BOOK 10 MAJESTY'S MORASS
(WHAT HAPPENS NOW, MAX?)



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PART 14


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(Tuesday, April 31st, 2002)
(Roswell UFO Museum)

Max walked into Brody's office. "Hey Brody, how's it going?"

Brody remained silent and Max crossed to him, looking over his shoulder at the computer screen Brody was studying. "Brody?'

Brody jumped. "Oh, hi Max."

Max motioned to the computer screen. "What's so interesting?"

Brody shook his head, "Nothing."

"Nothing," Max echoed blandly.

"Nothing," Brody said with a sigh. "When I first came here there was a lot of activity. It was very exciting and I thought I was really on to something, but it's been quiet for months. It's just disappointing. I had hoped to make some real breakthroughs here."


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


(Wednesday, May 1st, 2002)
(The Quarry)

Max watched as Liz stopped at the far rim of the quarry, and as Serena instructed, he concentrated on strengthening the connection between them. The connection was always there now, like a piece of them that always resided with the other. Strong emotions were automatically passed between them but they had to concentrate a little to hear or send thoughts.

As the connection strengthened, their minds and souls slid eagerly together, and for a moment Max was overwhelmed by the emotions. He wanted everyone around them to disappear so he and Liz could lose themselves in the perfect union of souls their connection allowed.

Max could feel that Liz wanted it too and for a moment, he let them bask in the sensations as his soul brushed against her's, but then he reluctantly concentrated on the task at hand. And with considerable effort on both their parts, they kept the connection from completing itself.

Max focused on allowing his power to merge with Liz's and felt the sudden rush of her energy entering him. He held out a hand and produced his shield and pushed it forward toward a group of rocks, using just a tiny portion of the power. The shield collided with the rocks and they exploded into a shower of dust.

Wow, Liz said with a gasp, through the connection, that was a rush. I could feel everything you did.

Serena was right, Max said. Together our powers are more than twice what they are separately.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


(Saturday, May 11th, 2002)
(Copper Summit, AZ)

Nicholas arrived at their love nest at the same time as Lonni, and he allowed his eyes to take in the sight of her. She was a beautiful woman and it was a shame he couldn't keep her.

Khivar had allowed him to share some minor, useless information with her to keep her satisfied that he was upholding his end of the bargain to include her in their plans. Nicholas had given her a few tidbits but he had not allowed her on the ship again. He suspected she had only been on the ship that evening to steal the Granolith, but of course he didn't have any proof. He had suggested to Khivar that he simply take the information from her mind but Khivar wanted to keep her on their side as long as possible.

Nicholas couldn't fault Khivar's tactics. His master always tried to cover every possibility and usually everything turned out just as he had planned.

Nicholas certainly didn't fault the perks of this plan either. Nicholas watched Lonni approach and pulled her into his arms, kissing her hard. He backed them into the house and with a flip of his hand closed the door behind them.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Rath stood in the shadows of the house across the street. He'd discovered back in February that Lonni was sleeping with Nicholas and it really hadn't surprised him. Lonni would do anything to get what she wanted.

Lonni had her secrets and he had his. Rath smiled. She would get the shock of her life if she ever found out the truth.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Max stood beneath Liz's balcony and waited until the light in her room went on, then he reached out for her with his mind. Liz.

Liz heard his call and answered immediately. Max, where are you?

Can't you tell? he teased.

Liz could feel his smile through the connection and reached out with her mind. She couldn't tell precisely where he was but she knew he was near. I don't know exactly, but close.

Suddenly it was if the connection between them came into focus and she got a flash of the alley beneath her balcony. Max what just happened? It was like I saw through your eyes.

I was concentrating on strengthening the bond. I guess it worked.

Max, I love being this close to you.

So do I, he answered, as he climbed her ladder. We share a part of each other that no one else can touch.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


(Wednesday, May 15th, 2002)
(Copper Summit, AZ)

Tess left the ship and walked toward the Crawford house. Nicholas had insisted she stay there since the incident with Lonni and Rath in the woods, and Tess had to admit that she was glad. She felt much safer under Nicholas protection. No one came near her as she progressed down the street, probably at Nicholas' command, she thought to herself. Her stomach bulged painfully and her slow, waddling gate stressed her already aching back.

As she passed the next building, Rath detached himself from the shadows and fell into stride next to her. "How's the kid?"

"Fine," Tess said suspiciously.

Rath motioned to her stomach. "He sure is getting big. How much longer?"

