check out the links to parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26. part 27 follows the jump.
The breakfast crowd was thinning when Max and Isabel finally made an appearance at the Crashdown. Isabel scanned the crowd and immediately made her way to where the Valenti’s were seated.
“Hey Kyle, Mr. Vee!” Isabel sighed. “Mom, was trying out yet another Martha Stewart recipe. Never again will I ever allow anyone buy that for her. Do you have any idea what she made us eat this morning?”
“No, what?” asked Kyle cautiously.
Both Jim and Kyle had difficulties swallowing after imagining the taste of that.
“Oh. Well, I’m pretty happy sticking to Guerin’s creations here at the Crashdown.”
“Tell me about it! I’m starving.” Isabel waved over to Maria and Liz, hoping that one of them would come by and take her order.
“Hey Isabel, Max. What’s going on?” Liz smiled as she came up to the table. A smile that made both Max and Isabel sit up and take note. Not for the same reason though.
Max saw Liz smile and could only think how beautiful she was. How happy she seemed to be. It saddened him to realize that he hadn’t seen her smile at him in a long time. Long before the whole mess with Tess. He hadn’t seen Liz really smile in over a year. Not like the way she was smiling now, with her heart and soul glowing inside.
Isabel knew that a smile like Liz’s could only mean one thing. She was in love. And Isabel was pretty sure that if she looked closely into the Crashdown kitchen, she’d see a corresponding goofy smile on Michael Guerin’s face.
“Nothing much. But please tell me you have something on the menu that will rid the taste of avocado pancakes from my memory and mouth forever.”
“Um…avocado pancakes?…well we have the Space Omelet as the special. You know the rest of the menu Is. Avocado pancakes?” Liz muttered to herself as she waited for Isabel to choose her order. The Crashdown had emptied out, the back table and a few seats at the counter the only customers left at the moment.
“I’ll have a slice of Men-in-Blackberry Pie.”
“Make that two.” added Max. “Hey, I had to have some of that avocado stuff too, not even Tabasco could make that taste better.” He said when everyone gave him a look.
“Ok. This place has emptied out now, so I’ll be back with your order in a minute, and will probably be able to sit down.” Liz said as she turned around and walked to the counter to prepare the slices of pie. Isabel saw the skip in her step. She just wondered if she was the only one.
“So Evans, tell us why are we here.”
“Wait ‘til Maria, Liz, and Michael are on break and I’ll explain everything Kyle.”
Liz set down the plates bearing two large slices of blackberry pie in front of Max and Isabel with a bottle of Tabasco sauce. And promptly took a seat. “Maria and Michael are on their way over.”
Max waited until everyone was seated before breaking the news. “You guys heard about the etchings they found in the caves at Mission Hill. Well, the etchings sounded really suspicious. I mean why now would they be discovered. Those caverns have been around for years. They did carbon dating, but nothing conclusive, the test results being at odds with what is known about those caves. So Liz and I went there last night with the code Alex had cracked. I thought maybe it was a message for us from Antar.”
“And was it?” asked Jim.
“Yeah. The exacting wording is kind of cryptic and it sounds a little funny but this is what we deciphered:
There is more you have to fear.
The end of the world is near.
Son and father will meet.
At the royal four’s defeat.” Max recited from memory.
“That’s really creepy. A very poetic threat. What are we going to do Max?” asked Isabel.
“Yeah it may be poetic but it’s not all metaphors and similes. It’s telling us we’re dead.” Contributed Michael, surprising nearly everyone in the group, none of whom thought Michael had any concept of metaphors and similes. “What? I like poetry. But we need a plan.”
Michael was worried. He hadn’t thought about the mysterious alien threat all last night. Liz had kept him distracted with other things, but now that he had time to think about it. Things didn’t look too good. How on Earth were they supposed to make a plan, when the message they received didn’t indicate when exactly they could expect this showdown.
“But why the Royal Four guys? It’s only you three now with Tess gone.” asked Kyle making a valid point as they all sat silently at the table.
