"I'm so sorry Bahar. I just don't know what came over Cameron. I've never seen him act like this before," he said moving over to her side to comfort her.
"I know its hard for someone his age to try and understand all the changes and new powers in his life, let alone something that's going on in another planetary system. I'm just sorry that I let him get the better of me. This whole Shifter thing has got me stretched way too thin."
"It must be stressful."
"Paulik, they don't like me. That's the Shifters' main problem ... me," she said as she began to sob out loud. Paulik comforted her as best as he could. When the sobs started to subside, Paulik took a different approach.
"Bahar, you've always been a person to put everyone else first. I can't imagine how anyone would take issue with that."
"You're very kind, Paulik. Jevic is very lucky to have you in his life."
"Thanks, Bahar. That means a lot. So what exactly is the deal with the Shifters?" he asked. Bahar looked up at him through tear stained eyes. She paused a moment as if she were trying to make a decision.
"Paulik, the council doesn't even know that I'm here."
"What?" asked a surprised Paulik.
"They don't know anything about what has happened here. We've been getting reports about the Talon activity, and frankly, the council has lost faith in you."
"What?!" asked an obviously shocked Paulik.
"I've done my best to intercept most of the reports, especially the bad ones, but a few got through. They're not real happy, Paulik. In fact, when I left they were discussing who they were going to send as your replacement."
"I can't believe that. My rapport with the council has always been good."
"A lot of bad things have been going on here on earth. Paulik, your own brother is being held for trial. That doesn't speak very highly." Paulik was crushed. He stood up, paused a minute, and then turned to his ex-wife.
got to go. I'll look in on you later, OK?" Bahar nodded and he left.
Paulik was a confident man and believed in his abilities to govern
fairly, but Bahar's news swept the rug from under his feet. He felt
inadequate, belittled and defeated. Walking back to his quarters, he
thought about the events that had led up to the destruction of the
complex. He pondered each detail, trying to figure out where he had
obviously gone wrong. Guilt replaced confidence and slowly started to
eat away at him.
Jevic remained motionless on the floor. I slowly got up, but the pain in my back was excruciating. Brandon and Scott went to check on Jevic. Shane helped me up.
"Good God, what was that all about?" Shane stated more than asked. I just shook my head.
"I guess I really screwed things up," I sighed. We walked over to where Brandon and Scott were helping Jevic up. He was dazed, but not seriously hurt.
"Jevic," I said timidly. He looked at me with hateful eyes.
"I think maybe you should give him some time, Cameron," said Scott as he steadied Jevic by holding his arm. I looked at Scott and then I looked back at Jevic.
"I'm sorry, Jevic. I never meant to hurt you, not now, not ever." I felt the emotion rising in me and the tears started flowing. "I-I love you, Jevic. Please know that. I don't like this."
"I think you should leave," he said coldly. He might as well have stabbed a knife in my heart.
"I'll leave, if that's what you want, but I still love you," I said, my voice choking on emotion.
"Leave," he said flatly. I dropped my head and looked at the floor. Shane put his arm around me and we turned away. I've hurt the only person who really matters. My sobs came freely and if not for Shane helping me, I wouldn't have been able to see where I was going. We walked for a while and then came to a bench in the corridor. Without saying anything, I slumped down onto it. Shane sat down beside me and pulled me into a warm hug.
"Things have a way of working themselves out Cameron," he said softly. I looked up at him. A stray tear fell down my already wet cheeks. Then Paulik walked around the corner. Seeing me, he stopped for a moment, and then walked over and sat down.
OK, Cameron?" he asked. I looked over at him blankly. "I'm sorry," he
said quietly. "A lot of things were said in the heat of the moment that
probably weren't meant to be said." Then looking down, he continued. "I
just left Bahar's quarters. She told me some strange things that hurt
me. Things I need to think about some more. Things that just don't
quite make sense." He seemed to lose himself in thought again, but then
he looked at me. "Will you come visit me later?" I nodded and he
acknowledged me with a slight smile. "Jevic is still trying to deal
with this whole mother concept and he's fragile right now, but he'll
come around. I'm sure of that. And if he doesn't, I'll kick his ass,"
he said with a forced chuckle. I smiled at his attempt to lighten the
mood. Paulik stood up to leave and then put his hand on Shane's
shoulder. "Look after him, Shane." Shane looked up and nodded. And with
that, Paulik walked on down the corridor.
