Children of the Universe

This book is most difficult to describe or categorize.

Thriller? No.

Action? No.

Comedy? No.

Romance? Nada.

Sci-Fi? Maybe… No.

All of the above? DEFINITELY!

The only question you have is… how will it end?

By: Virginia Gaffney

Children of the Universe

One word: of the Universe: Book 1

Chapter 1: The 5

For millions of generations, almost for all eternity, far away from the Milky Way galaxy, there are 4 other galaxies. They are Kriona, Loretta's Keep, Kever's Keep, and Syken. The 5 galaxies arrange themselves like a square with an extended point on one side. On a Star Map, Kriona is the smallest, and the extended top in the left hand corner, directly north east of the Milky Way, and directly north of Loretta's keep. And Kever's Keep is directly east of Loretta's keep, (Loretta and Kever were brother and sister, but had much bad blood between them) and Kever's Keep was directly south of Syken. And to complete the square, Syken is directly east of the Milky Way. In each galaxy, is life, of differed races, faces, languages, cultures, forms, and religions. Most of the differed religions only exist in the Milky Way, though still some can only be found in one other galaxy, but as a star system, the galaxies are connected. Under one rule, only the aliens of the other side know of the existence of the other galaxies. These "aliens of the other side", exist among us. Maybe you are, but have not been given the privilege of being born to an alien aware area properly equipped to train you in the art of your powers. Now, not everyone has powers, only the aliens of the other side, which some do have the privilege of being trained in their art. Now, these powers are not 'magic' or 'sorcery' they are gifts. Tools, lives. People exposed to this power that are not an alien, must be executed. It's a cruel life, but it's true. Guards stand by at posts 24-7-365. People live in all of the galaxies, and among the people in the other galaxies. Alien to humans of The Milky Way, are people without powers, who say we're the aliens! Some say there are no other galaxies, but that is their thinking.

The way you can distinguish an alien is not simple. It's not skin color, or smarts, not the way they tend to dress, not a hair color, or that they even believe in aliens before, it's their blood vessels. They give and feed a different color blood. The color is red when exposed to oxygen, but purple, orange, or green when still flowing independently.

This is not a trick of the light, not something you can walk around on a play ground and pull out the few you find and take them away, this is a secret matter, and a fund of trust. He or she who tests, needs to be able to distinguish the blood of an average human and an alien, not all of your friends are aliens, though some may be.

Chapter 2: Victoria's Search

She ran down the hall, into the cafeteria, and lunged into the nearest seat. She was amazed for once in her life Victoria Grazen was speechless! How could Mary have passed away? How was SHE 'worthy of the throne' or 'her trusted heir'? Mary had 5 daughters! Victoria's mom was one of them! That SHE FORGOT A WHOLE GENERATION of the Riata line is the only reason for Mary Elizabeth Tutor Riata, (aka bloody Mary, or Mary Elizabeth the 2nd of England,) to pass her throne to her granddaughter, Victoria Valezonya Riata Leigh Grazen. This is so sudden, so big, so, so, she didn't want to say it but, AWESOME! She was now the most trusted advisor in all of Syken, and her own mother, and 4 aunts, and 3 uncles, were her elders, but no longer her advisors or masters, or, even, her rulers. She was theirs. Though she remained the niece, and daughter, she was not ruled by them. There was all at once so much freedom, but so much solitude and grounding, but- her though train skidded to near crash by another girl. She looked about 8, but then again so did Victoria, stuck in her 'little girl human' human body housing a 35 year old Syken lady. The girl's dark eyes, yet bright eyes gazed upon Victoria's face, taking in every detail.

"You're lookin' anxious are you okay?" the girl asked sweetly, but the way she said it made it sound like 'Yer lookin angshuz,' "My name is Kayra, what's yours?"

"Uh, um, uh, Victoria, uh, hi, Kayra." Victoria stuttered.

"HI Victoria! Nice to meet you! Welcome to the YMCA! I know you're new here so I offered to help you out!" She beamed. Victoria could tell this intro was voluntary, not really forced or practiced.

"Great, well, uh, thanks, but I think I can manage on my own, thank you—" she stood and tried to walk away, but Kayra got in her way and the 2 stumbled and fell.

"Whoa, uh, sorry, want me t-'' Kayra began.

"Stop; Raise your wrist for me please- WHOA!" Victoria's eyes lit up like Christmas. She had spotted Kayra's blood vessels.

"WHAT? Am I bleeding?" she glanced at her wrist quickly.

"No you're, you're, uh, get up on the chair, and I'll explain."

"Um, okay!" Kayra obliged.

Victoria and Kayra sat up on the chairs in silence a moment while Victoria debated with herself how to explain the other worlds and aliens to Kayra. She realized she should have thought a little harder after she spewed out all the info and Kayra said-

"Wow, So cool! So I have like magic and stuff huh?" Kayra started, "I've always known I had something different about me. My mom always said I was powerful but Magic-''

"NO! Not magic! Never say magic! NEVER EVER!"

"Sorry, Jeewizzah" Kayra apologized, and stretched out her "uh" in Jeewizzah.

Victoria sat a moment, took a deep breath and said calmer than she'd anticipated, "Look, Syken and the aliens, its all," she stopped. "Secret. You can't tell anyone, not even your parents! I'm your advisor, if you have any questions or doubts, you come to me, understand Kayra?"

"Sure, I guess…"

"No! You can't guess, you have to swear, BE ABSOLUTLY SURE!"

"Fine! Sure! I'm sure!"

"Good." Victoria was glad she had gotten her point across, but mad with herself for pushing Kayra to near-tears.

And that's how the search began. Each introduction was typical, with their saying 'so I have magic?' and Victoria's correcting, then the lessons, starting with, basic casts and casting.

"Today class, we are going to learn about transporting." Victoria began. "Can anyone give me a spell, charm, or signal that they guess is to transport into Syken, or to any other Universal port?"

No one answered. "Anyone?"

Nothing.

"Fine. This is how." She looked slightly annoyed, but she had learned to live with it.

Victoria stuck her fingers in her ears and twisted. It was a circular motion, she wasn't itching or picking her ear, more like dragging her finger along the inside ring, the medium of 3 parts of the ear. Then as if struck by a flaming lightning bolt, her eyes went a deadly red and rolled back, then closed completely, and her head fell heavily to the table with a dramatic THUD! Following, as if on cue, she jolted up right, now holding a soda fountain cup with a foreign language on it. It had a vivid picture of a green man holding a scepter of some sort, and a bright red apron with an eye printed on it.

"Hey, where'd you get that?" Joshua, Victoria's newest student, complained.

"In Syken, I had time on my break, after I froze time of course, to grab a bite from Mandy's Eyes-Cream Shop.

"You mean you eat EYES?" Kayra concluded far too quickly.

"NO! It's a play on words, it's called an 'Eyes-Cream' Shop because in Syken, an eye was said to watch over the galaxy, guarding those of the nationalized religion that Syken is the only universe, obviously, people belonging to that religion are not Aliens of the other side, as we are. Understand?"

"Yeah." Hanna sighed. Hanna had been introduced after an abrupt incident including a book, yogurt, some barbequed lays, and Victoria and herself. Neither Victoria nor Hanna liked to talk about this introduction to the new, scariest clique in Texas.

Release

Training was continuing, and days were longer as summer came, and Syken Practice attendees had come down to a recess group including Audree, Victoria's neighbor, and a holder of the special power air…

Olive, Victoria's favorite student, with no specialized power to be known…

Cal, A tall handsome student with a vulnerable mind, and strong will, the specialized power of water evolving…

Colt, a smart, average student with a hard mind and special power of fire and mind control…

And May, Victoria's Best friend since age 2 (for May 6 years, for Victoria, it had been age 33.), with the special power of earth and nature.

"Today, we will talk about death."

"DEATH?" May heaved.

"Yes, death May. Now, listen, how many of us are Christian?"

No one raised a hand, but Cal Shouted out, " I am ma'am. Is that a problem?"

"No," Victoria comforted, "but an obstacle! You see everyone, an alien death is not a normal death, it has no heavenly attributes, no ropes, no Jesus, or anything like that, instead, it consists of a dark room, and 2 stair cases."

"One to heaven one… down?" Cal added, scared.

"No, both up, but not to heaven. Instead, the silver one leads to a train station. The train leaves when you are ready. No one else rides the train at the same time as you. The only person you see is the attendant, who sees people every day, otherwise, the station is empty. Options for locations are the five galaxies. Can anyone name them all?"

Colt spoke out, and listed all 5. "Syken, Milky way, Loretta's keep, Kever's keep, and Kriona."

"Very good Colt, yes. All five are optional because some aliens choose to live again on Earth, instead of another galaxy, where they can spread their knowledge of the aliens and the other worlds!" Victoria said dramatically.

"What about aliens who are untrained?" Olive noted.

"Ah! I was just getting to that! See, untrained souls do not see ladders, instead, they go with their religion, and if they do not belong to one, they simply are cast offs. They roam the Earth, trying to find someone to train them, to summon the stairs when they are complete, and move along."

"OH! That's why people say they've seen or heard ghosts! So those people who say they've seen ghosts are aliens?"

"Most, although not always, some cast-offs just try to find someone to help them! Poor, confused souls." Victoria continued.

"Well what if they don't find someone? Or don't know what to do?"

"Yes, I was worried about that question, well, I am not the one to explain that to you, so that is research you shall do in your own! Any questions or concerns?"

Cal rose to his feet. The grass stuck to his shorts, so he dusted it off. "Ma'am, I have a problem. My religion says I'll go up or down, not to some train station, or to where ever the other ladder leads. I uh, don't think I want to continue Syken training."

"I understand Cal, Now will you please go sit on that bench."

"What bench? We're in a field!" He yelled, tears welling up in his eyes. He had just screamed at someone with power. Someone who he adored, but was a bit afraid of, to be perfectly honest.

"That one!" Victoria snapped her fingers, and arose from the grass a blue plastic bench labeled 'release'. Cal walked over, took a seat, and did a quick food spell to distract him from the group. He had popped in a milkshake.

"What's release? Is it where you kill him? Is it a brain wash machine? Are you gonna turn him into a…"

"NO! I'm not! A release is a ceremony. That I will perform later, but now, I will tell you about the second stair well. It also leads up, but this one to nowhere. It goes on and on and on, and no one knows where it stops, some say that it just, goes, and when its riders go crazy, and jump, they just fall."

"That's sad." said Kayra sympathetically.

"Yes, it is, but some still chose that way, just up. They enjoy the solitude, the selfness. I don't understand it, but, that's all. Some people just don't want to live again. They believe that they have lived, and that they are done. That's all."

Cal waited patiently for the lesson to be over, to be done, so that he could go home, no longer need to attend these crazy meetings to control him like counseling, just be a typical Cal, a typical 3rd grade boy with larger problems, like home work! Or girls…

When classes ended, everyone but Cal and Victoria left for home.

"Are you sure Cal? It's a onetime thing, you can't go back, can't erase it, ever. Okay?" Victoria felt she should stretch the truth, try to keep him in the class, discourage his sudden decision.

"I understand, can you please begin?" Cal sounded eager.

"Cal, you won't know who I am, where you are, how you got here, why you are here, who is leaving, or how to get home okay? So I need you to give me directions, so that I can zap you there when you're done, and give a false reality, so that you will think something else when I put time back in motion."

"Okay, well, my address is 20014 Crane Crow Street; when you zap me there, I want my alternate reality to be I am coming home from a friend's."

"I guess so, you take all the fun out of it for me." Victoria laughed, " Now before you forget me, I want to ask you something. Do you love me?"

"What? No!" Cal was defensive, not so eager anymore.

"Not with Cal's heart, with your Syken heart. Do you love me?"

"I guess sort of." He replied this time more sheepishly.

"Good, because I want to kiss you before you forget me, and us." She leaned in, and closed her eyes, Cal embraced her steaming, perfectly thin body and realized what he was giving up, but it was too late. Victoria had already cast the charm, and frozen Cal in time, ready to take him home. To an alternate reality, with no her, no Syken, no Victoria and Cal, No… aliens.

Interference

A month later, regular classes begin again. Well, as regular as alien training can be.

"Today class we will be-'' Victoria began. Then she wailed, "Why! Why? What did I do to you?" Sniffled, and tried to refocus, on her lesson, face stained with tears, cheeks so pale, she looked like an albino, and lips quivering, covered in water and lipstick from last night. "We will be talking about how Syken royalty works." She sobbed.

"Are you okay Mrs. Riata? Or are you Victoria right now?"

"Neither, I'm just me! Okay! And you are just you! Right now, I'm in no condition to teach, so just go home! We will continue lessons when I'm better, so GO! Go now!" she wailed louder, practically screaming, now. The heat of the summer beat down on Olive and Victoria's necks, burning through their hair, strait to their scalps, "Olive, Go home, okay, I'm going too."

"Tell me why you're crying." She said in an attempted sympathetic voice. "Tell me, please."

"Look, I'm 42, and you are 9. I can't explain love to a child!"

"I'm not a child! My Syken mind is 23! I can listen! And understand!"

Victoria didn't argue, she just, went. "Listen, last night, I broke up with my Earth boyfriend and in a chain of events, Cullen, my Syken Husband divorced me, and left me with my 4 children, a queendom to watch over, and no experience. I always relied on Cullen, but since my Earth Relationship was broken with Collen, Cullen left me. Collen is an alien, but he is from Loretta's Keep, so Cullen is an immigrant. It's just, look, I'm sorry for troubling you, but I, I'm an emotional wreck! A hot mess! Whatever you choose to call it! That's me!" Victoria whined loudly.

"Look, it's okay, you have friends here, however mutated or strange we are, were friends, almost family! Trust us, please! I mean, really, how hard can running queendom be? You own the Universe! You can do whatever you want!"

"That's where you are wrong." Victoria began. "I can't. I'm left with millions of lives, including my own children, whom I have enough trouble with already, While Meghan is-''

"Meghan, you mean-'' Victoria knew Olive meant a girl at school, whom had been tested twice just to confirm she wasn't an alien.

"No! My Meghan! A non-alien, because there is only ever 1 alien in a family tree alive at once! And since I'm still alive, my children are non-alien. GET THE PICTURE?"

"Yeah, sorry, well, what about Meghan?"

"She is, uh, very un-well behaved. She, doesn't like to listen to me, she doesn't like to listen to police when they arrest her YET AGAIN for shop lifting, or worse, but, I haven't even started on Mathias yet," Victoria took a breather. "He is a wrecking ball! Muddy shoes! Dirty clothes everywhere! No manners to be spoken of, and he's always tapping away on his latest technology screens! He doesn't even have to carry a game console anymore! He has designed his own video game line that attaches to his arm with a needle, and you play with your mind, and wear these, goggles that project the image, so that he sees his world, based around objects in front of him, the technological resources in Syken are unbelievable!"

