BOOK 9 VERISIMILITUDE
(THE CONSPIRACY EXPOSED)
(Episode - Cry Your Name)
(Sunday, April 29th, 2001)
(The Valenti House)
Tess quickly grabbed for the cell phone when it rang. Lonni never called her unless it was important. "Hello?"
"It's done Tess," Lonni said, "the translation of the book is finished."
"When?" Tess asked.
"We just got the e-mail a few minutes ago. We're coming to Roswell now with the translation. So tomorrow you can tell the others you remember how to read the book and then convince them it's time to go home."
(The Whitman House)
"Hey, this isn't even warm." Alex complained as he touched the cold Thai food, and instantly a deluge of images flooded his mind. Suddenly he remembered eating dozens and dozens of containers of Thai food. "I'm, I'm, I'm so sick of this. I'm..." he trailed off shaking his head. "Always the same thing, always cold. Always the same thing. I'm just so sick of everything."
His memories of Sweden started to dissolve as if they had never been, and a number kept pushing it's way to the forefront of his mind. He scribbled the number down on the receipt without realizing it instead of signing his name. "Why does life have to be so wrong?" he asked as more images emerged. "Why does everything have to be a lie?"
Something was terribly wrong with his memories. In the last few days, he had gotten other images, flashes of things he didn't remember, but they had quickly faded into the back of his mind. But theses images were stronger, and if they were right, he had never been to Sweden at all.
Alex returned to his room and took a sip of Coke, and the picture of Leanna caught his eye. He picked it up, trying to make sense of the images invading his mind, and suddenly he remembered everything. He pulled the photo out of the frame and savagely cut his head out of it. It had never happened. None of it. He had never gone to Sweden, he had never met Leanna, and he certainly wasn't having a relationship with her. It had all been an elaborate lie to keep him in line while he translated the alien's book.
Alex remembered his time at the University of Las Cruces with Tess, Lonni and Rath. He remembered breaking out of Tess’ mind warps several times.
He logged on to his computer and quickly connected with the computer at the University of Las Cruces that was decoding the book and entered his password, 11100100100111011001, so he could check the computer's progress. He was surprised to see the computer had finished the translation just that morning.
Glancing at the translation, Alex shook his head. He couldn't believe Tess had been willing to go to such lengths just to get the book translated. If she would have asked him, he would have helped, but obviously she didn't want the others to know. He printed a copy and reached for the phone. He had to tell the others what Tess had done.
He picked up the receiver and tried to dial but his hand wouldn't push the buttons. He tried again and again, finally giving up in frustration and slammed the receiver down. It must have been something that Tess had done to him.
Alex grabbed the translation, the photo and his car keys and headed out the door. If he couldn't call the others, he would simply drive to the Crashdown and show them. He put the car in gear and headed toward town, but when he tried to turn to go to the Crashdown, he found he couldn't and the car kept driving straight.
He tried to fight against the compulsion but it was just too strong, and then pain started to shoot through his head. He tried to pull off the road but was unable to, and as the pain in his head increased his vision started to blur. Afraid he was going to crash, Alex sat back and tried to relax, taking deep breaths, and as soon as he stopped fighting the pain lessened and he was able to drive.
Alex wasn't surprised that he was compelled to drive to the Valenti's house. It was where Tess lived after all. He grabbed the translation off the seat as he exited the car, never noticing that the photo of Leanna slipped off the top and slid between the door and the seat. He walked to the door, opened it and entered without knocking. Then he headed straight for Tess' room.
He stopped just inside the door when he saw Tess sitting on the bed and started to recite what he remembered from translation, "You are the Royal Four. You were created from the genetic materials of your alien predecessors and human subjects..."
Kyle could hear Alex’s voice from the other room and went to see what was happening.
Tess jumped off the bed and closed the door behind Alex, hoping no one else had heard. "Shut up, Alex."
The pain started in Alex's head again, worse than before, and he crossed the room toward Tess. "You did this to me," he accused, "you sent me to Las Cruces."
Kyle opened the door as Alex was speaking.
"Okay," Tess soothed. "Alex, Alex let me fix your mind, you're not thinking straight."
