BOOK 7 THE INTRUSION OF SHADES
(THE CLANDESTINED DISCLOSED)
(Episode - Four Square)
(Monday, May 8th, 2000)
Ed stopped his car outside the Sheriff's Station and turned the miniature camera over in his fingers. He suspected that Liz had left the camera in the house last night, which meant the Special Unit must have been using it on the kids. But since he had seen the Sheriff at the house too, he had to check him out.
Either way, someone was too close to them and when he found out who it was, he would eliminate the threat.
As Isabel dressed for school, her thoughts wandered to the dream she'd had of Michael and herself together. It had disturbed her in ways that she couldn't even start to explain. Not only had Michael always seemed like a brother to her, but the whole notion of being with him romantically was repulsive, wrong, and every fiber of her being rebelled against it.
But something was happening to her. She could tell that she was different, she could feel herself changing, but she was frightened of what she might be changing into. And somehow she just knew that Tess had something to do with it.
(Former Eagle Rock Military Base)
Pierce looked up as Agent Marley entered his office. "What have you got?"
"We have the name of the people who live in the house that the kids and the Sheriff were watching. A man named Ed Harding, who works as a consultant for the military, and his daughter Tess."
"Tess," repeated Pierce.
"And there is something else,” Marley said. “Ed Harding went to visit Sheriff Valenti at his office this morning."
Pierce looked surprised for a moment and then smiled. "The Sheriff again. His name comes up more and more often.” His brow creased thoughtfully. “I wonder what Ed Harding and his daughter have to do with this. Pull the man off the Sheriff and put him on Mr. Harding. I will take care of Valenti myself.
(West Roswell High School)
Tess watched Isabel go into the school office. It was obvious Isabel was trying to gather information on her. Well, Tess thought, if it's information Isabel wants, it's information I'll give her. It was time to step up her plan by continually turning up the heat on Isabel and Michael. The dreams would convince Isabel and Michael they belonged together and then it would be much easier to bring Max to heel.
(Episode – Four Square)
(May 9th, 2000)
Pierce looked up from the reports he was reading when his phone rang. "Pierce," he answered gruffly but his tone softened immediately when he recognized the caller. "Vanessa, how nice to hear from you."
"How's it going there?" Whitaker asked, not wanting to seem too curious, but eager to know if he had confirmed the identity of the suspect.
"Don't know yet. My first note is to look into the Sheriff here. I think he may be the key to everything."
(Episode - Four Square)
(Wednesday, May 10th, 2000)
Ed checked the rear-view-mirror again. The same car had been following him since he had left work. In his mind, he had eliminated the Sheriff as a threat and that only left the Special Unit, but he had to make sure.
He drove into town and pulled into a parking space. He got out of the car and headed down an alley that he knew was a dead end, blending into the brickwork of the wall as soon as he was out of sight of the man tailing him.
After a few minutes a man in a conservative dark suit, peeked covertly around the corner of the building, and then proceeded into the alley. He looked around, obviously surprised that the man he was following could have gotten away. He pulled out his radio, "Control."
"This is Control."
"This is Marley. I was following subject Harding but he's gone, disappeared down a dead end alley, like he vanished into thin air. I don't know how he got away."
"Check the immediate area and then stay close to his car. He will have to come back for it eventually. I will put someone on the house."
"Yes Sir, Agent Pierce."
Ed waited until the Agent had left the alley to take his human form again. So Pierce was in charge of the Special Unit now, he thought to himself. He remembered Pierce's words from the first time he had seen him more than a year ago. Pierce would kill them all if he got the chance.
Pierce must have discovered the children after Ed had left his last position at the FBI in Texas, Ed thought. While he had posed as an FBI agent, Ed had searched the computers for any mention of the Special Unit but he hadn’t found anything. He had anticipated doing a more thorough search of the computer but he had been forced to leave Texas quickly, when he had learned of the signal in Roswell. Maybe that was how Pierce tracked the kids too, but Ed had to know for sure. And now that Ed knew what he was looking for, he would hack into the FBI computer system and see what he could learn about Agent Pierce and any ongoing investigations in Roswell.
(Episode - Max to the Max)
(Thursday, May 11th, 2000)
Tess waited until Max had followed Isabel out of the pod chamber before turning to Michael. "You want to know, don't you?” she asked. “You want all the answers. I can give them to you, but first you have to convince them that I'm not your enemy."
Max had proved to her last night that he didn't trust her and Tess figured it would be easier to work on Michael first. She pulled the alien book out and offered it to Michael. "Max didn't tell you about this, did he? Take it," she said, pushing it toward him, hoping he or the others would remember how read it. "It will prove to them I don't want to hurt you. If you convince them, then I can explain everything."
Michael turned the book over in his hands and reluctantly left the chamber.
Ed revealed himself, stepping away from the wall where he had been hidden, returning to his human form. "How could you bring them up here like this? You know the Special Unit is close. You saw that camera. Who do you think put it on them in the first place? Our friend, Pierce."
