped to his back, as well as two large bags bulging with cans. He was looking around and moving like a sneak thief, making sure no one could see him, which was hard considering his load.

"Over here," Julia called in a whisper.

She emerged from the shadows to help him, taking the bags from his hands. Before Lyle could ask the questions that had been bugging him all night, they heard someone else approaching. Raul too had found a backpack and he too carried two additional bags, again bulging with cans and cartons. They had just got Raul into the shadows when they heard an approaching squeaking sound.

"What the heck is that?" they all peered through the bushes.

Anders appeared from around the corner, pushing a large supermarket cart. In the section where a child might sit, a large suitcase was precariously balanced.

"What?" he looked at them when they stepped from their hiding position.

"Way to attract attention to yourself," Lyle rolled his eyes.

"Hey," he shrugged. "I'm not as macho as you two, okay? This is the easiest way to transport lots of groceries, and I got lots of groceries." The cart was filled to the brim and more, full of bottles of water, cans of food and other assorted packets, bottles and cartons. "Besides, all the soldiers are on the bridges setting up the road blocks. We don't seem to have been sent many. I bet Madley is in his element tonight."

"Couldn't you at least have found one that didn't squeak?" Raul shook his head.

"A supermarket cart that doesn't squeak?" Anders smirked. "What planet do you come from?"

No one saw Julia wince.

"Okay," Lyle finally broke the silence when they got Anders and his cart under cover. "Julia, I'm with you one hundred percent, okay? But what I said about rustling up some horses and following the guys... Julia, I don't really think we can cover that distance and not get caught. Plus, it will take us like, months!"

"We're not rustling any horses," she shook her head. "And we're not taking a car or van," she stopped Raul's question. "They might have stopped the sale of fuel, but I have something else we can use. And they can't stop us using the fuel we need to make this go."

"What's that?" Anders narrowed his eyes.

"We are going to fly like the wind," she chuckled.

"Uh huh," Raul looked at her with suspicion. "What on?"

"Tranquility," Julia smiled.

* * *

"Mom and Dad were planning on going sailing tomorrow," she explained in a hushed whisper as they loaded their possessions onto her father's sailing boat, the Tranquility. "He brought it out here so that they could make an early start."

Instead of the mooring in one of the canals, Mr. Cartier had moved the boat to the large Jetty that faced the open Gulf. He had wanted to make an early start. What that meant for Julia was that she was ready to go, without having to risk moving through the canal during the night, which would have required the use of the motor. They would have been spotted, or heard for sure.

"I hope you know what you're doing," Raul stopped to wipe his brow. Even at night, it was hot. "None of us have ever sailed before."

"I have," Julia shrugged. "And you guys will soon learn. All you need to learn to do is to put up and take down sails. I'll steer the boat and make use of the wind. We have enough food and water to last us more than the week I think it will take us to sail around the gulf. We'll follow the coast line, okay? We'll sail at night, under cover of darkness and hide out during the day. Any questions?"

"What if we hit something?" Anders frowned. "I mean, the Gulf is full of oil rigs and stuff. And with Marital law, I bet nothing will be lit up."

"Then you three need to take turns sitting up front keeping your eyes peeled," Julia smiled.

"And when we get to other end," Raul stared out to sea. "What then? How will we find them?"

"We'll find them," Julia followed Raul's gaze. "Trust me."

"New Mexico's a huge place," he turned to face her. "They could cross the border anywhere. And they could go anywhere. How can you be so sure you will find them?"

"Look, I'm going, and I'm going tonight," a fierce determination burned in her eyes. "I'll go alone if I have to. Are you with me or not?"

"We're with you, Julia," Lyle assured her. "As long as you are totally sure about this."

"I'm sure," she nodded. "I have never been more sure of anything in my life."

Then," he grinned, "let's... uhm... weigh anchor."

* * *

While Anders held the steering wheel steady for her, Julia showed the other two how to hoist the sails. The wind was coming from off the shore, blowing eastwards. With the boat under full sail, she quickly sped out to sea. As soon as she was far enough away to not be spotted from the coast, Julia took the wheel and after a shout to watch out for the boom, she turned northwards and started to follow the coastline.

There wasn't much to do, until they needed to reset the sails, so while Julia guided the boat at an almost right angle to the wind, Anders, Lyle and Raul watched the few lights of Siesta Key that the authorities allowed to be lit fading behind them. They had remained pretty quiet, except for any necessary conversation regarding their tasks, and they stood in silence now. She allowed them their moment of reflection, because she was grateful for their support. Yes, she was saddened at leaving her parents behind like that, but she was heading for something... someone far more important.

"Do you think we'll ever see our folks again?" Anders' voice was quiet and tinged with a little concern.

"Sure we will," Lyle nodded. "As soon as we sort out this little manhunt, we can all head back and say we did a good job."

"Probably be grounded for the rest of our lives, though," Raul sighed.

"Probably," Lyle nodded. "But you know... what we're doing... this just feels so right. I don't know about you guys, but I am really glad I came along."

"Yeah," Anders nodded. "Me too."

"Yeah," Raul nodded. "Like it's some journey of discovery or something."

"The problem is..." Lyle looked around and grinned. "Didn't Columbus already discover America? When he set out to prove the world really was round?"

"What?" Anders gasped. "You mean the earth isn't flat? You mean that spot on the map where it says 'here be dragons'... Are you telling me I'm coming along on this ride for nothing? I want my dragons!"

When the banter started up, Julia knew that her friends would not abandon her. She knew that whatever hardships might come their way, they would stick with her; they would help her to find Luke. Just like Max before him, Luke seemed to make good friends.

As the night progressed, making great time with the wind filling their sails, Julia spent much of the time teaching the guys the basics of sailing. It was hard because they had to work in total darkness, but they were slowly making progress and understanding what needed doing. Unlike Luke, who needed to be shown something only once, she did have to go over things a few times for them, but she expected this and was patient with them.

And always, there was one person on lookout, perched at the very front, the bow of the boat. A few times, they could all hear a plane or a helicopter pass by overhead, in complete darkness, but not one of them gave any indication that they had seen the small sailing boat sailing up the Florida coastline. Neither did they see any signs of other boats or any oilrigs. Things were going rather well.

"Couldn't we use lights or something?" Raul grumbled when he was taking a breather after they had to change some sails. "That would make things a lot easier."

"A lot," Julia agreed. "But we can't use any lights in case someone out there sees us. There could be people out there we don't want to meet. Coast Guards or something."

"And people do this for fun?" Lyle collapsed next to Raul.

"Sure," she grinned at them. "Luke and I went sailing during spring break. We had loads of fun."

"I bet you did," Lyle's laugh was dirty.

Even Raul's laugh was suggestive.

