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New Beginnings, Chapter 17

Reply to Alex Parrish

Posted to the RoswellSlash mailing list October 6, 2003

Part: 17/19 "New Beginnings"
Author: Alex Parrish
E-mail: alexparrish@wi.rr.com
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Katims, Metz and the WB. No infringement is intended. I own nothing, Trust me. Suing is futile!
Paring: M/K
Feedback: Please
Distribution: Roswell Slash Archive/Others Ask
Rating: X? Explicit sex and language
Spoilers: Nothing in particular and seasons 1,2,3 in general
Thanks: To aunty_mib, Beta extraodinaire, eh!
Summary/General: The lives of the 7 primary characters for 9 months after they leave season 3.
Summary/Chapter: The future of the seven is in Kyle's hands -- but is he ready?



The Long, Long Goodbye

      "You are monitoring my thoughts," Larek said through the boy. "My Lord, Avatar, are you doing this purposely?"

      "I am." That's all I said. Every eye around the table was on us. There was a beat of silence -- but only one.

      "I see. As you wish, my Lord."

      Apparently this was not going to be a problem, or at least not one worth arguing about. It must have seemed too easy for Max, because he added "He's doing this at my request; by my authority."

      "Forgive my forwardness, Your Majesty, but my Lord Avatar does not need your authority. His Authority is sufficient."

      Max and I exchanged glances. Larek didn't seem to be blocking me in any way, nor did it seem that he was at all concerned. It almost seemed too easy, but I didn't want to argue with success. Still, I was on my guard.

      Max immediately took charge of the meeting. Larek had really dominated the last one, but this one belonged to Max. "Here is what we have decided to do in this meeting."

      Max looked full of confidence, but I knew better; I wondered if Larek did too. I glanced over at Liz, sitting next to Larek, or really, next to Albert. She had touched his hand, and he had not flinched or pulled back at all. Surely he knew what she was doing, and she didn't even try to be subtle about it; but she showed no signs of anything wrong.

      Max continued. "First, we would like you to tell us a little bit about our life on Antar; reminisce a bit about our growing up together and the times we spent together. Next, we have some specific questions about the situation on Antar and the Federation, the Insurrection, the economy and that sort of thing.

      Larek seemed a little on edge when Max mentioned the Insurrection, but there was not a specific thought there for me to capture, only a general feeling of unease.

      For a moment, my mind wandered to Max; how he had taken charge earlier today, and here at this meeting, but I also noticed the fact that he was starting nearly every sentence with 'we,' and it wasn't royal-usage. It reflected the fact that Max had actually let us in on the planning, and listened to our ideas, instead of taking everything on his own shoulders, or insisting on his own way. I don't think he would or could have done that as recently as six months ago. We had all changed. My mind snapped back to Larek, who was beginning some stories of life on Antar.

      Concentrating was not easy, trust me. You try listening to long drawn-out stories of someone else's childhood and see how long you can keep from nodding off. I bit my lip to keep awake, but mostly, I tried to listen, not to Larek's words, but to the thoughts behind them. So far, I detected very little to be concerned about. I knew that Larek was doing a little bit of exaggerating, but, after all, that's what reminiscing is; retelling the past in the way we prefer to remember it. It seemed like harmless white-lies, some of them aimed at flattering Zan, or Max. Everything he told us seemed essentially true; details may have been altered to protect the guilty, but it was mostly true. Max, Isabel and Michael, on the other hand, seemed fascinated by the tales, and I sensed some feeling of latent memories emerging. All-in-all, it seemed to me that we were dealing with the real Larek, and that he had not lied to us, so far.

      At that moment I realized that we had talked earlier in the afternoon about what to do if we caught Larek in a lie, but we had neglected to figure out how to indicate that he was OK. Instinctively, I caught Max's eye and flashed a 'thumbs-up.' He caught it. So did Liz, who caught on and flashed one of her own. In the next few moments, Max silently surveyed everyone at the table and got a 'thumbs-up' from everyone. Larek passed. On to the next subject.

      Max began by asking Larek to tell us about the state of the Insurrection.

      Suddenly, it was as though Larek's brain had set-off alarms and slammed shut; it was becoming harder and harder to read his thoughts. I probed farther, and his thoughts retreated even more. He wasn't talking at all, rather there was a silent war raging between us. I was looking him directly in the eye, and he was looking right back at me. The others around the table were silently watching the standoff between Larek and me, unaware of exactly what was happening, but sensing that there was definitely something going on.

      Honestly, I didn't know what the hell I was doing. I had not been reading minds all that long, and had never had a REAL "battle of wills." I didn't know how I was doing it, but I knew that I was pushing; or was it pursuing, Larek's thoughts, and that he was pushing back and/or fleeing my mind. It seemed to me that this went on for hours, but in real-time it was taking place in seconds -- at the speed of thought.

      Suddenly, Larek cried out, "Stop! No more, please! I can't take anymore. I won't fight you. I swear on the Sacred Granolith, I'll tell you the whole truth. Oh! Stop! You're hurting me!"

