|"Always With You - Part Three"|
by Watcher Tara
Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Roswell.|
Summary: Max and Kyle have to team up to save Liz from an unexpected threat.Meanwhile, the rest of the gang returns to Marathon, Texas looking foranswers and finds more than they anticipated.
Authors Note: You REALLY should read Always With You part one and twofirst, but if you haven't, here's what you've missed: Tess was evil and notthe fourth alien, the gang killed her and Liz discovered she has powers,too. They find an alien weapon called the Shield and learn about theexistence of the Sword, another weapon. Please, please e-mail me with yourthoughts.
|Riverdog had warned them that using the Healing Stones could be dangerous.
"The balance can pull you in. It's a force that can change both your body and your mind unless you navigate it properly..." Maria had used the stones twice before in the past year, once on Michael, once on Max. Neither time she'd done it had she experienced anything like what was happening to her
Of course, both times before the others had been with her. Using the Stone by herself left her open for the Stone to take over the healing. She lost all sense of time and place while she sat on the floor in Atherton's hidden room next to Michael who was badly hurt. The stone glowed brightly in the room. It was in fact the room's only illumination.
While she sat there, focusing her thoughts on Michael, something strange began to happen. She thought she felt another presence, not in the room, but calling to her from inside the Stone itself. The light began to glow
brighter and brighter. Maria didn't know it, but the balance in the Healing Stone was pulling her in, just as Riverdog had warned her it could. She didn't fight it, and soon she was immersed in the healing.
After a time, her vision cleared, and she was running through the desert. A part of her knew that her body was still at Atherton's, but her mind had joined the mind of another. She knew without questioning it whose mind she occupied. It was Riverdog. Without trying, she was aware of his thoughts, and more, his whole state of consciousness. It was as if she was Riverdog.
He was about fifteen years old, and was trailing after Nasedo as he fled into the desert following the Indian's test to see if he was an evil spirit.
They had unknowingly triggered a reaction in the man that could result in his death.
Riverdog followed the visitor up the slope. There was something terribly wrong with his friend. He was panting and weaving his way through the brush. The boy didn't know what was wrong, but felt compelled to follow
him. He didn't announce his presence, curious as to where the man was going. He'd always respected his privacy in the past, never prying into where the man went each night, or what he did, or why he chose to live in the desert away from everyone and everything. A part of Riverdog was scared
of what his friend would say when he discovered that he'd been followed.
He couldn't imagine what had happened in the sweat lodge to cause this kind of reaction. Of course, he'd heard of people that have severe allergic reactions to things. One of the women in the tribe was deathly allergic to fish. The last time she'd eaten some she'd nearly died. However, what was there to be allergic to in the sweat? The heat? The smoke? It didn't make sense, but obviously, something was wrong with the man.
Riverdog didn't know why the Elders of the tribe were so suspicious of the stranger. He never did anything to bother the tribe. Quite the opposite in fact. From the first time he'd mentioned that he'd made a friend who lived in the desert, they'd been anxious. Riverdog knew that the stranger meant
them no harm. In fact, they'd met when the stranger had come to his aid, when he'd fallen down the side of a ravine, and lay at the bottom of the slope amid the rubble.
As he walked, he thought of the events and conversation he'd overheard between his father and the tribal Elders a few weeks ago that had precipitated tonight's test.
As was bound to happen, he had begun to mention his new friend from time to
time at the dinner table. His parents were curious about the stranger that the boy was spending so much time with. When they found out that their son didn't even know the man's name their curiosity turned into caution.
Riverdog's father, Fire Shadow, made it a point to mention the stranger at the next tribal meeting.
"It is strange," he said to the tribal elders, unaware the Riverdog was within earshot. "Why would a man want to spend so much time with a boy Riverdog's age? Why would he not share his name?"
"You are right. Something is not as it seems with the man." Chief Moon Gazer agreed.