"You have a dirty mind," Julia was glad that the darkness would hide her blush.

Even in the height of summer, the night air was turning chilly. Julia stood at the wheel, listening out for Raul's warning from his vantage-point where he was taking a turn at lookout. She couldn't help shivering, and thought about asking Lyle, who had gone below to make some hot drinks, to bring up her sweater.

She was suddenly filled with warmth, a strange presence that made her feel safe, and secure. She could feel something familiar, as if there was something to her side. She turned to look but saw nothing. At that moment, Lyle started to climb up the steps from the galley. In his hands was a tray with steaming cups of hot chocolate.

"Ooooo," she smiled at him. "You're an angel. I love you."

"You're just saying that cause you like the way I make hot chocolate," he pouted.

"Of course," she noticed the sudden loss of warmth at once. "You don't think I love you for anything else, do you? But thanks anyway."

"You must really love Luke," Lyle studied her for a moment. "You know, to be doing this."

"Yes," she nodded. "I do. It's more than that though." She thought for a moment. "It's almost like we're connected or something."

* * *

"The sun will be up soon," Julia looked eastward to the glow that was starting to form behind the landmass of Florida. "I'll move in closer to the shoreline. We need to find somewhere to moor."

"And we need somewhere to park the boat too," Anders cracked.

"We haven't seen anyone all night," Lyle shrugged. "Why don't we take turns sleeping and just keep sailing?"

"Because someone will see us for sure and come out and stop us," Julia shook her head. "I'm not going to let myself be stopped."

"What about over there?" Raul was studying a chart that Julia had periodically referred to. His finger was on the mouth of a river and showed a cluster of small islands. "By my reckoning, I think that's it over there." He pointed to a darker part of the coastline.

"Watch out for the boom!" Julia yelled as she turned to tack against the wind and make their way toward the river mouth.

"Ouch!" Anders cried, having not ducked fast enough.

As they drew close, they could see how perfect a choice it had been. A small number of tiny islands with a series of tall trees would hide their boat from the sea, while the dense foliage from the trees on the mainland would hide them from the land.

"Raul," Julia called. "Guide me into that inlet over there. We'll be totally out of sight there. Lyle, get ready to drop the anchor."

"Aye aye, cap'n," Lyle saluted and walked toward the anchor with a pronounced limp. "Pieces of eight, pieces of eight. Squawk!"

"Did we have to bring him?" Anders asked.

* * *

Together, they worked to take the sails down and wrap them up. They had to make the boat look like it was simply moored there, just in case someone did happen to chance upon them. After setting watches, they then descended below where they would get what sleep they could. Julia took one cabin while the three boys shared the third. Julia took the first watch however. She sat by the hatch and kept watch and savored the feeling that had been growing in her for the last hour or so. A feeling she did not want to tell the others about yet, because she could not fully explain it to them. She could feel Luke. Luke was near. However, as the sun rose, and Lyle relieved her, the feeling was starting to fade until she could no longer feel him. Once it had vanished, she asked herself if she was only imagining it. Luke would have been half way to Texas by now.

* * *

After a mid afternoon meal, the guys were getting a little restless.

"Would it be okay to go swimming?" Lyle asked her. "We've seen no one all day, and if we still always have one person on watch, then we can easily hide if anyone does appear."

She didn't want to risk it, but neither did she want to ruin the mood the boys were in.

"Okay," she nodded. "You can swim and I'll keep watch. Okay?"

"Are you sure?" Anders frowned. "We don't mind taking a turn."

"You guys go ahead," she nodded at the water. "Have fun but try to keep the noise down, huh?"

The rest of the afternoon was spent with the guys horsing around in the water while Julia kept a vigilant watch on things. As the sun started dipping, they climbed out of the water and dried off at the back of the boat while Julia prepared a meal to get them through the long night. While they waited for the sun to go down, she went over with them in the light what she had taught them in the dark. They were starting to understand now, and could do them easily now. Hopefully, they would remember in the darkness.

* * *

As darkness enveloped them, Julia gave the command to weigh anchor and set sail. The boys accomplished this with a minimum of curses and grunts of pain. With the wind behind them, they were racing through the water, heading out into the gulf.

"When do you turn back to follow the coast?" Raul stood by her side and watched her.

"Not for ages," she shook her head. "I'm hoping we can stop near Pensacola tonight. And we have to go around this little bit that juts out," Julia pointed to map that showed a small promontory between them and Pensacola.

"Isn't that like, two hundred miles or something?"

"Two hundred and fifty," she corrected him.

"You think we can go that far?" he blinked. "By daybreak?"

"I hope so," she nodded. "With this wind behind us like this, we should make it easy."

"So you're just heading out to sea?" he frowned. "How will you know when to turn toward the land again?"

"You don't have Sat Nav just for cars, you know," she grinned, pointing to a small readout on the dashboard in front of her. "I'm sailing east south east until I hit the 85th Meridian. Then I know I can start following the shoreline again."

"Assuming we don't sail too far south," he frowned.

"I won't go below 29 degrees and 25 minutes," she shook her head. "Relax, Raul. I know what I'm doing, 'kay?"

"You're pretty amazing, Julia," he put his hand on her shoulder. "You do know that, right,"

"Hey, Raul," Anders called from what Lyle had dubbed the crow's nest. "Your turn to watch."

There was a lot more activity in the air that night. There was the low drone of propellered patrol planes, as well as the chopping of helicopter blades, both fast and slow. A couple of jet fighters passed by overhead, keeping surprisingly low. And one time, a strange sounding plane flew over head and for a split second was silhouetted against the pale new moon.

"What kind of plane was that?" Julia frowned remember the disk like shape that seemed to hover above its' fuselage.

"That was an AWAC," Raul informed her. "Kind of like a flying radar. They're probably watching for alien aircraft."

"That's why they introduced Martial Law, isn't it?" Julia frowned. "Something's happened."

"Yeah," Lyle nodded from behind her. "I think we're at war with the aliens now. I mean, real war."

"If not now," Raul nodded his agreement, "then soon."

* * *

As the distance was devoured by the sail boat with the wind filling its' sails, the distant, sparse lights of Pensacola came into view. About an hour before sunup, Julia could just sense Luke's presence again. He was still some distance away, but she was sailing almost in a straight line towards him. She could sense him more and more with each passing mile. As before, however, she just reveled in the feeling, knowing that soon, he would be rising and starting his own journey, taking him away from her again until tomorrow morning. She wondered if he could sense her and what he was making of it. She hoped he wouldn't be mad at her for following him.

"Where do we stop?" Raul popped up beside her, pulling her from her warm and fuzzy thoughts of Luke. "I can't find any river mouths or anything. And this thing here," he ran his finger along a long narrow island separated from the mainland, "is the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Miles and miles of open beach. Nowhere to hide there. We'll be sitting ducks."

