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Red Shift Part 3 Chapter 27

Post by WR » Fri May 04, 2007 4:50 pm

Hi everyone,

Please don't shoot the messenger. Can I help it if Max likes to give out quotes every now and then from a book he happens to be reading? :wink: And that book actually states "5 notes" There are reason WHY he might have said 5. But I'll leave a bit of mystery behind. :wink:

But I have a question. How come so many of you tell me different numbers? I've had 7, 8 and 9 quoted. lol.
Let's see... F A C E - I remember that from basic Music, along with Every Good Boy Deserves Fun.
And from The Sound of Music, I remember Doh Ray Mee Fah So La Ti and back to Doh!

Thanks for your feedback. I have found these chapters heavy going because I need to set up so many things before I can actually start in the next direction. But nearly everything is in place, now. A few more waypoints and I can start to move forward again. :)

Rai - Yes, Liz's dad has allowed his fear of what he does no understand to unhinge him somewhat.

thetvgeneral - Yeah, I bet Max is just itching to take out Madly. And I dont mean dinner and the movies. :wink:

raemac - Oh, well... as long as you only teeter, and don't totter... :wink:

you're my dreamgirl - Glad you liked it. As soon as I typed Max's call for a horse, I knew SOMEONE had to say that. :D

polar vixen - Hope yoy had a good weekend and it was worth missing my Friday update for :wink:

Jull_ana - lol - Well, you just know whats going to happen, right?

eric1978 - thank you :wink:

mezz - Max was quoting something, and very Earthly. :wink:

cocogurl - I think Max has that in mind :wink:

Timelord31 - lol. well, when you know it, it's not sush a mystery :wink:

roswell3053 - The Bloodgaurd were the loyal soldiers who King Deryn used to pretty much push his plans through. They were feared for their skill in battle and their loyalty. Under orders from Zan, they flew to Earth to protect the chaco canyons region so Max would have somewhere to run. lol So far, we have no indication that they have been involved in anything to do with the reincarnations, OR Zan's seal.

Emz80m - I guess sometimes, fear is a serious taskmaster :wink:

omwf - Lol - who says Max has a plan?

VeronicaB - lol. well, how do you think I feel, writing them? :wink:

roswelllostcause - hockey stick... now there's an idea... Are we talking field hockey or ice hockey? lol

AlwaysRoswell - Thank you :)

mareli - He was just plain scared of losing Liz again. Guess that plan backfired, huh? BTW, aparently, Sirio is translating another of my stories into Italian :D

JBehr's Chica - Wow. you have a long way to go. I hope you don;t lose too much sleep catching up. lol. Nice to hear from you. Don;t be a stranger :)

roswellluver - Thank you :)

Red Shift

Part 3

Chapter 27

Part 3

Chapter 27

The camp was almost completely invisible from the air. Even in daylight, it would be extremely hard to see the vast tented complex that housed the huge army. The occupants did not want to be seen, even though there was no way that anyone would even consider looking for them. Simply put, they did not exist. They had not existed for more than sixty years. Or so everyone thought.

From the outside, the tent was much like any other in the vast sea of tents that made up the military camp, some distance from the capital city of Antar. Inside, however, it was different. Inside were the military officers of this huge army, waiting eagerly for their briefing on this historic day. All were dressed in the traditional battle dress of the Antarian Army, from the days before the civil war. A buzz of excitement eddied among the personnel. At long last, a flap at the side of the tent opened and a very tall and imposing man wearing the insignia of a general strode in. Silence fell upon the ranks and one lone voice called out:


As one, the large body of men stood to attention and saluted.

The general placed his bag on a table that stood in front of a large vertical map, depicting the city and the surrounding countryside. Large arrows and lines turned the map into some kind of weird artwork. He unfastened his bag and produced a number of foils, which he laid out on the table. Satisfied with his preparations, he finally looked up at the standing officers and nodded at them.

"At ease."

As one, as though they had drilled that very maneuver, the men were seated, their attention firmly fixed on their general.

"As you are aware," the general surveyed the room, "Kivar has embroiled his reserves in an attempt to force the governments of a distant world to assist him in the search for Zan and the Granolith. And that has left him wide open to attack, here on Antar. This is a day we have been waiting for, for a very long time. For more than sixty years, we have been in hiding. And in that time we have been training. Drilling. Practicing. And expanding. We are now twice in number than that we started with. And those numbers give us the edge on our planet once more."

He paused, allowing the officers to agree with him.

"We stand on the eve of the most historic day since Larek's protectors fired upon General Rath, so starting the civil war. Gentlemen, it is up to you to live your destiny. Only you can make this happen. Trust in your training, follow the plans, and above all else, fight with valor, and we 'will' emerge victorious."

His comment was met with applause and cheers. He waited for the cacophony to die down before he continued.

"You all know the plan. You all have your primary and secondary objectives. Many of you have additional objectives. And you all know the time frame. Keep to the timetable. Leave any pockets of resistance to be dealt with later. We must not get caught up. We have forces who's tasks are to mop up these islands we might be forced to leave. Do you have any questions?"

There weren't. The plans had been memorized months ago. Everyone knew to the minutest detail what was going to happen.

"Good. Gentlemen, return to your units, and let's welcome the morning with a march toward a new Antar."

* * *

The sun was not even starting to rise when the first explosions pierced the night. All around the city, the outward garrisons were being shelled in a large scale barrage. Just as the defenders had taken cover from the raining death, infantry units swarmed over the outer defenses. Air ships flew in like flocks of migrating birds, taking out any other ship that dared show itself, as well as any vehicle of any description. Especially the tanks. Taken by an even greater surprise than their counterparts thousands of light years away, the outer garrisons fell with barely a shot returned in anger. The primary objectives of the invading army had been met and already, the juggernaut was rolling onward to the secondary objectives. The element of surprise lost, however, these posts did not fall without some form of defense being put up.

But as inevitable as the tide, the posts did fall. It was then that the great plans of the general and his forces came unstuck. In all their years of planning, they had not once considered this one rather simple tactic. They had expected Kivar to mount a counter attack, to try to drive the invaders away, assuming as he would, that the army was a bunch of half trained, inexperienced freedom fighters. They had expected a full and open battle in front of the walls of the city, from behind which the citizens would watch Kivar's defeat and cheer the general's arrival like a conquering hero.

But Kivar had not reacted as they had expected. Kivar had not counter attacked. Instead, the defenders withdrew all of their remaining forces from the surrounding countryside and lined those very same walls with long-range cannons and anti aircraft batteries. What had been planned as open warfare had quite suddenly turned into a siege. There would be no dawn of a new Antar that day, nor any other for some time. And unless the besiegers could break through, they knew that Kivar could call on reinforcements.

* * *

"Your highness," someone was banging on her door. "Your highness!"

In her bed, Dalena rolled onto her back, groaning with frustration at being woken up while it was still dark. She lifted her body up and stared at the door, hoping that it might have been a mistake.

"Your highness?" the knocking came again. "Are you awake?"

"What do you want, Valda?" she called to her lady in waiting with a voice that can only be described as annoyed.

"My lady," Valda sounded apologetic. "Your presence is required in the communications room, at once."

"At once?" she shook her head. What did Kivar want this time? "Very well. I shall be there forthwith."

"Yea, my lady," Valda replied. "I shall go and inform them at once."

Them, she wondered?

She pulled on her dressing robe and stepped into her thick slippers. Even though the palace was heated, there was still a chill in the night air. And Dalena did not like being cold. Grumbling about vipers all the way, Dalena followed the well worn route through the halls to the communications room. She was surprised to find Count Heldin in the room, waiting for her. Normally, Kivar insisted on speaking with her alone, so that he could propose to her once again. Her eyes narrowed when she saw the look of confusion on his face. This could not be good.

"Your highness," he bowed. "Uhm, Lord Larek urgently requests a word with you. I would not normally permit your being disturbed, but under the circumstances..."

"What circumstances?" Dalena's heart fell. Had something happened to Zan? "Heldin, what are you talking about?"

"I had better let Larek speak with you."

"Larek?" Dalena spoke into the microphone. "What is it?"

"Dalena." Larek's voice was strangled. "What are you doing?"

"Doing, Larek?" she frowned. "I'm getting up in the middle of the night to speak in riddles with you. What are you doing?"

"Dalena, you must call them off!" he insisted.

"Call who off?" she narrowed her eyes. "Larek, please tell me what in the blue blazes are you talking about?"

"Your army, you must call them off," he reiterated.

"What army? Larek, I will ask you one more time. What are you talking about?"

There was a frustrated silence. Dalena was just about to ask Larek again when he spoke.

"Dalena, remember when we talked the other day? You said about hurrying things along?"

"Yes," she nodded. "I thought maybe we could start a series of hit and run raids or something."

"Well, Kivar has just been hit by a serious raid. And they're not running. Dalena? The capital city is currently under siege."

Now it was Dalena's turn to be struck mute.

"Could you repeat that?"

"Early this morning, a large armed force attacked Kivar's defenses outside the capital. Although his outer posts were overrun, Kivar withdrew his remain forces and is now being besieged by an army. One that we now know is not yours, my Lady. It would appear that someone, as yet unidentified, also has designs on the throne."

"Could it be the Bloodguard?" there was hope in her eyes. "Or could it be Zan?"

"Nay, My Lady," Larek sighed. "The Bloodguard never had such numbers, and Zan, we know, is still on Earth. He has still not reclaimed the Granolith."

"Then who could be attacking Kivar?" she narrowed her eyes. "And is he on our side, or is he against us? Is it possible that one of the other planets is taking matters into their own hands?"

"It's doubtful," Larek stated firmly. "But I think we should look at making contact with whoever is in charge to find out their intentions regarding the Antarian Crown."

"I'll see to it at once," Dalena nodded. "I do not want to be forced to unite with Kivar if this is some other planet attacking us. I wish Zan was here."

"As do I," Larek agreed. "And this has unfortunate repercussions as far as he is concerned."

"Oh?" she raised an eyebrow. "How so?"

"Your agent on Earth and I have been hoping to get Zan to return to Antar in secret, while Kivar's forces are stuck on Earth. We were hoping to take the same opportunity that this third party has taken and attack Kivar while he was much weakened. Instead, Kivar will now recall much of his Earth bound forces to help with his own defense, meaning that Zan will have to fight them after all. As well as the new player."

"Assuming he is not already pro-Zan," Dalena suggested. "Perhaps he is a Royalist?"

"If he was on our side, my Lady, do you not think that he would have been in contact with you, requesting your assistance?"

* * *

"Where we gonna do this?" Madly shouted across to Max.

He had just accepted Max's challenge to 'fight' for Liz. Had she not been comatose, she might have found this romantic. Once she had kicked Madly backside across New Mexico, first.

"Why not here?" Max shrugged. "This canyon goes back a couple of hundred yards and has lots of cover. This should be ideal."

"Suits us," he replied.

"Go find yourself a base," Max called. "Here's my flag."

Using his powers, Max made a tall spike of stone grow from the canyon floor. He took off the battle jacket he was still wearing and tied the sleeves to the spike. "Capture this and she's all yours. You have an hour, and then we're starting."

"You have any last words you want me to tell 'Liz'?" Madley started to laugh.

"Yes," Max nodded, with a smile of confidence. "I'm coming for you, Liz Parker."

Madly shook his head, and motioned toward Liz. Two of his men picked her up and they started to retreat deeper in to the canyon, leaving a very frightened Nancy Parker holding onto her wounded husband. As soon as they were gone, Max started to walk toward them.

"Michael," he motioned his friend to join him. "I want you to capture all of them, alive, okay?"

"Alive?" Michael raised his eyebrows, watching Max stop over Jeff Parker, totally oblivious to the watching crowd behind them.

"Yes," Max nodded, kneeling down at Jeff's side. His eyes were still on Michael, however. "I want them all to remember this day. And I don't want anyone accusing us of... well, you know."

"Got it," Michael nodded, as Max's hand started to glow over the wound in Jeff's leg. "What, uh. What if he takes our flag?"

"Not a good idea," Max shook his head, standing up, not even seeing the incredulous looks on both Jeff and Nancy's faces. Neither did they see the way everyone else was looking at them, stunned. Only Maria seemed totally unfazed by it all. "If he does, my advice to you is to surrender to Tess, 'cause she's going to treat you better than I will."

"Got it," Michael nodded with a smile. "Though I gotta warn you. I'll take no one prisoner if they get within thirty feet of that flag."

"I can live with that," he accepted. He stopped when he saw everyone looking at him. "What?"

"I don't understand, Max." Catt shook his head. "After he tried to take Liz away from you, why did you heal him?"

"Heal who?" Max frowned and turned to look back at Jeff. He was currently standing up, having a rather animated discussion with Jim and his father.

"Oh," he continued with a shrug. "Well, he was Liz's Dad, after all, and he's not that bad."

"You're crazy," Catt shook his head. "Being around you is dangerous to your sanity."

"Better to be around him, than against him," Maria patted Max's cheek. "Sanity, you can do without. But if Max gets really angry, you might not have a mind left to lose anyway."

* * *

The hour passed quickly enough. Michael spent it talking to the three soldiers who had volunteered to help them. He had chosen Catt, out of friendship. Max spent the time staring into the canyon.

"Okay, Michael," Max nodded at his friend. "Do a good job."

He turned and started to walk toward Richard's position.

"Wait," Michael frowned. "Where are you going?"

"Where else," he laughed, walking backwards. "To get Liz."

"Alone?" Catt called back.

"Relax," Max grinned. "He won't even see me coming."

Michael replied with a dark grin. He watched until Max disappeared, before he turned to his three men.

"Okay," he waved his hand over each one of them, changing the color of their battle dress to match the precise colors of the rocks around them. "You over there, you there, and Catt, I want you over there. Try to disarm them, if you can. But failing that, wound them, okay? Leave the maximum force to me unless your own life is in danger. Got it?"

"Ho-up!" they all nodded.

"Okay, go." He turned to the spectators. "The rest of you. Amscray. Yes, you too Maria."

* * *

Max was not surprised to meet Madly's units already making their way forward. He had split them into groups, by the looks of things. One group consisting of four men, was out front by fifty yards, a little in the open but moving cautiously. The other group, also consisting of four was moving behind them with far more stealth, in an open skirmish formation. There was no sign of Richard or the others. They would be guarding the flag, Max knew.

"Michael," he sent out his thoughts. "Two groups, on their way. One group out front, bait. Four men. Tightly grouped. Second group behind. Trap. Four men. Fifty feet behind, spaced out. You might need to blind the last group to take the first. I think a nice little sandstorm might help. The rest are probably my reception committee." And then he remembered something. "I don't trust him, Michael. There was a sniper hidden in the rocks. He might have stayed hidden, he might have gone with Madly." Max stopped and started to concentrate, his lips moving as he counted. "It's okay. I found him. He appears to be my last surprise. That makes him Madly's first."

Confident that Michael would know what to do, Max hurried to find Madly's camp. In a small gully within the canyon, he found them. He also found the sniper's position, watching the opening carefully. Max smiled and shook his head, heading for the narrow track that led to his position.

The sniper was watching for Max's approach through a pair of binoculars, trained upon the only path to the encampment. Max had no doubt that Madly was not planning on capturing anyone alive.

"You won't see me through those," he whispered in the sniper's ear.

The sniper tried to react but found a strange force pinning him to the ground.

"Nuh uh uh," Max shook his head. "I think in the terms of the game, you are a casualty. Unless you want to be a real casualty. I can kill you just as easily as I can incapacitate you. Which would you prefer?" Max picked up a very sharp looking knife. "This?"

With widened eyes of terror, the sniper shook his head.

"Wise decision," Max smiled, placing a finger over a nerve point on the man's neck. The sniper fell unconscious. "Cool," he grinned. "Thanks, Mr. Spock."

Max looked over the ledge and looked down into Madly's camp. He could easily see the four soldiers watching for anyone to approach them. He could also see Liz, starting to stir.

"Stay still, Liz," he called. "I know you are a little confused and dazed right now, and you are wondering what the heck is going on, but please, pretend to be asleep, still. Okay? I love you."

"I love you too, Max," she spoke back to him. "God, I wish I could make you hear me."

"I can, Liz," he smiled when he saw the small grin break out on her face as she tried to keep her returning consciousness a secret.

"Okay, then," she whispered in his mind. Max sensed her joy that his revelation brought her. "Care to bring me up to date with everything that's been going on?"

"All right," Max leaned back and proceeded to bring Liz up to date.

* * *

"Aren't you going to hide?" Catt called to Michael in an urgent whisper.

"They're not going to see me," Michael shook his head. "You guys better put on your sand goggles."

"Huh?" another soldier looked up at the clear blue sky. "There's not going to be a storm."

"Isn't there?" Michael smirked. "There's two groups coming. I'll wrap the first one in sand. Use the storm to disable them."

He saw the figures moving from one shelter to another. Michael waited until they were almost on top of his own men. The storm appeared at the pointing of his hand. Sand, whipped up from the desert floor, blinded the attackers almost at once. They had not been wearing their goggles. It was almost too easy to take the weapons from them. Once all four had been apprehended, he urged his men into a more defensive stance and allowed the storm to drop. The four captives sat with worried expressions in a small huddle, out in the open. The team behind them would not know how to proceed now. Michael figured it would take them another five minutes to make their minds up to return to Madly for further instructions. By the time they got there, if Max had not already rescued Liz then his 'leader' was slipping. Sometimes, it appeared, there were better ways to fight than just blasting.

Michael sat down and started to laugh.

* * *

"I'm just making my way down to you, Liz," Max told her. "Can you keep an eye on what's going on down there?"

"Of course," she told him. "Not a lot, actually. They're just... wait. Richard is speaking to two of them. He's pointing outward. Two men have just left. They're jogging out toward where he pointed."

"I think they're coming out to scout for me," he laughed in her mind.

"Max?" she asked. "How good is your shield?"

"Very good. Why?"

"'Cause I want to scare the crap out of this moron," he could feel her anger. "I have a plan. But I need you to go take care of those two goons, first. We don't want them running back to help."

"Consider it done, my lady," Max grinned and started out toward the two scouts.

They never saw what hit them, and Richard never did find out what they went out to see.

Max carefully positioned himself so that he was standing with Richard between him, and Liz. He wanted Liz behind Richard for this. With a subtle change of his energy, the shield that deflected the light and rendered him invisible to human eyes changed into his protective green shield.

"Boo!" he yelled.

All three men actually jumped. They also whipped their guns around and opened fire. One by one, the bullets stopped at the shield, hovering in mid air for a moment before following the path of gravity. Meanwhile, Liz climbed to her feet behind Madly, and after picking up a stout branch that Max had left at her side, she brought it down over Richard's head. As he collapsed to the ground, Max's pushed his mind out to sweep the guns away from the remaining two soldiers. After their faces had drained of color, their hands flew straight up into the air. Liz stood over Madly, with on foot on his back while she leaned on her branch. Max walked up to her and pulled her into a tight hug. He looked down at Madly with a grin.

"Loser," he chuckled.

"I've just captured the flag," he told Michael. "Let everyone know she's safe and well and then send in the troops to mop up this mess. And tell Jim I want these morons as far away from me as they can legally be sent.

"So, Max?" Liz grinned. "What kept you?"

"Little matter of capturing some vehicles," he shrugged. "You know, our original plan until you decided to hiking with Sad Sack here."

"I take it that it went okay?"

"Your hike?" he grinned.

"No," she rolled her eyes. "I meant your little desert jaunt."

"You could say that," he nodded. "Uh, Liz? We can speak normally when we're together you know."

"Are you kidding?" she laughed in his mind. "This is just way too much fun."

"Okay," he sighed. "But just so you know. I really love your voice and I am going to miss it."

"As long as you missed me, that's all I am worried about."

"I missed you," he nodded. "God, I was so scared. I thought I was going to lose you. I thought..."

That's when Liz found out what multitasking was really about.

"Enough with the thinking," she told him, exactly at the same time as she was kissing him, rather soundly.

* * *
Last edited by WR on Fri May 11, 2007 4:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Red Shift Part 3 Chapter 28

Post by WR » Fri May 11, 2007 4:45 pm

Hi everyone!

Thank you all so much for your feedback. I'm glad that you are still enjoying the story. Thigs are at last moving again. I had to set a few things up, and now that I have done so, I can acyually start moving towards the next momentous step on this path. :D

PML - Yes. And hopefully, he has got the message this time. Unless his skull is REALLy thick! lol

rowell3053 - Well, if they are Rath worshippers, then Rath has a HUGE following!

confusedfool - thank you. :)

Emz80m - Well, with his abilities and Madly's incopmpetance, it was a forgone conclusion. Especially with Max's spy in camp :wink:

Ellie - I am pretty sure that Dick is no loger a cancern. I mean, who can he get as an ally now?

Timelord31 - While it was never said "who" made the first shot, I think it would be a safe bet that it was one of the men, probably under orders from Kivar, that it was fired by one of the men protecting Larek. I think Rath would have too much respect from his own men, they would be too disciplined to fire without orders of provocation.

mareli - LOL. Well... I needed Jeff to think that way, so... lol I have just recieved word from Sirio that the prologue for PW is up. :D Be sure to let me know how my story is recieved. :wink:

thetvgeneral - I somehow can't see Madly making an appearacne in the forseeable future. Maybe later... :twisted:

youre my dreamgirl - Not for a while, at least :wink:

Cocogurl - LOL - Well... I am sure Liz has the seem ideas... but... :twisted:

omwf - Why? Would you like more? lol. Ah, but is it? I accounted for the last army, didn't I? I am pretty sure I can account for this one, too! lol :wink: And no cheating involved at all. you should know me better than that! lol

VeronicaB - lol, I love how everyone always mentions parts they can;t wait to see...

sonii - Well, I think they are certainly going to be reminded of the error of their ways :wink:

Vaderian - Hello, and welcome. YOu know, I would have loved to have been emplyed on the show, but I suspect I would have been told what they wanted to happen. Writing fiction is miles better because I am in complete control :D But, I thank you for the complement.

Roswelllostcause - Well, I shall try to remember that you have that hockey stick handy :wink: (Go Sens!)

roswellluver - LOL - seems no one like tricky Dicky. :wink:

cwm_ - thanks for the bump

Red Shift

Part 3

Chapter 28

For days, rumors swept the camp that the private meeting between Jeff, Nancy and Liz Parker and Max Evans was noisy, and very tense. Jeff and Nancy had, after all, tried to split the loving couple up in the most dramatic of fashions. When the small group had returned from the desert that afternoon, the quartet had immediately removed themselves to the Parker apartment, and 'talked'. Some of the more inquisitive of Shiprock's inhabitants had tried to 'wander' past the doorway in the hopes that they might overhear some tidbit, thereby increasing their own worth among the gossipmongers. However, the presence of a glowering Michael and a half dozen of the fearsome Bloodguard outside the Parker's door saw that such a thing did not happen.

Some speculated that there would be shouting from both sides, Max, probably the loudest of them all. Many had seen his look of thunder when he had discovered that Liz had been taken against her will. Others surmised that the Parkers would not simply roll over and surrender their returned daughter without a fight.

It was Maria, however, who had put up the most implausible scenario of them all.

"Hey, she said. "It's Max and Liz we're talking about. They'll forgive them."

Because she was one of their best friends, as disappointing as it sounded, this was accepted as how the meeting went. All anyone knew for sure was that after the meeting, a rather shell-shocked Max, accompanied by a determined, yet calm looking Liz emerged from the apartment with all of her possessions and moved them all to Max's room. Even Max's parents had been bemused by it all, but after the speech Philip Evans had given Jeff Parker about Liz not really being his daughter, what right did they have to dictate the life of the boy who was not really their son? When asked about it, Liz simply stated that she wanted no one to suffer under any kind of illusion that she did not want to be with Max.

"So," Michael smirked at the couple who were relaxing in an armchair together. "I guess there's no danger of dying a virgin this time, huh?"

"Actually, there is," Max nodded.

"Just because we are now living together, Michael," Liz glared at him, "does not mean we are in a sexual relationship yet."

"Sorry," he looked away a little sheepishly. "I just thought..."

"You thought wrong."

"So Max still hasn't..." Maria gave Liz a look of sympathy.

"I am right here, you know," Max sounded a little indignant.

"Can you blame them, Max?" Liz was laughing at his comment out loud. I'm still kind of wondering why I'm still a virgin."

"Please, Liz," his face fell to a look of apology. "Do you have any idea how hard it is for me?"

"Not hard enough, apparently," her mind giggled inside his.

"Liz!" His face mirrored how shocked he sounded. "Please, Liz. You sleeping next to me like that, it takes every bit of my self control not to... you know. And I do want to. I just know... deep down, I know..."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, I heard," she rocked her head from side to side. "You don't want to hurt me. Max the Saint."

"I know I won't hurt you," he shook his head. "You know it's not that."

"Then why are you forcing me to be some kind of Nun, Max?" she demanded.

"It's a feeling I have, Liz. This... I don't know." He was clearly as frustrated as she was. "I don't think the time is right."

"Max," she turned to look straight into his eyes. "You had better hurry and work out when the time 'is' right, because I really don't think I can wait much longer. I might have to take matters into my own hands."

Max could only swallow hard in response.

"I love how those two can have these whole conversations just by looking in each other's eyes," Maria shook her head in envy. "Maybe we should just lock them in their room until he gives in, huh?"