      Shit! I had absolutely no idea how to stop. I improvised. I closed my eyes, and concentrated on trying to hear Max's thoughts. Little by little, I was letting go of Larek and tuning in on Max. It must have worked, because Larek stopped yelling.

      "I'm sorry." I said, and I really was, sort-of. "I didn't mean to hurt you, but I DO intend to monitor your thoughts. Just relax and cooperate and no one will get hurt." I had been waiting all my life to say those last words which I had heard my father say so many times. I never imagined I'd really mean them when I finally said them. Then, it hit me -- I sounded exactly like my dad. No getting around it, I may be an alien freak, but I'm still the Sheriff's son. Law enforcement is in my bloodstream despite years of denial. I wondered how I would look in brown with my white hair and shiny eyes. All of that flashed through my mind and finally, I realized that I needed to get back to Larek and find out why he needed to swear to tell the truth. What was he lying about?

      Max was looking at me and he was terrified. He was thinking "What did you do? What are you doing to him? Stop, please, Kyle, stop!"

      "It's OK" I reassured him, out loud. "Everything's OK."

      Everyone around the table began to breathe again. I was just about to speak -- to question Larek, when Max broke in. I bit my tongue. He was right. Max was the one who should be asking the questions here. I needed to concentrate on the answers.

      Max began asking the questions. He was on fire; I thought he was a prosecutor on "Law & Order!" I guess Max had learned as much of his father's trade as I had learned from mine. It didn't take all that many questions to get to the bottom of the deception. I can't really remember all of Max's questions, or the order; I was concentrating on looking for lies. To the best of my ability to tell, Larek came clean and told us the truth as he believed it to be. I hope I'm right -- our lives depend on it.

      In a nutshell, here is what we learned. Larek's initial rosy picture of the war against Kivar's supporters was highly exaggerated. Kivar's forces, in fact, still mostly control two planets of the Federation and are fighting fiercely to hold on to them. Zan's supporters feel that, if Zan were to return now, it would tip the balance in their favor, and that many of Kivar's forces would defect if they realized the King was back, and the Avatar was with him. Usa'ar, the planet which Michael/Rath would rule is one of the rebel planets. Larek's group felt that Rath's reputation as a ruthless warrior would discourage Kivar's forces. After Usa'ar fell, Knes'saar, the other planet still in rebellion, would fall easily, or at least that was their plan.

      Larek's group were afraid that if Zan knew that the rebellion was not yet over, he might be reluctant to return, so they decided to overstate the situation. They had not counted on the Avatar being present to expose their agenda. Larek stressed how important it would be, psychologically, for the people to have the Royals back on their home planet. All of this information resulted from Max's questioning of Larek; and, as I said, as far as I could, tell this version of the story is true, or at least Larek believes it to be true.

      Max looked to me, his eyes looking for any sign of a problem, but there was none as far as I could detect. I gave him the 'thumbs up.'

      Max, however was not satisfied. He continued giving Larek the third degree, going over the same ground, over and over again, looking for any cracks or differences in Larek's story.

      Finally, Max hit upon a question that set-off bells and whistles in Larek's mind. "Exactly what are the issues that divide the parties in this war? What are they fighting about -- other than who is to be King? You said it was the fact that Zan, or -- I pushed too hard for reforms which led to the Insurrection. What reforms are we talking about? What is at stake, and which parties want what?"

      Larek was clearly in a panic situation. I could tell from reading his thoughts that he was loathe to share these details, but also too frightened to try to shut me out of his mind. He felt he was betraying the trust of his colleagues to go into matters they wished to keep quiet until later.

      He sat silent and motionless.

      After a few moments, I addressed Max. "Max...uh...Your Majesty, (these words stuck to the roof of my mouth -- I had never used them except in sarcasm, but it looked like I was going to use them plenty in the near future) Larek is in a bit of a jam here. Part of him wants to tell us, but another part of him knows that he gave his word to the council that he wouldn't go into some of these things at this point."

      Silently, Larek thanked me. I nodded to him.

      Max picked up on the seriousness of the dilemma instantly. "Larek, If I were to order, or command that you specifically give me this information, would this ease your situation with the council?"

      Larek was still silent, but I got some sense of relief from him.

      I tried again. "Larek, in addition to the King's command, what if you told the council -- and it will be the truth -- that I, as the Avatar, or at least, the Avatar select, have the power and the will to take this information from you by force if necessary. Would that take the heat off of you from the council?" I sensed some more relief instantly.

      Finally Larek spoke. "Your Majesty, My Lord Avatar, If these two things were to happen together, I believe that the council would find its members very reluctant to hold me responsible for the outcome."

      Max relaxed a little. "Then, I ORDER you to tell us."

      "And I threaten, bla, bla, bla, if you don't." I added. I sensed a great burden being lifted from Larek's consciousness, and he began to relax a little, too.