"What about there," Julia pointed at a small section that was made up of straight lines.

"That's a Marina," he shook his head. "Bound to have a guard or two."

"Sound like the best place to hide, though," Julia smirked. "We can hide in plain sight."

* * *

It had been easy enough to slip into the marina and moor themselves to a buoy about fifty yards from the jetties. They rolled up the sails and made it look like any one of the other dozens of moored boats.

"What do we do?" Lyle peered across the marina to the large gates where there were a few soldiers on guard. "Doesn't look like we'll get much opportunity for swimming today."

"No," Julia shook her head. "Sorry guys. It's too risky. We all have to stay below today. And we'll have to stay totally quiet."

"If anyone else asked me to do that," Lyle shook his head. "Well... might as well try to get some shut eye then."

Julia remained awake until Luke's presence left her. Then she allowed herself to fall asleep, dreaming of regaining the feeling again tomorrow. After they woke up, after noon, they then spent the rest of the day relaxing, sleeping and generally being bored. It was hot and stifling, even though they had left the windows on the seaward side open, as well as leaving the hatch ajar. They took turns watching the guards from a porthole, as well as preparing cold meals. It seemed as if darkness would never fall, and they all felt the relief when the sun finally dipped below the horizon.

While they still had a little daylight left, Julia called their attention to her charts.

"This is where we're heading tonight," she pointed to a piece of land that jutted out to sea, to the southwest of New Orleans. "It's only one hundred and fifty miles, but this is going to a little... Look, if the airforce has been out over the Gulf in numbers, then you can bet that the Navy is too, okay? And they'll be going in and out of the Mississippi basin... isn't there a naval base there somewhere?"

"Pascagoula," Raul nodded. "Just there."

"Right," Julia nodded. "So we need two people on watch while the other two do the sailing. So we won't be using as much sail tonight. I need you guys to be alert, okay?"

Everyone nodded.

"Tomorrow, we can hide in a bayou or somewhere. And you can swim to your hearts content."

"Don't they have piranha in the bayou?" Anders grinned.

"Nah," Lyle shook his head. "They got 'gators."

"Heck," Raul rolled his eyes. "They got 'gators back in Florida. We come all this way and they can't have their own dangers?"

"They have Voodoo," Julia shrugged. "Maybe bayou 'gators can cast voodoo spells on you."

"Cool," Anders grinned. "Oh, and does anyone know how to make Jambalaya?"

"Not with 'gator," Lyle shook his head. "You need chicken."

"No danger in that," Anders sighed. "Every now and then, it's fun to eat food that bites back."

* * *

The journey had been as tense as Julia had predicted. They had been forced to change direction on any number of occasions to avoid detection by or collision with Coast Guard vessels and Naval ships. They also had to sail farther out to sea to avoid some sort of exercises being conducted off shore. But always, the wind was right behind them, pushing them in their desired direction, as though some divine force was helping her. When they had finally sailed through the danger area, Julia allowed her mind to wander. She daydreamed of her meeting with Luke. Sometimes, the meetings were tearful reunions where they professed their love for one another, and promised that no force on this or any other planet would separate them again. Other times, it was hot steamy and passionate. And sometimes, she imagined him shouting at her, furious that she had broken her promise. She didn't like those ones.

They were all almost dead on their feet when Julia finally gave the command to drop the anchor. No one made any pirate jokes while they worked to make the boat look unused. They all collapsed onto their berths, not even bothering to set a watch. Julia was so tired it wasn't until she woke up around noon when she realized that she had not felt Luke that morning.

* * *

Refreshed from their sleep, and after a hot meal that Julia had prepared for them, the boys changed into their Bermuda's and leapt in to the sea. They burned off all of their excess energy by horsing around as only teenaged boys can. Dressed in her shorts and tee-shirt, Julia sat on the platform at the back of the boat and simply dangled her feet in the water. Each one of the boys had tried to entice Julia into the water but she just said that she didn't bring a swimsuit and was quite happy where she was. Lyle and Raul had both teased her and suggested that they could all skinny dip. Julia pretended that she didn't hear that comment.

So the boys played alone. They raced, they tried to stay under the water longer than each other, they dunked one another, they generally had fun.

"Sharks!" came a sudden panicked cry.

In seconds, the three boys were out of the water.

Julia looked around but could see nothing. Her feet remained in the water. She spotted the dorsal fins some distance away and started to laugh.

"They're dolphins," she roared with laughter.

"Really?" they all watched the small pod swim by. "I'd love to swim with them."

"Luke and I did," Julia smiled at the memory. "Last spring. It was awesome."

"Doing anything with you would be awesome," Raul smiled at her.

Julia didn't know what to say, or where to look.

"Great," Anders groaned. "You mean I sliced my leg open panicking over a freaking pod of dolphins?"

That's when Julia saw the stream of blood running down Anders' leg. She took over at once.

"Sit down here, Anders," she ordered, pulling him to the benches. "Lyle, can you get me the rest of the hot water from the kettle? Raul, in my cabin, in the cupboard above my pillow, there's a first aid kit. Could you get it please?"

Raul followed Lyle down the steps into the cabin. Squeezing past him in the galley, Raul went into Julia's cabin. He opened the cupboard above her pillow and as she had said, there was the red box marked 'first aid'. He reached up and took it. As he started to turn, something caught his eye. He turned and looked again, spotting a small bundle of yellow cloth tucked in a corner. Curious, he reached in and pulled that out. His eyes widened when he saw that it was smallest bikini that he had ever seen. He couldn't help grinning as he tucked it into the pocket of his Bermudas.

"You gonna be long with that kit?" Lyle called from the hatch.

"Coming," Raul called back, closing the cupboard and heading for the deck.

"It's just a scratch," Julia was telling Anders. "Keep a bandage on until it stops bleeding."

"Here you are," Raul handed her the red box.

"Thanks," Julia looked at him.

She frowned when she saw his grin. She felt a little uncomfortable at the way he was looking at her. Using some antiseptic, Julia cleaned the wound, grinning when Anders winced. She then removed a small packaged piece of gauze and laid it over the cut. No ointment was used; Julia wanted to let the wound dry naturally. She then took some surgical tape and fixed the gauze into position.

"When it stops bleeding, you can let the air dry it. For now, though, leave the bandage on. You'll be good as new before you know it. It's just a pity Luke isn't here."

"Aw," Anders grinned. "I doubt he could have done that any better than you. Besides, I know who I would rather have touching my legs."

Julia rolled her eyes and threw the rolled up packaging at him. She was angry with herself over her near slip.

"So no swimming for Anders?" Raul grinned.

"Uh, no," Julia shook her head. "Not until the blood clots, you know?"