“That is really weird. Do you think Tess might still be on Earth?” asked Isabel voicing the sudden thought everyone in the group had.
Liz spoke up. She knew that they were in part concerned for her. She and Tess had never gotten along, but all of them knew that if it had been Liz instead of Max, they wouldn’t even be questioning anything regarding Tess. She’d be six feet under. “I don’t think they mean her. After all they have your son Max. They couldn’t have that unless she made it back.”
“So then what? We are the Royal Four. What do they mean?”
“I don’t know Max. But they made a serious mistake.”
“Really Liz and what would that be?” asked Michael mockingly. His tone was reminiscent of how everything was before things changed between them, but Liz looked into his eyes before responding and saw the love there. She hated the pretense, but not nearly as much as he did.
“We have time, and better yet we will be prepared.”
“For an alien invasion? How?” asked Maria, skeptically. She was less than enthusiastic about everything. She’d have preferred to have been left out of it all, it wasn’t like she would really be making any major contributions. But Max and Liz had insisted.
“We have Brody. With all the crazy technology he’s invested at the UFO Museum we can track them. And then we’ll call in the media.”
“The media?” echoed Kyle stupefied.
“Have you lost your mind Liz?” Michael questioned. Before he’d been acting the part, but now he was seriously questioning the workings of Liz Parker’s mind. “We have to keep a low profile.”
“Yeah. But Kyle, Maria and me don’t.” she looked around the booth, and saw she had captured everyone’s attention. She had a plan. It might turn out to be a stupid plan, but she was pretty sure that they’d be able to anticipate Khivar with Brody’s help. Besides she was pretty sure that the etching wouldn’t be the only clues the pod squad’s enemies would leave for them. And that would make their job easier.
“Listen to me guys. You don’t have to do or say anything, unless actually confronting them, whoever they are. What we’ll be doing is thwarting their attempts to get you guys off alone for some showdown. If we make their lives miserable enough, if we make it hard enough, we may actually have all the help we need with the federal government bearing down on their shoulders.”
Max, Isabel and Michael all exchanged a long look. They all agreed to her Liz out, and if necessary close ranks. They wouldn’t endanger anyone else, it was enough that Alex had died because of them.
“Ok. We’ll hear you out Liz. But no promises.”
Jim had been pretty silent throughout the discussion, but the more he thought about Liz’s suggestion the more it made a twisted kind of sense. If you distracted people long enough they lost their drive to get things done. It was a decent philosophy and while he didn’t relish the ideas of the teens putting themselves in danger once again, it might just be worth it. Besides at least this time he knew about things ahead of time.
“Ok what I’m saying is this. As soon as we get more of their clues, Max you’ll point them out to Brody. He’ll be like a dog with a bone, he won’t let it go. Maria is closest to him so she can also steer him in the right direction. Kyle and I will ambush him with the idea of having been abducted. When the aliens hit town, we’ll call the media on them. The ensuing circus will provide enough distraction so that we can garner information on them. Mr. Vee you can help by getting your contacts at the Sheriff’s office to detain them, and sic the FBI on them.”
Max looked up at Liz. He wouldn’t want to ever relive his experience with the FBI, but Liz was right on the money. Her plan it seemed to work. By starting a fuss, who would notice the interplanetary war in their midst, especially since they were aiming for a surprise counterattack.
“Guerilla warfare Parker. Didn’t think you had it in you.”
“What does that mean Guerin? You guys in? Or out?”
“I think I speak for everyone when I say we’re in. Most definitely.” Answered Michael with a smile. His own words laced with a teasing suggestiveness only for Liz’s ears. Which promptly reddened when she heard him.
And the group lifted their assortment of beverages to toast their plan. An easy camaraderie settling in among them for the first time since before Tess left. They’d found their places. They’d figured out how to work together. And they’d figure out whatever it was that was threatening them. And what exactly did the threat mean.