      "I beg your indulgence, Your Majesty, Your Highnesses, My Lords, My Ladies and Graces, as I now must give you a portion of Antarian history which has turned out NOT to be one of the more successful efforts of our empire."

      Everybody kind-of settled-back for another long story.

      "About twenty generations ago, a small life-class planet in a binary system in the Dhu'ra'araieen Sector issued a distress call. It's scientists, while not exceedingly advanced, had nevertheless been able to predict that one of their stars -- or you would say, one of their suns -- was going to go supernova in a matter of a few years. Such an occurrence would mean certain destruction of their planet and their race. The culture of this planet had not yet even become capable of sustained space-travel, but their brains were rather well 'matured" and they were aware that there are worlds which were far advanced to their own. They called upon anyone who was able to rescue their population. Time was exceedingly short, and the debate in the Antarian Federation quite fierce. On the one hand was our policy of non-interference with primitive cultures, and the lack of a suitable planet for them to populate; on the other, the argument that it was a waste of our resources to have an entire race, which we had seeded millennia ago, destroyed by a single cosmic event without ever having the opportunity to contribute their distinctiveness to our benefit. A handful of groups even claimed that it was our responsibility to be a compassionate society and to rescue the needy, but I don't think this argument was taken seriously by the rulers at the time."

      "The search for a suitable planet for relocation would take time -- time that the doomed planet didn't have. After much dissension, a compromise was reached. The population of the doomed planet would be rescued and resettled on the two planets in the Federation with the smallest populations, Usa'ar and Knes'saar, over the objections of the local Nobles, but at the order of the King. The compromise was that, as soon as a suitable relocation planet was found, the refugee population would be relocated a second time to this new planet to resume their own culture and advancement."

      Michael, fidgeting in his chair, from boredom and a tired behind, interrupted. "Don't tell me, I can see it coming. When the time came, the refugees didn't want to leave."

      "You are correct, Your Highness," Larek nodded to Michael. "And moreover, by this time, the Nobles didn't WANT them to leave either. Both Usa'ar and Knes'saar are planets with rich natural resources of minerals, and many other desirable commodities, Also both populations are heavily agrarian in their economy. The refugees were very industrious, and they provided an almost endless source of cheap labor for the farms and mines and industries, as well as the service sector. In the few years it took to locate a planet and devise a relocation plan, the economies of these worlds had become dependent on the refugee workforce. In the end, only some twenty percent of the refugees relocated. The rest chose to stay in the Federation." This was the genesis of the wars that have been fought since for some eighteen generations."

      Isabel interrupted this time. "Just how long is a generation on your planets, anyway?"

      Larek answered immediately. "It varies from family to family, but the average is considered to be around 400 of your Earth years."

      "So these wars have been going on for over seven-THOUSAND years?" Liz gasped?

      "More or less" Larek answered without batting an eye.

      "So where do I, or Zan the Sixth, figure into all this? What was he trying to do? Get rid of the refugees or let them stay?"

      "Your Majesty, at this point, it is no longer a question of whether the Shapeshifters will stay, they are too integral in our way of life. The radical plan which Zan proposed would have given the Shapeshifters full citizenship in the Federation, with all the rights and privileges that accompany citizenship; land ownership and property rights, freedom of travel throughout the Federation with no restriction, free access to public schools and institutions, freedom of assembly, freedom of...,well, everything.

      "Shapeshifters? It's the Shapeshifters who are the refugees -- the second-class beings in the Federation?" Jesse was incredulous, and I didn't have to read his thoughts to see his temper rising. "That's..., that's...,"

      "Unacceptable?" Larek offered.

      "At the very least." Jesse smacked his palm on the table. "What kind of racist monsters are you? These uh...uh...folks do all your work, and even spy on other planets for you, and after seven-thousand years, they aren't even citizens?" Jesse was practically sputtering.

      "If it please my Lord, Jesse, I am in agreement that this is unacceptable, as are each and every one of the members of your council. The problem lies, not in the concept itself -- there is much teaching to be done among our population to be sure -- but in its execution. Forgive my forwardness, your Majesty, but it was the silencing of the opposition, finally through violent means, that brought the Insurrection into being, and lead to the downfall of the Dynasty."

      "Oh-my-god!' Michael blurted out, "It's the American Civil War all over again, except on a planetary scale! You sent us to Earth because the population here in the US has already been through that war, I mean, it's not all over yet, there's still tons of racism, but we at least ended the Civil War and claim to have equal rights, even if most people don't act like it. You want us to tackle racism on an interplanetary scale? We haven't even begun to deal with racism in Roswell yet!"

      Larek paused a beat and then admitted. "That did play a part in our thinking."

      "You've got five planets engaged in a seven-thousand-year-old race war, and you want seven kids from New Mexico to come in and solve it for you?" Max was beside himself, practically yelling.

      Larek countered immediately, "Oh NO, Your Majesty. We've already proved that trying to solve this problem through Royal Edict is completely unworkable, and leads to disaster. What we desire from you is that you come and help us learn how to solve the problems OURSELVES -- without war. We believe that you now have the skills and the instincts necessary to give us examples to emulate."