"Oh yeah?" asked Tess sarcastically. "So why don't you just kill him? According to Max, you've done that before."
"What has he been telling you? You're going to trust him over me?" Ed would never admit it, but her words had hurt him. "Listen, you and I have spent a lot of time together. Now I don't want to say we're family..." he conceded, only to have Tess cut him off.
"You're not my family," Tess spat. "You never will be. Max, Michael and Isabel are."
"Fine," Ed said, betraying no emotion. "Go have your little reunion. If I have to kill people, I kill people. Pierce is dangerous. You all still need me if you expect to survive him."
Looked at him closely, noticing for the first time that he was upset. "You're really scared of Pierce, aren't you? More than the others."
"He's smarter,” Ed said. “He's closer to the four of you than anyone's ever been."
Ed watched as Tess went after the others. Shape shifters were engineered not born. He had no parents and didn’t know who his clone donors had been, and it had never mattered. But he and Tess had lived as father and daughter for ten years and he had come to care for her, have the feelings of a father of sorts. And she was right, he was not her family. He was her protector, and he had always known that one day he would have to fit back into the roll of protector. But Tess' denial of him had hurt.
Ed didn't know if the personalities on the originals were supposed to be transferred into the clones, but he felt that Tess' behavior was a failure on his part. Her behavior on Earth was considerably different than it had been on Antar. Ava had been soft spoken, kind and always concerned about others around her, but Tess was rude, demanding and selfish. Ed acknowledged he had spoiled her, giving her anything she desired, and allowing her the freedom to develop as she had. He had not felt it was his duty or even his right to discipline her, but perhaps he had been wrong.
(Former Eagle Rock Military Base)
The conversation with Agent Marley the day before, continued to play in Pierce's head. How had the middle-aged Harding evaded an Agent in his prime, so quickly? There was something definitely wrong with the whole situation.
Marley's words echoed again, 'he vanished into thin air'
Pierce turned to the tapes they had recorded from Michael Guerin's apartment and ran his finger over the dates, finally finding the one he wanted. He put it into the VCR and fast-forwarded to a conversation Michael had had with Isabel. He played the tape where Isabel was speaking.
"That would mean that each of us has this information in some part of us we're just not conscious of."
"Or Liz is getting the messages from somewhere or someone else," said Michael.
"Nasedo?" Isabel asked.
Pierce rewound the tape and started it again.
messages from somewhere or someone else," said Michael.
"Nasedo?" Isabel asked.
Pierce stopped the tape. Could Ed Harding be Nasedo?
Ed walked down the street until he was sure he was being followed, then he ducked into the alley. He turned to confront the man who tailed him, "I was hoping it would be one of you. I need to send a message to Agent Pierce."
He reached out and put his hand on the Agent's chest, quickly bringing his organs to a deadly temperature. Then he dragged the man to the rental car, parked further down the alley and put him into the trunk.
Phase one of the plan was complete, now he just needed to get Liz, and lure Pierce into the trap.
(Later that night – in the Jeep)
Tess was growing more frightened as they continued to drive, looking for Liz and Nasedo, and she tried to convince Max they shouldn't interfere. "Max, I can't understand why you are doing this. You are putting us all in danger because of a human. Nasedo will handle everything. He didn't tell us what he was doing because he didn't want us involved. We should only be concerned about ourselves."
Max couldn't believe what Tess was saying. Didn't she care about anyone or anything but herself? Liz had helped them selflessly many times, risked herself to save them more than once, and even if he didn't love her, there was no way he would just let Nadeso take her.
When Max didn't reply, Tess tried another approach. "Max you will have to forget about Liz anyway. You and I were made for one another. We belong together."
"No," Max said simply.
"You can't deny this," Tess said, turning to encompass them all with her statement, "any of you. It's our destiny. It's what we were planned for. Even if you don't want to believe me, you can't hide from the truth."
Max was growing angry but he fought to keep his temper, "It's not about the four of us right now, it's about Liz."
"Liz is human," Tess continued, "She has nothing to do with us."
Tess' words finally pushed him past the breaking point. "No," said Max softly, "you have nothing to do with us."
"Michael, is that what you think?” Tess gasped. “Isabel?"
Both of them turned away from her, their silence answering her question.
Tess was dumbfounded. She had finally found her mate and her family and they valued a human more than her.
(Episode - Max to the Max)
(Mirror Maze at the Carnival)
Ed, disguised as Max, searched for Liz in the maze of mirrors. He had to admit she had spirit. She hadn't given in to him and she was good at thinking on her feet.
He walked around a corner and ran into Max. "What are you doing? Get out of here."
"Where's Liz?" Max demanded.
"Pierce doesn't care about her, he only wants me," Ed said, trying to calm Max.
"He wants her, too. He wants all of us," Max asserted. "I'm not leaving without her."