"Wow! Sounds awesome! Maybe I could go with you to your uh, home and uh, baby sit?"

"No! I will not let you! I won't burden you so, just, don't worry about me, or the well being of my children, just, continue your training on your own. Okay?"

"What? You still have to teach me! I can't do it alone!"

"Yes you can! I've taught you all you need!"

"You are loopy! I'm only on level 3/21 and we haven't learned a single spell yet! I was hoping today's unit would include spells, but you were all emotionally disturbed, and I lost hope when you wailed and, so we didn't then you rambled on about your problems, and WE HAVEN'T HAD A LESSON IN 3 months! School just got in, and last year, you insisted we were too young to learn any hands on things, so you just taught us the basics! Now we are 4th graders! 10 and 11 year olds and we are waiting for our chance!"

"Sorry, I'm just, out of it. Sorry." Victoria apologized. "Sorry."

An Invitation for Victoria

"Victoria! A letter for you!" Victoria's dad called down the hall.

"Coming dad!" She hollered back, then galloped down the hallway to her father and mother's office.

The hall was dark, few lights were on, and her rabbits were jumping excitedly in their cage in the front room of Victoria's house. Pictures of her Uncle's biking/hiking trips to magnificent cities and sites across America were lining the corridor, and the light of the office shown through the open door, casting eerie shadows across the hall to the couch and gate of the front bunny room, and on the Thanksgiving, or other formal occasion, dining table. Victoria's brother Connor sat eating a cracker and reading at that table, quietly nibbling, then turning the page.

"Who's it from?" Victoria asked, her dad's head blocked by three computer monitors sitting on the desk, a laptop for each. Her dad's tee shirt hung lightly on his shoulders and his large hands typed quickly, then a click of the mouse, and more typing. He glanced up at her. She was wearing a blue striped silver sweater, with 3 buttons below the neck, and dark denim jeans.

"It's for Madison Joust's birthday. Meghan Miles will be there, and a couple of other girls. Interested?"

"Yeah!" Victoria exclaimed!

"Great! I'll rsvp for yah, it's next Saturday, at 12:00, noon, it's a sleep over; I'll pick you up about 9:00 Sunday! Pack light! It's going to be 98° on Sunday, but only 80° on Saturday, remember, this is Texas!"

"How can I forget daddy, I walk to and from school in the heat everyday!"

"Yeah, I guess so!"

Victoria rang the door bell, she heard a dog bark, a shush, and then footsteps running down the stairs. The door swung wide open, and Maddie was there, wearing a tuxedo that was WAY too big for her, a ton of makeup, and a towel with grease stains slung over her lower arm.

"Entre!" Maddie said in a giggly low voice, and behind her, 3 girls laughing, also wearing to much make up, poked their heads around the closet door, watching and laughing quietly.

"Hi!" Victoria beamed, "Happy Birthday!"

As the night went on, the girls laughed, played different games, laughed some more, tried on dresses, paraded around Maddie's house, drank 4 cans of coke EACH, had a burping contest, and played a quite abrupt game of hide and seek. At about 11:30, Maddie fell asleep, and the other girls were dozing off. Victoria though, was wide awake, and Meghan as well, Working on a fantastic prank!

"Okay, you mix the fake blood, I'll get the cotton balls." Victoria told Meg as she backed out of the dimly lit bathroom.

"Alright." Meghan whispered back, she opened the red marker, and dipped it into the water with the dye and the blood that Victoria had brought. The red ink from the marker would darken it, and increase its scare factor.

"Got the cotton balls!" Victoria laughed menacingly, and Meghan rung her hands. "All ready!"

"Great! The blood is thick now, so just a little of the flour, and we should have some FREAKY realistic blood!"

"Right! Now, who do want to scare?" Victoria questioned.

The question seemed to stump Meghan. "I got it! I'll play the Scary music sound track on my iPod, you'll dress up like a vampire, and scare everyone at once when they wake up! We'll even put a few drops and you can draw some scars, to make it look like they were attacked! Cool huh?"

"How about we just wait for them to wake each other up, increase the scare factor?"

"Will it work?"

"I hope."

Victoria grabbed her black and blue pens and went from girl to girl drawing equally large scabs on their arms and necks, careful not to breathe in their faces, and dropped the blood around the ink slowly with the red-dyed cotton balls.

One by one the next morning, the girls awoke, and screamed about their attack marks. That little squeal was only enough to wake up one other girl, then that one screamed, then the next, until EVERYONE was awake. Finally, when everyone but Mr. and Mrs. Joust were up, the girls chatted loudly about the attack of the party vampire, and the conversing got loud enough to wake them, then they saw the marks, and they themselves were fooled, and Mrs. Joust almost had a heart attack at the sight of the blood.

Victoria and Meg laughed in the back ground, smiling and giggling, until finally, one of the girls turned around, and realized the joke.

Over all, it was a pretty fun party, but more was to come.

Maddie looked upset, but she was curling her lip slightly up, from a frown to a smirk, a playful cute smile, that made her look more like the 25 year old Victoria knew her to be, but couldn't share with Maddie for the fear that she would get nightmares or get scared, or even just be convinced that Victoria was INSANE and told her parents out of pure concern for Victoria's future well-being. As much as the thought pleased Victoria in a weird, twisted manner, she was concerned for Madison Joust, Considering that this was her 12th birthday, the year she began middle school, and Victoria could no longer quietly protect her in the "off chance" that Victoria was in her class again for the 6th year in a row, yeah, that wasn't obvious or, weird at all, right?

"How about we go outside?" One of the other girls had suggested from the hall, obviously going to wash off her pen-scars and bruises. They looked very real, almost giving Victoria a temporary illusion of REAL scars and bruises.

"That's a great idea!" Victoria urged the group.

"Yeah! Okay! What should we do?" a couple of the other girls almost said in unison.

Maddie spoke up, "We should play hopscotch tag!"

"Whu-'' Victoria and Meghan looked blankly at the excited group.

"I'll explain." Madison offered. She told how to play, the rules, and gave people their positions. Victoria was stuck with-

"Hey oh Vicky! Run that ball to the fence we can stop the play! We'll get a point" Meghan exclaimed!

Runner. Whenever a ball landed on an even number, the team playing out field had to grab the ball, give it to the runner, and the runner had to take it to an agreed location, then come all the way to the 2nd base, give, pass, kick or throw it to one of their own team, then that team member had to tag the one on the 20-square board or court. Figures.

Victoria zipped across the lawn, almost flying, but a suddenly very cold breeze, which is almost impossible for an early fall day in TEXAS where most days are above 95°, some just 90°. But a 32° wind? Not normal. Then again, neither was Victoria's life, but this? This was not normal at all. At least Victoria had friends, went to school, Parents that love her, even home work, which is just like every other 11 year old girl in the United States, just trying to fit in. But, really, the last time this kind of occurrence had happened, the Krionish were attacking a young alien's birthday. A young alien named Meghan, who soon after the attack, was abducted by guards, and had her memories erased and was given an alternate reality in which she had had an almost perfect birthday, with the gift of a camera from her mother, and 2 gift cards to Wal-Mart for $20 each. Beautiful, and that also meant that Victoria had to change the realities of the other girls that attended, the gifts they gave, which meant their parents' memories had to be altered, and so did receipts, and the clerks that sold them the gifts, so much energy, just to protect the time continuum. And now, it was happening again, but to Madison.

Victoria took a double take, and then glanced at the group, every one of them in torture from the ascending guards that watched the time go on and when something goes wrong, they intervene, and this, Madison's birthday, was an event gone wrong. Madison had not been trained, and that was Victoria's fault, not these helpless girls, not Madison, not her parents, not any of the other girl's parents, only hers, but guards didn't have to listen to her, even as the queen of Syken, and the mass ruler over the star base on Kriona, on foreign ground it sits, but still, a Syken outpost. Yet, guards had the power to overrule, like umpires in a base ball game. They have temporary power, which cannot be punished for later on. So the guards were in control, but Victoria couldn't just wait for them to leave, these girls' lives were at stake, and she, having graduated from her universities in the top class, was a highly trained Syken Queen, and had to, intervene back.

She muttered to herself, straining to think of a counter curse, to stop the guards, and maybe expose her powers, but save Madison. She circled her arms, sending full defense to her arms, glowing a bright blue, and the guards, as well as the girls, turned their heads to stare in awe, and pure shock, as she sent volts of energy jolting through the air, faster as they glide, pulling oxygen with it, stopping the breaths of girls, guards, and a couple walking their wiener dog, and stopping time with it, and ending the attack, with a gravity creating force taking all of the affected into a time hollow. This hollow was dark, making the people blink, eyes adjusting to the dim lighting from an unseen source. The girls and couple were asleep on the floor, soundly breathing, probably receiving their alternate realities, a perfect game, Madison's team winning, and Victoria missing the number 1, and giving the other team a point. The guards hovered, solemnly. Ashamed, and hurt by Victoria's electric pulse and time hollow force. This time hollow pulled out the girls, and the guards and couple, not the dog. The entry to the hollow would have crushed the dog from lack of oxygen and force of 2 gravitational sources.

Victoria yelled, "YOU IMBUSELS! How could you? It was a mindless game, and they were playing, I was playing, and You, 'Just trying to do your job' well, that is irrelevant! This girl," she gestured at Madison, "This young girl, only 12, was almost murdered because YOU had to go and mess up her birthday, yes I understand that her 12th was supposed to mark the completion of her training, but in her case, I forfeited her training, because she is weak, she can't take it. She would think me insane, and I couldn't disagree, because her mind was too vulnerable. I did this to protect her, you did it because you think you can do anything you want, which is sickening!"

"We are sorry, we were under the impression it was our duty to destroy the girl because she hadn't been trained, and you were aware of her abilities!"

"I am aware of your position, but you should be ashamed, sickened by your actions, and perhaps even disturbed. The guard post on Kriona was an outpost for HELP, not destruction, it was a post meant for in the event that a war between the galaxies was to arise, The Sykens on Earth could escape, under treaty, and protected on base that was heavily armed. Not to become a post to monitor my behaviors, or choice, or the behaviors of other teachers, or other potential students without a chance, you are filthy, disgraceful murderers!" Victoria heaved. "You are dismissed."

Losing the Training Game

Victoria slouched. It had been a hard day, testing. JOY, she thought sarcastically.

Blake, a student of Victoria's with the special power of earth and weather, followed by Ash, another girl with the same specialty powers took a seat across from Victoria, worried expressions dominated their faces.

"Vic- we gotta talk." Blake began.

"Did you just call your superior Vic?" She questioned alarmed.

"See, that's the thing, who would have guessed that you, coming up with this great LIE-''

"Lie?" Victoria was astonished at Blake's bravery with her words.

"Yes lie, you made yourself queen of a fantasy world, queen of all, queen of us, I'm through with your lies, I want the truth. Is Syken real?"

"WELL DUH!" Victoria stormed.

"I doubt it. I asked my mom, and she said there's no such thing as aliens, or Syken!"

"You told her?" Victoria felt like an untrusted failure. She wanted to slap herself. Then Blake. How many other students feel this way about her?

"Yeah, she's smart, smarter than you! LIAR!"

"You lied as well, you said you trusted me, accepted the consequences of the understanding of yourself. You took the oath that you wouldn't say anything about aliens, your powers, or Syken or any other galaxies to anyone but approved ALIENS." Victoria looked at Blake as if she was talking to a third-grader who spelt "Cat" "Kate"

"Well sorry, I had a nightmare, and I got scared of that guy we had a lesson on yesterday, and his raid, I'm sorry!"

"Okay, so just because you have a bad dream, you TELLTHE LARGEST SECRET OF YOUR LIFE TO A MERE MORTAL?"

"Mortal? Weren't you listening? I don't believe in aliens anymore!"

"Fine. And you? Ash?"

"I agree with Blake, Syken is a lie."

Victoria grew angrier by the second, her class was abandoning her for MORTALS? Who did they think they were? Asking their 'mommies and daddies' if 'aliens' exist and accepting the ridiculous scripted response of 'no.'

Victoria accepted the circumstance. She knew this was going to happen, but was too scared to jinx herself by admitting it. She cast the charm. The same charm she used on Cal. Oh Cal, how she missed him and how she missed their potential future. Victoria knew the rules though, she didn't have a choice. Her thoughts disgusted her.

Victoria sat, crying. She was down to 3. May, Colt, and Olive. Oh how she longed to have Cal back, her heart ached. The loss of 2 students had down-rated her teaching status, and caused an up-roar in Syken. The other Aliens, The other teachers that taught around the Earth, were confused and scared that they had reached the age that was bad for teaching, the age they would lose their successful students as well, everyone worried, and Victoria was completely alone. No one else was going through anything anywhere close or even remotely similar, she was alone, even while surrounded by teachers of all kinds, she felt scared. She might lose her job for this, or her pride, wait, she had already lost that. What on Earth was she going to do? Wait, she wasn't on Earth, She was in Syken so,

What on Capital Planet was she going to do?

Seeing People New

Victoria streamed through the halls, surrounded by other 5th graders. Ugh! People could be so annoying! Why did they all want to sit with her on the bus? Because there was a scavenger hunt at the museum , and Victoria was the smartest kid in 5th grade, right next to Colt, and of course, Victoria's rival, enemy, and a very rude girl over all (in fact so rude Victoria was surprised she was as popular as a stick!), Sage. She was short, skinny, dark-haired and dark-eyed, and LOVED FLIP FLOPS! I don't get it! Victoria Thought, How can someone so rude be so popular! She sickens me, yet reminds me of Hannah Montana! Victoria laughed at this last thought. But the sound of kids screaming that they wanted her to be their museum buddy, awakened her from her fantasy. She turned to see a wave of children each one wanting to be her buddy, and yet, only 1 stuck out to her. Cal.

The way he leaned against the wall, not a care on his face, he was tall, like Victoria, and seemed to be talking to another boy, Jake, that was also a popular student, and was Cal's best friend. Victoria dreamed of him almost every night, reliving their 1st and last kiss, in an open field, and then the iciness of his lips when she froze time and his un-living-un-dead body frozen in time with all of the clocks in the world. This nightmare haunted and hurt her, scaring her, making her sweat buckets, and cry so much her eyes hurt. She remembered every detail of their last conversation, and couldn't wait for a chance to have a new last one, then a new one, and another, on and on and on. So she went. She broke the crowd and walked straight to him, to the wall, head high, then asked firmly, yet hopefully politely enough to be affective, if he would be her museum buddy.