"Talking about being locked in their rooms, Max," Michael spoke as though he did not want to interrupt his leader making goo-goo eyes with Liz. "Barynt arrived with the last of the prisoners earlier."

"Where have we put them?" Max slowly dragged his eyes away from Liz.

"This isn't over," she warned him.

He gave her a little smile as a reply.

"Riverdog suggested the basement," Michael shrugged.

"A basement?" Max gaped. "This place has a basement?"

"Yeah," Michael started to shake his head. "The damnedest thing I've ever seen, too. Max, it's like it was tailor made to hold people like us prisoner. The external walls and the doors are all lined with depleted uranium. There's beds, and latrines, and showers... Max, it's a freaking luxury alien prison complex down there."

"What?" Max was startled. "Big enough to hold the six thousand Skins?"

"Big enough to hold three times that number." Michael paused. "Who put that there, Max? Who built Shiprock? Why are there all these things happening around us, as though someone planned them hundreds of years ago?"

"Destiny?" Kyle murmured softly.

No one responded.

"Right," Max broke the silence. "We have the Skins safely locked away. The freed 'slaves' are receiving medical care across the border and the Capo's are under arrest and awaiting trial. We have captured transportation and we have given Nikolas a bit of a scare. I guess we can turn our attention to the Granolith, now."

"At last," Michael nodded.

"After..." Max grinned. "After we see what the President wants with us. Michael? As my second in command, set up the meeting."

"All of us?" Michael looked around at the rather large group.

"Just two of us," Max shook his head. "Only two."

* * *

In the early morning darkness, just as the light on the far eastern horizon was starting to make it's presence felt, a Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche Stealth Helicopter touched down at the 'secure cargo' section of the Cortez Montezuma County airport. Before the blades had even stopped spinning, two tall men dressed in dark suits and glasses emerged from the helo's cockpit. Almost immediately, secret service agents surrounded the two men. They vanished amid the throng; totally indistinguishable from their protection.

The crowd of dark suits walked from the helicopter to a small Leer jet. While most of the agents watched the surroundings, four suits climbed the small steps into the cabin of the aircraft. Moments later, the jet taxied to the runway. After a short burst of speed, the jet climbed into the air. Leveling out at only a thousand feet, it was joined by four F-22 Raptor Stealth Fighters. The quintet of planes followed a carefully chosen flight path, which had been lined with a series of SAM bases for extra protection. No one was taking any chances.

At Dulles International Airport, with the sun already climbing into the sky, the four suits emerged from the small jet and climbed into the long, black limousine that had parked a few steps from the jet's doorway. The limo was already rolling, protected by a motorcade of police motorcycles, half a dozen secret service limo's and four M113A1 Armored Personnel Carriers. The two distinguished visitors were being protected as if the President herself was with them.

The motorcade rolled through the city and emerged finally into the Virginia countryside. Small villages, homesteads and farms drifted past the darkened windows. The two guests sat impassively and stared out of the windows, only their legs bouncing up and down showing their nerves. Since leaving Shiprock that morning, no one had spoken a single word.

The limousine turned into the driveway of a small farm. It drove past the fields, past the house and pulled up alongside the grain silo of the brightly red painted barn. The soldiers were out first, securing the perimeter. The secret service agents were next. Forming a protective ring that encompassed the silo and the limo. Someone opened the door, and the two guests, along with their agents, stepped from the car. One of them indicated the silo. Another standing closer opened a door, previously indistinguishable from the other panels. The two of them walked into the silo, which turned out to be an elevator. Four other agents joined them and when the door closed, they felt themselves descending. It took fifteen minutes.

There was a reception committee waiting for them as they emerged from the elevator and into a large room that looked much like any high profile office building. Two men in pale blue suits stepped forward, their hands extended.

"Welcome to Mount Weather, Mr. Evans. Glad you could join us."

As the two dark suited men accepted the handshakes, two hypodermic needles appeared and injected a clear liquid into their arms.

Both men instinctively snatched their arms back and then stared at the small red marks with disbelieving eyes.

"Did you just inject us with something?" the first man shook his head, still not able to fully comprehend what had just happened. He turned to his companion. "I can't believe that they just injected us with something."

"What did you just put in us?" the second demanded, with a little more hostility in his voice.

"We found some references to an inhibitor," one of the pale blue suits shrugged. He had a self-satisfied smirk on his face. "It seems we have used this against your kind successfully in the past. I'm sorry, Mr. Evans. But we cannot allow the power you hold, that you represent, simply run around unchecked. You're working for us now."

"Oh," the more calm of the two smiled. "You know what? That really wasn't necessary."

"And a total waste of time," the second shrugged."

"I hate to tell you this, dude," the first continued. "But you just overplayed your hand. My name is Anders. And my companion here..."

"Raul," Raul extended his hand. "And neither of us are aliens. Human. Born and bred."

"We are the ambassadors from His Royal Majesty, King Max of Antar. And you have just injected the wrong guys. Boy, is Max gonna be mad."

In Anders' pocket, a cell phone started to ring.

"And unless I am very much mistaken, that would be His Majesty, now, wondering why you have assaulted his ambassadors and whether or not a state of war exists between Antar and the USA."

The blue suits went very pale, while Anders smiled as he pulled it out and flipped the phone open.

"Hi, Max. Yes, you were right. No, we're okay. Yes, I told them. They're just standing there. Okay, I'll tell them. See ya."

"If I were you," Anders closed the phone. "I would get the President here at the double. King Max wants to talk to her."

"You're bluffing," the second of the two suits started to smirk. "We're one mile below bedrock, in a building lined with lead. There's no way a signal from a cell phone operator would get through."

"I think," Raul started to grin, "that it would be safest for everyone concerned if you assume that Max Evans can do pretty much anything he puts his mind to. You could always try for yourself."

Anders held out the phone, with a telephone number already entered. The blue suited man took the phone and pressed the key with the little green telephone symbol. His eyes widened when he heard a ringing tone.

"Hello?" a voice responded.

"Yeah, hello. Who is this?" he demanded.

"You do not sound like the president," Max informed him.

"No, sir. I'm not the president. I am..."

"Unimportant," Max interrupted. "I will speak to your president and only your president."

"I'm afraid she's not..."

"You make it sound like this is 'my' problem. I did not ask what she is or is not. I told you, I would speak only to your president. Now, why are you still there?"

"I don't know who you think you are..." the suit exploded with anger.

"I know who I am," Max interrupted again, with a cold, tight voice. "I am the man who has command of a technology that makes the might of the US Armed Forces as outdated as a sharpened stick. Now get me the president before I decide to test just how efficient this technology is and wipe out your entire armed might and leave you vulnerable to every one of your enemies on this planet."

"It, uh..." the man blanched. "It uh, might take awhile."

"You have an hour. She can call me back on this secure line."

* * *

"You enjoyed that," Michael accused with a smirk, as Max closed the phone.

"I did," Max nodded with a grin. "All those years I lived in fear... Payback's a bitch. Too much?"

He cast a sheepish glance at Liz.

"Yeah," she nodded. "That whole, 'unimportant' part was good. And reminding them that you have a lot of power was good too. But Max. Wiping out the armed might of the USA? Dramatic much?"

"I don't know," Maria shrugged. "You have to let these guys know who's boss. I mean, look at it this way. They thought nothing of trying to kidnap you, Max. Just so that 'they' could use 'your' technology to threaten the planet with the same threat you just made."

"That's true," Liz agreed. "Anyone who threatens Max with a white room deserves all they get, I guess."

"Will Raul and Anders be okay, now, do you think?" Max narrowed his eyes.

"For sure," Jim nodded. "Now they know what's at stake."

"Relax, Max," Philip nodded. "Raul and Anders will be treated like kings now. Uh, pardon the expression. The feds'll go out of their way sucking up to them, trying to make amends with you."

"Which leave us to concentrate on our own little problem," Michael nodded.

"Two," Maria interrupted. "Two little problems. Nikolas 'and' Tess."

"Right," Liz nodded. "She's not getting away with what she has done to us. I plan on seeing to that, personally, if I have to."

There was ice, steel 'and' venom in her voice.

"Agreed," Max nodded. "And that's for another day. All I plan to do this time is to ride in, grab what we are going for and ride out again, preferably without seeing old friends."

"Grab it and ride out?" Michael frowned. "Just like that? I thought the thing was huge?"

"Everyone else does, too," Max shrugged.

"You mean it's not?" Isabel narrowed her eyes.

"Nope. I've seen it. Even Michael saw it. In fact, it even attacked you once."

"What?" his eyes widened. "When? How?"

"When you broke into the UFO center that time. When you wanted to see what that pentagram thing was that Brody had. The thing was, the pentagram thing did not want you to see it. So it knocked you on your ass."

"That was the Granolith?" Michael's jaw dropped. "That thing has the power to... That thing is the all powerfull... But that thing has been one of Brody's exhibits ever since. I mean, jeez, Maxwell. The damned thing has been in plain sight for all those years!"

"Can you think of a better way to hide?" he started to chuckle.

"Worked all right for you guys," Liz smirked.

"So..." Kyle leaned back in his seat. "What's the plan, chief?"

"More importantly," Isabel placed her hands on the table. "You are not going to leave me behind, this time."

"Me neither," Liz shook her head. "If there is a confrontation, and I know you don't want one, Max. But 'if' there is, I want to be there."

Max was about to protest when a surprising voice stopped him.

"I'm going too," Pam's quiet voice silenced everyone.

Now, it was Craig's turn to start to speak only to be silenced.

"I have to do this," she continued. "Sean, he represents my every nightmare, my every feeling of dread. If there is any chance that I can see him brought to justice, I want to be there."

Max looked at her for a moment while thinking about Liz. If she had been the one to have suffered, and believed that such a thing might help her get over it, he would grant it to her. So why not Pam?

"Okay," he nodded. "Providing you agree to follow orders and not do anything stupid. Either of you."

"All three of us," Maria grinned.

Michael was about to complain, but he too suffered the same fate as the other two. Instead, he rolled his eyes.


Under the cover of darkness, the shadowy figure moved from behind the old wooden structure and stood in front of the old sign, rusty and bent out of shape. It had been used for target practice too many times, and there were holes everywhere. Three holes actually replaced existing letters, while others had long since vanished. The sign now simply read 'Welc m t R wel'.

The shadow gave a brief glance up at the sign before he scurried toward the buildings where he could once again hide in the darkness. No one would see him, he had too many skills for that. Even the Skins with their superior vision would not see him. Not when he could take the shape of everything and anything around him. Safely in his hiding place, he glanced at the street sign. Main Street. Yes, not too far, now. All he had to do was keep moving and avoid any patrols. There were some open spaces that had to be crossed and he would rather get to his destination undiscovered.

There was a lot of activity, even in the middle of the night. The shock that had been felt over the disappearance of the Los Alamos base had had a profound affect on the Skins. The patrols had been doubled, and even within the cities, no one took anything for granted. And it made his task all the harder for it.

It was almost dawn when he finally made it to his destination. He knew that he could not just walk into that building and not expect to be challenged in some way. Instead, he moved across the street and hid himself in the ruins of the old diner. He thought that it was a particularly funny joke to conceal himself inside the remains of a mock up of a flying saucer.

The hours passed, and dawn gave way to daylight. The sun kept climbing as people came and went from the building he kept under observation. At last, he saw the young boy step out through the doorway. He paused as he put on some shades before climbing into a sleek looking transport vehicle. The shadow closed his eyes and concentrated. A few seconds later, he looked just like the young boy.

He stepped from the ruins and crossed the street. No one cast him a glance, except for the ones who saluted him. The kid was arrogant, so he did not return the salute. Pushing through the doors, he stepped into the main foyer of what was once a home for all of the garbage that had been thought to be true extra terrestrial artifacts. The shadow thought that there had not been a single genuine article in here, but then, he had not been in this town since... sometime during the fifties, he thought.

Descending the stairs to the lower levels, he passed the tall blond human male with the sour countenance. He grunted a greeting, laced with hatred. It amused the shadow that no one seemed to like Nikolas. Well, with the exception, it seemed, of Ava. And Dalena had been sure that this was a means to an end for her. He personaly did not think so, but no one listened to the hired help. Pausing in an alcove, he turned himself into the blond human. The last thing he wanted was for Ava to throw herself at him. He entered the room without knocking.

"What the fuck do you think you are doing?" Tess screeched at him. She pointed her hand as though expecting something to happen to him. "Get the fuck out and get to work."

"Ouch?" he shrugged, looking at her blankly.

"Who are you?" Tess demanded, her eyes narrowed in realization that this was not Sean, her lackey.

"That really doesn't matter, Ava," the man shrugged. "But what does matter is what I am here to tell you."

"Really?" Tess sat down in a chair, and looked up, eager to hear what he had to say. "Go on, I'm all ears."

"Please don't do that, Ava," the man turned to the door and pushed it closed with his mind, just as Tess tried to dart through it. The image of Tess sitting down faded. "It only aggravates me. And I don't like being aggravated."

"Now you listen here, you stupid hair brained moron. You fucking let me out of..."

"I have dealt with bitchy actresses far more frightening than you, Ava," he shook his head. "Do you really think that you scare me?"

Her hand raised and a bolt of energy flew at him. A bolt of energy he quickly knocked away with one of his own.

"How much longer are you going to be stupid? I have another message I need to pass on, and I really think you might want to hear the one I have for you."

"What is it," her eyes never left his, and neither did her hand lower. "Give me the message and get the fuck out of here."

"Why she wants you back as Queen is beyond me," he shook his head. "Something about maintaining the Royal Four or some other garbage. Personally, I would like nothing better than to see you rot on this planet. But, my loyalty is to her, and not any one else, so... Right. Listen up. My message is from Lady Dalena, King Zan's mother. Your... ex-mother-in-law."

* * *
Last edited by WR on Sat May 26, 2007 2:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Red Shift Part 3 Chapter 29

Post by WR » Sat May 26, 2007 3:28 pm

Hi everyone -

Before I start, I would like to let you all know that I will be taking part in an Author's Chat over on Roswell Heaven nect Firday, starting at 11PM GMT. That's 6PM EST.

Hope to see you there.

Thank you for your patiance and understanding. And thank you to my beta team who were forced to work really hard to let me get this post up only 1 day late. The good news is that next Fridays post is about one paragraph short of completion so there will be no excuses for next week. (I hope)

Timelord31 - Oh, Cal has not been idle. Trust me.

omwf - The Queen sent her beloved "children" to a barbarian planet. She wants her beloved children home to rule. She has not met Liz, she does not understand. She is concerned only with the continuance of her husband's line, and the return of Antar to the monarchy.

raemac - well what's a story without a little conflict? :wink:

VeronicaB - Yes, I think it's safe to say that Liz had let everyone know where whe wants to be :wink:

katydid - The timing is nothing to do with Zan's Mom. At least, it is not of her doing.

roswellluver - No, the shapeshifter is obeying orders.

AlwaysRoswell - Glad you like it :)

Cocogurl - Like I said, Cal is obeying orders.

roswell3053 - I think you will find that Larek has in fact, already informed Dalena of Tess's actions. Dalena has a different picture in mind, and sadly, Zan with a barbarian for a bride is not part of it. Remember that she has gon 60+ years waiting for Zan's return. Her first word of her son is that he is not with his (and her) beloved Ava, but what to her might be considered a lower life form.

Emz80m - I think Mx might well have a few words for him "mom" :wink:

Roswelllostcause - I assume you meant Duck Wings??? lol YAY!! - The Sens made the Stanley Cup!!!

Vaderian - I think she was not so much meddling as not thinking things through to consider that there might be changes afoot. 60 years is a long time.

smokie - I should have made it more clear - we can assume that Madley had been shipped back to the the USA and is probably under lock and key thanks to Max's new best friend, the Government.

Ellie - I think you might be surprised to note, then, that Cal was indeed acting on orders. He even told Tess as much.

BehrObsession - WB! :) Dalena is acting in the way SHE thinks best. There is a small clue to Dalena way back in earlier chapters when she first turns up on the Island.

cassie - I'm glad you are enjoying it. Take a look at my authors page for more of my work :)

polar_vixen - Sorry, hun. But here it is :)

Araxie HRH - Well just because you came out of lurkdom, I am posting tonight in your honor!! :):):) - Oh, Okay. About the second set of pods... think about it. Who NEEDED to be reborn?

Oh, and Timelord31--- WR is a HE not a SHE :wink:

Red Shift

Part 3

Chapter 29

Approximately fifteen miles to the Southwest of Roswell, at a location known as the Two Rivers Reservoir, a small group of teenagers stepped out of a narrow ravine and approached the cliff face, high above the water's edge.

"It hasn't changed a bit," Maria looked around.

"Looks like no one has been here since... well, us," Isabel nodded.

"That's why we liked it here," Michael was looking around, too, but he had more on his mind than just scenery. "No one comes here. And even if they do, with the right camouflage, we can hide a small army in these ravines."

"Which is just what we intend to do," Max nodded, walking up behind the group, with Liz at his side, their hands entwined. The small group turned to look back where a small team of Bloodguard was already erecting special nets to hide the numbers that would soon be arriving. "It's going to take three days to get everyone assembled here. Maybe we shouldn't stand out in the open like this."

"Maybe if you'd chosen a more direct route, we would have everyone here sooner," Michael's eyes narrowed.

"Let me see," Max smirked. "Drive the direct route across three hundred and fifty miles of territory controlled and patrolled by Nikolas, or circumnavigate the thousand miles around the north and east of New Mexico, sneaking up on Roswell from the south..."

"Max..." Kyle stared up into the sky. "You know as well as I do that the moment your Air Force started to stage hit and run raids all over the southwest, every one of Nikolas's ships will be high tailing it down that way."

"Kyle," Max shook his head. "That might be what you would do. But it's not what I would do. I doubt Michael would do it, either. And as Nikolas wrote a lot of books on tactics, I highly doubt he would do that, either. He might have been lax in the past, but he's woken up to the fact that he's in a war, now. So I would rather sneak my way around rather than risk running into something that I suspect is there, waiting for us."

"Well, I guess that's why you are the chief, then," Kyle shrugged. "And I'm just a grunt."

"Amen for that," Maria smirked.

"Don't stay out here too long, guys," Max turned back to assist with the preparations.

Liz gave her friends a quick smile before she turned and hurried to catch up with Max.

"Are you really worried they might be seen?" she looked up at him while she slipped her hand back into his.

"A little," he nodded. "But they're not stupid. And Michael is keeping a good look out. Plus, with our friends up in the mountains," he nodded at the peaks surrounding them that hid a dozen or so Native Americans, employed as scouts. "No one's sneaking up on us today."

"What about tonight?" her eyes narrowed. "When it gets dark."

"I doubt it," Max shook his head. "We know that he only puts up occasional patrols at night, and because he's doubling up the numbers in the patrols, we can hear them from miles away. Why?"

"Because," she grinned. "Tonight, you and I are sneaking down to the beach where we are going to act like a couple of teenagers for a while."

Max looked down at her and smiled. Then, without warning, he started to laugh. Behind him, his friends stopped their conversation and looked at the young couple.

"Wonder what that's about," Kyle narrowed his eyes.

"Something tells me we don't want to know," Isabel shook her head.

* * *

"This isn't just our base," Max informed the collected officers of the Bloodguard. They had gathered in the tent that at other times was used as the canteen. "It's going to be our bolt hole. This will be where we hide while Nikolas scours the countryside looking for us, once I have claimed the Granolith."

"Is that wise?" one of the men asked. "We're only small in number, and we cannot face all of Nikolas's forces should he discover us. Would it not be better to return to Shiprock?"

"My ambassadors, as well as obtaining the permission for us to travel here through Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas, have appraised the U.S. authorities of out plans to strike at Nikolas'' heart. We have the President's assurances that their forces will be ready to launch a diversionary invasion, should we run the risk of discovery. Besides, once I have the Granolith, the balance of power will change. Nikolas will be a little more cautious."

"Do you have the seal?" another asked, hopefully. "Are you able to use the Granolith?"

Colonel Barynt had spoken at length with Max regarding all he knew about the Granolith and it's use.

"No," Max shook his head. "But that's not something Nikolas needs to know."

There were no more questions.

"Okay," Max nodded. "Michael is going to run through the plan. Remember that this is nothing more than a smash and grab raid. Do your jobs efficiently and effectively and lets all get out in one piece."

* * *

Nikolas burst into their private chamber like an unwelcome hurricane.

"Damn him to hell!" he spat, cursing loudly.

Sitting at her dressing table, Tess spun around, her eye's narrowing.

"What's Zan done now? Where has he attacked this time?"

"Oh," Nikolas glared, anger burning in his eyes. "Zan's certainly annoying enough, attacking me with my own ships, and then running away before I can get sufficient numbers up to meet him. Where the hell did he get pilots to fly those fucking things?"

"I knew there was another army out there that night," she shook her head. "I thought they were trying to capture Max, but maybe they were trying to rescue him."

"Didn't you say that it was them who killed Vilandra? And that it looked like they were shooting at Zan and Rath?"

"Yeah," she nodded. "But..."

"But nothing," Nikolas shook his head. "That's some way to rescue someone. Killing them."

"So if it's not Zan who's pissing you off, then who?"


"Kivar?" Tess blinked. "What's he done, now?"

"He's recalled Traydn. And his armies. As well as nearly two thirds of mine."

"What?" she shrieked, standing up. "Why?"

"Because someone is attacking him on Antar. They're actually laying siege to the Capital. Kivar's calling in reinforcements. He's having Traydn assemble the armies outside the city and attack the besieging forces."

"So..." she frowned. "So has Dalena finally launched her counter offensive?"

"She must be," he shook his head. "The message doesn't say who it is, but who else can it be? But that doesn't matter. Tess, we have to step up the search. We have to find the Granolith and fast. If the authorities find out that I am only going to be left with a little over sixty thousand men..."

"We still have a pretty good sized air force."

Nikolas remained silent.

"How many is he leaving us?" Tess whispered.


"Nikolas..." she started. "I really don't like this."

"Then find the fucking Granolith!" he exploded before he stormed from the room in as high a temper as he entered.

"Dalena's invitation is sounding better and better," her eyes narrowed.

* * *

"You sure you don't want to skinny dip, Max?" Liz grinned from the darkness where she was swimming in the inky, black water.

"Quite sure," he answered from the rock on which he stood, adjusting the uncomfortable hardness that had developed in his boxers, ever since Liz had stripped down to her underwear and plunged into the reservoir.

"Spoil sport," she giggled, swimming toward the spot he was about to jump into.

Max could not help remembering how, as Luke, he had always been using the water to cool his ardor around Julia. It had never seemed to work then, why did he think it would, now? He jumped into the cold water. A dive might have proved a little painful in his current... condition.

"Remember that time we went sailing?" Liz asked, when his head emerged from the cool depths.

She seemed to be reading Max's mind.

"Yeah," he nodded. "That was..."

"Awesome," she whispered. "And do you know how badly I wanted you? Even then?"

"And how close you came to having me?" Max smirked. "Liz, please don't ever mistake my reluctance to... you know... Please don't think I don't want you. Because I do. Some nights I wake up with you in my arms and it's so painfully obvious what I want to do with you... And I have to go and shower, and..."

"Max," she reached out and pressed a cold finger to his lips. "I understand. I do. I'm frustrated as hell, but one thing I have learned is that you get these... premonitions for a reason. I wish you could work out why you need to wait. I wish you could remember what it is that prevents us from becoming one..."

"Liz," Max pulled her to him, letting her know that in spite of the cold water, he was always hot for her. "We don't need to do anything to become one. We are one. We have always been one. From that day I healed you. And we have spent so much time fighting it. I know that whatever the reason is for not taking that final step, it's an important one. And I really think I have to listen to that voice that's warning me not to... not to complete us." Max paused. "No," he shook his head. "That wasn't right. We are complete. I mean..."

"I know what you mean, Max," she smiled, returning his hug.

They floated together, in the cold water, in silence, for a long time.

"Liz," Max broke the spell. "I wish I could have done all of this without your ever getting hurt. Ever."

"I guess we had to go through all that, Max," she shook her head. "You know, to test us. To strengthen us."

"If I could, I would go through hell and back if it meant you never having been hurt," he objected.

"And you wouldn't be my Max if you didn't think that way." Liz fell silent. "Max? You will be careful, won't you? I mean, when we go into Roswell... please don't let Tess or Nikolas goad you into losing your temper."

"I won't," he smiled at her. "I should thank them, really. I mean, if they hadn't killed us, I would probably still be forcing myself into staying away from you."

"No you wouldn't," Liz smirked with a shake of her head. "You would have cracked sooner or later. You just can't resist me."

"There is that," he nodded, dipping he head for another amazing kiss.

* * *

Cal Langly blended with the rock face at the top of the escarpment and looked across the open ground to the rising peak of Shiprock. He had given the message to Tess, letting her know where she could find her transport home. A one man ship that would take her straight to Antar. Of all the tasks he had performed in the name of Zan, or rather, Zan's mother, that had been the most odious. Dalena was far too blinkered to understand. Forcing Zan to take Tess as his Queen would be the biggest mistake. He gave a little snort.

"Force Zan to give up Liz and take Tess," he laughed. "I would like to be there when she tries."

He had warned his contacts to let Dalena know that it had been Tess who had been betraying them all along. He had passed on word that Tess was in a physical relationship with Nikolas. And he knew for a fact that Larek was aware of Elizabeth Parker and her importance to Zan - or rather, Max, as he called himself, now.

