BOOK 8 RESTRUCTURING REALITY
(THE HISTORY OF THE FUTURE - MAX)

 

 

 

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PART 4

 

 

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(Monday, May 13th, 2002)

(West Roswell High School)

 

Monday, the news was all over school; Max Evans and Liz Parker were getting married, and as one of their group of friends Tess had been subjected to excited congratulations all day.  At first, she had thought it was a joke but as the day wore on, it seemed more of a certainty.  And then she saw Liz's ring in the sixth period class she shared with Liz and Maria. 

 

Maria waved Liz's hand, complete with engagement ring, in Tess' face triumphantly, as if she were declaring Liz the winner in a contest between them.  Tess became so angry that she stormed out of class, ran to her car and peeled out of the parking lot.

 

She didn't really have a destination in mind, she simply drove.  And as the thoughts flew through her head, she became more and more furious.  Tess paid no attention to the scenery as she drove, too lost in her thoughts to notice anything else.    

 

She silently raged against Liz and Maria, Michael and Isabel, but most of all she raged against Max.  No matter what the others had done, it was Max who continued to deny her.  Max was the one who deserved all of her anger.

 

Tess slowed her car and pulled over to the side of the road, noticing her location for the first time.  She was near the road that lead to the pod chamber.  She slammed the car in gear, turned onto the road and drove quickly toward the rock formation that housed the pod chamber. 

 

A few minutes later, she pulled to a skidding stop at the base of the rocks.  She jumped out of the car, ran up the slope, activated the door and stormed inside.  Tess walked into the middle of the chamber and spun slowly around, again and again gaining speed with each rotation, faster and faster, until she was dizzy. 

 

In this place, built completely of alien materials she had always felt the closest to home, but now, standing among the things from her planet, she felt like an outsider.  Max had made her feel like she didn't belong among her own people.

 

A cold shiver raced up Tess' spine and she turned and ran back to her car.  She started it and jammed the accelerator to the floor.  No one would treat her like that, not even Max.  She glanced at the clock on the dash of the car, school would be getting out in half-a-hour, just enough time for her to get back to school and confront Max.

 

As she drove into the school parking lot, Tess spied Max heading toward his Jeep and stopped her car just a few feet away.  Max had a stupid, dreamy smile on his face that enraged her even more and she jumped out of her car and verbally attacked him.  "How dare you get engaged to Liz!"

 

Max's smile dissolved at her words.  "What are you talking about Tess?"

 

Tess stopped inches from him and pointed her finger into his face, "You can't just marry someone else.  You're my husband."

 

"Keep your voice down," Max hissed, as he looked around to see if they had been overheard.

 

"I don't care who knows, Max!" Tess yelled. 

 

"Well I do care," Max said angrily, trying to keep his temper.  "I don't want you to do or say anything that might hurt Liz."

 

"Liz.  Everything is always about Liz."  Tess shook her head.  "Look how fast you run to her defense.  Why couldn't you ever feel that about me?  I'm your wife." 

 

Max shook his head, "None of that matters now Tess.  Nasedo is dead, we don't have a way home and if we reveal ourselves, the skins will kill us all.  Just face it, Tess, it's over.  We failed, and the only thing we can do is make a life for ourselves here."

 

Tess stood silently as Max got into his Jeep and drove away.  She couldn't believe he would deny everything, his people, his throne, and her, so he could stay on Earth with Liz.  Max was so wrapped up in Liz that he couldn't even think straight.  But, Tess thought, they were not married yet. 

 

 

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

 

 

(Tuesday, May 14th, 2002)

(The Parker House)

 

Liz climbed the stairs, eager to relax after a long day of work but stopped when she saw both of her parents sitting at the kitchen table, obviously waiting for her.  "What's going on?" she asked apprehensively.

 

Her father was the first to speak, "Liz, we need to have a talk.  Why don't you sit down?"

 

Liz sat across the kitchen table from her parents and waited for the bad news.

 

"Liz, honey," her mother started, "we have given this engagement of yours a lot of thought..."

 

Liz jumped to her feet, "You don't want me to marry Max?"

