Mary Simms gazed contentedly at her month old baby in her arms. Somewhere on Earth and Calahan, she knew four others like her son lived. They would be exactly the same age to the second. They would all live normally for almost twenty-one years, all but her son Joshua. He would know the truth. He would find the other Earth dweller and then they would go find the others on Calahan. She would not be with him because she knew she would betray them to Deinde. But for now, for a while she was safe. Except she knew Deinde would do anything to get a hold of this child. He would never touch her baby. She would do everything to protect him while she could.

Mary snuggled deeper into her bed.

"Never," she whispered fiercely in the baby's ear.

"Surely you can't think 'never,' Shayla." Mary looked up startled at the only man who knew her real name. He was dressed all in black, as usual, except for his white shirt. "You would not deny the boys father a look at his son would you?"

"What do you want, Deinde?" Mary demanded. He winced.

"You know I hate that name. I like Vaalka."

"Deinde," Mary shrieked, "Deinde, Deinde, Deinde, Deinde, Deinde."

"I am not second, Jaiel's head is just swollen." He slapped her and her head hit the headboard of the bed. Mary came back and slumped over her baby.

"Deinde, Deinde, Deinde." Mary sat up and hurled a ball of light at Deinde that was so bright that it nearly blinded the two. Deinde counterattacked with his own weapon. A bar as black as. The black bar consumed the ball of light and winked out of existence.

"Do not tell him," Deinde panted. "Do not tell him or you both die." She soon saw why he was out of breath. A portal appeared; anyone would be tired from making a portal, and he started to go through it.

"I'm going to Calahan again. I will return in five years, if he knows you both die. If he doesn't, then I will return in another five years and another if he still doesn't. As you know, he won't be able to lie to me, even you can't do that."

Deinde went through the portal the rest of the way and it disappeared.

Mary placed her child in its crib, went over to her desk, pulled out paper and pen, and began to write. When she was done she put the sheet in the envelope, made a gateway, then picked up her child.

"Come along, Joshua," she whispered. "Let's go visit an old friend."

20 years passed

The young woman lounged in the large gilded chair. She was becoming restless. She had no idea how long she'd been waiting but this was getting old. Every time she was summoned to this place she ended up waiting for at least an hour before he appeared. For the hundredth time her large brown eyes swept over the columns shrouded in the shadows. Of course she didn't know what good that would do; he never appeared from the massive columns, always by gateway.

As if the thought had called it to happen, a black slash cut through her line of vision. It grew larger and a black clad figure stepped through what was now a fifteen-foot tall black hole. His black coat went tight at the waist and then flared out and fell to his knee. It was buttoned to the top button and the white lace from his shirt cascaded down the front. Black, baggy breeches were tucked into his hard black leather boots; the boots' tops were folded over.

The girl gave a startled shriek and was out of his chair in an instant. She half ran half fell down the steps of the dais and stood by his side.

"So good of you to come Vaalka."

The young woman curtsied deeply and took the offered hand, kissing the signet ring, which was a wolves head with two scythe like swords crossed beneath the head.

"Young child," the man began once he was situated in the gilded chair. She cringed, not at his words-though she did find them annoying-but at his voice. The powerful sound rang through her head like trumpets. "The boy on earth knows. What do you plan to do about it?"

"What am I supposed to do? I don't live on Earth I live on Calahan." She shuffled her feet unconsciously under his stern gaze. "Well I'm sure you can do something when he gets here. What with you going around masquerading as a real human."

"Is that anyway to speak to your comrade? You could apologize to your better." He left the suggestion hanging, a threat in the air.

"So sorry, allies." She waved her hand and settled in the throne that appeared from across his.

"Thank-you. Now as for doing something when he comes to Calahan, you know very well that's not possible. By then he'll have the girl with him and you know they're too strong for me together."

"There are other ways," she said faintly

"True, you and I could compete against them, but your not much help if I were asked. Anyway, we'll discuss it after you bag Joel."

"Must I really throw myself at that man? Will it even work?"

"Oh yes, no one could resist the front you put up. I'm having troubles myself at the moment."

And with that, he stepped back through the gateway laughing. Laughing, the indignation of it all. She got up and straightened her dress.

She of course could go up against, and then she'd have to go up against his troops as well. She could use her own minions, but they'd both put Protection upon their own. The war would go on forever and the armies would never die. Best to do it this way, she told herself. Let him believe you've finally submitted. In the meantime you can be plotting.

She sighed discontentedly and she made a gateway of her own. Stepping through, she ended up in the Great Dining Hall of the palace where she "worked." She thought it so degrading that she had to work as a servant while he paraded around as a lord of noble birth. She sighed again.

The young, blond glided out into the hall and nearly tripped over two guards. The wounded one she recognized as Captain Lucayus. The other, who was helping him along, was Joel Malker. She recognized him only by the blue scaled serpent tattooed around his finger.

Even though he had to support the captain, Joel managed to give her an interested look.

Oh no, she thought. He's one of those. She mentally shrugged the thought away, returned the look, and swaggered down the hall in the opposite direction.