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The TOC Files 17: Time Shall Unfold

Title: Time Shall Unfold
Series:The TOC Files
Word Count 5568
Summary The Kellys return to Arcadia and learn that someone is not happy with how things have proceeded.



XVII. Time Shall Unfold
Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides
Who covers faults, at last shame derides
Shakespeare, King Lear,


Eric Rader checked his bags to make sure he hadn't forgotten anything. "Yes, everything's here." He turned to the others who were lounging in his quarters. "I don't want you guys getting into something while I'm gone."

"We can't help it if they give us an assignment while you're on leave," said a young woman with auburn hair.

"Shannon's right," said a man with black hair. "We have to go where they send us. Consider yourself lucky. We may end up in some godforsaken place like the middle of the Sahara."

"Or the Antarctic," added the last member of the group, a man with emerald green eyes. "You can't forget that, Ryan."

"Quit it, Alan." Eric punched in the coordinates for his home in America. "See you in a couple weeks." He disappeared.

"Anyone care for drinks?" asked Alan. "I've got some in my quarters."

"Sure," said Ryan. "I haven't got much else to do."

"It's strange, having so much free time," remarked Shannon as they walked down the hall. "I'm afraid they'll call us in at any minute."

Once inside his quarters, Alan spoke to the vid-screen that covered a section of the wall. "News," he told it. As he fixed the drinks and the others lounged in chairs, the anchorwoman droned on about local politics.

"On a lighter note, the planet Arcadia will soon be open to tourists. To keep its idyllic countryside, all visitors will go through an orientation aboard an orbiting space station. Dignitaries from across the Alliance are gathering to officially welcome Arcadia at a gala to be held in three days."

"Isn't that where Evan was for ten years?" asked Shannon.

"Yeah. I must admit I was really shocked when I saw him there. It didn't take long for us to fall back into that big brother/little brother relationship." He looked at Ryan. "Sorry. I didn't mean..."

"It's okay. When we were kids and I was Cameron, he still treated me like a little brother. Now that I know I really am your brother, both of you have included me in what you've been doing and I appreciate it."

There was a quick knock on the door before it opened allowing a man about ten years older than Alan and Ryan to come in. He had the same green eyes as his younger brother. "Hello, Shannon, Ryan. Alan, you won't believe what we just received. Look." Evan held out a small parchment with an official seal. "Go on, read it."

Alan read the document, barely deciphering the calligraphy that always accompanied such missives.

It is with great honor that
Major Alan Kelly
Is invited to Arcadia to celebrate
Its official entry to the Alliance.
You may bring a guest.


"It's signed Queen Marena."

"I know. I got my own. He father died a few months ago."

"When is it?" asked Ryan. "And can we come?"

Alan looked at the invitation. "Six days."

"So we don't have time to jabber," said Evan. "Pack light. I'm wearing my flight suit for the trip. Make sure you bring your dress uniform. C'mon, hurry." Shannon and Ryan rushed out.

"What's the rush?" asked Alan as he watched his brother start to pack. "We can get there on our own much quicker."

"For once I think we should use a conventional mode of travel. Besides, we should arrive with others when expected."

"Guess so. It might be nice for a change."

* * * *

When they were finished packing, Alan and Evan met Shannon and Ryan then headed to the spaceport. The press was there to get clips and interviews with the dignitaries. Because they were dressed in flight suits, Alan and his friends were ignored as they walked towards the ship. Shannon paused at the door. "What's the matter?" asked Ryan.

"Sshh, listen."

"We're surprised that Col. Kelly and his brother Evan aren't here," said one of the reporters. "After all, they are the people responsible for bringing Arcadia to the attention to the Alliance. Do any of you know anything about this?"

"As we all know, Col. Kelly is making his own travel arrangements so he and his brother may already be there."

Evan nudged Alan. "Told you they wouldn't expect this."

The crew of the ship greeted them. "Welcome aboard. We're flattered that you decided to fly with us," said the pilot.