That was another puzzle. How had Zan known? He remembered how, decades ago, he had laughed when he had read those particular orders. It had been only a few days after the crash. Once he had everything in place, he had read his orders. He was to locate five children as they were born and obtain DNA samples from them. Children who, at the time he read the orders, were not even twinkle's in their parent's eyes. In fact, only the parents of one of the children had even been born at that time. Juan Ramirez and his future wife, Maurilena Degar were only a couple of babes in arms in 1947. Philip Evans would not be born until a few years later. It had been a rather astounding surprise the day he turned up at the hospital in Alamoosa to witness the birth of Jesse Ramirez. Zan had even known the child's name. He never laughed at his orders again and a healthy respect for Zan and his future plans finally settled upon him. And so far, everything Zan said would take place, had. It had been incredible to behold.

But he owed a debt to Dalena, and if she wanted Tess back in some misbegotten scheme to unite Antar behind the fabled return of the Royal four, then that was her problem. He would carry out her wishes. Max, he was sure, would put her right. He really did pity Dalena if she thought she could persuade Max to put aside his Liz. So far, everyone who had tried to come between them had failed. Sending Tess home in a spaceship so she could try to do again what she had consistently failed at for years, even with the help of the Skins and her mindwarps, was not going to succeed on Antar any more than she had on Earth. Max was too much in love with Liz.

Cal really hoped that Tess's ship would crash, just like the ship that brought them here in the first place.

"Crash," he shook his head, casting his mind back to that fateful day in July 1947.

Cal Langly knew sabotage when he saw it. That ship was deliberately crashed. And for the life of him, he could not figure it out. Whoever had crashed the ship did a poor job of it. Only a few minor people died, and there was no damage to the pods or the Granolith. For someone trying to destroy Zan's plans, they had made a complete hash of it. That was no crash, it was more like a rough landing.

The steady sound of horse hooves on stone warned him that someone was approaching. His eyes widened at that. The Native Americans who were helping Zan would never be so careless. They knew better than to allow their horses to make so much noise. He rolled his eyes, however, when he saw that the man who rode into view was a Caucasian. How had the white man defeated the natives all those years ago? The horse stopped and the man stared off into the distance. He took off his hat, mopped the sweat from his brow and then wiped the inside brim of his hat before he started his patrol again. As soon as he had vanished, Cal concentrated and his features transformed from a rock wall into a tall white man in a dark hat. Smiling, he started to walk toward Shiprock, where he would await the opportunity to deliver his mother's message to young King Zan. It was about time that the kids met their benefactor, anyway.

* * *

"This is the place," Sean DeLuca told his crew, as he peered through the vision panel inside their transport vehicle.

They had stopped a short distance away from a small rock outcrop.

"You sure?" one of his men looked at the rocks with suspicion. "I used to come out here when I was a kid. There ain't no caves here."

"Says you," Sean shook his head as he pulled open the side door. "You were probably too busy jerkin' off to them porn mags you smuggled out. Now get your asses out there and take a look. If we go back to Tess on your hunch, then you can explain to her why we didn't check it out. So get the fuck out there and take a look."

Three men climbed out of the vehicle.

"Hotter than hell out here," one of them grumbled. "I almost hope there is a cave so we can get into some shade."

"'Cept we pro'ly gotta dig," another added; the one who claimed there were no caves out here. "And what for? Any of you guys know what it is we looking for?"

"Don't give a shit," the third shook his head. "If they say dig, I'll dig. When was that last time any of you dumb shits got grade A pussy like we're getting' now? I tell you, give me an unlimited supply of free pussy and an easy life like we got and I don't care where they come from."

"You ain't worried about the Feds coming back, then?"

"You shitting me?" the third laughed. "Have you seen what those alien fuckers can do? I heard they got even more on the way."

"See," number two pointed at the rocks as they drew near. "There ain't no... What's that?"

"Looks like a cave to me," the first laughed.

"Shit. I ain't never seen that cave there, before. I don't like this."

"You don't gotta like it. Sean hears word that what we're looking for is out here in these there caves and we comes out to look at it. The pussy ain't free. We gotta pay for it one way or 'nother."

"Right. And you can start payin' now. Run back and let the bastard know we found the cave. We'll take a look see."

"Watch out for snakes," the man laughed as he turned back toward the vehicle. "I heard snakes like caves as much as DeLuca does."

The two men looked at one another and took out their handguns.

* * *

A pair of eyes watched through a pair of military binoculars as the tall, overweight man with the cherubic like face gave out orders, setting up banks of equipment in the shade provided by the outcrop of rocks. He did nothing except bark orders, watching as his small team performed their allotted tasks. Five Skin warriors patrolled their perimeter. They moved in a slow circle, their eyes everywhere. As their circle took them past their vehicle, they disappeared inside, emerging moments later with another bottle of a white liquid that they rubbed into themselves.

The eyes moved away from the binoculars.

"Okay," Michael turned to the small group of men behind him. "We move in, we hit hard, we hit fast. And above all else, we do not kill any of the humans. Neither do we destroy the radio. We have to make them believe this is an attempt by Max to get the Granolith before they do. We want them to call for help."

"So they will call Nikolas," someone nodded. "Who will send help. Lots of it. Emptying Roswell so that Max and the others can get to the real location of the Granolith."

"Right," Michael grinned. "And those reinforcements will meet with small ambushes who will fade away as fast as they strike. Every ambush will make the reinforcements stop, take cover, and then send out a couple of squads to outflank the enemy. Except they will be gone but they will waste time checking. And searching for the booby traps that we have laid. By the time Nikolas gets here, Max should have been in, found the Granolith, got out, married Liz and started a family."

"That long, then," someone called from the back.

The small squad laughed.

* * *

One of the many things that can possibly go wrong with military plans, is that the enemy will not behave as you would want them to. Sometimes, their reaction will surprise even the most careful of military strategists. Bravery is not something that can be accurately factored. When Michael gave the order to open fire, the five alien guards reacted pretty much how they had been expected to. They immediately dived for cover before returning fire in a fairly professional manner. The three human subordinates reacted as had been expected, by panicking and taking shelter in the cave that Michael had helped excavate the previous night. It was Sean DeLuca that had taken them by surprise. Sean had been expected to dive for the radio and call for help. That was all he had to do. It was what he was expected to do.

Instead, he reacted with the reflexes of a trained special forces member. He sprinted for the alien vehicle, dodging the accurately aimed blasts. Michael was suddenly worried that there might be some large weapon inside. Some kind of mortar, or missile launcher. They had counted on light weapons only. Seconds later, the sound of a large, angry bee echoed from inside the vehicle, and Sean, sitting astride a small dirt-bike roared from the interior, and his spinning wheels sending up a cloud of dust and dirt as he raced headlong toward Roswell.

"Don't kill all the Skins," Michael shook his head in disgust. "We need 'someone' to radio for help."

* * *

"Want to explain the plan again, Max?" Craig knelt beside the man he had come to regard as his leader.

Pledge of Allegiance be damned. This loyalty had been earned with blood, sweat and tears.

"We," he indicated his small group that was hiding in the basement of an old abandoned truck stop just outside of Roswell, "make our way to the Granolith, and take it." He gave a shrug. "Then I give a signal to Michael and he gets the hell out there as fast as he can. Once I have the Granolith, I hope to make enough noise to distract Nikolas and Tess to give him enough time to slip away."

"Why us?" he asked. "Why just the ten of us?"

Besides Max and Craig, the group consisted of Isabel, Kyle, Pam, Liz and four Bloodguard.

"Because Kyle won't leave Isabel, and Liz..." he looked back and met her eyes. "Is not leaving my side."

"Okay," he nodded. "But why Pam? Don't get me wrong, I'm glad she's where I can keep an eye on her. But you could have brought another warrior."

"Because Pam has something that the Bloodguard doesn't. Or anyone else, for that matter."

"What's that?"

"Knowledge," Max grinned. "The lay of the land. I need Pam to guide us to the UFO center, because things have changed since we were last here."

* * *

Through the use of guile, stealth and on occasion, pure bravado, the small group picked its way through the back streets of Roswell, making for the old UFO museum. Wearing the same boiler suits as the Capo's, they looked like they were just another part of modern day life under the aliens, but they were not taking any chances at an accidental meeting with someone who might recognize them for what they were.

They reached the museum only a few moments before Michael was due to launch his attack. Hiding amid the ruins of what had once been a home to one of them and a hang out to others, they could keep a watch on the building that Max once worked in.

"They'll pay," Max assured Liz when he saw her look of sadness.

This had once been her home.

Both Max and Michael had estimated that the radio call for assistance would come after only fifteen minutes of Michael's attack. It took thirty. It was thirty minutes before Nikolas burst from through the doors of the center and a fleet of vehicles filled with Skins pulled up outside. Then something happened that no one had considered. Someone else emerged from the building.

"Tess!" Liz's voice grew cold.

Only Craig did not show any emotion. He had never met Tess before, and was not affected in any way by her appearance. She was just another enemy soldier to him. Pam and the teenagers from Roswell all fell silent, their eyes burning with hate. The Bloodguard, however, fell very silent. This was, after all, their true Queen. Yes, their loyalty was to Max, and not one of them could ever deny that Liz was an amazing person and clearly in love with their King, but Ava was the person they had been sent to Earth to help. And there she was, consorting with the enemy.

"I'll stay here," she called to Nikolas, as he climbed into one of the transport vehicles. "Keep in touch. Let me know everything that's happening."

"If this is the Granolith, I thought you'd want to be there," Nikolas stared at her.

"If that's the Granolith, we're going to need the seal," she replied. "I'll get on searching for it again. Now go. Get it before he does!"

The convoy departed in a cloud of dust. Tess watched them go before she turned and re-entered the UFO Center.

"Damn," Max swore under his breath. "She was supposed to leave with them."

"Well," Liz placed a hand on his shoulder. "We have to get in there. We have to find the Granolith."

Nodding, Max remained silent as his mind ran thought the options.

"We just deal with her sooner," she grinned, "rather than later."

* * *

Michael watched with a sense of satisfaction when one of the Skins made a break for their transport vehicle and dived headfirst through the door. Michael had still blasted at the man, deliberately falling short, to make it look like he did not want him calling in reinforcements. In response, the other four Skins targeted Michael's position, trying to force him to take cover... if they couldn't actually hit him.

One of the Skins suddenly exploded into dust. A short distance from him, Michael saw the Bloodguard look up at him with a look of apology. Michael just shrugged. As long as there was one Skin to make the radio call, he couldn't care less. Nikolas had to believe that Max was after the Granolith. The three of them started to fire again at the three remaining skins, still taking care not to damage the vehicle that what they hoped contained the radio.

* * *

The interior of the old UFO museum looked completely different to how they had remembered it. Gone were the exhibits of strange shaped aliens and military personnel. The posters of hieroglyphics, maps and star charts had all been removed. The murals depicting crash scene investigation, space ships and aliens moving among human beings had been painted over. In their places, maps of New Mexico with cave locations, troop displacements and general security information were displayed. The six Roswellians stared at the changes, the four Bloodguard having been left in the Crashdown to cover their escape. Their orders were to remain hidden until it was time to leave. Max did not want to be trapped inside.

"Iz," Max spoke in a whisper, pointing at a door across the room. "You and Kyle check out the old store rooms through there. If you find it, don't touch it. Don't even think about touching it because it might... blast you."

"Got it," Kyle nodded as he and Isabel headed for the doorway.

"Liz," Max turned to his soulmate. "You, Craig and Pam wait here." He turned and looked at the huge door that led down to the actual bunker. "Tess is down there. I can feel her. And this is between me and her."

"No, Max," Liz started to protest, but he was already gone, leaving with a look of determination on his face.

As the huge blast door closed behind him, Max was faced with a short corridor, off of which led more doors. He moved slowly, checking behind each door which proved to reveal only empty bunkrooms. At the far end, he walked down some steps and into a kind of relaxation room. He recognized this, as the place they had held that meeting with what they had thought then was the second set, the duplicates. The room, empty then, was now filled with sofas and chairs. This was obviously a rec room of some kind. The door at the far end called to him. Grimly, he headed toward it.

He pushed through the door and as it swung closed behind him, he caught sight of a bank of monitors. On the main monitor in the middle, he could see the other side of the doorway he had just stepped through. Too late, he saw Tess standing in the corner to his right. Although his shield, quickly thrown up, absorbed most of it, the green bolt of energy caught him right in the center of his chest, throwing him against the opposite wall. As he slid to the floor, Tess walked toward him.

"Hi, Max," she grinned with malice. "Glad you could make it."

She hurled another blast at him.

* * *

"He's trying to get to it," Nikolas stared through the window at the desert landscape that was sliding past him. "He knows exactly where it is and he's trying to get to it. Can't this thing go any faster?"

Around him, he must have had almost twenty other vehicles, all loaded with his soldiers. All had been issued with the order to bring Zan to him, alive.

"That bastard is going to pay for every damned minute I have been forced to endure on this fucking planet," he spat.

No one around him had any delusions as to Zan's fate once he was in captivity. Nikolas would keep him alive, and in constant pain, all the way back to Antar.

"What's our ETA?"

"Fifteen minutes," someone barked from the side.

"Good, good," he nodded.

At that moment, as they were all coming together to thread their way through a narrow canyon, four of the lead vehicles erupted in a mushroom of flame and black smoke.

"Evasive action!" someone screamed.

Vehicles started to brake, and swerve as they darted for any cover. More than a few collided with one another. As a vehicle came to a stop, panicked soldiers leapt out into the hot, dry air as they took whatever cover they could, and started to shoot at anything that might be hiding enemy forces. It took Nikolas ten minutes to regain control of his forces and another ten to realize that the ambushers had evaporated into the desert.

"Damn him!" he spat.

They would have to move more cautiously, now, giving Zan more time to find the Granolith.

* * *

Her patience lasted all of five minutes.

"If he thinks he's leaving me behind so he can face her alone," Liz shook her head at Craig, "he can think again. I'm going after him. Craig, can you let Isabel and Kyle know what's going on?"

"Liz, I don't think..."

"Don't think," she shook her head with a grin. "Do."

Before either of them could react, Liz was through the door. Craig turned to Pam with a look of helplessness. Pam just shrugged.

"Go, let the others know," she smiled. "I'll take a look over here."

* * *

Following Max, she walked along the hallway, ignoring the doors that lead to the side. She knew that Max would have checked them out already. Liz descended the stairs into what appeared to be the rest area, looking around for some clues as to where Max went.

"Well, well, well," she heard a voice behind her.

With her blood turning to ice, Liz turned to see Sean DeLuca standing by the stairs she had just descended. He had a look on his face that could never be interpreted as 'good'.

"They said third time's the charm," he leered. "And here you are. In my lair, so to speak."

"You don't know what you're messing with, Sean," Liz shook her head.

"Wrong," he spat. "I don't think you know what 'you' are messing with. You're in my back yard now, and Evans won't be able to help you. I think he's going to be having concerns of his own. You think he's a hot shot alien? He's nothing compared to what the Queen Bitch can do."

He cupped his groin with his hand and rubbed up and down suggestively as he started to move toward her.

"And while she's playing with him, I get to play with you."

The sound of a gun being cocked stopped him short. He turned to where Liz was now looking. Standing in the doorway, at the bottom of the steps, Pam was aiming a handgun at him.

Sean could only blink in astonishment, his eyes going wide with shock at seeing her.

"Pam?" he managed to blurt. "What are you...? I thought you..."

"Had died in the desert?" she finished. "Where you had left me to rot, a bloody mass of hamburger meat for the vultures? No. I didn't die. Max found me. And he saved my life. So now, I am returning the favor, and I'm saving his life. She goes by the name of Liz. Come over here, Liz."

"Stay where you are," Sean spat. "You're too chicken shit to pull that trigger. You've never killed anyone in your life. I don't think you have the guts."

"Oh," Pam shook her head. "I'm not going to kill you, DeLuca, you bastard. There's no satisfaction in that. I'm actually hoping that you are going to live for a very, very long time."

"I plan on it," he nodded, narrowing his eyes.

"See," Pam continued, keeping her gun fixed firmly on him. "That way, you will have a long time to remember what you did to women. What you have done to me."

"You think I give a shit?"

"No," she shook her head. "I really don't think you do. But I'm going to see to it that you will. I'm going to shoot you where you really would not want to be shot. Yes, I know that you would eventually heal. But, not from this bullet."

"Oh?" Sean raised his eyes in amusement. "What's so special about that bullet?"

"Max made it for me. When I shoot you with it, the wound will never totally heal. You will experience pain there for the rest of your life. Bad pain. And every twenty eight days, the wound will open and you will bleed for a few days. Complete with cramps. Just like we do. And you are going to remember. Every day of your life, you are going to have to live with the reminder of what you did to women, just for fun."

"I don't believe you," he shook his head, smirking. "You see, I've heard all about Evans. I've heard what a wuss he is. How he's this noble... prick who can't say boo to a goose. So getting Max to do something like that? Yeah, right."

"Oh," Pam smiled. "He said no, at first. But then I told him, in excruciating detail, every damned thing you ever did to me. And then do you know what I did?"

"What?" his eyes narrowed.
"I reminded him that you plan to do all of that to Liz. The one thing he loves more than anything else. Even more than his amazing compassion. He changed his mind."

The sound of gunfire in that room sounded very loud indeed. Sean fell to the floor, his hand clutching his groin again, only this time, with no element of vulgar suggestion. Blood oozed through his fingers. His cries of pain replaced the fading echoes of the gunshot.

"Have a long life, you bastard!" Pam screamed before she spat on him.

* * *

"How long do you think your shield will last, Max?" Tess grinned at him. "'Cause when it falls, you know I'm going to fry you, right?"

Max said nothing, trying to work out how to drop his shield and send his own blast at her. He knew she was watching him closely.

"I knew you would come," she continued. "I knew that your pathetic sense of honor would eventually bring you here. And Nikolas will be here, soon. I think he has his own plans for you, but that doesn't mean we can't play, right?"

She started to smile.

"Just like we did that night in the observatory, all those years ago. Do you remember that night, my love?"

"Fortunately, no," Max shook his head.

"I'm not surprised," she shrugged. "You weren't very good. I expect Liz knows all about that, huh? How poor you are compared to Kyle. Anyway, I only did it 'cause all I wanted was the location of the Granolith... Oh, yeah. You probably don't know, do you? That thing I went back to Antar in? Not the Granolith. Sorry."

"I knew that," Max shrugged. "And you don't know how much I regret..."

"Oh, please," Tess rolled her eyes. "Do you honestly think I would have enjoyed anything with you? You make my skin crawl. You were always weak, Max. Zan was weak, Max the first was weak, and you. You are just as weak."

"There are many different forms of strength, Tess," Max shook his head. "You wouldn't consider grass to be very strong, yet before the wind, it just bends, it does not break."

"You are still full of shit," Tess shook her head. "You might have been able to hide the location of the Granolith from me, Max. But you can't hide it from Nikolas. And I plan on making sure you are too weak to resist him."

She raised her hand and a deep green burst of energy surrounded him. It drained him, completely. Max's shield was gone.

"Nice trick, huh?" Tess grinned as she leaned forward to place her hand on Max's chest. He could already see her hand glowing. He closed his eyes, bracing himself against the pain that would come with her touch. "Would you like another sample of my loving touch?"

The touch never arrived. Instead, he heard a roar, followed by a thud. He heard a muffled grunt coming from Tess, who now sounded as though she was on the floor next to him. He opened his eyes.

Liz was standing over him, having pushed Tess over.

"Get up, bitch," she spat at her blinking nemesis.

"Oh, I intend to," Tess's eyes were flashing with danger while she climbed to her feet. "And when I do, I am going to show you both the true meaning of pain."

As her hand started to rise, even as Max struggled to put himself between Tess and Liz, Liz's own hand rose. A bolt of blue light flew from her finger tips, striking Tess in the center of her chest. Tess flew through the air, slamming into the far wall. They could almost hear bones breaking. Blinking with astonishment, Tess slid to the floor, her eyes not once leaving Liz.

"How did you do that?" she could only stare in wonder.

"PMS," Liz shrugged. "It's a bitch sometimes, isn't it?"

"Liz..." Max was blinking with as much astonishment as Tess.

"Come on, Max," she grinned. "Let's get what we came for and go."

"Wait," Tess called out from her prone position. "Just what did you come for?"

Something to the side caught Max's attention. His face broke into a huge grin as he crossed the room and picked up the strange, pentagonal shaped object.

"This, Tess," he held it up.

"What is it?" she shook her head. "What's so fucking important about that?"

"You murdered all of us to get this, Tess," Max smirked. "You've been pulling apart the country side to find it. And it's been here under your nose all this time. And you thought I was dumb."

"That's the Granolith?" he jaw dropped. "But I thought... I thought..."

"That's your trouble, Tess," Liz gave a laugh. "You think too much."

The young couple linked hands and walked out of the room, leaving Tess to deal with her broken bones by herself.

* * *
Last edited by WR on Fri Jun 01, 2007 4:10 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Red Shift Part 3 Chapter 30

Post by WR » Fri Jun 01, 2007 4:14 pm

Hi Everyone!

Can I take this opportunity to invite you over to my chat later on to tonight? I'll be over here
from 6PM EST

polar vixen - Remember when Luke healed Julia? He started something in motion that was was completed when they "bonded" at their reunion.

eric1987 - you get an explanation about Liz and her seal tonight.

roswell3053 - lol. Lots of people seem to like Tess getting blasted. lol

raemac - Well, I think she can safely bet that her bridges have been burnt where Max is concerned. :wink:

thetvgeneral - YUp. Got the coffee on standby... should be a fun chat. :)

AlwaysRoswell - :) Thank you

Timelord31 - Yeah. It was inevitable, really. lol. :)

frenchkiss70 - :) WB! Well, it's good to see you here. I have lost (and miss) so many old faces in the past. Yes. this MAx is supposed to be stronger, he's supposed to be growing into a role that he is (dare I say it) destined for. :)

omwf - Live by the sword, die by the sword. :wink: I think it's safe to assume it's real :wink: Ah yes. Now for the seal.

mareli - A lot of people have commentec on bringing Tess... or killing her. But I think that the only thing they had on their minds were getting everyne to safety.

Emz80m - I think my explanation this part might help understand why they didn;t kill her.

Vaderian - Thank you :) Glad that you are enjoying the story. :)

VeronicB - Yeah. I think Sean got what he deserved. :) And Tess got off lightly. :wink:

Ellie - Thank you

Cocogurl - Hmmm... Why would Liz have the seal? Tess certainly hasn't got it because she's been looking for it...

BehrObsession - lol - no. Tess will be with us for a while, I'm afraid. Oh, Kivar's recalls are nothing to do with Max and the Granolith. Remember that Kivar has a military force camped on his doorstep.

roswellluver - I thought people =might like that form of justice. lol

Roswelllostcause - Ah, that plan. Zan must have been extremely clever to have arranged it so someone he did not know he would meet would get powers when they do. lol sorry your wings aren't there. looks like the Sens aren't, either. lol.

smokie - I think I just have a twisted mind. lol.

Another LONG chapter tonight, but caution... heavy going ahead! :wink:

Red Shift

Part 3

Chapter 30

* * *

"You blasted her?" Maria was stunned.

"I blasted her."

They had gathered in their hide-away and were waiting for Nikolas's search to stop. The search was only halfhearted, and the ships that flew overhead were in large numbers, as though fearing an attack by Zan and the Granolith and believing in safety in numbers.

"You really blasted her?"

"Yes, Maria," Liz rolled her eyes. "If you don't stop asking me, I'll blast you, too."

"I bet that felt good," Isabel smirked. "Blasting Tess."

"You have no idea," Liz grinned.

"Why didn't you kill her?" Michael grunted.

"I..." Liz faltered.

"Michael," Max warned. "This is new to her."

"It's new to all of us," Michael pointed out.

"Doing something in the heat of the moment, Michael," Liz finally found her voice. "That's one thing. But deliberately killing someone in cold blood? No. I could never do that. Not even Tess. I'm sorry."

Liz looked over at the corner of the large tent where Craig was quietly talking to Pam. While she had not killed Sean, what she had done to him was truly barbaric, if not a little just. She had been looking forward to pulling that trigger for a whole week. And now that the deed was done, she was full of remorse. Everyone had tried to tell her that her actions were justifiable, but it had been Max's comment that had made her feel better. He had told her that it was good that she felt that way, because it meant that she was, after all, human. Unlike Sean and his cohorts who felt no such remorse for atrocities that were even worse. Craig was now helping her with the rest of her pain.

"You have nothing to be sorry about," Max shook his head. "You did what you had to do, and you walked away. And I am so proud of you."

"Tell me again how she just erased your shield?" Michael leaned forward.

"She was stronger than I thought," Max shook his head. "I was trying to keep my shield going and she took me by surprise."

"How can she be so strong? So powerful?" Isabel wondered out loud.

"Because," Liz whispered. "She's not afraid to throw everything into it. She doesn't hold back... like we do."

"Did you hold back?" Maria's eyes softened.

"No," Liz shook her head. A tear ran from her eye. "I really wanted to kill her. For what she's done to us over the years. I just wasn't strong enough."

"Or maybe," Max wrapped his arms around her, pulling her into the safety of his body. "You 'were' strong enough."