"I won't let him take you," Ed tried to reassure Max, but was cut off by Liz's appearance.
"Max!" she cried as she rushed to him.
"Liz," Max called out, and rushed toward her, but he was stopped less than an inch away from her by a wall of glass. When he realized he couldn't get to her he looked her in the eyes, "Get out of here."
"Not without you," Liz insisted. Suddenly Liz saw the FBI Agents behind him in the mirrors. "Max! Behind you!"
Ed slipped around the mirrors and took Liz by the hand. He had to get her to safety, his King had ordered it. Max was powerful, Ed thought, surely he could handle a couple of humans. And Ed knew Max wouldn't leave without Liz. He led Liz out of the maze and into a bus, where she would be safe until this was over. "Right in here."
Liz looked him over quickly for injuries. "Max, are you all right?"
Then she surprised him with a kiss, but he could tell by the look on her face, she knew he wasn't Max even before she spoke. She had known before too, when she had kissed him in the car, and he wondered briefly how she could sense the difference. Earlier she had said Max had changed her, and Ed had thought she was speaking metaphorically. She had also said she and Max had seen into each other's souls, but if she really had seen into his soul maybe Max had done something to her when he healed her. Maybe she had been somehow changed.
"You're not Max," Liz said, backing away from him.
"No, I'm not. And now I've got to get him back." He changed his appearance into that of a clown and ran back toward the mirror maze to make sure Max made it out.
But he skidded to a stop as he saw several FBI Agents surrounding a gurney that was being pushed toward an ambulance. He didn't have to see the patient's face to know who it was. Agent Pierce had Max.
(Episode - The White Room)
(The Roswell UFO Museum)
Liz turned to Tess, "Where's Nasedo?"
"I don't know," Tess said.
Michael joined in the interrogation, "He's supposed to be at our side. Where is he?"
"I told you," Tess said angrily, "I don't know. He's never left me alone like this before."
Isabel sighed, "Then it's up to us. We have to find Max."
Alex tried to make them see reason. "What makes you think we can go up against alien hunters and win?"
Michael was instantly angry, misunderstanding Alex's protest. "What the hell choice do we have? Let him be a pincushion for Pierce? Let him die?"
"No," answered Alex quietly.
Liz spoke up, "We have to go to Valenti."
Michael couldn't believe what she was suggesting. "What, and tell him everything?"
Isabel tried to appeal to Michael, "Max was willing to do it to save Liz. Maybe now is the time to trust him."
Tess listened to the others making plans. They had not even asked her what her opinion was and Isabel was siding with Liz. She had to make them see they belonged together, and they would work better as a team. The four of them were the only ones who mattered. They didn't need help from anyone, not Liz, not the Sheriff, not anyone human. "What makes you think that Valenti is better equipped than we are?" she asked.
"He's the law," Maria said, stating the obvious. "He's got resources."
"So do we," Tess reminded them. "Stronger ones." She turned to Michael and Isabel, "Look, I know what I can do. What about the two of you?"
"What do you mean? Michael asked.
"Your powers, Michael," Tess said. "Your gifts. You do have them, don't you?"
Michael looked down, embarrassed, "We're not too advanced."
Isabel tried to explain, "We can do easy things, like change simple molecular structure, but we don't use them very often. What about you?"
Tess smiled. She could tell her suggestion was winning them over. "Being around Nasedo has taught me quite a few things."
(Episode - The White Room)
Ed emerged from his hiding place as the Agents wheeled the sheet-covered body past him and into the building. He had anticipated that they would bring the dead Agent, he had left on the side of the road, to the morgue, and he could use the man's hand to get past the security scan.
Last night he had followed the ambulance from the carnival to the base. The security had been too tight to attempt rescuing Max and he had been forced to wait. He used the time to re-familiarize himself with the layout of the base and then chose a convenient spot to hide and wait for the arrival of the dead Agent.
Ed waited a few more minutes to give the other Agents time to leave the room. Then he shifted into the face of one of the Agents he had seen earlier and followed the corridor to the morgue. As he approached the door, he heard voices from inside; male and female voices, and they seemed to be arguing.
He recognized the shrill tone of one of the female voices and shook his head. What did they think they were doing?
He pushed open the door and confronted them, determined to give them a scare. "Hey. You shouldn't be here. What are you doing here?"
Michael raised his hand and attempted to gather his power, but it was wildly unpredictible and would not obey him. Then Michael watched as the Agent stretch out his hand toward them. A burst of power hit Michael in the chest and the next thing he knew, he was lying on the floor.
"It's you," Tess said, the relief evident in her voice.
Ed shifted into the Harding persona, and Tess turned her fear and anger on him. "Don't ever leave me alone like that again."
Ed dismissed her petulant tone, "I have four of you to watch now."
Michael was wide-eyed with curiosity, "I've been looking for you for a long time."
Ed smiled, "Not as long as I've been looking for you. Now you're about to get yourselves killed."