"You mind warped me for two months while I decoded that silly book for you and now there's nothing left for you to mind warp. You destroyed my mind!" The pain in Alex's head increased and he put a hand to his head crying, “How could you do this to me?"
Alex noticed Kyle and drew Tess' attention to him.
"Kyle get out," Tess said dismissively.
Kyle had heard their conversation and he wasn't sure what to make of it. But it was obvious that Alex was upset, "What's going on?" he asked Tess.
"Kyle go!" Tess yelled, starting to panic.
The pain in Alex's head was overwhelming and he was practically hysterical, "I have nothing. I might as well be dead."
Kyle didn't know what was wrong, but Alex was obviously freaked. "Hey just calm down," he soothed.
Tess didn't know how Alex had broken the mind warp so completely but she had to fix it or he would tell Max everything. "He's right, okay," she shouted at Alex. "Calm down! Just calm down!" She grabbed Alex by the shoulders and he tried to push her away.
"No," he shouted, "you can't mind warp me! NO!"
Tess ignored Alex and started the mind warp. Alex’s mind was jumbled, fragmented, and she wondered if she could fix it, but suddenly she was pushed out as everything went black and Alex collapsed onto the floor.
Kyle rushed forward and knelt beside him, "Alex!" He fumbled for a pulse but didn't feel one. He turned to Tess, "We've got to call an ambulance." He jumped to his feet and started out of the room but Tess grabbed his arm and he turned to her.
"Kyle wait," she said, as she quickly started the mind warp. She erased the events from his mind and left him in a kind of trance on her bed. Then she picked up her cell phone and quickly dialed Lonni.
As soon as the phone was answered, Tess, almost hysterical, blurted out the situation, "We've got a big problem, Alex is lying dead on my bedroom floor."
"What?" Lonni asked. "What happened?"
"He broke out of the new memories I gave him and came to my house. I tried to fix his memory but his mind must have been too weak to take it. Kyle saw the whole thing but I made him forget."
"This is bad," Lonni said. "If it looks like Alex died from alien causes it could make the others suspicious." Lonni thought for a moment, "Did Alex drive to your house?"
"Yes," Tess said.
"Okay," Lonni said, "we'll make it look like a car accident."
"We are suppose to meet tonight at the Crashdown," Tess added.
"Good then there’s a reason he was driving. What route would he take to get there from his house?" Lonni asked.
Tess thought for a moment, "Dexter Highway, he would take the old Dexter Highway."
"We don't have much time," Lonni said. "Put his body in his car, and Rath and I will be there in a few minutes. We will take care of the accident while you put together an alibi for yourself, and clean up any other messes, including Kyle."
"Okay," Tess said, "I'll see you in a minute." She hung up the phone and turned back to Kyle and mind warped him to see Alex as a duffel bag. Then she snapped her fingers in front of his face. "Kyle. Kyle, will you help me load my luggage into the car?"
Kyle jumped up, "Of course."
Liz stood staring at the coroner's van, where Alex's body still lay, long after the others had left. She still couldn't believe Alex was really dead, but there was no way it was a simple traffic accident. Somehow Liz knew it was murder and she wouldn't rest until she found out exactly what happened.
Deputy Lopez called out to get the Sheriff's attention, "Sheriff Hansen, Sheriff Hansen, the tow truck driver is here to remove the Whitman boy's car. Do you want us to take it to the lab?"
Hansen looked at the totaled car and shook his head, "I don't see any reason for that, Lopez. It's just an auto accident, there's no need for a big investigation and we don't want his parents to have to see it." He motioned to the tow truck, "Tell him to take it to the junkyard."
(Episode - Cry Your Name)
(Monday, April 30th, 2001)
Lonni waited until the next morning to contact Tess and they met in the desert as usual.
"What are we going to do now?" Tess asked.
Lonni sighed, "We'll wait and see what happens and then we'll decide what to do. But for now, don't say anything about the translation."
Tess nodded and handed Alex's copy of the translation to Lonni. "I found this on him. Alex must have remembered everything and downloaded a copy."
Lonni flipped through the pages, "Could he have contacted anyone before he came to you?"
Tess shook her head, "No. I put an irresistible compulsion in his mind, like a post-hypnotic suggestion. If he ever remembered, he wouldn't be able to speak to anyone except me and he had to come to me as soon as he could."
