Melinda Metz

The Dark One

(Roswell High-009)


'All of you, backs against the wall,' Kyle Valenti ordered, his voice harsh. 'Now!'

Michael Guerin obeyed, pulling Kevin DeLuca over to the bedroom wall along with him. He didn't know what that silver disk in Kyle's hand was, but Michael had seen its power. One blast from it had thrown him across the room and made the Stone of Midnight-the most powerful energy source on Michael's home planet-go dark and useless.

He positioned Kevin and himself between his brother, Trevor, and his best friend, Max Evans. He still felt the need to keep the two of them separated, even though Michael figured Max and Trevor were through trying to kill each other. For now at least, they had a common enemy.

Michael tightened his grip on Kevin's shoulder when he realized the kid was trembling. 'Don't worry,' he said softly. 'We can take this guy.'

Which was so true-usually. Usually Michael could take down Kyle without even using his powers. But with that weapon in Kyle's possession, who knew what Kyle was capable of?

'I said all of you.' Kyle pulled Maria DeLuca out of the hallway behind him and shoved her into the bedroom. She raced over to Michael and squeezed in between him and Kevin, grabbing their hands.

'Kevin, I'm so sorry. This is all my fault,' she said as Alex Manes, Liz Ortecho, Isabel Evans, and Adam rushed over and joined the line across the bedroom wall. 'Are you okay? Did he hurt you?'

Michael hated hearing the fear in Maria's voice. Maria shouldn't have to feel afraid with him around. It was just… wrong.

'I'm okay,' Maria's little brother answered.

Michael squeezed Maria's hand. 'Kevin's fine,' he promised her.

'Yeah,' Kevin agreed weakly. 'Fine.'

'See? He can handle himself,' Michael added, smiling at the little guy. Kevin was ten years old, and even if his words were brave, he was totally freaked. Michael figured the kid needed as much macho pride as he could muster to deal with this nightmare.

'There was an easy way to do this, and there was a hard way,' Kyle announced. He strode from one end of the line to the other, looking each of them in the eye. 'You chose the hard way. Fine.'

Michael decided that Kyle was using a little macho pride to stay calm, too. There was no way Kyle could really be so in control, not after what he'd seen. Max and Trevor had been using their powers on each other with a vengeance. Kyle had to know he'd witnessed something a lot stranger than WWF Smackdown.

'But now you're going to tell me everything you know about my father,' Kyle continued.

'Why should we tell you anything? After you decided to kidnap a little boy to-' Maria began, her voice edged with hysteria.

'Oh, shut up already!' Kyle barked.

Michael squeezed Maria's hand harder. She pulled in a deep, shuddering breath, glaring at Kyle.

'I ask the questions. You answer. That's how this is going to work,' Kyle said.

He's doing his father, Michael realized. He's so wigged out that he's pretending to be big, bad Sheriff Valenti to get himself through this.

'Do you know who your father really worked for?' Max asked suddenly.

Kyle wheeled around and reached Max with three long strides. He pulled back his fist and slammed it into Max's stomach. 'I said I ask the questions.'

Michael could feel everyone in the room tense up as Max almost doubled over. He shot a warning glance at Isabel, and she gave him a reluctant nod. Michael knew it was taking all she had not to hurl herself at Kyle, make the connection, and squeeze one of the arteries in his brain until it popped. Which sounded like a good idea to Michael. He would have done it himself if it wasn't for the disk.

What was that thing?

It had to be a Project Clean Slate weapon, which meant that it was designed for use on alien life-forms. Michael couldn't risk going after Kyle as long as he was holding it.

'Anybody else have a question?' Kyle demanded. 'Or am I finally-'

Kevin let out a high shriek. It went on and on, shrill as an ambulance siren, and it made all the little hairs on the back of Michael's neck stand on end.

'Shut him up,' Kyle ordered.

Maria pulled Kevin closer to her, but Kevin kept screaming, his eyes locked on the closet.

No, not the closet. All the saliva in Michaels throat dried up. Kevin's gaze was fixed on the network of veins that had begun to materialize in front of the closet.

'We've got company,' Michael announced. He jerked his chin toward the veins. The heart was already forming, already beating, and the other organs appeared almost instantaneously-liver, pancreas, stomach, intestines, lungs.

'Dingdong. DuPris calling,' Michael heard Alex mutter.

'What the hell is that?' Kyle bleated as muscle and bone began snaking between the organs. He backed up a step and stumbled, and the silver disk fell from his hand.

Michael didn't miss a beat. He hit the floor and snatched up the disk. Kyle didn't even notice. He was transfixed by the body forming in front of him. It was complete now except for the empty eye sockets.

'I'm thinking we need a plan,' Alex said. 'I'm thinking it should involve running.'

Too late. The bright green eyes of Elsevan DuPris materialized, and he pinned them with his gaze.

'Well, hello there, sweet children. I've missed you somethin' awful,' he drawled, winking at them. 'I thought you might be feeling nostalgic for the accent,' he added, now without a trace of the southern twang he'd used for so long, parading around Roswell as the eccentric owner of the Astral Projector newspaper.

But he wasn't a reporter. He wasn't even human. He was, in fact, the being who had murdered Michael, Max, Isabel, and Adam's parents over fifty years before by causing their spaceship to crash into the desert in what became known as the Roswell Incident.

DuPris reached into his pocket and pulled out the Stone of Midnight he'd stolen from them. Unlike the one in Trevor's hand, DuPris's Stone gleamed with a green-purple light, pulsing with power.

Michael fingered the silver disk. If he could figure out how it worked, it could drain the power of the Stone, and without the Stone's power they might have at least a snowball's chance in hell of taking DuPris down. But if Michael made a mistake, the disk might also kill them all.

He was still debating whether to risk it when Trevor stepped away from the wall and moved toward DuPris.

'Trevor! Stay back!' Michael ordered his brother. Trevor didn't even glance at him.

'You're the one,' Trevor said, his eyes flicking from DuPris's face to the Stone of Midnight in his hand. 'I came to this planet to deliver this to you.' He held out the lifeless Stone. 'But that one destroyed it before I had the chance.' Trevor jerked his chin toward Kyle.

Michael's mouth dropped open as DuPris took the Stone, his green eyes glistening with eagerness. 'It's not destroyed. It will regenerate its power.'

'I want to be allowed to work with you,' Trevor told DuPris. 'I'm willing to give my life to see the collective consciousness shattered.'

This was insane. Trevor was offering to help their enemy? Michael lurched away from the wall, pulling free of Maria. He strode to Trevor, grabbed him by the back of the shirt, and spun him away

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