"We're here for Max," Isabel said, defending their actions.
Ed shook his head, "This isn't the local Sheriff you're dealing with. You should have known better. None of you are equipped to be here. I've got to get you out of here," he said aloud, but another plan was already taking shape in his mind, and it would require the help of all three.
(Episode - Destiny)
(Saturday, May 13th, 2000)
(Roswell UFO Museum)
Kyle waited until Max and the others left the room. "Dad, what the hell happened?"
Jim studied his son. He had almost lost Kyle and he was more grateful to Max than he could ever express. But Kyle would have questions and Jim knew he would have to tell Kyle the truth. He just wasn't sure how to do that. "Kyle, you know I’ve been investigating Max."
"You told me to stay away from him." Kyle put his hand on his chest, covering the place where he had been shot and Max had laid his hands, healing him. "Is this why?"
Jim nodded. "Do you remember last September, the shooting incident at the Crashdown?"
"Yeah. That's when Liz started acting all weird."
"That's because Liz was shot and Max saved her life, like he just saved yours."
"The handprint on her stomach," Kyle remembered. "So the stories Grandpa told were true?" he asked incredulously.
"They must have been."
"But he told me about a killer alien from back in his time, leaving bodies with glowing handprints on them. Is that Max Evans?"
Jim shook his head, "I didn't know at first, that’s why I told you to stay away from Max, but I’ve gotten to know him and the others and they are just scared kids. They don't know where they’re from or why they’re here."
"The others?" Kyle asked, picking up on his father's phrasing.
"Michael and Isabel too."
Kyle accepted the information. "What about Deputy Fisher? Does he know too?"
"Fisher was really an undercover FBI Agent named Pierce who has been hunting Max and the others. He took Max captive and tortured him. I helped Max escape." Jim paused, "Max, Michael & Isabel recently found another alien who was sent with them to be their protector. Pierce injured him, maybe killed him. So I helped Max lure Pierce here so they could find out where this other man is and if he is alive. Somehow Pierce got loose and got a gun, and Michael had to defend us from him. Pierce was killed."
"Michael killed an FBI Agent?"
"Michael saved my life," Jim said simply. "Unfortunately we can't tell anyone what really happened because it would expose Max and the others. So we will have to get rid of Pierce's body and pretend like this never happened." Jim looked Kyle in the eye to make sure he had his son's attention. "The reason I am telling you this Kyle, is because we both have to keep this secret. We are both involved and I promised Max I would help him. I gave my word."
Kyle looked at his father and nodded, "I understand, dad. I won't tell anyone."
(Episode - Destiny)
(Sunday, May 14th, 2000)
(The Pod Chamber)
Ed got up off the floor and stood before them.
"I knew you wouldn't leave us," Tess said.
Ed smiled, "You're not ready to be left alone."
Michael agreed, "You're right, we need you. Show us how the orbs work."
Ed motioned to Liz, "She doesn't belong here."
Max stepped forward, "She's with me." He brought the conversation back to the orbs, "We want to know. You're the only one who can show us."
Ed considered them for a moment. He knew this day would come, and he hoped to put it off for a while longer but when it came right down to it, the decision was Max's. "It's not my job to show you. My only job is to keep you alive.
Max picked up on his phrasing immediately, "Your job?"
Michael pressed the point, "Well if your only job is to keep us alive, then tell us. They're communicators. They communicate with who?"
Ed sighed, "You're not ready to know yet."
Michael was like a dog with a bone, "They communicate with our home planet, don't they? Why don't you want us to contact them?"
"Because you don't know who else you may contact in the process," Ed admitted.
"Who else is there?" asked Isabel with a haunted tone.
Ed was reluctant to mention their enemies on Earth, fearing that their curiosity would lead them to investigate. The skins were beyond anything they could possibly imagine and they just weren't ready. "Set off those orbs, and you have no idea who you may be leading straight to us."
Max jumped to a conclusion, "You don't know, do you? You don't know how to use the orbs. If you knew, you would've already used them. You're here to protect us, but not to lead us, you said it yourself. But if you're not the leader, who is?
Ed remained silent, allowing Max to continue with his misconception that he didn’t know how to use the orbs, but steadily met Max's eyes, answering Max's last question. The others all looked at Max, finally understanding, and Ed continued, "If you really want to know what the orbs do, you can find out for yourselves. I can't stop you, but do it at your own risk."
Max brushed Ed's warning aside, a plan suddenly forming in his mind, "If you're really here to protect us, there's something you have to do. The only way we can ever go back is if nobody's hunting us anymore."
"Pierce is already dead," Michael reminded him.
Max shook his head. "He'll only be replaced," he looked at Ed, "unless we replace him."
Ed smiled, understanding Max's meaning and shifted into Pierce.
"The other agents are at an abandoned gas station in Hondo," Max informed him.
The faux Pierce smiled, "Now that I'm the head of their Special Unit, we'll have all their resources. You'll be safe now."
