|"Ties that Bind"|
Disclaimer: I own nothing. . .but I wish I owned Max.|
Summary: A stranger with an incredible claim and a strange connection to Liz comes to Roswell in search of the Pod Squad. What will her message mean to the Royal Four--and to Max and Liz's future?
|“Isabel is my sister.” Max stared at Marryn, trying
not to believe her. But the words—they felt right,
somehow. They had reached the park in awkward silence
and now walked slowly down one of the paved pedestrian
“You had two sisters,” Marryn said quietly. “You and I were closest in age, but Vilandra—Isabel wasn’t much younger than I.” She pushed up her sunglasses. “I know this must be really hard for you. I thought you knew, or I would have. . .I don’t know. Broken it to you more gently, I guess.”
Max ran a hand through his hair, shaking his head. “It isn’t possible—why weren’t you sent with us? And our mother—in the message, she didn’t say anything about you.”
She smiled sadly. “When Mother made that message, I was still alive.” Closing her eyes, she turned her face to the sun and shrugged. “I was sent later.”
“Then why are you—”
“Older than you?” She sighed. “I guess the technology had improved, or maybe they wanted me to mature sooner—I don’t know.”
“This just. . .I don’t understand. Why didn’t we know about you?” Max shook his head in disbelief.
“Look, it didn’t work like we thought it would—the whole hybrid thing. We were supposed to retain our personalities, and our memories were supposed to return over time.” She frowned. “For some reason, I guess yours didn’t.”
“But you remember?” Max demanded.
She hesitated. “I remember. . .a lot. No, that’s not true. It seems like a lot now, but. . .I had a whole life before and most of it’s a blank.”
Max paced restlessly before her. “I can’t believe this. You’d think I would know—they sent me here as the hope of a planet. And I don’t have a clue!” He stopped and looked at her as an idea struck him. “Are there any more? I mean, do we have more family?”
“We. . .we had a brother,” Marryn faltered. She dropped her eyes, but not before Max saw a flash of grief there. “He was the oldest. Kivar had him assassinated—that was what began the civil war.”
“Is he here too?” Max’s mind raced. Wouldn’t the oldest be first in the line of succession?
Marryn shook her head. “No. He was killed when we were very young. We didn’t have the ability to create hybrids then. We weren’t actually sure it would work with you, but our mother said we had to try. Obviously, it worked.” Despite the warmth of the sun, she shivered and hugged herself. “But it came too late for our brother.”
Inexplicably, loss shot through Max. He was vaguely puzzled by it—was it possible to mourn for someone you had never met? He cleared his throat. “Why haven’t we met you before?” he asked her.
“I grew up in Boston,” she answered. “My father is a judge in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. I met Zan and the others when I was in high school—I was on a school trip to New York and Lonnie saw me. Somehow she knew exactly who I was. I used to see them once in a while when I was in New York, but I’ve never been to New Mexico before.”
“They killed Zan,” Max said flatly.
She nodded. “I know.” They both fell silent for a moment, then she gave him a crooked grin. “You don’t believe me, do you?”
“No, I do.” Max shook his head. “That’s the problem. I feel like I know you—like I’ve seen you before, heard your voice.”
“You have,” she said with a small smile.
“But I can’t be sure,” he continued. “So much has happened to us in the past year. I don’t know who we can trust.”
She nodded. “I understand. I never know who to trust, either. But you and I are going to have to trust each other, Max.” She thought for a moment. “Here, give me your hand.” She put out her hand, palm up, and after a moment’s hesitation Max put his in it. “Keep your eyes on mine,” she instructed, and he did.
“What are you—” he began, but suddenly a current of emotion washed over him, accompanied by flashes of memory. He saw Marryn as a girl, guiding a horse smoothly over rails in an endless green field. He saw her sitting at a desk, writing spelling words in painstaking script, and being swept up in the arms of a handsome, gray-haired man Max somehow knew was her father. He saw her first glimpse of Lonnie from across a crowded street. Then she was older, and dancing in a club under the hectic glare of strobe lights, being kissed beneath a street light in the rain. And underneath it all was love—love for him and the others, even for Zan, Lonnie. He felt her longing, her anger at being sent alone to be born, and her loneliness. He saw her faint, fragmented memories of her first life, and felt her frustration at the gaps in between. He was in some of those memories; it stunned him to recognize himself. With building intensity, he saw disjointed pieces of the events that led to his own demise, felt himself sink into her memories, as though she had pulled him into herself—
“Max! Max, are you okay?”
