BOOK 12 DESTINY DERIVED
(THE ROYAL FOUR RECLAIMED)
Max rushed into the laboratory, closely followed by Michael, Maria, Kyle, Ava, Sean, Ryden, Cuerena and Nedra, answering Kranon's urgent summons.
"What's going on?" Max asked.
"Your Majesty," Kranon said excitedly, "Alex's suggestion that we possess Raltos and Hale worked and we were able to retrieve several memories from them."
"What kind of memories?" Max asked. "Something that can help us?"
Kranon indicated the screen. "You can see for yourself. This was from Raltos memory. I'll just show you the relevant part."
The screen flicked to life and through Raltos' eyes they saw Nicholas, in his guise as a child, on the ship.
"We captured the Royal Four and I was interrogating Max," Nicholas said.
"And what information were you able to retrieve from him, Nicaron?" Khivar asked.
"I almost had the location of the Granolith, but surprisingly Max was mostly able to keep me out of his mind. All I really saw were repeated flashes of the human girl Liz, who worked for Vanessa. I was about to try again when Tess screamed and invoked a huge fireball, catching us completely off guard. The only reason I survived was because I dropped to the floor and shape shifted to fit into the pattern of the tile."
"Nicholas is a shape shifter?" Michael asked incredulously, as the screen went blank.
Kranon nodded. "And now we have proof."
"Did everyone know this and just forget to tell me?" Kyle asked.
Max shook his head. "No. Khivar and Nicholas have guarded their secret well."
"What's the big deal? Ava asked. "So Nicholas is a shape shifter."
"Shape shifters are a servant class," Michael answered. "There is no way he could have become a General if it was known. Antarian tradition does not allow shape shifters in the military."
Max glanced at Cuerena and nodded. "They are only allowed to be protectors or hold certain jobs; like Cuerena was a scientist."
"This is something we could use to our advantage," Michael said. "Khivar's men might turn against him if they knew his second in command was a shape shifter."
Max was silent for a moment and all eyes turned to him. He looked at Kranon. "What else did you learn?"
"Most of the information is of no use but we did discover one other thing. Khivar told Isabel if she returned to Antar with him, he would leave you in peace on Earth."
"And then he sent the troops to wipe us out," Michael said. "I can't believe she went with him willingly, even if she was coerced.
Kyle stepped forward. ‘No, no, no, Michael. You don't understand. Isabel felt so guilty for the sacrifice Liz made to save us. She must have thought that if she went with Khivar, she would save us."
"Liz would never have wanted her to do that," Maria said. "Even if it would have saved us."
"But she really loved Hale," Max said, "and it wouldn't take too much convincing on his part to get her to go with him. She doesn't have any memory of the past or what Khivar was like. He could have convinced her that he had been slandered by my supporters. But this is a lie Khivar told her that we've caught him in. It will be painful for her but it will help Isabel see that Khivar isn't the guy she thought he was. He isn't Hale."
"You're right," Michael agreed. "Now that Khivar has announced his betrothal to Isabel, we've got to do something fast, so she doesn't actually end up marrying that freak. And when we use the information about Nicholas being a shape shifter, we might have a chance of succeeding."
Max shook his head. "I don't know about using that information. It just doesn't seem right."
Everyone in the room was shocked into silence.
Max turned to leave but called over his shoulder. "Let me know if you find out anything else."
Michael shook his head disbelievingly as he watched Max leave the room. The others left one at a time until Michael, Maria, Alex and Kranon were the only ones left.
Michael turned to Kranon. "I want to know immediately if you get any more information."
Maria trailed him out of the room and down the hall. "Michael, what was that with Max? We finally get something and he doesn't want to use it?"
Michael looked furtively around and pulled Maria into an empty sitting room, closing the door behind them. "Look, I didn't want to worry you, but Max has hardly left his room since we got here. I found him in there sitting in the dark with one of Liz's shirts."
"He's upset," Maria said.
"He not thinking straight," Michael said. "I don't think he's slept much. I'm afraid that being without Liz is pushing him over the edge. Max is loosing it, Maria."
"What are we going to do?" Maria asked.
"I don't know exactly," Michael said. "But I think the only way to save him is to get Liz back, and fast."
Sean jogged down the corridor to catch up with Max. He called out, "Hey Max, wait up."