"So you're sure he didn't tell anyone else?" Lonni asked.
"Yeah, I'm sure," Tess said. "Kyle was there but I took care of him."
"Like you took care of Alex?" Rath scoffed.
"The new memories I gave Alex shouldn't have worn off," Tess said defensively. "Maybe something triggered it."
"Or maybe," Rath suggested, "you don't have as much control over your powers as you think."
(The Evans kitchen)
Song Playing: White Flag by Dido
Max laughed as he and Liz reminisced about Alex, "Remember the time he electrified Mr. Hoffman's desk?"
"Yeah," Liz said. "You know, he almost got suspended for that."
Max shook his head, "Never happen. The teachers loved him. That guy could get away with anything. At the prom, I overheard Mr. Hoffman telling SeĖora Villa the whole chair thing. Thought it was a riot."
Liz's heart suddenly felt heavy because Max mentioned the prom but she couldn't just let it go. "Yeah, about the prom," Liz said. "I saw you kiss Tess."
Max couldn't speak. The memory of that night was like a nightmare to him. Liz had broken his heart, again, and then he had found himself kissing Tess. When it was happening, it had seemed wrong but he hadn't been able to stop himself, and when it had ended he had felt so ashamed.
He didn't know Liz had seen them kissing but it certainly explained why she’d left so suddenly.
When Max didn't say anything, Liz continued, "It's okay. You're moving on."
Max wanted to say so much to her, to apologize, to explain about the kiss and tell her it didn't mean anything. To tell her that no matter what, he would never love anyone but her. "Liz," he started but she cut him off.
"No," she said decisively. No matter how much it hurt, she had to stand by her decision to let him go. It was better for both of them, wasn't it? "We've discussed this. You're moving on and I am moving on, and that's a decision we've made." Liz knew she was rambling but she was quickly approaching hysteria and she wanted to finish. "I just wanted you to know that I saw you and that I'm okay with it, okay?"
Max smiled sadly, knowing Liz was lying but being stoic for both their sakes. "Okay."
"Okay," Liz said and suddenly she had to get away from him. For the first time, being with him made her sad. The fact that they weren't going to be together was slowly crushing her heart. "Thank you very much for the macaroni and cheese, and, um, thank you for listening."
She slipped off the stool and walked to the door but as she reached it, a cold shiver of fear and foreboding raced down her spine. It was so strong that it prompted her to stop and turn back to him. "Just always be my friend. Will you do that, Max?"
"You know I will," he promised solemnly.
(Episode - Cry Your Name)
(Tuesday, May 1st, 2001)
Max ran to catch up with Valenti as he left the ceremony, "Sheriff, we have to talk."
Valenti turned to Max, "If this is about what I said to Liz the other night, I don't have any apologies to make."
Max was incredulous, "How can you say that to us? How can you even think..."
Valenti cut him off, "This is difficult for everybody, Max."
Max was growing angrier by the moment and stuck his finger in Valenti's face. "Alex Whitman did not kill himself, okay? It didn't happen. And you'd better not let Hanson or anyone else put that in some file."
Valenti had brought the file with him so he could show Max before it was officially released. He reached into his truck and handed it to Max, "Here."
"What's that?" Max asked, fearing he already knew.
"It's everything we've discovered about Alex Whitman over the last two days," Valenti said. "Read it, Max."
Max skimmed over the file, looking for anything to prove Valenti and the others wrong but damning words jumped out at him with alarming regularity.
And then he reached the description of the crash. The police had determined the car had been driven deliberately into the truck because of a number of factors.
The possibility that Alex had fallen asleep at the wheel had been ruled out because of the curviness of the road. It would have been impossible for him to navigate the other turns just moments before, and then be asleep enough to go over the medium. Plus, the car had been accelerating, and most of the time when someone falls asleep at the wheel, their foot relaxes and the car slows.
By the time Max had reached the end of the report, he was reluctantly convinced it must have been suicide. He handed the report back to Valenti with a nod, "Thanks."
(The Whitman House - Alex's room)
Michael listened with disbelief as Liz laid one piece of evidence after another before them, proving Alex couldn't have killed himself, and then as Max, Tess and Isabel discounted them all.