"The stupid healer doesn't even know. He said maybe another month or two." She sighed, "My back will break before that. If I'd known what I was getting into, I would have found another way to get Max off the planet."

"Yeah?" Rath asked.

"I've got all the human pregnancy symptoms, but worse and longer, plus my powers have been erratic." She shook her head, "I should have made the baby a mind warp too."

"But you couldn't risk that," Rath said. "Max might have been able to see through you."

Tess nodded, "Yeah, I couldn't risk that. But it will be worth it. In the end, I'll get everything I want. Max will never leave his son. This baby will tie us together forever."


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Max turned off his phone and turned to Liz. "That was Rath. He said the doctors think it might be another month or two before my son is born."

Liz took his hand. "And everything is okay with the baby?"

Max nodded, looking down. "He's healthy."

"That's good Max."

"Yeah," Max said softly.

"Max," Liz said insistently, to get his attention. He turned to her and she continued, "We'll get him back. We won't stop until we do."

Max smiled and nodded, "Thanks Liz."

Liz shook her head. "You never have to thank me for accepting your son. He's a part of you and I love everything about you."


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


(Friday, May 24th, 2002)
(West Roswell High School)

Liz found Max at his locker and slipped her arm into his, placing a quick kiss on his cheek. "Hi."

Max entwined his fingers with hers, smiling. "Hi yourself."

Liz leaned into him, "My parents left this morning. They're spending the weekend in Albuquerque to buy new equipment for the Crashdown."

"Is that right?" Max asked.

Liz nodded. "So I think this is the perfect opportunity to do some experiments with our connection."

Max smiled, "What kind of experiments?"

Liz smiled, "Well I'm sure you've noticed that it's getting stronger. And haven't you felt every time we concentrate that the bond wants to be completed?"

"Yeah," Max said. "I can feel our souls yearning to come together. It gets very distracting because all I want to do is lose myself in you."

Liz nodded, "I feel the same way and it's getting harder to control. That's why I think we need to be alone so we can learn to control it better."

Max nodded, with mock seriousness. "Anything to advance the cause of science."


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


(Buckley Point)

Kyle held Ava gently as he kissed her. She seemed so small and delicate, he was almost afraid she would break in his arms.

He trailed kisses down her exposed throat and suddenly a rush of images deluged him.

Surprised, he broke the kiss and sat back. "What the hell was that?"

Ava laughed, "Flashes. Haven't you ever gotten them before?"

Kyle shook his head, "No, do you?"

"Every time I kiss you," Ava said. "It's common among our people."

Kyle nodded, accepting her casual statement, but inside he was unsettled because it was the first time he had ever really realized that he was changing. Of course the others had told him, and he was developing powers, but he never seriously thought about how he was changing.

"It's okay," Ava assured him, "it doesn't make you a freak."

"How did you . . ." he trailed off. "You saw that in the flashes?"

"Yeah," Ava said. "I saw other stuff too. Things that Tess did to you."

Kyle shook his head, "You shouldn't have to see that."

"You loved her," Ava said.

Kyle shrugged, "It didn't matter to her. I'm sure you've seen that too. She used all of us."

Ava nodded, "Don't you worry that I'm just like her? Don't you ever get us confused? Maybe you're just attracted to me because of her."

"No," Kyle said surprised. "At first I wondered about that. You may look alike but that's where the similarity ends. You're totally different people."


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


(The Parker House - Liz's room)

Max reclined on Liz's bed, holding her in his arms. Her head rested on his chest and Max could smell the fresh, clean scent of her hair. And even though the connection wasn't fully open, Max could feel his soul yearning to touch hers.

"Ready?" Liz asked.

Max nodded and loosed his tight control on their connection. In his mind, he saw it as a delicate, golden thread that ran from himself to Liz, and as the bond opened completely between them, the thread became a shining, flowing river.

The familiar rush of images and emotions deluged him, and he once again felt the pull of Liz's soul. Without hesitation he let his soul slide into place with Liz's, rejoicing at the sensations caused by the completion. They were whole, one being, with no separation.

How long they basked in the joining, neither of them knew. Time seemed to hold no meaning. Thoughts and feelings passed between them without censure and they never wanted it to end.

In his mind, Max suddenly caught a glimpse of his night with Tess. Immediately Max closed off that part of his mind and separated his soul from Liz's, so she wouldn't be subjected to his memories. He could feel Liz's surprise at the abrupt separation but he didn't have a choice.

But since the memory of that night had been loosed, Max couldn't seem to banish it. It tumbled around in his mind growing clearer with each moment. He experienced the pain he'd felt that night, the loneliness, the confusion, and then for the first time, he felt the thread of Tess' power.