 

Her father held up his hands in a calming gesture, and as Liz regained her seat, he continued, "Now Liz, it's not that.  We just think you should wait a while.  You should concentrate on your future and you don't need any distractions.  You are headed to Harvard and that will be a big change in your life.  Moving away from everyone and everything you know, it can get lonely and maybe that’s why you accepted Max's proposal."

 

"I accepted Max's proposal because I love him will all of my heart and soul,” Liz said, “and nothing is going to change that."

 

"You think that now, Liz," her mother said, "but you have dated so few people.  You just don't know who is out there in the world.  Maybe you will find someone that you will love more than Max."

 

Liz shook her head, "You don't understand."

 

Her mother nodded, "I do understand.  First love is powerful and you will never forget it but it rarely lasts and if you marry Max now, you might end up regretting it."

 

"And what do you really know about Max?" her father asked. 

 

"What do you mean?" Liz asked.

 

"I mean he has been in trouble with the law.  There was that whole scandal surrounding Sheriff Valenti last year and Max was right in the middle of it."

 

Liz shook her head.  "I explained to you what happened, last year.  Max is a kind, law-abiding, honor student, who also got into Harvard, in case you've forgotten.  And it's not like we are getting married tomorrow.  We’re planning on waiting until next year."  She paused looking at her parents, wondering what had happened to bring this on.  "Why are you doing this now?  You seemed happy for me when I told you on Friday."

 

"We hadn't had time to think it through," her mother said.  "And then we had a visit from your friend Tess and she told us..."

 

Liz's eyes narrowed and she cut her mother off, "Tess was here, talking to you about Max?"

 

Her father nodded.  "She was just concerned you might be making a mistake marrying so young and so quickly.  She said that she and Maria had tried to talk some sense into you but you wouldn't listen to them."

 

Liz nodded, "I see."  Her parents had obviously been mind-warped by Tess and the reason she had done it was just as obvious.  Tess still wanted Max for herself. 

 

"Tess didn't think we should mention to you that she had been to see us, but we thought it might make more of an impact on you that your friends were worried about you too," her father said.

 

"And maybe," her mother continued, "it would be a good idea for you to spend some time away from Max.  Like a cooling off period."

 

"So now you are telling me I can't see Max?" Liz asked emotionlessly.

 

"Just for a while," her mother agreed.  "We just want you to really think this whole thing through."

 

Liz nodded, knowing she would not be able to talk her way through Tess' implanted emotions.  "Maybe you're right," she said as she rose from the sofa.  "I have a lot of thinking to do."

 

Liz waited until she reached the safety of her room before contacting Max through their bond.  Max.

 

What's wrong Liz?  I can feel that something is upsetting you.

 

It's my parents. 

 

What happened? Max asked concerned.

 

Tess happened, Liz said.   She mind-warped them.

 

Are they okay?

 

I think so, but she turned them against you, against our engagement.

 

Max was incredulous.  What are you saying?

 

Tess told them she and Maria were worried about us getting married too young and now my parents want us to spend some time apart, to cool off.

 

Max could feel Liz's distress through the connection and he sent back his love.  Liz, no one will keep us apart, not Tess and not your parents.  We will figure a way out of this.  I promise.

 

Liz felt herself relax under Max's reassurance.  I just couldn't bear being separated from you Max.

 

That will never happen.

 

 

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

 

 

Max pounded on the Valenti's door and when Tess opened it, he verbally attacked her.  "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

 

Tess gave him her most innocent look, "I don't know what you are talking..."

 

Max cut her off, "Cut the crap, Tess."  He grabbed her arm and propelled her inside, slamming the door behind them.  "I know what you did to Liz's parents."

 

"I didn't do anything," Tess denied.  "The Parkers were already having doubts about you and Liz, I just gave them something else to think about."

 

"You used your powers on them," Max accused.  "To get what you want, you invaded their minds."

 

"It's not just what I want, it's what you want too," Tess said softly.  "If only you would let me help you remember."

 

Max shook his head, "So you can mind-warp me in to doing what you want too?  I don't think so."

 

Tess became instantly angry, "I wouldn't have to mind-warp you.  We were in love and we could be again if you weren't so stubborn."

 

"Tess, I want you to fix whatever it is you did to the Parkers."