"Yes, well, I thought it would be nice to be the passenger for a change," said Alan, taking the credit for his brother's idea.

"Why the flight suits?"

"Comfort," said Ryan. "It also made it easy to avoid the press."

"I understand. We could only spare two cabins for the four of you. I hope that won't cause any problem," he remarked with a look at Shannon.

"None at all," she replied. "I don't think they'll mind sharing..." She looked suggestively at the brothers and they stared back. "I'll have my own."

The pilot laughed. "I'll have someone show you the way. We'll be leaving as soon as everyone boards."

"Just point us in the right direction."

Ryan led the way to their quarters after the pilot gave them directions. The door slid open to reveal plush surroundings. Shannon's, next door, was identical. "This could certainly spoil me."

"Remember that this is first class. Crews' quarters are less...opulent."

"Then I had better enjoy this while I can."

* * * *

Five days later, the pilot announced that they were nearing Arcadia and would be docking at the space station in two hours. "Great," said Ryan. "I was starting to go a little stir-crazy."

"How come you wanted us to avoid the other passengers?" asked Shannon.

"Once those people found out who we were, we'd never be left alone."

"Are you kidding?" said Evan. "To those people, we're only names. If people don't have any connections to their area of expertise or department, they have no interest in them."

"So, I was just playing it safe."

"Before you start arguing, don't you think we'd better get ready?" asked Shannon.

"Good idea," agreed Ryan. "Do you need any help?"

"Just when I thought you were improving."

"At least I asked!" he called after her.

"You were making such progress, too," said Alan with a laugh. "I think you might need to handle her more carefully."

"Maybe." He took the uniform that Evan handed him. "What are you going to wear?"

Evan took out a tuxedo. "What better way to go formal?"

When they were done, Evan took out two square, flat, velvet boxes. "Just a final touch." He opened one of the boxes and lifted the red sash.

"How did you sneak that past me?" questioned Alan.

"It would have been like leaving Morgan behind," Evan said as he helped Alan put it on.

Morgan, upon hearing her name, uncurled herself from her nap and wandered over to Ryan's lap. "What is it?" he asked as he stroked her back.

"Knighthood," said Evan, putting on his own sash. "Bestowed on us before we left."

"How come I never heard about this?" asked Ryan.

"You weren't around."

"I was, and I didn't know," said Shannon as she entered the room.

"I guess in all the excitement of Evan coming home, we forgot some of the details," said Alan as he picked up Morgan.

"Well, I expect to hear about it now."

"Let's just say we weeded out a little trouble," said Evan.

They walked out into the lounge to where the co-pilot met them. "We've heard that they want to do this properly. They're having someone announce everyone, kinda like a butler."

"Where are the others?" asked Shannon.

"They were ready some time ago and their names were announced."

"Do you know when we'll be announced?" asked Ryan.

"No idea. I'll let you know."

Fifteen minutes later the co-pilot came and told them it was their turn. They thanked him for the kind treatment and walked through the airlock. Waiting for them on the other side was a man in a formal uniform; "like a butler", the co-pilot had said. "If you will please follow me."

Evan motioned for Shannon to go first, and then followed her. Ryan and Alan brought up the rear. The "butler" stopped at a large set of double doors. He then looked to make sure they were there before opening the doors. "Announcing Col. Alan Kelly, Evan Kelly, Ryan Kelly, and Lt. Shannon Flynn." They were greeted by a standing ovation

Alan and Evan seemed genuinely embarrassed. Shannon, not knowing the cause, wondered why. A woman a few years older than herself walked over. She wore an elegant teal gown that complemented her auburn hair. To complete the ensemble, she wore a simple silver circlet on her head. The two bowed. Ryan, not wanting to be outdone, followed suit. Shannon dropped one of her best curtseys. "There's no need for such formality between us," she said with a warm smile.

"If you wish, Majesty," said Evan.