"From what Riverdog has said, I believe that he is living on tribal land. Perhaps he is running from the law and wishes to use the tribe as a shield from the authorities."
"Perhaps it is something else." The chief was silent for a moment before announcing, "I have dreamed."
There was a sudden stillness over the group of men. Moon Gazer was known near and far for the accuracy of his prophetic dreams. When the man began to speak again everyone was listening. Riverdog held his breath and
strained to hear every word of what was being said.
"Long have I dreamed of a stranger to this land: a visitor from further away than any of us have ever traveled. Nasedo. He is sun and moon. He carries with him hope of life and threat of death. Already he has created and yet he has killed." The chief used a stick to stir the glowing embers of the
fire that was crackling in the middle of his lodge.
"Where does he come from, Chief Moon Gazer?" one of the other men asked.
"It is strange, but the signs and my dreams tell me that he is from the head of the ram."
"The head of the ram?" Moon Gazer's dreams were often cryptic but this was strange even for him. "What ram?"
The chief grunted. He wasn't sure what it meant himself. Someone in the back whispered, "Is he a new form of head lice?" Moon Gazer shot him a glare.
"How long have you been having these dreams?" Fire Shadow asked.
"For a long time. Years."
"How many years, Chief?"
"Three... maybe more. They come most often in the spring."
"Spring?" another man asked.
"Yes. It has puzzled me for many months. I can not seem to make the connection or understand what the spirits are telling me." Moon Gazer stared hard into the fire recalling his last dream about the stranger. It was as cryptic as all the others were.
"Wait a minute," Fire Shadow said. "He is from the head of the ram, and his coming is associated with spring... That sounds so familiar." He thought for a minute.
Lost "Call me Joe" Willow said from beside him. "Yeah, it's Aries the Ram, one of the constellations. The vernal equinox is associated with it because the sun is in Aries at that time of the year."
"Hey, that's right. How'd you remember that, Joe?"
"At our spring festival last year, I had to wear that old ratty Ram suit. No offense, Moon Gazer. My boy, Rodney, wrote a school paper on why the Ram was important to spring."
"You've got a good memory. Joe."
"Yeah. Well, to tell the truth, it was an interesting report."
"So wait a minute," Moon Gazer's son interjected. "What does the constellation Aries have to do with Riverdog's new friend? Are your dreams telling us that this man, this stranger is some kind of visitor from outer space?"
There were some chuckles in the tent until Moon Gazer said, "It is possible."
"No wait," Fire Shadow interrupted. "Three years ago, wasn't that about the same time that that weather balloon fell out on Puhlman Ranch?"
"I heard it weren't no weather balloon."
"Yeah, I heard it was some kind of space ship that crashed that day," said someone from the back.
"You know, old man Jake at the feed store told me his brother actually saw the ship before they cleaned it up. Then the strangest thing... his brother just disappeared. Rumor has it that the government came and took him away one night because of what he'd seen."
There were general sounds of agreement as everyone recalled the excitement of three years ago when something fell out of the sky that sunny Fourth of July. The army had crawled all over the hills for weeks supposedly to do some surveying. Everyone knew at the time that they were searching for
something or someone.
"You think maybe this fella survived the crash, somehow got away from the government, has been hiding out here for three years to suddenly become best friends with Riverdog?" the voice was skeptical.
"It is possible."
"But not very likely." Moon Gazer's son put in.
"Maybe the elders can devise a test to prove it one way or another. If he is a visitor, nasedo, then we should find out."
"If he is nasedo, do we want to risk making him angry by testing him?" Joe asked.
No one had an answer. Finally, Moon Gazer said, "I will think on it."
"What do we do in the meantime?" Fire Shadow asked.
"Stay away from him."
It was decided then that no one from the tribe was to have anything to do with the mysterious stranger. Riverdog, the only one who had actually met him protested loudly. He insisted that the man wasn't hurting anyone, and had in fact saved him once when he fell into a ravine.