 

"Why should I?  So it will be all clear for you to marry Liz?"

 

"Because it's the right thing to do," Max said simply.

 

"You mean the right thing for you and Liz, but what about me?  You get Liz and I get the shaft?"  Tess paused and her expression became calculating.  "If you promise that you will give me an honest chance, I'll undo what I did to the Parkers."  She pouted prettily and reached up to touch his face, "I don't know what you ever saw in Liz anyway."

 

Max slapped her hand away and laughed joylessly, "You are so selfish and manipulative, I can't even believe it.  All you ever think about is getting your own way and you don't care who you hurt in the process.  Liz is exactly the opposite.  She is kind and caring in a way you couldn't possibly understand.  Last year when she walked away from me at the pod chamber, she was willing to sacrifice her happiness, her future, so you, a person she doesn't like or trust, could follow your destiny.  Liz was willing to give you everything, but instead of being grateful or thanking her, you thought it was something Liz owed you."  Max shook his head, "Even if we were married in our last life I know I never could have loved someone like you. 

 

"How dare you speak to me that way, humiliate me," Tess screamed.  "I was a Queen and your wife.  And you can deny it all you want, but in our other life, you loved me."  Tess raised her head haughtily, "But you were different then, you were a King.  Now you are just a boy."

 

Max looked her in the eyes and spoke slowly and clearly, trying once again to get though to her.  "I don't love you Tess and even if Liz died tomorrow, I would never be with you.  You disgust me."

 

 

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

 

 

(Thursday, May 31st, 2002)

(West Roswell High School)

 

The graduation ceremony was supposed to have been the culmination of her school career, one of the moments she had been looking forward to all of her life, but to Liz it had passed in a blur.  The only thing she could think of was her parents prejudice against Max.  It was true that she was old enough to just marry Max but she hated thinking of disappointing her parents, even if the reasons were artificial.  Liz glanced at Tess, a few rows ahead, and wondered not for the first time, how one person could cause so much trouble and misery.

 

Suddenly Tess turned, looked at Liz and smiled, and Liz was assaulted with her feelings.  Tess thought she had won.  She thought she had succeeded in keeping Max and her apart.  Tess had known that Liz would not want to go against her parents' wishes, she had been counting on it, and she was right. 

 

But suddenly none of it mattered to Liz, not Tess or her parents or anyone else.  The only thing that mattered was the fact that she and Max were in love and they wanted to be together. 

 

As the students threw their caps in the air, Liz made her way to Max's side.  "Max, I think we should get married."

 

Max pulled her to him in a tight embrace.  "So do I."

 

Liz shook her head with a smile, "Now.  Tomorrow.  As soon as we can arrange it."

 

"Liz I don't want to go against your parents,” Max said.  “I'll get to know them, and my parents can talk to them, we'll change their minds.  You'll see, everything will be okay.  Maybe they are right.  Nineteen is very young.  We were planning on waiting until next year anyway and that will give your parents time to come around."

 

Liz leaned into Max and smiled, "Max our age doesn't matter.  Romeo and Juliet were even younger and they knew they were meant to be together.  And like those star-crossed lovers, I think we should elope." 

 

Liz could feel Max's surprise through their connection and she kissed him quickly but passionately.  "Why should we wait?" she continued.  "We are old enough and we are leaving for college together.  I want to live with you, be with you.  I want to go to sleep every night and wake up every morning beside you.  Let's elope and then we can start our life together.  I want to be Mrs. Max Evans." 

 

"Elope?"  Max shook his head, "No Liz.  You deserve a big wedding with the white wedding dress and flowers and your friends and family."  He touched her face gently.  "I want everything to be perfect for you."

 

"Max, none of that matters to me at all.  The only thing that matters is being with you and I don't want to wait any longer.  Wherever we get married it will be perfect."

 

Max smiled.  "Every day I think there is no possible way I could love you more, and then you do something like this that proves me wrong."

 

Liz smiled, "Does that mean you agree?"

 

"There's nothing I want more than to marry you, Liz," Max said.

 

 

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

 

 

(Friday, June 1st, 2002)

 

Song Playing: Heaven by Bryan Adams

 

Liz looked down at Max's hand, she held in her own.  She had barely been able to take her eyes off of him since the ceremony and now that Max was driving them back to Roswell, she could study his handsome features at her leisure.  It had been a long day but she had been right, a wedding any place with Max had been perfect. 