"Well, do you?" She asked, waiting, hopeful, biting her lip.

"Sure, uh, Victoria right?" Cal replied in his voice as smooth as honey, which, by the way, always made Victoria's heart ache melt, every time he said her name.

They boarded the bus and waited. It wasn't long before Cal's Ex-girlfriend Emma Lynn got on the bus and walked right past, blushing in scarlet shades as she saw them together, then weeping quietly next to her buddy, Colt, who, being Colt, immediately saw the chance to put his arm around her, and comfort her. She melded into his side, tears like rushing rivers falling from her perfectly blue eyes, both arms taking the chance to squeeze Colt closer, to be her savior from her; the devil-girl stealing her Ex-boyfriend and still lingering hope, Cal. Victoria was it? Well 2 can play at that game.

Emma Lynn leaned away from Colt, who took his arm off her shoulders and followed her eyes until she was looking straight into his. Crystal. That perfect shade of hazel and green, like emeralds, Emma thought, handsome eyes. She formed a plan, then sprung the idea.

"Colt, would you go out with me if we were 16 and in high-school?"

"I'm not sure, I've never been in that situation." Colt replied, making Emma giggle.

"Well, then would go out with me if we were liked each-other and weren't willing to wait?" She egged on.

"Yes I would. Your heart is a beautiful shade of rainbow tie-dye, with blood pumping red as a rose, and a face soft as snow, I would. Would you?"

"Okay, corny as that sentence was, I loved it. I wake up feeling ugly, I mean, every girl does, we get self-conscious sometimes, and we feel like no one loves us, except our moms." She laughed.

"So you'll be my- uh, you know, girl-f-f-f-friend?" Colt stammered nervously.

"Of course!" Emma lied, "Why not?"

The Buzz

Emma and Colt were an item. Everyone in the 5th grade new it before they reached the museum. Cal and Victoria were almost together. Everyone knew that before they reached the museum. Colt wished he was Victoria's boyfriend, instead of Cal. Only Colt new this.

When they unloaded the bus, Cal popped.

"Victoria, people are starting to talk. They think were an item!" Cal spoke, half-excited half worried of Victoria's possible reactions.

"Yeah! Well, if you think that it's okay were an item, I can confirm!" Victoria replied, this time all-worried about Cal's possible reactions.

"Well, Shyaeh! Uh, yeah, if you want us to be, I guess, shaw!" Cal stuttered.

"Cool! Were an item! Ahh! I never have been in a real relationship before!" Victoria lied. She knew it was safe because Cal had no memories of their Syken days. "I'm so excited! So now I have to ask, will you go to the silver and gold dance with me?"

"Uh, yeah! But, won't you be embarrassed? I mean, with your mom and stuff?" Cal wondered.

"Oh, no, you're right! My mom is super embarrassing! Dang it! But I have a plan, I'll tell her to stay in the gym, and get her talking to my neighbor or someone then we can dance in the middle of the room, where only the surrounding crowd can see us!"

"Wow, you think fast!" Cal was impressed!

"Well, that's me!" She beamed, and then turned around, facing where they were going, and that 'where' happened to ace first into an opening door.

Play the Dating Game

Cal was there, and Olive, her hair falling over the sides of her face, perfect blonde. They were looking down at her, she realized.

She sat up. Hands on the floor, holding her up, legs outstretched, head swirling, and kids laughing. A teacher, who?

Uh, Mr.? No.

Mrs.? No. was trying to quiet the laughing group.

Then who? Oh forget that! What happened? She thought. And apparently aloud, because Olive replied almost immediately.

"You ran into a door!"

"I noticed!" Victoria replied.

"Good! Well, you've been out for at least 5 minutes, and we were waiting, and so is the museum, they were going to roll a movie, and now everyone is waiting for you. SO GET UP!" Olive demanded, grabbing her arms, jerking her upright.

"Sorry that I ran into a door I didn't know was opening and held up your entertainment!"

"It's okay!" Olive moaned, "But I wish you could have gotten up sooner!"

"Hey! Rude!" Cal Mentioned, "That's my girlfriend you're talking too!"

Everyone in the room gasped, and hushed whispers flooded the crowd. From person to person, on and on. Now everyone in the 5th grade knew.

Victoria boarded the bus. Cal behind her, holding her waist, watching her step. "Wouldn't want my new gal to fall!" He had mentioned ever so sweetly.

"Thanks Cal, you're an awesome boyfriend!" She bit her lip and smiled, and Cal thought, for a split second, she was perfect. Her hair fell so perfectly on her shoulders, cut in its magnificent layers, her dark brown eyes, deep as the ocean, and sparkling as a 7up. Her body, thin, and curved, light and perfect, no one like her.

Of course, on the bus ride, people laughed, giggled, all talking about 'Cal and Vicky' 'Cal and Victoria' Cal and Vic' on and on. The hush didn't stop with the bus either, it trailed the new couple all day long, fortunately, there was newer, more exciting news the next day.

"OMG, did you hear about Colt and Emma Lynn?"

"Oh my God! Colt and Emma Kissed!"

"Did you hear? Colt kissed Emma!"

All day long. Colt and Emma, Emma and Colt, his hand around her waist, her arm, waving and hugging him close. Tighter and tighter. All day long.

But no news lasts forever, unless it's today's news. "OMG! Cal and Victoria are going to the Silver and Gold dance together!"

"Cal and Vicky, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g!"

"First comes love, then comes- wait what comes next?"

And the games went on. Cal and Victoria this, Colt and Emma that, Cal this, Victoria that, Colt this, Cal that, Emma this, Emma that, until the last bell of 2010.

Colt vs. Cal-Who wins Victoria's heart?

Yep, that's what it said. In big bold letters on the front page of the school's 7th grade newspaper too! Great! Now Victoria was a prize to be won! Colt vs. Cal, Cal vs. Colt. It was Tuesday. The school had just gotten back in session from the winter holiday break. The break where Cal and Victoria went to the Silver and Gold Starlight dance together on New Year's Eve. The Dance including a mad rush to find Victoria, and Cal and Colt exchanging some frightening information.

"So, you're dating Victoria." Colt said.

"Yes I am." Cal Said. "I noticed."

"Why? What is there about her? Huh? She's pretty, smart, polite, confident, but what made you fall for her?"

"Everything. Her eyes, her body, her self-pride, and as you said, she's smart, pretty, polite, confident, and more! She's almost perfect!"

"Well, maybe I like her! Dude! Not Cool! We were best friends! But then on the bus that day, I- no, Emma Lynn, she, she was crying, and I comforted her, but it spiraled, and, then, poof! We were an item! But then, YOU! You just had to go and steal Victoria's heart! She loves ME!"

"Yeah, okay, you keep telling yourself that!" Cal assured him sarcastically, then turned to Victoria just as a slow dance was starting. "Care to dance?"

"Yeah, sure!" Victoria smiled, she put her arms on his shoulders. Then was the first time Cal took in her full beauty, starting with her feet, so smooth, and her toes, so shimmery, in the dim light. The other 5th graders with their dates surrounded the 2 couples, dancing in the packed gym. But they were invisible to Cal, He was just beginning to take in her legs. Thing, strong, no fat, her knees, almost invisible, her dress, tightly fitted, and very small, its dark weave of red and blue, a magnificent royal purple, hugging her curved body. Starting 2 inches above her knee, the dress began, and it stopped 3 inches below her neck. Hanging from 2 3cm straps that put together the whole design. Her shoulders, so soft, leading to her arms, perfect in length, to her frail hands, smooth as silk, and nails, painted dark magenta as the stylist at Marshall's had recommended. Her face, glowing like the moon, softer than her hands, and her lips, perfect pink, naturally, and eyes, as he had always said, like bottomless chocolate lakes, creamy and smooth, with a little light night sprinkle, making them shine. Brighter than the sun, clearer than a cloudless day, cooler than a perfect 70° day, with a nice steady breeze, under an apple tree in blossom. Her hair, rolling in wavy curls with a soft shine that completes her this night. This night so perfect before the DJ says-

"Guys, see a girl you wish you were dancing with?" He said."Go grab her, for the second part of the song, you can cut in on anyone but your own date!" The question set of Colt. He took it as if it was directed at him.

Colt Whirled around, tapped Cal's shoulder and cut in. "So, Victoria," He began. "Do you really like Cal? With all of your beautiful heart?"

"Yes, I do. He is so perfect for me, so pure, and so polite!" Victoria replied, hoping to shatter any hoped of Colt's that he could take her and she would be his, not Cal's, and Cal would have to fall for Emma Lynn eventually. Colt straightened his back, so he too, would be considered tall, and good-postured, like Cal.

"Well, then you won't mind my asking, what made you fall? His height? Abilities in school? Money? Because if it's money you want then I-''

"You think I'd like someone for money? You sicken me! Why would you say something like that!" Victoria almost hollered, and slapped Colt. Loud enough for Cal to hear. He walked over to Colt and Victoria.

"Is there a problem Cal?" Colt questioned, with a little too much pride.

"Yes there is. What did you say to her? You aren't her date after all! She's mine okay, so lay off!" He cut in and Victoria held him closer than ever, an evil look in her eye, glancing at Colt.

"Uh, Cal, you aren't allowed to cut in on your own date!"

"Too bad! She wants to dance with me!" Cal bragged. Soon after, the song ended. A pop song came on, and everyone started dancing to the musical styling of Lady Gaga. Just as the song hit the bridge from the 2nd chorus to the echo phase, Cal asked, "Do you want a cookie and some punch?"

"Sure!" Victoria called back, still dancing. Cal walked to the decorated Table, covered in glitter, and assorted snacks. He grabbed 2 plates and put 2 cookies on each. Then asked the chaperone if he would hold them, and carry them to where his date was because he was carrying punch. The chaperone agreed, and held the plates. Cal grabbed the punch scoop and filled the cups.

Φ

Back on the dance floor, Victoria dances with Emma Lynn after Colt offers to get her punch and cookies. Emma turns for a moment to greet a friend also close to her, and Victoria is snatched! A guard from the Krionish outpost and 3 others had been monitoring the dance and were waiting for the right moment to grab her. They succeed.

Cal comes back to floor and asks around to see if she went to the bathroom or something, but no one has seen her. Cal tells the chaperone to hold onto the plates and punch at the table on one of the seats and runs to get Colt to help him find Victoria.

Colt agrees but tells Cal that if he finds her, he gets to kiss her on the dance floor, no boy-to-boy penalties.

Cal agrees.

Φ

"Have you found her?" Cal asks when he sees Colt walking with a relieved, yet still frightening expression.

"No, but I think I know what happened."

The guards were still watching, understanding that Cal, the 1st released student of Victoria's had a locked memory, which meant someone who was re-training him, or was telling him about Syken, or Powers, or the rest, would unlock his memories, and his Syken blood could flow again. Colt was violating his treaty of release. His release did not include mind-erasing, but a simple signing of a peace-treaty saying he wouldn't continue his art, or discuss it. He just violated the WHOLE TREATY.

"Cal, do you remember that thing we used to do in 3rd grade, with Victoria, and May, and me, and Olive? That universe? That world? Your... powers?"

Cal looked jolted. His eyes rolled a devilish red, and his mouth hung open. The hallway the 2 stood in was long, and quiet. Only Cal and Colt populated the corridor. "Yes. Yes I- I- I do. And I had powers, and the field, that day, and Victoria, she liked me the whole time, they asked me if I- I- loved her. But not with my Human, Cal heart, My Syken heart. I said yes. And, she kissed me, long, and hard, then she froze time, and, and…" He falls. Hard to the floor, hard and fast. His eyes still red, and irritated, as if he woke up from sleeping for years. 5 to be exact. Yes, 5 years. 3 years since it happened. His memory had been locked. 2 years without Victoria with him. 2 years alone, clueless, lost. And he didn't even know it. About 2 months with her. So 5 years and 2 months.

"So, that's what I think happened. Someone from, there, snatched her." Colt said. "And we need to team up, to find her."

Φ

Cal in Space

Colt rammed against Cal, knocking him to the ground, wondering, how did she do it? Training us? Must have driven her mad! And it had. He was trying to get Cal to remember everything, the field trips, the work, the tests, the challenges, and the secrets.

"COME ON CAL!" Colt urged. "You have to remember! We went to Syken to study for our King Gluten Exam, and I quit because I was confused, and I didn't want to get caught hanging out with a bunch of freak-shows!"

"Yes, I remember! Now please! Get off me!" Cal strained under Colt, still laying on him, hands on his shoulders, in push up position.

"Great, now also, do you remember how to transport to Syken?"

"Yeah, that's hard to forget. Fingers in the brim of your ear, rotate, and roll." Cal said confidently.

"So, let's go! Now, we need to target the palace on Capital Planet." Colt paced. "So, what do we tell the guards? We were at a middle school dance and we lost the queen. We think she may have been snatched, and by the way, her snatchers might be murderers?"

"No way, too long. Too informative. But how do we convince them to let us in?"

"We say we are former students of Victoria's and ask if she was brought home!" Colt hoped.

"No way, more like 'We wanted to know if you know if the Queen, Valezonya was returned to her palace recently.'"

"But that makes us look suspicious! And too many IFS!" Colt nagged. "But it's all we got, so, let's go."

Φ

"It's been so long since I was drifting in a transport tube!"Cal said in awe of the miles long tube with the horizontal escalator taking them at warp speed to a destination millions of light years away.

"I know!" Colt replied, also dumb-stricken. "I feel like I'm in that airport in Florida, you know, the one that is super long, and goes up those ramps, where the whole airport is motorized, and you do everything depending on the situation! Like Exit to your left, step onto the left isle port, or Planes to the right, 1-12 on the 2nd right, 13-30 on the 1st right."

"Yeah!" Cal laughed. He was surprised he could make and laugh at jokes at stake like this.

The 2 rode the tube transport for what seemed like hours. Only, when they reached their destination, they discovered they had been riding for duration of 16 seconds.

They gazed at the palace. Glowing bold and fierce. Red light strong enough to cast a shadow on Earth, millions of miles away. Colt and Cal sat at the base of a majestic tower, turrets a mile high at least, guards surrounding and patrolling the gardens, so vast and luxurious it would give the white house garden a run for its money! The golden, grand, colossal, palace. Cal and Colt walked to the nearest guard and Colt took charge of the situation almost immediately.

"Sir, I'm Colt Raven, but my Syken name is Creight Roald. Is the Queen Valezonya home?"