      There was silence all around the table

      "OK," Max broke the silence, shaking his head in disbelief, "You said there were two issues; what is the other issue?"

      Larek paused and looked around the table before replying. "The other issue involves the power and authority of the King and the Lords, and the establishment of a parliamentary body to participate in the ruling of the Federation."

      "I knew it," Liz broke in, "The people of those two planets don't WANT a King again; they want their freedom. That's it isn't it?"

      "Forgive me, your Highness, but quite the opposite is true, at least among the current leadership of those planets. The ruling families on these two planets are very firmly entrenched in governing their domains, and unwilling to cede any authority to the common folk. It might well be that the population of these two planets would prefer the establishment of a representative form of rule, but they are beholden to the reigning Houses for their very existence, and are willing therefore, to fight for the status quo."

      There was a puzzled silence, then Isabel spoke. "Let me get this right; you're telling me that the two rebel planets are fighting to keep an absolute monarchy and AGAINST having a parliament to help rule them? They WANT an absolute King.?"

      "They have been convinced that, self-rule will be less efficient and lead to a loss of commerce and loss of their livelihoods. They are convinced that the Ruling Houses are better able to know what is best for them. I should also point out that, the immigrants, on their doomed planet, were accustomed to an all-powerful dictator, so they have not experienced any freedom for several thousand years. The rulers of these Federation planets have granted them a few simple privileges and so the Shapeshifters think everything is great -- certainly better than they had before -- and they don't want to risk loosing that."

      "Wow," Michael was shaking his head, "for a master-race with who-knows-how-many powers, you guys are sure fucked-up when it comes to government!"

      "Please understand, we don't consider ourselves a 'master-race,' far from it. Just because we have been around longer and evolved more doesn't mean we have attained any kind of perfection. After all, we're only Antarian."

      That brought a quiet snicker. There was silence for a minor eternity.

      Gradually I became aware that Larek was talking to me -- or, rather, THINKING to me. Apparently he now considered me an ally; how could he not since I am clearly no longer completely human.

      He thought, "What can I do to convince the King that I am telling the truth and that we believe that, together, you have the power to help us end the war? Please help me; five entire worlds are at stake here."

      I spoke aloud, "Larek wants to know what he can do to convince us that he has told us the truth and to reassure us that we are the people who can help them solve their conflict. Any ideas?"

      As I looked around the table, there were blank faces all around. We were stymied. "Larek's worlds are depending upon our making the right choices, but our lives are at stake here too." I turned again to our guest. "Larek, I'm afraid the ball is in your court?"

      "Begging you pardon, Your Lordship, ball? Court? I don't understand."

      "It's an expression on this world; it means that the responsibility is yours; we are waiting for you to do something to convince us."

      Silence

      Larek released a great sigh, and then spoke, I could tell, a little hesitantly. "There is one thing that we might try. I don't know if it would work, I don't think it has ever been done."

      "We're listening." I could tell that he was hesitant, and a little frightened.

      "With your permission," he continued, "I could try to get the Sacred Granolith, itself, to vouch for the veracity of my words."

      I looked at Max. He shrugged his shoulders and asked, "How is that possible?"

      Larek was telling the truth when he said, "I'm not sure if it is, but I think it is worth trying. I propose to go to the chamber of the Granolith and make physical contact with it and then reestablish my connection with the host; your aboriginal child."

      "Wait," Max jumped in, "This won't be dangerous for Albert will it? The child is not to be harmed in any way."

      Larek responded, "I'm certain the child will come to no harm; I'm not as sure about my own fate, but if it must be tried, I am willing to take the chance. I am also not sure if it will work, but if I can establish a link with my mind, I believe that the Avatar just might be able to communicate with the Granolith itself. Do I have your permission to try, Your Majesty?"

      Max thought silently for a moment and then said, "Yes" but with the understanding that if anything goes wrong, we stop it immediately. I don't want either you or Albert to be injured in any way, understood?"

      "I understand, Your Majesty. It is very gracious of you to be concerned for my welfare."

      Suddenly, Jesse spoke up. "What do you mean by that?"

      "I beg your pardon, my Lord?"

      Jesse repeated the question. "What do you mean it's gracious for him to be concerned for your welfare? Why wouldn't he be concerned for the welfare of all his subjects, especially someone who was a lifelong friend."

      "Please forgive me, my Lord, your Majesty, I meant nothing by it, nothing at all."

      Maria joined in. "But you DID say it. You must have meant SOMETHING by it.?"

      "Begging your pardon as well, my Lady, I spoke out of turn -- I meant nothing at all."

      Jesse continued, "Stop begging our pardon, you don't need it but, if you prefer, you have it. I want to know what prompted that thought to come out."

      Larek/Albert sat stoically silent.