Liz's small form made her appear like a child against Isabel and Max's height but she didn't back down from their anger or her arguments, even when Max towered over her enraged.
Instead she fought back against him, "You don't want to think that Alex was killed by an alien because that would mean you are responsible."
Everyone was surprised by her outburst but Max recoiled like she slapped him. "Let's go," he said simply.
Michael had watched Liz in a lot of situations. She was the peacemaker, the planner, the cool and collected one who never hesitated to help them. He had seen her happy, sad, worried, scared, but he had never seen her like she was today. This Liz was confident, determined, and her eyes flashed with a terrible fury and purpose. But as Michael rose to follow the others, the thing that worried him the most was the sinking feeling he had in the pit of his stomach; Liz was right.
Tess took a walk to get some privacy for her call to Lonni. The last thing she needed was one of the Valenti's overhearing her conversation.
Lonni answered on the second ring, "What have you got?"
"Liz won't accept that Alex's death was an accident or suicide,” Tess explained. “She thinks he was murdered.”
Lonni shrugged, "So what?"
"By an alien," Tess added. "Liz isn't going to let this go. She is investigating against Max's orders. We had a big fight about it after the funeral and Liz won't back down."
Lonni laughed, begrudgingly admiring Liz. "Going against Max’s orders. I'm liking Liz more every day."
Tess ignored Lonni's comment, "I didn't have a chance earlier but I can mind warp her so she will stop, or," suddenly a new idea occurred to her, "we could just kill her."
"No, another mysterious death would be too suspicious," Lonni said. "But think about it," she said consideringly, as a plan formed in her mind. "We could use Liz's investigation to our advantage. It could be a golden opportunity for us."
Tess frowned in confusion, "What do you mean?"
Lonni explained, "Liz investigates Alex's death. We leave clues to lead her to discover that someone took him and made him translate the book. She finds the translation and gives it to Max. We already have the perfect patsy so we just set her up. Then Liz discovers the identity of the killer and we are off the hook."
Tess shivered wondering who was going to take the fall, "Who are we setting up?"
Lonni sighed, "Leanna, of course."
Rath waited until Lonni ended the call, "Why don't we just set up Tess?"
"It would be nice, and it could come to that," Lonni said, "but we might still need her. This way we give them a killer and we still keep some collateral."
"Okay," Rath agreed, "so what kind of clues do we leave?"
Lonni nodded, "We need to get Liz to investigate the Olsons and Leanna. When she finds out they don't exist, she will figure out Alex never went to Sweden."
Lonni motioned to the phone as she spoke to Rath, "You arrange for some flowers to be delivered to the Whitman's from the Olsons. And tonight we'll go back to the school and the Whitman's and change the Olsen's contact information again to someone else in Sweden. Then if anyone tries to call, they will get a wrong number. Maybe I’ll even leave a clue on his computer. Liz is sure to search there."
“If we leave enough clues, Liz won’t have any doubts about where to look for answers.” She grabbed a phone book and turned to the florist section. “The Olsen’s would definitely send some flowers to poor Alex’s family.”
"What if Liz doesn't figure it out?" Rath asked.
Lonni shrugged, "Then we will plant some more obvious cluesn or get Tess to plant some ideas in Liz’s head."
As Liz looked through the photos of Alex, she became more and more depressed. She just couldn't accept he was gone.
The Max from the future had told her, Alex had attended their reception, so he had been alive in the other time line. And now he was dead because of something she and the other Max had done. Something she had changed had killed her best friend and she swore that she would get to the bottom of it.
Liz saw the pictures of Alex's striptease from Isabel's birthday party. She and Maria had helped him prepare for his dance, teaching him all of the moves he would need, but she hadn't been present for the actual event. Another alien crisis had prevented her from seeing it. And even though she had the photos and could imagine what it had been like, she'd regret missing it for the rest of her life.
The striptease was just one thing in a long line of regrets and missed opportunities; graduation, college, even the little things like movie night. There were so many things they would never get to do together. So many things she would miss about him.
That was why she had to figure this out. That was why she had to discover what had happened. But no matter what she did, Alex was gone and there was no bringing him back.