"How could he do that? How could he? He actually used his powers against me!" said a disgusted Jevic.
"He didn't know it was you, Jevic. None of us knew," said Brandon.
"I don't care. He should have looked first. He could have killed me!"
"Jevic, its pretty hard to look when someone's pounding on your back," said Scott.
"You don't understand! How could I ever fall in love with somebody that would attack my own mother and then turn around and attack me?" Jevic abruptly stood up and walked down the corridor.
"Jevic!" called out Scott.
"Leave me alone!" Scott and Brandon looked at each and shrugged their shoulders.
Paulik walked into his quarters where a worried Joel waited. Paulik flopped down on the sofa next to Joel and sighed deeply. After being together for over sixteen years, Joel could tell that something was bothering his chosen life partner.
"What is it?"
"She told me the council has lost faith in me," Paulik said flatly.
"What?" exclaimed Joel. "You've got to be kidding." Paulik just looked up at him. "And you believed her?" asked Joel. Paulik just sat there on the couch looking at the floor, totally dejected. "Come on, Paulik. This can't be true." Paulik continued to stare at the floor. "Look! This is a woman who gave up her son to advance her political career and who, I might add, you haven't seen in sixteen years!" Joel was getting mad and he achieved what he wanted. He got Paulik's attention. Paulik looked at Joel with a blank expression. Then he repeated himself. "She gave up her only son to advance her ..."
"You said that already," interrupted Paulik.
"Well? Look, I know you were married and all that. You probably loved her back then, but listen, Paulik. Something's going on here that I don't understand. There's a whole lot more to what's been said. Let me ask you a question. Can you say with complete confidence and without reservation that this is not some kind of a political rouse?" Paulik looked back at the floor. Joel waited for his answer.
"No. Yes. Well. I don't know."
"OK, let's take this one step at a time. Let me read your short-term memory. Let me listen to the conversation and then I'll give you my thoughts about it?" Paulik still looked at the floor.
"Was the conversation too personal for me to eavesdrop in on?"
"No, I suppose it would be OK." Paulik leaned back on the couch. Joel moved over next to Paulik. They held hands and Joel also leaned back on the couch. As he entered Paulik's mind, it didn't take long to find the memory of his meeting with Bahar. Joel listened to the conversation just as if he were a fly on the wall. When the conversation was over, he sighed, blinked his eyes open and sat up on the couch.
"There's something not quite right there."
"You asked her what exactly the deal was with the Shifters."
"Well she paused a second and then told you that the council had lost faith in you. She completely evaded the question and answered it with a comment that would ensure the topic wouldn't come up again. Don't you find that a bit odd?"
"Well, now that you mention it."
"And what about Cameron's questions? She evaded them too. Paulik, I hate to say this, but something's amiss here."
"Everything certainly seems to be pointing that way."
"Didn't you just talk with Radlouf last week?"
"Yeah, I did. He said that he and the other council members were confident in my actions and eagerly awaited my report."
"OK, so we've decided that she's not telling the truth or at the very least, she's hiding something. Now, what do we do about it?" Paulik paused and considered Joel's question. "I don't think confronting her would be the best idea right now," suggested Joel.
"I think you're right on that one, but we've got to do something."
"Yeah, but what"?"
Bahar considered her options and then moved back to her communications station. Once again setting for maximum security, she made her transmission.
"Yes, Madam Chairwoman," came the response.
"I want you to move your stand by orbit to earth's moon."
"We will risk detection by Watcher security."
"Set your ship to stealth mode. Do I have to think of everything?"
"As you wish, Madam."
"Matters are deteriorating rapidly. Reset your extraction equipment for maximum distance," she directed.
"The earth's moon is at the very edge of our capability, Madam."
"I'm aware of that," she said coldly.
"A slight miscalculation will result in a loss."
"So there better not be a miscalculation."
"I can make no guarantees."
