Together, Liz and Isabel reached out with their minds, looking for the transmission to Antar. It seemed to be reaching for them and came to them instantly, swirling around as if it longed to be connected to them.
Liz and Isabel couldn’t believe how easy it was, and opened the connection wide to include their whole group so they were fully joined to it, and then let themselves be sucked inside.
There was a feeling of being impossibly light, drifting, floating, like a leaf on the wind, and then they were flying impossibly fast. There was a sensation of movement, but none of them could tell what direction they were going, or even see anything around them but the occasional flickering light. A moment later they solidified again, and found themselves standing in large crowded room.
Several huge screens, that a moment before had been broadcasting the fight on Earth, now hissed with static and then flickered to show the room they were in. The six of them were at the front of the crowd, inhabiting bodies that were not their own, and facing a table with three people, and man who sat on a throne.
Max and Zan recognized him immediately. “Khivar!” they growled.
Khivar jumped to his feet, alarm crossing his features. “Max, Zan, that’s impossible,” he breathed.
The crowd moved back away from them as they realized what was happening, and gasps filled the room along with whispers, “The Royal Four. The Royal Four has returned.”
“The Royal Four has returned,” Khivar sneered, indicating them with a sweeping motion of his hand, speaking loud so everyone could hear him. “Except you seem to have grown by two, and the Royal Six just doesn’t have the same ring, does it? And one of you is a human,” he said with a smile. “Do you really think the Antarian people are going to accept you? The former King now lives in two bodies,” he said with a bark of laughter.
Max stepped forward, “It doesn’t matter if they accept us or not. We’re not here to force ourselves on anyone. We’re here to stop you.”
Zan nodded, “You’ve terrorized these people for years, Khivar, and it’s time you faced the consequences.”
Khivar laughed again. “What consequences do you imagine for me? You’re not even here.”
A sudden feeling rushed through Liz and she spoke before she had time to even consider. “He’s scared,” she said. “He doesn’t know how we’re able to be here, and he’s scared.”
“The human abomination,” Khivar hissed. Pointing at her, he ordered, “Kill her!”
Max and Zan immediately stepped closer to Liz as they saw a half dozen of Khivar’s uniformed soldiers coming toward them. But Ava, Isabel and Michael lifted them off their feet, sending them hurtling back into the walls, and they slid to the ground unmoving.
The other soldiers in the room looked surprised and glanced at each other as if wondering what to do, but Michael caught their eyes and shook his head and they all stayed where they were.
Khivar seemed surprised too, but he pointed to a group of soldiers. “I said kill her,” he growled.
They lurched forward, not even getting two steps before they followed the fate of the first group of soldiers.
Khivar raised his head. “You may be able to take out a small group of soldiers, but try taking on every soldier in the palace. You’re projecting yourselves here from another galaxy, your power won’t last long and you’ll be defeated by our numbers, just like the last time.”
And suddenly the doors to the room burst open and soldiers started pouring in. Some of the people who had been standing around called out in alarm, and they all backed to the walls, trying to stay out of the way.
Max and Zan spoke to the group through the connection. “Liz is holding this connection,” Max said, “so she shouldn’t use her powers for anything else.”
Zan agreed, “And we need to do this fast, Khivar is right, we don’t know how long this power will last.”
Max and Zan faced Khivar and pushed Liz behind them and Ava, Michael and Isabel filled in behind her, making a circle around her.
A feeling of deja vu filled Max and Zan so powerfully that they felt themselves being sucked into a memory. This situation mirrored almost exactly what had happened the day Khivar had killed them.
They felt the other Zan’s feelings so clearly, heard his thoughts of loss and regret. For a moment the other Zan filled them completely and they saw through his eyes. He’d never felt ready to be King. He’d been so lonely and so unsure his whole life and now he’d let his people and his family down.
But through everything they both had the panicked thought that they couldn’t have a memory now. They couldn’t be distracted again in the middle of a fight.
Struggling furiously against the memory, they were surprised that they were able to push it aside. The memory was still there, but it ran in the back of their minds and they were still focused on what was happening.
Max went a step further, trying to close his mind to the images from the past, and they stopped.
He and Zan looked at each other for a second, communicating quickly in their heads. “He was just like us,” Max said.
“He was so scared,” Zan said. “He felt like it was all his fault.”
“But it wasn’t,” Max said. “He was thrown into a situation he had no control over, just like we were.”
“We don’t have to worry about becoming him,” Zan said, “because we are him.”
“And now we know that we can control the memories,” Max said, “or choose if we want to have them or not.”
Suddenly a group of fifty soldiers rushed them with arms outstretched and Max instantly raised a shield around his family.
He felt their powers bouncing of his shield like they were no more than raindrops.
Michael, Ava and Isabel shot through Max shield, taking out three or four soldiers at a time. Zan concentrated on the group in from of him and Max, building his power and sending out a rippling wave that impacted twenty men, dropping them to the floor.
The next wave of soldiers didn’t wait until the first were finished, and at least a hundred of them rushed the group.
Twenty more soldiers gathered together and used their powers, concentrating on one spot on Max’s shield, obviously trying to weaken it. Max used an extra burst of power to gather their energy and send it back at them, throwing them across the room.
