Alternate End #4
Max stood in the middle of his bedroom, shaking his head incredulously. He couldn’t believe Liz was gone. He had felt her through their bond just moments before and she’d been safe and asleep, and suddenly she had just disappeared.
Automatically he reached out for her with his mind. The connection slid easily into place like it always did but Max could barely feel Liz at the end of it. The bond was faint and fuzzy and Max suspected Liz was either drugged or unconscious or both. She was still alive, but he couldn’t tell where she was.
But she couldn’t be far away. He’d ordered the palace locked down just moments after he’d last connected with her. It was likely that she was still within the palace walls.
Again Max reached for his communicator. “Darius report!” he barked impatiently.
“Your Majesty,” General Darius’ voice answered immediately, “the palace is locked down. So far we’ve found no trace of other intruders, and no sign of how they entered the palace…”
Max cut him off. “Liz is gone!” he bellowed. “Khivar has taken her! I want every available person to join the search!”
“Of course, your Majesty,” Darius agreed. “The Queen’s safety is our first priority.”
Max turned off the communicator and headed for the door but he was stopped by his mother coming in.
“Max, Liz is missing?” she asked incredulously. “How can that be?”
Max shook his head. “She was safe a moment ago, but they’ve taken her. And they’ve drugged her or blocked our connection somehow. I can’t feel where she is.”
“Oh Max,” Kasha said softly reaching out to him. “I’m so sorry,” she soothed, “but we’ll get her back. I’m sure of it. We’ll get her and your son back safe.”
Tears shone in Max’s eyes. “Mother, I’m so scared. I’ve never been so scared in my life. Khivar has no reason to keep Liz alive, especially now that he knows she pregnant.”
Kasha touched his face gently. “Come and sit down, Max,” she suggested. “You’re so upset.”
He wiped at his eyes, impatiently brushing the tears away as he shook his head. “I can’t just sit here. I’ve got to help with the search. I’ve got to find Liz fast or she and the baby don’t stand a chance.”
Hours later Liz came back to consciousness gradually, aware that something was very wrong. She had a groggy sensation in her head, and her entire body felt heavy. She couldn’t move at all and even her eyes didn’t want to open. After several attempts she was only able to crack her eyelids but it didn’t do any good because her eyes wouldn’t focus.
Allowing her eyes to close she relaxed against the soft surface. She was lying face down, her head turned to the side and she reasoned that she must be on a bed. But somehow she knew it wasn’t her bed. It just felt wrong.
Maybe she was sick, she thought. Maybe she had been taken to Seris’ office.
Liz had no memory of what had happened, of how she had come to be where she was. Her mind couldn’t seem to focus that much. The last thing she did remember was Seris confirming her pregnancy. Vaguely she wondered how long ago that had been. It seemed like just a moment ago, but at the same time it seemed like days.
She tried to speak, but her mouth didn’t seem to want to work either, and all that came out was a kind of whispered hiss. “ssmaaxxxsss.”
But as soon as the word left her lips, she knew Max was nowhere near, and that meant she couldn’t be in Seris’ office or anywhere else safe. Max would never leave her alone if she was this sick, especially if he couldn’t heal her.
Liz tried to reach out to him with her mind, but she couldn’t seem to focus enough to open the connection. She could feel the power in her body but she had no control over it.
A shiver of fear raced through her. Obviously she wasn’t sick. Someone had done something to her, drugged her most likely, and Max had no idea where she was. She must be in the power of their enemies. She was completely helpless, and she had no way of protecting her baby.
Suddenly she panicked. What if they had harmed the baby!?!
Liz focused her groggy mind as much as she could, searching her own body for any sign that her son was all right. But she couldn’t control her powers enough to feel the baby either.
Tears of fear and frustration leaked from her eyes. What if her son was dying? She had to find a way to help him. She had to find a way to contact Max.
Again and again she tried to focus her power but she only grew more tired with each attempt. Her head was spinning and she felt like she might faint. She was wearing herself out, and she couldn’t afford to. Only she could save herself and her son.