Max waited until Ed had disappeared before he picked up the orb. "I want to know."
Michael and Isabel took the other orb and Max turned to Tess. "Maybe if we just focus like Nasedo's always said."
The four of them pushed their energy into the orbs, activating the mechanisms within.
The orb that had been in the special unit vault had no message to show and it sent a single signal, revealing their position.
The orb from the desert activated the message stored within. A blue light radiated from the swirling symbol briefly and coalesced, growing brighter and brighter and finally the face of a woman appeared.
If you are seeing me now, it means that you are alive and well. I take this form because it will be familiar to you, and it will help you to understand what I am about to say. You have lived before. You perished in the conflict that enslaves our planet but your essence was duplicated, cloned, and mixed with human genetic material so that you might be recreated into human beings. My son, you were the beloved leader of our people. I have sent with you your young bride. My daughter, the man you were betrothed to, and your brother's second-in-command.
"Oh my god, Max," exclaimed Isabel, "Our mother."
Our enemies have come to the Earth. You will know them only by the evil within. Learn enough to use your skills, your knowledge, your leadership to combat the enemy so that you can come back and free us and I may once again hold you both in my arms. I live for that moment. Help us. I love you.
Isabel was practically overcome with emotion. She had been so upset to discover they had been hatched, thinking it meant they had no families but to see their mother was more than she had ever hopped for. "She's so beautiful."
Michael was just as awestruck, "I always knew there was something out there, but I had no idea how important it was."
"Things will never be the same," Max said, "but whatever happens, we have to stay together." He glanced at Tess, to let her know he considered her part of the group. "It's the four of us now."
Tess thrilled to Max's words. He had finally accepted his destiny, accepted her, and she threw herself into his arms and lifted her lips to his. "I knew this was meant to be."
Max held Tess' arms to keep the distance between them and gently put her away from him. "No." He turned to Liz and took her arm to stop her from leaving. "Look, everything I told you before is still true."
Liz had watched the message with growing horror. It just wasn't fair. She and Max had found one another across the galaxy, survived crazy humans and the FBI, overcome every obstacle, and now a message from their mother on another planet was tearing them apart. Max and his 'young bride' were the last hope of an enslaved race. They had been sent to Earth to prepare to take back their planet and Liz knew that left no place in Max's life for her. Max didn't belong with her. He was supposed to be with Tess, just like Nasedo had said.
Liz struggled to keep the tears back as she turned to Max. "Max, you do have a destiny. You just heard it. I can't stand in the way of it."
Max shook his head, not wanting to believe Liz's words, "But you mean everything to me."
Liz reached up to touch his precious face, and knowing it would be the last time, she gently kissed him. "Goodbye, Max." And then she turned and went out the door before she could change her mind.
Max was stunned. Just that morning, he had been so happy, knowing that soon all of this would be over and he and Liz could be together without any further complications. And now his curiosity had ruined everything. He wished he had never suggested they activate the orbs. He would trade everything to have Liz back.
He quickly followed her out of the cave, not ready to simply allow her to walk out of his life. "Liz. Liz, wait."
Liz turned automatically toward Max's voice, unable to mask the pain on her face that mirrored his own. She hated causing him pain but they had to let go of one another, and the sooner the better. She couldn't stand the thought of having him in her life, growing closer, loving each other only to have to send him away with another woman when the time came for them to return home. Liz turned from him and started walking away, but broke into a run after only a few steps.
Michael followed Max out of the pod chamber and witnessed the scene between Max and Liz. He could hear the anguish in Max's voice and see it in Liz's face. But maybe it was for the best, he thought. Max and Liz knew they didn't belong together, maybe it was better for them to part now.
Max took a step forward to follow Liz but Michael put a restraining hand on his arm. "You gotta let her go."
Isabel and Tess emerged from the pod chamber and came up behind them. Isabel could feel the pain coming off Max in waves, but Tess seemed to be oblivious.
"What happens now Max?" Tess asked.
(Episode - Destiny)
(Monday, May 15th, 2000 3:33PM Western Time)
(SETI [Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence] Institute Satellite Array - Lafayette, CA)
(Immediately after the activation of the orbs)
Courtney jumped when her trithium amplification generator activated. It happened so seldom that it always surprised her, but when she turned the pentagon to check the message, she almost dropped it. The signal was not from Copper Summit as she had expected, it was carried on a frequency that was only used by the Tageonant Royalty.
Finally it was happening. The Royal Four were using their communicators and she would be able to trace the signal using the program she had created and covertly planted in the SETI computers. She only hoped the program was functioning properly.
Courtney raced to her computer station and ran a search using the arrays in Puerto Rico and England to complete the triangulation and she waited impatiently as the program traced the signal's origin. She only had to wait a moment, and as the location was revealed, she had to laugh. The signal's duration had been too short to get an exact pinpoint but the computer had traced the signal back to where it had all begun, the crash site.