* * *

There was a large welcoming committee waiting for them when they drove the last few miles south, from Colorado. They had once again taken the long route home. Anders and Raul, as ambassadors, had negotiated their passage for them. In fact, the pair was waiting for them before they crossed into New Mexico, bringing with them the current status of their opening plans to formalize relations between the USA and Antar.

Everyone stood back and let the teenagers meet their families, first. They had, after all, been extremely worried over the last three weeks that the kids had been gone. Even the reunion between Liz and the people who had been her parents in her previous life was a sweet and tender moment. Jeff had shaken Max's hand and thanked him for keeping her safe. Max had been so astonished, that he was speechless.

Jim Valenti was a father first and foremost. He had taken part in the reunion, greeting his son and his friends, waiting patiently until it was time to talk business. He took Max, Michael and Colonel Barynt to one side, suggesting that he needed a word in private.

"What's up?" Max asked when they were quite alone.

"Two things," now that Jim had got the excitement at seeing the safe return of his son and his friends out of his system, he was all bisiness. "First... Major Darlas, senior officer of the prisoners of war requests a meeting, Max."

"Unacceptable," Colonel Barynt shook his head. "Not only is it too dangerous, Max, it is beyond etiquette. A Major does not request an audience with the King who holds him captive. He must speak with me, first. Then, he may speak with your second, if I deem it necessary. There is no need for you to speak with him. Doing so would suggest you see Major Darlas as some kind of equal."

"I agree, Max," Michael shook his head. "You're not seeing him. Leave this to Barynt and me."

"Check," Max nodded. "Go see what he wants but be sure to let me know. What was the second matter, Jim?"

"There's a shapeshifter waiting to see you," Jim looked edgy. He paused, waiting for his words to sink in before he hit them with the big gun. "He says he's here with a message from your mother. Your 'real' mother."

* * *

"Max," Michael called to him. He was grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat. "I know what Barynt said, about you not speaking with this guy... But you have to hear this for yourself. You're never going to believe it."

"Hear what?"

"Come with me. Come and hear it straight from the horses mouth, so to speak."

"What's going on, Michael?" Max frowned.

"Just follow me."

Max followed Michael into the basement of Shiprock. The hallways were smooth, like polished marble. The main rooms near the door did not seem secure.

These must be offices, Max observed.

Michael led him into one of these offices, where Barynt and another Bloodguard were sitting at a table across from one of the captured Skins. As they entered the room, all three of the aliens stood to attention.

"Major Darlas," Michael watched the man carefully. "I have great pleasure in presenting you to His Royal Majesty, King Zan of Antar."

Max started to extend his hand but Michael pulled it back. Darlas saluted and then dropped to one knee.

"Your Majesty," he looked down at the ground. "I am your humble servant."

Max looked at Michael in confusion. Michael just shrugged.

"At ease," Michael nodded to Barynt and the other guard. "Sit down, Darlas.

"Tell King Zan what you just told Barynt and me," Michael sat next to Max and leaned forward.

Darlas looked first at Michael and then at Barynt. Barynt gave a slow nod.

"S-sire," Darlas started. "We have been raised on tales of your cruelty, your... barbarity. We were told tales about you during the war that left even the bravest of us with chilled blood. So, when we surrendered to you the other week, we had no illusions as to how we would be treated. We all expected to be treated badly. Executed, even. Or worse. Being handed over to the humans for vivisection."

Max shuddered.

"But you have treated us with kindness. You have treated us like... Antarians. On our frequent supervised trips to the surface, to get some fresh air and exercise, we have seen how your people are living. We can see that although we are eating frugally, so too are you and your people. If any of you had been captured by Nikolas, I have no doubt that you would not receive such treatment. Because of our treatment, the older men are telling stories, long suppressed by Kivar and his Blackguard."

"Blackguard?" Max spoke for the first time.

"Yes," Darlas nodded. "His most loyal soldiers. The equivalent of your Bloodguard. Equally as terrifying but for different reasons. Anyway, these stories were of life before the civil war, before King Deryn's Madness. And many of us... many of us indeed, would like to see a return to those days. Your Majesty? I know you have no reason to trust us. I know that technically, we are enemies. But I would like to offer to you, our service as soldiers. Sire, we would swear any oath you would require of us, on our honor, on our lives. We have no future with Nikolas and certainly none with Kivar. We surrendered to you. That, in their eyes, is an executable offence. I am not expecting an answer from you right away. This is too much to take in at once. All I ask is that you consider my application. And I would like to point out that I know of at least another couple of battalions that might be already in a state of mind to follow our lead and defect. Nikolas is not as universally loved as he would like to think. I honestly believe that the only people who truly love Nikolas is his own mother, and, uhm... uh, Ava."

"One more thing," Michael looked across to Max. "What did Ava do with Max... with her son?"

"Son?" he blinked. "She has no son. At least, none that I am aware of."

"When she left Earth," Michael narrowed his eyes, "we were under the impression that Ava was pregnant."

"No, sir," Darlas shook his head emphatically. "Ava was not pregnant when she arrived on Antar. And neither did she have a baby on the ship. Your source of information is incorrect."

"Are you sure?" Max leaned forward.

"Positive, sire," he nodded. "Kivar was furious about it. Apparently, she had failed. She was supposed to seduce Zan, to bear his child, but he, uhm... failed... You know. To, uh... deliver."

"You mean," Michael started to chuckle, "he couldn't get it up?"

"Well," he fidgeted uncomfortably. "Kivar told everyone that the reason was because Ava was the wrong gender."

"No," Michael grinned at the anger and embarrassment burning in Max. "It was because Ava was the wrong race, the wrong person, the wrong everything." He turned to Max. "So that should please Liz as much as it pleases you."

"What?" Barynt frowned. "Lady Elizabeth should be pleased that they consider His Majesty to be gay?"

"Which," Michael leaned back in his chair, "goes a long way to explaining why he and Liz don't... ouch!"

Michael's chair disintegrated into to dust. He collapsed to the floor, hitting the ground hard. When he looked up, Max was glaring at him, his hand still glowing from his disassembly of the chair.

* * *

Max couldn't sleep. Wearing just a pair of boxers, he was staring out of the window that he had created in the side of the mountain, he looked from his bedroom on the darkness of the surrounding desert. He looked back to his bed, at Liz asleep there. His body started to react to her at once, the way it always had when he looked at her. He knew that another freezing shower might be necessary tonight.

He turned to look at something less erotic. The desert. His mind at once drifted to the second conversation he had held that night. The one with Cal Langley. Part time Hollywood director, part time benefactor to a group of kids who once hailed from Roswell, New Mexico, before they were scattered to the south eastern states of USA for safety, after their deaths. Was that an oxymoron, Max wondered?

Cal had explained everything, to the best of his knowledge, including why it was that they had no protector when they emerged from their pods the second time. Cal had to ensure that no agent of Nikolas heard anything, suspected anything of the second set of pods. Max understood now that everything had been planned, almost down to the most minute of details, to make sure this little gang were reintroduced after their rebirth. And then there was his Antarian mother's invitation. He had not known how to respond to that. Liz had just shrugged and said that if he went, she would follow. Maria, too was adamant that she would not be left behind.

"Where Max goes, Liz goes," Maria had said. "And where Liz goes, I go."


He wondered if she knew how difficult it was for him when she was around him. She always moved with such grace, such sensuality. It was sometimes more than he could stand. Even now, when she was fast asleep, she did things to him. Her body was cocooned in a thin layer of silk, that clung to her every contour like a second skin. One of her rosy nipples was peeking over the edge of her night-dress.

Groaning, he pulled on a pair of Jeans and a T-shirt. With a look and a soft smile at Liz, he slipped from the room. Outside, the guard snapped to attention. As soon as Max started to walk up the slope, the guard fell in to follow.

"I'm only going up to the throne room," Max shook his head. "I'll be perfectly safe. Stay and keep an eye on Liz, please."

* * *

Max made his way to the throne room. It had been called that only because the Granolith had been placed in it. Since there was a constant guard of five Bloodguard and it was only Max who could gain access with his palm print once the door was closed, the Granolith was perfectly safe in there.

Max walked up to the small device sitting on the plinth and just stared at it. So far, he had not tried to access its power. Not only did he not know how he could do it, he also knew he needed the seal.

Soft footsteps entering the chamber alerted him that he was no longer alone. Liz was standing by the door, her robe now belted around her waist, covering her lithe body, if only just.

"I thought I closed the door," Max smiled at her.

"Lucky for you, you didn't," she grinned back. "Else I might have had to blast my way in here."

"Are you okay with that?" he asked softly. "I mean, that had to have been quite a shock for you. Finding out that you can do that."

"I feel fine, Max," she shrugged. "I might be a lil' ol' thing to you, but I am not fragile."

"You were never just a lil' ol' thing to me, Liz," he reached out his hand for her to take. "I have always known how strong you are."

"So what brings you up here?" she just smiled. "Again?"

"You know how often I come up here?" he seemed surprised.

"Yeah," she nodded. "Though this is the first time I followed you."

"I was just wondering," he shrugged. "I mean, we're the same, aren't we? Me and Zan. We are the same people, just in different bodies."

Liz nodded, knowing he had not finished.

"How come I'm not as smart as him? As clever?"

"What do you mean," Liz frowned.

"Zan had all the answers," Max shook his head. "It seems I got left with all the questions. It's like... It's almost like Zan could see into the future and knew exactly how everything was going to play out. It's like he knew that the ship would crash. He even knew that the three of us would meet you guys. He knew I was going to fall in love with you."

"He didn't know everything, Max," Liz shook her head. "I mean, he couldn't have known that Tess was going to betray you. Otherwise, why did he send her? Why did he let her come between us? Or kill us?"

"He even knew that I would need soldiers at Chaco Canyons."

"Maybe..." Liz paused. "Maybe it wasn't Zan."

"How do you mean?" Max narrowed his eyes. "You heard Cal. His orders had come from Zan."

"Well, Zan never arranged for Shiprock to be here, Max," she chuckled. Not unless he was a few thousand years old. The Native Americans have been telling stories about this place for a long time. Max, we're talking centuries."

Max turned to look at the Granolith.

"Do you even know how much trouble you have caused me?" he shook his head.

"Yes, " an amused voice spoke in Max's mind.

"Did..." Liz's voice was hushed. "Did that thing just speak to us?"

"You heard it, too?" Max was now looking at Liz.

"I think so," she nodded.

"Yes, I spoke to you both," the voice seemed to mock them. "And, yes. I am 'that thing'. I am the Granolith."

The young couple exchanged looks of amazement.

"Can you hear me?" he addressed the Granolith again.

"Of course I can. What's the point of setting up a psychic link with you if I can't hear you?"

"But I don't have the seal."

"Yes, you do. You have always had the seal. Ever since Zan had you created, back on Antar. This incarnation of you, I mean. "

"So I never had it before?"

"No. "

"But..." Max paused. "When I went to that summit... in New York..."

"Ava is not the only person who can mindwarp, Max. Your first incarnation was the lure. The bait. That Max never possessed the seal. He was never supposed to."

"If you have been able to talk to me all this time..." Max narrowed his eyes. "Why have you waited till now to let me know?"

"Because you have never asked me a question that required a verbal answer before. "

"Wait," Liz sounded surprised. "You said it like Max has spoken to you before. Only not asked a question. Has Max spoken to you before?"

"Yes, Liz, " the Granolith stated. "He has. "

"What did I say to you?"

"You didn't so much say something to me, but asked me to 'do' something. "

"Such as?"

"Your journey across New Mexico. You kept asking me to speed your journey up. Well, not in so many words. But you kept wishing you were closer to Liz. I can't change linear scalability, so I simply made you travel faster. "

"Travel fas..." Max trailed off. "Is that all I have asked you to do? Speed my journey up?"

"You asked me to move a Hurricane once. "

"That was you?" Liz asked Max in awe. "Max, I was so terrified."

"Me too," Max nodded. "I said that I really wanted that Hurricane to go away."

"So, I moved it, " the Granolith stated.

Max and Liz stared at the Granolith, blinking.

"Max..." Liz whispered.

"I know," Max nodded.

He now possessed the most powerful weapon in the known Universe. And he knew how to use it.

"Don't sell yourself short, Max, " the Granolith interrupted his thoughts.

"How do you mean?"

"Zan. You are every bit as intelligent, as clever as he was. Only, maybe more so. After all, you have Liz at your side. He had no one. "

"He had Ava," Liz's voice went cold.

"[/i]No. He never loved Ava. At least, not like that. He tolerated her because she was there. Like Max, Zan did not know how to be rude to people. [/i]"

"But... his plan," Max objected. "I could never come up with something like that. It spans such a long time frame, and all of it in his future. And it was so complex. He even knew when they would happen? How did he know that these events would happen at all? It's almost as though to him, they had already happened. Like he was reading a history book. How did he know all this?"

"Because he was told." If the Granolith had shoulders, Max was sure it would have just shrugged them..

"Someone knew all of the events that would happen? Someone knew everything that was going to happen to us? The dates, too?"

"In some cases, even the times," it joked.

"And, uh, how?" Max frowned. "How did this person know about them?"

"Ah," it seemed to be laughing. "We are getting ahead of ourselves. And I am not permitted to tell you certain things in case they affect 'other' things which must not be affected."

"You're enjoying this, aren't you," Max accused.

"Perhaps I am," it chuckled. "Shall I start at the beginning?"

"Probably a good idea," Liz nodded.

"Zan started his preparations for his flight to this planet when he discovered me, in the cave deep beneath the Island sanctuary where King Deryn had hidden me, before his madness set in."

"A madness caused by the removal of his seal," Max nodded, remembering things now. "And Zan knew all of the dates that all of these things were going to happen. too."

"Did he?" the Granolith asked.

"He must have," Max nodded. "Barynt told us that he was expecting us. So Zan must have told him."

"Barynt told you that Zan told him when certain events would happen. Events such as the date you would request his presence, the date Nikolas would attack Chaco... That was not correct. Barynt received orders that he assumed were from Zan. And Zan did not know that Max Evans would heal Liz Parker on September 18th, 1999."

"But someone did," Liz's eyes narrowed. "Someone knew Max was going to heal me, because they had already cloned me a couple of years earlier. When Max healed me, there was already a five or six year old Julia Cartier, lying in a coma. Me. Alison and the other's, too. How did someone know that those five people, most of whom were strangers a few years prior to the healing, would be so important to Max?"

"Wait," Max held his hand up. "How did Zan know the Earth calendar? How did Zan know how many days to a year, the months, the clock? How would Zan know the exact date and time of an event that was going to happen in the future on a planet he did not know the calendar and clock of?"

"How indeed?" the Granolith asked emotionlessly.

"If I didn't know better," Max sighed. "I would say that some kind of time travel was involved here. I would say that I went back in time and set all this up, myself."

"And do you know better?"

"There's no such thing as time travel," Liz shook her head. She would not be caught out again. "It's just not possible."

"A few years ago, Liz, you would have told me that being reincarnated in the body of a 14 year old coma patient, with identical DNA was impossible."

"Okay," Max narrowed his eyes. "Let's just say that we are open to the concept. How could such a thing be possible? How could I go back in time and give those orders?"

"How 'could' you go back?" the Granolith asked with a hint of mirth. "Or better still, how is it possible to go back?"

"Okay," Max sighed. "Explain how it might be possible to travel back in time?"

"Suppose," the Granolith started, "that you had a really powerful telescope, Max. And suppose that you trained that telescope on a planet that was one hundred and seventy five million light years away. Now, suppose, just suppose, that it was possible for you to step from this planet to that, in but a split second of time."


"Just imagine the concept, Max. Not the feasibility."

If the Granolith had eyes, it would be rolling them.

"Okay," Max nodded, looking at Liz with skepticism.

"Now that you are on that distant planet, train your telescope back on the Earth. What do you suppose you might see?"

"Light from 175 million years ago?" Max started to think. "The light we're seeing would be from the Jurassic period. I guess. So that means we would see dinosaurs wandering the earth."

"Correct. The Jurassic period is considered to be between 150 and 200 million years ago, and so you would certainly have seen the earth at some point during this time frame. Now. Suppose that in the same way you stepped from Earth to that other planet, you could step back again, in that split second. Why... could you not imagine that you would find yourself in the middle of a herd of great sauropods?"

"No, no, no," Liz shook her head. "What we're seeing is the light that left Earth millions of years ago. If we stepped across space then we would be back in our own time."

"Would you?" they could feel a sense of humor. "What happens around you when you travel fast? Suppose you were in Max's old jeep, travelling at one hundred miles per hour along the highway? What might you notice around you?"

"Bits of my jeep as the damn thing falls apart," Max smirked.

"I build better jeeps," the Granolith chuckled. "What would you notice about the other traffic around you?"

Max looked at Liz who looked at Max, both concentrating.

"They would appear to be moving slower than us?" Liz shrugged.

"That's right. Part of the Theory of Relativity is that the faster an object moves, the slower things move relative to it. So, if you drove at two hundred miles per hour, they would appear slower still. Using this correlation, if nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, the closer you travel to that speed, the slower things around you appears to be moving. All around you, time must in fact, be slowing down. As you approach the maximum speed, light speed, you must reach a point where you are travelling so fast that everything around you appears to stand still. For every thing around you, you have effectively, frozen time. So, if it were possible to travel 'faster' than the speed of light, does it not stand that time would, in effect, move in reverse?"


"So, if you could then travel at twice the speed of light, would you not see a situation where you are stepping back in time, to the actual source of the light you are seeing? The point at which it left Earth?"

"Ok," Max shook his head. "Suppose, just suppose that we accept your theories are possible. The forces imposed on a body travelling at that speed would kill it. And how could it get back to it's own time? How can he move forward in time? And if he could, everyone he has known might have aged.

"Oh, you are absolutely correct. Such a journey would certainly compress any organic life form to such a degree that death would have occurred in the millisecond that the journey started. And as for returning, well, even if he could guarantee that he has not affected his timeline, then if he miscalculated by as little as 1 trillionth of a nanosecond his return point, everyone he knew would have died. Or not been born yet. Assuming, that is, you could think of a way to travel into a time that, for you, does not yet exist.

"So even if your theories are correct, there seems little point in even trying to suggest that Max went back in time to issue those orders," Liz shook her head. "Not if he wanted to stay alive, and if he could, return to his correct time."

"Your observation is one hundred percent correct, Liz. And at no time have I suggested that Max went back in time. Nor anyone else for that matter. Max stated that he considered time travel was involved. I questioned if he knew better. I merely pointed out how it would be possible."

Liz was about to reply when Max beat her to it.

"Did I travel back in time to make these orders?"

"No. You did not."

"Did anyone else travel back in time?"

"We have already reasoned the futility of an organic life form travelling at such speeds that are necessary to go back in time. You do not know a single living creature capable of travelling through time."

Max narrowed his eyes and stared at the small device that was talking to him.

"If no one went back..." Liz started to theorize out loud, "but it's clear that time travel is possible..."

"I seem to recall..." Max's eyes narrowed, "that you used to map out the universe. You used to send out a pulse. Like sonar. A Radio wave..."

"Like dolphins?" Liz looked at Max. "Is that how you could understand the dolphins?"

"That is correct," the Granolith confirmed.

"And the bats!" Max exclaimed.

"In the cave!" Liz added.

"That's why I felt really strange in the caves. When the bats returned, their radar echoes were drowning out the echoes being sent between you and my seal. Me."

"Correct, Max," the Granolith would have been smiling. "In fact, I am in constant contact with the bearer of the seal. Using such a pulse. The bats in the cave had confused my own sonar, and thus, had broken our connection."

"Wait..." Liz frowned. "I was affected, too. Do I have a seal?"

"Sort of," the Granolith told her. "You are connected to Max. And as a result, I can sense you, too. "

"Is that why I can feel Max? When we get close?"

"I wasn't aware of that," the Granolith seemed a little surprised. "What do you mean, 'feel' him?"

"Whenever we are within a certain distance from one another, we can sort of sense each other. What direction and everything."

"That is nothing to do with me," after a short silence. it spoke with a little awe. "That is all you."

"There's more, though, right?" Max returned to the problem. "You can send information in your 'pulses'. It's how we retrieved the DNA structures from our former selves when we were executed on Antar. I told you to check on our conditions, and the moment you detected our death, you were to recreate our 'essences'."

"That is correct."

"Can you send these data streams at light speed?" Max asked.


"Can you send a data stream faster than light speed?"


Max and Liz fell silent, each sensing that they were on to something. Something important.

"If there was a way to send a pulse faster than light," Liz asked, "would you be able to send a data stream with the details of a plan that Max gives you? Could you send it to yourself back in time?"

"Yes." it confirmed. "I believe I could."

"Then you could pass on my orders" Max added, "to Zan back on Antar who will then put them into place."

"Yes, in theory, I can send myself a data stream back in time," it reiterated. "I can calculate to the exact degree, the speed needed to send the message back to a precise point in time and space. But how could you make that message travel at a speed faster than light?"

From the way it asked the question, both Max and Liz thought the Granolith already knew the answer.

"You know that analogy you used?" Liz started talking slowly, feeling her way along the problem. "About Max's old jeep? Well, suppose the maximum speed the jeep could move at was a hundred miles an hour. How could you make it move faster?"

Max narrowed his eyes again and then started to grin.

"By making the road move, too."

"Right," Liz nodded. "That would work. So if the road is moving at a hundred mile an hour, and the jeep is moving along the road at a hundred mile an hour, it's going at a combined two hundred mile an hour."

"So all we have to do is to send the message along a roadway that's already travelling at light speed."

"And that roadway is?" the Granolith asked, knowing they already had the answer.

"Light," Liz exclaimed. "We'll send the message through the red shift."

"Well done, you two," the Granolith was silently applauding them. "The Fates knew what they were doing when they put you two together. But there is a lot more to think about. A lot more than sling-shooting your message. What exactly will you say in your message?"

"I guess I would warn Zan to let me know that Tess will betray me, and..."

"Did you know that Tess would betray you, Max?" it asked. "Before you found out the hard way, I mean."

"No," he shook his head.

"Then, if you change that, if you warn Max about the betrayal, this timeline would cease to exist. A new timeline would be created, one in which Max knew all along that Tess betrayed him. Who knows what problems that might have created? Maybe you might not even end up with Liz."

"Unacceptable," Liz shook her head.

"Think very carefully Max. Word your message with great care. If you change any one thing in this time line, no matter how insignificant, you will cause this timeline to cease to exist. And you are so close to victory. The plan you have come up with is working so far. Do not change anything, no matter how much you wish things were different. You have to make sure that whatever you did, you will still do."

"Well..." Max released a deep sigh. "I guess warning Liz that this 'future' Max guy is a trick is out. And so too is preventing Tess from..." his voice fell to a whisper, "killing her."

"Max, I love you," Liz placed an arm on his shoulder. "I loved you when I was Liz, I loved you when I was Julia. I would not trade any part of my lives so far for anything. Not if means I might not end up with you. If your plan, no matter how painful the past, brought us here, to this point, together, then don't change a single thing."

"And remember Max. You must not interfere with your own selves. You must not tell Zan, or Rath, or Vilondra any part of the plan that they might interfere with. Zan must not know it was Ava who betrayed him. Max must never know that Tess is betraying him. It all has to happen. Think very carefully, just who needs to be told, or what needs to be done. But your plan must bring all of you here. If you will pardon the expression, 'to this point in time'. Exactly as has already happened."

"Ok," Max took a deep breath. "I have to tell Zan about setting up the clones, and have you stand by to grab our essences. Uhm, I guess I better order someone to sabotage the ship. It has to crash in the desert near Roswell. Colonel Barynt and his men have to be ordered to board the freighter, and fly to Earth, to protect Chaco Canyons. Uhm... Oh yeah. He has to send a detachment to Vasquez Rocks, to kill Isabel, Michael and me."

"What?" Liz gasped.

"Uh, yeah," Max tugged his ear. "I think that's what happened, Liz. I think I have to make sure that we all died that night, to send our souls to the next set of pods. What if Tess captured me, or I escaped? I think you would still be in your comas."

"Then there's something else you need to set up," Liz agreed. "Someone has to be ordered to clone us. Me, Maria, Kyle, Anders and Raul."

"But without Zan knowing," Max nodded. "So that Max will never know. This is harder than I thought."

"Max," Liz took his hands in hers. "You have to make sure that you are going to heal me, to set all this in motion. Oh, and Max? Max, you better get two people to come into the Crashdown and shoot me."

Max's eyes widened.

"Just in case," she smiled. "In case that wasn't an accident."

"This might take some time, Liz," Max shrugged. He started to chuckle and looked up at her. "And I'm going to need your help. So it looks like that Planner title Kyle wanted to take away from you is safe."

* * *
Last edited by WR on Fri Jun 08, 2007 4:41 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Red Shift Part 3 Chapter 31

Post by WR » Fri Jun 08, 2007 4:52 pm

Hi Everyone!

Thanks you to all of you who turned up to chat with me last Friday. It was a lot of fun, and I hope to do another one soon. Hopefully, more of you will turn up for that one. :) The lucky few who turned up were treated to spoilers galore!


And if you believe that you will believe anything! :wink:

Thank you all so very much for your feedback and your commets.

It might interest you to know that the Time Travel explanation was written wayyy back when I started the story. I didn't want to forget it :wink: I hope you all recovered and now fully understand time travel? :)

eric1978 - LOL - and as one or two people have commented (noteably my beta team) - they seem to think it sounds like me! :wink:

polar vixen - And here is another one :)

quinn - Smartass or not, it did give out a lot of info!