Max stopped and turned toward him. "I really don't feel like talking now, Sean."
Sean noticed that Max's eyes didn't meet his and saw the blank, detached look on his face. Max was in trouble just like he'd thought. "So you're the big King now that you got your memory back and you don't have time for the little people?"
Max was stunned and looked at Sean. "Of course not," Max said. "It's just since Liz…"
Sean nodded, glad that he had been able to shock Max out of his misery. "I understand that, and I also understand why you don't want to use that information against Khivar."
Max shook his head. "You can't understand."
"Max, Maria told me that you killed a skin soldier at your house the night they attacked, and I saw the look on your face when you gave Cuerena the order to fire at the buses filled with Khivar's troops," Sean said. "You're worried that you're just like Khivar."
"How could you know that?" Max asked.
"I've done some things in my life that I'm not proud of," Sean said. "I knew they were wrong but I did them anyway. Most of the time I didn't care if it was right or wrong, but sometimes I would wonder what I was doing with my life. See, I was the black sheep of my family since I was a kid, always getting into trouble, so it really didn't surprise anyone, even me, when I got sent to juvie. I even got to thinking that I was just born bad."
Max was watching him intently. "What happened?"
Sean smiled. "Don't take this the wrong way, but Liz happened. When I got out of juvie and saw Liz again, something happened. It was like I realized that I could choose to be good or bad, I could choose what to do with my life, and Liz made me want to be a better person."
Max nodded. "I can understand that because she makes me feel the same way."
"Well, Liz told me something about you once, Max," Sean said. "She said that you were an incredibly honorable guy." He clasped Max on the shoulder. "If Liz believes it, you should too.
"It just seems like using that message is sinking to Khivar's level," Max said. "In our other life, that is how he worked, spreading rumors and quietly inciting mistrust."
"You don't have to wonder if you are like Khivar," Sean said. "You're nothing like him, Max. And using that message against him won't make you become him. Liz believes in you, she believes you are good or she wouldn't be with you. To go up against Khivar we are going to need every advantage we can get. Don't let your fear mess up the best weapon we have. It may be the only thing that allows us to rescue Liz."
Michael stalked through the house looking for Ryden and finally found him in what he would only describe as a conservatory. It was a small, sunny room, full of plants, and Ryden was sitting among them, reading a book.
"Ryden, I have to talk to you," Michael said.
"About Max's rapidly deteriorating condition?" Ryden asked.
"I came to convince you of the truth about me and Max."
Ryden nodded, "You mean your story that Max is the one who ordered you to care for the common people."
"We need your help if we're going to succeed, the help of your people. And the only way I'm going to convince you, is to show you." Michael held up his hand, offering a connection. "Come and see the truth for yourself."
Ryden narrowed his eyes suspiciously.
Michael smiled. "If you know so much about me, then you must know what my talents are. I don't have the ability to alter your mind or memories. No tricks. It's just my memories."
Ryden stepped forward, with a nod and grasped Michael's hand. "Okay. Show me."
Michael concentrated, bringing forth a memory from his other life.
"Zan, the uprisings are getting worse," Rath reported. "The commoners in Tothes are rioting because they have no food. Bandits raided the incoming food transports and the greedy Governor reports that he can spare no food from his stores until another transport comes"
"Send food from our stores with troops," Zan ordered, "and distribute it directly to the people. And deliver a personal message from me. Tell them I am sorry it has come to this but soon they will have a voice in the government. I want the people to know I am working to stop these injustices."
"Every time we put down one riot another crops up in a different town," Rath noted. "It's almost as if someone were planning this."
Zan continued. "I don't think there is any sinister master plan behind these riots," he said dismissively. "The common people have little or no powers and it the responsibility of those of us who do to make their lives better. This Governor, along with the others, continue to betray their duty to their people."
Then Michael showed Ryden another memory, where he had tried to tell Courtney the truth. She had confronted him in one of the villages after an uprising.
"We were told that the King was unaware of the problems in the kingdom," she said.
"He knows," Rath said succinctly.
"But he does nothing," Courtney countered. "His people are suffering and he takes no action."
Rath's first instinct was to jump to the defense of his friend and King but he could not expose the plan to expose Khivar as a traitor. "Zan is juggling more issues than you can possibly imagine."