Song Playing: Against All Odds by Phil Collins
Max watched where Liz had disappeared around the rocks, long after she was gone, with Tess' question echoing in his head. He was the leader. He was in charge, and it was up to him to decide what to do.
Max swiped at his wet eyes and slowly turned toward the others. "Isabel and Michael, you take the Jeep and make sure that Liz gets home. Tess and I will clean up here. Then we'll take Tess' car and meet you guys at the Harding house in about an hour, to decide what we’re going to do with Pierce's body."
Isabel looked suspiciously at Tess, "Max..."
He held up a hand, cutting her off, "Iz, it's okay." He glanced at Tess, "She and I need to have a talk. Please just take care of Liz."
Michael took Isabel by the elbow. "You've got it Max," he agreed, knowing how important Liz's safety was to him. "We'll make sure she's okay."
Isabel hesitated again, "Max, are you sure?"
He forced a smile, "I'll see you in an hour."
She nodded and followed Michael down the hill.
Max turned and walked back to the pod chamber without a glance at Tess, but knowing that she was right behind him. He reached down and picked up the orbs and tossed the question over his shoulder. "So did you know about this?"
Tess positioned herself where Max could see her, and waited until she had his attention before she spoke. "You mean about what your mother told us?"
"Yeah. Ed didn't think we should tell you right away. He thought it might scare you. I wanted to tell you. I knew you wouldn't turn away from your people, from your destiny, from me." She leaned into him. "Now that you know we are married, you don't have to feel guilty about wanting to be with me. Your own mother told you we are supposed to be together."
Max stepped back, shaking his head, "No Tess, you don't understand. I don't love you."
"Well," she said with a smile, "we barely know each other but in time..."
Max cut her off, "Time won't make any difference, Tess. I love Liz. I always have, I always will, and I’m going to do everything in my power to get her back."
"But the message," Tess objected, "our mission. You heard what your mother said."
"I won't let anyone tell me who to be with," Max said more harshly than he meant to, and then lowered his voice to a conciliatory tone. "We can still work together as a team, still work to save our people."
Tess had a confused look on her face. "I love you and you are supposed to love me," she said woodenly.
"I'm sorry, Tess. Things don't always work out like you think they should,” Max said. “And how could you love me, you don't even know me?"
"I knew you and loved you then, and you are the same person."
Max shook his head, "Obviously I'm not." He motioned to the healing stones, still lying on the ground, "Let's find a place in here to keep those and the orbs and get back to your house."
(Former Eagle Rock Military Base)
Ed, disguised as Pierce, strode into the Special Unit behind the Agent he had retrieved from the Sheriff's closet. He had met the Agents in Hondo, quietly killing one and then shooting the other. Then he had used his powers to darken the dead-man's skin and sent the body on the helicopter to be examined by the lab. After disposing of the other body he had gone to Sheriff Valenti's house and released the other Agent from the closet.
As they approached the check-in scan, Ed saw a man working on the panel. "What's going on?" he asked the Agent.
"Agent Pierce, the scan was damaged during the escape. When we locked down the facility, the gate short-circuited and we had to pry it open. The scanning computer was fried. We have been working on it but we haven't been able to fix it. I'm afraid it will have to be replaced."
Ed smiled, "The shape shifter is dead and he was the last one. There is no reason to have a skeletal scan anymore."
He walked down the hall to Pierce's office and gathered all of the files he could find about Max and the others. He changed Max's lab results and any other damning evidence he could find. Eventually he would destroy all mention of them in the FBI files but first he needed to get rid of the other men in the Special Unit, so no one would be left to ask questions.
He would eliminate the Agents one by one, either killing them or assigning them to other duties. He would have to interview each man to determine if he really knew anything. If they did, he would discretely get rid of them, but he would do that somewhere besides Roswell. Then he would go to Washington DC and destroy the files there and finally the Special Unit itself.
(The Harding House)
Max held his many questions until Michael and Isabel arrived and when they were all seated, he started the interrogation. "Tess, tell us what you know about this war, about our other lives."
Tess smiled with satisfaction. Max was accepting his role as leader and it would only be a matter of time before he accepted her. She took a breath and started, "I don't know a lot of details but Ed has told me that a man usurped Max’s throne and we were all killed in the war.”
“Wait a minute,” Michael interrupted. “Maxwell was the King?”
“Of course,” Tess said. “You heard the message.”
“The message said leader,” Michael pointed out. “There’s a big difference between leader and King. A leader could be temporary, like a president, but King is for life.”
Max focused on Tess. “But we were killed.”
Tess nodded. “We made a back-up plan to harvest our genetic material and were sent to Earth to prepare to take back our planet."
Max, Michael and Isabel waited for Tess to continue, but she remained silent.
Finally Isabel spoke. “That’s it?”
“That’s what?” Tess asked.
Isabel shook her head, "That is basically what the message from our mother said. Don't you know anything else?"