"Sir, Queen Valezonya hasn't been in reign of Syken for 12 years. King Roald has ruled for 11 of those, and for 1/12, we were a democracy, the universe was tired of a dictator-ship. It is against the law to insult King Roald. But you are a minor, so I'll let you slide. But your name, Creight Roald, you, you even look like his majesty! Your friend however will be arrested. GUARDS!" The man called. Guards from all over the property came to his side and grabbed Cal by the arms and legs. He struggled, but just COULDN'T break away.

Colt was also grabbed, but he was carried, and was taken through a vast door, down a hallway as massive as the IKEA store! A light was at the end of the massive hall, with music blaring in the Syken language. A booming voice called out something that sounded like "Byie, Hohvess, Re-it-err-ate-vorm!" with a lot of emphasis and A strong British accent in the 'vorm' part.

Victoria was locked. Locked in a tall tower high above the palace, waiting for a rescuer. No such luck. The dank and dark tower stunk of feet and old French fries. She was tired, hungry, but she new why she was here. She had been posing as queen for 12 Syken years.5 Earth years!(think, 2nd grade meet, Cal is realeased+5 years= Dance in 7th grade) Since the Armageddon. The take-over that had shaken the flimsy foundation of the School-Secretary's office. How am I going to get out of here? She said to herself. But apparently not just to herself..

"I've been trying for years, never found a way out, I am only let out to work, and that's why they keep me alive." Said a voice from a particularly dark corner of the cell, "Try all you like, but you'll go crazy before you find a way out."

Victoria jumped, slowly turned and saw the creature as it emerged from the shadows.

Victoria turned around, to face the corner of the room where the voice had come from, where IT was. It had long cracked nails and pale skin, as if starved from the sun. Its clothes (if they were clothes) hung off of it like rags. The creature was thin, thinner than Emma Lynn at that- and that's saying something! As she studies the creature, she notices that it has HANDS not claws. Victoria realized that it's HUMAN LOOKING and it is clothing that I see. She looks at the face. Dirty, and blood-caked, but recognizable, it was….

"May?" She gasped, terrified.

Φ

Talking

"Yes, it's me. Now I suppose you're wondering how I got here…" Her raspy voice trailed off. "Do you remember the last time you saw me was-''

"After our lesson on Alien Deaths but, that doesn't make any sense unless..."

"Yes, on my walk home 2 guards swooped me up and I was plunged into darkness. I was in a thick velvet robe, and the youngest guard kept apologizing to me saying "Sorry miss, his majesty's orders and I didn't know that your king- I mean Queendom had been over thrown, and so I said I hated you for sending guards on me, and they arrested me because I said I'm friends with her instead of him, because the ruler now is a king."

"What were they going to do with you?" Victoria wanted to know.

"I don't know, but I wasn't going to be arrested until I said-''

"Yeah yeah, I get it, I get it." Victoria cut her off.

"Explain. WHY WOULD YOU LIE TO US LIKE THAT?"

"Because I was overthrown during one of our classes, and I was worried I wouldn't get the same respect just as a teacher. So I posed. And guards found out, and found a way to get to me. At the silver and gold dance."

"Awe! Did you get to dance with- uh- um, oh YEAH! Cal?"

"Yeah, and Colt. The DJ put out a word for a portion of the dance where you can cut in on any couple except your own until the dance is over."

"And Colt took it as an opportunity to-''

"Yeah." May gestured her hand to a fan and stopped Victoria. "I'm so sorry."

"You have nothing to be sorry for!"

"Yes I do, I lied."

"About?"

"Not knowing a way out."

"Oh really..."

Discovery Central

Victoria waited. And waited. And waited some more. The oil-greased floor was dark and sticky, leaving mud and grease on her clothes and body. Her hair was beginning to smell like a man that hasn't showered in weeks. Her legs were slimy with the muck and filthy in the grey goop. The walls were no better, covered in the same filth and had terrifying bugs crawling all over. Victoria promised herself they were an illusion, but when one landed on her, the illusion was over. She screamed, and apologized, sad, and lonesome, even though she knew she was sharing a cell with May, May had gone to do work, and when Victoria begged that she could work too,(just to get out of the filth) the guard slapped her with the metal back of his glove, leaving a puss-covered scar on her cheek.

Φ

Colt waited. "May I share some information sir?"

"SILENCE!" a voice whispered from behind, loudly and strongly, full of authority and pride.

"Sir, I have information to help you, King Roald. I know of 2 Sykens here that in fact, can be used against each other. Cal Hans and Victoria Grazen are in love sir."

"Oh really? The ex-queen? Who betrayed me for some mortal? Or, should I say, Locked student? AND YOU UNLOCKED HIM!" The king bellowed. "WHY?"

"Sir, I was under the influence Victoria was still ruler, no offence to you or your palace. I have not been a student for some time, and was only looking for my friend's missing girlfriend, who I know had been taken prisoner, and, after all of this, I wish to serve you. Honest."

"This is appealing. I accept. What is your name boy?" King Roald boomed.

"Sir, my name is Creight Roald. I am your son."

Φ

"Victoria? It's May, I'm back from work!" May looked more strained than she had sitting in her mucky corner, in her filthy rags. She was now robed in a smooth cotton gown that was very loose fitting. The service management had granted her a new dress for her hard work and loyalty.

"Where did you get that?"

"Service management! I got a new cloth!" She twirled outside on the cold, but clean floor, before a guard came up and opened the cell.

"Get in pretty!" He said, annoyed and tired. But his voice seemed kind of young for him, and he was short for a palace guard…

"Cal?" Victoria exclaimed, excited to see her friend had come.

"No ma'am I am Sir Cal, A Prison Guard to the Majestic King Roald."

"Since when?" Victoria asked, alarmed.

"Since I walked into the palace and realized what I needed. I begged, prayed, and asked millions of times if instead of wasting me away in a cell, they would hire me, for no pay, and work for the King in exchange for my life."

"So you belong to that Nut-Job in the big corridor chair?" Victoria shrieked.

"Yes ma'am. I'm sorry for your misconception of me"

Victoria sat back. Rolling on the muck, hoping this was all a nightmare. No such luck.

Φ

Colt arose from the floor, not daring to glance at his ruler. "You may look at me." The king hollered from his throne, at least 40 feet off the ground.

"Thank you s-'' Colt began, but he was too taken by the appearance of his dominator. The man, resembled Colt's father in so many ways he was almost convinced it WAS his father.

Φ

"Come To the Palace! 6 o'clock Friday! Be there at 6 or NO ENRTY! Watch the Ex-Queen Fight or her love!"

Yep, you bet that's what it read. On every poster in the galaxy too, advertising that Valezonya was going to be punished at the stake to fight for her captured love.

"6? BE THERE!"

"See you at the game!"

"Are you going to Capital Planet Friday?" All day long people talked about the palace this, or that, or Valezonya punished? I'll be there! All day, people bought tickets to the greatest show in Syken, and Valezonya and Cal were Co-stars.

Φ

Valezonya's cell was plunged into the darkness, and a voice boomed from an unknown source high above her. "So, the EX-queen can't find a way out of her own trap?"

"What do you mean Roald?" Victoria snapped.

"What? Has 12 years really knocked you under? You don't remember your patented -digi-cell? Your own creation with an emergency exit? You still haven't found it?" Roald laughed, but he was cautious not to look away from the digi-security camera in the muck corner of the cell.

"What? You put me in a digi-cell? I hadn't even thought to try it! She stood and reached for the wall, but her hand slipped right through, revealing that the walls were digital images projected at the right wave length. She crawled from the muck covered floor to the digi-wall and fell through, but she had forgotten, she was on top of a tower that only held a cell, and iron doors on a metal hinge with 2 feet of path space. She had fallen out the back, where there wasn't any 2 feet of stone surrounding, it was open air. And Syken had a strong gravitational pull.

Fallen

Victoria fell. Faster as she descended, wind blowing her toward the tower, her arms scratched against the brick as it caught her hand or arms as she flailed around in terror. Why hadn't she gone out the front? Because she had forgotten. She had spent a whole month in the solitary confinement and no one had let her out. This was the first outside look she had had of the world since she was thrown in. I guess the bugs were an illusion too, the way HE kept people away from the walls, by disgusting them with bugs and snakes and locusts, terrifying bugs, nasty.

She suddenly had a realization, he was trying to kill her! He knew she would jump and fall to her doom! That's why he told her! Execution Process Order 327, former royalty cannot be held prisoner for longer than 5 months. Yep, 12 Syken years did that to you. 12 in Syken were 5 on Earth. Time worked different in the galaxies.

She turned her head to glance at her descending target, the ground. But she was too late, and she landed head first on the pavement. Not in the lush, green, soft, garden 5 feet away. She was paralyzed. Petrified. Alive, but barely. She had cracked her head open, puss and blood painting the cement. A guard rushed to her. But not just any guard, Colt. Cal followed him closely. Colt had been promoted to head of defense, and had agreed to follow King Roald, not his former Queen Valezonya, or Victoria's instruction. But Colt was under treaty, that he now knew had expired around the time Cal had been released. He was free to be Colt, the Syken genius, spells away from level 20 completion, 1level to conquer. He had to do something! His friend, his dreams, his…. Love had just fallen from a tower more than a mile high, and she was dying at his feet. He picked up her limp and injured body, Cal helping. The sight of her had shaken their thoughts, realizing they had been manipulated by a curse, or charms, making them believe in Roald, and Colt getting greedy.

He was so sorry to have let her go unsaved, so sorry to have let Cal go insane, and accepting a cruel job that in a turn, had hurt his friend. He felt his heart sink. She was coughing now, sputtering, and blood dripping more down her chin with every cough, like Clara Barton in the war. Red as a rose, and dark as a night blanket, she wheezed, choking on the thick liquid filling her mouth and spreading from her cranium's fracture opening her head and making her look deadly, less innocent.

He ran to the building, Cal holding her feet, him holding around her torso, Cal angry he couldn't hold her head. Her 21st century Earth clothes were covered in muck. She was disgusting, yet her face was still beautiful. She was disturbed, tossing and whining, unaware her carriers were saviors and friends.

Into the medic's room, they lay her onto a bed, head at the wrong end, feet elevated, and the 2 running for a nurse. They returned about a minute later. Cal knelt next to his girlfriend, crying, tears staining her cheeks. He touched her cheek, smooth, but oily from her unhealthy lack of hygiene equipment to keep her sanitary.

The nurse hooked her up to the life support equipment, holding her arm up to get off the filth that had collected on her arms from the cell. She looked at the boys, sorrow covering her face, reader in hand. Quietly, she spoke the truth about their fallen friend.

Family Crisis

"Where is she?"Carol Grazen worried. She had been searching for a week for Victoria. The police were aware and had also recognized that 2 other boys, and 1 girl, have been snatched as well. The other children had indeed gone missing, but the girl, May, had been missing for 4 years. Her DNA trail just stops in the hallway to her house. It had been an afternoon in the late summer, and she had met up with some friends in a nice field with a lot of trees and on her way to her house, or in that general direction, her trail stops, and no more DNA had been left. It wasn't like someone had grabbed her, and she wasn't near a tree, or under one, or even within 10 feet of one! Her trail just, disappears. So do Victoria's, Cal's, ad Colt's. All snatched, or left in the same 10 minute time slot. Just, bam. Gone.

Her mother paced. 2 other moms did the same. All of their husbands had gone looking and now each mother worried alone in the deserted gym, and an occasional shout would start a 30 second argument then it would die off, and they would go back to tapping, pacing, or quivering in silence.

Mr. Grazen came back into the gym, Mr. Raven, Colt's father followed. Mr. Hans was nowhere in sight. Cal's mom worried more. NOW HER HUSBAND TOO? Ugh. Men.

"We can't find any of them! But, we did find this." Mr. Grazen said. He held out a black robe he had found in the girl's restroom, and a hairbrush known to be Victoria's. She had also left her purse, with her cash, and Cal had left his wallet. Colt had left a pen, but nothing valuable. No clues, no traces, the FBI and the police had scanned the areas for finger prints, and came back with fruitless information. No foot prints, hairs, skin cells, or anything. Only the items.

Cal's mom, looking very desperate, took out a pen and pad and wrote down the items.

Black robe

Hairbrush

Purse

Money

Wallet

Pen

She tried writing them in a line.

?

Different order maybe?

?

No luck. Maybe she was desperate? Yes.

Wanted to be the hero? Yes.

Wanted to go home after sitting in a gym for a day, and a night with only the pillows from the library and other classes? Yes again.

She put away her pad and pen and wrung her hands. What was going on?

She stood, walked to Colt's mom, and sat down on the wall bench. Colt's mom, Sydney, joined her. The two sat in silence, and soon Victoria's mom joined them and quietly compared thoughts. Each one bragging about their child's intellect and knowledge, and maturity swearing it couldn't be their fault. Of course, they disagree. Cal and Victoria's mother fighting about how it must have been Cal's fault, since Cal and Victoria were together, and then both of them blaming Colt's mom for his son being jealous of Cal and organizing the whole thing.

May's mother had arrived with the FBI at noon that day, and no one had spoken to her. After a long argument, Victoria's mom reluctantly stood and walked over to her, and May's mom melted into her side. She cried so hard she went pale as her tears, clear, and then almost white matching her drained face. Icy hot streams of water flooded her eyes, making her look like a kindergartener saying bye to her mom on the 1st day of school. Brave every now and then, then a tragic mess the next. Poor Mrs. Hymenez.

Lost

The nurse looked concerned. She watched as the boy's faces went from hopeful and terrified to stone and awe-struck. She really was gone. Victoria had left them. Gone to her stairwells, choosing wisely her path.

Silver or gold? Live again or not at all? Victoria took a step toward gold, then back at silver. The sign for "Train of Life" glowed lightly, and the red up arrow was intimidating.

She took a broad step at the silver well and leapt up, glad to see the gold stairwell disappearing below her, and she herself being swallowed by salmon pink fog. A bell rang above. She was almost to the train. She, she, she, wasn't ready.

She turned around raced the escalator trying desperately to reach the floor, she could see it, and she was faster than the escalator. Almost to the bottom, she leapt. Hitting the granite floors hard, and seeing her friends looking solemnly at her previous body. So limp and limber. Losing blood by the gallon, chest no longer rising and falling. Why had she leapt? Now her chances at life were gone. You only get one chance at riding the stairs to the top. She had given up her chance. She was now a cast off. A trained cast off with no choice but to make the best communication she could with her friends, bereaving her dead body. A tear falls from Cal's eye, and lands on the flaking, ash-like skin of Victoria. The now no-name cast off took a position behind Cal, leaning on him, but soon discovering she fell right through him. She longed to be hugging him, kissing him, talking to her love, but he just stood, blank expression dominating his face, and only his eyes tell of his sadness. Like abandoned theaters, they were dark, vacant, forlorn, and the cast off just stared into them, day-dreaming they could see her. Wishing with every drop of blood, every eye-lash, every jinx ever placed on her, everything she wore or was part of her that could be wished upon.