"Zan," she mouthed the word as if she were savoring it. "You and the King must be close."
"We trust one another absolutely," Rath said.
"Then you are the one we need. Myself and others, in Khivar's army, have suspected for some time that he would be worse than the Tageonants ever were, if he achieves the throne. What we need is someone who will take the common people into consideration. We need you."
Puzzlement crossed Rath's face. "You need me to do what?"
"We need you to take the throne," Courtney said.
"Take the throne," he hissed. "What kind of treachery is this?"
"You have become known among the people as a benevolent and fair man. You calm these riots with a show of force and avoid injuring the people. You distribute food and medical supplies and use your influence to help the people."
"All of this I do according to Zan's orders," Rath explained. "If it were up to me, I would have come in and bashed heads to stop this idiocy once and for all."
"Of course you would say that. You are loyal to your King."
Rath shook his head. "I am loyal but it's true regardless."
"True or not, the people think the words you speak are simply rhetoric from the palace. They credit you with the actions, they support you. And if you were to take the throne, many of Khivar's own people would follow you. Your mother was a Roistar, distantly related to Khivar, and the people would see you as a savior."
"Even if I considered betraying Zan, which I would not, I wouldn't want the throne. I see the things Zan is forced to deal with and I wouldn't want any part of it."
Ryden dropped his hand, breaking the connection, and Michael saw the stricken look on his face.
"It's true," Ryden said. "It's all true. Max is the one."
"I'm sorry to disillusion you," Michael said, "but we're really going to need some help."
Ryden nodded. "Just tell me what you want me to do."
Maria knocked before pushing open Max's door, and was surprised to see him sitting in a chair with his eyes closed and Liz's shirt draped across his knees, just like Michael had described. "Hey girlfriend," she said softly, "I wanted to see how you were doing."
"Not so good," Max said, opening his eyes. "Without Liz, I," he shook his head, "I just don't know what to do."
Maria moved forward and took him by the shoulders. "Max you can't fall apart," she said. "Liz needs you. We all do."
"But I don't know how to find Liz," Max argued.
"Max, you are the best, the only chance we have of rescuing Liz, and Isabel and your son. You can do this, Max," Maria said. "You are strong and you will find a way. I know you will."
Kyle woke suddenly and turned to see that Ava was gone. He glanced at the clock and saw to his dismay that he had slept late. Getting out of bed, he quickly dressed and hurried out of his room, looking for Michael.
He found him with Maria and Sean in the breakfast room, deep in conversation.
"Michael," Kyle interrupted them, "I need to talk to you, alone."
Michael glanced at Maria and Sean and nodded. "Okay, let's go in the other room," he said, motioning across the hall."
Kyle closed the door behind them and Michael came right to the point. "Okay, why couldn't Sean and Maria hear this?"
"I didn't want to upset them, in case it turns out to be nothing," Kyle said.
"If what turns out to be nothing?" Michael asked.
"The last two nights, I've dreamed about Liz," Kyle said.
Michael shrugged, "So what?"
Kyle shook his head. "You don't understand. I don't think they were really dreams. I think that somehow I was talking to Liz in my sleep."
"Just because you had a couple of dreams with Liz in them, it doesn't mean you were talking to her," Michael said dismissively.
"After the first dream I didn't think so either," Kyle admitted, "but when I woke up this morning I remembered something. In the dream Liz quoted Shakespeare, something from Hamlet."
Michael shrugged. "So?"
"I've never seen or read Hamlet," Kyle explained, "so how would I know the whole speech she recited?"
"Maybe your mind just made it up, something you thought sounded like Shakespeare," Michael said. "How did it go?"
Kyle repeated word-for-word what Liz had said in his dream and Michael nodded. "You're right. That's one of Halmet's speeches."
"How do you know?" Kyle asked.
"Hamlet is a Mel Gibson movie," Michael said with a shrug.
Kyle nodded. "So what are we going to do?"
"First," Michael said, "we're not going to tell anyone until we know something definite, especially Max. We'll make some excuse to the others, and then you and I are going to see if you can contact Liz."
Again Liz pushed at the barrier Khivar's man had placed in her mind, blocking her connection with Max. She had tried moving it several times in the last couple of days and she had felt it give a little. It was probably only a matter of time until she got it down.