Tess frowned, "Like what?"
Michael spoke up, "Like how did we lose the war? How are we supposed to prepare? And how do we get back when the time comes?"
Tess looked down. "I don't know," she admitted.
Michael snorted, "Didn't Ed tell you anything?"
Tess straightened to her full height. "Ed is just our protector. Max is the King. He will tell us what to do."
Song Playing: Don't Dream It's Over by Crowded House
Max waited in the alley beneath Liz's balcony for her to go up to her room. He leaned against the building and rubbed his forehead, it had been a long day. After the meeting at Tess' house, they recovered Maria's Jetta and returned it to her, briefly telling her everything, and suggesting Liz might need her. Then he, Michael and Isabel filled in the Sheriff, on the events of the day, including the contents of the message from their mother. When it had gotten dark, Max had gone with Michael and the Sheriff and disposed of Pierce's body.
From the desert, Max had come straight to the Crashdown, craving Liz's calming influence after the crazy events of the last few days. He had seen Liz through the window in the restaurant but what he needed to say to her would be better without an audience. Finally he saw the light in her bedroom go on and he climbed the ladder, eager to talk to her.
Liz sank down onto her bed, exhausted. After walking away from Max that morning, she didn't know how she had kept it together all day. She had wanted to hide from the world and just cry, but she had been scheduled to work so she had been forced to push aside her grief and pretend nothing was wrong.
Maria and Alex had come to the Crashdown to try and make her feel better, neither of them really understanding why Liz felt she had to give up Max. She had tried to explain it to them, and even though they didn’t agree with her, they did support her decision. They had wanted to stay with her but Liz had told them she was tired and they had left a few minutes ago.
And now she was alone. Alone. Liz nearly choked on the word. She had never felt so alone in her life.
Just that morning she had been so happy. She and Max were finally together. Yes, the FBI was after them and Max had just escaped captivity, but it had seemed they could overcome anything, together. Then they had heard the message from Max and Isabel’s mother, their real mother.
Intellectually Liz had always known there was a reason Max and the others had been sent to Earth, but she had never imagined exactly just what that would entail. But as she had stood listening to the message, everything snapped into place. Max was the King of his planet and with his 'young bride' he was expected to save his people.
Max really was meant to be with Tess and it wasn't just the design of some scientists, it had been Max's choice. Max had married Tess in his other life. Even if it had been an arranged marriage, he had married her.
Liz wiped the moisture from her eyes. She had to put it behind her. It didn't matter how much she loved him, Max had a destiny and she couldn't be the one to keep him from it, no matter how much it hurt her. Eventually Max would see it was for the best too.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the window. She knew who it was before she turned, and quickly tried to pull herself together before she faced him. Taking a deep breath, Liz crossed to the window and opened it. "Max, what are you doing here?"
Beneath the brave face Liz was feigning, Max could see her anguish. "We have to talk," he said softly.
"I think we’ve said everything, Max."
Max shook his head. "We haven't even started with what's important." He glanced at the window frame separating them. "Can I come in?"
Liz looked toward the door. The last thing she needed was her parents asking questions. "No, I'll come out."
Max waited until she had climbed out the window before he started, the words he had rehearsed going right out of his head. "Liz I know you’re upset by what happened today but it doesn't change anything. It doesn't change the way I feel about you."
"Max, it changes everything," Liz said sadly.
Max shook his head, "No, it doesn't."
"Max you heard what your mother said," Liz said, her voice cracking with emotion. "You were meant to be with Tess."
"No one is going to tell me who to be with. I love you. You are the only one I want."
Liz shook her head, "There is a reason you were sent here, Max. You are the King of another planet and your people are expecting you to save them. You have a duty to them and if I let myself get in your way, someday you would come to regret your decision to be with me."
"That would never happen Liz," Max assured her.
"I can't take the chance," Liz said softly, as tears gathered in her eyes. "You can't change destiny Max, and you can't escape it."
"I don't care about any of that," Max said.
He advanced toward her and Liz backed away a couple of steps and held up her hands, wanting him to stop. "No Max. We have to stay away from one another."
"I won't accept that Liz," he said, taking another step closer. "I know you love me and I won't let you deny what is between us."
Liz stepped backward and bumped into the wall and Max continued to advance until there were only inches separating them. He reached out and stroked her soft cheek with his fingertips.
"Max, please stop," she begged breathlessly.
Max pressed his forehead to hers. "No. I will never stop until you admit we belong together." He took her face in his hands and kissed her gently.
Liz tried to resist him but it was too difficult when she wanted the same thing. She felt herself lean into him and return his kiss.
When Liz responded, Max threaded one hand through her hair and encircled her waist with the other. He pulled her closer and deepened the kiss, knowing he was winning the battle to get her back.
Liz wrapped her arms around Max's neck. She loved him so much but she couldn't let this continue. This had to be the last time they were together.
