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

 

 

 

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

 

 

PART 5

 

 

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

 

 

(Thursday, July 26th, 2001)

(The Valenti House - back yard)

 

Kyle sat in lotus position and tried to concentrate on his meditation, but he was almost painfully aware of Maria’s gaze on him.  He could literally feel her looking at him and it was driving him crazy.  Finally he gave up and opened his eyes, “What?”

 

“Oh,” Maria said surprised, “I didn’t mean to break your concentration.”

 

“How could you not, when you’re staring at me?” Kyle asked sweetly.

 

Maria smiled.  “Well now that I’ve already interrupted, I just wanted to ask you about…” she trailed off, glanced at the others meditating nearby and leaned closer, whispering.  “I mean, have you noticed that my Mom has been spending a lot of time with your Dad?”

 

Kyle smiled, “Yeah, they go out at least once a week and most weekends.”

 

“I know,” Maria said. “I just was wondering how you feel about this whole thing.”

 

“I like your Mom and she makes my Dad happy.”  Kyle suddenly frowned, “Why?  Don’t you want your Mom to date my Dad?”

 

Maria shook her head, “No, it’s not that at all.  I love your Dad.  He has helped us so much and he’s a great guy.  But Kyle, what if your Dad and my Mom get serious?  Can he keep lying to her?”

 

Kyle didn’t answer and Maria continued, “I hate lying to her.  She and I used to tell each other everything, but since Max healed Liz it seems at least half of my life is top secret.  You know?”

 

Kyle nodded, “I know what you mean.  I can’t imagine keeping this from my Dad and I know he’s got to feel bad not telling Amy.  But he would never tell her without Max’s permission.”

 

“Me either,” Maria agreed, “and I haven’t said anything to Max or Liz or even Michael.  They have so many other important things going on, but it might be something we have to think about.”

 

“It’ll be okay,” Kyle assured her.  “If it comes to that, I’ll back you up.  After all, if our parents did get married that would make us brother and sister.”

 

Maria smiled.  “I always wanted a brother and I can’t think of anyone I would rather it be.”

 

 

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

 

 

(Roswell UFO Museum)

 

Max hefted the stack of files and headed into Brody’s office when he heard Ryan calling him.

 

“Max, wait,” Ryan said as he jogged down the main staircase and over to Max.  “I need to talk to you.”

 

“What about?” Max asked suspiciously.

 

“Is Liz okay?”

 

Max nodded.  “Yeah, she’s fine. 

 

“That guy, who grabbed her…”

 

“Sean,” Max prompted.

 

“Sean, “ Ryan nodded.  “Has he hurt Liz before?  Is she in danger?”

 

Max smiled, “Thank you for being worried about Liz, but it was just an accident.  Sean wouldn’t hurt her intentionally.  He’s an okay guy.”

 

“But yesterday you said…”

 

Max cut him off.  “I was upset, and I might have overreacted,” he admitted.  “Liz dated Sean briefly and I know he’s trying to get her back, so when I saw him touch her,” Max trailed off shaking his head.  “I was jealous.”

 

Ryan nodded, “But you’re sure he’s okay?”

 

“I don’t know Sean that well,” Max said, “but Liz has known him her whole life and she’s a pretty good judge of character.  She’s not scared, so I’m trusting her instincts.”

 

“Okay,” Ryan said.  “I was just worried.”  He turned to go and slammed into the door jam but shook it off with a laugh.  “See you later, Max.”

 

Max continued into Brody’s office and put the files on the desk.  “Hey Brody.”

 

“Hey Max,” Brody greeted.  “I saw you talking to Ryan out there.  I thought his clumsiness was lessening but then he just ran into the wall.”  Brody shook his head, “At least he couldn’t break that.  He’s so clumsy, knocking things over and messing up the displays, I might have to let him go.”

 

“I’m sure he’s just nervous,” Max said, “and like you said he is getting better.  He hasn’t caused a major accident in a couple of weeks.”

 

 

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

 

 

(Friday, July 27th, 2001)

(Copper Summit, AZ)

 

Tess picked at her dinner with a sigh.  In the last few months she’d had a lot of extra time on her hands and even though she tried to stay focused on her goals of going back to Antar and living happily ever after with Max, sometimes errant thoughts filtered through.

 

And more and more, she had been thinking about the times she had spent with Kyle.  Tess thought of the times they had spent joking, arguing, watching movies or just hanging out.  She’d had more fun with Kyle than anyone else she’d ever known and she really missed him.

 

There was a time when she thought she was falling for him too.  Kyle was funny and charming, not to mention built, and it was easy to be attracted to him.  And if things had been different, if she were human, Tess would have eagerly followed her feelings and let herself fall in love with Kyle. 

 

But she wasn’t human and she deserved more than a human life.  She had loved Max for two lifetimes and she wasn’t about to let her feelings for Kyle screw that up.  So she had pushed her feelings for Kyle aside, hoping to bury them and for the most part she had.  It was only occasionally, when she lowered her guard, that the unwanted feelings came rushing back.  But every time they did surface it got a little harder to bury them again.

 

Tess placed a hand on her flat stomach and wondered what Kyle had thought when she’d told him she was pregnant.  She had placed the idea in his head that he didn’t love her, but somewhere inside, his real feelings were still alive and it must have hurt him when he’d had proof that she’d slept with Max.  Briefly she wondered if she hadn’t tampered with Kyle’s emotions, if he loved her enough that he would have fought to win her, to keep her. 