Liz gathered her strength to try again, when a familiar sensation washed over her. She had felt it three before. Once in Copper Summit just before they had left Earth and then again on the ship when they had been searching it, and again when they had landed on Antar.
Automatically she turned to the door and watched unsurprised as it opened, and through it stepped a large man she instantly recognized as Khivar's right hand, General Nicaron. They had discovered that the General was being impersonated by a shape shifter, while the real Nicaron was on Earth, but the strange sensation that accompanied her visitor made Liz gasp with realization. "Nicholas."
Nicaron smiled. "It's nice to finally meet you, Liz, or should I call you Ava? I almost feel I know you from what I have heard about you, and the memories of you I saw in Max's head when I was mind raping him." Nicaron took a seat. "Of course I did meet you in your other life."
Liz nodded. "You killed me and Max."
Nicaron suddenly leapt to his feet. "You remember that?"
"Vividly," Liz said. Her eyes narrowed as she remembered when she had experienced the sensation before. "You were on the ship with us when we came to Antar," she said. "In that little room near the entrance."
"I thought you sensed me somehow. It must have something to do with your empathic abilities." Nicaron nodded absentmindedly, still shaken by Liz's words. If Liz remembered him killing her, what would Isabel remember? He had to take action before Isabel could reveal him to Khivar.
Liz looked up at him. "What do you want?"
"Now is that nice?" Nicaron asked, refocusing on her. "I just came to welcome you into Khivar's fold." He moved to the door, but stopped before leaving, turning back to her. "It's kind of ironic, isn't it? The former Queen of Antar now in the power of the man who usurped her husband's throne."
Khivar entered his quarters and quietly approached Isabel, who was looking out the window, and he slipped his arms around her. She encircled his arms with her own and leaned back into him.
He kissed her neck, near her ear. "How are you feeling?" he asked. "You've been quiet since the announcement of our engagement. You aren't having second thoughts are you?"
Isabel turned in his arms. "Of course not." She wound her arms around his neck. "It's just that I'm not used to so much attention. Our whole lives on Earth, we tried not to draw attention to ourselves. You know, hide in plain sight. And with everyone at the announcement, the press, it just freaked me out a little."
Khivar reached up to touch her face. "You used to love the attention, crave it even when you were Vilondra."
Isabel shook her head. "I don't remember."
"But you will," Khivar assured her. "I can show you and I know once you get used to it, you'll love it again."
"I hope so," Isabel said with a smile, "because I want to get more involved. When we're married and I'm Queen, I want to help make Antar a better place. Get involved in the government, in charities, set an example."
Khivar nodded. "Of course, my love, anything you want." He took her hand and led her to the bed. "But take things slow, at a pace you're comfortable with. You don't have to prove anything to anyone."
He kissed her gently. "After all, we will be getting married in a few days, and then there is the wedding trip and perhaps not too far in the future," he placed his hand on her stomach, "a child."
Isabel nodded, noting Khivar's skillful change of subject. He was hiding something, she was sure of it. "You're right, I don't have to rush into anything." She kissed him and then pulled back, as if she were just remembering. "I saw Rath today," she said. "For a minute I thought it was Michael, but then I got a better look. I didn't even know Rath was here."
Khivar nodded. "Yes, I made a deal with him."
"Oh," Isabel said, "what kind of deal?"
"He has offered me fealty, and is in my service. But it is not important," Khivar said, pulling her closer, kissing her neck. "There are much more pleasant things on which we can focus our attention."
Tess knew Nicaron and Khivar were keeping something from her. Three days ago Nicaron had come to her and told her that there was a part of the palace that was off limits to her and guards were posted outside. Tess couldnít imagine anything that would be so important other than the Granolith and she decided to see for herself.
Yesterday she had followed Khivar into the disused part of the palace. She was careful not to get too close to him and used her powers to easily bypass the guards after Khivar had gone inside. But she had not followed him closely enough and lost Khivar in the twisting corridors.
So today when Nicaron had gone into the same part of the palace, she followed him more closely, to see which door he entered. And when he stopped at a door, she had hidden across the hall and watched her lover enter a room that was locked by a coded touchpad. Nicaron only stayed in the locked room for a few moments before emerging again and then he strode quickly down the hall the way he had come.