Marryn’s voice jerked him back to reality and he sucked in a deep, ragged breath like a drowning man thrust to the surface. “How—how did you do that?” he gasped.
“Don’t you know how?” she asked.
Still panting, he shook his head. “No. Sometimes I’ve gotten flashes from. . .from people, but never like that. Did you send them to me on purpose? Can we do that?”
“Of course—it’s just a simple mind link.” She touched his face, a look of concern marring her smooth forehead. “I’m sorry—I didn’t mean to give you that much.”
“No, it’s okay.” He looked at her in amazement. “I learned more from that than I have in my entire life.” He took a step back, his mind reeling at what he had seen. “What happened next?”
“I don’t know all of it,” she replied. “I know you were killed, and then the four of you were sent here. The war went on, but. . .it’s pretty fuzzy. And, well, my memories stop when I was executed.”
“Executed?” he repeated. “For what?”
She chuckled mirthlessly. “What do you think? For my blood—for who I was. For the humiliation of our people, for a sign that we were defeated. But most of all, for daring to cross Kivar.”
“What did you do?” Max asked softly.
She smiled slightly. “I tried to kill him. He captured me in battle, about two years after the four of you—well, you were killed in a campaign that made Kivar ruler of virtually the whole planet. Anyway, when he captured me, he took me into his household. . .as one of his—his women.” A convulsive shudder ran through her body. “You can’t imagine the—the humiliation, the degradation of it. I had been a princess—I had had a husband whom I loved deeply. And he made me into a whore.” She took a deep breath. “So one night when he sent for me, I hid a dagger in my gown. I tried to use it, but. . .he was stronger than I was, and he overpowered me. He could have killed me there—I wanted him to—but he had a better plan. He threw me into a cell for three months. The guards—they. . .” Her voice trailed off and she fell silent. Max clenched his jaw as black anger welled up in his chest. If what she said was true. . .and he believed it, believed every word. . .if her story was true, Kivar would pay for this.
“No—stop that.” Marryn’s voice broke into his thoughts. “It’s over—it didn’t happen to me, to Marryn Riley. That was another life and it doesn’t matter in this one.”
“What?” he demanded, then realized that he hadn’t spoken aloud. “Were you reading my thoughts?”
She flushed. “No! Well, yes. But they were very loud!” At his amazed look, she frowned. “What? Can’t you do that either? With a loud sigh, she walked over to the fountain and sat on the edge. “Look, I came here to make sure you weren’t planning anything like that. Don’t you get it? It isn’t our problem anymore.”
“What are you talking about?” Max asked.
“This! You going to the summit—you’re acting like we could actually go back to the other life.” She held out a hand to him and he sat beside her. “Max, don’t you remember any of it?”
He slowly shook his head. “No. I wish I did.”
“Don’t be so sure,” she told him softly. She took a deep breath, trailing her fingers through the clear, sparkling water in the fountain. “You want to know what I remember most?” At his nod, she continued. “Failure. We failed, Max. A whole race pinned their hopes on us, and we failed them. We had every advantage—we were primed to lead, trained our entire lives—and we still failed.” A short, bitter laugh came from her lips. “I remember being led to the execution. You know what I was thinking about? Not my husband, not the fact that I was too young to die—and I *was* too young to die—but about the fact that I had failed. I couldn’t keep Kivar out of power, I couldn’t keep my family alive, and when he killed me, I couldn’t even take him with me.”
“You tried,” Max said quietly. He wished he could comfort her, but although the memories she had shared with him made him feel intensely connected to her, the truth was he had only met this woman an hour ago and it didn’t feel right to put his arm around her.
She shook her head. “We all tried. And we all failed.” She put her hand on his; it was chilly and damp from the water in the fountain but when she touched him it felt familiar. “Don’t you get it? If we were ever going to defeat Kivar, it would have been in that life, not this one. In this one, we’re just like everyone else.”
“We’re not like everyone else,” he protested, unable to keep a note of regret from his voice.
“In the ways that matter we are. We have no training, no experience, no advisors to help us—it’s impossible. We were killed last time—how long do you think we would last this time?”
“What are you saying?” he asked.
“That we—you—should give it up.” She squeezed his hand. “Max, you know you don’t want to be king of a planet you’ve never seen. You don’t have to be. You can just go along, be a normal human, forget this whole *destiny* thing. Don’t you want to do that, Max?”
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