 

Would Kyle have done all of the romantic things she had wanted from Max and would never receive?  Would Kyle have given her candy and flowers and wooed her with serenades?  Would he have written poetry, whispered tender endearments in her ear, told her how much he needed and loved her? 

 

A shiver of reaction went through her and Tess brutally pushed it aside.  It didn’t do any good to think about what might have been, it was simply a weakness.  Tess knew she had to stay focused and that didn’t include thoughts of Kyle.

 

 

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

 

 

(The Parker House – Liz’s room)

 

Liz looked over the numbers she’d entered on the chart she’d made to keep track of her astral projection practice.  She thought her long visit with Max last week meant she was getting stronger but the next night she had visited Michael and had only been able to last a few minutes before exhaustion set in. 

 

Then to check her progress, Liz had revisited Maria and Isabel only to have the same thing happen.  But when she went back to Max, she had been able to stay with him for almost twenty minutes with hardly any fatigue.

 

Liz had almost decided she could stay with Max longer because of the connection between them, but her scientist’s curiosity wouldn’t let her leave it at that, and next few nights she had visited each of her friends again and again with the same results. 

 

The next night, Liz expanded her experimentation pool to include several friends from school along with Kyle.  She had pushed herself, sometimes making two and three visitations a night, to check and recheck the times because she was surprised by the results.  She was able to stay with Kyle almost twice as long as she had with anyone else but Max.

 

Starting the experiments, Liz had expected to have better results within certain groups.  She hypothesized that she might be more compatible with the aliens, or perhaps with Max and Maria since she knew them so well.  But her results had made her reexamine her theories.

 

Liz still suspected that her connection with Max was the reason she was able to stay with him longer but that didn’t explain what was happening with Kyle.

 

 

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

 

 

(Saturday, July 28th, 2001)

 

Sean closely followed Michael and Maria in the Jetta, less afraid of being seen in John’s black car.  In the last few weeks, Sean had explored all of the roads in the area, and when the Jetta turned into a gravel road that headed into a canyon, he knew they were headed to the quarry. 

 

Sean turned onto another trail that went up to the top of the quarry, driving slowly to avoid making any noise, and stopped the car in the cover of the trees.  He took a pair of binoculars and crawled to the edge, careful to keep himself concealed in the brush. 

 

Even without the binoculars, Sean could see that so far only Michael and Maria had arrived and they were obviously waiting for the others.  Sean studied the pair of them.  They had no equipment and there were no buildings around.  He had no idea what the group could be doing out there, but John seemed to think it was big.

 

 

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

 

 

Kyle sat in the back seat of the Jeep as they drove to the quarry, and studied Liz’s profile.  She had kept her head turned away from the others, pretending to gaze out the window, and if Kyle hadn’t been sitting behind her he might never have noticed.  No, he corrected himself immediately, he would have noticed.  Liz seemed dull, muted, and if he didn’t know any better he would have said she was coming down with something.  And while it was obvious to Kyle that something was wrong with Liz, it was just as obvious she was trying to hide it from them. 

 

He sat in silence until they reached the quarry and waited until he could speak to her alone.  Isabel and Max exited the Jeep and Kyle reached for Liz’s arm, stopping her before she could join the others.

 

He spoke softly so only she could hear, “What is wrong, Liz?”

 

“Nothing,” she said instantly.

 

Kyle shook his head, “Liz, this is me.  I know you pretty well.  Something is wrong and you look, I don’t know, exhausted.”

 

Liz was suddenly nervous.  “Didn’t I put enough makeup under my eyes to block the dark circles?  Do you think Max or Isabel noticed?”

 

“Liz your makeup is fine and I think I’m the only one to notice so far, but what is going on with you?  Why don’t you want Max or Isabel to know?”

 

He waited for Liz’s answer but when she didn’t speak, he continued, “Liz, if you don’t tell me, I’m going to get Max.”

 

“Okay,” Liz agreed.  “Really it’s not a big deal.  I’ve just not been sleeping very well lately.”

 

“Because…” Kyle encouraged.

 

“I’ve been having bad dreams,” Liz admitted.

 

“What are they about?”

 

“Well, that’s the thing,” Liz said, “I can’t remember any details when I wake up.  I just have this horrible feeling something bad is going to happen.”

 

“What is going to happen?” Kyle asked apprehensively.  “And when?”

 

“I don’t know.  But today is the worst it has ever been.  I felt like I was going to throw-up when I got out of bed.”

 

“Liz, this is bad.  We’ve got to tell Max.”

 

Liz smiled, “Since when are you so gung-ho about the Max-is-the-leader idea?”

 

“It was about the time you told us the truth of what happened last fall,” Kyle said soberly.  He paused.  “Liz, I wish you could have told me, so you didn’t have to go through that alone.  I would have kept the secret.”

 

Liz nodded, “I know you would.  That was never even a consideration.  I trusted you enough to come to you in the first place, didn’t I?  Kyle, I wasn’t going to tell anyone, ever.  I thought I was risking the world.”

 

Kyle nodded, understanding.  “Okay, but we are going to tell Max about your dreams.”

 

“Maybe it’s just a memory trying to come through,” Liz suggested, “or a side-effect of my new power.  I have been practicing a lot lately.”

 

Something in her tone made Kyle suspicious, “How much is a lot?”

 

 

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

 

 

A noise to his left alerted Sean that another car was approaching and he ducked down even lower as it entered the quarry.  It was Max’s Jeep, as Sean had expected, and he watched as Max, Isabel, Liz and finally Kyle got out.  Max and Isabel went to join Michael and Maria but Liz and Kyle stayed behind, obviously deep in conversation.