      After a moment, Max intervened. "Larek, I give you my word that you may speak freely here among us. You won't be penalized in any way for speaking your mind to me or, rather, to us. Everyone here is a witness to my word. It's vital to us to have not merely the truth, but the whole truth, and that includes how you and others feel. Please tell us what prompted your observation that I was somehow being gracious to you merely by being concerned for your welfare."

      We waited in silence, perhaps 20 seconds.

      "Very well, your Majesty."

      He was clearly uncomfortable again sharing this with us, and was clearly wishing he hadn't let that slip out, but, picking his words carefully, he continued, "The old Zan, Your Majesty, your first incarnation, would not have let the welfare of a commoner or a mere courtier stand in the way of his wishes. He simply would have given the order without thought or concern to it's consequences to others. Please forgive my frankness, Your Majesty."

      Max spoke immediately, "I do NOT forgive your frankness -- I PRAISE you for it. Let me make it clear to you, from now on the 'new ZAN,' my current incarnation, will be -- no -- IS concerned for the welfare of ALL his subjects. Clearly, the approach of the old Zan was not successful, or we wouldn't be here today. I expect those around me to give me the truth, all of it, even if it is unpleasant."

      Larek/Albert gave a sigh, but it didn't sound like relief. "I thank Your Majesty for clarifying this. I will try my best to meet your expectations. May I speak further?"

      "Please"

      Larek took a breath and swallowed once, like a man about to make a confession. "Your Majesty, I, above all our race, understand and appreciate this approach to ruling our Federation, but I feel that I must warn you that there are those who will see it as a sign of weakness, and seek to use it to their own advantage. "

      Max responded from a depth of understanding and maturity which took me, and I think some of the others, completely by surprise. "Thank you, Larek, for having the courage to tell me that. I'm aware that some, even here on earth, see it as weakness. I don't. In fact, I see it as a strength which I can bring to the role of King. Everyone around this table can tell you that there is no one on Earth more self-centered and stubborn than I am -- and it pains me to admit it, but it's true (There were subtle smiles all around) -- but I think they will also tell you that, little by little, I am learning the power of collaboration, and trying to practice it all the time. I'm certainly not perfect, but I'm learning. And the more help I have from those around me, like all of these, and now, like you Larek, the more I learn to leverage it's power for the good of all. Will you help me with this?"

      I had to check and see if my mouth was hanging open -- as deeply and strongly as I love Max, this was a side of him I had never seen. When did he grow into being this... this... man?

      "Thank you Your Majesty. I will try my very best to live up to the trust which you have shown me. And to reciprocate that trust, I will feel honored to approach the Sacred Granolith on your behalf. If we are successful, the Avatar will surely be able to put to rest any concerns and questions you may have. If we are successful, you will have the full power of the Sacred Granolith as your ally. If, somehow, we are not successful, I will be the most proud individual in your court for having given my best to help you. Have I your permission to proceed?"

      Max looked around the table. "Any more objections?" No one spoke. "Proceed."

      Larek then turned to me, " My Lord Avatar, the Sacred Granolith is in your keeping. You must decide if this is to be permitted."

      "It seems like an OK plan to me as long as no one gets hurt. Go for it."

      "Then, by your leave, Your Majesty and My Lords, Graces and Ladies, I will leave you again and return in one Earth hour." Then he was gone.

      Max looked around the table. "OK, what do we think?"

      "I'm exhausted, eh?" Albert announced.

      "I don't doubt it." Max gave the boy an appreciative smile. "Albert you've been a real trooper; I don't know what would have happened if we didn't have your help. I need to ask you to hang in there and do it one more time for us. Do you think you can do that?"

      Albert considered a moment, then asked, "Can I rest a little first?"

      "You bet you can. We have an hour before we need you again. Are you hungry?"

      "No, not really, just tired. I'll go upstairs and take a few nods. You guys wake me ten minutes before you need me; I'll need a few minutes to get awake enough to welcome the Spirit, eh?"

      "You got it!" Max spoke to Albert as though nothing were at all out of the ordinary, but I could tell that he was concerned. He wondered if he could trust Larek's judgment about Albert's ability to withstand the Granolith itself without being hurt -- how well did he know human strength and physiology?

      I tried to sound as reassuring as I could, but, under the circumstances, I wasn't one-hundred-percent sure either.

      As soon as Albert was upstairs, Max began polling us on our thoughts and feelings about this last meeting.

      Liz was a little frustrated. "I'm really sorry; I couldn't feel anything"

      "Don't be sorry; you did your best; it's not your fault if you didn't get any visions. There probably just weren't any visions to be had -- especially if he DID tell us the whole truth." Max reached over and gave her hand a little squeeze.

      I spoke without being asked -- 'note to self, learn proper etiquette when dealing with a King; no need to end up like the last Avatar' (not that that could happen with Max and me) "I think we can trust him, at least to the extent you trust my ability to read his thoughts. I couldn't sense any dishonesty at all."