"So," he looked up at the sun. "If Anders takes watch, then you could come in the water with us."

"Oh, you know," she shook her head. "I already told you. I didn't bring a swim suit."

"Ah," he nods. "But you forgot you already had one on the boat."

"Excuse me?" she frowned.

Raul dipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out the yellow bundle. Julia recognized it at once and didn't need to see him open the pieces of cloth out.

"Whoa!" Anders gasped.

Lyle let out a long, low whistle.

"Is that really yours, Julia?" his eyes were as wide as everyone else's.

"Yes," she snatched it from Raul's hands and rolled it up. "How dare you go through my things."

"Sorry," he shrugged, still grinning. "It was behind the first aid kit. I couldn't resist."

"You should have left it there," Julia didn't know where to look. While her face burned red, she remembered how she had hidden it there after she had changed, that day with Luke.

"Well, yeah, and I'm sorry. But you know what? We would love to see you in it. I bet you would look hot. Right guys?"

"Leave it, Raul," Lyle turned away. "She's embarrassed enough as it is. You had your fun, now drop it."

"What he said," Anders nodded. "Whose turn is it to cook dinner?"

"Jeez," Raul shrugged. "I only figured it would be good to see her in it. That's all." He turned away. "And it's my turn to cook. You two get to clean up after."

* * *

"We're doing well with the food," Raul informed them as they tucked into their meal of canned stew, canned vegetables and canned potatoes. "I could kill for some fresh food, but at least we got plenty of the canned kind."

"I think we could all use some fresh food," Julia nodded. "And feeling the ground beneath our feet."

"Beats riding horses though," Lyle smirked.

"Maybe next stop, we could hike into town and buy some fresh groceries?" Anders suggested.

"I don't think we should take that risk," Julia shook her head. "What if the police stop us? How are we going to explain what we're doing so far from home?"

"But we're making pretty good time, huh?" Anders looked at Julia. "How long do you think it will take us to get where we're going now?"

"If this wind keeps up," Julia shrugged. "We could get there in two nights, if we take it easy. If we pushed really hard, we could reach where we're going tomorrow morning."

"Let's take it easy," Lyle suggested. "I mean, as much as I want some fresh food, this is kind of fun."

"I want to walk on something that doesn't move around underneath you," Anders laughed. "But I agree with Lyle. Let's take it easy."

"We'll need our energy for when we start to travel across country," Raul observed, gazing at Julia. "So we should really take it easy now. Pardon the pun, but it should be plain sailing from here on in."

"Plus," Anders' eyes narrowed. "I suspect we're going to have to sneak into town so we can find a lift onwards. We don't want to be be trying to sneak around in the daylight. Better we do that under cover of darkness."

"Good thinking," Julia nodded.

"Know what else I can't wait for?" Lyle smirked.

"What's that?" Anders raised an eyebrow, expecting a base answer.

"Someone else to clean up after we eat," Lyle stood up and started to gather the dishes. "Like in a restaurant."

Anders joined him collecting the plates. Together the two boys descended into the galley, leaving Raul and Julia at the table. Julia stood up and crossed to the rail where she stared toward the land. As always, her mind went out to Luke and she wondered where he was, and why she couldn't feel him that morning. Had he changed direction? Was he going deeper inland? Had he changed his mind and turned back toward Florida, perhaps going back to get her? A sudden dark thought struck her. Was he all right?

"I'm sorry about the bikini thing," Raul spoke from behind her.

She sensed his presence now, standing closer then she was comfortable with.

"Forget it," she shrugged.

"It's just, you know," he sighed. "Julia, spending all this time with you like we have, I just... I'm seeing what a special person you are. I really like what I'm seeing."

"Uh, thanks," she nodded.

"And I have to say... I think I'm falling for you Julia."

"What?" she turned to face him. "Where did that come from?"

"Julia," he shook his head. "You and I, we're different from the others. We have plans, aspirations. These others, Lyle, Luke, Anders... they live from day to day, not really sure of where they're going in life. But you and I... we will go places, Julia. And I would like it if we could go to those places together."

"Raul..." Julia was confused. Where had this come from?

"I feel it from you, Julia," his voice was soft and low, as though he was talking to a lover. "I know that you feel things for me, too."

"No," Julia shook her head. "I like you as a friend," she couldn't back away because of the rail. "But..."

She had no chance to continue. Raul grabbed her arms and pulled her to him, to kiss her. Although she struggled, Raul was the stronger. She could not break free from his unwanted embrace. His lips found her cheek as she turned away. He moved his own face to find her lips even while she writhed to avoid his.

"Raul!" she tried to yell at him but her face was muffled by his chest.

Falling back on instincts, Julia brought her knee up, hard. It connected with Raul's sensitive spot, forcing him to release Julia with a cry of pain. When she spun away from his grip, he lost his balance and fell over the rail, into the sea. Julia ran down the steps, passed a startled Lyle and Anders and locked herself in her cabin.

* * *

Only when darkness finally descended did Julia emerge from the cabin. Although she behaved as if nothing had happened, she was definitely showing signs of unease around Raul. The atmosphere had changed and was even noticed by Lyle and Anders, who had no idea of what had happened.

"We're pushing hard tonight," Julia informed them. "I want full sail. We'll take advantage of this wind and finish this."

Lyle desperately wanted to make a joke, but as he opened his mouth, he caught the glare from Julia.

"Sure," he nodded, joining Raul and Anders with the sails.

Even Raul seemed in a strange mood, and as the night progressed, Lyle and Anders exchanged opinions.

"Have you noticed?" Anders observed. "She avoids being alone with any one of us. It's like she's afraid of us."

"I noticed," Lyle nodded. "She doesn't trust us."

"Did you do anything to her?"

"No!" Lyle sounded indignant. "I might think she's really gorgeous, okay? But I also know that Luke will kick my butt all the way back to Florida if I try anything with her. And I like her too much to be that kind of an ass."

"Well, if you didn't do anything," Anders narrowed his eyes, "and I didn't do anything..."

They looked at each other.

"Raul." they both said together, looking to the bow where their friend was taking his turn on watch.

"We need to be havin' a little word with our mutinous shipmate," Lyle spoke in a pirate voice.

"Aar!" Anders grinned. "We be makein' 'im walk the plank."

"Later," Lyle nodded. "When Julia's asleep or something."

* * *

According to her maps, a road ran along most of this part of the coast as far as Houston, so Julia suggested they stopped just past the mouth of a river, to the south of Port Arthur. There were no natural hiding places here, but it was deserted. She felt they would be safe there.

She had been relieved when she felt Luke's growing closeness, but she wondered if it had anything to do with the guilt she had been feeling all night over the Raul situation. She had started thinking that she might have been sending out the wrong signals. Had she been too friendly with them? Did they think she was the kind of girl who would move from one guy to another like that? She wondered if Anders and Lyle would make a pass at her next. She decided that if she kept her distance, maybe they would realize that she was not inviting any attention from them.