 

Sean had hoped to get close enough to hear their conversation but he was too far away and he had to settle for studying Liz as she spoke to Kyle.

 

The sudden explosion made Sean hit the dirt, afraid he had been spotted, but another explosion sounded and Sean realized the noise was coming from down in the quarry.

 

Slowly Sean rose up on his elbows and brought the binoculars to his eyes.

 

 

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

 

 

The sounds of Max and Michael starting their practice didn’t deter Kyle and when Liz remained silent, he asked again, “Liz, how much is a lot?”

 

Liz sighed, “Well I haven’t been able to sleep, so I thought I might as well try to develop better control over my astral projection, so I could keep it up longer.”

 

“You’re always exhausted after a couple of minutes when we practice here,” Kyle said matter-of-factly.  “And you’re telling me you have been doing this at night instead of sleeping?”

 

“How do you know it exhausts me?” Liz asked, raising her voice over the continued explosions.  “I thought I was…”

 

Kyle cut her off, “You thought you were hiding it.  But I’ve seen you Liz, like I can see you now.”

 

“Maybe it’s dumb, Kyle,” Liz said, “but I thought if Max knew how much it took out of me, he wouldn’t want me to practice.  But it’s important that I gain control of this power.  I can feel it.”

 

“Okay,” Kyle agreed, “but you don’t have to kill yourself doing it.  Let’s just talk to Max.  I’m sure he’ll understand.

 

 

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

 

 

Sean put the binoculars down, convinced they were playing tricks on his eyes, but the scene below didn’t look any less fantastic to his naked eyes.  Max and Michael were blowing up rocks using some kind of power that came from their hands.

 

At first Sean thought they had weapons but he quickly determined that Max and Michael held nothing in their hands.  Then he scanned the area, guessing it was some kind of rigged explosion, a special effect, but he couldn’t see any wires or explosives and they certainly hadn’t had time to set anything up since arriving.

 

He put the binoculars back up to his eyes and watched as Max raised his hand and a half-dozen small rocks flew into the air, swirling around.  Then Michael aimed his hand at each one, causing it to explode into dust.

 

Sean dropped the binoculars, shaking his head as he scrambled backward.  What had he gotten involved in? 

 

 

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

 

 

Kyle turned and started toward the others but Liz stopped him with a hand on his arm.

 

“Wait, Kyle.  Can’t we just keep this to ourselves for a little while?”

 

“Liz…” he started, but she cut him off.

 

“Kyle, I’m getting better and I promise I will tell Max, in a while.”

 

Kyle shook his head, “Liz you don’t have to carry the responsibility for the whole world anymore.  You can let us in and we can help.”

 

“I…” Liz started but trailed off.  “I am doing that, aren’t I?”

 

“Yeah,” Kyle said softly.

 

Liz looked over at Max and watched for a few minutes as he smashed rocks with his glowing green shield and then released a heavy sigh.  She had been keeping secrets to protect him for so long and she didn’t know how to stop. 

 

Kyle continued, “Remember Liz, we all promised, no more secrets.”

 

Liz nodded, “You’re right.  Let’s go tell them.”

 

 

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

 

 

Sean kept the kids in the quarry in sight through the binoculars as he pushed the automatic dial on the cell phone. 

 

It took a few rings but finally John answered, “Yes?”

 

“What is going on here, John?” Sean whispered fiercely.  “What the hell are Liz and my cousin mixed up in?”

 

“Yes, I see you’ve discovered their secret,” John said mysteriously.  “What do you think it is?”

 

“I don’t know.  Some kind of mind powers,” Sean guessed.

 

John laughed humorlessly, “Oh no, it’s much bigger than that.  But don’t you worry, soon it will all be over.” 

 

The phone went dead in Sean’s hand and he heard the unmistakable sound of a car racing up the gravel road into the quarry.

 

 

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

 

 

As Michael had predicted, the gang heard the car approaching before it arrived, giving them time to erase any evidence of alien activity and try to look as casual as possible. 

 

 

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

 

 

John had placed a GPS in the car he loaned to Sean, so it was simple for him to pinpoint Sean’s exact position.  He had also put a transmitter in the binoculars that showed him everything Sean had seen through them.  Then he had simply waited for confirmation of his theory, before joining the group in the quarry.

 

Then stopping the car only a few feet from Kyle and Liz, he jumped out, pushing Kyle aside and grabbed Liz, putting a gun to her head, before the others could stop him. 

 

Max reacted immediately but he was too far away and could only watch helplessly as the man backed Liz to the car.

 

 

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

 

 

Sean watched horrified as John put a gun to Liz’s head and without a second thought, scrambled down the embankment into the quarry.

 

 

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

 

 

“Stop,” Max called out, hands raised in submission, as he slowly approached Liz and the gunman.

 

“You stop right there, Max,” John yelled, “or I’ll blow her head off.” He glanced around. “All of you keep your distance. And you’d better not try your powers, this gun has a hair trigger and we wouldn’t want any accidents.”

 

Max signaled for the others to wait.  “It’s okay,” he called out to the gunman, “no one is going to do anything.”  After Max had saved Liz, he’d had recurring nightmares that she was shot and he couldn’t save her, but this situation was worse than any of those nightmares.  Terrified for Liz’s life, Max croaked, “Just tell us what you want.”

 

“Revenge,” John roared.