      "Well, I got nothing; nothing at all." Michael was extremely frustrated. "I can't tell this guy from Jay Leno, and I get no vibes whatsoever. He could have been bullshitting us from here to Antar and back and I couldn't tell. Hell, he might be some kind of psycho -- he thinks WE can help his planets end a seven-thousand-year-old-war, and that's pretty damn crazy!" He turned in my direction, "Sorry, but it's all on you, Buddha-boy."

      Isabel jumped in, "Well I got no vibes either, but I, for one, DO trust Kyle's take on this. I've seen him improve every day in his psychic abilities and I think we can trust that he is skillful enough now to know if he's being given a snow-job."

      (I couldn't help chuckling to myself: did she say "snow-job" or "blow-job?" Shit, Kyle, get serious will you?)

      "I tend to agree." Jesse offered. I was impressed by Larek's response to us after you gave your word, Max, but I have no way to tell if it was genuine or, as Michael said, 'bullshit.' I think we've gotten about all we're going to get from Larek. We're going to have to depend on Kyle's judgment to tell us whether to trust Larek, or not. What other option do we have?"

      "Jesse's right. What other choice do we have?" Maria weighed-in.

      "So is there consensus that we are going to have to trust Kyle's judgment on Larek?" Max looked around the table and got nods from everyone but me.

      My mind was reeling. For a while I remained silent and my mind was working in overdrive. I thought: I wish I could be certain. So much depends on my alien abilities, and they really haven't been tested. Who knows what is going to happen when I connect with the Granolith, that is, if I CAN connect. I'm scared. I used to get butterflies before a big football or basketball game, or before an important wrestling match, but it was nothing like this. This is life-and-death and I feel like I don't know anything. A year ago the only thing I was concerned with was winning the next game, passing the next test, and when and where I could see Max again. Now, it's life or death.

      Then, again, I'm already dead to earth. There is no way I could pass for a human at this point. I guess my choice is eventual certain death here on earth or a chance of living for a while longer on Antar."

      Finally I spoke. "There's a saying that's been important to me. "Whatever you fear most has no power - it is your fear that has the power."

      "Buddha?" Liz asked.

      I shook my head 'No,' "Oprah Winfrey."

      There was a moment of silence, then suddenly, everyone was laughing.

      "What? Why are you laughing?" I didn't know why they were all laughing. Nobody was telling me. I just sat there while they finished.

      "Oprah Winfrey?" Jesse asked, still convulsed.

      "Yeah, it applies, doesn't it?"

      The laughter broke out all over again. After it died down a little, I tried again. "If you all are finished with whatever you're laughing at, may I continue?"

      A few more titters, then everybody was either quiet or stifling themselves.

      "I believe we can trust him, provided that nothing goes wrong in this 'mind-meld' with the Granolith, I think we can believe what he told us this time. He told us the truth - or at least, what he believes to be the truth."

      There, I had said it. I was committed.

      I silently prayed the prayer of confession to Buddha, "All the evil karma, ever created by me since of old; on account of my beginningless greed, hatred and ignorance; born of my conduct, speech and thought; I now confess openly and fully." I added, "Please, please don't let me be wrong this time!"

      "OK" Max continued, oblivious to my terror, "That's good enough for me; I trust Kyle. We've got about 45 minutes left before Larek's next visit. Try and rest a little, but don't be late in getting back here."

      I decided to go to my room and lie down for a few minutes and was surprised to hear a light knock on my door. Max opened it a crack and asked, "Can I come in?"

      I sat up, legs over the side of the bed, and nodded 'Yes.'

      He entered, quietly closing the door behind him, and came straight to my bed and sat beside me. Without a word, he put a hand behind my neck and pulled me close to his face. I smelled his body -- musky, sweet, masculine, and felt his hot breath against my face. I raised a hand to his cheek and felt the day's growth of beard rough in my hand. When our lips met, all my fears and worries were drained away from me; our tongues fencing, his arms pulled me tightly closer. It seemed as though I couldn't breathe -- as though I didn't need to; Max was all I needed; not air, not food or water, not sleep, not Earth, not Antar; just Max. If this wasn't a state of eternal bliss, I didn't want bliss, I wanted this instead. It was over far, far too soon as Max straightened up and our faces parted.

      "You were fantastic," he whispered.

      I started to protest, "But, I didn't ..."

      He put his finger on my lips to hush me. "If the King says you were wonderful and fantastic, you were wonderful and fantastic, and the King says you WERE."

      "Yes, Your Majesty -- Max -- Zan."

      "No -- you call me Max. The others will eventually get used to calling me by other names, but, when we are alone, you and I, I will always be Max to you, and you are Kyle to me, always, OK?"

      "OK."

      There was an eternal silence as he took both my hands into his and looked into my alien eyes, and I felt, just for a moment, like they were a clear blue again -- like my dad's -- and that I was a nineteen-year-old boy/man who was hopelessly in love with a beautiful, caring, wonderful, self-centered, obstinate nineteen-year-old boy/man who was hopelessly in love with me and we were about to embark on a life together -- a life of sunny days and white picket fences, and children, and careers, and quietly growing old together.