Michael, Ava and Isabel were doing their part too, but it seemed like every time they got rid of one soldier, another took his place. More and more of them pushed into the room and even though the four square had given them a tremendous amount of power, they were starting to tire.
Zan growled. “These soldiers are just wasting our time and power,” he said through the connection.
Max agreed. “We need to concentrate on Khivar. Just like the end of the Soviet Union, if we take him down, the empire will fall like dominos.”
Zan gathered his energy and sent out a burst that pushed the majority of the soldiers out of the room and blocked the doors. Rippling waves of his power pulsed in front of the doors, holding them closed, as the soldiers pounded on the outside.
The remaining soldiers in the room looked scared, and one by one, they started to drop to their knees.
“Get up,” Khivar snarled. “They can’t keep this up much longer.”
But the soldiers didn’t move.
Khivar turned to the group. “You may have gotten the upper hand for now, but I have troops all over the planet and I guarantee it will stay under my control.”
Max wasn’t sure where the camera in the room was, but he could tell from the picture on the screens that what was happening in the room was still being broadcast. He spoke up, so his voice would carry to the screens. “People of Antar, we can defeat Khivar, and end his tyranny, but it is time for you to stand up and fight. We can’t be everywhere on the planet to fight his troops. You have to rise up and defend yourselves.”
Khivar growled and sent out a blast of power at the camera, but Zan intercepted it with a flick of power.
Zan smiled. “The people have a right to know what’s happening,” he said. “And they should see the dictator they have suffered under for decades be taken down.”
Max and Zan walked toward him, with Liz, Ava, Isabel and Michael behind them.
Khivar looked quickly around for help and when he didn’t see any, he faced them squarely. An evil smile lit his face and practically faster than they could see, he threw his hand out, sending a crackling ball of red energy directly at Liz.
Zan reached for it with his powers as it rushed at them, but Liz had reacted instinctively, throwing out her shield and catching it. Zan took it from her and sent it back at Khivar.
He was so surprised that it took him too long to react, and when he dove aside the ball of energy hit him in the shoulder, knocking him to the ground where he sprawled unconscious.
The crowd in the room gasped, and Zan and Max rushed forward. Zan flipped him and put a foot in his back, holding his arms behind him while Max used his powers to wrap a piece of metal securely around his wrists.
Max stood up and turned to look at the camera. “Khivar’s rule is over,” he said. “We’ll offer a chance for his troops to stand down now.”
Immediately the pounding on the doors stopped, and Zan dropped his power, letting the doors swing open. The troops outside were all kneeling.
One of the people who had been sitting at the table came forward a few steps, his hands raised in submission.
“I don’t know if you remember me,” he said, “but my name is Larek. We used to be great friends before you died.”
Another flash of memory came to Max and Zan and the recognized him. They both smiled. “Larek, we remember,” they said at the same time.
He came closer, motioning to the others who had been at the table with him. “We came here to try and stop the war that has been going since Khivar took Antar, and now maybe we can really have peace. There will be a trial for Khivar of course, but I imagine it will only be a formality and he will get what he so richly deserves.
Larek seemed distracted for a moment and then spoke up. “We are getting reports from all over the planet, Khivar’s troops are surrendering in huge numbers, and the others are being destroyed by the people.”
Larek motioned to the screens on one wall and images filled them of people fighting uniformed soldiers, of soldiers surrendering, and of soldiers being led away by groups of citizens.
A cheer went through the room.
Larek spoke up, his voice filling the room. “Khivar is defeated! The people believe in you so much that they have taken the planet back in your name, and you can take your rightful place as the Kings of Antar.”
Another cheer went through the room.
Max and Zan looked at each other. “We didn’t come here to rule anyone,” Zan said. “Maybe it’s time for a change.”
Max nodded. “Where we live, the people choose their leaders, and if they aren’t doing a good job, they are replaced.”
“It doesn’t always work, Zan said, “but at least the people have a voice in what happens.”
Larek’s eyebrows rose in surprise. “Progressive,” he said.
Suddenly both Max and Zan could feel that Liz was starting to tire and each took one of her hands, giving her their strength.
“We can’t stay too much longer,” Max said.
Larek nodded. “Of course,” he said, speaking to the camera, “you must be expending a tremendous amount of energy just to be here. But the saviors of Antar will be back as soon as they can to reassure the people and set the planet on its new course.”
He looked at both Max and Zan and they knew he was trying to tell them that even though they had defeated Khivar, they couldn’t just leave the planet to fend for itself. Not yet.
Zan nodded. “We’ll be back after we’ve gotten some rest.”
“And since we can’t be here all the time,” Max said, “we ask Larek to be our representative.”
“I’d be honored,” he said, giving them each a short bow.
Another cheer went through the room.
Michael, Ava and Isabel joined Max and Zan with Larek. “Are any of our families still alive?” Michael asked Larek.
Isabel nodded anxiously. “Our mother?”
Larek smiled. “You all have family still alive,” he said looking at Michael and Ava. Turning to Isabel, Max and Zan he nodded, “And your mother has been in hiding on my planet. We will see what we can do about getting them all here for your next visit.”
Max and Zan could feel that Liz’s powers were fading fast.
“We have to go now,” Zan said looking around the room and at the camera, “but we will be back as soon as we can.”
Max kissed Liz on the cheek. “Let go now,” he said. “Let’s go home.”
Never Underestimate Destiny|
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