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



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PART 15


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(Sunday, June 2nd, 2002)
(Copper Summit, AZ)

Tess cradled the baby in her arms protectively, as Nicholas stepped closer.

He looked at the newborn with mild interest. It appeared human, with a small sprinkling of blond hair and large blue eyes. "So much trouble for such a small thing," he said dismissively and turned his gaze to Tess. "By tradition the father names the child but since the once and future King isn't here, I guess it's up to you."

Tess nodded. "Also by tradition, the Tageion heirs are given a form of the name Zan," she said, "and I'm sure Max wouldn't want me to break that tradition. So I am naming our son after Max's illustrious ancestor who brought peace to Antar and formed the council, the first King of Antar, Zantas Tageonant."

Nicholas rolled his eyes. "Yeah, whatever."


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(The Evans House - Isabel's Room)

Isabel stumbled into her room, closed the door behind her and sank down onto the floor. Somehow she had managed to reassure Khivar she still loved him and had left him quickly afterward, claiming that her parents would expect her home.

The shaking had started once she was in her car, a reaction of her discovery, and even now she couldn't calm herself. She thought of calling Max to see if he could ease the tension from her muscles but quickly discarded the idea. She would have to tell him what happened and she didn't even want to think about it herself.

Even though she hadn't meant to, she had betrayed her brother once again by falling in love and sleeping with their greatest enemy. All the way home, Isabel thought the discovery of Hale's true identity would kill her feelings for him, but they were as strong as ever.

Suddenly she got to her feet and looked around her room, desperate to do something and her eyes fell on a letter from her grandparents. Once again they had invited her to spend part of her summer vacation with them and Isabel saw it as the perfect solution. She needed to get away, just for a few days, and figure out what she was going to do.


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(The Evans House)

Diane opened the front door to Hale's smiling face.

"Mrs. Evans," Hale greeted, "how nice to see you. May I speak with Isabel?"

Diane was somewhat surprised to see Hale. When Isabel had come to her that morning, practically begging to go to San Diego to visit her grandparents, Diane had assumed something had happened between Isabel and Hale. "I'm sorry Hale, you just missed her. Max is driving her to the airport."

"What?" Hale asked.

Diane nodded, "I thought you must have had a disagreement for Isabel to leave so quickly."

Hale used a small burst of power to lull Diane into a semi-trance. "Where is Isabel going?"

"San Diego," Diane answered in a monotone voice.

"What did Isabel tell you?"

"Only that she needed to get away for a few days."

"How long ago did she and Max leave?"

"Just a few minutes," Diane said, "but the plane doesn't leave for more than an hour."

Hale released her from the trance. "Thank you for your help, Mrs. Evans."

"Of course," Diane said, still somewhat stunned.

Hale walked back to his car, dialing the number to his mansion's guesthouse, where his servants were stationed. "Meet me at the Roswell airport by the back gate," he ordered, "bring the van and make sure to match the uniforms of the airport workers."

"Damn it," he swore as he hung up. Isabel had been shocked to discover his true identity and now he could see that he'd made a mistake in letting her leave his house. He should have followed his instincts and insisted they talk before he let her go home. But his more tender feelings had prevailed. He had just been so happy to be with her again and he wanted to give her some time to come to terms with the new step in their relationship. And obviously, Isabel had been more freaked out than she had let him see.

He got in the car and pressed another series of buttons. "Nicholas, get Gragras on the phone, now!"


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(The Parker House)

Liz awoke with a bit of a headache, a consequence of the strange dreams she'd had.

There had been images of an airplane, sounds of a crying baby and feelings of betrayal mixed with more things she couldn't remember, fleeting pictures and confused emotions.

She had a slight feeling of discomfort in her stomach but it didn't really concern her and she wondered if she was coming down with the flu. Padding into the kitchen, she greeted her parents and took a seat at the table.

"Want some eggs?" her mother asked.

"No," Liz said, shaking her head. "I feel a little funky. I think I'll just stick with some orange juice and toast."


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(Roswell Airport)

Max hugged Isabel at the gate. "I'll miss you, even if it is only for a few days."

Isabel smiled. "No you won't. You'll be too wrapped up in Liz to even notice I'm gone," she teased.

Max released her. "Mom thinks you and Hale must have had a fight for you to leave so suddenly. Did something happen?"

Isabel paled but shook her head. "No nothing like that. I just want to get away, that's all."

Max nodded, "Okay, have a good time."

Isabel smiled and headed for the door. It was only a short walk across the tarmac to the propeller plane that would take her to San Diego, and she was the last one aboard. Sinking down into her seat, she sighed with relief, glad to finally be by herself.

Max watched from the terminal as the plane's door closed and it readied for take-off. He could see Isabel through the window until the plane taxied away from the building.

Max knew something was wrong with his sister, but if Isabel wouldn't tell him, he couldn't force her. Even though she had denied it, he was sure something had happened between her and Hale to make her leave so suddenly. He just hoped the time away would do her some good.

He watched as the plane stopped, waiting for take-off permission and after a handful of minutes it started down the runway, building speed before finally launching itself into the air. The plane started to climb, and still worried about Isabel, Max decided to call her when she arrived.

He was about to turn away when the plane burst into a fireball, as an explosion ripped through it. For a moment Max was in shock and stood gaping unbelievably at the horrifying scene, but as the flaming pieces started to rain down, the reality of the situation cut through him like a knife. "Isabel!"