Ellie - LOL As long as you got the jist of it :wink:

Cocogurl :) Thank you

Timelord31 - Cal has delivered his message and is probably around somewhere.

frenchkiss70 - I don't like doing things in half measures. :wink:

TheAntarianKing - I think Jeff is realising that although Liz isn;t HIS Liz, she allows him to think of her like that, but he has to accept HER choices. And he is doing just that.

roswel3053 - The Granolith isn;t finished yet :wink:

cassie - Yes. I had to let you all know what's been going on. And how better than a History lesson? :wink: The plan being arranged AFTER the fact is much easier, methinks. LOL!

raemac - YOu know? I think you are right. I don;t think Max knows Tess was invited too. lol.

Vaderian - Science mumbo jumbo? I spend weeks studying the red shift, theory of relativity, light speed, and all kinds of quantum physics and you call it mumbo jumbo?? Wait till my friend Steve Hawking hears about this!! :wink:

thetvgeneral - Thanks :) I will be chatting again, soon, I expect. :)

roswellluver - thank you :)

Pinkasso - Telling the Granolith to send the message it already sent would be the easiest way. EXCEPT... Someone has to make the plan. otherwise we are in a paradox.

omwf - LOL. Hope you feel better now :wink:

youre my dreamgirl - Thank you :)

Emz80m - It wasn't too hard to figure out, was it? lol

VeronicaB - The plan that has been instigated (Liz and the others being reborn, the group getting set up to meet in Siesta Key, everything) was actaully laid out by Max and Liz and sent BACK in time to the Granolith at the time that Zan was hiding in the caves, who then
made sure that everything was set up by dropping hints and making suggestions. :) So it was always Max and Liz's plan.

smokie - As long as you enjoy it :wink: It's not so much that Maria and Liz PLAN to go to Antar, They have merely stated that if Michael and Max go, so too, will they. And thank you for the wonderful compliment. I am glad that my hard work is noticed :)
OKAY - Zan not knowing... IF Zan knew that Tess would betray him, then he would not send her. Yes, this might seem an ideal solution, but this would change the timeline, because the plan was not created until 60 odd years later and sent BACK in time. Change anything, and we have a new timeline, maybe one that means Max does not need to heal Liz and remains behind that tree...

BehrObsession - lol. I tried to keep it simple,. too. :wink:

roswelllostcause - There's always next year! :D

Red Shift

Part 3

Chapter 31

For three days, Max and Liz spent more time together, in the privacy of their apartment than they spent with their friends. Some had speculated that they were finally consummating their relationship, but Michael observed that the lack of any noises suggested otherwise.

"Just their kissing is explosive," he shrugged when they had questioned him on it. "Their love making would be registered on the Richter scale."

It wasn't love that they were making, however, but plans. Max and Liz were making sure that the plans they would send back through the Granolith would make sure that they would still be together, in this time line, so that one day, soon, they could consummate.

It was a task that was taking its toll on the young pair, mentally if not physically. Both were exhausted. The task was harder than either had imagined. While Max was sound asleep beside her, Liz could not reach that state. Her mind was running with too many bad scenarios. And she had one underlying fear. A fear borne of the fact that she knew Max better than any other person, alive or dead. She knew Max's very soul.

Keeping an eye on her sleeping partner's face, she slipped from his embrace and from their bed. After wrapping herself in her robe, she slipped from their apartment. The guards outside of their door snapped to attention as she slipped out onto the walkway. She gave them both a smile, completely unaware how to react to these strange men who showed her such respect.

"I'm just going..." she pointed up the slope, wondering why she felt the need to explain.

She gave another half smile and started walking, aware that one soldier was starting to follow her. Liz thought about asking him not to, but doubted that she would be obeyed. Not if Max had ordered it. She rolled her eyes instead and carried on walking to the throne room.

Liz hadn't fully thought out her plan. She had forgotten the pertinent fact that he had made a lock on the door that would respond only to his palm print. But the Granolith had said that she had 'sort of' possessed her own seal, due to her connection with Max. If the lock was a power signature, might she have some of the same signature? She was almost too afraid to try, fearing that failure might somehow cause her to lose respect among the Bloodguard who stood impassively outside the throne room door. Swallowing hard, she passed her hand across the door, bringing to life the glowing silver hand. She placed her hand against the mark and smiled when she heard the door click and then swing open. Thanking the stars, she stepped into the room and closed the door behind her. She walked straight to the Granolith, resting on the platform that Max had created from the stone floor.

"Can you hear me?" she asked it. "Or does Max have to be with me?"

"I can hear you, Liz," the Granolith sounded amused. "And for the record, you don't have to be in the same room to talk to me, you know."

"I didn't know that," she shook her head. "This is all kind of new to me."

"What can I do for you, Liz?"

"I'm sure that you're programmed to only follow the orders of whoever bears the seal... Max,,, but I'm kind of hoping that because you said I kind of have a seal... and the fact that what I'm going to say is a request, not an order..."

"I did not think you were prone to babbling, Liz," it laughed.

"Sorry," she smiled. "It's just..." She waved her hands in the air in frustration.

"Would it help you to understand me better if I told you that I do not follow orders?"

"Excuse me?" Liz blinked.

"I'm not a computer," it chuckled. "Neither am I a servant. I might obey the one who holds the seal, it's true, but only to a point. And the seal is really only a psychic link to me. I am not bound to it; it allows me to maintain an important link between me and the one I have chosen."

"Chosen?" Liz's eyes narrowed.

"I must make 'my' choices in the same way you must make yours."

"And, uhm..." Liz stammered. "Are you the one who chose me? To be with Max, I mean? Is that the reason why he fell in love with me when he stepped off of that bus? Was that his destiny?"

"You humans have an amazing reliance upon that word. For something to be preordained, then someone else must have made a choice 'for' you. So if Max was destined to fall in love with you, it would be because someone else made that choice. We must all make our own choices and in that, there is no such thing as destiny."

"But..." Liz started.

"Think about it, Liz. Think about how many little things can possibly go wrong. Think about the plan you are going to put into action. How can you say that something can be pre ordained, when you are having enough trouble trying to plan something that has already happened?"

"What Max and I are doing..." Liz narrowed her eyes. "Isn't that destiny? Are we not pre-ordaining the lives of those we are going to give orders for?"

"The orders you are giving are to make sure that you and Max are here, together. It's what you want. Everyone you give orders to can choose not to obey. And your earlier selves... they can choose alternatives, too. But your attraction for one another is too strong for that. Max cannot order his younger self to fall in love with you, Liz. He chose to fall in love with you all by himself."

"Uhm..." Liz shook her head. "You know, Max and I... we've been making these... plans... you know, to send back in time. Only the thing is... I just know that Max is going to do something silly, something to prevent me from being hurt. And I'm afraid that would mean we might not be together. And I want to be with him, here, now. I don't think I could bear any kind of life that doesn't have Max in it. So... so when Max tells you the plan... can you ignore whatever he says and just send the plan that you already received all those years ago? I mean, you know exactly what the plan was, don't you?"

The Granolith remained silent for a few moments.

"Liz," its whisper was in reverential awe. "I'm afraid I can't do that."

"Why not?" her voice filled with anguish. "If Max changes anything, we might not ever... And I won't... Please?"

"If I did that, Liz, then it would never have been Max who made the orders. That would have been me. I would be the one calling the shots. If I do that here, why not do it elsewhere? Why should I not rid planets of their leaders and rule in their stead? And why stop at the leaders? The voice of the Granolith took on a dark, deep tone that echoed in the chamber. The whole room darkened. "Why don't I remove all intelligent life and run the planets as I see fit? If I could do whatever I wanted, why stop? I could become a god!"

The room fell silent again, the light returning to normal.

"Max has to send the plan, Liz," its voice returned to normal. "Max has to make the choice. As do you."

Liz stared for a while before she gave a slow nod. She turned to leave, her shoulders slumping in defeat.

"Liz?" it called back gently. "You are, in every way possible, but name, an awesome Queen."

She turned to look at the Granolith, a small smile on her lips.

"If this 'had' been in anyway preordained, if I had had to set anything up, then I could not have chosen a better person for Zan. For Max. So whatever you're feeling right now, always remember that Max chose you himself. Max chose to fall in love with you, for reasons of his own. And you chose to fall in love with him, for reasons of 'your' own. It's always been about choice, Liz. You have to make your own choices or else there is no point in living. You are your own person and no one is making you lead the life you have chosen to live. And it might give you a little perspective when I tell you that not one single King has ever chosen a Queen who could communicate with me. And that gives you so much strength because he does what he does with your complete trust and blessing. Deryn and Dalena were close, but nowhere as close as the two of you."

"Thank you," Liz nodded. "But will that be enough?"

"You already know the answer to that."

"There's something else you can help me with then," Liz smirked. "Max is afraid to... take the next step with me. He says something is not right. But Michael and Maria... and Isabel and Kyle... they... Do you know what the reason is that Max won't make love to me?"

"Yes. I do."

"Can you tell me what that reason is? Can you tell me when we'll be able to become one like that?"

"I could," it chuckled. "But you know what? I think you might find that 'not' knowing that answer gives you great strength, and even greater pleasure. You'll understand when the time comes."

"You are every bit as infuriating as he is!" she snapped.

"What an interesting notion," the Granolith laughed.

* * *

In the citadel at the heart of the Ice Kingdom of Kalacia, three people assembled in the comms room.

"So," Lady Dalena sounded exasperated. "Just who is in charge of this new force, then?"

"We have no idea, My Lady," Count Heldin shook his head. "For weeks, our spies have worked in vain to discover the origin of the forces that surround Kivar. All we know is that they are from Antar and not any other planet."

"So someone else has been building an army in secret," Larek narrowed his eyes. "Someone we know nothing about."

"Which begs the question," Dalena pondered. "Who is he and what does he want?"

"All questions our spies have failed to answer," Heldin shook his head. "I would like to hazard a guess and suggest that this new interloper desires the throne for himself, but I would hate to do the man a disservice in case he wished the return of Zan. We do not know, after all, the full machinations of Zan's plan. Perhaps this is something else of his? Who of us knew he had the Bloodguard with him on Earth?"

"We will have our answers shortly," Larek nodded at the comms unit. "We were requested, the three of us, to gather here. It would seem that he wishes to identify himself. Or herself."

The comms unit sparked into life. Although no image appeared in the frame, a rich, deep voice spoke clearly and with confidence.

"Who is present?"

Dalena, Larek and Heldin stepped in front of the comm's camera.

"I have the pleasure in presenting Count Heldin," Larek replied, "Lord Larek, and her Royal Highness, Queen Dalena of the House of Zan. Might we know of your identity, sir?"

"I am the commander of the forces who even now lays siege to the 'viper' known as Kivar. I am the man who will restore peace to Antar. I am the man who will take over from his reign. I am the future leader of this planet."

A large man with military bearing stepped into the frame. He wore the uniform of an Antarian General.

"And it seems that I am among old friends," he smiled.

All three of the room's occupants gasped.

"General Dray!" Larek exclaimed.

* * *

"I can't believe this happened," Nikolas shook his head. "And on top of everything else, this was not what I wanted to hear."

There was a large group in the main room of the the old UFO Center. Assorted Skin commanders, a handful of soldiers, and a number of Capos had filled the room, expecting Nikolas to vent his fury upon them. Instead, he seemed almost... calm.

Beside him, sitting motionless in a wheelchair, Tess was waiting for the shoe to drop. She had spent most of the evening in the healing tank but she had not yet reached even fifty percent health. It would take a full twenty four hours to even be close to healed, and then she would always walk with a limp. Damn that Liz Parker to hell! Still, it could have been worse.

Her eyes drifted to the back of the room; to the Capos who were standing close together, as though hoping to use one another for protection. She couldn't help the evil smirk when she caught sight of Sean DeLuca. He was standing; he would probably never sit down again. The medics had patched him up as best as they could, but no amount of pain killers had removed that look of constant agony. Neither could they stop the slow and steady bleeding. On his arm, an IV tube ran to a bag, suspended on a frame.

Damn, but that Max did good work. Who ever would have thought that the boy king had it in him? She had never once considered that he might have a streak that cruel. So the two of them had thought they had got one over on her, did they? Well, she would have the last laugh. Especially when Liz ran up against the one power that she would never, no 'could' never overcome. A power that she herself had defeated a long time ago and would never need to face again. Oh yes, Liz Parker. Let's see you try to blast your way past 'that' one.

"Yes, Zan has the Granolith," Nikolas told his commanders.

If he had expected some ripple of reaction, he didn't get it. Instead, everyone kept their eyes on Nikolas. They had all heard the rumors, they had all known.

"So, the game has changed," he looked at them. "We must, at all costs, prevent him from finding the seal."

"Of which no one knows the whereabouts," Tess pointed out.

"To that end," Nikolas nodded, "we are pulling in our boundaries. We know where the seal isn't. So instead of protecting such a large area, we will protect a small one. We will protect only the area we believe hides the seal. A one hundred mile radius, centered on Roswell."

"Things are likely to get a little crowded," Tess nodded. "But that should make it harder for Max to move around in our own territory."

"It won't be as crowded as you think," Nikolas shook his head. "As well as all the Capos, you will only have twenty thousand soldiers."

"Excuse me?" Tess blinked.

"I said..."

"I heard what you said," Tess snapped. "What do you mean, twenty thousand men? I thought we had sixty left."

"I'm taking forty with me," Nikolas shrugged.

"With you?" her eyes narrowed. "Are you going to use them to hunt down Zan?"

"No," he shook his head. "I'm taking them back to Kivar. He's recalled more troops. It looks like Dalena has allied herself to whoever it is that's attacking Kivar. It looks like civil war is about to erupt on Antar again."

"So that's it?" her eyes flashed dangerously. "You're just going to leave me here, high and dry?"

"Find the seal," Nikolas barked. "Find the seal and then you can come and join me."

Oh, I'm joining you all right, Tess stared at him through cold eyes. And sooner than you might think.

"Okay," she nodded. "Make sure you bring lots of slaves with the soldiers. I'll want everyone hunting for this damned seal."

"What about us?" one of the Capos called out. "If you are pulling out... What about us?"

"What about you?" Nikolas sneered. "Do you pieces of shit honestly think I give a damn about what happens to you? You are scum, the dregs of this filth ridden planet. You served your purpose and once we have no further use for you, we will discard you."

"But... but the people!" another called out. "And the authorities... What do you think they will do to us?"

They were all staring at their tattoos now, the ones that identified them as 'traitors'. More then a few of them started to rub them, hoping that they might somehow come off.

"You should have thought of that before you started your sleazy lifestyle," he shrugged. "I never made you act like that. As for what they might do... just ask DeLuca there." The adolescent man nodded at Sean. "How's it hanging, Deluca?" He started to laugh. "Oh, right. It's not."

Nikolas left the room in howls of laughter.

* * *

It was close to noon when Max finally woke up. With his duties, as well as the plans he was trying to come up with, he had been burning the candle at both ends and was getting little or no sleep. But last night, they had finally completed them He and Liz had run over the plans on no less then six times, each one playing devil's advocate and trying to find any unwanted loophole they had missed. It had taken ten days to come up with the plans. And still, Max worried that they had missed something.

Surprisingly, Liz was still asleep when he rose from their bed. She was still asleep when he came out from their bathroom, showered and dressed. With a soft smile, he left a gentle, lingering kiss on her cheek and crept from their room.

"Max," Michael was waiting for him.

"Morning, Michael," he nodded. "What's up?"

"We've sent them out."

"Already?" Max raised hie eyebrows. "Are you sure they will come back?"

"Yeah," he nodded. "I think Darlas was on the level. I think that Nikolas is going to see a few empty spaces when he next holds roll call."

"Good," Max nodded. "But keep an eye on them, right? Just because they "say" they are one my side doesn't mean that they are."

"The Bloodguard seem okay with them," Michael shrugged. "The average soldier will do what his honor dictates. And you have acted honorably. So... it's all done?"

"All done," Max nodded, looking down at the sheets of paper he held in his hand. "It's all here."

"Did Liz help?"

"Of course," Max smiled.

"It will work, then," Michael just shrugged. "She won't allow a damned thing to change."

"She's been... amazing," Max nodded.

* * *

Max sat for a long time in front of the Granolith, just staring at it. He could almost imagine it staring back at him.

"I've come to talk," Max finally broke the silence.

"What's on your mind, Max?" it responded.

"I know Liz is worried," Max sighed. "I know she is worried that I'm going to try and find a way to sort things out so that she never gets hurt. And... And if I really believed that was possible, I would do it in a heartbeat."

Max took a deep breath.

"But I can't. If I change just one little thing, then this timeline ceases to exist. Sure, some other me might be with some other Liz, but it won't be me. And it won't be her. So... so I was wondering. I was wondering how much you can help me?"

"I can't tell you what to do, Max."

"I don't want you to," Max shook his head. "What I was wondering was... If I tell you the plan, first... do you think you could advise me as to the chances of success? Could you advise me if I might have missed something?"

"Why don't you tell me your orders, and if I can see a flaw, and can correct you without telling you what to do... I will do so."

"Thank you," Max nodded before he lifted up his papers, ready to read the Granolith his orders. He paused. "Oh, and before I forget... There's something else I need to ask you. Something else that I really need to know."

* * *

"Everything ready?" Nikolas looked up at the man who had just entered the command center.

They had been making the arrangements to withdraw all his remaining forces, along with as many Capos who were prepared to come and as many slaves as they could force.

"Y... yes, sir," the man nodded. "Our remaining forces should arrive within the next few hours. The Capos have been herding the slaves... fewer than we hoped... but even with every available means of transport... And the ship is ready to start shuttling our forces..."

"I'm detecting a but here," Nikolas looked up at the man.

"Do ya think?" Tess rolled her eyes and sat down.

Although healed, she was still experiencing moments of pain. Something she would have corrected just as soon as she captured Max. He would do anything to delay the pain she planned to visit upon Liz freaking Parker.

"Well, what is it?" Nikolas demanded.

"Sir... the numbers you are hoping to take back to Kivar... Sir, I'm afraid that you must revise those figures."

"Why?" his eyes narrowed in tiny slits.

"We have lost another fifteen thousand men, sir. Almost over night."

"Fifteen..." Nikolas' jaw dropped open. His mouth refused to finish.

"Over night?" Tess frowned. "How the hell do we lose fifteen thousand men over night?"

"And vehicles, ma'am. More than half of those remaining."

"Killed?" Nikolas finally spoke. "Destroyed?"

"We... we have no idea, sir," the subordinate shook his head. "We must assume so."

"These humans are getting too clever," Nikolas shook his head. "All this time, they've been preparing. Developing new weapons. And they have found one that can destroy huge numbers of our HUSKs... just like that."

"I don't like this, Nick," Tess shook her head.

"As well as that seal," Nikolas growled, "you need to find out what the fuck is going on. When we finally control Antar, I am personally coming back and taking this planet apart, rock by fucking rock."

"You're still going?" Tess blinked. "We're going to need all forty five thousand of those soldiers."

"You'll have to make do with five," Nikolas growled. "Mix the humans among the soldiers as shields. They won't use weapons of mass destruction if they wind up killing their own. No way am I going back to Kivar with a token force. He'll have my balls on a plate."

Nikolas looked over at DeLuca.

And I think I would rather face Kivar than Zan, he muttered to himself.

* * *

"General Dray?" ever the diplomat, Larek was the first of the trio to recover. "We had heard that you were... executed. Rumors of your demise appear to be premature."

"Very premature," General Dray laughed.

"Perhaps," Dalena found her voice, "you would like to explain why we all believed you to be... dead?"

"Certainly," Dray nodded. "Because I wanted everyone to believe I was dead. I have been planning for this moment for years. Decades. And it's all finally coming to fruition."

"I don't understand," Dalena shook her head. "You mentioned that you are the 'future leader of this planet.' Am I to assume that you do not mean to hand power back to Zan?"

"After I went to all that trouble to be rid of his father?" Dray seemed surprised. "I do not think so."

"Trouble?" Larek narrowed his eyes. "Are we to understand that it was you who orchestrated the civil war?"

"Do you really believe that Kivar had the intelligence?" he chuckled. "I have long thought that if someone of my foresight controlled the five planets, then we could expand and colonize. We could build a galactic empire. But I also knew that the monarchy could not, would not countenance such a thing. And I also knew that it would not be easy to stage a military coup, unless I could count on the support of both Traydn and Nikolas. But I knew that both were Kivar's men.

"As such, I knew that making the first move would see me minus my head, an outcome I most definitely wanted to avoid. So... I nudged Kivar in the right direction with a few well placed toadies. Do you remember those bandits? In the mountains? The ones I was sent to put down?"

"You lost a lot of men to those bandits that day." Larek nodded.

"The bandits were mine," Dray shrugged. "The losses fabricated. My best and most loyal troops, you know. I simply moved them to my secret mountain bases where they have been training ever since.

"My original plan had been that Deryn and Kivar would fight one another into a stalemate, reducing each other's army to a mere shadow of the armed might they once were. However, I miscalculated the number of units that would remain loyal to Deryn, and I never counted on the Bloodguard being wiped out. I thought that I would not be in a position to face Kivar.

"But then Zan, bless him, came up with this brilliant plan which eventually lead him into sending a large number of his forces to another planet. The time was right and so I struck. I had not counted on this siege, however."

"Ah," Larek gave a nod of understanding. "Hence the reason you are calling us after ignoring us for so long. You have heard that Kivar has recalled his forces."

"Yes," Dray nodded. "And to that end, I am offering an alliance. My plan does not necessarily call for the destruction of the monarchy, only the dissolution of its power. I have no objection to a King sitting on the throne, so long as it is in name only, with no power. The power shall rest with me."

"So what exactly are you proposing?" Dalena stood upright, her face taking on a regal expression.

"Simply this," the General nodded. "If you and your guerilla force that I know you have been training for decades join forces with me and help me defeat Kivar, once and for all, then I will guarantee the continued safety of the Royal Four. Zan and the others may return and live in peace, helping me to reunite and heal our beloved planet."

"Your proposal has merits," Dalena gave a curt nod. "But I must have time to consider this. I must certainly speak with Zan, first, in any case. He is, after all, the King."

"Do not take too long, Dalena. Even now, Kivar's forces on Earth are preparing to leave the planet's orbit. I would like to be in control before they get here."

* * *

"I know where we are going to fight Nikolas," Max informed the gathered group.

He had called a meeting to which everyone had been invited. With Liz at his side, Max stood before his family and friends to tell then what he had considered.

"Sun Tzu has said many things," Max smiled. "That quote about the musical notes was one of them... Anyway, he also said this one important thing. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected."

He watched everyone's faces.

"I have been so worried that wherever I chose to fight him, he would have the advantage. Numbers... terrain... And it has always concerned me that when we meet... head on... it's going to destroy part of a planet that did not ask to get involved. So we are going to face Nikolas..."

"When do we leave, Max?" Michael grinned.

Everyone looked confused.

"Where, Max?" Jim asked. "Where are you going to face Nikolas?"

"Antar," Liz whispered in a hushed voice. "We're going to fight Nikolas, Tess and... Kivar on..."

"Antar," Max nodded.

* * *

Last edited by WR on Fri Jul 13, 2007 3:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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RED SHIFT - Part 4 Chapter 1

Post by WR » Fri Jul 13, 2007 4:18 pm

YOu have waited a long time for this, so without further ado...

Red Shift

Part 4

Chapter 1

Kivar, the current ruler of Antar, although only tenuously, stood atop the highest Battlements in Antarantia, the Capital city of Antar and stared out at the plains beyond the heavily fortified walls. In the distance, across the mud scarred and crater laden battle field, just out of range of his heavy defensive canons, the army of the would-be usurper, General Dray had effectively sealed off the city.

In the city streets below, Kivar knew his own army was quietly preparing for the inevitable assault that Dray would make. That is, if he decided to make one and not wait for everyone to starve to death. While Dray lacked enough fighter airships to prevent Kivar from flying in supplies, so too did Kivar lack enough transport ships to make this relief totally effective.

But Kivar had an ace up 'his' sleeve.

"Anything new to report?" Kivar asked the assembled officers behind him.

Like Dray had been trying to infiltrate spies into the city, so too was Kivar sending out spies of his own. However, it was easier to blend in out there than it was in a city where anyone different stood out like a sore thumb.

"No, sir," he was told. "They sit there, sending out reconnaissance patrols and trying to ascertain our strengths and weaknesses. They basically, just sit there."

"He knows our supplies will run out soon. He knows that eventually, he will shoot down all our ships. He knows, also, that Traydn is on his way home and once he arrives, Dray no longer holds the upper hand. And in the meantime, he hopes to negotiate a deal with Dalena. He wants them to join forces."

"We should have dealt with her a long time ago," another officer shook his head. "We should have eliminated her."

"And turn the population against us?" Kivar raised an eyebrow. "She did nothing wrong. At least, in their eyes. She was not even with Azande when this all started."

"But, she is a traitor!"

"Oh?" Kivar turned now. "Because she showed her loyalty toward her own children before me? There isn't a mother on the planet who would not do that."

"Then we should have dealt with her army."

"And you knew where it was?" Kivar smirked. "You knew where to find Dalena's army?"

The man remained silent.

"She has built a guerilla army," Kivar turned to face the plain again. "Half of the population of this city might be members of it. How do I find this army of hers, and wipe it out when it's spread around the whole planet? Our one consolation right now is that she seems to be waiting for something before she sides with Dray. Perhaps Zan's permission. How soon until Traydn arrives?"