Liz took a deep breath trying to relax. She had to calm down and attempt to rest before trying her powers again. But she couldn’t relax because she was worrying about her son.
As hard as it was she had to put the baby out of her mind. She had to think of anything else.
She took another deep breath and turned her mind to the events that had led up to her current situation.
Clearly she remembered going with Max to see Seris, but that was the last thing she did remember. For several minutes she concentrated trying to remember what else had happened.
It was all so vague and foggy, like trying to pull meaning out of one of her visions. But Liz refused to give up, and went over and over the events she could remember and then tried to push beyond.
She had a feeling that Max had carried her to their room and put her in bed. And she was pretty sure that he had stayed with her until she’d fallen asleep.
But they had talked about something, hadn’t they?
Liz felt her mind roll, like some kind of uncontrollable sensation of vertigo, and she wondered if she might be sick. It must be the drugs, she thought, but she pushed the sensation away and refocused on her task.
What had she and Max talked about? It must have been something to do with the baby.
Yes, she thought triumphantly. They had talked about formally announcing that she was pregnant. More tears stung her eyes as the baby entered her thoughts again. What if she wasn’t pregnant any more?
A soft sob escaped her lips before she could stop it and she immediately chastised herself. If the baby was gone, she’d have time to grieve later, but now she had to believe that he was okay. And she couldn’t help herself or her son if she gave in to despair. She had to be strong for both of them.
Again she refocused on the memories she had lost, trying to pull out anything, any clue that might help.
She and Max had talked and then she had slept. Maybe they had taken her in her sleep, Liz thought. But somehow that didn’t seem right. Something else had happened, she just knew it.
She must have gotten out of bed, Liz reasoned, but Max couldn’t have been there because he would never had let anyone take her. So maybe she awoke early and had gone to meet him.
Suddenly she had a flash of memory that was clear.
She’d been in the hall outside their room and she’d heard a voice calling her name. It had sounded like Isabel, but that was impossible right?
Liz had witnessed Isabel die, but a nagging voice in her back of her head kept questioning what she had actually seen. What if somehow she had survived? What if it was all an elaborate hoax?
The voice she heard in the hallway calling her name had been clear and very familiar. A voice that she had heard many times. Had it really been Isabel?
Suddenly Liz’s mind rolled again.
An overwhelming fear gripped her. If Isabel was alive that meant Khivar was too!
For the first time Liz worried that Max might be in trouble.
What if Khivar were alive and he had done something to Max?
Khivar was the only person on Antar whose power had been a match for Max’s. What if he had somehow overpowered Max again?
And then Liz had a terrible thought. How had they been able to get her out of the palace without Max realizing, unless he was injured? Or dead?
Frantically she tried her powers again. She had to feel Max. She had to know if he was alive.
Focusing all of her strength she concentrated on their bond, willing it to come alive again. But she felt like there was nothing solid anchoring her and the feeling of vertigo returned. It seemed like she was falling forever, twisting and spinning faster and faster. Her head throbbed with pain, and blackness started to encroach, but still she held on to the thread of their connection.
She willed all of the power she could gather into the bond, and for just a split second she felt Max on the other end. But the dizziness and the pain were too much for her and she slipped into darkness again.
They’d had to work quickly to take Liz and the Granolith, but the plan had gone off without a hitch.
“Liz and the Granolith are secured, my love,” he said with a smile, as he took his lover into his arms.
She nodded with satisfaction. “This plan is even better than the original. We’ll use Liz to lure Max into our trap. She won’t even wake up until Max is already gone.”
Max was slowly going insane. Liz had been missing for hours and he still had no idea what had happened to her.
He had led the search for her himself even though his mother and General Darius had begged him to try and get some rest. But there was no way Max could simply stay in his room while Liz was missing. He had to do something, anything, to try and get her back.
He’d been like a man possessed; running through the halls, checking and rechecking every room and every person, searching for hidden passageways, using his powers on every surface to try and get a flash, but nothing had worked. None of the search teams had found any trace of Liz or the Granolith.