"Marena, please." She looked at Alan. "I see you've brought the fey."

"I thought she might like a visit." Ryan cleared his throat. "May I introduce you to my twin, Ryan, and our friend, Shannon."

"Delighted to meet you both," said Marena. "But I thought there it was just the two of you."

"So did we," remarked Evan. "It's a long story."

"You can tell me when you're ready. For now, help yourself to drinks and food."

Shannon and Ryan fell in beside Marena as Alan and Evan were carried away by some of the guests. "Excuse me, Your Majesty," said Shannon. "Ryan and I were wondering what exactly Alan and Ryan did while they were here."

Marena smiled. "You mean you don't know?"

"Alan said it was because of the excitement of Evan being alive," put in Ryan.

"I don't think it would be my place to say anything, but, perhaps the little play I have planned will clear up a few things."

"Play?" asked Shannon.

"You see, they're considered heroes on Arcadia. The people sing songs about them and writers have fought to have their plays on the subject performed."

"Almost like the Greek plays. Even though they knew the ending, the audience still liked the suspense," remarked Shannon.

"You could say that," said Marena. "If you will excuse me." She left them to mingle.

"I don't understand why no one wants to tell us what's going on," said Ryan.

"I know," said Shannon. "Especially when everyone here seems to know the story."

While Shannon and Ryan debated about what happened on Arcadia one year ago, dignitaries from all corners of the Alliance wishing to make their acquaintance surrounded Alan and Evan. Every time they tried to break away, someone new would trap them in conversation. Their salvation arrived wearing a crown. While the others scraped and bowed, Marena led them away. "I thought it was my turn to rescue you."

"It is greatly appreciated," said Evan.

Marena looked to where Shannon and Ryan were helping themselves to the buffet. "She seems quite a nice young lady. Is she the one?"

"Pardon?" asked Alan.

"The day you left, you said you had someone special back home. I was wondering if she was the one."

"Well, yes and no. Yes, she's special to me, but our relationship is somewhere between brother/sister and boyfriend/girlfriend."

"She's very lucky to have someone like you to care for her." She stopped and looked towards a raised platform doubling as a stage. "It looks as if our play is about to begin. Shall we take our seats?"

Marena moved towards the chairs and took her place then motioned for Alan and Evan to sit on either side. Shannon took the seat next to Evan while Ryan sat next to Alan. A man in formal dress took his place center-stage. "Your Majesty, honored guests. We are about to present to you a play that puts forth an interpretation of the events which led to today. Please, sit back and enjoy."

He walked off the stage and the curtain parted to reveal an old woman sitting by a campfire. When asked what the future might hold, she replied

Two men arrive, one will cower,
For the two herald the end of great power.
Brothers of Earth are they,
Bearing the symbol, bearing the fey.


The stage went dark as the scene changed. A holographic backdrop appeared showing the Arcadia horizon. A spaceship was seen to crash in the distance. Shannon was enthralled by the play, especially knowing it was true. Her eyes were wide at the scene when the two brothers were reunited. She looked over at Evan and saw him nod slightly as he remembered the final revelation as the prophecy was fulfilled.

Suddenly, the lights flickered and the power shut off. "What the hell's going on?" demanded Alan.

"I'm not sure," answered Marena, "but the reserve power should start up soon." When the power still hadn't come on, the audience began to panic. Marena stood and tried to keep them calm. "Right now we have the engineers working on the problem. I'm sure it will be fixed in no time."

A strange voice was then heard over the communications-system. "What a fine gathering of dignitaries, but all in one place? What if something went wrong? For example, if the life support doesn't come on in another thirty minutes, you'll all be dying. But for now I'll settle for preventing any outside communications."

"Who was that?" asked Shannon.

"Whoever it was used a voice distorter," remarked Ryan. "He knows that someone here might recognize his voice."

"Or that it could be recognized eventually," said Evan.

"What do you mean?" asked Marena.