      There is just no way for me to write about the feelings I have for Max -- the depth of my love -- without it sounding something like a soap opera, or a novel of teenage love and angst. I really don't want to go all touchy-feely on you, but, the reality is, I have no other way to describe my feelings, no tools, no words... .

      When I began this diary, I told you about my reasons for leaving Roswell, and I explained at that time that it wasn't just the danger of staying, nor the lack of opportunity for me there; It was first and foremost about being with Max.

      Now -- if you ever get to read this -- I want to explain my reasons for my decision to leave Earth and travel farther that I can even imagine to a place where I'll either be welcomed or killed, to a role I feel totally unprepared for, with zillions of beings depending on me. It's not about the fact that my life is in danger here on earth; I've been there before, and it's not about the fact that I have no future among humans -- well it IS, sort-of, but not primarily. It is first and foremost about being with Max. Even though I cannot imagine life on another planet, among another species, away from you, a life without Max is even more unimaginable. That's it, plain and simple. The Buddha says "No matter what path you choose, really walk it." The path I choose leads away from Earth, and on to Antar, and I must walk it with conviction and purpose. I know that you, of all people, understand that.

      Max quietly asked, "OK if I lie down with you for a few minutes?"

      I didn't need to answer. I slid back to lie on the bed. Often, when we are together, Max prefers to lie behind me and hold me; he's a little taller than me and it's usually more comfortable for him. I like that too, but tonight, he immediately turned away from me and curled his body back into mine. He wanted to be held. I held him. We stayed that way until it was time to go back downstairs. I closed my eyes, but didn't sleep. Neither did Max. There was only about 15 minutes of rest before we had to go back downstairs, and it was over way too soon. I could have stayed on the bed holding the boy I love for hours, but there was work to be done; demands on our lives, and I couldn't help but wonder if we would ever again have the chance to just lie on the bed, quietly together, and be ourselves.

      Everyone was already in place when we got to the Dining Room, even Albert. We waited the few minutes in silence. Time almost stood still. Then Larek was with us.

      "Your Majesty, my Lord Avatar, I am in the presence of the Sacred Granolith. If you are ready, delve deeply into my consciousness and as soon as I feel your presence, I will reach out and touch the Sacred Relic."

      I looked at Max and he gave a nod. I looked into Albert's eyes, but entered Larek's thoughts. "I'm ready. Touch it."

      What happened next in the Dining Room, I can only tell you second-hand, but, I am told that a laser-like beam of purple light emanated from Albert's eyes to mine for about 3 seconds, then there was a bright flash of purple light and Albert and I were blown right off our chairs in opposite directions. Each of us was stopped by a wall, and knocked unconscious for a moment or two. Max and Liz ran to help Albert, and Michael and Isabel tended to me. I didn't have any serious injuries, just a small bump on the head, and Albert had suffered no more than that. We were both awake in seconds. Larek was gone.

      The first thing I heard was Albert speaking, "Far-freakin'-out! What a blast, eh? Can we do it again?"

      From my point of view, I was in contact with the Granolith for an hour-or-so. My eyes took in millions of images much faster than I could see, and I felt as though stuff was being fed into my brain with a fire-hose.

      Despite the encyclopedic knowledge my brain had just acquired, all I could say as I woke up was, "O-My-God! I know stuff! I know stuff! O-My-God! I know so much stuff!" I was quiet then, as Michael picked me up, using his arms, like a good human, and put me back in my chair, just as Max, seeing that Albert was OK, rushed over to me and grabbed me in a bear-hug, asking if I was OK, and kissing my head.

      Liz took Albert back to his room to rest a little more. The others stayed around the table, staring at me. As Liz returned to her chair, Michael finally spoke, "Wow! Quite a show Buddha-boy! What was it like?"

      It took me a few moments to remember how to speak English. "It's all true. It was wonderful; beautiful. So peaceful. It's all true, all of it! Now I get it; I understand! Well, not everything, but it all makes sense now. Somebody look at your watch, it'll take two hours for the rest."

      "The rest of what?" Max asked anxiously. "What's true? What's going to happen in two hours?"

      "In two hours -- that's how long it will take to get here using a subspace conduit -- the rest of the Granolith's message to me will arrive; my commissioning, so-to-speak."

      "I don't think Albert's up to it, and I don't think I should even let him try." Max was shaking his head.

      "Don't worry, Albert is just fine, and so is Larek, but I don't need either of them for this; I can communicate with the Granolith myself now."

      All around the table, jaws dropped and eyes were open wide staring at me.

      I continued, "Once I am commissioned, I will have the power of the Granolith at my disposal to protect you -- more power than you or I could ever imagine. I promise -- if you are in my protection -- that is, the protection of the Sacred Granolith -- Kivar and his lackeys will have no power against you. I will keep you safe. I promise you that."