"You guys get some sleep," Raul offered. "I'll take the first watch."

Tired, everyone just accepted it and descended to their cabins.

It had gone past noon when Julia awoke from her sleep. Annoyed that no one had woken her for her turn at watch, she dressed and went up on deck. From the way Anders and Lyle had reacted, they were as annoyed as she was.

"You seen Raul?" Lyle asked.

"No," Julia shook her head. "How come no one called me for my turn?"

"No one got called," Anders shrugged. "Raul seems to have vanished.

"Oh," was all Julia could say.

"We think he might have headed for this place" Anders pointed to a small town on the map. "Sabine Pass is only about three miles away. I bet he went there to get some fresh food and stuff, you know, like we talked about yesterday."

"Perhaps," she nodded, knowing otherwise.

While Julia spent most of the day below decks, Lyle and Anders spent the day swimming and relaxing, and even ran up and down the deserted beach. The day passed by slowly with no sign of the missing Raul.

"What do we do when it's time to leave?" Lyle looked at the beach.

"If he's not back, then we leave," Julia shrugged.

"We can't just leave him here," Lyle frowned. "He's our friend, Julia. Maybe I should go and look for him."

"This is not about Raul," she snapped. "This is about me catching up to Luke. You said you were going to help me. If you want to go and find Raul, fine. I can't stop you. But when the sun has set, I am leaving, with or without you."

"What's got into you?" Anders narrowed his eyes. "This isn't you."

"What isn't me?" she snapped. "Not being nice? Is that what you expect? You think that because I'm nice means you can just come up and kiss me and I won't mind?"

Julia was crying now. Lyle and Anders exchanged looks.

"Is that what he did?"

Julia nodded through her tears.

"And now you think we are going to do the same?"

Again she nodded.

"He's not coming back," Anders shook his head. "He knows he overstepped the mark and feels totally humiliated and embarrassed by what he did. And what he did was wrong, Julia," Anders gave her a sympathetic smile. "But we know that because you're nice to us doesn't mean you like us any more than friends."

"Listen," Lyle sat next to her. "We know you are head over heels in love with Luke, okay? Neither one of us is dumb enough to imagine otherwise. But Raul... He thinks differently. I'm not sure how he thinks but he has all these dreams and plans... and I think a trophy wife is one of them. And like it or not, Julia, you make a pretty good trophy."

"Does Luke see me as a trophy?" she wondered out loud.

"Nah," Lyle shook his head with a grin. "He's just a love struck dope. I mean, leaving you behind? Come on. How stupid can you be?"

Julia couldn't help laughing through her tears.

"Okay," Anders grinned. "How about you go and clean yourself up while we make dinner. If Raul isn't back when it's time to leave, we leave."

"Hey," Lyle suddenly called. "I just realized. "This was our last day of playing around. And tonight's our last journey by night."

"Where we heading for tonight, Julia?" Anders looked at the map.

"Corpus Christi," Julia told them. "From there, we make our way to San Antonio, and then a straight line northwest to New Mexico."

"And then?"

"Then I find Luke."

* * *
Last edited by WR on Fri Sep 15, 2006 2:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Red Shift Part 3 Chapter 6

Post by WR » Fri Sep 15, 2006 3:01 pm

Hi everyone,

Friday night... new update... yup, things are looking a little more normal for me now :):)

As always, thank you so much for you continueing support and feedback for my story. I'm glad the in spite of the different names, you are enjoying the tale. :)

roswell3053 - Well... what does Raul know, exactly? That there are two groups of teenagers heading west? Along with hundreds of others? lol :wink:

roswellluver - I am sure two groups will meet soon. :)

AlwaysRoswell - Glad you are enjoying it :)

omwf - Well, it would certainly seem that way. Julia's team soes seem to be covering more gorund, erm, water. :lol:

roswck - Yes. Sandra has no connection. Her role was only ever to be Julia's "Maria"

Ellie - I had a lot of fun chceking distances, coastlines, lat and long... and making sure their journies all tied up :) So I am gald my efforts are apprecioated :):)

confusedfool - Thank you :)

Jull_ana - I love tying my loose ends together. :wink: So that boat was always going to come in handy. :D Looking forward to you next visit :)

polar vixen - I like to try and add humor, to balance my famous cliffhangers which haven't been to bad in this story, right? Glad I made you Fridays special again :) Remind me to conjour up a good cliffhanger worthy of my reputation :wink:

BehrObsession - I always figured that if I placed the three guys on a boat with julia, one of them would crack. So I deliberatley had Julia leave her bikini... and it was poor old Raul who drew the short straw! :lol:

raemac - Wow. I wonder how Tess would react if she saw Julia walking along the streets of Roswell?

vampyrax - Don't forget that Liz was originally going to travel by bus. It was only Lyle comment after the Military Law stopped her, that made her think of using the boat. :wink:

frenchkiss70 - lol - you know, I never ever made THAT connection! (to 85) I like it :D

thetvgeneral - But there seems to be a limit to their feelings :wink:

Timelord31 - Well, I hopr the seats edge was comfortable, but worth the wait :wink:

smokie - I suspect that if Luke and Julia allowed that connection to form during spring break, then their journey might have been made earlier, long before the Military Law. :wink:
Me? in Politics? Hell will freeze over first! :lol:

dawnuk - I must admit to hoping no one would make that connection. At least no one made thei thought public, if they did :) Do you know how hard it is for me to keep typing these strange names? Just ask my Beta Team how many corrections they make - Max to Luke and Julia to Liz. :wink: As for London - I live 45 mins away. So pick a Saturday and we can meet! Anyone else up for coffee in London? :D

Red Shift

Part 3

Chapter 6

"What the heck was that about?" Michael demanded. "What's he doing here?"

"I have no idea," Maria shook her head. "But did you see those handcuffs he was wearing?"

"If he's sold us out..." Michael's face was white with rage.

"He hasn't sold us out," Luke placed his hand on Michael's shoulder. "He doesn't know anything about us, and the only thing he could possibly have learned was that we are making our way to fight the aliens, like thousands of others."

"It looked to me like he was under arrest," Leia added. "And not like he was helping them."

"We need to find out," Luke turned to look at the solid doorway with two armed guards standing on sentry duty.

"You guys leave this to me," Leia smiled at them. "You get back to the tents and I'll meet up with you there."

"Leia," Luke cautioned.

"Relax," she smiled. "Trust me."

"I hate it when people say that to me," Luke shook his head while Leia started to make her way toward the building.