 

Max studied the man holding Liz.  He was in his mid, maybe late twenties, with dark blonde hair.  It was hard to tell how tall he was and his face was twisted with hatred but Max was sure he had never seen him before.  “Who are you?”

 

“Who am I?” John yelled.  “The real question is who or what are you?”

 

Max shook his head, trying to stay calm, “I don’t know what you mean?”

 

A sudden shout from above drew all of their attention.

 

“John,” Sean yelled, as he stumbled down the last few yards of the embankment, joining them in the quarry.  “What’s going on?”

 

“Well Sean, I see you decided to join our little party.”  John motioned with a jut of his chin, “Get over there with the others if you don’t want Liz hurt.”

 

Sean took a couple of steps forward, with his hands raised, “What are you doing, John?  This isn’t right.  Liz hasn’t done anything.”

 

John pressed the gun hard into Liz’s head, causing her to cry out.  “I mean it Sean, stop right there.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking we’re friends.  I used you to get what I wanted, nothing more.”

 

Sean stopped and met Liz’s eyes but looked away, ashamed.

 

“As for you Max, don’t even try to pretend with me.  I know what you are and I have proof.  Sean followed you here this morning and watched you through a special pair of binoculars I gave him.  Everything you’ve done today was transmitted to my computer and recorded.”

 

Sean turned to the others shaking his head, “I had no idea.  I never would have…” he trailed off and turned to Liz again.  “I’m so sorry, Liz.”

 

Max never took his eyes off Liz and even with the distance between them, he could see she was terribly afraid.  He desperately tried to come up with a plan to save her but discarded one idea after another and finally spoke, to stall for time.  “Okay John, you know the truth.  So tell us what you want?”

 

“You think it’s that easy?” John laughed.  “Well, let me tell you a little story.  My father was an FBI agent in charge of a top-secret group called the Special Unit.”

 

Max felt cold fingers of fear race up his spine, and he heard the horrified gasps of the others.

 

John continued, “He was killed just over two years ago, but his partner, Daniel Pierce, kept in touch with me.  Pierce encouraged me to join the Bureau when I graduated college the next May, and promised he would get me assigned to the Special Unit, so together we could find the thing that killed my father.”

 

“So I applied to the Bureau with Pierce’s recommendation.  He broke off all contact with me the summer I was at Quantico, but before he left, he told me he had a big lead and would call me when he got back.” 

 

“But I never heard from Daniel Pierce again,” he said, looking directly at Max. 

 

“The next thing I know,” John said sarcastically, “Pierce is on CSPAN, voluntarily disbanding the Special Unit.  That seemed a bit odd to me, a man just throwing away his life’s work like that, so when I finished the sixteen weeks of FBI training and finally became an agent, I looked for Pierce to find out what had really happened.  But he was gone.”

 

“He left Washington after the disbandment and was never heard from again. No credit cards used, no taxes filed, no bank accounts opened or closed and no reports of his death. He left all of his belongings, abandoned his car and house; just disappeared.”

 

“There was a report that some UFO nut saw him in the small New Mexico town of Roswell. The guy said Pierce went into a public restroom in a diner called the Crashdown Cafe and he simply disappeared. That was the first and only lead to his whereabouts.”

 

Max swallowed hard.  He had to ask the question but he was sure he already knew the answer.  “How was your father killed?”

 

“It’s funny you should ask that Max, since I’m sure you or Michael already know.  He was found dead in a restroom in a diner in Van Buren, Missouri, with a glowing silver handprint on his chest.  And though it was never mentioned in the official autopsy report, Pierce told me it was the same as others who had been found with the handprint, his organs had literally been cooked.”

 

“And you think we killed your father,” Max said softly.

 

“I know one of you did,” John challenged.  “You may not have known his name but I’ll tell you now, it was Daniel Summers.”

 

Max remembered the name as one Pierce had asked him about in the white room.  “We didn’t have anything to do with your father’s death,” Max said softly.

 

John shook his head, “Max, why do you continue lying to me?  I left the FBI because there was no reason to stay after the Unit was gone.  All of the records had been destroyed and no one would believe me, but I knew the truth and never gave up the search.”

 

Liz was really scared.  Her head ached where John had the gun pressed into her tender flesh.  He was sounding more and more crazy with each sentence and she was afraid of what he would do.  She could see the fear in Max’s eyes; fear for her safety.  Liz knew Max would do anything to save her, including sacrificing himself, but she couldn’t let him.  She was apprehensive about using her burgeoning powers to save herself because she was so exhausted, fearing what would happen if she screwed up, but she had to do something and fast.

 

“And all the clues lead to Roswell,” John continued.  “Pierce was last seen in Roswell.  I came here on May 19th of this year because the radar array in the White Sands Range noted an anomaly, a small object leaving Earth’s atmosphere at speeds not possible with man-made technology.  Of course there are blips and unexplained readings on radar all the time and they are usually just blamed on equipment quirks but I have been hacked into the White Sands radar, among others, just to look for that kind of thing.  And when I saw that the object left the atmosphere almost on top of the original ’47 crash site, I knew I’d found something.”

 

Michael shifted his weight from foot to foot, desperate to do something to save Liz.  He looked for a shot to hit John, but the man was staying squarely behind Liz and Michael didn’t know if he had enough control to make the burst of power hit only his target.  If he miscalculated at all, he could hit Liz too.  Discarding the idea for a moment, he concentrated on the gun John had pressed into Liz’s temple.  He didn’t really know much about guns but he had seen that kind before on TV.  He thought it was called a TEC-9.  It was a medium-sized, machine gun type weapon that could be either semi-automatic or fully automatic and it held a large magazine of bullets.  Michael had no doubt that John had converted it to full auto and could take them all out in a matter of seconds.

