FanFic - Other
Part 43
by Kath7
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the story. The characters and concept belong to Jason Katims and Melinda Metz. Tarsus of Dernia and all Illyrian characters belong to me. Lyrics by Sarah McLachlan, Phil Collins, Amanda Marshall, Garth Brooks.
Summary: Sequel to "Out of the Woods." I highly recommend reading it before trying this one. It is archived at the Crashdown. Basically, Max is gone, and the others have no idea whether they will ever see him again.
Category: Other
Rating: PG-13
"Is it possible for Czechoslovakians to give straight answers?" Liz heard Kyle mutter to Alex. Alex snorted.

Ren turned his dark eyes on Kyle. Kyle smirked, trying to look innocent. "I will try and explain."

"It better be quickly." Kyle replied, indicating Maria. "She looks like she’s about to explode." She was still struggling against Michael’s grip.

"Jennetta is undergoing a transformation but not the one you think." Ren told them. "These are not cleansing pods." He turned to Michael. "Are these the pods Tarsus used to cleanse you?"

After Michael nodded, Ren frowned. "I don’t understand how that was possible. These pods were meant for incubation, not cleansing." He pointed at the four dark pods sitting nearby. "Those were meant for Jaxon, Mirana, Tristandor and Sabrya. They are dark because the four of you matured naturally and therefore never had cause to use them."

Liz could feel Max tense beside her. "What do you mean we ‘matured naturally’?" He asked.

Ren appeared to be deep in thought. "The history is vague but from what I understand, the four of you were never meant to grow up human." He paused, clearly trying to straighten something out in his own mind. "My father was sent with you, was supposed to allow you break free naturally from your infancy pods and then repod you for complete maturation. But the Crash changed all that. My father and Silesa managed to hide both sets of pods before they were captured - as you have probably determined from these tunnels, our people have been to Earth many times before and my father and his companion knew it well, but not well enough to avoid detection for long. The Crash was impossible to mask. By the time my father managed to escape from the government, Silesa had been killed and Jaxon, Mirana and Tristandor had already broken free of their pods and were gone."

Liz felt a stab of shock. "His father?" She asked Max under her breath, although she had a good idea who Ren’s father had to be. Max squeezed her hand, acknowledging that he had thought of the same thing.

"Who is your father?" He asked. It was clear that everyone else was fine with Max taking control of this situation. It was what he did best.

Ren’s expression darkened. "My father was Laren -the one you knew as Nasedo."

Liz heard Tess gasp. "Knew? You don’t mean he’s dead too?" Liz glanced at the blonde, who looked to be on the verge of tears. Although he had likely not been much of a father, he was the only family Tess had ever known. Liz was surprised that Kyle made no move to comfort her. In the end Michael went and put his arm around her, dragging Maria along with him.

Maria was half in a daze anyway and didn’t seem to mind. She didn’t really seem to be taking any of the conversation in. She just kept her eyes glued on Jennetta, clearly looking for confirmation that her daughter still lived.

Tess glanced at Michael in confusion at first, but her face smoothed and she seemed to light up from within.

"Danala’s first act upon arriving on the Earth was to kill my father. Tarsus contacted her immediately after he assumed the old man River Dog’s form, which helped him in his plan to get close to you, by imitating someone you trusted. Danala came and tracked my father to the Special Unit where you had sent him and killed him." Ren told them stiffly.

"Nasedo warned us that there were beings searching for us." Max admitted. Liz could feel the guilt emanating from her boyfriend in waves. "I decided to activate them anyway."

Michael looked upset too, but was more angry when he interjected, "It wasn’t your fault Maxwell. Nasedo had the responsibility to tell us why it was so dangerous. Instead he abandoned us. Going to the Special Unit was clearly a mistake. We should have left town." Michael glared at Ren challengingly. "Nasedo should have made us!"

Liz eyed Ren worriedly. He had his lips pressed together, angry that his father was being disparaged, but his tone was even as he explained. "My father was programmed to obey Jaxon at all costs - even if it turned out to detrimental to the four of you."

Liz couldn’t help herself. "Why?" She asked. "Wouldn’t it have made more sense for Nasedo to be the one in charge? At least until Max and the other three were old enough and experienced enough to assume leadership?"

Ren smiled at her sadly. "Again no one counted on the Crash. My father’s main function was to protect the pods and repod the four when they broke free. All the memories they needed to rule and to return to Illyria were programmed into the second set of pods. My father was never supposed to have to make any decisions. The problem was that, although Milena trusted my father, Hamor, Jaxon and Mirana’s stepfather, did not trust him completely. He had already been a turn-coat once you see."

And Liz understood. "So Hamor made it so that it would be physically impossible for Nasedo to betray them."

"Indeed. We all make mistakes." Ren said quietly. "Mine was not to recognize earlier that my father had taken the true path, that cleansing was wrong and made the Dernians weak. Hamor’s was not to see that my father could be trusted."

"But this still doesn’t tell us what is going on with Jennetta." Michael inserted impatiently. "So she’s in some sort of incubation? How long does it last? What does it mean?"

"It is supposed to last the same time as the original podding." Ren replied, eyeing Jennetta’s pod, a worried expression on his face. "That is to say several months."