"That he's here on the station," said Alan. "Think about it. If what he says is true and there is some sort of field around us preventing any communications, how would he be able to send his message unless he were here?"

"So he must have a sort of playback device hooked up to a remote," said Shannon.

"What you're saying is that someone here, someone I invited, is willing to murder us all?" Marena couldn't believe it.

"What we have to do is search for this device and maybe find fingerprints, or something."

"I'll have the engineers pull up the schematics so we can get an idea of where to look."

* * * *

They narrowed the area to four different ducts. They each donned a small microphone and earphones so they could keep in contact with Engineering. "One of you should be seeing something soon."

"I think I do," said Alan. "It's a small box with a few wires coming out of it." He reached out his left hand to touch it.

"Don't touch it, it could be live." The warning came too late as electricity ran through Alan's body. He cried in pain then passed out.

"Alan! Alan, can you hear me?" called Shannon. "How can we get to him?"

Marena looked at the screen in front of the engineer. "It looks to me that one of your ducts connects to the one where Alan is."

"General, it looks like you're the closest. Somehow, you'll have to turn around and crawl for about ten meters. You'll find a grate in the bottom of the duct..."

"I remember it."

"That'll take you to the duct your brother's in. One of the walls has writing on it. Keep that to your right and head down the shaft. You'll find your brother down there."

Evan followed the directions and soon spotted Alan's prone body. He rushed as fast as the cramped space would allow. "I'm with him now and he's in shock. His breathing is shallow and his pulse is faint but steady. Try to find a quick way for me to get him out of here because I'm afraid to move him too far in his condition."

"We'll try and find a close exit where we can have a medical team waiting," Marena told him. She turned to the engineer as he pulled up the information on the screen. "What have you found?"

"I think we've got something, Majesty. It's one of the few grates that are on the floor level. It will be easier on the colonel." He gave Evan the new directions. "It's only a bit further down the duct. We'll have a team waiting there to help you."

"Right." Evan took off his jacket and placed it under Alan's head, using the sleeves to secure it around his head. "That should make you comfy." He then grasped him firmly by the arms and pulled backwards. It was a slow journey, but he wanted to be extra-careful.

He stopped when he heard someone call, "We're right here, General. We've got the grate open."

Evan turned his head. "I see you now." He stopped at the grate and saw the face of a young medical officer. "I'll pass him through head-first. Here he comes."

"All right, I've got him." He pulled Alan's body into the room and onto a gurney. His vital signs were checked and he was rushed off to the sickbay.

Evan crawled out of the duct just as Shannon and Ryan rushed in. "Where is he?" asked Shannon.

"They've taken him to the sickbay."

"How was he?" asked Ryan.

"I'm no doctor, but I think he'll pull through. He was in deep shock, but it could have been worse."

"What do you mean?"

"He touched it with his artificial hand. I think it absorbed most of the discharge. All he needs now, I think, is to sleep it off."

* * * *

Alan felt as if he were floating in a void--there were no other sensations. Out of the mist that surrounded him, a figure appeared. As it came closer, he realized it was a woman. He wasn't sure if it was the surroundings or if it was the woman herself, but she seemed out of focus, ethereal, like how faeries and angels used to be portrayed in old vids. She smiled and he nearly fainted. Hers was a face of such beauty and tenderness; he knew it was one he would always remember.

She reached out a hand and touched his forehead in a cool and soothing motion. He heard her voice in his mind. "Your enemy is one you have faced before; a twisted and bitter man who wants revenge. Be careful."

"But who is he? How will I know him?" Alan called as she disappeared.

He woke up on a bed in the sickbay and found Morgan sitting on his chest. When she realized he was awake, she began to lick his face. "Hello, girl. You were worried, eh?" He reached out his left hand to pet her and saw that it would not move. "Damn, not again." Morgan rubbed herself against him and he scratched her under the chin. He then sat up, reached for his uniform jacket, and put it on after a slight struggle. "Okay, now for the hard part." He slowly stood and waited for the dizziness to pass. Once it did, he reached out his arm and let Morgan climb onto his shoulder.