Tess, Liz gasped in his mind.

Max was horrified that their connection was still open and he ruthlessly slammed down a barrier, shutting Liz out. He jumped off the bed with wide eyes, attempting to put distance between them and he shook his head, not believing what he had just remembered.

"I saw it all Max," Liz gasped.

Liz got off the bed and walked toward Max but he backed away, not wanting her to touch him and possibly see more. "Stay away, Liz, please."

Liz took a step closer. "You didn't want to sleep with Tess, she used her power to manipulate you."

Max wrapped his arms around himself, shaking his head.

Liz held out her hand. "It's okay Max. It actually explains a lot. I could see how Tess built up layers of the mind warps on you over weeks. She started to guide the memories you recovered, manipulating your emotions to make you think you had feelings for her, and used them to make you kiss her at the prom. Then she used your own feelings of frustration and loneliness against you, turning them to anger, making you lash out at Isabel and me, to separate you from us. And that n-night," Liz faltered, but struggled against her outrage to regain her composure. "The night you were together was the culmination of her plan, and she forced you to want her."

Tears started in Max's eyes and ran down his face as he pressed his hands to his head and sank to the floor.

Liz ran to Max, falling to her knees before him, and enfolded him in her arms.

Max wrapped his arms tightly around Liz. "I should have known. I should have been able to stop her."

"How could you stop her, Max?" Liz asked. "In your mind, I could see that some part of you knew it was wrong and was trying to fight her. But Tess has been using her powers for much longer, and she is quite proficient, especially with her lies."

Max shook his head. "My son was conceived in that tangle of lies, that rape," Max spat. "No child should ever be brought into the world that way."

"He'll never know," Liz said determinedly, hugging Max tighter. "We'll get him back and love him as if he were our own."


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


(Saturday, May 25th, 2002)
(The Harding House)

Ava took a seat across from Max and Liz. "So what did you want to talk about?"

"We were wondering if you could help us Ava," Liz started. "We need to be able to see through Tess' mind warps."

"You have that power too," Max said. "Can you tell us anything?"

Ava nodded, "Lonni, Rath and Zan were all able to see through my mind warps since we were just kids. My abilities are not nearly as powerful as theirs. Rath used to call me retarded because I couldn't compete with them."

"But how did they do it?" Max asked.

"Zan told me that everyone's power had a certain feel and he could tell who power belonged to," Ava said. "I think that's how he and the others knew. I think they could feel me using my powers.

"Why can't we do that?" Max asked.

"I'm sure you can," Ava said. "You haven't been developing your powers since day one out of the pods, but we have. Once you get strong enough, you'll be able to do everything we could, and probably a lot more."

Liz touched Max's arm. "I think I know what Ava means. When we were connected yesterday, I knew Tess had mind warped you. It just felt like her."

Ava nodded, "That's it. You have to learn to recognize what her power feels like and then you can overcome it."

"Will you help us?" Liz asked.

Ava smiled, glad to be useful, "Sure."


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


(Wednesday, May 28th, 2002)
(The Evans House)

Max sat on his bed and glanced at the clock. It was after midnight and Isabel still wasn't home. She had skipped practice again and when he'd called her, she'd simply said she was with Hale.

He'd discussed the situation with Liz several times and she had tried to reassure him that Isabel just needed some time, but Max could almost feel his sister slipping away.

Finally there was a flash of headlights and the sound of a motor in the driveway. Max heard the front door close and he stepped out into the hallway to wait for his sister.

Isabel didn't see him in the dark at first, and jumped went he stepped forward. "Max, you scared me."

"We need to talk," he said softly.

Isabel rolled her eyes and tried to push past him. "It's late."

"I'm worried about you," Max said. "You've been skipping practice and avoiding us to hang out with Hale."

Isabel shook her head, "Don't drag him into this just because you don't like him."

Max held up his hands. "I don't have anything against Hale. He seems like a nice guy. I'm just worried you won't be ready if we get attacked again."

Isabel sighed, "I am so tired of all of this. I just want to live a normal life."

"I want that too," Max said. "I would love to go to college and marry Liz and settle down like normal people, but I don't think Khivar and the skins are going to let us."

"I know you and Liz gave up going to your dream colleges," Isabel said. "We've all given up things, including four mornings a week for the last year. And where has it gotten us?"

"We were able to survive the attack," Max pointed out, "and the more we practice the more powerful we become."

Isabel nodded, "I know you're right. But doesn't it ever worry you that we're all being pushed toward this destiny none of us really want?"