 

John continued, rambling, “Luckily I was in the area and I was able to get to the launch site late the same night.  I was searching the desert for any clues of alien activity and that’s when I saw Max and Michael.  Of course, I didn’t know who you were or if you were the ones I was looking for and it took a while to find out.  The only real lead I had was Michael’s motorcycle.  Working alone it wasn’t easy to trace, since I didn’t catch a license plate number but I was a Computer Science major and I’ve picked up a few things here and there that helped.  And now that I’ve seen what you can do, I know I’m not crazy.  It’s all been worth it.” 

 

John laughed but the sound was demented, more like a cackle and it sent shivers through Liz. 

 

But suddenly he sobered and addressed Max and Michael, “So now you’re going to tell me which one of you killed my father or I will kill Liz.”

 

Max surged forward immediately, “I did it.  I killed your father, so you can let Liz go.”

 

But Michael was right behind Max, “No, John.  Max didn’t do it.  I killed him.”

 

“Both of you are willing to die for her,” John said with amusement.  “I didn’t expect that, but it doesn’t make any of this less fun.  But how do I choose between you?” he mused.  “Maybe I should just kill you both so I know I got the right one.”

 

Liz knew they were out of time and she did the only thing she could think of.  Closing her eyes she concentrated on appearing next to Max.

 

John saw the air next to Max shimmer and then Liz appeared before him.  “What the hell?” he roared.  Liz’s body in his arms suddenly went limp and he almost lost his grip on her, as he tried to juggle her and the gun.

 

When Max saw Liz’s body slump against John, he quickly erected a small thick shield, concentrating on keeping it between her and the gun, and reinforced it with all of his power. 

 

Michael took aim at John but Liz’s body and Max’s shield didn’t leave him a shot.  He threw himself to the ground, rolling to get a better position.

 

John screamed with rage and pulled the trigger, shooting a rapid succession of bullets into Liz head.  Max’s shield took the brunt of the damage but the sheer power of the bullets slammed the shield against her head.

 

The sudden pain at her temple plunged Liz back into her body, and unconsciousness.

 

Max roared with the effort it took to repel the bullets but he kept the shield intact, as he fell to his knees.

  

With a twist of her hands, Isabel jerked John’s gun skyward and tore Liz’s body from his grip, propelling her toward them.

 

As Liz’s body hit the ground, Max quickly repositioned and expanded his shield between them and the madman.

 

Michael took aim but stopped as John screamed again, but this time it was the unmistakable sound of excruciating pain.  The gang watched horrified as he suddenly erupted into flames and in a matter of moments, nothing was left except a pile of ash.

 

Max dropped his shield and scrambled to Liz’s body, gathering her carefully in his arms, noting the red marks and bruises forming on her head.  “Liz,” he said softly, but she didn’t respond.  He placed his hand gently on her head above the injured area and his power flowed into her.  It was harder forming a connection when she was unconscious but Max pushed past every barrier and healed the wounds on Liz’s head, bringing her back to wakefulness.

 

Liz opened her eyes and looked around for the danger.

 

“It’s okay,” Max assured her.  “We’re all safe.” 

 

Liz threw her arms around Max’s neck, “Oh Max, I was so scared for you.  For all of us.”

 

With a sigh of relief Max hugged Liz to him tighter. “I’d never let anything happen to you.” He cradled her head and spoke to Michael, “What happened?”

 

Michael shrugged, “I don’t know.  One minute he was there and the next he’s a pile of dust.  It’s like he burned from inside.”

 

“Was he a skin?” Maria asked.

 

“His father was human,” Isabel pointed out.  “He couldn’t be a skin.”

 

Max turned to Kyle, “Did you do something?”

 

Kyle shook his head, “I wish I could say yes but I wouldn’t have a clue how to do that.”

 

Max focused on Liz and helped her to her feet.  She was shaky and her knees collapsed under her but Max held her with a strong arm around her waist and she leaned into him.  He hated to ask her but they needed to know, “Liz, did you?”

 

She shook her head.  “The only thing I could think to do was distract him, so I projected to you.”

 

“Then what the hell happened?” Michael asked.

 

“I admit I wanted him dead for threatening us,” Isabel said.  “Maybe it’s a new power one of us has and doesn’t realize it yet.”

 

“Maybe,” Max agreed.  “We can figure it out later.  Right now, we need to make sure this mess is cleaned up.”  He turned to Sean, who had remained silent, “And the first thing we need to know is how you got involved.”

 

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

 

 

With everything that had happened, none of the gang saw the figure looking down at them from the top of the quarry. 

 

 

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

 

 

After Sean related his story, the gang searched both cars, finding the laptop computer with the incriminating video and a room key for a local motel. 

 

Max took Michael aside from the others.  “We need to check out his motel room.”

 

“Yeah,” Michael agreed.  He motioned to Sean with a jut of his chin, “What about him?”

 

“I don’t know that there is anything we can do.”  Max thought for a moment and handed the key to Michael.  “You, Isabel and Kyle take those two cars to the motel and make sure to clean them completely, no fingerprints, no fibers, nothing.  Search the room and bring back anything that might be helpful or incriminating.  One of you can drive the Jetta so you have a ride back.  We’ll all meet at your place afterward.  Meanwhile, Liz, Maria and I will talk to Sean.”