* * *

Sitting by the tents waiting for Leia to return had seemed to be the longest part of their journey so far. Only half an hour, it had seemed like days before Leia finally reappeared. Her long face filled with worry showed them all that it was not good news she was returning with.

"Apparently," she began, sitting down on the ground with her friends. "He was captured early this morning by some police near a small town to the south of here. Just south of Port Arthur."

"What was he doing there?" Michael demanded.

"The guards said he was caught stealing food," Leia turned to look at him.

"No," Michael snapped. "Not what was he 'doing' there. What was he doing 'there'? Near Port Arthur. He should be in Florida."

"How would I know that?" Leia rolled her eyes. "I can only get the information that the guard knows, unless you suggest I just walk into the building and start interrogating everyone inside."

"What's going to happen to him?" Luke looked at Leia, knowing that there was more to the story.

"That building is also the stockade, Luke," she told him. "The guard said that tomorrow morning, he's going to be tried under the new military laws. Luke, he said they're going to make an example of him. They're going to execute him."

"No they won't," Luke shook his head, his face a solid mask of determination. "Not one of our friends, they won't. I need you to talk to that guard again, Leia. I need you to find out the exact layout of the building, how many people are inside, and where they are keeping Raul."

Leia nodded. Michael stared hard at Luke with narrowed eyes.

"Tonight," Maria started to sing the old Thin Lizzie song, "there's going to be a jailbreak."

No one smiled at her little joke.

"We need a plan," Michael said at last. He turned to Maria. "Can you remember who it was who was good at plans?"

"I already have one," Luke nodded.

* * *

"Excuse me," Maria, wearing a short skirt and a tight shirt, more buttons undone than done up, approached the two guards on duty by the door, stepping into the circle of light from the single bulb above the doorway. She stopped about ten yards from them, giving them a look that could only be described as sultry. "I was wondering if you boys could help me?"

"'Course we can, darlin'," one of them leered at her. Without taking their eyes from the cleavage her top was showing, both guards crossed the ground to stand closer to her. "What can we do for you? Fed up with the kids and come to see the men?"

"Something like that," she purred, flashing them a smile. "I was just wondering if either of you boys knew where I might find a more... solid shower. Those portable things on camp are just so gross, and a girl likes to get clean after she gets dirty, if you know what I mean."

"Sure," he looked at his buddy. "When I finish my shift, you can come with me to my billet in town. We can all have a shower then."

"Are either of you guys officers?" she batted her eyelashes at them.

"Officers," the second guard spat. "What do they know?"

"Well, you know what?" she looked at them coyly, "They do have better uniforms. And there are other perks. I'm kind of partial to Second in Commands. See ya."

She smiled at them before turning to walk away.

"Bitch!" the guard spat and returned to their post, not seeing the doorway that they had been guarding close with a soft click.

* * *

"Remind me to advise Michael to get a uniform," Luke's voice was dancing with mirth in Leia's mind.

"Just keep your mind on keeping your invisible shield around us," Leia's whispered voice seemed inordinately loud.

They looked around the main office, a collection of desks, filing cabinets and maps. A few clerk types sat behind some of the desks punching at some keyboards. Luke nudged Leia toward the door that looked like it might lead to the cells rather than the commanding officer's office.

"I hope you can suggest something to someone even though they can't see you,"" Luke spoke in Leia's mind again.

The roll of her eyes couldn't have been louder.

Guiding Luke by pulling his shoulder, they walked to the side of one of the clerks.

"Go and check on the prisoner they brought in this morning," she whispered in the man's ear.

At first his eyes widened with surprise and he looked around, expecting to see someone. He shrugged his shoulders and reached into his drawer for a set of keys.

"I'm just gonna check on the prisoner," he indicated the door.

His comrades raised no objection, nor showed any surprise. Luke smiled at Leia as the man unlocked the door and stepped through the doorway. The guard frowned slightly when the door appeared to hit something as he tried to close it. He moved to door slowly, watching to see what had been causing the obstruction, but it closed easily this time and he merely shook his head.

"Army workmen," he spat.

The large room was divided into several segments, each one separated from the others by some substantial looking metal bars. Many of the individual cages were filled with teenagers, perhaps a dozen in total. Most of them were showing signs of fighting, their probable cause for arrest. Sitting in the corner by himself, looking thoroughly miserable was Raul. While every other person was shouting demands at the guard, Raul remained silent.

"I don't want to free everyone, Leia," Luke told her. "Some of these guys might be in here for a valid reason."

"What if some more of them were just stealing food?" Leia asked him in a hushed voice.

"Okay," Luke conceded. "But no one who committed anything violent, okay?"

"Take all of the petty criminals, including the new guy, into a separate cell," she whispered in the man's ear. "One against the back wall."

After another look of initial surprise, the man took his keys and drew his pistol. He unlocked the cell door while aiming the gun at the prisoners."

"Don't get any ideas," he warned them. "You," he nodded at Raul. "This way."

"Did you call my parents?" Raul climbed to his feet, looking more than a little worried. "Do I get to talk to a lawyer?"

"You don't get no rights, you thieving piece of scum," the man waved him into a separate cell. Locking the doors behind him, he sneered at Raul. "I thought you might appreciate a window. They'll be making your gallows out there later. Thought you might like to watch."

Broken, Raul leaned back against the wall and slid down. The guard started to laugh at him as he left the cells, locking the door behind him. Leia gave Luke a look of concern.

"We won't be leaving through that door, remember?" he smiled at her, talking in a whisper.

"Oh yeah," she grinned.

"We're against the back wall, Michael," he called out. "About twenty yards from the back corner. Can you find me?"

Luke wished that Leia and Michael would remember how to speak with their minds. Michael would not be able to pinpoint the exact position, which was the only flaw in his plan.

"Wait!"" Luke had an idea. "Stand back. I'll show you where."

Concentrating on his powers, while still maintaining his shield, Luke drilled a tiny hole through the brickwork, about head high. Close up, Michael should be able to see the hole by the light escaping from it. A soft scraping from outside indicated that Michael was in position.

With all three of them working together, it appeared to anyone watching, that the wall had simply melted. One second, there was a solid brick wall, while the next, there was a large hole and a pile of dust on the floor.

"Son of a..." Raul leapt to his feet. "What the... how..."

Raul was making even more noise than the other startled prisoners. Michael stepped into the hole and swung his fist, connecting with Raul's jaw. It had the appropriate effect. Raul was out cold, making no more noise.

"That wasn't part of the plan," Luke gave Michael a look of admonition.

"So I winged it," Michael shrugged. "He was making too much noise."

"Okay," he conceded. "Let's get him back to our tents.

"I really don't like this part," Leia shook her head. "Shouldn't we get him out of the camp?"

"That's what they're going to expect us to do," Michael grinned. "Let's work to our strengths. We're experts at hiding in plain sight."