Tess waited until he was out of sight before she emerged from her hiding place. She crossed to the door, quickly punching in the combination she had seen Nicaron use to open the coded lock. Then she pushed the door open and went into the room, but stopped in surprise when she saw the solitary occupant.
"Liz!" she gasped.
Liz was surprised to see her too. "Tess," she hissed.
"So if you're here," Tess said, "that means Max is too." Her eyes narrowed suspiciously, "Or did Khivar bring you here with us?"
Liz nodded, her eyes narrowing with hostility. "Max is here, but don't get your hopes up. We know who you really were and we know everything you did."
The blood suddenly drained from Tess' face. "What do you mean?" she asked shakily.
"Max remembered that you forced him to sleep with you," Liz spat. "How could you do such a horrible thing? It's rape, Tess. Your son was created by a rape."
Tess shook her head. "Max loved me. He still does. That's why he came here, so we could be together."
"Love?" Liz asked incredulously. "Is that what you call it when you force a man to want you? When you plant feelings and emotions in him and make him have sex with you?" Liz laughed humorlessly. "I'd call it pathetic."
"He does love me," Tess said. "We would still be together if you hadn't interfered. I never would have had to show him his true feelings if you hadn't been there. You ruined everything in both our lifetimes, all of my plans, my dreams. But when I kill you, there won't be anything standing between me and Max. We'll finally be together just like we should have been all along."
"You keep saying that," Liz said, "but Max has never chosen you when he's had the chance."
"I've loved him for two lifetimes," Tess said. "I deserve to have him."
Liz laughed. "You may have loved him but he hasn't returned your love. And I wouldn't even call your feelings love," Liz said. "It's obsession. Planting feelings in Max and forcing him to be with you. Tess, you don't care about him at all, you only are only interested in what you want."
"How dare you!" Tess hissed. She used her powers to pick-up a nearby vase and hurled it at Liz.
Liz easily pushed the vase aside with a flick of her hand and it smashed into the wall. "Your mind warps didn't hold up. I've had my powers almost since you left Roswell."
"That doesn't mean you can use them," Tess mocked. She used her powers to levitate several statues and objects from around the room and sent them all at Liz.
With one hand, Liz raised a small table in front of her as a shield, and as the objects hit it, she used her other hand to throw Tess back into the wall. "I felt sorry for you that Max didn't return your love, because I knew what it was to love him," Liz said angrily.
From her prone position, Tess threw another vase at Liz.
But Liz swatted it aside and stalked closer to the blonde. "I was willing to give up Max to you, and along with him any chance I had at happiness, because I thought it was the right thing."
Tess levitated a chair and hurled it at Liz, but Liz didn't even break her stride, using a wave of her hand to turn it into a shower of splinters. "I was nice to you, helped you, even tried to be your friend, and all the time I knew that because of you I would never be with the man I loved. And even though you got everything you wanted, you were still planning to use and betray us."
Tess closed her eyes and started a mind warp of a fire surrounding her, the flames quickly catching the furniture on fire, hoping to drive Liz back.
Liz shook her head. "It won't work, Tess. I can see through your illusions."
Tess was growing angrier with every one of Liz's words and built her power, fueled by her anger, and with a swipe of her hand pushed Liz back across the room, throwing her to the floor. "You bitch!" Tess spat, climbing to her feet. "You have been a thorn in my side for two lifetimes and I'm not going to let you ruin my life any more."
Liz got to her feet. "Give me your best shot."
Tess let out a scream of rage, reaching for the power she had accessed when she killed the skins, and felt the surge of uncontrollable energy erupting from her. She focused on Liz and directed the flames at her.
Liz raised her chin in determination and watched the flames build behind Tess. She stretched out her hand to defend herself but the flames extinguished suddenly, and with a scream of pain, Tess fell to her knees. Liz was confused for a moment but a voice from the door drew her attention.
"Tess, you would have a better chance at a long life if you didn't try to deprive Khivar of his prize," Nicaron said with a touch of humor in his voice. "Although that was one of the most entertaining things I have witnessed in a while. I always thought girl fights would be full of pulled hair and scratches though." With a negligent wave of his hand, Nicaron returned the room to its formerly pristine order and pulled Tess to her feet. "Sorry for the commotion, Liz," he said with a short bow. "It won't happen again."