"Traydn will arrive within the week."

"Good, good," Kivar nodded through narrowed eyes. Did Traydn think to bring any of Earth's resources with him? Food?"

"Doubtful, sire," heads were shaking. "At least, not enough to be of any use to us."

"Have him land in the mountains to the North, as we discussed. When he assaults Traydn from the rear, we can sortie from the city and break the siege."

"Where we will be open to attack from Dalena's guerillas," someone pointed out. "We should try to maintain the city and the route North."

"No," Kivar shook his head. "Dalena will not use her forces until Zan returns. And while Nikolas remains on Earth, keeping Zan amused..."

"We thought you knew..." came an embarrassed stammer.

"Knew what?" Kivar's voice dropped.

"Nikolas is on his way home. It seems he gathered more than half of the remaining forces and is returning with them."

Kivar fell silent, his mind concentrating on the news.

"Why is he doing that?" he asked finally. Hope gleamed in his eyes. "Does he have the Granolith at last?"

"Not that any of us have heard," heads were shaking again, each one wondering how long could it be until heads were rolling.

"Ava remains," someone spoke out. "She continues the search. Nikolas felt that the forces he brings would be needed."

"Do we know if Zan has access to a ship?" Kivar wondered.

"No, sir. He never found the one that crashed in his first incarnation. This latest incarnation has shown no desire to look for it. Nikolas reports that he hides in the desert and launches hit and run raids."

"Sir?" someone raised a hand. "Has anyone considered offering Dray a deal? Perhaps we might unite... against..."

"Dray wants the throne," Kivar smirked. "As do I. Should I suggest that we share it? Alternate days? No. That would never do." Kivar hit his hand against the stonework. "Dammit! Why couldn't he have just handed over that damned Granolith? How soon will Nikolas be?"

"A week after Traydn, perhaps."

"Okay," he nodded. "Tell Nikolas to take a geo-stationary orbit above Antarantia. I'll use him as my surprise. Tell him to prepare the men to make an orbital insertion at a moment's notice. I want to use him as a hard and fast strike force. Find out if there is anything he needs. And send a message to Ava. Tell her to eliminate Zan. Kill him and the others. And if he incarnates again, tell her she would be better off not thinking about coming home."

* * *

In a comfortable room, in the mansion of a Lord long since disposed of, General Dray sat before a large fire and drank some wine. He had commandeered this home when he chose the surrounding town to become his base of operations while he laid siege to Antarantia, a dozen or so leagues to their North.

"We have some reports that something is happening in the mountains to the North of the city, sir," an adjutant came in and saluted.

"Something?" Dray raised an eyebrow.

"It's not clear, yet, sir," the man shook his head. "Our sources suggest that it might be a staging area, like Kivar plans to organize a large army there."

"Dalena, perhaps?" Dray widened his eyes. "Has Dalena joined forces with the man who killed her children? I can't see that happening."

"She has been quiet, lately," one of his colonels suggested.

"Send more scouts to watch over it," Dray nodded. "Have we succeeded in infiltrating any spies into Kalacia?"

"No," the adjutant shook his head. "And neither have we had any luck getting anyone into Antarantia. Both are suspicious of anyone new."

"I should have foreseen this," Dray shook his head. "I should have had spies placed everywhere. Dozens of years ago. Try to find out anything we can. About Dalena, Kivar... and see if we can find out what's going on, on that other planet. We need to know when Kivar's reinforcements will arrive. And redouble the attacks on his supply ships. I want this over as soon as possible. If Dalena decides to strike against us, her guerilla army could make things a little bit... fun for us."

* * *

"My Lady," the courtier holding a sheaf of paper bowed before Lady Dalena, sitting in her apartment with her maid in waiting. "Cal has sent a message."

"Would you read it, please?" she gave a smile.

Dalena hoped that this would be good news.

"Tell her highness," the courtier read, "that the Royal FOUR... uh, he has stressed that word, my Lady. Cal has underlined and capitalized the word, four. The Royal FOUR are on their way home. They bring with them a contingent of the Bloodguard."

Dalena waited for more.

"That's all?" she asked finally. "Any news of their human friends?"

"None," he shook his head. "It just says that the Royal four are on their way home with some soldiers."

"There's no mention of the Granolith?" she raised her eyebrows.

"Nothing," he held his hands up in supplication. "That is all it says."

"Nothing of how long it will take? Where they will land? What they plan to do?"

"Nothing, my Lady."

"Send a message to Cal," she ordered. "Instruct Zan to fly here, to Count Heldin's palace in Kalacia. Tell him we need Zan to contact us, to let us know if he has the Granolith, his numbers, everything. And try to reach Zan directly. Use all the known frequencies. Oh, and use only the codes we used when Zan was with us. Tell Zan the same things I want Cal to pass on. Where to land, and so on. Send a message to Larek and request that he join me at once. And I think I should very much like to talk to Dray, now." She thought a little more. "I think we should also extend an invitation to Kivar. Suggest that he might find it preferable to surrender to me, than it would be to Dray. And certainly better if he surrenders before Zan and Ava comes home. Because then, Kivar will receive no mercy."

* * *

Max Evans, once Crown Prince Zan of Antar, crowned King for a few days, now exiled on the Planet Earth... stood at the large view-port of the Royal Antarian Cruiser 'Elizabeth' and stared out at the endless reaches of space as it raced toward him. His shoulders were slumped, as though he had the weight of the world... of two worlds on them. One world for each shoulder. He looked sad. Miserable might have been a better adjective.

"Did I make the right decision?" he asked the room.

Michael Guerin, once General Rath of the Antarian Royal Army, also exiled on Earth with his King and friend, and the room's only other occupant, walked up and stood beside him. He too looked sad, as he stared out with his friend.

"Yes," he replied in a low, soft voice. "Yes. I think you did."

"It seems like..." Max started. "I mean, we've been together all this time... through so much together... and now..." Max gave a huge sigh. "Now she's not here and I keep looking to see where she is... only she's not here. She's back on... on Earth... and I just miss her."

"I know," Michael nodded. "It's the same for me, too, you know. I understand what you did. And when we come home..."

"If," Max whispered.

"When," Michael stressed. "When we come home..."

"Right now," Max turned away from the window, "I wish I had your confidence. I really need to know that I made the right decision."

"She understands," Michael shrugged. "She understood why you had to leave her behind. She even said that she wanted to stay."

"She would have said anything," Max sighed, his shoulders rising and falling. "She didn't want to show me up in front of all those people."

"Max, you explained everything," Michael hated it when Max was in this kind of mood. "You listed your reasons for wanting her to stay, you even gave her something important... no, you gave her two very important tasks and she is excited by them both. She wants to show you that she is worthy of..."

"We've been through so much," Max turned from the window. "Not having her here with me is like... I mean... What if I need her?" He turned again and continued to look out at space.

"You'll make do," he shook his head.

Michael shook his head. When Max was like this, there was only one person who could help. And right now she was...

The door behind them slid open. When he saw who was entering, he smiled, and ducked out through the opened door with a nod. This was the only person who could make him accept what he had done. Michael knew how much it had hurt Max to leave her behind, but one word from this one would make him a King again.

"Max," Liz shook her head. "Why are you moping again?"

"I have never not had Isabel near me," Max turned to her, and raised his arm, inviting her to embrace him. "It feels... strange. It feels almost like it does when you're not with me."

"I'm here, Max," Liz wrapped her arms around him. "We're here, together. We're going to Antar, together, and we're going to set your people free. Isabel 'wanted' to stay, Max. Isabel didn't want to be anywhere near Kivar. She knows he would try to use her past against you. Max, trust me. Isabel is not angry with you."

I know," he nodded. "It's just..."

"I know," her face nuzzled his neck. "Your plan was brilliant, Max. Anders and Raul will continue to build diplomatic relations with the governments of Earth. Isabel will be the direct link between them and you, as well as the guardian of the Granolith. Kyle will look after her almost as well as you can. And with all our family and friends to help them."

She led Max over to one of the large sofa's she had requested be installed into the ship. If Liz was going to spend the three weeks it would take them to reach Antar on a metal space ship, she was going to feel comfortable. She pushed him to sit down and then climbed onto his lap.

"It was a nice thing you did, inviting up the Skye's, the Cartier's... it was nice that we could tell everyone the truth."

"That is still something I have a hard time with," Max shook his head. "Liz, everyone knows. I mean, everyone."

"Everything is sorted, Max," Liz continued. "The remaining Skins surrendered, and those that would not swear allegiance to you are now spending time in the Prisoner of War camp underneath the Antarian Consulate at Shiprock. Those that have sworn allegiance are on this... amazing ship, with us. Max, you have an army of some thirty thousand men, and by the time the Bloodguard have finished with them, they will be an elite force. And your followers on Antar..."

"Leaving one war zone to create another," Max groaned.

"You didn't start this war, Max," Liz shrugged. "The US authorities have rounded up all the Capo's, and those they didn't will not be able to hide. And medical supplies and food have been reaching New Mexico... and Max? We didn't have to fight. They surrendered. Maybe, once the news spreads on Antar..."

"I'm glad it all ended peacefully, Liz," Max agreed. "But Nikolas... and Tess..."

"Are probably on their way to Antar, just like we are. I have no doubt that our paths will cross." Liz started to grin. "It's their destiny."

"I should spank you," Max rolled his eyes.

"Yeah, you say that," Liz chuckled. "But you never do."

"One day, I might surprise you," he tried to give her a dangerous look.

Max," her face filled with love. "You always surprise me. And I love you. So much. Just let me show you how much. Please?"

"Soon, Liz," Max answered her. "And once we start, baby, I ain't ever gonna stop."

"Yeah," Liz smirked. "You say that..."

* * *

{gotcha!} :wink:
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RED SHIFT - Part 4 Chapter 2

Post by WR » Fri Jul 20, 2007 3:27 pm

Hello everyone :)

Welcome back, all of you. Hope you will find the lastest (and final) Part of this saga as enjoyable as you found Parts 1 2 & 3.

It's good to see you all again :)

Glad you all liked my little "heart stopping moment" As if I would send Max to Antar without Liz! :lol:

polar vixen -
roswell3053 -
frenchkiss70 -
omwf -
youre my dreamgirl -
AlwaysRoswell -
Cocogurl -
Ellie -
Roswelllostcause -
cassie - Glad you enjoyed it

Timelord31 - In order for Tess to be on the sanme ship, she would have to have know about it and where Max and co were. Earlier, she mentioned already knowing where a single seater was waiting - probably the one she came back FROM Antar on.

Natalie36 - Oh, yes :wink:

raemac - funny you should say that... :wink:

Emz80m - Of course, the thing is, Queenie has never met Liz. To her, she is "the other woman"

VeronicaB - I don;t imagine that Dray will give up 50 years of planning just because Zan has returned. After all, Zan was still around when he began his plan.

smokie - Dalena has been detached for too long. She does not understand how her son can have changed so much. So, she clings to the hope that Zan and Ava will reconcie and lead Antar, like she had imagined their return so long ago. Some dreams are hard to let go of. Wow. Longer than BRH? THAT was long!

ms_Capeside - LOL - Okay, you really got my imagination going there! Okay, Kivar. Surrender or Liz and I will start making love now. Maria shouts, Oh no! Not that! Cover your eyes! and ears!!! LOL

Sorry it's a short chapter this week, but this is the right place to end this chapter.

Author's note: To clarify something from an earlier chapter... Max's qcomment back in Part three, about there being 5 notes... That was a quotation from Sun Tzu. Sun Tzu was an ancient, great Chinese General who wrote the infamous book that every great general has read (and many of whom then seem to have went on and ignored), "The Art of War". And the Chinese scale has only 5 notes - the pentatonic scale, at least, back when Sun Tzu was generalling around the place. :wink: )

Red Shift

Part 4

Chapter 2

"Your highness," Larek gave a florid bow before the Lady Dalena. "I came as soon as I received your summons. It sounded urgent."

"It is, my dear Larek," she smiled. "It is. I thought you might like to know... Zan is on his way home."

Larek was silent for a moment.

"That is indeed good news," he nodded. "Perhaps we can now arrange a peace settlement. This war is doing no one any favors. Does he come alone?"

"No," she grinned. "And this is even better news. The word I received is that the Royal 'Four' are returning."

"Ava, too, your highness?" Larek frowned.

"She is part of the Royal four," her voice changed to one filled with ice. "Is she not?"

"Well, yes," he nodded. "At least, she was. I don't understand. Max showed Ava... Tess, I mean, no interest."

"Things change, Larek," she maintained her cool demeanor. "Antar will not follow a human Queen. And Ava..."

"Ava betrayed him, my Lady," Larek shook his head. "But you are correct in one respect. Antar will not a human queen. Antar will not be following whomever Zan is with. They will follow Zan, whomever 'he' is with."

"The message stated the Royal Four. If, and I cannot stress this highly enough, 'If' Zan has chosen another then you know very well that... He would have to have married her for this human girl to become part of the Royal Four. And the law states..."

"Max has not been subject to Antarian law for more than fifty years," Larek shook his head. "He made himself part human and as such has been bound by human laws, not to mention emotions. My Lady, I witness Max with this Liz. I admit that they did not appear to be romantically linked, but if he is returning without her... I fear you might not be seeing anyone who might be anything like your son. He'll be a shell."

"Ava can do what must be done," she shrugged. "It grieves me that my son might not be in as good a mood as I would wish, but between us, Ava and I can restore his feelings. After all, he is half Antarian, too."

"A half he has tried his best to distance himself from."

"He will see," Dalena shook her head. "He will remember. He will understand, and..."

"Should I alert the cells," Larek sighed. This was not going to end well. He could see this a mile away.

"Yes," Dalena nodded. "Have them stand by and await my orders. With Ava and myself at his side, Zan will soon reclaim Antar for the House of Azande. He will make his father, and his mother... and his wife, very proud."

"While 'I' remain to be convinced," Larek shrugged. "Take great care, my Lady, lest you alienate your own son. If you force him to chose between yourself, and Liz, I fear you will be in for disappointment and heartbreak."

"Go and alert the cells," Dalena pointed. "And you will do well to remember, Larek. His name is Zan. King Zan."

Larek looked at her for a moment before shaking his head.

"My Lady," he sighed. "You have much to learn. And it grieves me to think of the pain you will put yourself through for this education."

* * *

"Your highness," the adjutant knocked and entered the chambers that Max was currently discussing thing with his friends. "Our long range scanners have detected a small ship. Single occupant."

"A ship?" Max sat upright. "Is... is it someone from Antar? On their way to Earth? Or maybe another race entirely?"

"Sensors detect that it is indeed an Antarian life form inside, although the signal is weak, sire," the man confirmed. "And the ship is on the same path was we are."

"Might be a spy of Kivar's," Michael narrowed his eyes.

"Yeah," Max agreed. "Uhm, can we avoid it?"

"Yes, sire," the man nodded. "We are faster, and almost invisible to all known sources of detection. It is doubtful that such a small ship would have anything but the most basic of sensors."

"Good," Max smiled. "Avoid it. Don't let the occupant even know we passed them. If they can send word ahead, that a large ship is headed Kivar's way..."

"It will lessen the surprise," Liz smiled.

"I wonder if Kivar like's surprises?" Maria narrowed her eyes. "Hey, it's not the runt, is it?"

"No," Michael shook his head. "Nikolas had a huge head start on us. And he used a much larger ship, because he had some twenty thousand or so men with him."

"Maybe he had an accident," Maria shrugged. "Hey, I can dream, can't I?"

"Avoid the ship," Max repeated, rolling his eyes. "Whatever news this spy takes to Kivar will be old by the time he gets there. And we'll have been on Antar for some time before he learns that we're not running around the desert of New Mexico any more."

* * *

"Okay," Maria smiled over her roast chicken. "It was great that we brought lots of, uh, Earthy food with us. But what happens when we run out? I mean... will we have to eat... purple grass and green meat?"

"Maria," Michael shook his head. "How are we supposed to remember something as mundane as that when we can't even remember who we were?"

"Mundane?" she raised her eyebrows. "I'll remind you that you said that when your stomach growls from hunger." She took another price of her chicken, chewed it and swallowed. "And have I told you how freaking bored I am?"

"Why don't you go into the suspension pods?" Max looked up. "You know, suspended animation? It will seem like you were only in there for a few minutes and we'll be arriving at Antar."

"I might think about that," Maria nodded.

"Would you go into the pods, Max?" Liz asked.

"I doubt it," he shook his head. "To many things for me to consider, and..."

"Same for me, then," Liz giggled. "Whither thou goest, there goest I."

Max stared at her, his eyes blinking.

"Do you suppose that Space Dementia thing they talked about in that Film, Armageddon, is for real?" he smirked. "'Cause I think Liz has got it."

"Then keep Liz away from any nuclear warheads," Maria chuckled.

"The only warhead 'I'm' interested in," Liz leveled a heated look at Max, "is the one between..."

"Liz!" Max yelped.

Neither Michael nor Maria could help falling off their chairs with laughter.

* * *

"Okay, Max," the quartet were now sitting in what had become their 'living' room. They had brought a TV, a DVD player and a massive selection of films. "It kind of all went over my head back when you tried to explain all of this to us the first time. But how did you know that this ship was there, hidden under a layer of stone on top of Shiprock?"

"Do you really want to know, Maria?" Max raised a quizzical eyebrow.

"Sure," she nodded.

"Because, thousands of years ago, this ship was built on Antar, to my exact specifications, using technology that was advanced even for the Antarians way back then."

"What?" Maria gasped. "Max? How old 'are' you?"

"No, Maria," Max shook his head. "The ship was built because an ancestor of mine was kind of nudged into making it by the Granolith. I told the Granolith to make that suggestion. I told the Granolith how I wanted the ship built, after I had it lecture me on ship building and current technology. I also ordered that once completed, he be flown to the planet, Earth, and to a place... a land bridge that existed back then between the lands we know today as Alaska and Siberia. I told them that they were to rescue a large tribe of migrant nomads from the aboriginal tribes that were threatening them and to take them to the lands we know as New Mexico, landing on top of the remains of a volcano which would later be named shiprock. The ship was to then be disguised as normal rock, and the natives were to prevent anyone from taking a closer look. That's why it is against the law to climb it."

"When did you send that message?" Maria's head was spinning. "Was it Zan, before he was murdered?"

"No," Max chucked. "It was last week, before that big party we had."

"So... so you sent the message... back... in time?"

"That's right."

"Liz?" Maria turned to her best friend. "Is he telling the truth, or is this just some sick way of getting back at me?"

"The truth," Liz shrugged. "And that's not all he ordered. He also asked that the tribesmen be given the task of excavating the chambers and passageways, as well as installing that state of the art prison underneath. Because we knew that we would need it."

"That's right," Max nodded.

"Okay, okay," Maria thought for a moment. "So... so you have the ability to send orders to people back in time, so that something can happen to us today, when we need it?"

"That's right, Maria," Max smiled. "But I have to be careful. If I change just one single thing along the way, then the timeline we exist in ceases to exist and another one exists. And who knows how that one would turn out?"

"Good to know," Maria nodded. "But suppose I told you, that... oh... say, say some stupid Spaceboy didn't pick up enough condoms. Then you could send a message back in time and have someone stock enough on the ship for us?"

The door opened and a detachment of Bloodguard marched up to Maria. The gave her a crisp salute and handed her a gift-wrapped box.

"What's this?" Maria frowned, looking at a confused Michael and a bemused Max.

"Open it," he husband suggested.

Maria unwrapped the gift to reveal a large economy sized box of condoms. Max started to laugh. Liz tried to hide her laughter behind her hand while Michael stared in amazement. Maria burned ten shades of pink as the Bloodguard saluted her, and smirking to a man, marched out again.

"Come on, Spaceboy," Maria, never one to look a gift-horse in the mouth, grabbed Michael.

"Where are we going?" he demanded.

"To make use of these. Sorry, Liz," she smirked. You have to work on him on your own. But hey, if you need any..."

She threw Liz a quick grin before she pulled Michael from the room.

"No parents," Liz shook her head.. "Our own private room that no one dares enter once we've closed the doors. No adult supervision. I love you, you love me, and we have an inexhaustible supply of condoms." Liz released a heavy sigh. "And I have to be dating Mr. Control Freak."

"Liz..." Max blinked at her sudden change in mood.

"Max..." Liz mimicked in a condescending tone.

Max's eyes widened with shock.

"Are you sorry?" he couldn't help the pain in his voice. "That you came?"

"I did?" Liz feigned a surprised look. "When was that?"

Max's mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water. He really did not know what to say.

"Max," Liz finally groaned. "I think... I think I need to go into suspended animation after all."

"Liz..." he managed to squeak.

"Sorry, Max," she shook her head sadly. "I just can't take this." She stood up and headed for the door. "Call me when you're ready."

Max watched the door shut behind her, knowing that it would be useless to chase after her. Not when she was in that kind of mood.

"God," he groaned. "I must be the first male in the universe who is in the wrong because he won't take advantage of the situation." He looked at the viewing window, at the distant, shimmering stars. "Maybe suspended animation would be a good idea after all?"

Whose idea was it to make him the king, anyway?

* * *
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Red Shift - Part 4 Chapter 3

Post by WR » Fri Jul 27, 2007 4:22 pm

Hi everyone!

Thank you, as always for your tremendous feedback, for which I truly do live! :wink: I can hardley wait for that first email message telling me that someone has responded, and I go and see if my latest chapter was a hit, or not. :) Fortune always smiles and it always seems to be the former. :)

Cocogurl -
Katydid -
Arianneleigh -
Timelord31 -
confusedfool -
Roswelllostcause -
roswellluver - Thank you :)

TheAntarianKing - Hmmm... Maybe you are right. But then, could Tess become Queen? She sure didn't wait :lol:

smokie - No, as soon as she heard Nikolas was ditching the popsicle stand, she did, too. As for Dalena... She clings to the past more than anything. She wants her children back.

frenchkiss70 - Yeah, thats sounds feasible. But maybe there is more to it than that. I am sure Liz can conquer Dalena :wink:

raemac - I somehow suspect that telling her that Ava betrayed Zan and had an affair will not exactly give her the complete picture. All things can be forgiven... Just not by everyone.

Emz80m - I think not having sex is meant to prevent a problem on Antar :wink:

Thursday's Child - Yes, I think Dalena is enjoying the poer too much, but I don;t think she would be unwilling to relinquish it.

PML - since when did mothers listen to advice about their children from outsiders? :wink:

roswell3053 - I think it's more frustration then irritation... And yes... it's a completely different Royal 4 than she is ecpecting...

Red Shift

Part 4

Chapter 3

"Sire," someone gently shook him from his sleep.

Max opened his eyes and blinked in the light that flooded his room. His first reaction was to look at the space in which Liz should have been sleeping; the empty space that seemed even larger than it should have. Liz wasn't there. She was in the pod, in suspended animation, where she would remain until... Liz alone knew when. She had only been gone for two days but Max missed her more than he would have missed his right hand, and he didn't mean Michael.

"Yes?" he finally managed to concentrate on his young adjutant who was waking him up.

No one would wake him unless it was important, especially since Liz had chosen to hibernate and everyone knew that the more sleep Max could get, the better. For Max's sake.

"The long range scanners, sir," the adjutant was smiling. "We're catching up to Nikolas. General Ra... Michael wants to know what we should do."

"Damn!" Max shook his head. "Why didn't I order that we fit this thing with weapons?"

Climbing from his bed, he started to pull on the clothes that he had left on the chair next to him.

"I wonder..." he paused, deep in thought. "If I send another order back... and this time... fit canons..."

The idea had merit.

"No," he shook his head. "Not when I'm thinking like this. Not when Liz is... I'll probably order cannons and forget the he suspended animation..." Max shuddered. "What if Liz just disappeared along with the pods?" He looked at the man, waiting patiently. "Same deal as the other ship. Just avoid it."

The adjutant saluted and left the room. Max approached the viewport and looked out into the inky darkness.

"Not today, Nikolas," Max shook his head. "Your date with destiny will have to wait."

After his breakfast, Max went down to the section of the ship that held the numerous tubes, pods in which all but the most essential personnel were hibernating. Plus one; in Max's opinion, 'the' most essential. It had become his daily routine to find his way down to her pod. He would stare at the door and watch the readouts that confirmed that she was in good health. Max couldn't help wishing that he had thought to have windows placed on these things, so that he could at least gaze upon her. He was missing her.

"God, Liz," he sighed, placing his hand to the door. "Whatever reason it is that I know means we shouldn't do anything... it had better be worth it. I can't believe that I'm letting this drive a wedge between us. I wish I wasn't so... so... responsible. I wish I could just flip all of this responsibility off and grab you and make love until we reach Antar and then make more love."

He paused, allowing his love for her to flow, hoping that she would feel it. Max was terrified that when she came out of her self imposed hibernation, she would not love him enough to want to make love with him anyway.

"Dammit!" he cursed. "It's not like I even 'want' to be a king."

"Harry!" Ben Affleck cried out with relief and pure joy that he had found his friend.

"AJ!" Bruce Willis called out from inside the goldfish bowl dome of his space suit. "I got just four words to say to you, boy. Damn glad to see you!"

"Sire," Max's adjutant tapped Max on his shoulder, pulling him from the film that he was watching along with Maria and Michael.

