Alternate End #4
Max jerked awake as Liz’s feelings of horror reached him through their bond at the same time that she screamed. His eyes darted around the room looking for signs of danger, but he realized almost immediately that she was dreaming.
He shook her gently. “Liz, wake up. Liz.”
Her eyes snapped open and he touched her face. “Everything is okay. You were just dreaming.”
Liz collapsed in relief against him. “It was so real. I saw your past life when Khivar’s troops took over the palace. They were attacking you,” she shook her head, “attacking Zan, but he kept turning into you.” She looked up to meet his eyes. “I think you’re still in danger.”
Max smiled gently. “No Liz. Isabel and Khivar are dead, and so are the last of the assassins. We’re safe now. We’ve been in danger for so long that it just hasn’t had time to sink in yet, and with the pregnancy your hormones have got to be on overdrive.”
“I don’t know,” Liz admitted.
“You dreamed about Zan’s life,” Max said softly, “not ours. You didn’t see anything new. You’re just still worried that’s all, and you were confusing Zan and me. We’re okay.”
Liz nodded, smiling softly. “I guess you’re right.”
Max kissed her forehead. “I wouldn’t let anything happen to you or the baby.”
“I know Max,” Liz said.
He kissed her again and pressed his hand to her stomach. “Let’s get dressed and go see Seris to check out this little guy.”
Liz smiled with relief. Max was right. They were safe and everything was okay. She should just be concentrating on their son.
Kasha slipped into a room in a disused part of the palace and moved into the arms of her waiting lover Jaetus. They had to keep their affair secret and they could only steal a few moments together at a time.
Jaetus kissed Kasha hard. “Only a little while longer my love,” he said, “and we’ll be able to openly declare our love.”
Kasha sighed. “I’ve lived with the specter of my husband for so long, and then Zan’s after he was killed. But now that Max has come back and defeated Khivar I can finally live a life for me.” She smiled at Jaetus. “We can live a life for us.”
Hand-in-hand Max and Liz sat in Seris’ office as he examined Liz and the baby. Seris had been deep in concentration for a long time with his hand pressed to Liz’s stomach as he connected to the new life within her, and Max and Liz eagerly awaited his diagnosis about the baby.
Finally Seris looked up at them, removing his hand from Liz. “You are right, of course,” he said. “The baby is a boy, he's healthy and he’s only a few days along.”
Max smiled, glad to have his feelings about the baby confirmed. He kissed Liz on the forehead reassuringly before turning back to Seris. “And do you have any idea how long the pregnancy will take?”
Seris shook his head. “Not exactly, but I think it will probably be about the same term as a human pregnancy, possibly a little longer. There has never been a hybrid pregnancy, but Antarians have a term very similar to humans.” He smiled. “We’ll keep a careful watch on the baby to see how he is progressing and we’ll be able to make a more accurate estimate in a few weeks.”
Liz smiled, squeezing Max’s hand. When they had connected to the baby she had felt that he was okay, but she was relieved to have the opinion of a specialist. “Thank you Seris.”
Seris smiled at them. “This is wonderful news, your Majesties, for you and for Antar. May I be the first to congratulate you?”
Liz had been so happy about the baby that she had never considered she was carrying Antar’s future King, and suddenly she felt overwhelmed. The color drained from her face and she swayed dizzily.
Max’s arm went around her instantly. “Liz?” he asked anxiously.
She tried to smile reassuringly but it looked like more of a grimace. “I’m fine.”
Max looked to Seris who nodded. “Liz is in perfect health. The dizziness is just part of the pregnancy.” He looked at Liz. “Everything will be fine but you should get some extra rest.”
Liz nodded. “I am tired,” she agreed. “I didn’t get a lot of sleep.”
Max grimaced remembering her dreams. “Why don’t you take a nap while I go to the meeting?” he asked softly.
Liz liked to attend the meetings with Max to support him but she quickly agreed to his suggestion. “Yeah, I think I could use the rest.”
Max scooped her into his arms.
“Max,” she laughed, “you don’t have to carry me.”
He smiled as he continued out of Seris’ office and into the hall. “You’re a little unsteady and I like carrying you. I’ll take any chance I can get to hold you in my arms.”
Liz snuggled against his chest. “I could get used to this.”
Max took her into their room and placed her on the bed. He slipped off her shoes and pulled the blanket up before sitting next to her.
Liz smiled up at him. “You’re going to spoil me with all this pampering.”
Max kissed her forehead. “Well get used to it because I plan to spend the rest of my life pampering you.”
Max sat with Liz and they talked softly for a few moments making plans. They agreed to let their press agent make a statement about the baby that morning and tomorrow they would face all the questions from the press together. Max made a quick phone call to set it up and he stayed with Liz, stroking her hair until she drifted off to sleep. Then he quietly left the room, a joyful smile lighting his face.