 

That morning they had discovered it would take approximately a month to get a marriage license in New Mexico and it seemed as if their elopement would have to be postponed.  Then Max had confessed a fantasy he'd had since they’d returned from Vegas last year.  He admitted he was a closet Elvis fan and seeing the Elvis Chapel, when they had been in Vegas, had left a lasting impression on him.  He had told Liz, with a shy smile, that he had dreamed more than once of marrying her there. 

 

Liz had agreed eagerly, considering it to be the perfect solution because there was no waiting period for a marriage license in Nevada.

 

They had gotten in the Jeep and driven straight through, taking turns at the wheel on the twelve-hour trip.  When they had arrived, Max had insisted they be properly dressed and Liz had insisted they have the ceremony at the Elvis Chapel.  Max had been so handsome in his tux and Liz had felt positively radiant in her white gown, and after a brief ceremony and a 'Congratulations kids,' from the King, they had been officially married.  The day had been so full of joy and love but now they were on their way home to face the music. 

 

Liz raised Max's hand to her lips and kissed it gently causing Max to turn to her.  "Max, when we get back to Roswell, we'll have to confront my parents."

 

"Having regrets already?" Max asked with a teasing tone.

 

Liz smiled, "Of course not.  It's just, there won't be much of a chance for a celebration when we get home and today has been so wonderful I want to make it last as long as we can.  I was thinking instead of driving straight back, we could stay in Phoenix.  We could call everyone, Maria and Michael, Alex and Isabel, and they could drive up and meet us and we could have, like a reception."

 

Max pulled over to the side of the road, took Liz's face in his hands and kissed her thoroughly before he spoke.  "That sounds perfect, Mrs. Evans."

 

 

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

 

 

(Monday, June 3rd, 2002)

 

Tess waited in the shadows near the Jeep behind the UFO Museum, knowing it was the only time she would be able to get Max alone.  Apparently Max and Liz had eloped on Friday and returned late Saturday but she had known nothing about it until the Sheriff had told her this morning.  The news had hit her like a physical object and for several minutes she hadn't been able to speak, and now hours later, she still couldn't believe it.  Tess had been so sure that Max would eventually turn to her, she hadn't even considered the possibility he might go through with the marriage to Liz.

 

Concealed in the darkness, she watched as Max exited the building, smiling a farewell to his fellow employees, when suddenly the truth hit her.  Max was so at ease with his friends, his co-workers, his family, but not with her.  From their first contact he had been suspicious of her intentions and that had never changed.  She had believed she had been gaining his friendship, his trust, but she realized she had just been fooling herself. 

 

Glancing at the telltale ring on his hand, she waited until Max was within a few feet, to reveal herself to him.  "So you and Liz got married," she said softly.

 

Max nodded but didn't speak and Tess could see he was prepared for her to attack.  He expected her to do something to him, harm him in some way, and Tess slowly shook her head.  Max didn't know her at all, he never had, and he obviously didn't want to.  For some reason he didn't love her in this life and she knew now he never would.  She had let herself believe she was one of their group but she never had been, and as all of the illusion was suddenly stripped away, she had never felt so alone in her life.

 

Tess took a step forward, saw the mistrust in Max's eyes sharpen and smiled sadly.  "What do you want me to do, Max?" she asked, fearing she already knew the answer.

 

Max could sense some change in Tess, and for a moment he felt sorry for her.  All of her life she had been told he was her destiny, her love, and that had been taken away from her.  But as he studied her, he remembered another time when she had been waiting for him in the rain outside the Crashdown, had planted feelings in him and forced him to kiss her, and he dismissed his softening toward her as her own creation. 

 

Raising his chin in determination, Max hardened his heart against her and angrily ground out his words, "I want you to leave us alone."

 

 

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

 

 

(The Valenti House)

 

Tess was so busy stuffing her belongings into the suitcase, that she didn't hear Kyle enter the room. 

 

"What are you doing, Tess?"

 

She spoke without looking up from her task, "I'm getting out of here."