It had been a long two weeks since Liz chose to enter hibernation.

"Yes?" Max looked up. He had seen this film a few times already.

"Just thought you might like to know..." the adjutant smiled, "Antar should be coming into view any moment, now."

"Thank you," Max nodded and started to climb to his feet.

On the sofa across from him, Michael and Maria rose with him. With Michael holding Maria's hand, the trio approached the large view port.

"Are you excited?" Maria looked at Michael.

As eloquent as ever, Michael nodded.

"Max?" Maria gave him a grin.

"Yeah," he whispered. "I just wish that Liz was here..."

"To see it with you?" Liz's voice rang out from behind them.

"Liz!" Max turned to face her, unsure whether he should break out into a huge smile, or fear the worst.

Liz walked straight up to him, however, and took Max into her arms. She showed no sign of worry that he might reject her. She knew Max too well.

"I'm sorry, Max," she murmured into his chest. "I didn't do it to punish you. And I knew that you would want me here for this so I had them wake me up."

"Liz," Max was feeling both overjoyed and full of remorse at once. "I'm so sorry..."

Liz placed her fingers to his lips.

"No," she shook her head. "I understand, Max. Honest I do. It's just that sometimes... I can't bear the demands my body makes when I'm with you, knowing that you are in way much more control than me."

"You think I'm in control?" Max felt his body quiver at her touch.

He pulled her into a tighter hug.

"There it is," Michael's voice was almost reverential.

A small spec appeared on the screen. I small sliver of blue that looked like a new moon. The quartet watched for a while, as it grew larger.

"I wish Iz was here with us," Max spoke quietly. "She would have loved this."

Everyone just nodded and continued to watch in silence.

"I thought we would see the 'V'shape," Maria finally broke the silence.

"What 'V' shape is that, Maria?" Max asked, his eyes fixed on the planet.

"You know," Maria drew the shape in the air. "Like your seal. The five planets. That cool constellation thing Liz showed me that night."

"Uh, Maria?" Liz gave her friend a soft smile. "That constellation I showed you? They were stars, Maria. Suns. Not planets. The V shape was made up of stars in the Whirlwind galaxy. In 'this' galaxy. We can hardly see the planets in our own system with the naked eye, let alone those from a system light years away."

"Oh," Maria blushed. "I thought they were the planets."

"Sorry," Liz started to chuckle.

In front of them, Antar continued to grow.

"So, how soon till we get there?" Maria spoke again.

"A few hours, I expect," Max considered.

"Any idea where we land, Max?" Michael looked across at him, over the heads of the two girls at their sides.

"We have received word from Cal," the adjutant offered. "Your mother is requesting that we land at Count Heldin's palace, in the Ice Kingdom of Kalacia."

"Ice Kingdom?" Maria raised an eyebrow. "After we lived in the desert all our lives? I don't think so."

"Me neither, Maria," Max grinned.

"She has also requested that you contact her, immediately."

"No," Max shook his head. "As much as I want to meet... our mother... I think... I think I want to find out what's going on, first. I need to establish my own base. Somewhere that belongs to me, and not to any other faction, whether they are loyal to me or not."

"So where do we go?" Michael turned to look at the planet, now showing signs of green among the blue, as well as white.

"I've told the pilot," Max shrugged. "He knows where we are going. And he also knows we are to maintain radio silence. I plan to be where I am not expected."

The ship entered the Antarian atmosphere above a huge body of water. As they broke clear from the clouds, they could see no sign of land.

"We could be over the Pacific Ocean," Liz observed. "It looks no different than Earth."

"Kind of an anticlimax," Maria nodded her agreement.

Ahead of them, they saw a small body of land starting to form. The ship hugged the wave tops and skimmed just a few feet above the water's surface. Quite suddenly, the ship dipped so that it sliced into the water, becoming completely submerged in just seconds. Even Liz cried out with Maria.

"Uh, Max?" Liz raised an eyebrow at Max.

He just smiled at her as they entered an underwater cavern in a huge cliff face. They followed a wide passage way, finally breaking water's surface in what appeared to be a huge cavern. The ship stopped next to a rock ledge.

"Where are we?" Maria found her voice.

"This..." Max smiled, "was where all the plans were laid, all those years ago. Where Zan, Rath, Vilondra, and..." his eyes darkened, "Ava were sent on board the ship that eventually crashed on Earth."

"Your plans, Max," Liz smiled.

"Yeah," Max nodded. "And poor old Zan had no idea that he was just a pawn. That he was being used... by me."

"So forgive yourself, already," Maria shrugged. "And let's go visit the place you call home."

"It's a place I once called home, Maria," Max grinned, looking at the brunette woman beside him. "Home for me is a whole 'nother place."

* * *

"So I take it you have spoken with Zan?" General Dray spoke into the microphone that would send his voice through the ether to Lady Dalena, in the frozen wastes of Kalacia.

"Not as such." Dalena replied. "But Zan will understand. Once he arrives."

"So Zan is on his way," Dray nodded. He had been pretty sure from earlier conversations that Dalena was expecting his return. "When might we expect his arrival?"

"Imminently," Dalena informed him. "We have not been appraised as to his exact E.T.A. but he has been advised to inform us of this."

"And his landing co-ordinates?" Dray knew that Zan would land in Kaltica.

No one had an army capable of an assault against the Ice Kingdom. Zan would be safer there than anywhere.

"I'm afraid that I am unable to divulge that information, General Dray."

Not that he needed it.

"So you believe Zan will agree to combine our forces?" Dray was smiling from ear to ear. Things were moving in his favor once more.

"Zan will listen to me," Dalena stated confidently. "You forget that he has been on another planet for more then fifty years. Of course he will listen to his advisors. And we... might be amenable to the immediate combination of our forces, upon the clarification of a few terms. Exactly what do you mean by 'puppets'?"

Dray knew that she was referring to the title he said he would allow Zan to wear. A king in name only.

"Have I your word," she continued, "that my family will be safe?"

"Absolutely," Dray grinned. "You have my word. Those you call the Royal Four will be beyond harm. Provided they assist my rule of Antar, then they will lead useful lives."

"All the same," her voice was cautious. "I would hate to see my son as just a mere puppet. I would prefer him to have at least some influence in ruling. Perhaps you might allow him a position on your staff of advisors?"

"My wha..." he started. "Oh, yes. That not only seems a fair request, it is actually a wise one. Zan would have so much experience to offer. All we need now is the transference of your guerrilla forces to my command."

"I will make the arrangements as soon as we have formalized and ratified our agreement," Dalena informed him.

"We must arrange a meeting as soon as Zan arrives, my Lady," Dray smirked. "Where we may toast to a long and healthy relationship."

* * *

Safe in the fortress deep in the realms of the Ice Kingdom, Dalena disconnected her transmission and smiled.

"He only has a few years in him at best," she chuckled. "Zan will make sure that when Dray dies, he is in position to retake the power."

"Larek is here, my Lady," her little lady in waiting informed her. "He requests an audience. Shall I bring him up to date with the situation? Shall we tell him that we are expecting Zan within the week?"

"No," Dalena shook her head. "Larek puts too much trust in these humans. He has spent too much time among their thoughts and has been poisoned against the true blood of Antar. He actually believes my son is capable of loving a woman who in the grand scheme of things, is one step above our primates."

Valda knew better than to speak.

"I do not believe that Larek's loyalties lie with the true King and Queen of Antar. I am sure that Ava did what she thought was necessary. If Zan was taken with the human around him, then no wonder Ava sought to shock him back to his senses. Valda? I think we must take steps to ensure that Zan is never reminded of his time on Earth. We must remove Larek from our counsel. I will speak to him. I will give him platitudes. Nothing more. Have me informed the moment Zan confirms his landing at Kalacia."

* * *

General Dray stared at the blank scope in front of him. Gone was Dalena's proud image.

"We can send the guerillas into the city," his eyes were glowing with glee. "Let them, Zan's army, suffer the casualties. Let Zan's followers bear the brunt of the dying. When Kivar is finally defeated, then neither Dalena nor Zan will be in a position to stand against me. And then, once we have eliminated all opposition to our rule... once the people have accepted this puppet king, he shall meet with a tragic accident. Of course, his Queen, overcome with grief, will want to be at his side and will take her own life. Such a waste. No. No. Wait. I think ruling through Zan indefinitely might be preferable to ruling myself. Let it be him the population hate when things go wrong. Oh, I know Dalena will dream of the day my mortality catches up with me, but I shall have a fine son by then. If Ava had not whored herself out to Nikolas, I might have considered her as the mother. What better way to ensure my lineage? Maybe Vilondra... One thing is for sure. I need to know exactly when Zan returns. Have more spies sent out immediately."

* * *

"It is good to have you back with us, Nikolas," Kivar greeted his long lost general over the radio.

"It is good to be back, sir." Nikolas really meant that. In spite of his failure.

"I gather you have not brought the Granolith with you."

"It proved an impossible task to find, sir," Nikolas shook his head. "For two years, we combed the desert. A few times, we found traces, but we could never zero in on it's location. For that, I am truly sorry. But with the news I heard from Antar, I felt that it was more important that we repulse General Dray's attempt to usurp you."

"Yes," Kivar nodded. "Under the circumstances, I will forgive your... lapse. But do not ever fail me again, Nikolas. Do you understand me?"

"Perfectly," Nikolas swallowed.

"With that in mind," Kivar continued. "You are to maintain your orbit. You will keep one third of your forces on standby, ready at a moment's notice. The others are to maintain a state of alert. Ready to be called upon within hours. Once we have located Dray's position, you will make an orbital insertion right on top of him. You will wipe out Dray and his entire command staff. No prisoners, Nikolas. Eliminate everyone."

"Yes, sir," Nikolas nodded, knowing that an insertion in the middle of Drays forces could well be a suicide mission, even if Dray is killed.

"In the confusion that follows, Traydn will make an assault on the forces to the city's north while I will charge from behind these walls and hit the forces to our south, We will have Dray disposed of before Dalena has time to even activate her army. How do you think your men would cope with the cold?"

* * *

Tess was getting good at this. After coming out of hibernation, she switched off the small ship's auto pilot and took control of the vessel. There, ahead of her, was Antar. As she punched in a few codes into the panel she started to plan her arrival. Perhaps she should land in the city itself, right in front of the Palace Zan had led her to safety from all those years ago, when her heart was already owned by the very man who was coming to arrest, and execute, Zan. Wouldn't it be funny to climb out of this ship, walk up to the gates and call out, "Hi, Kivar! Didja miss me?"

But then again, she would have no idea what Nikolas might have said to save his own ass. He was days ahead of her in a faster ship. What lies might he have told to save his own worthless hide? How had she even fallen for such a craven moron as him? She could have had Zan. Who was just as craven... who had thwarted her at every turn. Damn that Liz Parker. If she never saw that scrawny, mousey brunette bitch again, it would be too soon. Let her have that pathetic loser, anyway. She had bigger fish to fry. Like Dalena's offer of a reconciliation. Of course, that would mean with Zan, who would never leave Earth and his beloved 'Liz'. No, she was quite sure that she might be able to persuade Antar to follow her, the wife of their thrice deceased King, whose dying wish was that his people follow his beloved bride. Oh, yes. Dalena was on old fool who would be easily manipulated.

Tess' only problem was that she did not know Dalena's whereabouts. It seemed that Cal had not seen fit to inform her. No matter. Tess was nothing if not resourceful. How hard could she be to find?

Perhaps by landing in that large lake to the southwest of Antarantia. She could sink the ship to hide her arrival and then spend some time among the many small villages there. Her mind warps could help her evade any forces that might be patrolling the area. She did not want news of her arrival to reach anyone she did not wish it to reach.

Guiding the ship to enter the atmosphere low to the south, a long way from Antarantia, Tess soon had the sleek vessel flying only a few hundred feet above the ground. At least she would not have to contend with those stupid humans and their pathetic responses. As she came up upon the lake, she held her course to skim the tops of the trees and then skate along the surface of the water. Still some fifty feet from the shore line, Tess opened the hatch and breathed the Antarian air again. It felt good to be home. After engaging the mimicry circuits to turn the ship into what appeared to be water, she climbed out, closed the hatch behind her and let the ship sink. A fifty foot swim was no effort to her at all.

Climbing onto the shore, Tess... or rather, Ava as she was known on this planet, turned to make sure her ship was safely hidden. No telling when she might need it again. Turning into the forest, she was confronted by a small group of armed men; a military patrol. As she closed her eyes to start her warp, a stinging sensation across the base of her skull caused her to pass out. Out cold.

* * *
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Red Shift - Part 4 Chapter 4

Post by WR » Sun Aug 05, 2007 3:08 pm

Hi everyone!

I am sorry for the delay, but I am sure you will all forgive me. My F-i-L has just had a hip replacement operation. He managed to catch a bladder infection AND a cold and was kept in longer than the 2 days they initially said.

As always, thank you for your continued support for my story. I am glad that I am able to keep you interested. :) Things finally start to move on Antar. :)

polar vixen -
raemac -
Cocogurl -
roswellluver -
Roswelllostcause -
AlwaysRoswell -
cwm_ - Thank you

Natalie36 - I am glad that you are able to access the site again. Did you see my other story? :wink:

roswell3050 - I think that there will be quite a few surprises when everyone reveals their hands. Hope Max will cope with all the sneaky tactics going on.

Timelord31 - No. Tess landed in a lake and made for land. Max landed in an ocean and made for an island. The island they originally left Antar from. They are quite some distance apart.

Arianneleigh - Wow. Although I have only read one Anne McCaffrey (a little of whom I have borrowd - regarding the time travel aspect) I am nevertheless flattered by the comparison. :)

TheAntarianKing - Yeah. Wonder how Max will let everyone know what "he" expects of them? lol.

frenchkiss70 - Dalena is not trying to use Max/Zan. She is trying to make sure that he is in a strong position, as she believes that he is coming back to Antar with only a few troops fpr support. She knows that he will be overwhelmed by either of the forces that have taken the field. So she tried to ensure that he will have a chance. Plus, she wants to make sure her dream of the royal 4 is maintained. Remember, she believes that Zan and Ava were in love. She has to look at a greeater picture.

VeronicaB - Are you suggesting I have Max go against his mother's wishes? GASP! lol

Emz80m - Yes, and Liz understands that he will need her. When push comes to shove, Liz will stand by Max even if he won't make love to her yet. She can afford to be petty when it doesn't interfere with Max's problems.

smokie - oh yes. everyone who is anyone seems to be getting in on the act! lol.

Red Shift

Part 4

Chapter 4

Larek cast a last look around the courtyard of Count Heldin's palace in the heart of the Ice Kingdom of Kalacia and gave a rueful shake of his head. He climbed into the warmth of his transport ship and gave a nod to his pilot. Moments later, they were racing across the wide expanse of snow and ice, a few feet above the cold, hard ground.

"How did it go, sir?" his pilot asked.

"I don't know, " Larek confessed. "Dalena was behaving in a most odd manner."

"So there is no news of Zan?" the pilot asked,

"No news of Zan," Larek shook his head. "And no news from Dray. Which I really don't believe."

"Trust your instincts, sir," Larek liked his pilot. They had been together a long time. "You have not stayed alive during these tumultuous years for nothing. You are indeed a wise man, sir."

"You missed an adjective," Larek gave a dry smile. "Old. But you are right. And I have something that no one else on this planet has. I am probably the only person who has gained a little experience of the man known as Max Evans."

"And who is he, sir?" the pilot looked over his shoulder.

"Max Evans," Larek sighed, "is the man everyone assumes will be Zan."

"Isn't he, sir?" the pilot frowned.

"Not in the sense everyone is expecting," Larek shook his head. "No.

"Where to, sir?" the pilot just nodded.

Larek knew that Max had been through troubles of his own on that distant planet, and he knew that the young King would no sooner work with Ava, trust her, in any capacity, than he would with Kivar. In fact, Larek suspected that there were only a handful of people in the whole universe that Max trusted, and Larek doubted that the number included anyone who was currently on 'this' planet.

Whether they were together or not, Max would listen to Liz, first, assuming she was with him. It seemed to Larek that Liz was as attracted to Max as Max was to her. There was no doubt in Larek's mind that either would permit Max to return to Antar without Liz at his side. She was his Queen in everything but name, and unless his suspicions were wide of the mark, even those aspects in which she was not yet his Queen would soon be overcome.

After Max had listened to Liz, he would then listen to Michael. Max and Michael seemed close in a way Zan and Rath never had. The problems of their youth would surely be overcome by now. The same with Vilondra. They seemed more like a tight little unit, now. A team. Max would even take counsel from Maria, although her skills tended to lie in the direction of the heart more then the state. Perhaps this is what would make this incarnation of Zan stronger then his predecessor.

Being the statesman he was, Larek had learned a long time ago that you could tell so much by how people act, what they say and more importantly, which order they look at people when they are asked questions or given news. The most trusted, the most important are looked to first, even if only to gauge their reactions. And Max had looked to Liz first every time.

Dalena was a fool if she believed that she could break the bond that had seemed to grow between Max and Liz. Especially if the weapon with which she meant to break that bond was... Tess. Ava. While Larek had no idea what 'flies' were, or 'honey' and 'vinegar' for that matter, he thought that he was understanding a comment his host, Brody had once said using those words. And somehow, it seemed fitting. Dalena was using vinegar to catch her fly, while the fly had already been caught with a particularly cute type of honey.

So, with all of this in mind, what would Max do when he arrived on Antar? The young King was cautious. He had seen that. He didn't give his trust lightly, and even when he did, seldom wholeheartedly. Only those in his inner circle seemed to enjoy that particular privilege. And, if Max was bringing Liz with him, he would sooner cut off his own head than place her in a position of immediate danger. Dalena's agent could tell Max where to land, and who to call all he wanted, but Max would want to, no, need to see which way the wind was blowing before he exposed himself. He was, after all, a talented general in his own right. And he also had Michael with him, another great military commander, perhaps better than Traydn, Dray and Nikolas.

Larek had no doubt that both young men would decide that they needed to land somewhere neutral, someplace away from the different factions while he found out what was going on, where his enemies were and where his friends were. Somewhere that they could take stock, assess the situation and make their plans from there. Unless Max had regained all of Zan's memories, they would have no plans fixed beyond a safe landing.

Think, Larek, he told himself. If you had been returning home after a long absence and you didn't know whom you could trust, where would you go? Somewhere I knew would be safe, he decided. Someplace I doubt anyone else would think to go.

"Take me to the island," Larek started to grin.

"What island is that, sir?" the pilot turned in his seat to look out through the window.

"The one where it all began," Larek sighed as he allowed his mind to drift back half a century.

* * *

"Sir," the nervous young man frowned.

"What is it, Dabley?" Kivar looked up from his map.

"I have news, sir," Dabley did not walk too deeply into the room. "From Earth."

"Ava has the Granolith?" he looked up, a smile on his lips.

"No, sir," Dabley shook his head. "We have lost contact with our remaining forces. It seems Ava abandoned her post and those units remaining had surrendered to Zan and the Earthling authorities. They have retaken our occupied lands."

"You say Ava abandoned her post?" Kivar started to think. "Where could she have gone?"

"She had access to her single-seater ship, sir," Dabley reminded him. "I would hazard a guess as to her returning to Antar with it."

"When this is over," Kivar closed his eyes and clenched his teeth, "Nikolas and I will be having words. In the meantime, pass the word out to our spies. I want to know the minute Ava returns and I want her brought to me, at once. Understand?"

"Completely," Dabley nodded.

"I want this finished, Dabley," Kivar continued. "Let me know when Traydn and Nikolas are ready. Keep me updated with Drays location. I also want you to look into the possibility of a fatal accident befalling Dalena. I want this planet pacified within a year. And then... Then I will return to Earth, find Zan and finish him, once and for all. After I find the Granolith by torturing every human being he has ever come into contact with.

* * *

Cal Langley sat at his desk in his studio offices, watching the special computerized clock he had built at great expense. When the pale blue numbers finished counting down and only a row of '0's remained, he reached into his desk drawer and pulled out a pale purple telephone. Sliding it open, he waited for the static hiss to change to a clear, high pitched tone.

"Message from Cal, for Lady Dalena. Message from Cal, for Lady Dalena."

While he waited for the signal to continue, his mind started to wander. Yes. He had carried out all of Dalena's instructions. He had followed his orders to the letter, and he had still been able to remain loyal to Zan. He had faithfully passed on each and every request from Dalena to Zan, informing him that he was to land at the Palace in the Ice Kingdom; that he should contact Dalena directly. It was not Cal's fault that Zan chose to ignore those... 'requests'. And he had even suggested to Zan that he leave Liz behind, like Dalena had asked. How was Cal supposed to know that while human's slept, they tended not to hear these things? He wondered how Dalena would take the news that Zan had also allowed Cal to remain on Earth, running his profitable and very enjoyable film studio, most of the revenue from which was helping to rebuild the lives of those people closely associated with the Royal six. It was a pity that Vilondra was not returning to Antar, He would loved to have seen Kivar try to deal with the Ice Princess Isabel, but he was sure that Maria would more than make up for it. Oh, yes. Max, Liz, Michael and Maria would have landed on Antar by now. It was time to spread the good news.

* * *

"Enter!" Dalena called from the large map that had been laid out on the table, over which she and Lord Heldin were pouring.

The large door opened and a liveried man entered, carrying a small message foil.

"We have received word from Cal, my Lady," he bowed and extended the foil.

"Excellent," she beamed. "What does it say?"

"Zan will be landing on Antar sometime during the next day. Cal confirms he has been told to land here at the Palace and although Cal confirms he has requested that Zan contact you, he has not as yet done so."

"Does he bring the Granolith?" Dalena demanded.

"Cal did not inform us of that, my Lady," he shook his head. "But surely, he would not dare to leave it behind, unprotected."

"Alert the cell commanders," she grinned. "Inform them of my decision to support General Dray. Contact Dray and arrange a meeting sometime over the next two or three days where we might formalize and ratify our treaty. And let's see about organizing some kind of banquet. Let's welcome our King and Queen, our Princess and our General home in style. It has been a long time since we have had something to celebrate."

"Affirmative," the man saluted as he turned for the door.

* * *

"So, Zan is about to step foot on Antar again," General Dray grinned. "And as soon as we can formalize our agreement, I will have her troops. I bet he will be surprised when he finds out his own mother handed me his strings. How I shall make him dance."

He rose from his seat and walked to the large window that overlooked the distant plains.

"Prepare our forces," he spoke to the window, knowing his orders would be heard, and carried out by the sycophants behind him. "Tell them we are about to go on the offensive. There's no telling how many units we will have on the inside, but I bet she has enough to disable most of the defensive canons. Organize the meeting with Dalena for the day after tomorrow. I don't know which meeting I shall enjoy more. The one with Zan, or the one with Kivar?

* * *

In the underground chamber, the ramp started to descend from the belly of the large ship. Standing at the top of the ramp, to the fore of his army, those who had been revived from their slumber for this moment, was Max and Michael. King Zan and General Rath. Liz and Maria, although wanting to stand with their men, were ushered to the back, to safety. Surprisingly, this had not been the request of either Max or Michael. It had been the men, the soldiers. They did not want these exceptional young ladies placed in any unnecessary danger. They were waiting for the 'all clear' signal.

And for a moment, it appeared that this precaution had been a wise one. Max and Michael were startled to find more soldiers, perhaps a hundred or so, waiting for them at the bottom of the ramp. At once, the soldiers behind the two young men took a 'ready stance, their weapons ready to open fire should the newcomers prove hostile. The 'newcomers', however, remained in their current stance. They held their positions; a kind of 'at ease'.

"Attention!" one of a small group standing ahead of them announced.

At once, the soldiers snapped to an immediate and precise attention.

"Present arms!" the man commanded again.

The soldiers moved efficiently to hold their blaster rifles, ready to be inspected. The three men to the front of this group held their salute. It was reminiscent of the time Max and Michael had first discovered the Bloodguard back at Shiprock.

Max looked at Michael and raised his eyebrows. Michael nodded and together, the two men walked down the ramp, standing in front of the threesome.

"Might I inquire," the man in charge spoke formally, "am I addressing His Majesty, King Zan of Antar?"

"You are," Max nodded in confirmation. "And this is my second in command, General Rath."

"General..." the man paused, starting to burn a bright red color. "I mean, Colonel Maltravers at you service, Your Majesty. Your men are ready for inspection."

"My men?" Max raised his eyebrows again.

He looked over the body of men, all standing in perfect formation, waiting to be inspected, while their eyes were upon their King. The King for whom they had waited for such a long time.

"At ease," Michael commanded. The men obeyed at once. "Which is it, soldier?" Michael barked at Maltravers. "General or Colonel?"

"I beg your pardon sir," Maltravers spoke clearly. "My... promotion from Colonel to General was only temporary but under the circumstances, necessary. When you and his majesty surrendered to Kivar and ordered us to prepare for the day of your return, we were left with too few officers, and no one in overall command. I was duly... elected, sir. We have also made other temporary promotions. I have been 'acting' General for so long, now, I spoke out of habit. My error was not intended to imply..."

"You have been acting acting general for over fifty years?" Michael widened his eyes.

"Yes, sir," Maltravers nodded. "As have many others. Colonels, Lieutenants, Majors, Captains...""

"Do you need so many ranks for..." Michael looked over Maltravers shoulder at the hundred or so men.