He was on his way to tell his mother the news, but he encountered her and Jaetus just down the hall.
Kasha rushed to him. “Max, one of the guards said he saw you carrying Liz to your room,” she said concerned. “Is she okay?”
Max’s smile widened, he felt almost giddy with happiness. “Liz is pregnant.”
“Pregnant?” Kasha asked incredulously. “But I thought you were going to wait.’
Max nodded. “It was unexpected,” he admitted, “but Liz and I couldn’t be happier.” He grinned like a fool. “We’re having a son, and Seris says he and Liz are healthy.”
“A son,” Jaetus gasped. “An heir.” He dropped to the ground. “Zha’an will live on. Antar will prosper.”
“Get up, please,” Max said. He really hated all the bowing. He let his mother pull him into an embrace and hugged her back as he spoke. “My press agent is releasing a statement now and tomorrow Liz and I will make the official announcement.”
“Oh Max,” Kasha said excitedly, “this is wonderful news. After all of the terrible things that have happened it’s a miracle. Nothing could make me happier.”
Within a couple of hours the news of Liz’s pregnancy had spread across the planet and reached the ears of those who wished Max harm.
“This news changes our plans,” the first person said.
“Yes,” the second agreed, “but even though the news is unexpected we could turn it to our advantage.”
The first person nodded. “Everything was set up for tonight anyway, it will just require a few simple adjustments.”
Liz slept peacefully for most of the afternoon, a deep, restful sleep that rejuvenated her tired body and mind. But then she started to dream.
Again she watched the events unfold that had led to Zan’s overthrow and death. She saw him being attacked in the palace by Khivar’s men. He fought valiantly, killing dozens of men, but eventually his powers waned and the attackers overpowered him, pulling him to the floor.
The afternoon had turned into evening and Max was finally finished with the day’s meetings. Putting the government back together after more than half a century was a huge job and he was looking forward to having dinner with Liz and relaxing.
A smile lit his face as he walked slowly through the halls of the palace on his way to their room. He wanted to do something special for Liz to celebrate her pregnancy. He wasn’t sure what to do, but he had time to think of something. Maybe they could take a few days off and go to one of his family’s rural palaces. Liz hadn’t seen much of Antar even though they had been on the planet for more than a year.
It was perfect, he thought. He would take her to the palace that he remembered as being his favorite. They could escape all the pressures of their life and just relax and spend time together.
His smile widened as he imagined long walks through the woods watching Liz discover each new plant and animal. She would love it and he would love sharing it with her.
He estimated that they could leave in a couple of weeks. By then the government should be up and running again and …
His thoughts trailed off as he realized that the halls around him were completely silent. The palace wasn’t usually noisy, but there were always the sounds of activity; servants, guards, the palace staff going about their duties. Max stopped, listening intently but he heard nothing and a shiver went up his spine.
The whole scenario seemed vaguely familiar.
Max started walking again, more quickly this time, eager to get to Liz. Suddenly he realized why the situation seemed familiar. Something similar had happened when he was Zan, on the last day of his life.
Max picked up his pace again. Shivers wracked his body as he remembered what had happened in his other life. The palace had been unusually quiet right before the shouts and laser blasts had erupted. It had been Khivar’s men attacking and even though he had fought to the end, he hadn’t escaped with his life.
He didn’t remember everything from his final day, but he remembered enough. No one should have to relive their own death, especially when it was caused by their sister.
Max took a deep breath. He wasn’t worried that anything was wrong now, but he knew only Liz’s presence would chase the bad memories away. Just the thought of Liz helped him relax.
A strange hissing sound caused the hair on his neck to lift and his shield instantly went up, an automatic reaction against danger. Max turned toward the sound, his eyes darting around, but he saw nothing. He shook his head and pulled down his shield. Thoughts of the past were haunting him that was all.
He started to turn away but something shiny on the floor caught his attention. Max leaned down and picked up a small metal object. It was about an inch long and pointed on one end like a needle. He stood up examining it closely, wondering what it was.
A sound behind him made him spin around and he found himself face-to-face with three strange men who were almost on top of him. Obviously they had meant to take him unaware but when he turned they stopped in surprise. Max had only a second to take in the situation. They were all armed with some kind of baton with a glowing end, and he didn’t even have time to wonder what they were before the men rushed him.
Max pushed out with his shield, easily lifting the men off their feet and slamming them into the wall. He was careful to only use enough force to knock them unconscious so he could question them later.
Suddenly shouts rang out all around him and approximately twenty men poured into the hall from several directions rushing toward him. The men were armed with blasters and the same kind of sticks with glowing ends.