Now, several weeks later, Chief Moon Gazer had tested the man by inviting him to join in a sacred sweat to purge the evil spirits from him. Shortly after entering the tent, Riverdog saw him leaving again. He looked ill.
His father was still in the lodge, but Riverdog knew he would be angry if he
went after the stranger. Straightening his shoulders manfully, he accepted that there would be consequences for his actions and went out into the desert after his friend.
The man entered into a cave that was on the outskirts of the reservation land. He apparently couldn't see the entrance, and had to feel along the wall for the opening. Riverdog was astonished he had found his way at all if his sight was that poor. When his friend disappeared inside, he tiptoed to the rocky entrance. The man's breathing had changed from rapid to slow... very slow. In fact, he was barely breathing at all.
"Mister...?" Riverdog called out softly. "Mister, are you ok?"
"Yeah, it's me. Can I come in?"
"Riverdog... come here. I need you."
'What could the man need him for?' he wondered. The boy cautiously ducked
into the interior of the cave. "Mister, where are you?"
"Put out your left hand. To the side, not straight ahead." The man whispered. When he obeyed, he felt the wall cold against his palm. "Now, feel along the wall toward the back of the cave." It was pitch black in the
cave with no fire burning and the sun's light unable to penetrate very far into its recesses. With the wall as a guide, Riverdog walked slowly away from the exit. He could hear the man's quiet breathing to his right.
"Where am I going?" he asked.
"Go to the back of the cave. Quickly. There is little time." The man's voice was so soft; he had to strain to hear. "Feel for the crack in the wall."
Stumbling over the uneven ground, Riverdog quickly followed the directions. The wall zigged and zagged, but he was easily able to follow it. Deep within the cave, he finally came across a wide crack in the wall. It was
about an inch wide. "Mister." His excited voice rang out loudly in the silence. Softer, he repeated, "Mister, I found it."
"Good. There is... there's a bag tucked into the base of the crack. Get it... and bring it... here to me." The alien was focusing all of his energies on holding back the rising blackness. He knew that if he lost
consciousness right now that he might never regain it. He didn't know what was happening to him, but whatever it was, it was serious.
Riverdog retrieved the bag. It was slightly heavy with several circular objects pressing against the cloth. Without knowing where he was in the cave, the boy simply followed the wall back the way he came, moving much
quicker than before.
"Mister?" he whispered, needing to hear the voice of his friend.
"I'm over here." The man whispered.
Leaving the wall, for the first time since entering the cave, the young Indian slowly moved in the direction of the soft voice. "Mister, what's wrong?"
"Riverdog..." It was just a thread of sound. "I'm sick. I need your help."
"What can I do?" he whispered back.
"Could be dangerous. Sure?"
"It doesn't matter. What can I do for you?"
"Take a stone from the bag. Hold it in your hand."
Without knowing how it would help, the boy reached into the bag and drew from it a small, smooth stone. "Ok, now what?"
"Just hold it. You will see..." His voice trailed away.
"Mister? Mister?" Riverdog was afraid for his friend, and he didn't see how sitting there, doing nothing but holding a rock was going to help him.
"Mister... I don't understand." He reached out with his other hand to shake the man's shoulder. His fingers encountered something that wasn't skin nor fabric. With a gasp, he yanked his hand back. 'What was that,' he
wondered. There was something strange happening here and he started to be
afraid for the first time since entering the cave.
His stomach began to feel strange... like he was going to be sick, but not. He couldn't describe the sensation. His hands were shaking from the inside.
"Mister, we've got to get out of here. Something isn't right..." Riverdog told his friend. He reached again for his arm. Just before he touched it, something amazing began to happen. The rock he was holding in his left hand was beginning to glow. The light started out very faint, but grew brighter
and brighter with the passing seconds. He looked from it to where he could now make out the form of the man. With another gasp, Riverdog dropped the stone on the ground. The light winked out in an instant.