Max smiled grimly. The Granolith had been so important to him but it had instantly faded into the back of his mind when he had learned that Liz was in danger. He’d barely thought about it all day. But now he wondered if he had the Granolith, would its power help him find Liz?
Throughout the day Max had attempted again and again to reach Liz through their bond, but each time he’d had the same result. Even though he could tell that Liz was still alive, he couldn’t hear her thoughts or feel where she was.
Once, a couple of hours ago, Max had thought he’d felt her. It had just been for a split second, she was in his mind, and then gone again. But he was sure she had been there.
Immediately he’d stopped what he was doing and put all of his concentration into their bond and contacting her. He felt the connection but it still seemed fuzzy, blocked. Max concentrated harder, building up his power and pushing more and more of it into the bond, trying to strengthen it, bring it into better focus.
He’d concentrated and built his power for what seemed like hours, but in reality it had probably only been fifteen minutes. And in that time he’d had no luck. His lack of progress frustrated and angered him and his power built with his fury. He would have continued indefinitely but he’d been interrupted.
“Your Majesty?” Darius asked. “Are you all right?”
Max had turned to the General, his eyes burning with power and rage and Darius had taken a step back.
Max felt a pang of regret that Darius was frightened of him and his power, but his power wasn’t even close to enough. He wasn’t strong enough to find Liz.
Perhaps if he’d had the additional power of the Granolith… He let the thought trail off. He didn’t have the Granolith so he had to find another way to locate Liz.
After the search of the palace failed Max went to interrogate the three prisoners he had captured. At first he had simply questioned them, but none of them uttered a word. And then Max’s fury had taken over.
He had tortured the prisoners, causing as much pain as he could, but still they wouldn’t talk. So Max healed them and then started the process over. Again and again he tortured them to within an inch of their lives, and then healed them to keep them alive. But it was useless. The men wouldn’t talk.
And when Max left them for a few minutes to get an update on the search, the three prisoners had somehow committed suicide.
Max grimly started to re-searched the palace but as the hours passed and they had still made no progress he grew more frustrated and more desperate. He returned to his bedroom and paced around and around, looking and thinking.
Nothing in the room was out of place and there was no sign of a struggle, but that didn’t mean nothing had happened there. Max walked around touching everything, willing a flash to come, but nothing happened.
He was exhausted and terrified for Liz and their son, and when he came to the bed he stopped.
Max sat down and picked up Liz’s pillow, putting it to his nose and inhaling deeply, breathing in her scent. He and Liz had been there together just hours ago and they had been so happy, making plans for the baby and the future. He’d held her hand, touched the soft skin of her face and let the silky strands of her hair sift through his fingers.
He brushed his hand over the sheets where she had slept. It was almost as if he could still feel her warmth.
Suddenly he got a flash.
Liz lay beneath him, holding him inside her body, her legs wrapped around him. Her head was arched back, her face clearly showing her pleasure and her love for him.
Max came out of the flash shuddering with the intense feelings. He had to get Liz back. He couldn’t live without her.
Even more determined he got up and continued around the room touching everything. He got a few more flashes, but nothing relevant.
Finally he approached Liz’s dressing table and reached out taking her brush in his hand. Immediately a flash assailed him.
He saw Liz sitting at the table that afternoon brushing out her hair, but more importantly he felt her intentions.
She had awoken late and figured that his meeting must have run over, and she decided to walk toward the conference room to meet him.
Max put down the brush and rushed into the hall. She had to have been taken somewhere between their room and where he had been attacked. Slowly he followed her route, touching the walls, and carefully examining every inch.
But he had only gone a few yards when something hidden by a shadow caught his eye. Max dropped to his knees recognizing Liz’s shoe instantly. He grasped it and a flash ripped through him.
Liz had been on her way to meet him when she had been distracted by someone calling her name. At first she’d been surprised and curious, but then fear had set in and she’d tried to get away. There was a hiss and a sharp pain at her neck, and everything went black.
With a growl of anger Max leapt to his feet. “ISABEL!”