(Episode - It's Too Late and It's Too Bad)
(Thursday, May 10th, 2001)
(The Evans house – Max’s room)
It had been a few days since Alex's funeral and Tess was getting impatient because Max had not even touched her in a tender or romantic way since the prom. So she decided to jump right in. She turned to him, “Max, what about the kiss?”
A look of confusion crossed his face, “What?”
"The kiss at the prom,” Tess reminded him, annoyed. “The infamous kiss."
"Right," Max said apprehensively. He had pointedly avoided the subject since the Prom, and after a few days when Tess hadn’t mentioned it, he’d hoped she take the hint that it was end. But obviously he’d been wrong.
Tess continued, "With what happened to Alex, I can understand putting the subject on hold. I couldn't deal with it either, but now, I just, I can't help wondering where we are."
"Right," Max said, wondering how to tell her what he thought. "Right." But he didn’t want to hurt her and he took a breath before continuing. "You and me together, it scares me. Right or wrong, I feel like if I follow that road, I can never go back."
Tess immediately dismissed the possibility that Max didn't want to be with her and focused on the other part of his admission, "You're scared to go home."
"What is home?" Max asked. "Is home really up there? I just feel like this whole idea about where we come from..." he trailed off. "I want to believe it. I want to understand it more and more, but it just feels like this dream, this, this dream that I can never really quite touch or see or, feel. And Earth just seems so much more," he looked up at Tess, "real."
Tess couldn't believe that Max was so opposed to going home. She would have to work on him.
Max changed the subject, "Are you hungry? I think we still have some frozen macaroni and cheese, if Liz and I didn't eat it all."
Liz, Tess thought. Everything was always about Liz. She smiled and concentrated on using a friendly tone, "Oh, when were you and Liz eating frozen macaroni and cheese?"
"It was the night before the funeral," Max said. "Liz was totally stressed out and needed someone to talk to. We stayed up all night just reminiscing about Alex."
"That's nice," Tess said sweetly as she started the mind warp. She had been gradually mind warping Max to turn against Liz, but obviously it wasn't going fast enough. True, Max had disagreed and argued with Liz at the funeral but Max had already been worried about the cause of Alex's death and Tess had been using her powers to push him over the edge.
She needed to accelerate the pace and get Max to turn from Liz completely. Tess was convinced that only then would he turn to her and accept the idea of returning home.
She placed the idea in his mind that Liz didn't care about them and was endangering them all with her investigation. She emphasized Liz's recent behavior and accusatory speech in Alex's room, reinforcing it in Max's memory. She also tied it together with Max's disappointment about not being with Liz, hoping it would ensure some spectacular fights between them.
Tess also reinforced Max's natural feeling that they should all stay together. Isabel's declaration that she was leaving for college had really scared Tess; she couldn't let Isabel go, and Tess told Max to stop it from happening in any way possible. Tess reminded him he was the leader, the King, and the group should obey him no matter what, and he shouldn't put up with any descent.
Finally she placed the kernel of an idea in Max's mind that he didn't belong on Earth. He was an alien and he should want to go home.
(Episode - It's Too Late and It's Too Bad)
(Monday, May 14th, 2001)
(The Parker House – Liz’s Room)
Song Playing: I Don't Know How to Let You Go by Sarah McLachlan
Liz found her passport in her desk and stuffed it in her bag. She had gotten it two years ago in anticipation that she would travel with her Grandmother, but it had never happened.
Her Grandmother had once told her to follow her heart, and no matter how crazy this trip to Sweden seemed, Liz felt that she was doing the right thing. She couldn't rest until she knew the truth about Alex. It might save all of their lives.
She gathered her bags and let herself out of her house. Her parents were at the store and if she hurried, she could get away without them seeing her. Liz quickly walked the few blocks to the highway and waited for the cab she had ordered.
Max had been driving home when he'd had a compulsion to take a different route. He turned onto the highway and after driving a few miles suddenly saw Liz sitting on a fence at the side of the road. He pulled the Jeep off the road next to her and saw her luggage. "Liz, where are you going?"
"Sweden," Liz admitted.
"Are you kidding me?" he asked, suddenly angry. "Get in the car."
"No," Liz said.
Max jumped out of the Jeep, "What did you tell your parents?"