 

Kyle grabbed her arm and forced her to look at him, "What are you talking about?  Where are you going?"

 

Tess shrugged, "Maybe I'll look for the other aliens who were on our ship, maybe I'll tour the world.  I don't know exactly but I'm definitely leaving Roswell.  There's nothing here for me anymore."

 

Kyle released her and spoke in an even tone, "Nothing here."

 

Tess shook her head.  "I realized that I have been fooling myself.  Max, Michael and Isabel don't care about me.  They don't want anything to do with me and now that Max is married..." she let the sentence trail off and turned back to her packing.

 

"So everything is still about Max?" Kyle asked incredulously.  He walked around so he could see her face again.   "I thought we had something.  Tess, this doesn't have anything to do with Max and the others.  Who cares what they think?  I am talking about us.  You and me, that's what matters."

 

Tess looked at Kyle.  She knew he had been in love with her for some time but she had always dismissed it as an unimportant detail.  He should have known she had never been serious about him, could never love him.  She had just been biding her time until Max came to his senses, but maybe Kyle hadn't realized it.  "Kyle, there is no way I can stay here now."

 

Kyle shoved the suitcase aside and took her hands in his, with a smile.  "Tess, screw the others.  We are good together.  You can stay here with me."

 

Tess laughed, "And do what?  Be your little housewife?"

 

Kyle recoiled like she had struck him and dropped her hands but Tess didn't see his pain and she continued obliviously, "Kyle I am an alien Queen.  I belong on another planet in a palace surrounded by servants, not in a small town kitchen, baking cookies for a PTA fundraiser."

 

Kyle nodded, "I see.  I'm not good enough for you.  My life, my planet, none of it is good enough.  You never had any intention of being with me, did you?  You were just using me."

 

"Oh come on Kyle," Tess protested, "we were using each other.  We both knew I was waiting for Max."

 

"I loved you!" Kyle shouted.  "You made me think we had a chance.  We were sleeping together."

 

"Like that means anything," Tess said with a shrug.

 

"It meant something to me, Tess, but I guess I was just fooling myself too."  He turned and walked out of the room, but stopped at the door and called over her shoulder, not able to look Tess in the face again.  "You're right, Tess.  There's nothing for you here anymore."

 

 

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

 

 

(Friday, June 7th, 2002)

(Crashdown Cafe)

 

It had been almost two years since Courtney had revealed herself to Michael but she had not made any progress in wining him over to her side.  She had tried to seduce him, time and time again but he had always refused her.  She had offered many times to help Michael learn to control his powers and recover his memories but he was suspicious of her motives and shied away from her assistance.  Finally she had realized because of his life on Earth, Michael didn't trust easily and for the last year she had worked slowly to rekindle the friendship they had shared on Antar. 

 

Courtney waited until she and Michael were alone, closing the Crashdown, to pose the question that had been on her mind.   "So Max and Liz are off to Harvard," she started casually.  "And what are your plans?"

 

"Mr. Parker is making me the manager at the Crashdown and I'm going to check out some of the classes at the Community College."

 

Courtney's eyebrows rose in surprise.  "And what are you going to study?"

 

Michael shrugged, "Don't know yet.  I figure I can take the basics and that will give me a while to decide."

 

Courtney shook her head, trying to keep her temper.  "You should be taking classes in history, government, political science, law, or at least let me help you recover your memories."

 

"Haven't you gotten it through your head yet?" Michael asked heatedly.  "I'm not going to betray Max."

 

Courtney's temper rose to meet Michael's, "So you're satisfied staying on Earth and being a fry-cook?  You could rule a planet!"

 

Michael's eyes narrowed suspiciously, "Yeah?  And what's in it for you?  You looking to be the next Queen of Antar?"

 

Courtney shook her head and moved a few steps closer until she was touching his arm.  "You know I'm attracted to you and if you offered me the position, I wouldn't turn it down.  But my main goal is equality for all of our people."

 

When Michael didn't respond she started to lightly run her fingers up and down his arm and lowered her voice seductively.  "Don't you ever get sick of hearing about all the wars and killing on this planet?  Do you ever wish you could do something to change it?"  She leaned into him until she was whispering in his ear.  "On Antar you could.  You would determine how the government would be run.  You would make the laws."  She kissed him gently on the neck, "You would be a King."