Kasha was just down the hall when she heard Max cry out and she rushed to him. “Max?”
He clutched Liz’s shoe to his chest as he turned to her. “It was Isabel and Khivar!” he roared. “Somehow they got in the palace, and Isabel lured Liz.”
Kasha pulled Max into her arms. “Oh Max I’m so sorry.”
Tears gathered in Max’s eyes. “We know for sure who took Liz now, but it doesn’t get us any closer to finding her. I still can’t feel Liz.”
Kasha touched his face. “I feel like this is my fault. Isabel is my child. I must have gone wrong with her somehow.” She shook her head. “I just don’t understand how you two could be so completely different. You are so good and kind, and your sister is pure evil.”
Suddenly Kasha drew back from him. “Max, maybe that’s it. If you can’t find Liz maybe you can find Isabel. She is your sister and you have a connection.”
Max looked at her in surprise. “We had a connection when we were small but it went away as we got older.”
Kasha shook her head. “Connections don’t go away. They become weak or forgotten when they aren’t used, but they are always there. If you had a connection to your sister once, it is still there.”
Max rose to his full height, purpose burning in his eyes as his power instantly filled him. “How do I find her?”
“Remember her,” Kasha said, “the good times and the bad. Let her presence, her essence fill your mind and then reach out to her.”
Max closed his eyes and did as his mother said, remembering Isabel; how close they had been as children, how they had fought as they had grown apart, and how she had so cavalierly betrayed them. He let his sister’s memory fill him, how she looked and moved, her scent, her voice, and then he reached out with his mind.
It was easier than he expected. He found Isabel almost immediately.
Max had been able to pinpoint Isabel’s location and within minutes he and a large compliment of troops were on their way. Not surprisingly she wasn’t far away but it seemed like it was taking forever for them to get there.
“Faster!” Max growled to the driver.
“Your Majesty,” General Darius soothed, “we are going as fast as is safely possible.”
“Liz isn’t safe!” he roared. “Go faster!”
He was practically in a panic. Even though he knew where Isabel was, that didn’t mean they were keeping Liz there. And Max felt an urgency to get to Liz. He had a feeling that he would lose her if they didn’t get there soon.
When they arrived Max leapt out of the vehicle before it even stopped moving and raced toward the building. He vaguely heard the shouts of his men behind him but he didn’t slow his pace. “Search the building!” he yelled over his shoulder. “Find Liz!”
Pushing his shield out in front of him, Max blew the door off its hinges and ran inside. A few dozen men dressed in priests robes were inside and he easily threw them aside before continuing deeper into the building. He followed the connection to Isabel that he felt in his mind, letting it lead him to his sister. Unerringly he ran through halls and down into the basement, reaching another door.
He could sense that this door was much heavier and thicker than the outside door had been. This was a bunker, a last place of defense. But his anger filled him with an unstoppable power and Max used a burst of energy to twist the door off its hinges, revealing Khivar and Isabel inside.
They huddled together, expressions of fear and shock clearly visible on their faces.
Fury and power rushed around Max like a cyclone and with each step he took his energy level increased. He focused all of his anger on Khivar as he entered the room, his eyes burning with power and hate.
Now that he was finally face to face with Khivar and Isabel he simply wanted to choke the life out of both of them, but he kept his temper in check for Liz’s sake.
Khivar put his hand out, sending a burst of power at Max.
With a flick of his hand Max easily pushed it aside. Khivar was powerful, Max could feel it, but Khivar was no match for him. He walked forward, easily holding Khivar’s power in check, and with a thought he lifted Khivar off his feet and tossed him backward, pinning him against the wall.
Isabel suddenly came at him and Max used another flick of his hand to throw her across the room and into the wall. Her head hit with a dull thud and she slid down onto the floor.
Max turned back to Khivar focusing all of his fury on the usurper. “Where is Liz!?!” he roared. “Tell me where she is or I’ll tear you both apart!”
Soaring With Angels |
Alt End #4 Part 2 - Alt End #4 Part 4
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