Several shots were fired at him and his shield went up automatically, sending the bright red streaks of light bouncing off. Five of the men reached him and directed the glowing ends of their batons at his shield. Max felt a jolt of energy that surprised him and he pushed out with his hand, sending the men flying back.
More shots were fired and several of the men took up positions around him, raising their own hands and directing their power at him. Max felt his shield take several powerful hits and then several more men rushed toward him.
Adrenaline rushed through Max’s system fueling his powers and everything went into slow motion around him. He used a simple thought to send his shield out and had time to study the men attacking him.
They were all dressed in priests robes, possibly how they were able to gain access into the palace, and they were all equipped with the strange batons. Max had never seen anything like them and wondered again what they were for.
He watched with fascination as the men moved infinitesimally closer, their every action slowed in his mind. Max could see the red laser lights from their blasters, moving faster than the men, but still so slow that he could have easily stepped aside to avoid them.
The situation was so similar to what had happened in his other life, but he was so much more powerful now that the attackers didn’t have a chance. He felt a sense of calm wash over him as he watched his glowing green spread out around him. These men were no match for him.
Not for the first time Max wondered about the incredible increase in his powers. It could be because of his half human status, the added DNA altering him in unexpected ways. But Max had always suspected it was because of his bond with Liz.
They complimented each other in every way, but especially with their powers. Separate they were both powerful, but together they fueled each others’ energy, building and multiplying it in ways that had surprised them. Their powers seemed to feed on each other, flowing together, unlocking their complete potential. Max had no doubt that without Liz he would have been powerful, but with her he had achieved levels of power that Antarians had only ever dreamed of.
Another laser blast sparked off his shield, bringing his attention back to the men surrounding him, and he wondered who had sent them. Max had no illusions. He was hated by many and that would probably never change. Could the men be in the employ of someone who wished him dead? Or were they more of Khivar’s followers?
The men had obviously hoped to take him by surprise, probably intending to use the sticks with the glowing ends to incapacitate him somehow before ending his life. Then he remembered the pointed metal object he found on the floor. Had the hissing sound been some kind of gun shooting the needle at him?
Max watched as his shield finally reached the men, engulfing them. He easily pulled the life from their bodies and they collasped like rag dolls to the floor around him.
He stood for a handful of moments with his arm outstretched, looking around, waiting for a second attack, but it didn’t come. Everything instantly returned to eerie silence.
His next thought was for Liz. He reached out with his mind looking for her, and was relieved to find her in their room still asleep. There were always guards outside their door and she was sealed inside. She was safe.
Reaching for the communicator he always kept with him, Max barked orders into it. “I was just attacked in the south wing near my quarters. Lock down the palace and search it, and send a squad here for three prisoners.”
He turned to look at the unconscious men on the floor. Liz’s uneasy feelings had been correct again, and he swore to himself that he would never discount them in the future. But at least he had been able to control his temper enough to leave them alive, and he would get answers from them.
The sound of running footsteps caused him to spin around again, his arm outstretched, but he allowed his power to dissipate when he saw his mother and Jaetus rushing toward him with several squads of men.
“You got here fast,” Max said.
Kasha nodded. “We were already on our way when we heard about the attack.” She glanced around at the men littering the floor. “Are you okay?”
Max nodded. “I’m fine. They didn’t even touch me.” He shook his head. “I don’t know what they were thinking. Maybe they didn’t know about my powers or maybe they thought those batons, or whatever they are, would do them some good…”
“Max,” Kasha interrupted him, “something has happened and we didn’t want to announce it over the communicators. The Granolith is gone.”
“What?” Max asked incredulously. Instantly he reached out with his mind searching for the power of the Granolith, but it wasn’t there.
Liz awoke suddenly from her dream with the sensation of Max’s power running through her. For a moment she thought he was really in danger and then she remembered Max’s words. They were safe now and she was just confusing him with Zan in her dreams.
She released a shaky breath, trying to calm down. Getting upset wouldn’t be good for the baby. Maybe Seris could give her something to help her not have nightmares.
With a smile she placed a protective hand on her flat stomach. When they had discovered she was pregnant Liz had been worried that Max wouldn’t want the baby. He’d had such a horrible experience with the baby Tess had made up, holding it over him and using it to torture him, and Liz had wondered if it was too soon for Max to want to be a father.
But she needn’t have worried. She’d been relieved to discover that Max not only wanted the baby but he was ecstatic. He loved the small, new life inside her already and he wanted everyone to know. Liz smiled wider. Max was going to make a wonderful father.
She knew he had already told his mother the news. Max had wanted her to know immediately and Liz thought it might be better for him to tell her alone even though she didn’t mention it to him. Kasha had just lost her own daughter and Liz wanted to give her a little time to come to terms with the pregnancy.