 

Michael took her by the arms and gently pushed her away.  He studied her face as she smiled seductively and he shook his head.  "Sometimes you seem so familiar to me.  Like home."

 

Courtney smiled, "It's your old memories coming through."

 

Michael was taken aback, "We knew each other, before?"

 

Courtney nodded, "We grew up together."

 

Michael shook his head, "Why didn't you tell me this before?"

 

Courtney shrugged, "I didn't think you would believe me."

 

Michael released her and turned away, "I won't do this.  I'm with Maria."

 

Courtney pressed her body against his back and slowly ran her hands down his arms, "That could change and I'm willing to wait."

 

 

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

 

 

(Saturday, June 8th, 2002)

(The Evans House)

 

Liz looked around the backyard at all of her friends.  When she and Max had returned from Vegas last weekend and announced to their parents that they had eloped, Liz's parents had met the news with less enthusiasm than she had hoped.  But the Evans has always liked her and warmly welcomed her into their family.  They had invited her to stay with Max at their house until the two of them left for college and this weekend they were hosting a belated reception.

 

Liz's own parents were there but she could feel their disappointment from across the yard.  They were not happy she and Max were married but she hoped she could change their minds before she left for Harvard in the fall.

 

A lone figure sitting on the grass under a tree, caught her attention and Liz walked across the lawn to join him.  "Hey, Kyle.  Can I sit down?"

 

Kyle smiled, "Sure Liz."

 

Liz sat next to him, noticing the fine lines of strain around his eyes.  "I'm sorry Tess left," she said softly.  "I know you were getting close."

 

"I thought we were, but obviously she didn't.  I told her l loved her and I wanted her to stay," Kyle shook his head, "but she said my life wasn't good enough."

 

Liz felt anger rise up within her.  How dare Tess say that to Kyle?  He was one of the most kind, tenderhearted guys she knew.  "Then she was a fool, Kyle.  You are a great person and any girl would be lucky to have you."

 

Kyle smiled, "Thanks Liz, that means a lot."

 

"It's just the truth.  You know, it might seem impossible now but some day you will meet the right girl and she will love you for what you are."

 

Kyle looked at Liz and for just a moment he thought he saw the air around her shimmering with a soft, golden light and then it was gone.  He smiled sadly as he felt a pang of regret.  Liz was truly the best person he knew.  He loved her like a sister and was sorry he had allowed his relationship with Tess to mar his friendship with Liz.  "Liz, I'm glad you’re my friend.  The Buddha says, swans go on the path of the sun, they go miraculously through the ether, the wise are led out of this world." 

 

"I'm glad we're friends too."  Liz smiled at him and it slowly dissolved.  "Kyle, I want to apologize to you.  Last weekend when Max and I were married, we had a sort of wedding party in Phoenix.  I didn't invite you because it would be rude not to invite Tess too.  It's not that I thought she would do anything, I just didn't want her glaring at me on my wedding day.  I'm really sorry, Kyle."

 

Kyle shook his head, "Liz, I understand and I don't blame you.  I know better than anyone that Tess tried to cause as much trouble as she could between you and Max.  She used all of us to get what she wanted and I wouldn't blame you if you hated her."  Kyle took her hand in his, "Let's just always promise to be friends in the future, even though you're going to Harvard to get a fancy education and I will still be here, a lowly student of the local Community College."

 

Liz smiled.  "Kyle, you will never be a lowly anything."

 

 

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

 

 

(Sunday, September 1st, 2002)

(The Evans House)

 

Max knocked gently on Isabel's door as he pushed it open. 

 

Isabel looked up from the boxes she was packing, "Oh Max, come to help me pack?"

 

Max shook his head, "No I came to give you this."  He held out a small wrapped box complete with a bow.

 

"What is this?" Isabel asked as she took the box from him.

 

Max shrugged, "You'll be leaving in a couple of days and Liz and I are leaving next week.  Just call it an early birthday present."

 

Isabel tore off the wrapping and opened the box.  She stared at the contents in confusion before lifting it out.  "It's your keys for the Jeep."