He then walked slowly down the companionway. He received some stares and salutes and nodded in return. He made his way to the great hall where the banquet had been held. He spotted the others standing together. He steadied himself and strolled over, hiding the dizziness he felt. "Is this a private conversation or can anyone join in?"

"Alan, you're all right!" Shannon hugged him.

"Are you sure you should be out of bed?" asked Evan.

"I feel fine after a couple hours' sleep."

"A couple dozen, more like," remarked Ryan with a laugh. "You slept 'round the clock."

"What?"

"You were in a state of deep shock," said Evan. "The medicals said sleep would be the best thing."

"Our mysterious friend sent another message," said Shannon. "It supported Evan's theory that he is here on the station. He mentioned us all by name. He also said he had something on Ryan. Do you think..?"

"I'm not sure about that, but I think I know who our friend is." The others looked at him in disbelief. "I know you may think I'm crazy and it may be leftover from the shock, but I had a vision of a woman who told me that our enemy was someone I've faced before."

"Come on, you can't be serious?" questioned Ryan.

"He had that vision about you, didn't he?" Shannon turned to Evan. "What do you say?"

"Normally, I would say he was crazy, but..."

"C'mon, Evan. Think of where we are. Who do we know who likes to use energy barriers?"

Evan's eyes widened in surprise. "Cesare?"

"Who else? We ruined his chances at power and now he's out for revenge."

"Isn't he the one who manipulated Marena until you showed?" asked Shannon.

"Yeah."

"But I thought they dealt with him after you left? How would he have found out about me?" asked Ryan.

"That's just something we have to ask Marena."

"What do you have to ask me?" Marena asked as she joined them.

"Alan says that this madman leaving messages is some guy named Cesare," answered Shannon.

"Ridiculous. He wouldn't show his face here. He was banished."

"What?" Evan couldn't believe what he heard. "That was one of the worst things you could have done. With his knowledge and expertise, he could get backing from any low-life in the galaxy."

"But he still wouldn't come here. His face is known to all on Arcadia."

"Reconstructive surgery can do wonders, Your Majesty," remarked Ryan.

"How are we going to know who he is?"

"There are certain things that can't be changed despite the technology. If we had a picture of him, I could point out what to look for."

"I have a better idea," put in Evan. "Your security program should have all the workers on record including photographs, correct?

"Yes, of course. We also have cameras to take photographs of the guests, just in case."

"Good. What we can do is enter a picture of Cesare and have the computer match-up possible candidates."

"Great! Let's go!" Alan couldn't wait.

Alan's excitement disturbed Morgan and she changed her perch to Shannon's shoulder. Shannon smiled and scratched her behind the ear. "You guys go ahead. Staring at a computer screen is not my idea of fun."

"If you're sure." The Kelly brothers ran off.

Shannon sat at one of the tables near a window that looked down onto Arcadia. "Beautiful, isn't it?" said Marena as she joined her. "When I was a child, I always dreamed about being up amongst the stars. It's still hard for me to believe. I guess I have Evan and Alan to thank for that."

"I know it may seem out of place, Your Majesty--"

"Marena, please."

"Marena. I know from the play that any, um, flirting with Alan was at the request of Cesare--"

"You want to know if it went any further?" Shannon nodded. "On their last morning here, I asked Alan what he thought when he first saw me. You know what he said? That I was beautiful but spoiled. And he was right. He also said that he, and I quote: 'sort of had someone back home'. Now that I've met you, I can see why."

"You think he meant me?" Shannon couldn't believe her ears.

"If not, I'm very embarrassed right now," she answered with a smile. Shannon smiled in return, cementing their friendship.

* * * *

After half an hour, the brothers had narrowed the list down to three possible suspects. Alan, who was expecting conclusive results, was disappointed. "It's not an exact science," said Evan. "We're lucky we got three."