"I'm gonna call them from the airport and tell them my girlfriend in Florida had a crisis and she needed me."
"They'll call your aunt," Max pointed out. "Your aunt will say you're not there."
"Well, then, I'll think of something else," Liz responded.
A cab stopped and the driver called out, "You the airport?"
"No," Max said, hoping he could stop Liz.
Liz spoke up, "Actually, I am. You're late."
She jumped down off the fence and Max stood between her and the cab. As much as he thought she was going crazy, he was scared to death of losing her. "Liz, don't get in that cab," he pleaded softly.
Liz looked at him for a moment. She hated fighting with Max but she didn't have a choice. He was standing between her and the truth. Handing her bag to the driver, she called out, "Load it up."
Max was growing desperate and he took one of her bags and tossed it into the Jeep. "Liz, get in my car," he ordered.
"What are you gonna do? You're gonna throw me in it?" Liz challenged him as she retrieved her bag from the Jeep.
"You have to listen to me," Max insisted, his fear of losing her making him desperate.
Liz turned back to him, "Don't even pull that King card on me, Max. I am not Isabel. You can't boss me around."
Max closed the gap between them, "If this is about being pissed at me, fine. Punish me all you want. But what about everyone else? What you're doing puts them at risk."
"What I'm doing may save their lives," argued Liz, as she turned toward the cab.
Max followed her, "You have a responsibility to Michael, Isabel, and Tess not to get in that cab."
Liz cut him off, "Uh-huh, and I have a responsibility to Alex to find out what really happened."
Max could hear the finality in Liz's voice and he knew he was losing her. He said the one thing he was sure would stop her, "Liz, if you go, our friendship is over."
Liz felt her heart break but she couldn't let it stop her. She had already lost Max. "I guess that's the price I have to pay. Somebody killed Alex and covered up his death. Why don't you see that, Max? Wake up."
Liz's words were like a knife through his heart. He couldn't believe she was willing to end their friendship over the investigation. He thought she would surely back down when he threatened her, but he had been wrong.
Max watched as the cab drove farther and farther into the distance, taking Liz away from him. He was so sure that Liz was wrong about how Alex died but her unwavering confidence caused a sliver of doubt to pierce through his certainty for a moment. But a voice in his head made him push his doubts aside. Liz couldn't be right, there was no way. She just didn't want to accept the truth that Alex had committed suicide.
Rather than face the truth, Liz was willing to betray them all to prove she was right. Then suddenly Liz's final words rang through his head.
Liz, his best friend, his soul mate, had turned against him, just like his sister.
Jens Finna saw the picture on Mr. Stockman's desk. "Oh, the Forstora building," he said, picking up the photo.
Mr. Stockman was stunned. Liz Parker had seemed so desperate to find the building and he wanted to help her, but he'd had no idea how he was going to identify the building. He had been thinking about passing the photo to an architect friend to see if he recognized it. "You are sure that is the correct building, Herr Finna?"
Jens looked at the picture again and nodded. Architecture was a hobby of his. "Ja, I am sure. It was very famous when it was built in the early 60s, because of its ultra-modern design but it was found to be structurally unsound and it had to be torn down."
"Do you remember when?" Mr. Stockman asked.
Jens shook his head, "Early 90s I think, but Herr Kunskap in Commerce, or Herr Saker in Security could probably tell you for sure. They both used to live in Stockholm very near here."
Tess stopped her car in the driveway of the observatory when she saw Max's Jeep. The situation with Max was not proceeding as she had hoped and Tess now accepted that there would be no chance of Max going to Antar with her unless he had a good reason. She had hoped he would want to return to be with her but it was taking too long, and now time was running out and she had to resort to desperate measures.
Tess had witnessed what had happened between Max and Isabel earlier at school and she had used her powers to push him to stop Isabel. She had watched the interaction with great satisfaction, knowing he had been so cruel to his beloved sister. Tess had despised Isabel for months because she had felt Isabel should have been a better friend to her.
Besides the fight with Isabel, Tess knew Max and Liz had been at odds over her investigation and she suspected Max would need to be alone to lick his wounded ego. She had been roughly manipulating his emotions, hoping for explosive results, but when she had seen his Jeep at the observatory she knew she was succeeding beyond her imaginings.