"Don't fail me or you will suffer the consequences," she said hotly.
"Madam, I am the most loyal Shifter you have ever had. I will do everything in my power not to fail you."
"Good. Bahar out."
Out on a two lane country road, in the middle of nowhere, with a broken down car and a storm rapidly approaching, that's how vulnerable I feel. I haven't felt this alone since I was back in school. At least back then I hadn't experienced the sheer joy of love. Now that I had, it only made matters worse. Now I knew full well what I had been missing. That old feeling of isolation returned. Shipwrecked on a deserted island with no way off. How did this happen? What can I do to fix it? Can it even be fixed?
I feel so
complete when I'm with Jevic. I feel like I was meant to be in his
arms. Why oh why is this so hard? Its easier to cry than to breath.
Miserable. I am absolutely, one hundred percent miserable. Jevic is my
world. Everything that I do, everything that I try to do, and
everything that I dream about doing ... I do with him in mind. I still
get butterflies in my stomach when he smiles 'that' smile at me. And
our intimacy? There's nothing that can even come close. Our physical
expression of love defies all boundaries. Webster hasn't even thought
up the words to describe the love I feel for him. The longing for his
touch. The sound of his laugh. The feel of his smooth skin. The warmth
of his hug. The softness of his kiss. The pulsating hardness of his
body. I miss him so much. I need him so much. From the first time I saw
Jevic standing beside my bed when I just got out of biomedical stasis,
I have longed to be with him every waking moment of the day and to be
wrapped in his loving arms every moment of peaceful sleep. Safe.
Secure. Wanted. Needed. Loved. Jevic made me so complete that losing
him would leave me in a void. And right now, that void was tapping on
The communications station in Paulik and Joel's quarters sounded and Joel walked over to answer the call.
"Yes," he said.
"Commander Joel, we have detected a ship moving into orbit around the earth's moon. It is operating in stealth."
"Yes sir. Your modification to the equipment seems to have worked."
"Keep an eye on that ship. Paulik and I are coming."
"Yes, sir." Paulik joined Joel at the communications station.
"A ship in stealth," Paulik said. "It certainly seems odd that a ship in stealth would show up right now. I think its time to pay a visit to Bahar. Both of us." Joel nodded.
"First I think we'll put the complex under a caution alert," said Joel.
"I agree." Joel called the command center and issued the command. Then they left for Bahar's quarters. As they made their way down the corridor, the announcement of the caution alert came across the speakers. Finally rounding the last corner, they came to her quarters. Paulik pushed the door chime. They waited. He pushed the door chime again. Nothing.
"Do you have your override card?" he asked Joel. Joel pulled a card form his pocket and waved it in front of the door. It immediately opened, but it opened to an empty room. Joel grabbed his mobile communicator and called the command center.
"Yes, sir," came the reply.
"Put out an alert for all security forces to find Bahar. She is not in her quarters. If she is found, do not approach her, just let me know where she is."
"Joel, something funny is going on here. Her personal belongings are gone." Joel said as he surveyed the room. "It looks like she left quickly. The room is in disarray." He walked over to the communication station. "Paulik, according to the log, she made a transmission less than five minutes ago."
"And the settings were for maximum security."
"Quickly, check on the stealthed ship." Joel called the command center.
"Sir, the ship is now moving out of orbit."
"Can you detect a heading?"
"It seems to be preparing for a light jump. It's showing a power build up."
"Track its course."
"They just made the jump sir."
"On what course?"
"They're headed for our home planet, sir." Joel looked at Paulik. Eyebrows were raised.
"Replay the sequence, double and triple check it. If anything else shows up, no matter how insignificant, let me know."
and he ended the communication. Turning to Paulik, "That had to have
been Bahar, but this whole thing doesn't make sense." Paulik agreed.
They had a few pieces of the puzzle, but not enough to tell what it
would look like when completed.
Shane and I walked into the Shack on a mission. All troubles were to be completely blanked out. Our total intent was to relax and have a good time. The stress of thinking about everything that happened was eating away at me. I needed to relax. As we walked over toward a couple of Shane's friends, I suddenly felt weak, and then very hot. My world seemed to get blurry and then everything went black.
