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The Antar Chronicles, Chapter 14: Final Things
Reply to Alex Parrish
Posted to the RoswellSlash mailing list June 27, 2004
This was an area where we felt we were really 'in over our collective heads.' There was really no way for us to get verifiable information except to accept what the Council was telling us. Given that the Council was made up of supporters of Zan -- the old Zan -- we were fearful that we might find that the war was going badly, and we were stepping into a quagmire. We put our heads together and decided that Max would call for a meeting with the Council the morning after we arrived on Antar, to assess the political situation.
The Council was at first surprised and unsure what to think about the fact that Max had included all of us, women too, in this meeting. Max explained that if Antar and the Federation was to learn a new way of governing itself, it was vital that the King and the Council not fall into old (Zan-like) habits from the first meeting. He called on each Council member, individually, to give an open and honest assessment of the political situation, saying he trusted that each would be completely candid with us, but also warning that if things proved to be different from their analyses, he would have me reading thoughts nonstop until he could tell whom he could trust. I think their reports were, for the most part, pretty accurate.
It seemed that Larek had been honest and fairly accurate when he told us of the political situation. There were still some outposts in rebellion, but news of our pending arrival had caused a great upturn in morale, and several outposts had simply surrendered. Rumors abounded that the Rebellion was over and that Kivar was defeated.
This was borne out by the fact that, by the time the Council had a recess to eat, word came from Us'sar that Kivar's forces had lain down their arms and were seeking asylum, all but a few diehards in Kivar's personal guard. The war was essentially over, but we had the good sense not to hang any "Mission Accomplished" banners around to come back and bite us in the butt, unlike another administration we had heard-of on another planet somewhere.
Michael and Maria were immediately dispatched to Usa'ar (the planet which Michael was to oversee on behalf of the King) to announce a general amnesty. This was not taken seriously by the remnants of Kivar's forces at first, because of Michael's previous incarnation as the 'ruthless' Rath. At first the asylum-seekers thought it was some kind of trick. They were dreading, but anticipating a bloodbath. When Michael instead arranged that food, clothing and medical supplies be delivered to what had been Kivar's camp, and then personally accompanied the delivery along with Maria, there was astonishment and wild celebration. Some of Kivar's personal guard then defected. Kivar was left almost defenseless with few, if any followers.
Michael sent word to Kivar asking for his surrender, and promising that he would show mercy -- mercy which Kivar had not shown to Rath.
Kivar's swift response was to destroy the fortress with himself and all that remained of his followers in it. Another bullet dodged! Perhaps "Murphy's Law" has been repealed, after all.
There are some who think that Kivar's death was a ruse. Kivar's body was never identified, but so little remained of the fortress that identification would have been impossible. The King and I, along with many at court, agree that only time will tell whether Kivar is really dead, or has just withdrawn to reappear later in some surprise attack. The Granolith is silent about this.
The Council has promised the population that any transition from the feudal form of government on the dissenting planets would be very gradual, over several generations. The rogue planets had been upset in the first place by Zan's pushing too hard and too fast to change the Federation into a Constitutional Monarchy with democratic elections and checks and balances on power. By leaving the feudal Lords in place for now, and working with them for a gradual release of power, we hope to keep the balance between those who want democracy and those who fear it will lead to anarchy. The race of Shape-Shifters on those planets will be granted rights and privileges in a careful methodical process, a little at a time so as not to disrupt the status-quo any more than absolutely necessary. Their representatives were more-than satisfied with this compromise.
Meanwhile, the pace of change on the other three planets will be somewhat more rapid. We hope that when the rogue planets see the good that results from the change, they will want to be a part of it too. All of this, of course is with the advice and guidance of the Sacred Granolith.
So, how are we doing so far? What can 7 kids from New Mexico bring to a population of beings whose leaders have forgotten their humanity? The primary contribution we hoped to bring to the Federation is 'leadership by example,' in whatever we do. We're learning. We're growing. We are filled with hope, and that seems to encourage our people. Not one of us can say that we truly feel 'up to the task,' or 'entitled' to be leading the Federation. We rely on the Council for firsthand knowledge and expertise, and they rely heavily on my symbiosis with the Sacred Granolith. We try our damnedest to act humanely and compassionately in whatever we do, and we try to be examples of collaborative decision-making in every situation in which we can. We're not perfect, but we keep trying. We have a pact among the extended pod-squad to keep reminding each other of this, and to point out any lapses. So far, it has worked.
Of Cabbages and Kings...