"But we were in our original pods for almost forty years!" Isabel exclaimed. She had obviously been listening closely to Ren, but this was the first time she had spoken. Liz knew that hearing about anything alien was hard for Isabel. She had always been the one who wanted nothing to do with her alien heritage. She liked being a human.

Ren just looked upset. "We have never been able to figure out what went wrong. Lucianus determined that it must have had something to do with space travel and time changes and all the things that are so hard to control in the infiniteness of space. Perhaps even the trauma of the Crash caused them to fail - or at least delayed them. They are organic after all."

"Which brings to mind another little question." Alex muttered. Everyone turned to look at him. He reddened slightly. "Sorry, keeping it shut over here."

"No Alex, we’re all a part of this now." Max said quietly. "What is it?"

Alex swallowed, but spoke up. "Well, I mean, why were you guys sent in a ship in the first place? How dumb was that, what with all the portals that everyone seems to be able to open all the time. It must have taken a really long time to get here…what was the point?" Alex seemed to be on a roll now. "Which also begs the question, what is up with all the indiscrepancies in time anyway? When you guys were gone," He indicated Michael and Maria, "It was like one hour here, but clearly a lot longer on Illyria." He nodded towards the pod. "Jennetta being the prime evidence of that."

"But Max was gone so much longer - close to a year on Earth." Liz added. "But when he came back he hadn’t aged by three hundred years."

They all turned back to Ren. The shapeshifter sighed. "This is a bit complicated." When they all still looked interested, he continued. "Briefly then - you were sent on a ship because only Jaxon and Mirana have ever had the gift of opening the portal. It is - and always has been - activated through the Waylandian Ring and only the true heirs of Ilyria, called the Blue Prince or Blue Lady - depending on sex - and the White Prince or White Lady, can activate it."

"And they couldn’t activate it because they were already dead." Kyle finished. He smirked at Max. Liz wanted to smack him. Kyle did not seem very inclined to be kind to Max since he had been back and Liz was sure that it had everything to do with Tess. She sighed.

"That still doesn’t explain the time differences." Max said, clearly ignoring Kyle.

Ren nodded, continuing. "When your essences were cloned and sent to Earth an interdict was passed on Illyria. That’s to say, basically time stopped. The planet was awaiting your return. Danala managed, somehow, to keep time going in Dernia however. It didn’t really matter one way or the other. Our lifetimes are so much longer that most of the people you knew in your first lifetimes would still have been around when you returned. The four would have lived for hundreds of years had their lives not been cut short violently. Your father was killed in much the same way. He was very young when he died, barely fifty years old, another victim of the conflict between my people and the Illyrians."

"Sort of like Chewbacca." Liz heard Alex say to himself. Again they all turned to stare at him. He held up his hands defensively. "Hey! Don’t blame me! Chewie was like three hundred years old in Star Wars!" Isabel rolled her eyes. "He was!" Alex exclaimed.

"And Yoda was over eight hundred." Kyle added. He smirked at Max again. "Apparently you guys are sort of like little green men after all."

"Kyle!" Liz glared at him. Liz glanced at Max. He actually looked amused, which seemed to annoy Kyle even more.

Liz noticed Tess watching the whole exchange, a strange look on her face.

"Anyway…" Michael began motioning with his hands for them to speed it up. "What you’re saying is that Jenny could be stuck in this thing…" He tapped the pod, "For fifty years?"

Ren just shook his head. "It cannot be speculated. I still cannot figure out how Tarsus managed to cleanse you in one of them Tristandor."

Liz could see Max’s face frowning pensively. "He must have altered them somehow."

"What do you mean?" Ren asked, seeming intrigued.

"When Michael was cleansed Tarsus had to make him go in a bunch of times, but when he tried to cleanse me it only took once." Max elaborated. "He told me at the time that it was because he was having some problems with the cleansing pods. He thought they had been damaged in the Crash. He obviously didn’t know that they weren’t cleansing pods at all. In the end he must have modified them somehow."

"Which could also explain why Michael’s cleansing was reversed with the journey through the portal. His cleansing was faulty to begin with." Maria spoke up. Everyone turned to stare at her. She had been quiet for so long Liz was sure that she had gone into a state of advanced shock.

"It makes sense." Ren nodded.

"I just have one question." Maria continued.

Ren smiled at her sympathetically. "Yes my lady?"

"How old were Michael and the others supposed to be when they emerged from their second podding?"

Ren grimaced. "Older." He said sadly.

"How old?" Maria demanded in a fierce voice.

"The age they were when they were killed." Ren swallowed, looking uncomfortable. "Jaxon, Mirana and Tristandor were all 21. Sabrya was 19."

"But Jennetta was never supposed to exist." Michael said. "How old is she going to be?" Liz could hear a note of fury beginning to creep back into his voice.

Ren licked his licks, clearly not eager to answer. "She was supposed to exist." He finally said cryptically.

Michael was breathing deeply. Liz could feel Max tensing up, preparing to stop Michael from attacking the shapeshifter, which he seemed on the verge of doing. Yet Michael’s voice was disturbingly calm when he said, "We’ll get into THAT later. I want to know how many years my daughter is going to lose."

Ren closed his eyes. Liz could tell that he was upset. Finally he spoke. "A random age was programmed…." He swallowed again and then spat out the horrible truth. "Jennetta will be 21 years old when she emerges from the pod."

Part 42 | Index | Part 44
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