Cal and Colt turned, their armor clanked on their shoulders, making a loud ruckus as they strolled away, but not merrily, friendless. They were only connected now by their heritage, and the armor on their bodies. The enchanted armor meant to keep them under King Roald's will. His control. Not independent, free boys, as slaves to a common master. A master that was heartless, brutal, brave, and cruel. A master without love, a family, or dignity, just his slaves. His workers, guards, and present people without lives to live. Just time to throw away on Capital events.

All under the same impression as the guards wearing the armor, but instead of being under charm, they relied on their bodies to lift, throw, cook, clean, and receive carbon dioxide (Sykens breathe Carbon Dioxide when in Syken, not on Earth though, human bodies need oxygen, not its rival gas.), because King Roald had burnt every planet but Capital Planet to a crisp, ash-covered rock with no life to be seen other than the poor souls that live there.

They worked, and worked, 12-5 (Time works differently on Syken, 12 rawts, about 23.6 hours, and 5 days a wekk, about equal to 7 days, or one week.) to receive Carbon Dioxide generators that filter the pure-gas from the air, and are attached to the citizens like an oxygen tank for people with breathing disorders. The inhabitants looked like zombies with face masks, or carbon monsters.

Victoria's soul followed the 2, no plan, but an idea. She ran around them, and opened the door to leave the medicine hall. Both boys stopped dead in their tracks. Looking at the vacant door with no holder. They looked at the door handle, and saw no string, not latch, no hand, no nothing. Just the cold, marble handle that they had had to use Victoria's head to unlatch to open the door to the medical hall. They looked where an arm would be, and saw a translucent, not completely transparent figure standing tall, hair cascading down past its shoulders, and eyes like ice set aflame by an invisible torch. They looked longingly at the 2 boys, and then an arm of the same opacity and translucency released the door, becoming more visible as it neared the ghostly being, that beamed at the boys standing in the passageway, staring back at her. She jumped, and dashed to her friends, who ran right back to her. They laughed at themselves form trying to hug a ghost, and stood in a small group for a moment, then Cal Spoke up.

"Victoria! You, you, didn't choose a stair case! You chose to be a cast off! Why? I thought for a moment you might choose the golden escalator and just ride to your heart's content, but, you, you chose to come back as you. But, you aren't you. What are you wearing?" Cal panted after his long spewing of anxious words, finally recognizing that the cast off was a solid white gown that resembled her royal purple gown on her human body, but this dress had no straps, was not covered in muck and was of course was a different color.

It fit Victoria perfectly, as if it was sewn on her, fitting every curve, not bunched up at the curve of her waist, as if the fabric moved with her, was made especially for her, not every other girl of 11 or 12 and shopping at a Macy's for a white dress.

The 2 boys gazed in awe at their heavenly friend. Waiting for a reply. "I'm wearing a white mini dress?" Victoria said glaring down at her clothes.

"Well duh, I can see that!" Cal laughed. "What I meant was, why are you wearing that or where did you get it?"

"AHHHH! That's different Cal! I really don't know, I just have been since I died. This by the way was my entire fault. And why did you save me? I thought you had been enslaved by the evil majesty." Victoria's turn to ask the questions.

"Oh, um, I guess the charm hadn't completely knocked us under. How did you escape the cell? And why? This was your palace, you know that there isn't a surrounding path, just that little deck with the entrance then the floor hatch up to the deck from the spires." Maybe not quite Victoria's turn.

"I completely forgot! I just jumped after Roald told me that the cell I was sheathed in was just one of my patented digi-cells, yes I'm bragging about my invention, and that he was surprised I hadn't already tried and jumped."

"WHOA!" Colt began, "You invented the digi-cell? How exactly does it work? How did you get every wave length right? What about the cool effects? And what about rain? Wouldn't that break the projector? Or thunder or-''

"COLT! The scientific resources here are outstanding. You can tinker all you like. Later. Right now we have to break into the palace and get me back my crown. Victoria has returned with a plan."

Colt whispered too loud. Cal sneezed. Victoria was annoyed and upset with both of them. WHY CAN'T THEY BE QUIET EVEN WHEN THEIR LIVES DEPEND ON IT? Victoria wanted to scream. And their lives did depend on their silence, because once inside the palace grounds, the security cameras are not motion, but sound activated. So they needed to practice being quiet before they really WERE on palace property.

Victoria gave the 'Clear' signal and the trio slinked around the side of the fence into the darkness of an ally, where waiting for them, was a guard. A guard with a gun. A gun pointed at Colt.

Abandonment Issues

Colt, Cal, and Victoria froze. Colt was held at gun point, and the guard looked just as terrified as they did. Almost young, tough, but soft somewhere. Victoria put her arms together in front of her, and spoke quietly.

"We don't mean any harm, so please sir, let us be on our way." She noted confidently, and then took a bold stride forward.

"Y-Y-You ar-r-r-rn't g-g-g-going any w-w-where." The guard stammered, unsure if he should be showing such authority to 2 boys who looked his age, but stronger, and a cast off who looked like ex-queen Valezonya Riata Leigh Grazen.

"Bold," Colt added his words to the conversation hanging in the thick alley air. "You've got some guts for a mindless, charmed, palace guard!"

The guard's eyes went the same deadly red as Cal's had in the school hallway almost 6 months ago. That dark, dangerous red that had also claimed Victoria's dying soul only yesterday. When the trio had set off from the medicine hall without their armor, swords, a map, food, ideas, a plan, or Victoria's body. Just the lone cast off who wasn't ready. The lone cast off who had a video graphic memory, and remembered everything she saw with sound, subtitles, and name tags. PERFECT!

"Sir, we are just travelers, we wish to continue our walk peacefully, and only left the main street out of bad directions!" With her hands behind her back now, Victoria conjured up a sheet of parchment paper with poorly written directions to some neighborhood house on Capital Planet. "Look as these here, directions!" She gave the parchment to the guard who took it dramatically, snatching it from her, and reading it with a school-bully-like scowl on his face, reading quickly.

"Well, I'm sorry to have bothered you Mrs. Loretta. Please spare me." The guard bowed before Victoria, shame stricken.

The trio walked on, and as soon as out of ear shot of the fooled guard, Cal stopped Victoria and asked her what the paper had said.

"And why did he say Mrs. Loretta? She's the ruler of a separate universe!"Cal bombed.

"I had to pretend to be royalty to get past the guard. You should just go with it." Victoria shot back.

"You also had to pretend to be our queen for 5 years." Colt stammered, scared what Victoria might say or do to him.

"You are still choking on that are you? Fine! I won't help you. You can go be slaves to the majestic, sweet, innocent, KING ROALD and waste your lives away working for a heartless master who will kill without any guilt because I was acting." Victoria practically screamed at them, and her yell echoed through the greasy, filthy alley.

It reminded Victoria of the cell, dank and slimy.

Only, this alley was much larger and longer, and not on a tower a mile high.

Victoria stomped off, leaving Cal and Colt to wallow in guilt. The two remaining soldiers wanted with every drop of blood to follow her, chase her, and keep her for them, not any creepy scum that snatches her. What would they do now? Or her? Where is she going? What will she do? Too many questions. What do you do when your guide abandons you? What do you do when your guide is your only hope at survival? Food? Water?

Life?

Φ

Victoria wanted to turn around, apologize, be with her friends, and stay protected, at least safer. Nowhere was as safe as it once was, Wizards, not aliens, roamed the night. Monsters lurked, like warewolves, creatures of the moons reign. King's guards wouldn't buy her traveler story much longer, someone must have noticed her absence from the cell. That nurse might have been interrogated, millions of possibilities. None of them pleasant.

Victoria dreamed about Cal and Colt turning around, admitting they were wrong, and coming with her. This dream stayed a dream. As she walked on, the night's blanket became darker, thicker, but unlike a blanket, the darker and thicker, the colder. Victoria was shivering now, teeth going at it like the chattering cartoon teeth of Scooby-Doo in a haunted castle or in a cave with only one flashlight.

Light suddenly poured into the alley, blinding Victoria. A voice shouted from behind the light, "We know who you are! Cooperate and we won't hurt you." a deep voice boomed, followed by a terrifyingly cold laugh, "Or your little friends."

Caught

As a cast off, only people that know who you are, where you are, and what you are can see cast offs, or ghosts. First thing any ghost hunter must understand to catch the "Supernatural".

So naturally, the guard behind the light knew who she was, where she was, and what she was.

Who: Valezonya Riata, Former Syken Ruler, and Escapee of a Royal Digi-Cell.

What: A trained cast off, almost transparent.

Where: Dead-center of an alley under King Roald's reign, and supervision.

Yep, she had forgotten that too, her friends were royal guards! Or now, ex-guards. She had also forgotten that they were halfers. Half under the curse of the king, half aware of their lives beyond the charm.

They had given her up. For what? Or why? Victoria was curious.

Freedom?

Money?

Authorities' intimidation?

That last one worried Victoria most. I they had given all of her information, they must've thought they would be rewarded with something. Like a fair trade. But they wouldn't apparently be getting that trade, for the guardsman had said "or your friends" which meant he had intended to hurt Cal and Colt if she didn't cooperate with the guards.

A man on a ghost horse rode forward proudly, as if catching a bandit with a reward on his life for more than imaginable. Victoria knelt before the tall man on horseback, pleading for mercy, at least as fake and convincingly as possible at the moment. She whipped up some fake tears and glared up at the king's sentinel.

She wanted to speak, but something about the guards' eyes was familiar. Soft hearted but stone on the edges. Much like Cal's, but they looked to old and had too much mileage showing to be his. So did his face. He must've noticed Victoria staring, taking in every detail, because he turned his head quickly, looking back, worried. He spoke loudly and with much force. Like Cal, but again, older, more mileage. His voice half wavered, half was pure and stone, as if set into granite as the words left his lips.

He reached down, not daring to glance at her, and attempted to lift the cast off, forgetting she is just an image. Like a projector-less hologram. His hand slipped through, making him fall in shock. He hit the ground hard, eyes fluttering. Trying to keep focused, his eyes rolled around, looking everywhere, but especially at Victoria, or Valezonya as he knew her.

"Val, I'm sorry." He spoke softly, "Sorry for hurting you, frightening you, locking you out, then in, then out again. Sorry for the manipulations, can you forgive me?"

"Who are you? You look like Cal!" She stuttered. "I mean, hum, uh, Cade!'

"What?" He began. "You really can't put the pieces together yet? After all of the hints?"

"What hints?" Valezonya accused rudely, and bravely.

"I'm Cade's father, King Roald, and your ex-husband."

"Liar! Creight is your son!" Victoria shot back, just as hard as before.

"Oh, you haven't gotten it either! Creight and Cade are twin brothers!"

Φ

Victoria just stared in awe. So did Colt and Cal. They were now involved in the situation too. Their guards spun them around, and looked at both of them, troubled and confused expressions dominating their faces, then glancing, expressions unchanging, at the center of attention again.

"What do you mean? TWINS?" Colt screamed, shaking out of the hands of his capturer, lunging toward the divorced pair, Cal following, just as forcefully.

"I would have thought the boys would've suspected something by now!" Roald said, arm out, head and body turning to bring the boys into the conversation.

Cal and Colt knelt down next to Victoria, and Roald now sat upright as well. All of their voices dropped low. They wanted to discuss as a small group, not people in an alley, easily eavesdropped on by echoes. The three middle school students facing directly the king.

"I thought you knew boys, sorry to tell you." Roald spoke quietly, shameful.

"Dad?" tears welled up in Colt's eyes. He was not happy, but instead sickened. King Roald got the wrong impression. He reached out to hug the crying boy, but Colt went hard and faster than lightning, punched King Roald so hard and fast if you had blinked, you would have missed it.

The king shot back in fear, groaning loud enough for the surrounding slaves to him to hear and come running to his aching side.

"How dare you hurt her like that! You should have known she'd be broken! After being crushed once by the former ruler, King Henry Tutor, you just let her slip out quietly, then you backed away ferociously and hurt my friend! You will never be a father to me!" Colt screamed eyes now flooded with tears, staining his face. "And after all of that, you thought I was crying in joy? In love? You thought I would fall into you like an orphan finding his parents for the first time in 20 or more years? You are sadly mistaken." He hit the man again, making a small dagger cut Roald's side open, dumping blood onto the grimy pavement.

"I, I, I'm sorry for hurting Valezonya, I was bewitched! Money was too good. I needed help. You were useless to me! Only worrying about Tutor's children." The king spat rudely.

"That's because she was protecting them from YOU. Tutor was a great man with too many responsibilities Roald, and you know that! He only left for battle, and was pulled into a life he didn't want, and was taken from me." Victoria shot back.

Roald cowered, trying to stop the fluent bloodshed from his side, a frown showing he was begging for mercy somewhere in his swollen heart. "He didn't leave for battle; I drugged him, and attacked him. The battle was a Krionish attempt to free him. The pity they must've felt, killing him." Roald twisted his words, making him look more innocent.

"Untrue. In a diary written by one of my men guarding the tent Tutor was staying in, a soldier not the original author comes in and says that the author, Tutors best friend is dead. That he will be taking over the diary. Later written, it states in obviously the soldier's neatest writing, 'Tutor has been drugged and persuaded to join the Lorettians'(Loretta's) Force as Loretta's king and live in The keep until further notice is issued. The Joining of the universes is uncertain, for only aliens like I fight this private war'" Victoria hit Roald hard, but not physically of course, what can she use? AIR?

"Sorry. You obviously deserved better." Roald said, trying to bring guilt upon Victoria.

"If you are begging for pity and mercy, you are out of luck Roald. Creight? Would you-''

Colt swung hard, hand flat, slapping the king with the hard back of his hand, on the scaring armor protecting Colt. The sharp rivets on the glove scratched King Roald's face so hard,hard; it broke the skin, leaving what looked like a 5-clawed cat attacked him. Maybe one of his mutated beasts.

"I was going to ask you two to leave, but that works too." Victoria sighed.

"What? Were you actually going to talk to that slimy jerk?" Colt roared.

"No, just didn't want him to look ambushed."Victoria laughed, lightening the mood in the alley, where dawn was breaking, making a big entrance on a broken world.

"So were twins huh?" Cal spoke up, glancing at Colt.

"I guess so." Colt replied, almost as if sadly.

"Sweet. I have a twin!"

"Yeah, it's really not that great. You know Drake don't you? My Earth twin?"