* * *

As he started to regain consciousness, Raul could hear voices around him. His head ached and his jaw was hurting him. Where was he, he wondered? Had the boom hit him on the head and knocked him out? Then he remembered. He had been captured by the soldiers, and brought to this stockade where they assured him he would be executed, pretty much without trial. Groaning, he opened his eyes. He slammed them shut again. Not from the pain, but because of what, or rather, who he saw. Then he remembered. He groaned and refused to open his eyes until he regained his orientation.

"Where am I?" he looked at the tent he was in. "I mean, where are we?"

Then his memory returned. The disappearing wall, and Hans... no, Michael, punching him in the jaw. His hand reached up and rubbed the ache.

"Yeah," Michael grinned. "Sorry about that."

Raul thought that Michael did not look very sorry at all.

"No," he groaned. "I deserved it."

He looked around the tent. Leia, Alison, or Maria rather, Michael and Luke.

"Yeah," Leia nodded. "Stealing food. What was that about?"

"Oh, not for that," he shook his head. "For What I..." He stopped and narrowed his eyes. A look of deep suspicion appeared on his face. "Have you spoken to Julia yet?"

"Julia?" Luke gasped, leaning forward. "Why?" He grabbed Raul's shirt with both hands. "Was Julia arrested with you? Where did they take her? Raul, what are you doing here?"

"Oh, god," Raul realized he had made a huge mistake by suggesting Julia might be in trouble. "Julia's looking for you, Luke. She's trying to catch up to you."

"What?" Luke released his grip, his face going even more white than it had been previously. "How? Why?" He started looking around. "You mean she's here?"

"No, no," Raul shook his head, looking around at his friends. "The other day, the day you left, she found the three of us, Anders, Lyle and me. She said that she had to catch up to you. That you didn't know who you were looking for. She persuaded us to help her follow you. 'Cause they stopped the busses and this was the only way we could travel."

"She's with Lyle?" Luke voice had grown very quiet.

"Yeah," Raul nodded, not fully understanding what Luke was asking. "And Anders. I was with them, too."

"What's been happening," Michael recognized that Luke was not going to be able to speak coherently. He seemed deep in his own thoughts. "How did you catch up to us, if travel has been stopped? Are you guys coming to sign up, too?"

"We came by boat," Raul shook his head. "Julia's father has this sailboat. We've been sailing at night and sleeping and hiding out by day."

So many questions were answered at once. He had not dreamwalked Julia, he had seen her in reality, while she was awake. But that made that part worse. She had really told Lyle that she loved him, not dreamed about telling him. But if she was coming after him... maybe it was just a flippant remark. Maybe... And that explained the feelings of her closeness. By night she would draw near and by day, he would get further away from her.

"Raul," Luke narrowed his eyes. "Where did you stop yesterday morning?"

"South of New Orleans," he looked at Luke, wondering why such a question would have such meaning attached to it.

Luke pulled out a map and started to study it.

"So how did you get arrested and not the others?" Leia asked him.

"When we stopped this morning," he started talking again. It was easier just talking and not answering specific questions. "I took some of our money, put it in a plastic container and swam to shore. I started walking, heading for this town about three or four miles away. See, we only brought canned food with us. And someone commented on how nice it would be if we got some fresh food. I thought that I could walk into the nearest town and buy some. Only the stores were all closed. I was only peering in the window to see if there was anyone inside when these two cops stopped me. I think they were a bit racist. They were accusing me of being an illegal. A Mexican. Of course, I forgot my ID and couldn't prove anything. And all the time, I'm telling these guys I was only trying to make my way west to help fight the aliens. So the first cop, he smashes the window. That's when the soldiers arrived. The rest, you know."

"She was too far!" Luke exclaimed, looking up from the map. "You stopped too far south and were too far. That why I couldn't feel her."

"Huh?" Raul looked puzzled.

"Yeah," Maria nodded. "Huh?"

"Never mind," Luke shook his head, burning red. He turned to look at Raul. "She came all this way to find me?"

"Yeah," he nodded. "She said she had to warn you about something. That's as much as I know."

"She's only forty miles south of here," Luke faced Michael. "If I hurry..."

"No," Raul shook his head. "As soon as it turned dark, they'd have weighed anchor and started sailing."

"No," Luke shook his head. "Julia wouldn't have abandoned you like that."

"Yes," Raul nodded, looking very sheepish. "She would have. Uhm... Luke? Can I talk to you? In private."

* * *

In spite of Michael's misgivings about Raul being seen in public, he and Luke started to walk among the tents.

"So what's up?" Luke was savoring the feeling of Julia's closeness, wondering how long it would last. He had felt it all day and had enjoyed every minute of it. He was, however, dreading the news Raul was about to give him. He was sure Raul would tell him that Lyle and Julia...

"Look, I was totally out of line, okay? I mean, Julia didn't really give me any reason to assume she was anything other than a friend, and it's totally not her fault, okay?"

A sick, heavy feeling settled in the pit of Luke's stomach. He did not like how awkward Raul was acting. What exactly had they done that was not Julia's fault?

"What wasn't?" he barely managed to speak.

"She turned me down, flat, Luke," Raul stopped and looked at his... friend. "And I really hate myself for it. But I kind of... I hit on Julia."

Luke's mind was in turmoil. Julia had turned him down. That was good. She was on her way to warn him about something. That was good, too. But what about her and Lyle? And Raul had hit on her. Raul had made Julia feel uncomfortable. Luke's eyes flashed dangerously.

"She froze me out after that," Raul sounded full of remorse. "I don't know what I was thinking." He shook his head. "It's just... I found this yellow bikini... and... I don't know. I just kept thinking about how hot she would look in it... and... dammit! I'm a weak, sorry assed son of a bitch, Luke. And I totally deserved that punch from Michael. But if you want to hit me, too, then..."

"I'm not going to hit you," Luke shook his head, wanting to blast him, as much as he wanted to blast Lyle.

"I mean, it was such a stupid thing to do considering we all know how she feels about you."

"Feels about me?" Luke managed to squeak.

"Aw, c'mon, Luke," Raul eyed him with suspicion. "Don't tell me that you don't know that she's totally in love with you?"

"What about..." he swallowed. "What about Lyle?"

"What about Lyle?" Raul seemed confused. "He never hit on her. Anders neither. They have more sense, I expect. Lyle even warned me that she wasn't interested in anyone but you."

But why would Julia tell Lyle she loved him, he wondered?

"If you promise me that it will never happen again," Luke gave a slow nod of his head, "then there's no need to talk about this anymore. And if Julia forgives you, after you apologize to her, then I will forgive you too. Till then, I won't treat you any differently, okay? But you had better treat Leia better than you treated Julia."

"Should I tell her?" his voice sounded shaky.