      Michael interrupted, "Whoa, whoa, wait just a minute here; I've got a beef with that. If you, er... the Avatar, or the Granolith, or whatever, have that kind of power, why couldn't the previous Avatar have just protected the Royals in the first place?"

      "This is weird -- I know the answer to that, but I have no idea how I know, but anyway, the answer is -- he could have. He chose not to. The previous Avatar thought...,or, the Granolith thought --- geez -- I don't even have the vocabulary to say this in English."

      I started over. "The Avatar and the Granolith agreed that a change in leadership was necessary. They could see that the changes Zan was making were good, but that his way of going about them was going to lead to total disaster. He tried and tried to convince Zan, uh... the OLD Zan, to pull back and give the population time to adjust, but Zan refused to listen. The previous Avatar had been created by Zan's Great-Grandfather, and Zan felt he was just too set in the old ways. This created a huge rift between the King and the Avatar, and finally, Zan had the Avatar banished from court. As a result of Zan's obstinance, the Granolith knew, or predicted the Insurrection and the death of Zan and his closest allies, and the inevitable rise of the despot, Kivar. The Granolith planned and prepared the mission to Solus III, er... Earth, actually before the King fell. The Granolith felt it was the only way for the Federation to survive in the long run. Saving the Royals just as they were would just have put the Federation back on the route to Insurrection again -- and millions more bloody deaths. Out of the frying pan into the fire, so-to-speak. So, Zan and the Royals were given another chance -- another incarnation -- you. And the Granolith predicted, I hope correctly, that this time you would get it right. You already know why Earth was chosen, and, well, I guess you know the rest.

      Jesse chimed in, "OK, I'll buy that scenario, but if you've got that kind of moxie, couldn't you just protect us here on Earth? Why can't we just stay here, then?"

      "I could." I responded, "But, Jesse, that's not our Destiny. I understand now what the Granolith has planned for us -- from the very beginning -- it has all been part of a plan."

      "What, we're just puppets?" Jesse demanded.

      "Hardly -- we totally have free will, but, all along the way, the choices we freely made were in sync with the Granolith's predictions for the plan. We weren't manipulated -- it's more like the Granolith predicted we would make the type of choices we made and eventually be where we are."

      Isabel asked, almost in a whisper, "Did the Granolith predict that Tess would murder Alex?"

      "No, ...no." I answered as quietly as she asked. "The Granolith predicted that Tess would kill, and that Tess would not be Queen, but could not predict ...well, could not predict who or why she would kill. How can I say this best -- The Granolith predicted that Alex would be your choice for a mate and become Prince Regent with you at his side, but only after it knew that you, in your own mind and of your own choice had selected Alex -- perhaps even before you knew. And the Granolith greatly mourned his death -- he had an exceptional mind, and was deeply in love with you. Alex would have been a wonderful asset and a loyal ally. But the Granolith also rejoiced in your choice of Jesse -- Jesse, before you even think it, you were not in any way second place or runner-up. Once Alex was gone, you were the new first-choice -- I hope you can see the distinction, because the Granolith believes that you are just as great an asset as Alex might have been. Alex only had the potential -- you will have the chance to fulfill yours."

      Jesse nodded.

      Silence

      Quietly, timidly, Maria asked, "Is the Granolith -- God?"

      "No, the Granolith is not God. Some might say it is the 'hand of God' aided by technology, perhaps, or perhaps what we might call a bionic-angel, but not God." After a moment for them to digest this, I added, "I think I should tell you that the Granolith believes there is an entity -- I guess you would have to say, a God, but has never been in the physical presence of this God."

      "This is too much! I can't handle this -- this is TOO MUCH!" Michael was shaking his head.

      "Tell me about it! I started the year out as a perfectly normal kid from New Mexico who played football, watched TV, had some off- beat Martian friends, and a desire to leave behind life in Roswell. Trust me, this is NOT what I had in mind." I looked to Michael for some spark of understanding; his head was in his hands. "Michael -- brother, (I had not ever called him this, but he did call me 'brother' when my body began to change, so I took the chance) I know that this is mind-boggling -- most of it is still a mystery, even to me, but, more than ever I need you to trust me now. I've seen our Destiny, and I believe it really IS our Destiny, and that it will all work-out for the best, for each of us. Earlier today, you said you trusted me; now I really, really, need you to trust me. Can you -- will you do that?"

      There was silence, and I was determined not to be the one to break it.

      Maria stood first and declared, "I trust you, Kyle."

      Isabel stood and said, "So do I"

      Max, already standing by me put his hand on my shoulder and added, "You know, I trust you completely."

      Liz stood and moved to Max's side, clutching his hand and said, "Me too."

      After a moment of deep thought, Jesse stood and said, "I'm with you -- I trust you, too."

      Michael looked around the table at everyone else standing up. He placed his palms on the table, closed his eyes and slowly drew a deep breath through his teeth. He stood. "If you can't trust your brother, who can you trust? I'm with you, bro'. What's next?"

Continue to Chapter 18

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