He couldn't believe his eyes. Surely, his friend wasn't covered in a large cocoon. He felt around for the stone. Holding it again, he concentrated into the darkness where the man lay. In less than a minute, the stone was glowing brightly, illuminating the small cave. Riverdog was unable to tear his fascinated eyes away from the man.
The alien lay on the cold, hard ground completely encased in a cocoon. He barely appeared to breathe. Time stood still inside the cave. Outside, the sun set and the stars came out and began their trek across the sky. As the Indian watched him, his chest began to slowly glow with the same brightness
as the stone. Eventually the healing glow spread to the man's head and through the rest of his body.
After an eternity, it was over. The stone's light dimmed, and the man sat up and brushed away the cocoon covering him. Riverdog barely kept from squealing like a girl as he backed away in fright. Blackness again claimed the interior of the cave. He could barely hear the man get to his feet over
the sound of his own breath sawing in and out.
"Riverdog," the man said. "Do not fear me. I mean you no harm." Suddenly a bright light illuminated the interior of the cave again. This time the source of light was the man himself. He held his cupped hands before him
and there was a beautiful blue light emanating from his palms.
"What are you?"
"I am a stranger to this land. I come from a far away place."
"You truly are nasedo?" Riverdog breathed in awe.
"Nasedo?" the man asked.
"In my language, it means 'visitor'."
"Yes, I guess you could say that." He paused then continued, "Riverdog, you saved my life. If you hadn't come after me, I would never have left this cave again. Thank you."
"You're welcome." Curiosity was brimming inside him, and he couldn't stop himself from asking, "Where are you from?"
Nasedo looked at the boy who had saved him, and said, "I can't tell you, I'm sorry. There are others who are depending on me. It must remain a secret."
Riverdog simply nodded. He wanted to tell his friend that he could be trusted with the secret, but felt that perhaps, in time, the man would see that for himself. He looked down at his hands, and remembered the stone.
"What happened to you? What was wrong?"
"Let me light a fire, and I'll tell you what I can."
Nasedo turned to his fire pit, and with his powers soon had a fire crackling. They sat down, facing each other, on opposite sides of the flames. He told Riverdog that the stone carried the same energy source that was inside his body. Somehow, the heat and smoke from the sweat disrupted the natural balance of his systems and they began to shut down. When Riverdog used the stone, his energy activated its healing elements, and it
restored him. The teenager eagerly absorbed this information.
"What did you mean when you said it could be dangerous?"
"No human has ever used the Stones before. I didn't know if your body would have a reaction to the healing. In restoring the balance to my body, it was possible that you could upset the balance of yours." He looked at Riverdog and asked, "Are you feeling ok?" The boy nodded.
After a few minutes of silence following his retelling of what happened, Nasedo said, "It's getting late. You should probably get on home."
They stood, and Riverdog returned the stone to the bag, and handed it to his friend. "Thanks" he said.
"For what?" Nasedo asked.
"For trusting me with your secret. I promise I won't tell anyone what happened here tonight. Ever."
The alien held out his hand, "I know. You are a good friend, Riverdog."
"And you," the lad said as they shared a handshake, "Nasedo."
Riverdog walked slowly back to the reservation. It was fully dark, and he
knew his father would be angry with him. Somehow, though it didn't seem to matter. He felt as if he had changed in some intangible way. He didn't feel like the same boy that he was when we had awakened that morning. It
was as if, somehow, participating in the healing had changed him in some intangible way.
He felt like a man now. A man with knowledge and responsibilities. He knew it was up to him to shield the alien from outsiders, and possibly from his tribe as well. He had entered into a world of lies and secrets, but he accepted that. He would sacrifice much to protect Nasedo.
Their friendship strengthened over the next year. Riverdog did his best to squelch the rumors that he knew the other members of the tribe were spreading about Nasedo. For his part, the stranger came to the village at
regular intervals to help allay the suspicions about him. Riverdog was always glad when he showed up outside his family's lodge.
