3am, 22nd November (10 days later). Maternal Vision
Blackness filled his vision. Complete. Total and utter. Not a hint nor a shade of any form of light fought against the darkness. It was all consuming and in it Max found a certain comfort, but then he became aware of something else. Something not at all comforting. Pain.
Suddenly light blasted into his senses, instantly and entirely replacing the darkness, causing his mind to spin. At first the light was a haze with no definition within it. Then slowly, images formed. Edges appeared and even colour. Depth and clarity followed and finally, Max beheld a vision and it was strange, but above all, it was awful.
In front of him stood a massive, wall-sized pane of glass, looking out to a dark void scape that held within it, splinters of light. Space. That was all it could be. Stars and space, but it was not this odd view that was awful. It was the reflection he could see in the glass and it was not himself. It was his mother and she was in pain.
Max had never seen his mother in alien form, but he instinctively recognised her and to see her now like this and for the first time was despairing. He did not know her true anatomy, but it was obvious that she had been injured, horribly. Max also suspected the injuries were not accidental, but had been inflicted, cruelly.
Her arms were scarred and raw. Her legs were cut and scalded and her face disfigured. His mother had been tortured and while Max could still see the strength of her defiance in her eyes, he could also feel her will faltering. Her ordeal had been long and brutal, but still she resisted.
Max searched his mother’s mind, how he did this he did not know, but he did and instantly found the source of her strength. Her son. Max himself. She knew Max still lived and that while he lived, her hope held.
Suddenly, it dawned on Max that this was a vision and he was in fact looking through his mother’s eyes like they were his own. He wondered what other things he could do in this form? He tried to speak to his mother and he heard his own spoken words as he willed them into reality.
‘Mother?’ Max said urgently. ‘Is that you?’
‘My son,’ sounded a voice that despite the foreign language, Max could somehow understand. Obvious also was the relief. ‘At last you have found me.’
‘Where are you?’
‘I am in Macktidas’ jail on the Nar’gellan command ship.’
‘Where is that?’
‘Far, beyond your physical reach, but do not worry yourself with my situation. I am alive and I will keep myself alive as long as you live. Macktidas cannot break me, no matter how heinous his methods.’
‘Why is he torturing you?’
‘Originally it was to find you, but since his discovery of you, it has turned into mindless entertainment. I think now he wants me to witness your death and then he will finally kill me and claim the throne without dispute.’’
‘Tell me what I can do? How do I free you?’
‘You cannot free me. Not even I know where in the universe I am, but I can assure you, we are nowhere close to Earth. I am beyond you.’
‘There has to be something I can do? There has to be? Tell me?’
‘There is one thing you can do.’
‘You can kill Macktidas.’
‘If I can’t reach him, how do I do that?’
‘He will come to you. I know he has challenged you to a series of duels. It is the common custom of our people to hold tournaments, whereby our ruler must reconfirm their eligibility to command by defeating three opponents in combat, the final one being a genuine challenger for the throne. In this case, because Macktidas knows you are the rightful ruler, he has at least demonstrated some honour and relegated himself to challenger status, but this means you have the disadvantage. You must compete in all three duels, but finally, at the last, you will gain your opportunity. Macktidas is the challenger and so, he personally will enter the arena for the third duel and that will be your opportunity to kill him and rightfully claim your throne. Until he kills you, he knows his claim to the throne is in dispute.’
’But you are the rightful ruler of the Nar’gellan race. Not me.’
‘When Macktidas usurped the throne and killed your father and your older siblings, I abdicated by fleeing. I no longer held the strength of arms or loyalty in the population to remain as leader, but you, my son, do have the abilities needed to rule. I raised you deliberately to do so for I knew that eventually Macktidas would find you and now he has. Your destiny has arrived and I know you are ready to claim it.’
‘I also know who I am, mother. I’m a half breed and even though I’ll fight to the death and maybe even win the first and second duel, I know my chances against Macktidas are small. He is an elite. A select strain of the Nar’gellan species. For me to defeat him after having fought two duels, I will need extraordinary luck and even then, that may not be enough.’
‘My son, open your mind and open your heart. Even from my jail cell I can feel the strength growing inside you. I can feel your Nar’gellan and human halves melding together, making you whole. I can feel your purpose inside your mind and how both your human and Nar’gellan passions drive you. Do not be dismayed by your half breed genetics. It is in fact your humanity that gives you the edge over Macktidas. Your human emotions make you superior to his blind, Nar’gellan blood lust. You have the most powerful weapon of all inside your heart. Love. Nar’gellans do not feel love. Not even I. We raise children and grow affinities for our fellow Nar’gellans in ways other than through love, such as respect and loyalty. We do not feel love. We are just not capable of it. Humans naturally feel love and when you face Macktidas, it will be your love that ultimately defeats him.’
’I don’t understand. How can you feel what’s in my heart and in my mind? Not even I can decipher my feelings that clearly.’
‘Nar’gellan mothers retain a mental link to their children, all through their lives. I have watched you ever since the day I left, but due to the complexity of your human genetics, you have not naturally activated your link and so I could not communicate with you. I could only watch, but it seems at last, you have broken through and I am thankful because I have another message for you now. In addition to your humanity providing you the advantage in combat, be also aware that Macktidas has a physical weakness. Nar’gellans are vulnerable to what humans call electricity. Our blood stream is particularly sensitive to its charging effects, to the point that we literally boil from the inside out, so make sure you use electricity where possible in your arsenal, but beware, you yourself may also be partially or highly susceptible to the same damaging effects. I do not know if your human cell structure aids you in any way, so take care.’
‘Thank you. Now tell me, what else I can do for you while we’re linked?’
‘There is nothing. Just fulfil your destiny and be the son I raised you to be. Only then will I be free, regardless of my life or death.’
Suddenly, a scraping noise sounded and through his mother’s eyes in the reflection of the glass, Max watched a portal slide open behind her. She did not turn. She did not flinch, but Max felt her dismay as a figure filled the frame. The shape was huge. Enormous and without ever having seen his full form, Max knew who it was. Macktidas.
The beast looked just like any other of the Nar’gellan soldiers Max had seen and beaten, except this monster was half the size again. Macktidas towered over his mother’s broken form and the glare from his eyes portrayed the malice his mother had spoken of.
‘Go now,’ his mother said silently to Max. ‘There is nothing for you to see here. Be strong and be my son.’
‘Mother!’ Max called out. ‘Mother wait! Tell him I’m going to kill him! Tell him he’s going to die!’
And the light snuffed out and the complete and total blackness returned, but this time, Max fought against it. He knew what lay on the other side of the dark. His mother. He had finally found her and she needed him and he would not go quietly away. Surrounded by pitch, Max struck out. He flailed. He wailed. He cursed and shouted and then he woke up in bed, fighting an invisible foe.