On Bended Knee
Archive: Ask Me
Author: Lily Zen
Notes: This is based on the TV series Roswell, owned by the WB and UPN and whoever else holds the rights, but is almost entirely based on original characters. It operates under the premise that Tess never returned to Earth in Season Three with the baby.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Seventy Earth-years ago, a ship crash-landed in Roswell, New Mexico containing the four members of the Royal Antarian family: King Zan, his wife, Queen Ava, his second in command and General of the Antarian Army, Rath, and the king's sister, his second's betrothed, Princess Vilondra. There were two sets of these human-alien hybrids, though one of them was slightly more defective than the other.
Sadly, the defective set was abandoned by their guardian in New York City, who then went on to build a successful life and career in the movie industry on Earth. A blatant shirking of duties, no doubt, and had we known, had we been able to contact them, we would have rectified the matter immediately. Defective or not, they were still clones of the Royal Four and thus needed to be treated with respect.
But that is truly neither here nor there because the True King Zan, a hybrid who called himself Max, was the real concern. Certainly a back-up plan would have been nice, especially after he decided to completely abandon his people several galaxies away in favor of his human life, his human love, one Liz Parker.
However, the once-queen Ava, who called herself Tess in her new incarnation, fulfilled the pact and returned to Antar pregnant with Zan's royal heir. She had fulfilled only half of the bargain that the shapeshifter known as Nasedo struck with Khivar and his totalitarian regime. Not only was she supposed to return with an heir, she was also to deliver the rest of the royal family to Khivar, who would have made an example of them once more. Well, perhaps he would have kept the infamous Vilondra for himself, perhaps not.
There is a word that humans use to describe being like Khivar, beings able only to think of themselves, their wants and needs and goals; beings who can fool others into believing that they feel more than they truly do. It is a term called 'sociopath.' Any emotions, any thoughts that Khivar has are only motivated to benefit Khivar, even his supposed love for the Princess Vilondra. She was a thing to him, a possession or tool, a means to an end.
In any case, since the clone called Tess did not own up to the full terms of the agreement, she was imprisoned. If she had failed to fulfill them at all, she would have been executed. Frankly, the execution would have been a mercy. Khivar's dungeon was a truly horrible place to be. However, her son was taken from her, adopted into Khivar's own house. His plan was to raise the young baby as his own and put him on the throne as a figurehead in order to restore balance to the five worlds.
But everybody knew this was a crock, at least those Antarians who recognized Khivar for the manipulative bastard that he was. Khivar's real aim was to create a child with the original royal bloodline—his hope was that this would pacify those of his people in the star system that still opposed him and wished for the return of the true royal family to the throne-one that would be biddable to Khivar's will, malleable, and essentially the child would be Khivar's puppet-king.
Those of us, those few fighters still actively opposing Khivar's rule, knew that at all costs Khivar's actions needed to be stopped in their tracks. Thus a plan was devised to acquire the infant, ensconced safely away in the heavily guarded palace, and return him to earth.
Of course, even in devising that plan there was conflict. Many of the resistance wanted to use the child as leverage themselves to drum up enough support for a revolution, to overthrow Khivar once and for all and return the throne to the true royal family. The fatal flaw in the plan being, of course, that the only member of the royal family within their reach was that of the infant prince, Zan (the son of the former King Zan), and despite how desperate they were for a leader, a baby could not be coroneted as king. Someone would have to be elected to rule in proxy until the boy came of age.
The natural choice would have been the baby's mother, Tess, but she was a weak hybrid and after the news of her betrayal of the rest of the royals came to light, she was immediately discarded as a candidate. The Antarians had enough of one usurper; the last thing they wanted was to put another traitor in charge of their world.
Fierce arguments erupted over whether to keep the child on Antar and assign a proxy ruler; even fiercer fights occurred over suitable candidates for proxy rulers. The boy had no family left on Antar save his traitor mother, which meant a guardian would have to be selected.
In the end, it was the Shadow Guild that settled it, as they often did amongst the other members of the resistance, whispering suggestions and subtly persuading others to their point of view.
During the time of King Zan and his father, the former king's rule (and many kings before then), the Shadow Guild had been an invaluable resource. No one knew who they were, no one knew if they even truly existed—if anything at all was spoken of the Shadow Guild it was only in jest.