Max could feel her emotionally withdrawing from him and pulled back.
Liz shook with reaction from Max's kisses. "Max we have to stop this. It can't happen again."
"We belong together Liz and you know it," he whispered.
"Max please don't do this," Liz begged. "You're making it harder than it has to be."
Max shook his head, "I won't stop. You mean too much to me. I won't let you go, it will never be over between us."
(Thursday, May 18th, 2000)
(The Harding House)
Ed stood before the Royal Four in the living room. He had noted with relief Liz Parker wasn’t present when he had entered, and he hoped that Max had changed his mind and was ready to accept his destiny. He had to admit that he could see what Max loved in Liz. She was a remarkable human, and Ed had begrudgingly begun to respect her strength, determination and loyalty. Liz had helped the Royal Four many times, and she had even stood up to him. But it didn’t matter how remarkable she was, Liz was a human and not part of the plan, and the sooner Max learned that, the better.
"I will be leaving tomorrow to go to Washington with the Special Unit." He reached out and handed Max a bag and a slip of paper, "These are your possessions I recovered from the Special Unit and my cell phone number. Use it if there's an emergency, but I don't anticipate you will have any trouble until I get back."
"What about Tess?" Max asked.
"She will continue to live here as Tess Harding. She is seventeen and old enough to stay alone while her father is out-of-town on business. I have arranged for all of the bills to be paid and she knows how to access all of the accounts in case anything happens to me."
"How long will you be gone?" Michael asked.
Ed looked at his watch impatiently, "I don't know. As long as it takes to destroy all evidence of your existence from the Special Unit files."
"But what about the enemies Max's mother told us about," Michael pushed. "They could be coming into town even as we speak."
"Even if they were able to trace the signal, they can't tell you from any other humans,” Ed said. “Just don't do anything to draw attention to yourselves and you will be safe. But you'll need to start developing your powers. Now that you are reaching maturity, you will grow stronger, more powerful, and from what I have seen, all of you need to work on control. Tess can help you with that."
Max nodded, "We'll set up a regular training schedule."
Ed nodded his approval.
In his search of the archived records at the Special Unit, Ed had specifically searched for the fate of the other two shape shifters, Kaldar and Letras. He had found no reference to Kaldar but discovered that Letras, who had been recaptured with him in the desert, had been held by the Special Unit for almost three years. There were detailed records of his captivity, including transcripts of interrogations, details of torture, and finally reports of his execution, autopsy and cremation.
Ed had been disappointed, because he had hoped to find one of the others alive, to help with the protection of the Royal Four. He anticipated being in Washington D.C. for at least a couple of months and he hated leaving the children alone for long. He had even considered contacting Cuerena early, to have her come to Roswell, but he had dismissed the idea almost immediately. He didn’t want to alter the plan needlessly. The children were safe, they had ready-made covers, and now Tess was there to give them the wisdom of her experience.
Ed had also wondered if he should tell them about the Granolith but had quickly pushed the idea aside. He had never mentioned it to Tess because he didn't want her to be able to pass along the information and for the same reason, he didn't tell the others now. If something were to happen to him, they would still learn about it from Cuerena when she arrived.
Yes, he thought to himself as he looked at them, he was right to keep as much from them as he could. The last thing he needed was them asking a lot of questions. Today’s fiasco had proven they would be easier to control if they didn't know anything.
(Friday, May 19th, 2000)
(The Parker House)
Song Playing: Since Yesterday by Strawberry Switchblade
Liz tossed her book bag carelessly onto the floor and sank down into the sofa with a loud sigh. Max had pursued her relentlessly the last few days; following her, calling her, sending her notes and flowers. She had begged him to stop but he had refused, and even though his arguments were persuasive, she knew she shouldn't give in to him for both their sakes. The only problem was, it wasn't becoming easier to deny him as she had anticipated, it was becoming more difficult.
Max continually argued that they loved one another too much to be apart, but it was precisely because she loved Max so completely that she had to let him go. Yes she wanted to be with him more than just about anything; the only thing that was even more important to her was Max's happiness.
She had discovered that real love was not a selfish emotion. Max's life and happiness meant more to her than her own and she couldn't let him throw away his family, his people, and his throne for her. Max had to be free to find his true path and purpose in life.
And even though Liz knew she was doing the right thing, it still wasn't easy. She loved Max so much it was torture denying herself, but to deny the man she loved was tearing her apart. She didn't think she would be able to hold out against him much longer and she had to do something or she would end up with him again.
Her eyes fell on the letters on the table before her and she reached for the stack, absent-mindedly flipping through them. She needed to get away from Max, put some distance between them for a while until she could gather her strength. And then the handwritten address on one envelope caught her attention.
3493 Bridge St.
St. Augustine, FL
Aunt Lucy, Liz thought. Lucy was always inviting Liz to spend time with her. Liz nodded, quickly making up her mind to go. It might just be the perfect solution.