"But how are we going to find out which is Cesare?"

"Don't be so impatient. With this field up, he's virtually trapped himself."

"Now, there are three of us and three suspects," said Ryan. "Each of us can question them one-on -one."

"Okay. I suggest we stagger ourselves so it's not so obvious," remarked Evan as he stood.

Alan was the last to enter. He paused when he saw Marena and Shannon sitting together, chatting like old friends while Morgan nibbled on some fruit. They certainly got chummy very quick.

Shannon glanced over at the door and watched as Alan made his way to one of the guests sitting at one of the tables to the back. She had seen Ryan and Evan do the same. "They're up to something, but what?"

"Maybe they've tracked down Cesare."

"They would have told us. Sometimes I hate being left out. Just once I'd like to solve something before they do." Shannon absently petted Morgan. "Hold on a minute. How strong is a fey's sense of smell?"

"Very keen." Marena realized what Shannon meant. "She would recognize him by his scent. No surgery can change that." She looked across the room to where the brothers were engaged in conversation. "They must have narrowed down the suspects. I suggest we take Morgan near each of the men and watch her reaction."

"Great! We just need a good excuse. Maybe if we just tell Alan and the others that you're taking me on a tour." She held out her arm and Morgan climbed up on her shoulder. "Let's go."

Marena led the way over to where Evan was conversing with the representative from Helicon. "Excuse me, Evan, but I was just going to take Shannon for a tour. We just thought you should know."

"Thanks. I hope you don't think we're ignoring you," he said to Shannon.

"No. I know you've got a lot of things on your mind. Don't worry about me." Shannon noted that Morgan showed no interest in the suspect. They moved on to Ryan. Curious, Evan followed. He arrived in time to hear them repeat that they were going on the tour. With that done, they moved towards Alan.

Ryan looked at Evan. "What are they up to?"

"I don't know, but I need to find out." Evan followed them.

Once Shannon got near to them, Morgan began to hiss, arching her back. She even reached out a claw to scratch the man Alan was talking to. "Get that thing away from me!"

Evan realized what was happening and positioned himself behind the man. Alan and Ryan were still a little confused. "I'm so sorry, Mr. Ianuae, I don't know what's gotten into her," commented Alan.

"But I do," said Marena. "Morgan is simply reacting to villainy."

Realization dawned on Alan. "Cesare!" Cesare pulled away from Alan and straight into the waiting arms of Evan and Ryan. Alan reached into one of Cesare's pockets and pulled out a small device. "If I'm not mistaken, this is the remote for the field. Am I right?"

Cesare was quiet. "He asked you a question," said Ryan, tightening his grip.

"Yes!" he cried out.

"Thought so." Alan handed it over to Marena. "Why don't you do the honors?"

"Thank you." With a defiant look at Cesare, she pushed the button Alan pointed out. There was no noticeable difference until a voice came over the speaker system, a voice from Arcadia. Everyone in the gallery cheered. Marena made her way to the intercom. "All is well, Arcadia. We should be transporting down to the surface within the hour. With us will be a prisoner so please make the necessary preparations."

* * * *

Their ship landed on Arcadia and disembarked to a fanfare. The members of the TOC held back, Alan and Evan not wishing to attract attention to themselves. Shannon and Ryan were amazed and surprised at the pastoral beauty of the planet. Morgan, sensing she was home, leapt from Alan's shoulder and ran into the forest. Alan called out and chased after her. The others, taken by surprise, followed.

Alan kept running, just barely keeping her in sight. He dodged low-hanging branches and hurdled over tree trunks and bushes. Not watching where he was going, he half- fell, half-slid down a steep hill. He looked up when he reached the bottom and Morgan was out of sight. He sat on a stone to catch his breath. Why did she run off like that? She didn't even say good-bye. He then noticed that the stone he was sitting on was polished and there were words carved on it. He read them and smiled at the irony.