Max's ceremony of reinstatement to the crown, and Liz's coronation took place about two weeks after our arrival on Antar. It was a really big show, with parades, and parties, nuclear fireworks spread-out between all the five planets, and formal events of all imaginable kinds celebrating the coronation.
It took the Council a while to figure out how all this ceremony was to happen. As Avatar, It was my duty to place the crown on Max's head, and he in turn was to crown Liz as his queen. Normally, he would then invest his Royal Consort. Since the Royal Consort is... me, it looked a little strange for me to be kneeling to the King having just placed the crown on Max's head. The protocol staff finally decided that it would have to be OK. Much to my surprise, when the time came to invest me as Royal Consort, Max announced that he would also crown me 'Prince Regent of the Federation'. Max kept it from me as a surprise, which was no small feat since I was at nearly every meeting and can read thoughts.
This makes a strange and confusing jumble of the roles of the Monarchy and the Avatar, and I don't quite know how this will play-out in the future. I don't think I would have gone along with the plan if Max had not kept it from me, and I suspect that is the reason he kept it from me in the first place. Believe me when I say I worked long and hard with the Granolith seeking advice on whether this could work but the Granolith seems to find no reason to object, at least, for now.
It does shift a little of the load from Max's and Liz's shoulders. Liz will probably be pretty well occupied with child care for a while and unavailable to help as much as she might. She wants a more 'balanced' role as Queen, with meaningful political duties as well as domestic responsibilities, but she is sensitive to the long-standing traditions of our people, and is widening her role cautiously but steadily.
Max's justification for the added title pointed back to our understanding that we would always behave as a 'threesome.' He felt that this political title provided me equal status to Liz. I argued that I already had that as Avatar, but Max pointed out that as Avatar I bore no responsibility for political decisions, and that was not fair to either of them. "Besides," he said, "why should he and Liz get all the headaches while I get the unmitigated adulation of the people?"
Now, there was a time not very long ago when Max would have all-but killed himself to take everything, every problem, every responsibility, onto himself, so in a way, it shows maturity that he is willing to spread out the headaches.
I've decided that if it ever becomes a serious conflict, I'll abdicate the royal position, let the chips fall where they may. I'm the Avatar to the Sacred Granolith, first and foremost. I have told this to Max, and he says he understands. Time will tell.
Max then crowned Michael as Prince Royal and Regent, and Maria as Princess. Then came Jesse, crowned as Prince Royal and Regent, and Isabel, reinstated as Princess Royal. By Crowning Michael and Jesse as 'Royal' he had actually created two new Royal bloodlines in one afternoon.
By the end of the way-too-formal ceremony, I was bored and I really, really had to pee. The Royals then embarked on a whirlwind tour encompassing all five planets to introduce themselves to the people. I was left on Antar (as Prince Regent of the Federation) to hold things together. Their tour took a week, and I thought I was going to die without Max. Nothing much happened while they were away. When they returned, I got Max at my palace for a week to make up for the injustice. Liz, being mucho pregnant, big-as-an-elephant and sick-as-a-dog, wanted her nurse more than she wanted Max anyway, at that point.
After the wild reception with which Liz's pregnancy was received, it was only a matter of days before Isabel announced she was pregnant. Maria was about ten weeks behind because it took Michael a while to locate a male with whom he could compatibly bond (and fuck). Jesse was now governing another planet, and his arrangement with Michael was no longer practical.
Michael met a young officer in the military, Erdnoord, about his own age, who is primarily Heterosexual, (like Michael.) Erdnoord's lover from his youth, with whom he was expected to bond, had been killed in battle before their official bonding.
I presided at the Bonding Ceremony and Maria stood at Michael's side. That was the first and only time I have been off-planet since arriving here. My work keeps me very busy and, even though I'd like to explore at least the other planets in the Federation, I haven't yet been able to introduce the word "vacation" into the common vernacular. I'm working on it.
OK, I guess I've kept you in suspense long enough. Six-weeks, almost to the day, from conception, Liz delivered the most beautiful baby boy the universe has ever seen! (OK, I might be a little biased.) He weighed 7 pounds 14 ounces and was 15.2 inches. Dad, you're a grandpa! Congratulations old man! Of course, you won't be able to share the news and inundate your friends with stale cigars and hundreds of pictures of the grandbaby, but you can arrange a private celebration with all your grandparents-in-law.'