 

“Are you sure talking to him is such a good idea, Maxwell?” Michael asked.

 

“What else are we going to do?” Max asked.  “Deny the whole thing?  I don’t think we have another choice unless we’re prepared to start killing witnesses, but that is what got us into this trouble in the first place.”

 

Michael nodded, “Okay, I get your point, we’re screwed.”

 

Max glanced at Sean, sitting next to Liz and Maria.  “I guess we’re about to find out.”

 

 

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

 

 

“I’m so sorry,” Sean apologized again.

 

Maria cuffed him on the arm, “What were you thinking?”

 

“I don’t know,” Sean admitted.  “I just thought Liz was in trouble…” he trailed off.

 

“Oh,” Maria said, realization dawning.  “You thought you would be the hero and Liz would turn to you.”

 

“It doesn’t work like that Sean,” Liz said.

 

Sean shrugged.  “It was just weird how you said Max broke your heart you and then a few days later you’re back with him.  And it seemed like you weren’t really sure you wanted to be with him.  I just thought maybe he had some kind of leverage over you and…”

 

“And was forcing me to be with him?” Liz asked incredulously.  “Max isn’t like that.”

 

“I know you said that, Liz,” Sean admitted, “but I figured you might be in denial or lying.”

 

“And now?” Liz asked.

 

Sean smiled, “You were right when you said it was complicated.”

 

The sound of car doors and an ignition starting, drew their attention and Max joined them as the others drove away.  “They’re going to search the motel room.”

 

“And you three are going to show me the error of my ways?” Sean asked.

 

Max shook his head, “I think you know what you did was wrong.  We could have been killed, and even though John was crazy and probably would have killed us, he didn’t deserve to die.”

 

Sean shrugged, “I didn’t think anyone would get hurt.  But obviously I had no idea of what I was getting involved in, or of what you are.”  He shook his head and looked at Max, “I never believed in aliens.  I would have said it was a load of crap before today.”

 

Max stayed silent and Sean turned to Liz.  “I saw what you did too, Liz.  You’re parents are human, how can you possibly have powers like them?”

 

Liz looked at Max but he let her make the decision of what to tell Sean.  “I was shot,” Liz started, “almost two years ago and I would have died but Max healed me.  He saved my life.  That’s why I’m developing powers.”

 

“So what can you do?” Sean asked. 

 

Liz shrugged, “Not much yet.  I’m just starting out but…” she trailed off and touched a finger to his red shirt, and it swirled into a deep purple.”

 

“Wow,” Sean gasped.  “That is so cool.  So why don’t you tell people, why are you hiding?”

 

“We’ve had contact with the FBI before,” Max said, “and believe me, they aren’t interested in forming any alliances with us.”

 

Liz leaned forward, “Sean this is something you can’t tell anyone.  All of our lives would be in danger, even yours.  The Special Unit of the FBI that John talked about, was formed especially to hunt down aliens.  They killed two of the others who were in the crash and last summer they kidnapped Max and tortured him.  They may be with the government but they aren’t good people, Sean.”

 

“Okay,” Sean said, “but what about John?  What happened to him?”

 

“We don’t know,” Max admitted.  “Our powers aren’t always predictable.  One of us must have killed him, but it wasn’t intentional.”

 

“It’s not like he was just some innocent guy,” Maria said heatedly.  “It was self-defense.  He was going to kill Liz and maybe all of us.”

 

Liz took Maria’s hand in hers and turned to Sean.  “We can’t force you not to say anything but we’re asking you not to.  For all our sakes.”

 

Sean looked from Liz and Maria to Max.  “I’ll keep your secret but I have some questions.  Like why are you here and what really happened that night at the UFO museum with Brody?”

 

Max nodded and glanced at Liz.  He had felt her exhaustion through the connection when he had healed her and he didn’t want her to stay out in the sun any longer.  Max turned back to Sean.  “We’re supposed to meet at Michael’s.  Let’s go and we’ll answer your questions.”

 

 

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

 

 

(Cactus Motel)

 

Isabel, Michael and Kyle arrived at the motel on the outskirts of town in three separate cars.  In route, Isabel had changed the color and license plate of the Jetta, just in case, and while she attended to cleaning the rental cars, Kyle and Michael searched the motel room. 

 

The room was spare but there were obvious signs John had lived there for a while.  Michael and Kyle quickly loaded everything into the Jetta, including a wallet and a desktop computer and Isabel cleaned the room as she had done the cars. 

 

It was a tight fit with everything and the three of them in the Jetta and Michael sighed, “Maria has got to get a new car.”

 

 

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

 

 

The restored red Jetta pulled unto the parking lot at Michael’s apartment and Max jogged out to help with the unloading.  With four of them, it only took one trip and Max set up the computer while the others searched through the possessions.

 

Michael grabbed the wallet, pulled out the contents and held up the drivers’ license, “Big surprise, ‘John’ lied about his name.  He was really Thomas Summers.”  He flipped through the rest of the contents, “Receipts for junk food, gas.”  He sighed and tossed the wallet aside, “There’s nothing else here.”  He looked to Liz and Maria who were searching his clothes and toiletries, “You guys find anything?”

 

Maria shrugged and Liz shook her head.

 

Isabel tossed his palm pilot on the table, “Nothing here either.  No phone numbers, just some notes he made about following us.  Apparently he searched our house, Michael’s apartment and Liz’s house, but didn’t find anything incriminating.”