Tonight was the night she would secure her place in his life because she knew Max would never leave her if she was carrying his child. She used her powers to change the cushions of the passenger seat of her car into a sleeping bag and walked over to where he was standing. "I thought I'd find you here."
Somehow Max wasn't surprised by Tess' presence. She always seemed to find him when he was miserable. "My whole life I've wanted to be this person, this normal person. Human. My whole life I've been thinking that this alien side of me was this bad thing, this thing that made me a freak, this monster. I realize that I haven't just been hiding from the government and the law all this time, I've been hiding from myself. I don't know what's going on anymore. I thought I knew but I don't. I've lost everyone."
Tess started a mind warp increasing his feeling of loneliness. Then she made herself more desirable to him, but also supportive and accepting of everything he was. Finally she placed the idea in his mind that they belonged together and uttered the words to back it up, "I'll be here for eternity."
She pulled his hand out of his pocket and used the connection of flesh to strengthen the mind warp, using all of Max's senses against him. It was easy to push through his confusion and make him want to kiss her. And when he did, she took the opportunity to use the full force of her powers on him.
As the kiss ended, Max was fully under her thrall. "I'm ready to wake up now," he said.
(Episode - Baby It's You)
(Tuesday, May 15th, 2001)
Song Playing: Hurt by Nine Inch Nails
Max awoke slowly with a throbbing pain in his head and a strange weight on his chest. As he attempted to sit up, he looked down and saw a mass of blonde curls, and the events of the previous evening came rushing back to him. He had slept with Tess.
Tess had been there when he had been in pain over losing Liz, and feeling sorry for himself, and it had just happened. He couldn't even remember making the decision to be with her, it was all just like a bad dream. He had betrayed his own feelings and his heart, but worst of all he had betrayed Liz. He loved Liz with all his heart and soul, but he'd had sex with Tess.
He had used Tess in the worst way, trying to salve the empty feeling inside that the confrontation with Liz had left. But like alcohol or drugs, it was only a temporary fix and now in the harsh light of day, he could see what a horrible mistake it had been. He was already losing Liz and sleeping with Tess would probably ruin any chance he might have had of getting her back.
Suddenly he felt sick, disgusted with his behavior, that he had let things get so totally out of control. He was supposed to be the leader, the King, but just kept screwing up.
Tess started to stir awake and Max was instantly filled with panic. What would he say to her? What would she expect from him now?
Tess raised her eyes to him and he winced at the shining happiness he saw. She was joyful about what had happened between them because it was what she'd wanted all along.
"Hey," she greeted him with a beaming smile.
Max tried to be sympathetic to her feelings. They could talk about what had happened and why it was a mistake later. He forced a smile, "Hey."
(The Valenti house)
From his bed on the couch, Kyle watched Tess and Max kissing at the door, and felt a strange sensation that he could only describe as jealousy. He shook his head. He couldn't be feeling jealous though because he thought of Tess as a sister. Didn't he?
Tess shut the door to her room and stopped in front of the mirror. She placed her hands on her flat stomach and practiced acting surprised, "Oh my god."
(Episode - Baby It's You)
(Wednesday, May 16th, 2001)
(The DeLuca House)
Rath waited until Michael's bike was out of sight and he stepped out of the bushes beside Maria's house, already pressing the speed dial.
"Yo," he said into the phone, "Liz and Maria just left here, headed for Las Cruces."
"Okay," Lonni said. "You get back down here and we'll set up a surprise for them."
As the day had passed, Michael's worries and doubts became stronger and stronger. Max had been acting so strangely lately not even willing to listen to Liz and her theories about Alex's death. But no matter what Max said, Michael believed that at least some of what Liz thought must be true.
Liz was smart and she had uncovered some pretty convincing evidence, and Michael knew if there was some kind of conspiracy Liz would be the one to figure it out. Her theory that an alien had killed Alex seemed pretty far-fetched but something was definitely wrong with the whole thing. Michael didn't know what had happened but he knew one thing for sure, Alex didn't kill himself.
If it was true and Alex had been killed by an alien, then Maria and Liz could be walking into a trap in Las Cruces, and he couldn't let that happen. He got on his bike. Maria and Liz had only been gone a couple of hours. He should be able to catch up with them easily before it got dark. Then he would just follow them discretely and make sure they didn't get into any trouble.