Everything changed the day the battered RV pulled into the village. The man who had driven it had introduced himself as Jim Atherton. He said that he was in the village to write a book on their tribal customs and ceremonies.
With his arrival, Nasedo stopped coming to visit the tribe. This meant that Riverdog had to go meet him in the desert when he wanted to see his friend.
Nasedo had made him promise to never come to his cave as long as the man remained in the village. They usually met out by the river. After a few months, Nasedo stopped meeting him when he said he would. Riverdog didn't
understand why his friend seemed to be pulling away from him, but he kept his promise. He never went to the cave looking for him. On the days that Nasedo didn't show up, he would swim for a while in the river, and then head back to the reservation.
One day unexpectedly, Nasedo appeared in the village. Riverdog's people were genuinely glad to see him as he'd been gone for many months. After saying hello to everyone who came up to greet him, including Riverdog,
Nasedo walked over to where Atherton was standing.
Riverdog was shocked to hear him say, "Hello, Jim." When had they met, the lad wondered.
"Hello, Nasedo. Are you all recovered from yesterday?"
Riverdog asked, "What happened yesterday?"
He listened as Nasedo explained how he'd fallen out by the river when some ground gave way underneath him. Then he held something out to Atherton, and said, "I am in your debt. Living alone in the desert, you take the chance of something like that happening. I could have been crow bait before someone wandered down that stretch of river."
Riverdog stared at the offering in his friend's hand, and felt a deep hurt.
He had saved his life that day in the cave, and Nasedo had given him nothing but his thanks. This man helped him with a sore ankle, and he got something? He suddenly felt as if his friend was betraying him in someway.
He barely heard Atherton say, "I did nothing. You would have been just fine on your own."
"Even so, I feel I owe you. Please take this." He again offered the small parcel.
Atherton took the offering and unwrapped it. Riverdog leaned over to look at it. It was a beautiful necklace. He knew that it was important to his friend, and he couldn't understand why Nasedo would just give something as valuable as this to this stranger. It was hard for him to hide his hurt.
"I can't take this."
"I'll be highly offended if you don't. You see how the bottom portion is missing?" He pointed to the one flaw on the necklace.
Nasedo opened his other hand to show what was in his palm. "I have the other piece. This will symbolize my debt to you." Riverdog could hardly believe what he was hearing. He tuned out the rest of the conversation, and
stood there passively. He was on the verge of walking away when Nasedo finished his conversation with the other man and looked down at him to ask, "So, where's your father today?" The two of them walked off a short way together.
"Nasedo, why did you give that man your necklace?"
"I have my reasons, Riverdog. Don't ask me about them. At least not today. When he is gone from here for good, I might tell you. Just remember - not everything is as it appears."
"What does that mean?"
"It means that appearances can be deceiving. Look at me, for example. On the surface, I'm just your average Joe American, right. We both know that inside I'm anything but."
Riverdog nodded. "So you think that Atherton is hiding something?"
"Maybe. A guy like me can't be too careful, you know."
"Yes, that's true."
For the next couple of months, it seemed that every time he turned around, Atherton was standing behind him. He usually wanted to talk about Nasedo, and Riverdog was becoming at first annoyed then suspicious. For a man who was supposed to be writing about the tribe, he seemed to be pretty occupied
Riverdog began putting the idea into the heads of the grown ups around him that maybe it was time for the stranger to move on. It didn't take much persuading before they were agreeing with him. He knew that Chief Moon
Gazer was planning to say something to Atherton when the other man announced
suddenly that he had everything he needed for his book, and that he would be leaving in the morning.|
The boy was elated. Finally, he would be gone, and he wouldn't have to keep looking behind him everywhere he went. He swore that Atherton had been following him the last few times he'd gone to meet Nasedo. In the morning, Riverdog eagerly set out to meet his friend. When he got to their meeting place, he knew it would be an hour or so before Nasedo would arrive. He sat on the riverbank and skipped rocks while he waited. Eventually, he heard footsteps behind him, and turned to see Nasedo coming down the trail.