"It seems like that to me sometimes too," Max admitted, "but none of us have to make any decisions about accepting responsibilities or going back to our planet yet. And I'm certainly not going to try to force anyone to do anything they don't want. I'm just trying to keep us all alive."

"You mean like when you forced me to stay in town when I wanted to go to college?" Isabel asked sarcastically.

"I've apologized for that," Max said. "It won't happen again."

"I know, I'm sorry too." She shook her head, "I just need some time to decide who I am and what I want to do."

Max smiled, "That's what Liz said."

Isabel's eyebrows rose, "Well little brother, you should have listened to her."


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


(Friday, May 31st, 2002)
(Graduation)
(Crashdown Cafe)

"Just move a little closer together. Hold it." Jeff snapped another picture of the graduates displaying their diplomas. "Perfect." He motioned to the buffet laid out. "Okay everyone dig in, it is a party."

Liz wrapped her arms around her mother and father. "Thanks Mom, Dad, for the party. The decorations look great," she said motioning to the blow-up alien dolls dressed in caps and gowns."

Jeff coughed. "It's not too much, considering . . ." he trailed off. "It's what I would normally do, but now that I know about you guys I thought maybe it was distasteful, but then I wondered if people would notice if I didn't use aliens and wonder about that."

Liz laughed, "Dad, it's fine. It is the business."


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Amy hugged Maria. "I can't believe that my little girl is all grown up." She lowered her voice, "And looking for an apartment with her alien boyfriend."

Maria rolled her eyes, "I thought you were okay with it, Mom."

"I know," Amy said. "It's just hard to see you as anything other than my baby. But if it had to happen, I'm glad it was with Michael. You two seem to be good for one another."

Maria kissed her cheek, "Thanks Mom. But you know we won't have much money, so unless we want to eat Crashdown food every day, you can probably expect us for dinner a few times a week."

Amy laughed, "It's a date."


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Gloria hugged Alex, and Chuck patted him on the back. "Those awards for your computer work were really impressive. You could probably get into just about any college you wanted."

Alex nodded, "Maybe, but I think I'll stick close to home for now." He noticed that his mother relaxed. "I can always change my mind and go away later."

"Of course," Gloria said. "You have all the time in the world."


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Kyle finished filling his plate and took a seat with Ryan and Sean. "No one was surprised that Liz was the Valedictorian and won like every academic award possible. She's been headed that way since kindergarten, and Max was never far behind, but Michael being honored as the most improved student." he shook his head, "you could have knocked me over with a feather."

Ryan spoke up, "I was surprised to discover Michael was an indifferent student. In his other life, Michael was known for his expertise in history and military tactics."

"Michael?" Sean asked with a laugh.

Ryan nodded, "Many consider him a genius."

Sean and Kyle looked at one another and dissolved into laughter.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Philip put his arm around Max's shoulder. "Your mother and I are really proud of you, son. Honor roll and the President's academic award, on top of everything else. That's a real accomplishment."

"Thanks Dad," Max said.

"We wanted to give you something for you graduation but you already have a car and all that money in the bank." He lowered his voice. "We weren't really sure what to get the young King of another planet. But then your mother pointed out that you were still our son, and the same Max we had known for years."

He slipped an envelope from his pocket. "We gave Isabel the same amount when she graduated and we know you have money but we wanted to help with your future, whatever that may be."

Diane smiled, "We want you to know how much we love you and that we will support you in anything you do. You can depend on us for whatever you need. And we know you are probably thinking about your future with Liz and we want to tell you how happy we are about it. Even before we knew about your past, I thought Liz was really good for you."

Max smiled, "Thanks Mom. I am having a ring made," he admitted. "I was planning to propose next weekend."

"Can you at least make it a long engagement?" Diane asked, tears starting in her eyes. "I'm not ready to lose you yet."

Max hugged her. "You'll never lose me Mom, I promise."


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Maria pulled Michael into a kiss. "I'm so proud of you."

Michael shrugged, "It's really no big deal. I just showed up for class and did a little homework.'

Maria shook her head, "It is a big deal and you should be proud."

Michael smiled, "Thanks."


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Alex took a seat next to Isabel. "So this is how it feels to be a graduate."

Isabel smiled, "Not much different huh?"

"No," Alex sighed. "I thought it would be some liberating, life-altering event, and in a way it has been, but now I just feel like a really small fish in a really big ocean."

Isabel nodded, "I know what you mean. Sometimes it's just overwhelming."