(University of Las Cruces)
Lonni watched Liz and Maria across the quad. They had been making good progress, checking the dorm, questioning the students, but she wanted them to concentrate on Leanna and she had just the thing to push them in the proper direction.
She used her powers to make herself appear like Leanna and threaded her way through the crowd as Liz and Maria stopped to listen to the concert. Positioning herself in plain sight, she knew it would only be a matter of time until they recognized her.
Watching them carefully but surreptitiously, she instantly knew when they spotted her and she turned and walked quickly away. Glancing behind her a couple of times was enough to tell her that they had taken the bait and were following her. Lonni smiled to herself as she picked up her pace, Leanna would be their focus now. And if Liz was as smart as she hoped, tomorrow she would lead them to the translation and then they could go home.
(Episode - Baby It's You)
(Thursday, May 17th, 2001)
(University of Las Cruces)
Once Liz had explained to Professor Don Peters that her best friend Ray had died suddenly while working on an important computer project, he had been very sympathetic and eager to help. But Liz was no closer to discovering what Alex had been doing, and as they headed toward the Litvack Building she tried to get an idea. "So, what exactly is so special about these computers anyway?"
Don shrugged, "Nothing yet. Right now they're just multi-million dollar toys. The greatest potential is in the field of cryptography. In theory, a quantum computer can break just about any code."
Lonni sat in front of the laptop and used Alex's password to gain access to the university computer. First she changed the dates on when the translation was e-mailed to her computer, making it appear that it was done when Alex had been there. Then she pulled up the translation document and altered it to read the way she wanted.
She altered all of the sentences that referred to things she didn’t want Max and the others to know, replacing them with gibberish about alien abduction scenarios. She changed the description of the Granolith and the instructions for its operation. Then, because Tess had informed her of her plan, Lonni omitted all the details of conception and pregnancy covered by the book, leaving only a few vague sentences mentioning it as a possibility. Finally she re-saved the document, making sure it had the correct date on it, so there would be no question of its authenticity.
Then using the real Granolith instructions, Lonni created a control crystal for the Granolith and placed it in the box she had made, setting it next to the computer.
Before leaving, she set the explosive device she manufactured. Cuerena had taught them a trick or two and the device was certainly a trick. It was designed to look menacing but it was really harmless. When Liz, Michael and Maria found the room, the device would flash and make noise and create a small explosion but it was just an illusion. The device was no more powerful than a small firecracker but it would ensure that Liz and the others would accept the authenticity of the document, because no one would go to the trouble of guarding something that had no value.
Lonni smiled at her handiwork. She had left clues to lead Liz, Michael and Maria there, she just hoped that they were smart enough to figure it out. Otherwise Leanna would have to make another appearance and lead them to it.
Michael witnessed the start of the snowstorm from the road and figured that Max and Isabel must be at the park. They had often gone there as children and Isabel would never risk starting a snowstorm near their house.
He stopped the motorcycle near them and motioned to the snow, "A little public, isn't it?"
Isabel shrugged, "It's a freak storm, you know, who cares?"
"Not me," Michael said. "I got bigger things to talk about. Maxwell, there's two things I need to tell you. First is, I've been lying to you about Maria, Liz, and the whole investigation. Instead of stopping 'em, I've been helping 'em. Second thing is, it was worth it." He handed the translation to Max and the box containing the crystal to Isabel.
Max looked at the pages and box suspiciously, "What's this?"
"It's everything we've been looking for," Michael said. "It's a translation to the book. You know, the book."
Isabel was so surprised she could hardly speak, "You're kidding."
"Not even a little," Michael answered.
Isabel looked at Max, who was skimming the pages, "Well, what does it say?"
Max shook his head incredulously, "It's the way home. We can go home."
Lonni and Rath watched as Michael, Isabel and Max stood in the snow reading the translation.
With a smile Lonni took out her phone and dialed Tess' number. As soon as Tess answered, Lonni got right to the point, "Call Jennifer Coleman and get her back to school now. And no screw-ups this time. Make sure that she doesn't remember anything except what we want her to know.
BOOK 9 - VERISIMILITUDE|
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