The Shadow Guild, if it could even be classified as a guild, was a very well-kept secret, a network of spies in the court and around the five planets. The leader of the Guild was referred to the Spymaster and answered only to the king himself, would have been equal in status to the highest ranking commander of the armed forces, Rath, had an official rank been allowed and acknowledged.
As the organization was not even supposed to exist, such things were not possible.
The Guild was the greatest source of information for the king on the political status of the realm, and during the former king's reign, he utilized its capabilities to the fullest extent he was able to. That was what had precipitated King Zan the First's rule to climb towards a golden age of peace and prosperity. However, Zan the First suffered a tragic and untimely death, and his son, Zan the Second took over, probably before he was truly ready for such a great responsibility.
Public opinion on Zan the Second's reign differed greatly. Most felt he was too young to rule, too inexperienced, too idealistic. He pushed for changes in the government, in society, and perhaps he asked his people to bend too far too fast. Zan the Second had a vision for his world, for his people, of a world where the women would be given more rights, more freedom, more opportunities, of a government that would give free and equal voice to everyone, not just the noble houses (who were expected to speak on behalf of the people that lived on their lands and in their territories, but were sometimes more interested in personal gain than the welfare of their plebian tenants). He was a controversial man and had as many followers as he did opposition.
The golden age that Antar had been on the cusp of achieving was shattered by the civil war that began to brew.
The Guild worked overtime during this period, collecting as much information as they could on behalf of King Zan the Second. Some sat in pubs listening to the grumbles and mutterings of commoners, others went to noble houses—parties, masquerades, and the like—to gather opinions from the high ranking officials. They were everywhere and nowhere at once. A member could be sitting right next to you on a bar stool or smiling flirtatiously at a courtier, dangling on his arm at one of the great balls, catching what snippets they could.
These snippets were then reported to their contact within the Guild, who then went to their contact, who then went to their contact. Eventually it would reach the trusted few, those who were given the most responsibility in the Guild, the ones that knew the most about how the organization operated and were privy to a great many more secrets than the others, and one of those handful of men and women would go to the Spymaster, whom not even the trusted few actually knew was the King's Spymaster, and the Spymaster would then compile all of the data and present it to the King discreetly.
Only two people in the entire empire knew the true identity of the Spymaster: the King himself and his second in command, Rath.
Zan the Second was not as great at heeding the advice of his counselors and the Guild as his predecessor had been. He was young, vain, and prideful, and less inclined to ask for assistance. When he was informed of his sister Vilondra's betrayal, he refused to believe it, dismissed the Spymaster from his presence with a curt word and stated that he needed to think about things, to process.
Vilondra opened the gates to the city that night and the time for thinking was over.
The slaughter that followed was massive and the losses included a great many of the nobles that swore fealty to Zan the Second and refused to recant on their loyalty, plebeians who were merely in the way of the army stampeding towards the palace gate, and the entire royal family, including the poor duped princess Vilondra. Most of the Guild, shadowy folk and overlooked as they usually were, managed to escape the city through ancient aqueducts and hidden passages and the ancient catacombs that lay buried deep underneath the capital. Some, of course, were killed; some were captured; some changed allegiance at the drop of hat.
However, the Spymaster and forty-seven of her Guild, which had once numbered in the hundreds, escaped with the queen dowager, and rendezvoused off-planet on the far edge of the five planets that made up the broken Antarian Alliance. They licked their wounds and gathered other survivors; people who refused to live under the oppressive thumb of the usurper, and thus began to form the largest organized resistance to Khivar's regime.
It was there they decided that the only way to perform a proper coup on Khivar was if they had a legitimate claim to the throne, and so it was decided that they would clone the former royal family, King Zan the Second, Queen Ava, Princess Vilondra, and General Rath. But it was too dangerous for them to grow and live as children in their war-torn world, so the few remaining scientists and inventors loyal to the cause sought throughout the universes for a new planet, one that was habitated, civilized, and could sustain life. Some place where they could hide the Royal Four until they were of-age to return to Antar and save them all.