Alex looked at her closely. "Is that why you've been skipping practice because you feel overwhelmed?"

Isabel turned to him in surprise. "I really don't want to talk about this, Alex. It's my life, my choice."

Alex nodded, "Yeah, it is . . ."

Isabel cut him off, whispering fiercely, "At least you admit that much. Alex, I thought you were my friend but here you are criticizing me just like Max and Michael."

Alex shook his head, "No one is criticizing you. We just want to make sure that you're okay."

"So Max ordered you to come over here and talk to me?"

Alex shook his head again, "Of course not. I thought as friends we could talk about anything."

Isabel got up. "I'm sick of everyone talking about how I should live my life."


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Jim took Kyle into a quiet corner. "A few years ago, no one could have predicted how this has all turned out."

Kyle nodded, "A few years ago my biggest goal in life was a profession baseball career, but it's funny how things change. Now I see things in a larger context. Know well what leads you forward, and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom."

"And what path are you choosing?" Jim asked.

Kyle smiled, "I'm still not really sure, but I thought I would take a few classes in the fall at the community college, while I try to make up my mind." He shrugged, "Maybe I'll major in eastern philosophy."

He caught the surprised look on his father's face before Jim could mask it, and laughed. "Just kidding, Dad."


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Alex, Maria and Liz hugged.

"The three musketeers made it through intact," Maria said.

"Even if it was in doubt for a while," Alex reminded them.

"Yeah," Liz said, "but we promised each other we'd always be friends and we should have known Alex wouldn't break his promise."

"So we're all headed to the community college in the fall," Alex said. "I thought we would be scattered to the far corners of the Earth but we'll all still be together."

Maria nodded, "One big, happy, Czechoslovakian family."


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


(Saturday, June 1st, 2002)
(Hale's House)

Hale threaded his fingers through Isabel's hair as he kissed her thoroughly. Over the months, they had spent a lot of time on the sofa making-out but tonight he felt there was something different. Isabel had been restless all evening and finally he pulled away. "What's wrong?"

She shook her head, "It's just Max. He's trying to run my life."

Hale put his arm around her, settling her into his side. "Is this about the missed practices?"

"Yeah, that and other stuff too. He's worried about me and I get that, but I am my own person and I can't live my life for him."

Hale nodded, "So what do you want to do with you life?"

"I'm not sure," Isabel admitted, "but I want to figure it out for myself."

"What if we go away for the weekend, just the two of us?" he suggested. "No pressure, no expectations, we'll just have a good time."

Isabel smiled. She had always been the one to dictate how far their relationship had progressed and Hale had always respected her wishes. He was always there, always supportive and she loved him. Suddenly she didn't want to wait any longer.

Isabel reached out to touch his handsome face and then leaned in initiating a heated kiss. She started to unbutton his shirt he pulled back, studying her face, "Isabel?"

Isabel smiled, "I've made one decision about my life, Hale. I don't want to wait to be together anymore."

Hale shook his head, "Are you sure? I don't want you to rush into anything."

She nodded, "I love you, and I've never been more sure of anything."


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


(Copper Summit, AZ)

The healer rushed into Nicholas' office without waiting for permission to enter.

Nicholas was about to chastise him, but he didn't get a chance to speak.

The healer blurted out his news. "Tess is in labor."


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


(Hale's Room)

Isabel lay in the curve of Hale's body, her head next to his heart, his arms wrapped tightly around her. Gently he stroked her arm that lay across his chest, and she could hear the steady beat of his heart. Isabel had never felt so loved in her life, so much like she belonged, and she sighed with contentment.

A rush of images had filled her mind as their bodies had joined but she had pushed them aside, only wanting to concentrate on Hale and the moment. But now the images started to filter into her consciousness.

She saw different images of Hale and herself together, dancing, talking, kissing, walking in a garden. Isabel smiled, glad that she was on his mind as much as he was on hers.

The next image showed them walking at night near a beach, and for a moment Isabel was confused. She had never been to a beach with Hale and she wondered if it was a fantasy of his.

She continued to watch as the scene unfolded. Hale touched her face and leaned in for a kiss but Isabel watched herself back away, shaking her head. Hale advanced and took her in his arms, pulling her closer, capturing her lips in a kiss.

The events seemed so familiar and suddenly Isabel knew why. It was because she had lived them, but not in this life.

She sat up with wide eyes and looked into the face of the man she had given herself to, the man she loved more than anything, and whispered fiercely, "Khivar!"


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


TBC


BOOK 10 - MAJESTY'S MORASS
Part 15
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