"Yeah… So?"

"Well we fight a lot. And I don't want to wreck our friendship, or now brothership over something stupid. Drake and I haven't talked for a long time. He probably thinks I ran away with you and Vi here," Colt gestured at Victoria's figure.

"You're worried we'll end up like you and Drake?"

"Well yeah, we are twins after all!"

"Don't worry; I don't think that after tonight's surprises and Victoria's….. Death… (Cal gulped)…and our friendship and brothership that anything could break us up. Not even me dating Victoria." Cal said so smoothly, nothing was awkward.

"Really? You mean that?" Colt began to cry again.

"Of course. Brother."

The twins leaned in for a hug and embraced each other so lovingly, it was beautiful. Like magic. Each brother smiled, glad not be alone anymore on the journey through the universe.

Hiking

The brothers woke up first. Excited to see it wasn't all a dream, that night in the alley. Because when they woke up, there they were, in the alley. The guards had taken Roald home, and the King was probably still ashamed of being beat up by his son.

Colt had found a bakery run by an old man who when he saw the boy, without any explanations or any conversation what so ever, gave him a loaf of fresh baked hot bread, seeing that he was wearing a palace uniform covered in muck and grease and blood.

Colt felt bad, not paying. After all, he was a good boy. Wasn't he? Could he still be recognized as the science genius, Math wizard, and Blonde buzz-cut, perfect height for his age boy he'd always been? Or was he now a bewitched palace guard who had just emerged from a bloody battle with a ghost and fellow guard just as dirty?

Victoria was still asleep when Colt wandered back. Although she woke up not long after, when Cal started to stir.

They all at the bread for breakfast, needing to refuel from last night highly-eventful trip. They would be leaving the alley soon, heading towards the palace.

"So um, Victoria? Will Colt and I being twins effect our um, situation at all?" Cal stuttered the question.

"Well, I really don't know right now Cal. But will you two being twins effect our mission?" Victoria asked back.

"NOT AT ALL!" Colt butted in on the two sitting next to each other across a picnic table in the alley.

"Good!" Victoria replied. "GREAT! So are we all done?"

"Uh, yeah!" Cal looked around.

"Awesome. Well, we have a long trek to the Palace, so I suggest we get moving!"

Colt and Cal's faced were shocked 'trek' and 'suggest we get moving' were not what they had expected to hear from their teenage girl acquaintance

Φ

Our famous trio walks over bridges, around sky scrapers,

Through towns, cities, living on donations and other Syken's politeness. They recruit small armies in every city they cross through. At 95% of the way to the castle, the trio has been marching almost non-stop for a year. Victoria, Cal, and Colt give speeches, and more people follow when they leave whatever temporary shelter the resisting force was housed in. At this point, 164 followers are gathered, and marching along behind the leaders, Cal, Colt, and Victoria.

Mostly awake now, although some do sleep the large band of 167 eats and rests for the long trek ahead. Tomorrow, they finish the walking, and begin to take sneak-in positions around the palace walls.

Victoria sleeps next to Cal, Colt is awake talking to some of the other boys on the mission. 80/164 followers are boys under 14 Earth years. 24 are girls 14 and under, and 60 are adults with their children, or with supplies or services.

Cal and Victoria's heads are together, and their hands are tightly clasped around the other's hand. Victoria dreams of winning the battle at the palace and winning back her crown, and Cal dreams of his and Victoria's greatest moments on Earth.

Soon, Colt is settled, and is still jealous of his brother getting the smartest, funniest, and to his opinion, prettiest girl in the 7th grade.

Dawn breaks and the large army of now 230 follows the three. Step after step, towards a dream, and hopefully soon a reality.

Φ

"Cal, you take the elementary kids 9 and under around the back, or at least half way there, and dig a big hole. We need to be able to make a hasty escape if necessary." Victoria told him.

"Who am I taking Vic?" Colt rushed her.

"Colt, you take the adults to the thicket behind and around the west side of the Palace and build a sturdy fortress somewhere camouflaged to anyone who doesn't know what it is. So we can find it, but anyone not in our resistance can't." Victoria hurried this answer. "I'm taking the over 9-year olds to the 14 year olds and we're going to plan entrance."

"AWE! I wanted that job!" Colt half whined, half giggled sarcastically.

"Awe, does the little baby Colt need a nappy?" Victoria said with a lot of sarcasm, but the way she said it made it sound like 'Duz da widdle bway-by Coat weed a nappy?" making Cal and Victoria laugh, but Colt blushed.

"No! I just don't want to be alone with a bunch of old people who don't like to work!" Colt heaved.

"They do work! They cook, prepare the home, write, film, and help with pitching tents a lot! They even help with speeches sometimes!" Cal bumped Colt brotherly.

"True… SORRY OLD PEOPLE!" Colt Shouted.

"ARE you insane? You just called all of those adults OLD!" Victoria laughed.

"Oh yeah."

Cal stopped, and breathed for a second. Then he knelt down. Victoria stopped walking and turned to see Cal's face was white, almost albino. Colt did too, and knelt with his brother, his arm over Cal's shoulder. "Bud, are you okay?" Colt asked, head next to Cal's.

"No. I'm feeling extremely sick all of a sudden. It's not good." Cal bent further over, his arm now grabbing him, he looked like he was about to throw up.

"Cal, do we need to stop? Are you gonna be sick? Should I get you a can or some water?" Victoria knelt with them. The entire armada had stopped and had begun to whisper rumors and gather around the kneeling trio.

"Cal if you need help, you need to let us know okay?" Colt stuttered.

Right then and there, all over the dirt pathway the army was marching on, Cal lost his lunch.

"DUDE! What made you urp like that?" One of the boys in the crowd half shouted.

"I- I- uh, don't really know." Cal coughed and wheezed, obviously his throat burning from the acid he had just re-tasted. Victoria looked mixed. Sympathetic and disgusted, sorry and scared, and working on how to solve the predicament.

Cal stood, slowly, but he made it up. Colt and Victoria followed his lead, holding his arms, worried expressions covering both of their faces.

Even as a Cast-off, Victoria could follow him, grab things, she had become stronger. Earning back her strengths and solidity slowly, but consistently. Cal could hold her lightly, and lift her up high easily. She had lost all of her weight when she died, leaving her as a weightless being that could float away like the dream of a child with wings if she desired, but as she re-earned solidity, she re-earned her weight. She didn't weigh half as much as she did alive, and knew she would never weigh that much again. 95.7 pounds of body in a grave somewhere, 5.6 pounds of Victoria Riata Grazen standing with Cal.

"Cal, should we keep going? Should we stay back and just let Colt go? Do you want Colt?" Victoria was nervous as she was dead. She stood, turned, grabbed Colt's arm and pulled him over to Cal, the brothers now standing with each other, looking into the other's eyes. Victoria wanted to cry. She had had twin students and hadn't put together that they were twins until someone had told her. She was angry, worried, scared, every form of mad at herself she could be. What a mess.

Epilogue

Victoria had placed the kids around the fortress, each one ready to move in at the signal. Colt had built the fort in the thicket. Cal was ready to move. Everything was under control. Colt, Cal, and Victoria moved around to the front of the majesty's palace. Ready to take over. Live as royalty in a world under a royal pain of a king. Fix the universe. But for now, they can only stand together, waiting for the moment when they do live as royalty, loving the freedom. Each one taking a portion of responsibility for the worlds under them, eating fine foods every night.

They gazed up at the majestic palace, in awe. Roald really had a knack for exterior decoration. Or at least his exterior decorator did. With the sun blazing away in more than 20 shades of gold, millions of reds, oranges brighter than scarlet, and picture perfect with beautiful blues and purples melding the whole picture together. The world was gifting them, they embraced the feeling of joy as they each took one step forward, giving the signal, and the rustle of leaves and dirt sifting surrounded them as the boys and girls snuck inside the palace, through holes dug to fit them specifically. All of them watched through the massive iron gates as the invaders snuck past guards, slinked around corners, and tip toed to justice's chair. Colt was proud, Cal was more proud, and Victoria was beaming. Any brighter her teeth got, she would out shine the sun! Cal hugged her close; glad he could grasp her again. She melted into his side, head tilted on his shoulder.

Our friends stand together now, ready to conquer.

Together as friends. Together as students to destiny. As a team.

As children of the universe.

Chapter 1: Going Under, Up, Then In.

Everyone waited. Victoria raised her hand to begin the signal. Cal heaved a deep breath, Colt sneezed, and the children lined the walls, as adults watched from a distant hide-out. Victoria waved her hand, signaling the entrance to the tunnels. Children snuck under the walls, through tunnels that they begun to dig a week before. No play, just digging and planning. Although Cal and Victoria kissed a lot, Colt still thought it was gross and distracting them from their work. It seemed to distract Colt more than them though; Victoria could tell he was jealous.

Victoria's white dress had turned a light orange-brown clay color. She couldn't bathe or change, because she was dead. So whenever she needed cleaning, she would go off to a separate part of the woods with Cal, leave Colt behind and make sure he didn't follow, then Cal would brush off everything he Victoria would allow him to. This included:

Legs

Arms

Neck

Hair

Back

Collecting Lamb's ear plants to re-pad the top of her tight dress.

Victoria would brush everything else, then Cal would take a look around, see if anything was missed, kiss Victoria, then they would walk back to camp and begin work again. Colt bugged them every time they came back smiling and holding hands, saying that they were even more gross when they walked back holding hands, making him ultra-jealous.

Colt signaled Cal and Victoria to begin their decent into the dark dirt-tunnel into the palace. At first, Victoria lead, but Victoria got tired of Cal making some joke about how she crawled funny, or how short her dress was, or commenting she was prettier covered in mud. So she laid aside and told Cal to pass her. He now crawls ahead and she follows. Much quieter.

When they emerged from the dark to the exit below a stone path way, Cal lifted up the tile-stone covering the exit then knelt down from where he had been able to stand in the larger portion of tunnel and lifted Victoria up.

At the same time, 5 other kids were taking turns lifting one up, and then going up themselves. Then the next doing the same. On and on, until all of the kids and adults there for battle help had climbed up. All of the climbers, 180 totals, filled a court yard in the darkness. The sun had not yet filled the small grassy area with it's wonderful golden light.

Cal hugged Victoria, Colt gave both of them a hug, making it a group hug, and then the trio walked to the middle of the courtyard to explain the further battle plan one last time before the invasion.

"Oaky, so Colt will lead the adults and young adults to the staffing and convert them to our side. The 4-10 year olds will follow me quietly through the halls to the throne room, and revert the room back to how it was during my reign. Cal will lead the rest to their areas around the grounds for the sneak attack." Victoria explained, "Any questions?"

No one raised a hand or called out, so Victoria allowed them to leave to huddle and begin the invasion.

Victoria and the children enjoyed walking through the hallowed halls looking at paintings of the former rulers. Queen Mary Elizabeth Tutor, King Henry Tutor, and Queen Valezonya. All of the children were impressed with her matured, healthy image with her elegant gown and matching crown.

They continued walking, and eventually made it to the end of their long walk to the corridor of the throne. Victoria pushed the door slightly open to make sure no one was inside, and was relieved to know that the room was empty. In a single file line, they fled into the space. Victoria immediately ran to the tall curtains hanging over her favorite window and tugged until the large draperies fell, leaving an empty rod. Victoria turned to face the throne. At least 40 feet off the ground, and covered in gold accessories. Necklaces, crowns, even boots and robes. Next to all of the jewels was a chain. Dark, thick, and heavy. Victoria followed the chain with her eyes. It led to… A GIRL! She was in what looked like a modern gypsy costume, a bikini top, solid gold, and lots of jewels, with the airy, Arabian pants like the ones drawn in Aladdin. She went over to the unmoving girl. When she knelt down to see her closer, she was relieved to find her alive. The girl had a tattoo on her neck. It said, Riley Riata.

Victoria jolted back in shock. Riley Riata. Riata was Victoria's Syken last name. But Riley didn't resemble Victoria. Who she did resemble scared Victoria, making her feel horrified and betrayed. She looked like Henry Tutor, her 1st husband, and father to all 4 of her children. This girl looked about 9.

She stood in fear for a moment before kneeling back down and awaking the chained gypsy. She woke with a start. Then calmed down, and then took in her surroundings.

First, she looked confused and concerned. But slowly, she began to understand. The last queen had returned. She smiled and nodded, then she stood, chains still hanging around her wrists, like hand cuffs. Her golden outfit made Victoria blink a few times, but she got over it as her eyes adjusted to the bright golden girl in front of her.

"Why are you here?" The Riley motioned at the children, not understanding that part of the situation.

"They came with me to invade this throne room. I am former queen, Valezonya Riata. I know that you are Loretta and Henry's daughter. I saw you're- uh..." Moved her hand in a forward motion as if to say "You get it right?"

"Who's? Never mind. Oh. Um. Actually, I'm not. I'm Roald's daughter. He married a girl named- hum, Meghan? After you were overthrown?" She explained, I don't even recognize those names, Henry and Loretta?"

"Meghan? The 26 year old? MY DAUGHTER?" Victoria screamed.

"I guess. She does kind of look like you..And my sister does look like you too..." Riley added.

"Why would Meghan do such a thing? What would make her love Roald? Why would she have a child with him? LET ALONE 2! UGH! I am her mother after all, I guess maybe… No. Well," Victoria fought with herself. "It's possible I guess, but, she wouldn't actually, YURG. Where is she?"

"Um, some place in the outer reaches with King Roald. He doesn't like being called Dad. He likes his regal title."

"Oh. I'm sorry. I didn't know. Well, we'll be going now. It was nice to meet my first grandchild. Even though I'm only nice to meet you. Good bye Riley!" Victoria said as she backed away, out of the room.

"50? Are you dead? Cuz if the years must've been kind to you!" She leaned forward to touch Victoria, but her hand slipped through. "You are dead. You are a ghost. But then that means that…. AHHHHHHH" Riley screamed.

"Shhh, shh, shhhh, its okay Riley. I'm okay. You are okay. Meghan is okay. We are all good. Right? Right? Hey. Meghan is off with the king! You are royalty! What's so bad? And why are you scared of me?" Victoria asked.

"Well, I've never met a ghost before. And I was scared because ghosts aren't real. Am I dreaming?"

"No, Riley, you aren't. I promise you are awake." Victoria soothed "I am nice, I promise. I won't, and can't, hurt you, these kids, your parents, although considering Meghan is only 17 years older than you, I might hurt her."

Riley laughed, and then said, "Well, it was nice to meet you Valezonya. Good luck with your take over!"

"You know what Ri? I don't know if taking over is what I want anymore." Victoria whisper-talked, "I honestly, do not know."