He dragged Tess out the door and shut it behind them before he turned to her. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
Tess indicated Liz's door with a wave of her hand. "She has ruined my life and I want revenge. Khivar owes me that."
Nicaron shook his head. "You'll have to be satisfied knowing that Liz won't be with Max because she belongs to Khivar now."
"And what about Max?" Tess asked. "He is on Antar."
"Max is in hiding, but when we find him Khivar will honor the deal he made with you. But he will expect you to keep the information that Max and Liz are on the planet, to yourself for now. Don't get any stupid ideas about telling Isabel. She probably wouldn't believe you anyway, but even if she did, it won't do anyone any good, especially you."
(Secret Headquarters of the Resistance Loyal to the Tageonants)
Michael made the excuse to the others that he and Kyle were working on a new power that Kyle was developing, to get some time alone. They went into Kyle's room and Michael took a chair, while Kyle settled on the bed.
Kyle looked at Michael. "I'm not really sure how to do this. I've never tried to initiate a connection before."
"I'm not really sure how to do it either," Michael admitted. "I've never shared a connection like that with anyone. But Max has told me about his bond with Liz. He said it feels like a piece of Liz in his head and he just concentrates on it and they can speak."
"Okay," Kyle said, closing his eyes. "A piece of Liz." He concentrated, trying to picture Liz, her personality, her strength, that special quality that made her Liz. He thought of the times they had spent together and the close friendship they shared, and somewhere in the maze of his mind he saw a small golden light. Knowing instantly it was what he was looking for, Kyle focused on the light, making it grow.
With his eyes still closed, he spoke to Michael. "I can see it. Max was right it's like a piece of Liz, a shining golden light."
"Concentrate," Michael said. "Focus on sending your thoughts to her."
Kyle nodded and brought the light sharply into focus. Liz, can you hear me? he sent into the light.
After a moment with no reply, Kyle tried again. Liz, it's Kyle. Please answer me.
He still received no reply and he took a deep breath, concentrating exclusively on the golden light. Kyle let the light grow until it surrounded him, encompassed him and he could literally feel the warmth of Liz's personality. Liz, he said softly, you've got to hear me.
He heard Liz's voice in his head almost immediately. Kyle, is that you?
Liz, Kyle breathed in relief. It's good to hear your voice. Are you okay?
Yeah, Liz assured him. I'm fine, and now hearing your voice, I'm even better. Is everyone there okay? Max?
We're all fine except for missing you. I didn't know if I could really talk to you so I didn't tell Max or anyone else except Michael.
How did you know you could contact me? Liz asked. I didn't know we had a connection.
Neither did I, Kyle said. But the last couple of nights I've dreamt about you. I was in the palace looking for you.
Liz gasped. I had the same dreams.
I know, Kyle said. I figured out that we must have been communicating through our dreams because you quoted Shakespeare to me. I don't know any Shakespeare, and I realized that I had to be talking to you.
Oh Kyle, Liz said, I am so glad that you figured that out. I thought they were only dreams.
Kyle could feel Liz's relief and admiration through the bond and it made him feel good that he was able to help. I'm glad too and Max will be so relieved. I'll break off now and go tell him and then contact you again.
Okay, Liz said, but hurry.
Nicaron let himself into Tess' suite of rooms without knocking. He could pretty much guarantee this wouldn't be a night she would be waiting for him in his bed. Tess was probably still pouting because he didn't let her kill Liz.
But Tess had been naively optimistic about her chances with Liz. Nicaron had felt Liz's power and watched her easily overpower Tess, and he doubted the girl-fight would have turned out the way Tess had anticipated. No, Nicaron thought to himself, remembering the calm look of fury on Liz's face, he had probably saved Tess' life, but she would never believe it.
Tess rose from the sofa when she saw him. "What the hell do you think you're dong here?" she asked angrily.
Nicaron smiled. He liked a woman with spirit. "I had quite a time convincing Khivar that you could be trusted not to harm Liz. He is planning on making use of her abilities and was furious that you tried to kill her." Nicaron sank down onto her sofa, with mock weariness. "He was reconsidering the whole deal with you because of that stunt."
Tess shook her head and sat down next to him, snuggling next to him, putting a hand on his chest. "But you talked him out of it, right?"
"I had to make certain promises to Khivar, but in the end I convinced him to spare you," Nicaron said, watching her reactions carefully. She looked genuinely scared and he proceeded. "So you might say, you owe me a favor, for saving your life and your deal."