"This is but a sample, sir," Maltravers gave a smile. "One man from each company. Two hundred men to a company. One hundred companies. As well as those who came to this island with you, after you left, we managed to recruit a large number of soldiers who had served under you, or had been taken prisoner."

"Twenty thousand men?" Max whistled.

"A fraction of what Kivar and Dray possess, sire," Maltravers gave a sad nod. "I am sorry that I could not do better."

"And you have been living here?" Max continued. "On this island?"

"No, sire," he shook his head. "Not living. Training. We get together in small groups, five thousand at a time. We train for a few weeks and they return home, so that they are not missed. Your army is fit, sire, well trained and in high morale. Especially now, since you have come back as you foretold."

"I can't remember," Michael spoke softly. "Did you order the Granolith to do this?"

"No," Liz spoke up, joining Max's side. With there being no hostilities, the two girls took that as the all clear sign and joined their partners. "I bet this is something it did of it's own accord."

"But, it's a computer, Liz," Michael shook it's head. "I thought you had to order it."

"It's more than that, Michael," Liz shook her head. "It's almost an entity in it's own right. And it only obeys because it suits it. And I think it has a soft spot for Max and made these arrangements for him."

"Your highness," Maltravers bowed as Liz slipped her hand into Max's, a totally automatic act. "We have long awaited your and your husband's return. Antar is much the prettier for your return. And you too, Princess Vilondra."

"I like him," Maria giggled.

"Uh, Maltravers?" Max shook his head. "Things have changed since we were away on Earth. While I am King Zan, still, I prefer to be called Max. Max Evans. If you insist on calling me Sire, or Your Majesty, then fine. But honestly, Max will do. And Rath, well, he likes to be called Michael, now. Or General Guerin if you must. And as for these lovely ladies... I have the pleasure of introducing you to Elizabeth Parker. Her friends call her Liz. And this is Maria. Maria is Michael's wife and is to be accorded all respect and civility due to the wife of the King's most trusted advisor and best friend."

Although Maltravers looked shell shocked, his salute to Maria was performed with all the respect he had. His eyes swiveled to Liz.

"While Liz is not yet my wife, it is my fondest wish that one day, she will be."

"Might I inquire sir..." he spoke hesitantly. "What of Ava? And Vilondra?"

"Vilondra remains on Earth, as Antar's Ambassador to that planet. She is there with her future husband and is as happy as Michael is. While Ava..." Max released a heavy sigh. "Ava betrayed me. She betrayed you. All of us. She had been passing information to Nikolas all the time during the war. It was Ava who surrendered the location of this island to him. While we were on Earth, she betrayed me again and again, having sold me out to Nikolas and his boss, Kivar. Liz and Maria, along with a number of other humans, have proven their loyalty many times and have paid dearly for that loyalty. I am not going to order you to show respect for the woman I love because I am certain she will earn your loyalty in the same way she has earned the loyalty of the men on board my ship, which includes the core of the original Bloodguard."

If the soldiers ever looked like breaking ranks, the mention of the King's personal bodyguard, intact and ready to serve almost made them do so. Already startled at the news that their King was now with another woman, an Earthling, news that the most feared soldiers in Antarian history were with that King was rather astounding - and not to mention moral raising.

"I've got another forty thousand soldiers, Maltravers," Max smiled. "That's sixty thousand in total."

"We are still outnumbered, sire," his eyes narrowed, "But with the Bloodguard..."

"General Maltravers," Max spoke in a loud, commanding voice.

Maltravers' eyes widened at the term and snapped to attention.

"I hereby confirm that all breveted ranks are confirmed. You will inform the affected personnel."

"Sir, yes, sir!" he saluted.

"I guess I should find some of my other officers," Max spoke quietly to Michael. "Looks like I need to make a few more promotions. How do you feel about the rank of Marshal? I need it to be clear that you are the overall leader of my army. Will you do it?"

"The hell I will," Michael smirked in the worst John Wayne accent ever.

"Not that kind of Marshal," Max rolled his eyes. "Why do I bother?"

"Cause you love us," Liz pressed herself against Max.

"You, yes," Max nodded, wrapping his arm around her. "Him...?"

Max turned to General Maltravers.

"Now have your men standby and Field Marshal Guerin will inspect the troops.

"Proceed, lieutenant," General Maltravers snapped.

"Squad," the lieutenant barked. "Squad, attention!"

The hundred strong squad snapped to attention.

"Present, arms!"

"Come on," Max whispered in Liz's ear. "This might take a while. Let's take a look around."

By the time Michael had finished his perfunctory inspection, the rest of the soldiers on Max's ship had been revived. With General Barynt, Colonels Zaltig, Honetz, Dhal and Ployden, along with Colonel Darlas, the commander of the Skin forces who had been the first to defect, behind them, Max, Liz Michael and Maria emerged from the underground cavern system. Once into the sunlight, they received a tumultuous round of cheers, applause and loud cries of 'Long live the King!'. King Zan had returned. True, he went by a different name, but it amounted to the same thing. Antar had its King back.

* * *
Last edited by WR on Fri Aug 10, 2007 3:29 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Red Shift - Part 4 Chapter 5

Post by WR » Fri Aug 10, 2007 3:46 pm

Hi everyone!

Well, Max, Liz, Michael and Maria are on Antar. Liz and Maria are the first humans to step on the soil of another inhabited planet. Yet to them, it must seem just like a trip to another continent. And the good thing is, Max has more allies to help him. True, his army is only a fraction the size of the other two, but remember that story about the fly and the moose? ;) And who knows? Maybe Max wouldn;t mind being a puppet king.

Timelord31 -
cwm_ -
Natalie36 -
roswellluver -
Roswelllostcause -
AlwaysRoswell - Thank you :)

Cocogurl - Soldiers tend to talk. I am sure that the ones on Antar will get the full S.P. on Liz and Maria. :wink:

roswell3053 - Yes, as far as the Bloodguard are concerned, Liz will be Max's Queen and they are already showing her loyalty that 'would' be due. And Maria is the general's wife and would be treated with the same accord. Make her best friends with their Queen, and... you get the picture? :wink:

smokie - Well, triumphant or not, he's in a muxh stronger position now than he could have been. Although so far, the Granolith has not proved to be some mighty weapon, it sure has proved powerful!

Emz80m - lol - I can see Max now, burning Tess at a stake. lol.

raemac - consider what Dalena lived through. She lost her husband to madness, then execution, she saw her children executed, and watched their clones fly to another world... and lived through 50 years planning their return.

Ellie - You are with us now and that is the main thing :wink:

Vaderian - Yes, I like having plots like that. Never adull moment. lol. My office wall is covered in yellow stickies!

mareli - No, I think Liz is just being a little more forceful with a relationship she almost lost. She was given a second chance and will not let it go this time. To her, the 'cementing' will make it complete.

Red Shift

Part 4

Chapter 5

Using a gently shelving, white sand beach, Larek's ship left the land, and like a hovercraft, continued on it's journey, skimming the wave tops, heading out to sea, to the island that Larek knew was there.

"Should be coming into view, soon, sir," Hleb, Larek's pilot spoke over his shoulder.

"Good," Larek nodded from the seat where he was straining for his first sight of the island in more then fifty years. "Good. Ah! And there it is."

A gray streak appeared against the horizon.

"Should reach landfall in twenty minutes," Hleb confirmed.

The two men remained silent, Larek watching the approaching landmass while Hleb kept an eye on the readouts.

"Long range scanners show no signs of life, sir," Hleb shook his head, looking from the instrument panel to the window. "Shall I continue?"

"Nothing at all?" Larek seemed surprised. "I was so sure he would be there. Maybe we have arrived too early. Yes, Hleb. Proceed."

The sleek ship approached the island. As it drew closer, both men could see that the island was nothing more than a barren wasteland, totally devoid of both flora and fauna.

"If King Zan... I mean, King Max decides to come here," Hleb rode up the beach. "He's chosen a rather poor place to land."

Upon finding a suitable beach, the pilot coasted the ship over the shore line, stopping where the sand gave way to rock. As the motors started to wind down, the pilot opened the door. Both men stepped out into the desert landscape with Larek shaking his head.

"This was a beautiful island, once," he sighed. "Almost a paradise. Perhaps it was the power of the Granolith that made it so."

"It was housed here?" the pilot's eyes widened as he opened the door.

"Yes," Larek nodded, stepping outside. "Although I never discovered that until recently. And Zan took it to Earth with him. We never found 'that' particular piece of information until after the summit on Earth when Zan refused to hand it over."

"So, you think that it was the power of the Granolith that made this island the paradise it was?"

"I do," Larek nodded. "And when it left... the island reverted to it's natural state. Let's go find the cave where all this started. When he arrives, Max will surely make his way there."

Hleb followed as Larek headed inland, carefully looking at the island's contours, trying to remember which direction the cave lay. Half a dozen men appeared out of nothing, as if they had been teleported into place. All held weapons.

"Identify yourselves," the one with the insignia of a sergeant barked.

"Who are you?" Larek demanded, with a look of surprise and indignation. "Who do you think you are, accosting me like that? Can you not see my ship's insignia? I have diplomatic immunity!"

"At this point, we recognize nothing but our orders. I will ask you again. Who are you?"

"I am Larek," Larek puffed himself up, trying not to look intimidated. "'Senator' Larek of Torania. This is Hleb, my personal pilot. And as I am sure you are aware, Torania, like the other planets, have remained neutral in this war."

"Well, Larek of Torania," the Sergeant grunted. "Once my men have searched you for concealed weapons or transmitters, you will come with me."

"Am I to consider myself your prisoner, then?" Larek asked while two soldiers searched both him and his pilot.

"That's usually the case when people are taken at gunpoint," the sergeant smirked. "Don't forget to bind them."

"You're making a terrible mistake!" Larek tried once more.

"No, sir," the sergeant shook his head. "The terrible mistake would be 'not' to bind you. My orders are to detain any stranger who arrives on the island, to search them, bind them and bring them in for questioning. Now, while I am sure that back at base, my superiors will offer you all the apologies you can handle. But me? I would rather upset you than my boss. Now come with us."

"You have a base here?" Hleb's eyes widened. "But our scanners showed no signs of life?"

"Who says we're alive?" the sergeant smirked. "Maybe we're ghosts?"

Almost between blinks of the eye, as the soldiers lead Larek and Hleb from the ship, the landscape transformed in front of them. Gone was the desert landscape and in its place was the lush, tropical rain forest that Larek had been expecting.

"How...?" he started, blinking in confusion. "How did you do this?"

"Why don't I just tell you all our secrets, send you on your way and be done with it?" the sergeant shook his head.

All around them, the sounds of birds singing, animals calling and high above them, a light breeze blew through the leaves. Larek was even sure he could hear the babbling of a stream. They soon left the forest behind them, stepping out into a large clearing. Both Larek and Hleb were amazed to see the very busy hustle and bustle of an obvious military training camp. Larek sent a silent prayer, hoping that Max did not try to land here after all. Dalena had never once mentioned any other training bases outside of the frozen realms of the Ice Kingdom. Who, then, did these men support?

The soldiers he could see appeared to be well trained, well disciplined, and they seemed to carry about them, a grim determination to see their job done. These soldiers looked good. Better than good, they looked... elite.

"I wonder who will be on the receiving end of this surprise," he murmured to Hleb, who was also taking a good look around.

Larek was about to ask the sergeant whose side they were on when he decided that the man was unlikely to answer even that question.

Larek was so busy looking at the soldiers and the activity around them that he failed to notice that they had arrived at the mouth of a small cave. Once he saw the entrance, he also noticed the heavy security around it. Someone of great importance was inside, that much was clear. Nikolas?

"We'll have to blindfold you now," the sergeant turned to them.

"Is that necessary?" Larek groaned.

"Not if you never intend to leave this place," the man shrugged.

"Very well," Larek growled. "Blind fold us."

Black hoods were pulled over their heads, completely shutting out the light. A drawstring was pulled at their necks, removing any chance that they might see through some inopportune gap. Someone placed their hand on Larek's shoulder and started to guide him using gentle pressure.

It was a strange sensation, walking though an unknown place in total darkness, completely on trust when he felt no particular trust for the person guiding him. However, he experienced no mishaps en route, even though he could tell that their journey was through some narrow corridors and even down some rough steps. At last, they came to a stop. The hoods were removed, revealing that they were in a small chamber. As well as the half dozen guards who had escorted them, there was another dozen inside, standing in front of another doorway. The way they stood suggested that the guards were not there so much as to prevent Larek's escape, rather to prevent Larek from rushing that door. Four chairs were produced, two of which were placed behind Larek and Hleb. Both men sat down.

They both stood up again almost at once as the door behind the soldiers opened and the soldiers snapped to attention. Larek gasped, both with surprise and relief when Max Evans, closely followed by Michael Guerin, walked through the door.

"So who do we have here?" Michael Guerin turned the chair so that he could sit down on it with the back facing Larek and Hleb. He gave the two men a cold, hard look. Max pulled his chair back slightly, indicating that Michael was in charge right now. "And how did you find this island?"

"Finding you was a happy chance," Larek grinned. "Lord Rath... or should I say... Michael Guerin." He gave a short bow to hide his amusement at Max and Michael's shock. "I merely tried to figure out where it would be that you would choose to land when you finally returned to Antar, and it appears that I guessed correctly. As to whom I am... Naturally, you will not recognize me, for it has been a long time since you have seem me in my... natural form. But, for the sake of protocol, I present myself, Senator Larek of Torania to his Majesty, King Max of Antar." He stood up and gave another bow, lower this time, directed at Max.

Beside him, Hleb stood as well and copied the bow.

"Larek," Max smiled. He turned to the soldiers who had brought him in. "Thank you, men. You can, uh... you're dismissed."

He returned the salute they gave him as the six men who had brought Larek in marched out through the door they had brought the prisoners in.

"At ease," Michael gave the command to the other soldiers.

"And someone release these men, please," Max added.

Two of the soldiers stepped up to the men and freed them of their bonds.

"Larek," Max extended his hand to shake Larek's. "It's so good to meet with you. We've been wondering how to get word to you that we have arrived."

Larek rather awkwardly shook Max's hand. He also bowed again.

"Sire. Forgive my intrusion, blundering in like this, but I had to see you. I had to bring word to you before... others did."

"Can you see to some refreshments?" Max turned to another soldier, before he indicated that the two men should sit down.

The four men sat down again, although Michael did not lose his aggressive attitude. To his mind, everyone was suspect until they proved otherwise. Even Liz had to prove herself to him, which she had when he stole her journal.

"It is finally good to speak with you, person to person," Larek grinned. "And not through a third party. How is my host? Did he escape the invasion? I dared not take control of him for fear that I might cause him some danger."

"I believe he's okay," Max nodded. "I think he escaped New Mexico to raise the alarm. I think all of his detection devices gave him some kind of advanced warning."

"That is good to hear," Larek smiled. "I grew fond of that man while he was my host. And I learned so many valuable things from him. Things about you, too. He thought a great deal about you, sire."

"Uh," Max didn't know what to say.

"So if I might inquire," he reached for a glass with cool liquid inside when the soldier offered it to him on a tray. "How long have you been here? On Antar, and on this island?"

"We arrived yesterday. We came here first," Max nodded.

"But the camp..." Larek looked surprised. "All those soldiers."

"We found some here when we landed," Max smiled. "We brought others with us. For the most part, they are those who defected from Nikolas's invasion force."

"Surely you brought the Bloodguard with you?"

"We did," Max gave a slow nod. "But they are wearing normal uniforms right now, in case... I like surprises, don't you?"

"Not if I was an opposing general," Larek shook his head. "Can you trust the men whom once served your enemy?"

"Yes. I had them..." Max grinned. "Checked."

"The Granolith?" Larek raised his eyebrows.

Max said nothing but looked straight at Larek.

"And you have brought it with you?"

"It's safe," Max shrugged.

"I only see yourself, and Michael, sire," Larek looked around the room wondering if anyone else had joined them. "Dare I ask if any one else made the journey? Isabel, perhaps?" He paused. "Tess?"

"Isabel decided not to come," Max shook his head. "She felt that it was in all of our best interests if she remained behind on Earth, to help ensure that relations between humankind and ourselves are kept amicable at the very least."

"Do you foresee any problems?" Larek narrowed his eyes.

"Not since I demonstrated the technology gap, no," Max smirked.

"You threatened them, sire?" he raised an eyebrow. "That's not exactly your style."

"I know," Max sighed. "I just got fed up with them trying to play games with white rooms."

Confused, Larek let it slide.

"And, uh... her high... Tess?"

"Wasn't invited," Michael grunted.

Larek looked at Michael for a moment and gave a smile.

"What of any others?" Larek couldn't hide his chuckle. "Did you uh, invite any humans to come and see Antar?"

Max looked at Michael who gave a slow nod.

"Yes, we did," Max's face broke into a big grin. "You remember Maria, and uhm... Liz, right?"

"I do indeed, sire," Larek nodded. "Although I have met with Liz more than I had met with Maria, I feel that I know Maria better, through the, uh... affection my host held for her. But both young ladies have impressed me with their... loyalty to you. So they made the journey?"

"Yeah," Max smiled.

"While I am happy that they are here with you, sire, I fear that I must warn you..."

"If you try to tell me something I don't want to hear, like why I can't be with Liz..." Max growled. "Larek, Liz is with me and Liz is staying with me. You will find Michael has the same in mind regarding Maria."

"Of that, I have no doubt," Larek shook his head. "It's just that there are certain factions within your own household who seek to... to reinstate the royal status quo. They wish to see Ava... Tess upon the throne."

"Not gonna happen," Max shook his head violently.

"I urge you to proceed with caution, Sire. Especially with your mother. With Zan's mother. She still harbors hopes that it will be the original Royal four who will sit on the throne, as was planned in the beginning."

"Plans change," Michael grunted.

"Sire? I feel torn by this admission, but I must also inform you that your mother has been meddling with the current military situation."

"Dray, you mean?" his eyes narrowed. "She's thinking about an alliance with him?"

"You have been informed of the situation?" Larek's widened his eyes.

"Yeah," Michael nodded. "General Maltravers has been keeping a close eye on things for us. He has built up an amazing intelligence network over the years."

"Maltravers?" Larek narrowed his eyes in concentration. "Wasn't he a colonel?"

"He was," Michael shrugged. "Now he's a general."

"Rewards come swiftly on your heels," Larek gave a nod of approval.

"You seem to have the heart of a poet, Larek," Max smirked. "Perhaps you can tell us what our mother has been trying to arrange. And then we can see what we can do about it."

* * *

At the southernmost pole of Antar, deep within the frozen realms of the Ice Kingdom, sitting in a warm room within the palace of Count Heldin, Lady Dalena was holding court. As well as Count Heldin and his daughter, Lady Valda, she was surrounded by the people who made the palace run. Chamberlains, cooks, butlers... Dalena was planning the banquet to celebrate the King's return.

We know their approximate sizes," she told the seamstresses and tailors. "Make them the finest clothing you can, but leave the final alterations until you have had a chance to measure them properly."

"They will also need something formal," Heldin reminded her. "For when they meet with General Dray."

"See to it," she nodded her agreement at the fashion team.

She then turned to the cooks.

"I want you to cook a selection of the finest delicacies Antar has to offer, the very best cuisine. They have been gone a long time and I feel certain that they have probably missed it."

"Excuse me, my Lady," a messenger entered the room, breathing heavily. "We have heard from Zan. A direct communication."

"Excellent," Dalena smiled, her face lighting up. "Is he waiting to speak with me?"

"No, my Lady," he shook his head.

"Oh," she frowned. "Did he say when he would be arriving at the Palace? We have much to prepare and we must have the time scales."

"No, my Lady," he shook his head again. "He transmitted a simple message. Shall I, uh... Shall I read it?"

"Yes," she nodded. "Do."

"Dear Mother," he read after clearing his throat. "Have landed on Antar. I am arranging a meeting with General Dray before making my way to the Ice Kingdom to meet with you, as I believe this matter needs my utmost attention. Perhaps you would like to join me? I have arranged to meet Dray on the fields to the north of the town of Wier, in a tent at noon, the day after tomorrow. It would mean so much to all of us if you could attend. Your son, King Zan of Antar."

"That's it?" her eyes widened.

"That is all," the messenger cringed.

"No, no, no," she shook her head. "The young fool... he will act rashly... he will anger Dray. Zan does not know enough yet to deal with him. Zan cannot afford to fight two armies at once. We must get to Zan before the meeting. We must hurry."

She clapped her hands.

"We must pack at once. Have the commanders stand by for my orders. We leave at first light for Wier. I must brief Zan."

* * *

"We have received a message from Zan, sir," an adjutant entered Dray's chambers early in the morning.

"From Zan?" Dray raised an eye. "Or from Dalena in the name of Zan?"

"I believe that this message was directly from Zan, sir."

"So, the young King is finally back on Antar," he rose from his bed, allowing his chamberlain to help him on with his robe. "This is excellent news. Perhaps now I can get this damned meeting out of the way. Where is he? With Dalena in the Ice Kingdom?"

"No, sir," the adjutant shook his head. "Zan is not in the Ice Kingdom. We have heard that Dalena has left there this morning. Probably on her way to meet with Zan. Zan is currently at the town of Wier, about two hundred leagues south of here."

"As close as that?" Dray raised an eyebrow. "How did he manage to get so close to me without me knowing? Wait. Wier." He turned to a map on the wall. "That puts him very close to my supply lines. How do you know he's at Wier?"

The adjutant held out a message foil.

"So, he sends me a message even before he gets briefed by his mother?" he smirked. "The boy's a bigger fool than I thought."

He looked at the message.

"General Dray," he read aloud. "You are hereby summoned..." he looked up. "Summoned? Summoned? You are hereby summoned to an audience with His Royal Majesty, King Zan of Antar, to be held at noon of the morrow, at the town of Wier."

Dray screwed the foil into a ball and threw it out of his window.

"Who does he think he is? Demanding that 'I' meet him. Send him a reply. Tell him that I call the shots around here. He will come to my encampment and he will bow before me. Then 'maybe' I will agree to speak with him. Tell him to come before me or there will be no 'deal'."

He looked out of his window.

"I will enjoy crushing that arrogant upstart."

The day went as normal for Dray. There were field reports to check, equipment to ensure was delivered to the right sectors, troops to reposition, and plans to make. By mid afternoon, he had worked out his ire at Zan.

"We have Zan's reply, sir," the adjutant returned, holding out another message foil.

"Good," he smirked. "I imagine that he got quite a shock when he got my reply. Read it to me."

"Uh," the adjutant blinked. "It doesn't open with any form of greetings. It just says, 'Then, no deal, Dray. Take Kivar by yourself if you can. I am the King and crawl to no one. I will wait until you and the usurper have torn each other apart and then I will unleash my dogs to pick over your bones. If, however, you have a change of heart, you will await my pleasure in a tent I will have erected on the plains to the North of Wier. You may bring any aides or advisors you might need as well as two dozen of your bodyguard. You have my word, that you and the men who accompany you to the tent will be accorded full protection of the flag of truce."

"That bastard!" Dray picked up a heavy vase and threw it against the far wall where it exploded like his anger. "I will hang him from the highest gibbet I can find! I will cut out his tongue and make him eat it. I will..."

General Dray stopped his raving. He held himself tense while he counted, trying to reign in his anger. At last, he reached out an arm to steady himself.

"Okay," Dray nodded, returning to the map. "He wants to play at King? Let's give him a quick education of how things are on Antar right now. My bodyguard will be made up of the toughest, meanest fighters I have. And I also want... five... no ten. Ten thousand men to surround Wier by morning. Tell them to remain hidden. After the meeting, I will give the signal and I will take every last man that Zan brought with him as my prisoner. Then, I will torture his men to death, one by one, just for the fun of it. And I will make sure they last a long time. And Zan will be forced to listen to their screams, night and day. For as long as I can keep them going. See how many men remain loyal to the 'King' when they hear of 'that' one."

"Can we afford to take so many men, sir?" the adjutant frowned. "Surely they have other duties."

"Of course we can," Dray spat. "Do you really think Kivar is going to come out and play when my forces are obviously better than his? Issue the orders. I want Wier surrounded by daybreak and I want my bodyguard ready to leave at first light."

* * *

"Tradyn is ready, my Lord Kivar," his officers approached him at his map table. "His men are in position now, ready for your command."

"Good, good," Kivar nodded, looking at the map of the city. "Have we located Dray's whereabouts, yet?"

"No, sir," someone shook their head. "Although we believe he holds a palace by the lake."

"Believing is not good enough," Kivar shook his head. "I must have accurate intelligence on his position. I will only have one chance to use Nikolas. I would rather use it when I know where he is rather than waste it on a guess."

He looked at the lake on the main map, placing his finger on the town.

"Very well. Ready the troops. Traydn will hit the forces to our north, from behind. The panic he causes should ensure a total collapse of those lines. Reinforcements will be dragged away from the east and the west to steady the line. Reserves from the south will be sent to help protect the east and the west. So, when that happens, we will strike south and hit them there. With luck, we can reduce his numbers quite significantly. We will then retreat back to our walls, and use our cannons to prevent any chase. Traydn will then withdraw northward where we will find some other way to use him. I like having Dray between a rock and a hard place."

"What time shall we commence the attack."

"Two hours past noon," Kivar scratched his chin. "Just as they are in the middle of their meal time."

* * *
Last edited by WR on Fri Sep 07, 2007 4:09 pm, edited 4 times in total.