"Hey, Riverdog," he called out. "I've brought something for you to see."
The boy shot to his feet. "Really? What is it?"
Nasedo removed something out of his pocket, and said, "You know that I've been carving a new chess set?"
Riverdog replied, "Certainly. Have you finished it?"
"Yep. Just last night."
"Is it better than your last chess set?"
"Smart-aleck. There was nothing wrong with the last set."
"Yeah, except for all of the pieces were crooked and lopsided."
"That's what I get for trying to carve a human's game. The next thing I do, I'm making one of the games that we used to play back home. Would you be interested in learning it?"
"Yes, sir," he breathed in awe.
Nasedo held out two wooden figures that stood about four inches tall.
"Wow, they're big." Riverdog said.
"Yeah, I figured out that size was one of the problems I was having with my first set. The small pieces were hard to hold on to." He pointed to the larger figure on the left. "The white king. This man was the leader of my people before he was killed. She," he pointed at the white queen, "was his wife. She, also, is dead now. It happened a long time ago, but I still remember them clearly." He got a far away look in his eyes as he said, "Like the phoenix, out of the ashes of the old they will rise and shine brighter than ever."
Riverdog could barely take his eyes off of the pieces. The creatures that he had carved were obviously not human looking. Riverdog wasn't sure if it was due to Nasedo's sketchy carving ability, or if the people from where he was from looked like this. Their robes were elaborate, as were their pedestals.
Nasedo gave himself a mental shake and held out his other hand. "I made one of you, too." Riverdog's eyes flew to his friend's face, then to his open hand. He picked up the small wooden pawn. The detailing was exquisite. No one looking at it would doubt for a second that it was him. Which meant... He glanced again at the white king and queen. "You have your very own place on my chessboard, my friend," Nasedo told him putting a hand on the lad's shoulder. "I'm the white king's knight, and you're my pawn. You belong directly in front of me on the board."
"I am honored." And he was, deeply. Not only that his friend would include him in the game but also that he would trust him enough to show the pieces to him.
"I look forward to playing a game with you as soon as it's safe again for you to come to my cave for a visit."
"Oh, that reminds me. He's leaving."
"Good. Did he say when?"
"Today. This morning."
"That seems kind of sudden..." A thought seemed to occur to him and he hurriedly said, "I've got to go. I'll see you tomorrow." He shoved the chess pieces deep into his pockets and took off in the direction of his cave. Later he would tell Riverdog how he had run to the cave, but was too late, and Atherton had already been there. He'd tell him how he ran across the desert after him, closing the distance, but that Atherton would make it back to the village, get into his RV and drive away before he could catch him. (He would not tell him, however, that he had shape-shifted into the form of Riverdog before the pursuit. He'd spent so much time convincing Atherton that he was stupid and slow that he wasn't about to blow it all in one afternoon. As long as Atherton underestimated him, that was points in his favor.)
"He took the rest of the set." Nasedo said looking at the three pieces that were all that remained of his beautiful chess set that he'd spent the past couple of years carving.
"I can't believe that he robbed you. Even after you trusted him."
Riverdog didn't notice the heavy sarcasm. "Did he steal anything else?"
"A few things. It's not important."
"What are you going to do?"
"For now, nothing. I will find him again one day, though. You can count on it." He made no effort to hide the promise of retribution in his voice, and Riverdog shivered. A man needed to reconsider before double-crossing a man like Nasedo, he thought.
After Atherton robbed him, Nasedo left his cave. He didn't tell Riverdog where he'd relocated. He was gone a lot, and was usually sullen when he was around.
|Part 3a | Index | Part 4a|
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