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(The Parker House)

The sudden pain in her chest nearly knocked Liz off of her chair and she grabbed at her heart gasping, trying to breathe past it.

Instantly her mother and father were at her side, "What's wrong? Liz are you okay?"

"It's Max," she gasped. "Something's wrong with Max." She tried to get up, "I've got to go to him."

Jeff held her down, still concerned, "Where is Max, at home?"

Liz concentrated on Max, trying to contact him through their connection but his shields were firmly in place. "I can't . . ." Liz shook her head and the answer came to her. "He's at the airport. Please Dad, can I borrow the car? I've got to go. Max needs me."

Nancy and Jeff looked at one another with a brief nod.

"Okay," Nancy said, "but your father is driving. You're in no condition."


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(Roswell Airport)

With a shaking hand, Max pressed the buttons on his cell phone and when his father answered, he nearly burst into tears.

"Dad," he said, barely recognizing his own voice. "Isabel . . ." he trailed off as his voice deserted him.

"Max," Philip said. "What's wrong?"

Max cleared his thickening throat. "Isabel's plane exploded."

Max heard the sound of the phone hitting the floor and hushed voices. Then all he heard were his mother's cries.


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Jeff followed Liz through the winding passageways of the airport as she unerringly ran straight to Max.

He was huddled in a chair, weeping softly and without a word Liz wrapped him in her arms. Together they sank onto the floor, holding one another, crying.

Jeff felt awkward witnessing the intimate scene and looked around only to notice that others in the area were also crying. He approached an airport employee with a sick feeling in his stomach. "What happened?"

"Flight 403 to San Diego exploded on take-off," the man said grimly. He shook his head. "Twenty-four passengers, no possibility of survivors."


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(The Evans House)

Nancy came down the stairs slowly and stopped at the bottom to talk to Jeff. "Diane took a sedative and she's asleep but I'm worried about Philip. He's just sitting, staring out the window."

Jeff nodded, "Let's just leave him for a while."

"What about Max?" Nancy asked.

"He and Liz are together in his room. It seems to help him just to have Liz there."

Nancy looked into the living room where Michael, Serena, Ava and Maria were gathered with the Sheriff and Kyle. "What are they up to?"

"Michael seems to think Isabel's death wasn't an accident. He thinks it was the skins. He wanted to go to Copper Summit and get revenge but Maria and Jim are talking him down."

Nancy shook her head, "I can't believe they would kill Isabel. She's just an innocent girl."

"Yeah," Jeff agreed, "but she is Max's sister and possibly in line for the throne."

"So do you agree with Michael that it wasn't an accident," Nancy asked.

Jeff shrugged, "I don't want to believe it, because if it's true that could mean Liz is in danger too."

A sudden thought occurred to Nancy, "Has anyone called Hale? Diane said he was here this morning and she was worried about him."

"Jim tried," Jeff said, "but we couldn't get a hold of him."


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Liz lay beside Max on his bed, their arms wrapped around one another. Max held her tightly as if he were afraid she would disappear. At her urging, Max lowered his shields and she experienced the full weight of his sorrow.

The strong emotions rushed between them and the connection slid fully into place, bringing their souls into alignment. The complete union didn't allow for anything to be held back and gradually they both found a small amount of comfort.

I can't believe she's gone, Max said through the connection.

I know, Liz said, it all seems so impossible.

As Liz's thoughts filtered through his mind, Max focused on one. You had a dream about this last night.

Liz was filled with guilt as she remembered the dream. I'd forgotten. She suddenly felt sick. If I would have warned you. Oh Max, this is all my fault.



No, Max denied instantly. I won't let you blame yourself. Every dream you have isn't necessarily a prophecy. You didn't even have any bad feelings associated with it.

I thought maybe I was coming down with something, Liz admitted, but that's stupid. I can't get sick any more. If I would have paid more attention to the dream, maybe I could have done something.

Liz, I can see what you remember," Max said, "and it's all really vague. Isabel isn't even in it and you didn't know she was getting on a plane.

But, Liz started, only to have Max send a burst of love through the connection, soothing her worries.

It isn't your fault, he assured her. I don't know how you get anything out of those dreams at all, if they're all like that one.

Liz brought the dream into focus and it suddenly became stronger, clearer.

What just happened? Max asked.

I think the connection is doing it, Liz said, letting me see more of the dream.

Once again she saw a brief glimpse of a plane and experienced the feelings of betrayal. Then the sound of a baby crying became louder and suddenly Liz understood. Max, your son has been born.


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(Monday, June 3rd, 2002)
(The Evans House)

Max walked into the kitchen and took a seat at the table with his mother, where she had a blank notebook open before her. Tears streamed down her face and he took her hand in his. "Mom, you don't have to do this."

"Yes I do," Diane said. "Who else is going to plan a service for Isabel? I'm her mother. It's the last thing I get to do for her."

Max nodded understanding. "But you don't have to do it alone. Liz has offered to help and her parents too, and Dad and I will do anything you need."

"I just don't know what to do," Diane admitted. "Should we wait until the investigation is over?" A sob escaped from her and she whispered, "We don't even have anything to bury."

Max stood and wrapped his mother in his arms, letting her cry. He didn't know what to do either and he felt guilty that his mind was divided between Isabel's death and Liz's belief that his son had been born. "It's okay Mom," he said automatically, even though he didn't really believe it. "Everything will be okay.


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TBC







BOOK 10 - MAJESTY'S MORASS
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