Distracted

"Riley, I'm going to need you to watch these kids. Only I can chase down the new couple."

"Couple?" Riley smirked, "Mom was forced into this. She only loves him because she's enchanted with the same spell that keeps all of our guards around. Which, by the way, we lost 2 recently. Apparently one of the prisoners went crazy, jumped from a tower, and, you wouldn't mind me calling him Dad, so Dad had to cancel the entire galaxies' event of the wekk, "The ex-queen fights for her- l-l-l- wait…. You were the prisoner, and those two new guards... YOU WERE THE GUARDS' FRIEND! That's why we lost 2 guards! And why we had to commission 2 new ones! Now it all makes sense! But wait, that means, I'm talking to my father's murder victim! AHHHHHH-" Riley stopped to pant. All of the talking and realizing and screaming made her tired. "OH MY BLOODY EYE!"

"Bloody eye? OH YEAH…." Victoria stopped herself from ruining the Alien-Secret by blabbing off, as she remembered that the Syken God is an eye that watches over the land. "Yeah. Shocking, right? Well, I've got to go, so please, just, entertain them?"

"Fine, but I don't understand why you can't take them with you!" Riley called after Victoria as she backed away, toward the dark hall.

Victoria picked up speed walking down the passage way, and came across Colt's band of adults and young adults. "Well hey Vi. Sup?"Colt sounded so natural and light.

"Oh nothing. How was the staff take over?"

"Smooth! They fell right in, grabbed some food and pointy stuff, and I'm actually taking them back to camp right now to plan on how we're going to do our part to kill Roald."

"Oh no Colt, I'm not going to KILL him, I'm going to make him suffer. As he made me suffer, and cry in agony. HE WILL CRY in more agony than possible! I will make him suffer!" Victoria was excited now. "As soon as I find him, and my daughter."

"Why your daughter? Thought she'd be in jail."

"Well, apparently, Roald drugged her into loving him. I saw my 9 year old granddaughter in the throne room."

One of the adults in the background spoke up. She had a strong German accent. "You are grand mummy to the princesses?"

"Uh. Yes. Yeah. Um. I'm a grand mummy? To the princesses."

"Oh then you are the Ex-queen?" The woman said with a hint of disgust lingering in her question.

"Um, yes, uh, thank you." Victoria felt hurt and whispered the last part of her new reply. How many people recognized her? Made fun of her, for being so young? Maybe even hated her? Victoria new she was the dead cast off queen here, not the 7th-grade-graduate-never-went-to-8th grade girl she was on Earth.

Victoria did her best to speak in the same pattern as the German lady. But the words she said were what made her stutter. Princesses. It hadn't quite settled in on her yet when Riley had said "…and my sister does too…" which means not only had Meghan married and had a daughter with Roald, but 2! Victoria was angrier, and more determined to win the impending war now than ever before. All she wanted was to see her daughter destroyed. For Roald to finally suffer what Victoria had when she lost what she loved. Mathias and Henry. They were her pride and joy. Mathias must have run away when she was de-throned, because he couldn't be captured and imprisoned, his mother was the inventor of the cell he would be imprisoned in. 'I wouldn't be surprised if he moved and is living large somewhere' Victoria thought to herself. 'After all, he has his own video game company… THAT'S IT!' Victoria said that last part out loud and everyone turned to look at her. "I know how we can get to Roald!"

The now larger band left the intersection of hallway to find Cal and his group. Over head, Victoria heard remnant whispers sounding like May's, but she knew it couldn't have been. The whisperer's voice grew louder, and then jumped from a ledge above, landing directly in front of Victoria. It looked larger than May, but it still could be. It's hood was hanging over its face as it crouched there on the ground, legs bent, one hand on its back, one hand out front to balance. Slowly, it raised its head to look at the band of or Foe

Victoria's first thought was 'Perfect. Caught. We were so close! Now they are going to throw us in another digi-cell and we'll never escape! All of these followers are aliens, but we have been training! They won't be cast-offs, they'll go to other galaxies to live in the body of some other family, and I can't let my friends die too!'

But that thought vanished when she recognized the balcony ninja. It was May. That explains the whispers. But another voice, a deeper, older one. The second voice followed May's ninja example and joined the reunited friends on the ground after Victoria ran to her friend and hugged her so tight she fell through. May gasped when the tingle of Victoria's not-completely-gone-but-not-completely-there-either body fell through her. Any old ghost would have been fast and feeling-less, but since Victoria had earned back some mass, she felt the substance fall through her own solid-self. May was obviously shocked when her friend slipped out of her grasp. She had thought that Victoria had simply been moved when she came home to an empty cell after work one evening. Different had apparently happened. She turned to face her fallen-friend, realizing what had really happened. She shuddered after her vision of the truth left her mind. A tear flooded from one eye, thick and sopping. Then the same from her other eye. She looked blood-shot, and still pasty-skinned, as if deprived of light. Although Victoria could tell she had found a way to enjoy the cloudy skies under the radar. "Victoria, this is Darren. Darren, this is my old teacher, Victoria Valezonya."

Darren gasped, reeling back, awe-struck. The first thought that came to him was 'Her old teacher is the ex-queen?' But what he said was "WHOA, uh, um, WHAT?"

"Well Darren, to make it simple, I'll shout it so it has more effect on you. MY TEACHER IS THE EX-QUEEN." May shouted at Darren.

"Oh."

Mathias's World

"Oh how I love this new building!" I said to my employees one morning after strolling into work casually tapping on my teck-pod screen.

"Sir, your shipment for the Z-game came in last night. Where would you like them set?" A young boy employee eager to please his boss spoke up.

"On my work bench in my office, I want to perfect the designs"

"Mr. Mathias sir, you lock your office, I require the key sir." the boy continued, "Where do you keep it?"

"In the cash register behind the 30(∑) phaloe bill slot. No one ever pays with 30s anymore, so that was the safest place. You didn't think I went to the register every morning and evening to count 30s did you?" I reply, a joking tone lingering in my voice.

All of the employees glanced at each other, then slowly began to fit the puzzle together. "OH!"'s hung in the air for about 30 seconds earth-time.

"Thank you sir."

I walked casually back to my office, following the boy, making sure ALL he did was open the office, and set down the box. When he turned around, he was surprised and embarrassed to find me, his boss, following him. He jumped a bit, but soon apologized and walked out to open up the store officially. The new building was 3 stories tall. The first floor was all toys, the main shop. One flight up was games and phones. All electronics I had designed. And on the top was offices, were I was sitting, looking through the glass floors and ceilings, down at customers toy and game hunting. Some even phone shopping! My store was a popular place, because it had the only clean air in the solar system. Roald had left this planet alone and left it for me, after all, I was his step-son, and had so many gadgets I could destroy him. I threatened him once with a phone I had designed to work as a laser light for presentations. I told him I could set it from light to kill with the touch of a button if he didn't grant me the planet to work, build, create and play. How stupid. He couldn't tell it was phone. He believed it was a weapon of mass destruction. Of course the trade off was I had to pay 15% to him or he'd gas the planet in my sleep when I couldn't stop him. That was the smart side of Roald. Oh well, I get my planet, he gets free money. I wonder sometimes what it's like to be in-charge of the solar system like he is, or like how my mom was all of those years ago. I don't miss her much, she was distant very often. I am however close with my sister and nieces, and very often visit Capital Planet for banquets and events. I loved Mother, I just don't miss her. And I am certain she doesn't miss or ever loved me. Also, if she did, she needed a lot of help expressing that. After Henry went missing and her Grandma died, leaving her the throne, we moved into the palace. I remember it all.

A grand front hall, gorgeous green gardens to explore and play in, wonderful staff with the friendliest of personalities, and they all had stories to tell. Every one of them. I remember one woman who was my personal assistant, she always helped me gather supplies and . Lydia. She loved as if I was her own, probably wished I was too. Unlike my mom. She always found me as a bother with no purpose except destruction. The only time she ever expressed how she felt about me was when I was 7. I had broken a vase that had belonged to Great-Grandma Mary, and she screamed and cried like the world was ending. Later, I felt so guilty I ran away. I was gone for a week before someone found me and returned me. I was so upset that I didn't talk to her at all the entire evening. I spoke to her the next morning when she came to wake me up and found me crying next to my golden rimmed window, whispering to myself, "She doesn't want you. Or need you. You are a bother. SO GO! Do it! Leave! The window is right there! Go scaredy-cat! Go!" I jumped and turned around to see her with a dripping face, make up running, lipstick dripping from water. Eyes red and blood shot, and her dress was cut in 2 places. On her hips, and her knee. Not small rips and cuts either, large ones. Made by blade. Not from a rip by hand, by knife or sword. Her hand was bleeding from her fingertips and palm. I felt terrible. I did this? Did I make her destroy her nicest dress and cut herself? I felt so guilty, I melted into her like butter on a hot skillet. I was so little, I hadn't realized that it was my step father Roald who had done this to her. I never liked Roald very much. I think the one time he did something nice, was when he gave me a box of plastic surgical gloves for my birthday.

She spoke softly, like an angel to me, "Mathias, I love you. I always will. I know it was an accident, your breaking the vase. It was my fault, setting it somewhere that vulnerable. I really should have set it up higher or nowhere, just kept it packed. I can't fix it, but I have pictures. I know you like to tinker, so I brought you a picture. If you could make a hologram of it-''

"DONE!" I said, backing off, hands up, bent at the elbow. I turned around immediately and began the designs. I never saw her again. That night was when Roald took over. He threw her into jail, but when he came back, she was dead on the floor. Her heart had stopped. No one knows what had happened, but some joke about it and claim they do. Vultures, hideous people. Mother lied to me, saying she'd love me forever like she did that last night. If she did, she wouldn't have killed herself. She was reported years ago, back, alive, and in a digi-cell, imprisoned by Roald. I couldn't believe the rumors, I had to stick with what I knew. She was gone. Mother was gone.

Realizing I'm crying at the thought of the memory, I wipe my eyes and sit down behind my desk. To my left, my pen cup, next to that my desktop screen projector. "Computer, open file" I ask aloud.

"What file sir?" The screen speaker replies blander than usual.

"Open file folder: 1990 photos"

"Yes sir. Reliving the past are we?"

"I don't know boy. I don't. I want to view the pictures alone please. No input. Computer, mute."

As I flip through my digital projection photo album, I see myself growing up slowly. The moving picture segments are wonderful. I jump of my bed, soar through the air on my new invention: anti-gravity magnet boots, invent a friend-bot, I stop there. FRIEND-bot. A tear comes to me again. I never really did have friends. Only acquaintances for tele-school projects. Another tear. Tele-school. School on the TV. A two way TV. A class never together. A class online. Not in a classroom like Mom had. Or Grandma. They had real classes, not images on a screen of other students online learning. "Computer, close files, shut down, set volume for next power up at medium high." I command sharply.

The screen darkens and fades, then disappears all together. I turn to keep looking at things on my desk. To the right of the projector is my document materializer. A stack of files sat on the mat. All are the photos I looked at. Printed ink copies of me and my mother. Smiling, posing, hugging and kissing me. All fake. Nothing anyone says will make me believe she killed herself to end my misery. To end her own misery. No. She killed herself so she could escape the cruelty of Roald. Only for her own self good. She knows I worried about her the entire time she was alive in the cell. Before Roald returned to get rid of her, and found her already rid of.

A knock on my door tears me away from fantasy. "Sir, I need permission to remove a strange boy from your store." She spoke quietly.

"Why would you do that?" I asked sharply.

"He claims to know your mother, Valezonya."

"I want to talk to him."

MLR and VLR

"Mr. Mathias sir?" Cal walked into the office, holding a small box covered in velvet.

"Yes?" Mathias turned in his chair, a dramatic entrance.

"I need to speak with you. Alone. It regards only you and me."

"I understand you believe you can fool me into thinking you have my mother. I am not pleased with this. Why?"

"Mathias, with all due respect to your mother, I am not fooling you, or anyone. She is here!" Cal continued.

"Please, this is enough pain being lied to, please, end the pain sooner. Prolonged pain not wanted or needed. Good Bye boy."

"I am not lying. Give me a chance. That is all I ask of you." Cal begged.

"Fine. But this better be worth my while." Mathias rose from his chair and walked around the old rose wood desk.

Cal leading, the two walked to the teleport pad and zoomed outside. Colt and Victoria were waiting in hiding, not visible from the porch, where Cal stood with Mathias.

"You are wasting my time boy, no one is out here. Everyone on the planet is inside already if they know what's good for them!" Mathias was impatient.

"Valezonya, Colt, come out here." Cal stepped aside to reveal Colt holding Victoria's 95% opaque, 5% translucent hand, Cal pitching a mental-fit.

Mathias reeled back in awe at the look-alike features of the girl dressed as his late mother. "I have to admit, I am surprised at your stunning features. If I were Roald, I'd insist it was really Valezonya! Wow! How much work did you get done?"

"None. I'm really your mom, Matty. I'm Mumaw."

"How do you know Mom called me Matty? Were you one of the staff? Matty was a secret she swore to never tell!" Mathias was hurt at the unreliability of his mother. But then again wasn't surprised.

"No, Matt, it's me. It's the phantom of the closet, the librarian with only one book, Starlight Battles, I'm the brain behind using cookie cutters to make pancakes with holes in them…" Victoria walked closer and closer, slower and slower the closer she got, trying to make him realize it was her. He only backed up once, the first step she took. Cal walked ahead of her, and stopped both of them.

"Guys, I have something you will both want to see." Cal opened the box slowly. Inside was a necklace. It was a silver plated bronze locket with a finger scanner opener.

"I don't think it would recognize me anymore." Mathias said quietly, giving Victoria the last hint she needed to realize what it was. It was a birthday present she had given him. A locket with a finger scanner so it could be used to hold more than a picture or a small note. Since it was so secure, Mathias had taken the liberty to enlarge it so it could hold money and letters.

"Is it really, Cal?" Victoria was shocked. "I thought it was lost forever when we moved!"

"Well, the people that moved in kept it, but could never open it, so when I kindly asked for it, they were concerned, hesitant and nervous to give it, but did. Flip it over. I have a surprise."

Mathias was quick to turn it over and see engraving in the silver, showing the bronze. MLR AND VLR FOREVER. Mathias new exactly what it said. He said it aloud. "Mathias Layton Riata and Valezonya Leigh Riata Forever, huh?"

"Yes sir. I needed something to finish the story off with a big topper." Cal ended.

"So you really are… Mom?" Mathias wondered.

"Um, yes Mathias. But I need you to understand. I can't tell you how I am here."