Antarian tradition demands that the first boy-child be named after the father, but in this case that tradition had been fulfilled by Tess' baby who was tragically killed by Kivar. We did nod to custom however, by naming this child after our Earth fathers. The child is named "Philip James Jeffrey." 'James' after you, dad. And there's more! He is fully Antarian -- apparently my genes have all mutated so much that I am completely Antarian too. He has the most beautiful clear blue eyes, just like you, dad. I cannot look at our child without thinking of you. Max, Liz and I have already taken to calling him "PJ" in private. It's kind-of convenient, because when I say "PJ" I mean "Philip James" and when Liz says it, she means "Philip Jeffrey." We're smart enough not to force Max commit to either.
Three days after his birth, he was 'presented' to his people on the balcony of the Royal Palace before a crowd of hundreds of thousands of cheering Antarians, with millions more watching the media. As we were about to step onto the balcony, Max stopped and took PJ from Liz. I thought he wanted to present him to the people himself, but to my amazement, he placed PJ into my arms.
Max kissed my cheek and said, "I know I can never make up for keeping baby Zan all to myself, and leaving you out completely, but I hope you can accept this as a gesture of my understanding that this is "our" child, not, just Liz's and mine, but yours and mine too. Maybe you can begin to forgive me for Zan. Max then led us onto the balcony where I presented our child to the universe. Yes, I had a tear, and, yes, I thought of how happy and proud you would be when I saw those clear blue eyes. I wished you were there to share in it.
Isabel had a baby boy, also Antarian. Apparently her genes won out over Jesse's. Following custom he is named after Jesse, then Jesse's father, Jesse Esteban. Ten weeks later, Maria gave birth to twin girls. They are named "Amy and Des'iorial (which is the name of Michael's Antarian mother). Two weeks later, Michael became the father of another girl by Erdnoord's wife. That baby is named Cha'no'eem. The stork has been busy around here.
The arrival of the children has really changed the nature of our group and our lives. On the few occasions we can be together, it seems all we can talk about is babies, and it's not just the women. Last visit, Max had a b-ball court built, just so the four of us guyz could shoot some hoops, and we practically had to drag Michael out of the nursery.
The Sacred Granolith
You probably wonder what I do with my time. Believe me, I have plenty to do and am never bored. I must preside at all meetings of the council which governs this planet, Antar, and I must attend nearly all meetings of the Council which, under the King, governs the Federation, and carry out any responsibilities assigned to me by the King. I am available to the King at all times. I also hold daily audiences, where the people ask me as the embodiment of the Granolith, to help them solve a problem or find an answer. I even solve disputes, but my judgments as Avatar have no legal standing and are only moral judgments. It's almost too much with the duties as Prince combined with the duties of the Avatar.
Max is good about helping me make time for 'us.' I don't need to be convinced to take time to spend with PJ. Sometimes it feels like I can't stand to take my eyes off him, I love him so very much.
I think my favorite duty comes about once an Earth-month. It is called simply "Presentation." Candidates are chosen by lottery, except for Royals, who are automatically eligible. All candidates are newborns, less than a year old. I carry the child into the actual Granolith chamber, and 'present' the infant. It is believed by many that children so 'presented' are under the special protection of the Granolith. I don't know if that is true. The Granolith does not speak of it. I do know that when I presented HRM Philip James Jeffrey, Prince Royal and heir to the throne and, most important, your grandson, we were both levitated by the Granolith. Since the ceremony is private, no one can tell me whether this has ever happened before, but it has never happened to me with any other child.
I spend at least an hour nearly every day 'in communion" with the Sacred Granolith. I imagine it would be very boring to watch. I enter the Granolith's chamber, which is here in the Palace of the Avatar. The chamber itself is constructed of the hardest stone in the known-universe which has been polished to a high sheen. The chamber is as nearly perfectly round as Antarian craftsmen can make it. It is about 40 feet across and about 120 feet high ending in a dome which is visible on the outside over the roof of the palace. There are no windows, the Granolith itself provides the only light, a soft white glow. There is a particular spot marked in the floor where I must, or rather, am privileged to stand. When I reach out to the Granolith, it answers by sending beams of highly concentrated light directly into my purpose-made eyes. To the outside observer (if any were allowed, which they are not) this would appear as purple beams, but the beams actually contain light in a spectrum so wide, much of the spectrum has not even been theorized by Earth scientists. During the course of our "communion" I am levitated about three feet from the floor by the power of the Granolith. This is so that I touch nothing but the air and there is nothing which can distract, or contaminate my thoughts. I have no outside sensations. It is rather like being suspended in an isolation chamber on Earth. It is incredibly peaceful.
Sometimes the Granolith gives me information, relayed by my eyes directly to my brain. Sometimes the Granolith teaches me about the universe using examples and stories. Sometimes we engage in exchanges about philosophy and the Granolith provides observations and alternatives but permits my own conclusions. Being "in communion with the Granolith" is, I think, the closest a physical entity can come to becoming 'one with the universe.'