When my senses started to return, I had a terrific headache. I heard voices, unfamiliar voices. I knew that I was lying down, but when I tried to sit up, I couldn't move. Slowly, I blinked my eyes open and looked around. A strange face bent down and looked me in the eye.
"Can you hear me?" he asked.
"Do you know who you are?" he asked. What kind of stupid question was that?
"Who are you?" he asked.
"I'm Cameron. Who the hell are you?" He stood back up and I watched him walk over to a communications station on the wall. He pressed a few buttons and then I heard a voice that sounded familiar.
"He's awake. There's no signs of damage from the extraction or from the sleep drug. He appears to be fine," the man reported.
"He better be."
"I can make no guarantees, Madam."
"You do have the field set at maximum?"
"Good. See to it that the field remains that way. It is not to be powered down for any reason. I will be by later to check on him."
"Yes, Madam Bahar," he said. Bahar? What's going on? I tried to get up again, but still couldn't move. I looked down and suddenly realized why. Restraining straps were holding me to the table.
"Hey, what's going on here?" I asked the man, who I now noticed was wearing a strange uniform. He shot a hateful glance at me and walked over. He leaned his face down to where it was just inches above mine.
"If you value your life, I suggest you keep quiet," he said hatefully.
"Where am I?"
"No questions!" I struggled to break free, but it was no use. The straps held me firmly.
"Where is Bahar? I want to see her."
"All in good time. All in good time," he said with an evil leer.
That's it! I'm getting out of here. My tingling charged up and I popped him right in the center of his ugly forehead. He went down with a thud. Then I concentrated on the straps. As I stared intently at one of the buckles, it started melting. I concentrated on the others and soon, I was completely free. I got up from the table and looked around. The room was small, maybe ten by ten and had one door. I walked over and pushed the door control, but it held firm. Stepping back a few steps and then charging up my tingling, I threw a burst at the door. It shattered into a thousand pieces. There was a corridor on the other side and I started for it, but when I got to the doorway, I was hit with a tremendous force that knocked me back on the floor. I felt like I had just run into a cinder block wall. Struggling back to my feet, I walked back over to the opening. I reached out was jolted again. I reached out again, only to be hit with another jolt. It was like electricity. Stepping back a few more paces, I really charged up my tingling and sent out a huge burst directly toward the opening and resulted in a huge explosion followed by a bright white light. I went back to the opening, reached out my hand and was jolted again.
"What the hell?" I said to myself. Suddenly, Bahar appeared on the other side of the opening. She was grinning from ear to ear.
"So, I see that not even the great Cameron can escape my snare," she said wickedly.
"Bahar. What's going on here?"
"You, my friend, are my guest."
"First of all, I'm not your friend and from the looks of things, I'm more like a prisoner than a guest."
"You catch on quick, little one. You are right in that you are being held, and yes, I'm not your friend. But you will come to respect me for what I am doing and in good time, you will gladly serve me."
"Serve you? I don't think so."
"Wait and see. Just wait and see."
"Where am I?"
"You are aboard my ship and we are on our way to my home planet of Kelmar."
"What? Kelmar? How did I get here?"
"You were brought aboard by a extraction beam."
"Why are you doing this?"
"No more questions. You will find out everything in due time. I suggest that you rest. You're gonna need it," she snapped. Then she bent down and picked up a piece of the shattered door. "I'm impressed with your powers, Cameron. You indeed will be very useful ... when the time comes."
"I will not use my powers for you, Bahar. That you can depend on."
"We shall see," she snapped and quickly turned and disappeared from sight.
Brandon and Scott caught up with Jevic in his quarters and comforted him as best as they could, but he was hurt. Hurt by the one person he truly loved. And that made the hurt even worse.
"Jevic, please," begged Scott.
"No. I'm not talking to him. He'll have to come to me to apologize. Nobody treats my mother like he did. And even if he does decide to apologize, I don't know if I'll accept it." The complex sound system suddenly rang out. Jevic jumped up and went to the nearest communication station. Reading the alert quickly, he turned to his friends. "It's a caution alert, but it doesn't say why. Come on, we're going to find dad." The boys quickly made their way through the masses of people making their way to their assigned stations. Finally, they came to the command center. The guards allowed Jevic and his two friends to enter, but Paulik was not there. Jevic scanned the room. Joel was missing too.