 

“Kyle?” Michael asked.

 

“I’ve got his return plane ticket and the rental agreements for the cars all with the same home address in Virginia but there’s nothing else in the luggage.”

 

“What about you Max?” Michael asked.

 

“There aren’t very many files on this computer but I did find the hack he made into the White Sands radar array.  And that isn’t the only one.  There are readouts from hacks into every air traffic control, military base, satellite array and large telescope from Alaska to Cuba, from SETI in California to NASA in Florida.  There are notes in here too, almost like a diary.  It looks like he checked out every anomaly, all over the country, in the last eight months.”

 

Isabel spoke up, “There is nothing in these notes that says he was working with anyone else, so maybe Thomas was telling the truth about that, at least.”

 

Max agreed, “Yeah, in here it says he left the FBI when no one would believe him and he struck out on his own to find his fathers’ killer.”

 

Kyle released a sigh, “One more catastrophe averted, so at least for now it looks like we’re safe.”

 

Michael turned to Sean, “Are we?”

 

“I know we haven’t exactly been friends,” Sean said, “but I understand how important it is and I won’ t tell anyone.”

 

Liz had suggested to Max that they keep the episode with future Max a secret and Max agreed.  The less people who knew about that capability of the Granolith the better.  He and Liz quietly told the others and they all agreed. 

 

Max turned to the others.  “I told Sean we would answer his questions.  If he’s going to be involved in this conspiracy, he deserves to know the truth.”

 

Michael and Isabel nodded. 

 

“Okay, shoot,” Michael said.

 

As Sean talked to Isabel and Michael, Max went over and took a seat next to Liz and Maria.  “Liz I thought you’ve been looking a little tired lately but when I healed you…” he trailed off.  “Liz you’re exhausted.”

 

Liz smiled.  “I thought I was hiding it and you hadn’t noticed.”

 

Max shook his head, “I notice everything about you, Liz.”

 

Maria stood up.  “I think that’s my cue to leave.  I’ll go see if Sean is annoying Michael and Isabel, yet.”

 

Liz watched Maria leave and turned back to Max, “I guess I wasn’t doing a very good job of hiding at all.  You noticed and Kyle.  That’s what he and I were talking about at the quarry today before…”  She took a deep breath, “Anyway Kyle convinced me to tell you everything.”

 

Max suddenly felt a chill of apprehension run through his body, “What’s everything, Liz?”

 

“I haven’t been honest about how tired practicing my astral projection is making me.”

 

Max’s brow creased in confusion, “Why?  How bad is it?”

 

“Bad,” Liz said.  “I thought if you knew the truth, you would try to make me stop practicing, but Max I couldn’t let you.  I have this really strong feeling that it’s important.”

 

Max nodded, “So you must have been practicing a lot and that’s why you’re so tired.”

 

“Yeah, that’s part of it,” Liz started.  “I’ve been practicing at night when I can’t sleep.”

 

“And you can’t sleep because…?” Max trailed off, waiting for her to continue.

 

“I’ve been having bad dreams, but I can’t remember them in the morning.  They just leave me with this feeling that something terrible is going to happen.”

 

Max looked away, “I wish you trusted me enough to tell me, Liz.  Maybe I could have helped.”

 

“Oh no, Max,” Liz said as she took his face in her hands, turning him back to her.  “Of course I trust you.  I’m not sure why I didn’t tell you but Kyle suggested I was trying to protect you.”

 

“Protect me from what?” Max asked, shocked.

 

Liz dropped her hands to her lap.  “You’ve been through so much, you’ve had so much pain, and I didn’t want to add to that.  I just thought I could handle this myself and not burden you.”

 

“Burden me?” Max asked.  “Liz, I love you.  I want to know everything about you, good and bad.  I don’t consider helping you to be a burden, Liz.  I consider it a privilege.  It’s part of the privilege of knowing you and loving you.”

 

Tears pricked Liz’s eyes and she threw her arms around his neck.  “I’m so sorry, Max.”

 

“It’s okay, Liz,” Max soothed as he hugged her to him.  “We have to learn how to relate to each other again, how we fit into each other’s lives, and that’s not going to happen overnight.”

 

They pulled back from one another and Max used his thumb to gently wipe away Liz’s tears.  “So do you want to tell me about your progress with the practice?”

 

Liz took a deep breath and smiled, “Well I’ve been tracking my progress on a chart.”

 

Max smiled too.  “A chart.  That’s a surprise.”

 

With a laugh, Liz pushed at Max’s shoulder playfully.

 

Kyle watched as Liz and Max laughed and crossed to where they were sitting.  “I’m glad you told him, Liz.  After what happened this afternoon, I think we should listen to you when you have an upset stomach.”

 

“What are you talking about?” Max asked.

 

Kyle looked at Liz, “I’m sorry, I just assumed you told him.”

 

“I did,” Liz said.  “What are you talking about?”

 

“You said you’ve had a feeling that something bad was going to happen, and the feeling was worse today than it ever was before.”

 

Liz nodded and Kyle continued, “Well something bad did happen today.”  Kyle looked at Max and Liz’s confused expressions. “Don’t you see?  Liz predicted what happened.”

 

 

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

 

 

Maria glanced at Sean next to her in the Jetta as they drove home.  “You’re taking all this pretty well.  I kind of freaked out when I learned the truth.”

 

Sean shrugged, “I saw it with my own eyes.  There’s not really any way I can deny it.”

“And now that you’ve heard the whole story, there’s no way you can deny Liz belongs with Max,” Maria added.