Again Liz’s sympathies went out to Max’s mother. The poor woman had been through so much; losing her husband, then losing her son because of her daughter’s treachery, finding the strength to kill her daughter to try and give her a second chance at a life, and then being forced to admit that Isabel wasn’t worth saving and watching her die again.
Liz wasn’t sure if Max knew that Kasha had killed Vilondra to send her to Earth, but he really needed to know. But so much had happened the last couple of days that Liz had completely forgotten.
And Liz realized that she had forgotten something else too. She had intended to tell Max about the weird vision she had gotten when she touched Jaetus.
She didn’t know what it was about Jaetus, but he always gave her the creeps. On the outside he was always perfect, said the perfect words, did perfect things, but Liz always had a feeling that something was going on under his perfect façade.
Liz swung her legs over the side of the bed, noticing that it was dark outside. She glanced at the clock confirming the time. Max was supposed to come and wake her and they would have dinner together, but his meeting must have run late.
The meetings often did run late and the conference room was a lot closer to the dining room than her bedroom. So Liz decided that she would simply go to meet Max at the conference room.
As she slipped on her shoes and ran a quick brush through her hair, pieces of her dream kept returning to her.
A hissing sound
Zan, unarmed except for his powers, using his shield to throw men across the room
Men rushing toward him with glowing sticks
Zan bending to pick up a small metal object
Liz left her room deep in concentration. Why was the dream so different this time? Zan had a blaster and a sword in her dreams before, and the attackers weren’t holding glowing sticks. And she didn’t remember Zan picking up anything.
Suddenly she had another flash and realized that Zan was dressed differently than he had been in her other dreams too. She was used to seeing Zan in a uniform, but this time he was wearing Khakis and deep blue shirt just like Max had been that morning.
It wasn’t Zan in her dream, she realized with a gasp, it was Max.
A knot of fear started to uncurl in her stomach, quickly growing. Was it just the old dream that she was altering in her mind, or was Max really in danger? She had awoken to the feeling of Max’s power rushing through her. Had something happened?
But Liz barely had time to complete the thought before her attention was captured by a familiar voice calling her name.
She turned toward the source of the sound with wide eyes. It couldn’t have happened, she told herself. It was impossible.
“Liz,” the voice called again.
Liz took a tentative step forward. “Isabel?”
Her eyes darted down the hall where she had heard her sister-in-law’s voice but she didn’t see anything, and Liz realized for the first time how eerily quiet it was. “Isabel?” she called out again.
Fear suddenly raced through her and she took a step back. There was a faint hissing sound like in her dream but Liz only had a split second to wonder what was happening before a sharp object pierced her neck and she slipped into darkness.
“How the hell could that happen!?!” Max barked.
“We’re not sure, your Majesty,” Jaetus said. “The guards outside the Granolith room were gone and there is no sign of it.”
“Who could have that kind of power?” Max asked aloud. “They had to get into the palace, know where the Granolith is kept, overpower the guards and use some kind of shield or cloaking device to remove the Granolith practically under my nose.”
He shook his head. “I wouldn’t have thought it was possible.” He motioned to the dead men scattered around him. “But then I wouldn’t have thought this was possible either.”
Kasha spoke up. “The only person who came close to matching your power was Khivar.”
“But he’s dead,” Max said automatically, and then he stopped as realization dawned on him.
He looked up meeting his mother’s eyes as he spoke. “Khivar must have had help inside the palace. He was somehow able to fake his death and his men let in these others and got the Granolith out. It must have been his plan all along.”
Max’s mind reeled with the implications and he spoke aloud working through them. “Obviously he hoped to kill me, or at least distract me long enough to take the Granolith. It was brilliant really,” Max admitted. “A simultaneous two-pronged attack…” he trailed off again as everything clicked into place. “LIZ!!!”
Instantly he reached out with his mind, but he couldn’t feel her.
Max grabbed his communicator as he started sprinting down the hall toward their bedroom. “Hallek!” he bellowed, calling the name of the guard assigned to protect Liz.
There was no answer and Max tried again. “Hallek!!!”
Again there was no answer.
Jaetus ran close behind him. “What is wrong, your Majesty?”
“Don’t you see?” Max yelled over his shoulder without slowing his pace. “It wasn’t a two-part attack, it was three. Khivar would need to do three things to rule Antar again; kill me, take possession of the Granolith, and control or kill my son.”
Max pushed himself to a faster speed. “A statement was released to the press, Jaetus. Khivar knows Liz is pregnant. He knows she’s carrying our son.”
As they turned the last corner Max’s heart fell when he saw there were no guards outside his bedroom door, and he burst into the room calling out. “LIZ!”
Quickly he looked through their rooms. There was no sign of a struggle, but there was no sign of Liz either.
She was gone.
Soaring With Angels |
Alt End #4 Part 1 - Alt End #4 Part 3
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