"Can you tell me where Paulik and Joel are?" he asked the nearest guard.
"They are down at the Shack."
"The Shack. You should know where that is," he said somewhat bothered.
"What are they doing there?"
"I don't know. All I do know is that they called for a caution alert. That's all I know." Jevic turned to Scott and Brandon.
"Come on," he said and they headed out the door. The corridors were crowded with people trying to find their assigned stations. With so many new residents and with a new complex, everyone was having difficulty. Quickly, the boys threaded their way down the corridors toward the Shack. At each turn, they were met by more people desperately trying to find their stations. Jevic moved as quickly as possible and Brandon and Scott followed closely behind. Finally they got to the Shack only to be stopped by guards.
"I'm Jevic, Paulik's son. I need to see my dad," he told the head guard.
"You'll have to wait here," the guard said. "I'll check and see if its OK."
"It's always been OK," Jevic pleaded.
"Sorry. Orders. Wait here. I'll be back." The guard opened the door and disappeared inside. Jevic turned to his friends.
"Something weird is going on here. I've never been turned back like that." The guard came back quickly and ushered the boys inside. The Shack was deserted except for a small group of people huddled around a table. Joel waved them over. As they got to the table, they recognized Shane. He was sitting at the table holding his head in his hands.
"Jevic," said Joel. He nodded at Scott and Brandon who nodded back. "I'm afraid something's happened." Paulik looked up and saw the boys. He had a grim look on his face.
"Hi boys. Why don't you sit down here with Shane." They each moved over and sat down at the table.
"Shane, are you alright?" asked Scott. Shane looked up for the first time. His eyes were red and swollen. Shane looked around the table and when he looked into Jevic's eyes, he started sobbing again. Jevic looked up at Paulik.
"What's happened?" Jevic asked.
"Cameron has been kidnapped."
"W-what?" stammered Jevic.
"He's been kidnapped Jevic and best we can tell, it looks like Bahar is the one that took him."
"You're wrong!" yelled Jevic quickly standing up from the table.
"No I am not wrong, Jevic," said Paulik sternly.
"Yes you are! Why is everybody so quick to blame my mother? What the hell is this, a conspiracy?"
"No son, its not. If you'll just listen to ..."
"NO! I'm not listening to anything else!" screamed Jevic. He stepped back a few steps and continued to yell. "Everybody's trying to make my mom out to be a bad person! It doesn't make sense! Why are you doing this? Tell me! Why?" he demanded. Paulik had rarely seen his son so mad and struggled hard to maintain his own composure.
"Jevic, if you'll just listen to the facts, then you can make up your own mind. Is that fair?" Jevic was seething, but relented to his father's request.
"OK, I'll listen, but no lies. You've got to promise me that."
"I've always told you the truth son. This will be no exception," Paulik said as he waved his hand toward a chair. Jevic slowly sat back down. Paulik recounted all the information that he had learned from the command center's surveillance equipment to Shane's account of Cameron's disappearance. With each passing moment, Jevic's head sank lower and lower.
"Why?" Jevic asked softly.
"That is the number one question that needs to be answered, but I have a feeling we'll get that answer soon. I have sent a communication to Bahar, but haven't received an answer yet." A guard walked up to Paulik.
"Excuse me sir, we have an incoming transmission from Bahar."
"Good, have it transferred here." The guard nodded. Then he turned back to the group. "Let me take this call alone please." He walked over to the communication station on a nearby wall.
"This is Paulik."
"This is Bahar and before you say anything, you should know that I have Cameron. He is unhurt ... for now."
"What do mean, for now?"
"You know exactly what I mean," she said coldly.
"Why are you doing this, Bahar? Tell me why?"
should be a plain as the nose on your face, my dear Paulik," she said
sarcastically. Then her tone turned evil. "Do not attempt to rescue
him. Any interference from you and Cameron will die. Do not second
guess me, Paulik. I will not hesitate. Bahar out."
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