Their destination was Earth, but they knew that they had to make the Royal Four human enough to survive on that world. Antarians looked too dramatically different from humans to ever be able to blend in there, and though Antarians could shapeshift in order to temporarily alter their physical forms, their internal structures remained too alien. Geneticists worked around the clock to discover a way to merge the human body with that of Antarian physiology, creating a hybrid that was totally human on the outside right down to the organs, but possessed the cellular and mental capabilities of the Antari.
These engineered hybrids were then sent to Earth while the Spymaster stayed behind and, with the assistance of a few other passionate and loyal Antari, ran the resistance effort until the day that their King would return and set them free from the tyranny.
The Spymaster, during one of their more risky guerrilla attacks, was captured and publicly executed approximately twenty-five Earth-years after the coup. One by one, the numbers of the resistance were chipped away at. Some defected, some surrendered, others were killed. The dowager queen herself died in her lonely cot in one of the resistance movement's underground hideaways. Hope was dwindling, a candle that flickered erratically, ready to gutter out at the fight sign of a stiff breeze.
Then Tess returned with the baby, Zan the Third, and a new chance was practically handed to the resistance on a silver platter. Recognizing that the child would need guardians on the Earth (more diligent than those they had sent with the original four), the remaining scientists created three new hybrids and installed their gestation pods on the ship they would use to send them to Earth.
The first protector they decided on was Naxon, who had been a great warrior in his former life, one of Rath's Generals, a brilliant tactician and fiercely loyal to the true royal family. He had been killed in the tenth year of the resistance, his genetic material preserved in the DNA-bank for just such an emergency.
Next was Hadara, a beautiful courtesan who had been one of the trusted few in the Guild, privileged enough to meet with the Spymaster herself. Physically, she was not very powerful (before Zan the Second, women had not been permitted to learn how to use their abilities to fight; they were expected to be docile creatures and only learn the gentler arts, those that dealt with the mind and heart and healing; his decree that all females should be trained to be combat ready at least with their gifts had met with great displeasure from the more conservative houses) but over the years Hadara had learned a modicum of defensive and offensive magics, which she added to her repertoire of subtle manipulation and a silver tongue. She had become a key figure in the resistance as a double agent until a meeting with a client had gone awry and he killed her in a fit of passionate rage.
Finally, it was decided that the last protector sent to earth would be Rhialla, the daughter of the disgraced House of Viegon. During her life, Rhia (as she preferred to be called) had lived a very public life of infamy. She was the younger sibling of the General Rath and it was a subject of embarrassment to her family that Rhia, like her older brother, had a tempestuous nature that often led her towards mischief and rebellion as a child. She baldly refused to conform to the societal standards, refusing all offers of betrothal, running amuck with commoners and criminal elements, and developing a reputation early on for being quite precocious.
As a teenager, it was not uncommon to see Rhia hanging around the practice field as her brother trained, peppering the men with questions and flattery alike, cajoling them into giving her private lessons on whatever it was they were learning. If Rath and Rhia had been any other brother and sister, perhaps he might have felt overprotective of the way his peers eyed his younger sibling. However, there were quite a few years of age between them and emotionally they were not particularly close to one another. The General had been out of his parents' home as soon as he was able; Rhia was a mere five years old when he'd moved into the barracks. However, Rath indulged Rhia because he knew that the more she hung around the practice fields, the less she was off in the city causing trouble, therefore the less his parents complained about his sister to him.
Then one day that had all seemed to change and Rhia settled into the life of a courtier, a proper daughter of the noble houses, attending parties, wearing gowns, flirting gracefully. Oh, she was still mischievous, but it took on a certain charm. There was just something about her naughty smile that invited people to be in on the joke.
Little did they know and this was about the time that Rhia was approached to be King Zan the Second's Spymaster. Finally, the girl had an outlet to direct all of her energy towards, a purpose in the world aside from marrying well and breeding, and she took to it with great enthusiasm, surviving the coup and leading the resistance for twenty-five years until her execution.
Finally there was Jiuro, a young nobleman who had eschewed the comfort of his family's manse in order to join the army. He never ranked very high, only a Captain, but that had never bothered him much because he also moonlighted in the Shadow Guild. He was one of those that had managed to escape the capital city as fires took parts of the city and blood ran down the gutters to swirl into the underground drains, hurrying past the groups of rioters tearing down statues of the old royal family, turning his eyes away from the murder and mayhem. His loyalty to the resistance had not faltered in all the years since then, and after seventy Earth-years, he was a veteran to the cause. It was decided that Jiuro would pilot the ship and care for Zan the Third and the hybrids as they hatched.