Rarely would I ask the Granolith a question directly during these sessions. Such mundane matters are handled by back and forth communication using brain-waves, which I can do at any time I am within a reasonable distance, about 500 light years. Brain-wave communication is much slower, so the farther from the Granolith I am, the less efficient this becomes. This is why it was necessary to have 'boosting-stations' for the communication to Earth. Even those 'orbs' which the FBI was so interested in, and the so-called 'healing stones" were merely enhancers to the Granolith's power.
Yes, my study of Buddha and the Zen masters was one of the things which paved the way for my becoming the Avatar. It wasn't that I had reached any level of 'expertise' in this area, but rather that my mind had simply been opened to it . My devotion to the King was known to the Granolith, and when the opportunity arose to expand my mind due to the 'flying accident' and Max's and Michael's application of Alien power to me, the Granolith determined that I was the best candidate. Funny, dad, that you were not so far from the mark when you hoped I would follow in your footsteps on "the job." How many times have I looked at your badge and read the words 'To Serve and Protect?" That is precisely my job as Avatar, to serve and protect the people of the universe, and then the Granolith itself. You were a good role-model dad and, whether I need to ask it or not, the Granolith has assured me that you would be proud of me. You will have to take the word of the Granolith for that.
I'd like to say that we will swing by Earth for a visit in the next few weeks, but we both know that isn't possible. As it looks right now, I doubt we will ever be able to return to Earth. I hope we can someday, but I doubt it. I do harbor a fantasy that sometime in the near future we can arrange to bring you -- all of you, the Parkers, the Evans', Amy DiLuca, Mrs. Ramirez, and you, of course -- to Antar.
Here is my fantasy. Each of you begin planning a two-month vacation somewhere -- it doesn't matter where -- and casually let it be known that you are thinking of actually doing it. We'll arrange for a ship to pick you all up somewhere in the desert, or maybe to pick each of you up at a different place on Earth, and you can come for a visit. Unfortunately, even in our fastest ships (which are not large enough to accommodate all of you) the trip will take about 8 days each way -- 10-12 days in a larger ship. That only leaves about 4 weeks for a visit, but it is better than nothing. Understand, this is only my fantasy. First we'd have to convince the military that it could be done without risking the ships and their crews. You probably think Max could just order it to be done, but that's not the way he does things here -- really!
The military are more than a little nervous about returning a ship to Earth anytime soon because, although we got away from Earth unharmed, we did not go undetected. Earth's military forces are scanning the skies even now looking for our ships, and they have a history of "shoot first, ask questions later." It's definitely not a safe time for travel to or from Earth, but I can still dream and plan for it. In the meantime, you could start dropping hints about how you've always wanted to take two months off to go to... I dunno, maybe Africa? It's just a fantasy now, but if there comes a time when I think we could pull it off, well... it's my dream.
I'm out of space in this journal, and I hate the idea of asking my staff to make another journal for me to write into because I know they will make a huge production of it and they'll end up with something so beautiful and valuable that I'd feel guilty writing in it. I swear, if I asked one of them to bring me a handful of dirt, it would arrive two hours later in a solid-platinum box, but only after each grain of dirt had been sanitized and inspected for size and color. Maybe I can find something which I can 'mutate' into a journal. Something will turn-up.
It is far too easy to get spoiled, and I freely admit that I am, but I try to fight it wherever I can. Believe it or not, when Max and PJ are here at my palace (about every-other day) I change PJ's diapers sometimes -- not all the time -- but sometimes. It scandalized the staff, and the first time I did it PJ's nurse wept openly. She thought I wasn't pleased with the way she did it. They have gotten used to it, however, as one of my many eccentricities. Now, anytime I want to do something they think I shouldn't do for myself, I make up a little story about it being a "revered Earth custom" and they let me do it. I have to be careful about it though, because they have begun to notice that Max and Liz don't seem to have the same set of customs and I think they are catching-on.
Dad, as much as I miss you, and I really, really do miss you, I think you would want to know that I am happy here. I have meaningful work, many friends, and I'm never bored or lonely. I do get nostalgic for Earth once in a while. When I am feeling a little blue about missing you, I tell PJ stories about his grandpa and what a cool guy he is. PJ is going to grow up knowing that he is loved by everyone in his family, including you. I have a beautiful son and, of course, I have Max, the reason I left Roswell in the first place. How different my world is from anything I could have imagined growing up in Roswell. Destiny? I don't know, but I do know that if I can imagine you being happy for me too, that will make my happiness complete. I love you dad.
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