 

"You know that Liz and I got a furnished apartment right off campus and we are both working at school, so we won't even need a car.  We thought you could take the Jeep to school with you.  You'll need something to cart all of this stuff with you," he said motioning to the pile of boxes around her room.  "But by the time you're finished packing you might have to get a U-haul too."

 

Isabel smiled, "I don't know what to say, Max.  Thank you."

 

Max smiled and shrugged, "The Jeep probably wouldn't make it across the country anyway."

 

Isabel nodded.  "You're probably right."

 

"And you'll have to let me borrow it when we come back for vacation."

 

Suddenly Isabel felt tears in her eyes, "This will be the first time we've been separated."

 

"I know," he said as he pulled her into an embrace, "but only by distance.  Nothing can ever really come between us."

 

 

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

 

 

(Sunday, December 15th, 2002)

 

Dark clouds rolled across the night sky faster than naturally possible, frequent shafts of lightening and the accompanying thunder shattering the silence.  The wind whipped across the desert, blowing sand around the observer and she put up a hand to shield her eyes.  She turned in a slow circle but the view was the same in all directions, just sand, rocks and scrub brush as far as she could see. 

 

The wind sped up suddenly, sending the sand swirling faster and faster into an impenetrable mass surrounding her and she closed her eyes against the stinging particles.  

 

 

 

**Flash**

 

A glimpse of the empty pods in the pod chamber

 

 

 

**Flash**

 

A light was ignited in a dark cave

 

 

 

**Flash**

 

Alien symbols

 

 

 

With a gasp, Liz sat up and looked around quickly, glad to find herself in her own bed.  She was where she should be, in her apartment just off campus, with Max sleeping peacefully beside her.  Releasing a sigh of relief, Liz settled back into the pillows, careful not to wake her husband.  She had been having the same dream for the last two weeks and each time she hoped it would reveal something more but each time it was exactly the same. 

 

When she had told Max about her dream, she could tell it frightened him and he dismissed it as simply a dream, a product of the pressures of school.  But Liz knew it was something more, she could feel it.  

 

 

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

 

 

(Tuesday, January 7th, 2003)

 

Cuerena had been waiting outside the pod chamber for more than six days, and night was falling on the seventh.  She was supposed to have met the other shape shifters on the morning of the first of this month, but obviously something was wrong.  At least one of them should have come to meet her by now. 

 

She scanned the desert before her one last time, but there was no sign of life.  She hadn't wanted to consider what the absence of the others shape shifters meant but it was time to face up to it.  The others had probably either been captured or were dead.  She would have to start a search for them and hopefully find the Royal Four alive. 

 

For the first time since arriving a week ago, Cuerena entered the pod chamber and kindled a light to illuminate the darkness, hoping to find a clue to lead her to the others.  She searched the rooms thoroughly, finding the healing stones, communication orbs, the book written in royal code, and a few old footprints in the dust on the floor.  Someone had been there within the last year or so but there was no sign that might point her to their current location. 

 

With a sigh of frustration, Cuerena turned toward the door and extinguished the illumination, but its flickering light briefly brightened a dark corner, practically hidden by cobwebs near the door.  She rekindled the light and directed it into the corner, revealing Antarian writing on the wall.  Brushing the dusty webs out of the way, she quickly read the faded message. 

 

It was from Sodan and he had left directions to his abode.

 

 

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

 

 

(Nasedo’s Cave)

 

Cuerena studied the symbols on the wall of the cave.  There were instructions on how to use the map and certain landmarks were identified, but there was nothing to show the current location of Sodan and his charges. 

 

It was evident that no one had been in the cave in a few years and Cuerena had no idea where to start her search.

 

 

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

 

 

(Saturday, January 11th, 2003)

 

Cuerena stopped just inside the door of the Crashdown Cafe with a smile; Michael was in the kitchen cooking. 

 

She allowed herself to sink into a booth and released a sigh of relief.  It had only taken a few days for her to find him and it would have been less if she had considered looking in the school yearbooks earlier. 

 

She had found their pictures in the yearbook at West Roswell High School that morning and then gotten their addresses from the school files.  First she had disguised herself as a girl of twenty and had gone to the Evans' house to see Max and Isabel, as she had learned their names were, but their adoptive mother had proudly told her they were both away, attending college.  Then she had gone to Tess' house but the family who now lived there told her they knew nothing of the previous owners. 