With the four guardians selected, at great risk to themselves, the remaining members of the resistance stormed the usurper's palace and stole the infant prince. Many died in the process, but the ship was secured, the pods were in place, and Jiuro was loaded on with the infant-prince.
Tess, the traitor clone of the former queen, was left to rot in Khivar's prison, childless and alone with no one to blame but herself.
Thus began the last chance, the last hope for change among the chaotic civil war that had been going on for far too long.
The pods began to hatch while the ship was still flying through space (it does take quite a bit of time to travel to another universe, alien technology or no) and the aging Antari, Jiuro, suddenly found himself with not just Zan the Third, but also a boy who appeared to be about six years old. He had a shock of blond hair that would darken as he grew older and an angular face which would one day become chiseled and handsome with a square shaped jaw and cold blue-gray eyes. His eyebrows were straight slashes over them and even at the approximate age of six he had the posture of one who was self-assured and in control. Naxon had always been of regal bearing.
He virtually towered over Zan, who at the time was a mere three years old. Despite the roundness of his baby face, you could see that he had his father's dark hair, and his mother's pale skin and blue eyes that might change to brown over time. From what Jiuro knew of human bodies, he appeared to have inherited more of his mother's refined features than his father's.
Hadara hatched another year after that. She was smaller than most six year old girls, and Jiuro knew from the human DNA that they had used to create her that she would be lushly curved with generous breasts and invitingly rounded hips. Her human donor had been a woman of Indian descent with caramel colored skin, startlingly green eyes, and wavy brunette hair. However, at six she was just skinny and dark, with short wavy hair, and she laughed far too easily.
At the time, Zan was four and was beginning to look more like his father in build, and in his self-contained posture, and he was introverted when compared to Hadara and Naxon, who laughed often and played practical jokes on each other (Zan was their favorite target as he was physically younger, therefore smaller and slower) as they zipped through space together.
Rhialla, the last of the hybrids to have been created, was also the last to hatch. A year after Hadara, the reborn Spymaster and sister to Rath, pushed her way from her gelatinous womb and fell out into the world, such as it was out there in space, as a pale, skinny six year old girl with short hair the color of India ink. From the blueprints, Jiuro knew that she would grow to be marginally tall for a human woman and slender, corded with the sinewy muscles of her dancer donor, a pretty diamond-shaped face with high cheekbones, gray almond-shaped eyes, and a full, pouty lower lip with an upper lip that was slightly less voluminous. She still insisted that everyone call her Rhia.
Zan was only a year younger than the six year old Rhia, and thanks to his mother's genetics added to the rugged good looks of his human hybrid father, Zan the Second (or as the disgraced clone-queen Tess called him, Max), he was beginning to look like a more refined version of his father with high cheekbones and a strong jaw in an oval face. Jiuro found it interesting how his father and mother's genetic material had combined to form such a cohesive union. He'd seen images of the disgraced former queen and she was small with a heart-shaped face and pointed chin; Max, he assumed, had balanced out Tess' delicate female curves with the angularity of his own features. The only thing that remained the same were those bright blue eyes. When they finally arrived on Earth the children were aged six, seven, eight, and nine, with Zan being the youngest and Naxon the eldest, and Jiuro was finally able to classify the blue of Zan's eyes as the color of the Mediterranean Sea.
He hid the ship in the Siberian tundra, using his ability to bury it under mounds of snow and ice until it was indistinguishable from the rest of the frozen wasteland, marking it only by latitude and longitude in his head and the telltale silver handprint that would burn with its blue glow no matter how much ice was packed on top of it. Then Jiuro, with his considerable skill, shifted into an older looking human male with gray hair and a well-trimmed beard, and led his priceling and the three guardians on a long, cold march to civilization.
It was the start of a journey. A perilous one fraught with assassination attempts, a frantic search for their long-lost king, and the raising and training of four hybrid children.
The last in and of itself was a Herculean task, especially for a man who'd never been anything but a bachelor.