"That's up to you," Luke shrugged. "But before you make your mind up... If you're going to be traveling with us now, then there are one or two things you should know. And Raul," Luke's eyes were burning. "I hope for friendships sake, I haven't made a big mistake. I hope that I can trust you with this."

"What's that?" Raul asked in all innocence.

* * *

Dawn was only an hour or two away. Luke suddenly sat bolt upright in his bed, his head turning and twisting as though he was searching for the source of a sound only just audible. He crawled out of his tent and stood upright in the cool morning air, facing a southwesterly direction.

"Luke?" Leia asked, following him out of the tent. "What's up?"

The way he had woken up had woken her, too.

"Help her," Luke stated simply. He sounded frightened.

"Help who?" Leia stifled a yawn. "Help Maria? She's..."

Maria and Michael crawled from their tent. Raul, wrapped in the blanket he was using for shelter joined them. He had been taking his turn on guard duty. He maintained a short distance from them, however. As though he had received some disturbing news about them.

"Help her," Luke repeated. "Help her, help her, help her..."

"What's up?" Michael stepped in front of Luke.

"Help her," Luke kept repeating, his anxiety rising. "Help her, help her, help her..."

"He's still asleep," Michael informed them while Luke kept repeating his words. He turned to Raul. "Help me get him back in his tent."

Raul went white, but Leia stepped up and together, they tried to guide Luke back into the tent. But he resisted their attempts, standing rock still and repeating "Help her" over and over again.

Just as they were starting to get concerned of the number of people now looking out of their tents, Luke finally followed Leia's attempts to guide him back in to their own.

"That was weird," Michael frowned looking at Luke's tent.

"Has he ever done anything like that before?" Maria turned to her husband.

"Not that I know of," Michael shook his head. "Leia?"

Leia, having rejoined them, shook her head, too.

"Although," she continued. "He's been having these strange dreams lately. Maybe this is just another one."

Feeling a little guilty, Raul turned away, wondering if his earlier confession had somehow triggered this bad dream.

"Well," Michael shrugged. "Nothing we can do now. Might as well get a little more sleep. I'll take over, Raul. You sleep in Luke's tent. Leia can sleep with Maria.

Raul's eyes widened with fear.

* * *

Lyle and Anders had spent the last few hours of daylight watching the shore for Raul's return. He never turned up.

"Probably just as well," Anders sighed. "I don't know how he could have faced Julia after what he did. Heck, I don't know how he could have faced us."

"Yeah," Lyle sighed. "But it's always been us three, you know? Alison had Hans, Julia had Luke, and us three..."

"After what he did to Julia," Anders shrugged, "I'm glad it's just us two now."

"Yeah," Lyle nodded. "You think you know a guy... It's going to be a long night."

"Our last," Anders grinned. "We'll make Corpus Christi by morning. And then we become land lubbers again."

"Weigh Anchor, Lyle," Julia called. "Anders, can you hoist the mainsail?"

An hour or two before dawn, Lyle climbed up from the galley with a couple of mugs of hot chocolate.

"You seem deep in thought?" Lyle handed Julia a hot drink. "Luke?"

"Surprisingly, no," she shook her head with a smile, accepting the drink. "The boat, actually."

"What about it?" Lyle looked around, expecting there to be a fault.

"Well," she frowned. "I'd like to get it home, you know? But somehow, I don't think I'll get the chance. What do I do then?"

"Make Luke buy you a new one," Lyle grinned. "I better get this drink up to Anders. He hates it when his hot chocolate gets cold."

"Okay," Julia started to laugh.

"Here you go, buddy," Lyle handed Anders' chocolate to him.

"Thanks," Anders wrapped both his hands around the mug. "See that? Up ahead?"

"What?" Lyle stared out into the darkness. "All I see are those dots of light."

"Exactly," Anders nodded. "Corpus Christi."

"Awesome," Lyle grinned. "But you know, I don't think Julia really considered our next step. It's all very well saying she will find Luke, and I really believe she can, but we still have to cross almost five hundred miles of countryside before we reach New Mexico..."

"Yeah," Anders nodded, patting the boat. "This was a master stroke. But we either need to find people who will smuggle us across country, or really rustle some horses. And can I say, I have never ridden a horse?"

"So, what do we do?"

"We wait till we get ashore," Anders shrugged. "Let's find out what's going on and then make plans from there. I mean, who knows? Maybe the curfew is over and travel is back to normal.

"Or maybe..." Lyle paused. His head tipped to one side, his face a mask of concentration.

"What?" Lyle looked at him.

"Can you hear something?"

"No," Anders shook his head, trying to listen. "Only the wind whipping past the sails. Considering there are no moving parts, it's surprising how much noise there is on a sailboat. What is it?"

"I don't know," Lyle started to look around, straining to hear the noise again. "I thought I heard something."

"Maybe just some noise from an oil rig," Anders shrugged. "We've been passing a couple all night."

"No," he shook his head. "This sounds... big."

Lyle turned back to ask Julia if she could hear it. His face fell in horror as a huge dark shadow seemed to emerge out of the darkness directly behind.

"Oh my god," he bellowed. "Julia! Jump! Jump, Julia! Jump, Andy!"

Hardly waiting to see if his friends reacted, Lyle dived over the railing and into the sea. Under the darkness of the water, he kicked with his legs and pulled with his arms as he tried to get out of the way of the larger Navy ship that crashed into their own little yacht. He could hear the throbbing of the engine and the unbelievably loud splintering sound as The Tranquility broke up. Finally, his lungs bursting, he reached the surface again, sucking in huge gulps of air. The water churned around him and he had to swim hard to avoid the current that tried to suck him back to the ship.

"Julia!" he yelled out, treading water. "Andy!"

No answer came back. He turned in the water, looking hard as the swells of the waves lifted him higher.

"Julia! Andy!" he tried again.

A large cushion floated by him, from the long bench at the back of the boat. He grabbed it, grateful that he no longer had to tread water.

"Julia!" he tried again, an edge of panic to his voice. "Andy!"

Over and over, Lyle called his friends. He kept calling until exhaustion, and well as his body starting to go numb in the water forced him to start making for the distant shore, visible now in the early half light of dawn. All the way to the beach, Lyle kept telling himself that the others would make. That Julia had not come all this way to find Luke, only to be drowned by a freak accident. But a chilling thought struck him to the very core. If Julia didn't make it, what would he tell Luke?

At last, he reached the shoreline. Tempted by his exhaustion to simply lay there and gasp for his breath, Lyle struggled to his feet. He stared out the darkness of the sea.

"Julia!" he called again, much weaker now. "Andy!"

The only reply was the sound of the waves breaking.

* * *
Last edited by WR on Fri Sep 22, 2006 2:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.