 

Sean looked out the window, thinking about the scene he had witnessed just a few moments before, Max and Liz embracing, laughing, crying.  The emotions between them had been so intense and when Isabel and Michael told him about the events of the past year, Sean had understood why.  “I knew Liz and Max had a past but never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined the truth.”

 

Maria nodded, “We didn’t know about Liz’s past ourselves, until that day when Tess left.”

 

“But even without that, Max and Liz have a bond,” Sean said, “and that’s why you warned me to stay away from her.”

 

“Max and Liz had been through so much and even though they weren’t together, I knew neither one had stopped loving the other.  That’s why I told you to stay away from her.  That and the fact that you’re a criminal,” Maria quipped. 

 

“Okay, I deserved that,” Sean agreed.  “My actions up to now haven’t exactly been above board but I meant what I said Maria; I can be trusted.”

 

 

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

 

 

Michael, Isabel and Kyle sat with Max and Liz, in Michael’s living room, where Kyle had just explained his theory about Liz’s prediction.

 

Max spoke up, “Okay Liz, tell us about these dreams.”

 

Liz shook her head, “There’s nothing to tell.  I don’t remember anything about them.”

 

“But you had a bad feeling when you woke up,” Isabel prompted.

 

“Yeah,” Liz acknowledged.  “For a couple of weeks I’ve had these dreams and the bad feelings kept getting worse.”

 

“What kind of feelings?” Michael asked.

 

“It’s hard to explain,” Liz said.  “I just knew something bad was going to happen.  I didn’t know what, or when, or where.  I don’t know how I knew, I just knew.”

 

“Something bad is always happening,” Michael said gruffly.  “That doesn’t mean Liz predicted anything.”

 

“It doesn’t mean she didn’t,” Isabel argued.

 

Max agreed with a nod.  “It could be a new power she’s developing.”

 

Kyle rolled his eyes.  “There’s an easy way to prove it.”  He turned to Liz, “Do you have a bad feeling now?”

 

Liz thought for a moment and then shook her head, “No.”

 

 

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

 

 

(The Evans House)

 

Isabel locked the door to her room, sank down onto her bed and allowed the tears to fall that had been threatening all day.  She quickly covered her face with her pillow, so no one would hear, and let all of her anguish spill out.

 

So many people, human and alien, hated them for what they were and wanted them dead and it would never stop.  That crazy guy John or Thomas or whatever, was just the latest in a long line of enemies; the Special Unit, the dupes, the skins, and every relative of the countless people Nasedo had murdered.  It was simply sheer luck that Alex was the only one who had been killed so far. 

 

Not for the first time, Isabel wished she had been born human and lived in ignorance of alien existence, just like six billion others on Earth.  Being alien had brought her nothing but heartache, loneliness and death.

 

And as if her thoughts had summoned him, suddenly Alex was sitting beside her.  He pulled the pillow away from her face and took her in his arms.  “It will be okay, Isabel.”

 

She let him hold her for a moment and then pulled back.  She took his hand, entwining her fingers with his and clasped their palms together, “How will it be okay, Alex?  We could have all been killed today.”

 

“But you weren’t,” Alex said.  “You are all getting stronger, learning to use your powers, and most importantly you’re together.  As a group you can overcome anything.”

 

“I’m sick of fighting,” Isabel whispered.  “I just want to have a normal life.”

 

Alex smiled, “You’ll never have a normal life Isabel, because you’re an extraordinary person.”

 

“So what do I do?  How do I keep going?”

 

Alex smiled and kissed her on the top of her head.  “You just live.”

 

 

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

 

 

Liz sat next to Max on the picnic table in his back yard and she could tell he was still upset.  She had promised him she wouldn’t keep any more secrets but that was exactly what she had done.  “I’m really sorry, Max.”

 

Max shook his head, “Don’t apologize.”

 

“I owe you an apology, Max.  I broke my promise.”

 

“I’d rather concentrate on fixing the situation,” Max said.  “I’m hoping you’ll let me help you on your nightly exercises.”

 

“But that means you won’t get any sleep either,” Liz protested.

 

Max smiled, “Do you think I’ll be able to sleep knowing what you’re doing?  Plus if I’m involved, I can stop you from exhausting yourself.”

Liz reached for Max’s hand, “I’d love to have your help.  Maybe the two of us working together can figure out the reasons for my results.”

 

Max squeezed her hand, “Why don’t you tell me about your experiments.”

 

 

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

 

 

Diane glanced out the window into the back yard and was surprised to see Max and Liz sitting together.  It had been months since she had seen Liz and she was glad to see her now.  Diane had always liked Liz.  It seemed as if she brought out Max’s confidence and determination. 

 

With a smile, Diane remembered being called into the principal’s office when Max and Liz had been caught making-out.  At the time, Diane had been almost relieved, although she had never told anyone.  Max was always so closed-off, so private, and Diane had secretly worried that the trauma of his early life had scared him too much to ever have a normal relationship.  But with Liz, Max had seemed so natural and open. 

 

Diane had often wondered why Max and Liz had parted so suddenly, when they had been so close.  They had been together almost constantly and then suddenly last summer, Liz was gone.  Diane had never asked Max what had happened between them, sure that Max would never tell her.  But seeing them together again brought a warm feeling to her heart. 

 

Then she saw Liz take Max’s hand and she smiled.

 

 

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

 

 

TBC
 


BOOK 10 - MAJESTY'S MORASS
Part 6
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