Tess leaned into him and kissed him on the cheek, while her fingers went to the buttons on his uniform. "Anything you want, General, just tell me."
He let her continue with his buttons as he took her shoulders in his hands. "There is one thing you can help me with," he said softly.
"Anything," Tess repeated, placing a quick kiss on his lips.
Nicaron smiled. "I want you to help me erase certain memories from Isabel's mind and then I'll consider the debt between us paid in full."
Surprised, Tess stopped what she was doing and sat back. "What? What memories?"
Nicaron took her in his arms again. "We'll discuss it later, but now we have more important business."
(Secret Headquarters of the Resistance Loyal to the Tageonants)
Song Playing: Here Without You by 3 Doors Down
Max concentrated on the barrier blocking him from Liz, pushing at it relentlessly. He had done little else since Liz had been taken from him, trying to get any hint of where she was being held. He knew that the others thought he was simply sitting in his room mourning but he didn't want to tell them what he was attempting and raise their hopes.
As he had continued to batter it, Max had felt the barrier between himself and Liz starting to break down and he knew it was only a matter of time until he destroyed it completely.
He built his powers and was about to push another surge of energy into the barrier when he was interrupted by a knock at his door. Max immediately allowed his power to dissipate but before he could answer, Michael and Kyle burst through the door.
"Max," Michael said. "Kyle has a connection with Liz. He can talk to Liz."
Max jumped up. "What? How is that possible?"
Kyle shrugged. "I don't know really, but I just talked to her."
"What did she say?" Max asked. "Is she alright?"
"She's fine," Kyle assured him. "She was worried about us."
Max nodded. "Kyle will you let me talk to Liz through you?"
"Of course," Kyle said.
Max let out a tension-filled breath and motioned Kyle to a chair near his own.
"I'm not very good at this," Kyle so it may take a minute to get the connection."
Max held out his hand to Kyle. "Thank you, Kyle, for everything you've done."
Kyle nodded and took Max's hand. "I'm just glad I could help."
Song Playing: I'm Lost Without You by Blink 182
Max opened a connection with Kyle and immediately sensed a thread of connection like the one he shared with Liz. Grasping it, he brought it sharply into focus. It wasn't as strong as the one he and Liz shared but he was relieved to feel the familiar rush of her emotions as the connection slid into place. Liz.
Max, Liz answered immediately. It's so good to hear your voice, to feel you again.
And you're okay? Max asked. Rath didn't hurt you.
I'm fine Max, Liz said. Her soul yearned to join with his and she let them brush together briefly but stopped them from joining completely to keep her concentration. Max, I think I'm in the palace. Khivar put me in a room that I can't get out of.
She felt Max's agreement through the connection.
I can feel where you are now, he said. You are in the palace. And we are going to get you back.
I never doubted it Max, Liz assured him. I know you'll find a way.
Liz, I've felt so lost without you.
Liz could feel the intensity of his love through the bond. Me too Max. Like I didn't know what to do. The only thing I could think of was getting back to you. I love you so much.
I love you too, Liz, so much, and more every day. I want to touch your face, feel your kisses, Max said as he allowed their souls to merge.
Liz signed in contentment and momentarily basked in their overwhelming love before she regretfully separated from his soul. I'd love to stay like this forever but we're probably embarrassing Kyle. And he's not used to connecting this way. Can you feel how tired it's making him?
You're right, Max said. I don't want to leave you but we'll contact you tomorrow, first thing.
Okay, Liz agreed. I love you.
I love you too, Max said and dropped Kyle's hand, breaking the connection with Kyle and Liz.
"Wow," Kyle said. "I knew you and Liz loved each other but I had no idea how deep it was. I could feel your emotions and how much it is hurting you to be apart. And what happened at the end? Suddenly you both felt complete, perfectly happy."
"Our souls joined," Max explained, with a faint, bemused smile.
Kyle looked at Max with an expression of awe on his face as he quoted. "Few are there among men who arrive at Nirvana."
Max nodded and concentrated on Kyle, "Thank you for letting us connect."
"Any time," Kyle said with a nod. "So do you have any ideas about how we are going to rescue her?"
"Now that I know where she is, it will be easier to come up with a plan," Max said.