The others caught up with him. "Why did you run?" asked Shannon.

"Morgan left."

"She'll be back."

"Not this time. It's kinda funny, though. She left me in the exact spot where she found me."

"How do you know that?" asked Evan. "I lived here for ten years and I'm lost."

"This." Alan pointed at the stone. "It's a marker for some sort of trail so people could follow in our footsteps."

Ryan squatted in front of the stone and read the plaque. " 'On this spot, Major Alan Kelly was found unconscious under his dead horse with the fey asleep beside him.'" He looked up at the hill. "So the guy shot at you from up there?"

"Yep. Never saw it coming. I barely remember anything about it. I do remember something warm and soft curling up beside me, though."

"In Ireland, feys are like fairies. Who knows, maybe we're dealing with something like that. Morgan le Fey was an immortal enchantress, wasn't she?"

"I don't know, but all this talk of fairies and immortal enchantresses is too much for me. Let's go back to town and join the celebrations," said Ryan as he started down the path.

"I'm surprised that you're in such a hurry to go back," said Shannon as she followed. "After all, Cesare just may tell everyone that you're Cameron."

"Who will they believe: a confessed criminal or the brother of two Alliance heroes?" Ryan answered with false confidence.

"Are you coming, Alan?" asked Evan.

"Sure." He looked back at the spot where Morgan disappeared. Take care. He joined the others and they walked back to town.

When they arrived at the palace, Marena pulled them aside. "Where did you go? Everyone has been asking me and I had to think of a convincing lie."

"Welcome to politics," murmured Evan.

"We were saying good-bye to a friend," answered Alan.

Marena noticed that Morgan wasn't with them. "Where's Morgan. She was a hero today."

"She's back with her own kind in the forest," said Shannon. "I guess she missed her family."

"What happened with Cesare?" asked Ryan.

"He's been locked up in the prison to await a full-scale trial by the Alliance. He said that it would be the best opportunity to tell everyone what he knew about you. I don't know what it was that I saw in him."

"You saw what he wanted you to," Evan told her. "He had everyone fooled."

"Not you."

"Granted, I didn't trust him, but I thought he was relatively harmless."

Alan moved over to Ryan. "You're going to have to tell them. Cesare doesn't bluff."

"Now that I've finally put Cameron behind me and started a new life, I'm afraid about dredging it all up again. It's not going to reflect to well on you and the others."

"If Alan and I can accept it," put in Shannon, "I don't see how the public won't. After all, we've experienced you at your worst."

Ryan smiled. "Guess you're right. But when and how?"

"I don't think that should pose a problem," said Alan with a glance towards the news cameras that were there to cover the gala.

* * * *
"...And so the gala that welcomed Arcadia into the Alliance concluded. Cesare, the man responsible, had been exiled from Arcadia last year after Alan and Evan Kelly uncovered his machinations for the throne. In just a few moments, Ryan Kelly will be making an announcement in response to the claims that Cesare has made about his past." The reporter turned her attention to the podium as Ryan slowly stepped forward.

"I know that to all of you, I'm just Col. Kelly's twin brother. But before we learned the truth, I led a much different life under a different name. My adoptive parents were cruel and abusive, so I ran away and became rich. I used my wealth and influence on those in high positions in both the Government and Military. I even indulged in blackmail and arms dealing.

"One man sought to discredit me and eventually succeeded. I was arrested and convicted but escaped. I was then thought to have perished in a crash. I lived and created a whole new persona and swore revenge on the man who ruined my life. It's a good thing I failed because I discovered the truth: my name was Ryan Kelly, not Cameron James."

Silence reigned throughout the hall until Marena stood and began to clap. Slowly, others joined, knowing that it took courage for Ryan to admit to such an infamous past. Alan gave him a hug. "That wasn't so bad, was it?"

"No, but I'm afraid of the repercussions."

"Well, whatever they are, we'll face them together," said Evan.

18. For All Time

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