 

Finally she had gone to the address listed for Michael, as Rath was called.  The landlord of the apartment complex told her he had moved out a few months before and didn't have his new address but he suggested she try the Crashdown Cafe, where he believed Michael still worked. 

 

And he had been right, Cuerena thought.  Now all she had to do was introduce herself to Michael, but obviously that would have to wait until they were alone. 

 

 

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

 

 

(Crashdown Cafe)

 

Maria went into the kitchen and crossed to Michael, and standing on tip-toe she hissed in his ear, "Michael."

 

"What?" he asked, stepping away from her and rubbing his ticklish ear.

 

Maria looked around furtively and leaned in close to him, "Keep your voice down."

 

"Why?" Michael whispered back.

 

"Okay, don't look now..." Maria said, but stopped as Michael automatically started looking around.  She gestured frantically and pulled him into the back room. 

 

"What?" he asked.  "I don't see anything."

 

Maria flattened herself against the door leading into the dining room and quickly peeked through the small diamond-shaped window.  "Okay, see that girl out there in the blue shirt?"

 

Michael walked to the door and looked through the window, "Yeah."

 

When he lingered, Maria pulled him away.  "She's been out there for hours."

 

"So?" Michael shrugged.

 

Maria rolled her eyes and spoke in an exasperated tone, "Michael, she's up to something.  She's been sitting there all day, looking at you.  What if she's, you know, another Michael worshipper?"

 

Michael's brow creased, "How would she know who I am?"

 

Maria shrugged, "I don't know but we gotta do something."

 

Michael huffed, "Like what?  Go up to her and ask her if she's an alien?  Forget it Maria, you're just paranoid."  He glanced out the window again checking-out the brunette beauty, "Maybe she just digs me."

 

"Yeah," Maria said sarcastically, "Dream on, Spaceboy."

 

 

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

 

 

Michael shrugged into his jacket and locked the back door of the Crashdown behind him.  Maria's shift had ended earlier and he had told her to go home.  She had still been paranoid that something sinister was happening but the suspicious woman had left soon after Maria had drawn his attention to her. 

 

He threw the last bag of trash into the dumpster and turned to his bike.

 

"Michael Guerin."

 

A voice called his name from behind and he whipped around with an outstretched hand.  He recognized the girl from the Crashdown immediately.  "What do you want?" he asked suspiciously.

 

Cuerena bowed low and formally, "I am Cuerena, General Varros."

 

"My name is Michael."

 

"Yes.  In this life," she agreed.  "I was sent here with you, as your protector."

 

Michael's eyes narrowed, "A protector.  So where have you been all this time?"

 

"I was assigned to protect the duplicates until they reached maturity.  Then on the first of this year, I was supposed to rendezvous with Sodan and the others at the pod chamber, but no one came, so I searched for you."

 

Michael shook his head, "I don't know any Sodan."

 

"Perhaps you knew him by another name.  He is also a protector, a shape shifter.  I found a cave where he had been living, outside of the Mesaliko reservation.  He drew a map..."

 

Michael stepped forward, cutting her off, "Nasedo.  You mean Nasedo."

 

 

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

 

 

(Max and Liz’s Apartment)

(Cambridge, MA)

 

The sound of the ringing telephone awakened Max and he groggily fumbled around for the offending instrument.  Calls in the middle of the night were never good news and he apprehensively spoke into the receiver, "Hello?"

 

Michael's voice answered him, "Maxwell, you and Liz gotta get back here right away."

 

"What?" Max asked as he rubbed at his eyes, sitting up, "Is something wrong?"

 

"Let's just say that one of our, um, relatives showed up," Michael said cryptically.

 

"Our relatives?" Max asked in a wooden tone.  Michael always went into his cloak and dagger routine on the phone when he discussed alien affairs.  "Why don't you just spell it out for me Michael?"

 

"A woman showed up today.  She's a friend of Nasedo's, from way back."

 

 

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

 

 

TBC

 

 

 



BOOK 8 - RESTRUCTURING REALITY
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