"Don't worry Mom, I think I know the explanation."

"OH REALLY? And your explanation is?"

"The Eye is real. He saw you die, captured your soul, and gave you another chance! I'M CONVERTING RELIGIONS!" Mathias backed up, hands bent up. All Victoria could do was smile. Really big.

Guilty conscience

"Oh my god!" Victoria was side tracked all of a sudden.

"What is it mom?" Matthias looked concerned. Victoria's hands slowly rose from where they had been dangling uselessly next to her.

"I left my granddaughter in-charge of a group of children, and left on my way to go look for Roald and Meghan, and never left!"

"So, all of the recruit's kids are at the palace with your GRANDAUGHTER? MOM! This is huge! I'm an uncle!" Matthias was bursting with pride.

"Yes! Riley! Apparently Meghan married Roald because he put her under some charm. The master charm. The same one he uses on the guards, staff, and all of his family and friends."

"So what's the problem?" Colt jumped in to the conversation.

"Roald and Meghan were on some trip, I have NO IDEA when they might be back, if they aren't already, and a group of CHILDREN are in a palace without staff or cooks, without any adults, or a CLUE how to survive alone!"

"Well, we have to do something!" Cal added.

"THANK YOU CAPTAIN OBVIOUS!" May pitched in.

"Yeah!" Darren shouted from next to her.

"Okay, really?" May looked shocked at her friend's stupidity. She looked at him as if she was looking at a college student without a clue where he was, or how to do 3rd grade addition. The Dumber-than-dumb-sarcastic-rude expression ended their conversation and went back to the issue at hand.

"Okay! Moving on! What are we going to do about the children and Riley? They are probably starving, maybe scared because no one is there to help them, I feel so guilty!"

Cal moved over next to her and put his arm around her shoulder and tried to get her to hug him. "Oh, Victoria…"

"Victoria? Her name is Valezonya!" Matthias was shouting. He felt defensive.

"Matthias, it's okay. He calls me Victoria because…" She paused, "that's my old name! I changed my name before you were born!"

"Then why don't they call you Valezonya?"

"Uh, the name stuck. Only a small group of my friends used my old name."

Inside, Victoria was hoping Matthias had bought that story. If he hadn't, and decided to do his research, Victoria and Valezonya wouldn't be her only names anymore. She'd have new names, like "Traitor", or "Mental Patient 342"

The group left Matthias's planet and set off for Capital. The trip was short, for Matthias had perfected a transporter he seldom told others of. May, Darren, Colt, and Cal were the first to make it to the planet. As much as it feels instant, it really isn't. A good 5-8 Earth minutes goes by while transporting. The entire group left in a matter of seconds, but arrived minutes apart. After May were Darren, then Cal, then Colt. After them came Victoria with Matthias, and then the box Matthias had thrown into the transport stream to use when he got there. The transport had a brilliant glow like a blue sun stripe molded into a flat oval-disc and pressed into thin air. The stream hovered there, waiting for another passenger, and then disappeared. Matthias leaned down and picked up the metal platform the stream had been over and put it in the box.

"Wow M, you really know your stuff!" May congratulated him.

"My, stuff?" Matthias was confused.

"Yeah, like, you really know what you're doing when you invent!"

"Oh, well, uh, thanks, May!" he was embarrassed and flattered all at once. It showed in his eyes, his face, his stance, everything. That was Victoria's first hint that Matthias like her. Victoria was just pleased he hadn't said anything about her having 2 names.

"So how do we get in, find all of the children, and get out the fastest?" Cal began.

"Easy!" Matthias replied, prideful, "We go around back, find my old escape hatch, go through the tunnel up into the kitchen, then leave the same way after we have all of the kids! Assuming there are still kids to get!"

Victoria's heart stopped. "Assuming there are still kids to get" didn't sound to reassuring. She felt guilty, and sad, the kind of guilt you feel when you know you have done something wrong, and you have the opportunity to say what you did without getting into more trouble, and you still don't, for fear of getting into more trouble then you already are for a, doing it and getting caught, b, not saying you had done it, c, insisting you hadn't, and most likely calling someone in authority a liar. That kind of guilt.

"Matthias, how long has that tunnel been there?" Victoria wondered.

"Since I was 8. The Kitchen staff helped me out by letting me get spoons and other tools. All dug out with kitchen supplies! I was so proud!" He gazed up at the light sky as if dreaming of being awarded with a "Most creative use of kitchen supplies and imagination" award.

"Wow."

Into the Palace

"Okay Cal, hoist me up!" Victoria reached into the kitchen, trying to lift herself up and in, Cal raising from below. "Oh!" Victoria squealed, unpleasantly surprised. "A little low on the lift Cal!"

"Sorry Vi." Cal apologized promptly. Victoria was now up in the kitchen, and then turned to help up May, Colt, Cal, and Darren. Victoria knew Cal had been bright red and giggling silently below her before she lifted him up, but decided not to say anything. She climbed on the floor Matthias was insistent on getting himself up, but ultimately got help from Cal and Colt. Victoria just looked happy, and was laughing at the 3 boys. Darren just sat aside and watched. He was eyeing Matthias, an angry look in his eye, and a hard hearted expression. Victoria and May knew he was mad, but they didn't know why. May REALLY WANTED TO KNOW though. So she conspired. Smirking ever so slightly.

After everyone had climbed into the kitchen, the group took a moment to plan.

"Obviously Roald and Meg aren't back yet, so we should be home free!" May started.

"Well, not exactly. With the King and Queen gone, theguardsthe guards are probably on Super-security watch." Cal spoke as If he knew all of the guard's orders front and back. A chill down Victoria's spine. He had once been a guard. Had the charm completely worn off?

"True. So we have to be careful." Darren said, looking at Matthias.

"Yes. Thank you Darren. We didn't know we had to be CAREFUL!" May said sarcastically. A little ruder then last time Darren said something stupid, but some basic tone.

"Sorry, sheesh." Darren apologized to May.

"Okay, so uh…." Colt pitched in, "What do we do?"

"Easy. We go up to my room. It's the only fire proof, bullet proof, sound proof, room in the palace." Matthias said regally.

"You had time to update your room when?" Victoria asked.

"UH….." Matthias blushed in 20 scarlet shades all at once. He tried to hid his face by putting his hands in fists to prop up his chin on his arm and elbow, but he was too late. Everyone had already seen the brilliant red glow and knew from his eyes he could feel the heat on his cheeks.

"Well. I think that's a good idea. Shall we go?" Cal chimed like a bell. Crystal clean and stunning. Victoria's heart fluttered and she giggled.

"Mm-hm!" She beamed. She started for the door, everyone following her. Cal following closest.

They walked into the hall and all snuck to the stairs. Guards were at every entrance and exit, and one was standing just in the middle of the hall, just standing there. Victoria wondered if a new secret entrance had been made for while Roald's reign was happening. Victoria reached out for the banister, and right as she lifted her hand, Cal and Colt let out a sigh. They had remembered that Victoria's hand would slip and reform as a hand when there was no COMPLETELY solid object it had to morph around anymore. She stopped her hand at half stretch, remembering too. She stopped, hesitated, and then extended her arm all the way out. Her hand not only didn't fall through or re-morph, but it stopped on the wood and her fingers fell into the familiar grooves from her hand weathering away holes into the ball attached to the banister.

Her hand began to glow. Everyone gathered around and watched as the glowing moved from her hand to her wrist.

To her arm…

To her elbow…

Past her elbow…

Up to her shoulder, then the glowing became a wave and no one had thought to look at where the light had been, only where it WAS and WAS GOING. Victoria glanced at her hand again. Not translucent. Not almost there, it WAS there. All there. As if she had never died. She felt her breath speed up. Her breath? She WAS BREATHING!

But how? How could she be... be… she reached for something else. Herself. She hit her dress. It wasn't a pleasant feeling; her dress is dirty, ragged, and not at all white anymore.

She reached for Cal. Still there, she could feel the cotton of his shirt, the dirt on it was more pleasant than her dirt, but only because HE could take his shirt off to wash it, while Victoria had to keep it on, for it was her only clothing. But now, now she was back. She was Victoria again. She was whole. She WAS whole. She smiled, and then lunged at Matthias. She squeezed him so tight he begged she'd stop. "Sorry, just wanted a hug from my only son!"

Cal's face lit up. Victoria knew what he was thinking, which scarred her. I guess they would be past High School already by now; it had been 5 years since the 7th grade dance. Since her abduction. She'd be 19. She'd already have a driver's license, and she would have missed graduation from Middle School, and the 8th grade dance where girls ask guys… and High school, and her friends, and… and…. Prom. She missed prom. And her 16th birthday. And her parents. She even missed her Father's 50th birthday! Tears came to her eyes so fast, if you had blinked, you would have missed it. She fell to the floor and cried. Cried and cried. Cal knelt down.

"Victoria?" He asked quietly, "Are you okay?"

"NO! NO I'M NOT!" She wailed.

"Well, I know that-''

"NO! No you don't know Cal! You don't get what it's like to not be able to hug, or kiss, or do ANYTHING by yourself! You are ALIVE! You haven't DIED! YOU didn't fall from a tower and have your heart stopped by a SIDEWALK! You didn't have friends that fought over you for 2 years! YOU WEREN'T ABDUCTED BY GUARDS! YOU didn't have your children stolen from you when you were thrown from you throne! YOU didn't! NOT YOU! ME!" She screamed and yelled and hollered. Everyone just waited. What were they going to do? Wait. There was nothing they could do, but wait.

"You're right Vi, I didn't. But you know what? I have an amazing girlfriend who DID. She endured all of it. She died, and chose not to live again for ME. She came back down from her luxurious destiny to stay with ME, as a rugged palace guard with no future but to serve an evil man. She trained a class of 3rd grade aliens who wanted only to leave, to be normal. She survived death! WHO DOES THAT?" He had a joking tone in his voice that made Victoria stop sniffling. "She chased an evil king who ran off with her daughter. Her trouble maker of a daughter who had 2 daughters and then ran away."

"But… She… She got all of her birthdays. She got to LIVE. I didn't. I've been a dead soul hoping for a miracle, but with my miracle came disaster. Reality hit me, and it's AWEFUL! I missed my dad's 50th birthday; I missed prom, graduation, and EVERYTHING!" She cried quietly.

"But you know what that says about you? You are twice as tough as I thought you were. You LIVED through all of that. I know you were tough, but I NEVER would have been able to say that I survived any of that! I would have melted down, found a hole, balled up, and died. I would have stayed there forever, unmoving, and silenced. But you. Not you. You came back. You turned around and came back to us. YOU just kept moving. You moved on. Let's keep moving on. It's better not to dwell."

"Okay." Victoria took a step forward to the stairs, and let her head and shoulders hang low. She glanced up to the top, where Riley was. Just standing there.

"Wow. That's a quite a story, Grandma. I'm sure Dad and Mom enjoyed it too!" She said.

"We did!" Said to voices together, then out stepped Roald and Meghan.

Family Reunion

This chapter was co-written with Maya Jimenez

"Roald? Meghan?" Victoria seemed not so scared, but worried. There is a difference.

They stepped down from the platform, and headed down to the bottom of the stairwell. Slowly stepping, but they WERE coming. Victoria and May huddled together, blocking the rest of the group like a protective force. Darren spoke up, "What's going on?" He had PURE LOSS in his voice.

"Uh, Well, Uh, Um, Darren, Meet King Roald and Queen Meghan!" May said slowly, cautiously.

"Oh…" He was worried now. Victoria was terrified. All of them were. Roald's eye glinted a deadly red for a split second, and a shadow crossed behind everyone. No one had the erg to turn around, so it remained a secret as to who or what they shadow belonged to.

"Well? Are we gonna just stand here being awkward or are we gonna get this little meeting started?" Roald said. No one moved. Well, except for Meghan. She inched forward. For a second, if you looked really close, it was as if the light sent a dark wave across her, making her seem translucent, kind of grainy, like an old film.

Victoria was the first to move. She inched forward, and began to climb the steps. Every one followed her, and then Roald and Meghan followed by Riley, moved to the middle of the stairs and stood for a second.

"Uh, well, Valezonya, uh, I mean, Mom, I didn't mean t…" Meghan began, but Victoria cut her off.

"Save it Meg. I don't care WHAT you do with yourself as long as it doesn't kill ya!"

"Okay…" She quieted down and then handed the floor to Roald.

"Well! Long time no see, Vi, wasn't it?"

"Yes! QUITE a long time!" She was so excited, and anxious, she almost forgot to breathe! After all, she HAD been dead for 5 years…. "SO! Um, how was the honey moon?"

"Quite good, we went to the outer planets, visited the jails, and did some publicity work for my Roaldy-woldy!" Meghan said.

"Well! I wouldn't say work…." Roald replied. Meghan laughed; she seemed to be fluttering, kind of like a butterfly trapped in a jar of peanut butter.

That sound was VERY similar to the sound Victoria used to make about Cal, a largely similar sound. Maybe Meghan REALLY liked Roald? Nah. She couldn't! She wouldn't! Would she?

Victoria was disgusted, so she moved on to a less delicate and disturbing subject. "Uh, then, I have to wonder, what is your BIG PLAN for Syken?"

"Well, I want to change some laws, make some changes, and DEFFINATELY want to update the technology!"

"TOO BAD! I'VE ALREADY GOT YOUR NEXT ADVANCEMENT!" A voice came from behind Roald, Meghan, and Riley. They all turned, and then Meghan disappeared.

Meghan was gone. She wasn't there. All together, she was just, not there. Roald reached out for where she would be, and hit air. His arms slipped right through, but hit something soft, kind of like a sweat shirt material. Soft, thin, and definitely Meghan's. But Meghan just disappeared…. How could her sweat shirt be there?

People stopped looking at where Meghan WAS, and started looking at where she IS. She was different, whole-r. Stronger looking, and didn't seem to have any dark lines moving over her. Like a projection.

She was holding something. A small thing. Like a remote, or camera, or finger projector. That's it. May disappeared next to Victoria, and she fell to the ground from not having a support anymore. She glanced up and saw Darren disappear. Who else was going to leave? Darren and May appeared next to Meghan, also looking different. They looked younger, but more stressed. What was this? Some kind of geek fest?

Victoria's face was dominated by a concerned, but eager expression that just wanted to know what was going on. Everyone had similar expressions, but Victoria's by FAR was the most serious. Cal reached for Victoria, and wrapped his arm around her very thin and frail waist. He was shocked at how thin she had gotten from her lack of ability to eat. The first thing he did when they got out of Syken was take her to a Dairy Queen and order a large EVERYTHING. She leaned on him, and rested her head on his shoulder, he just rubbed her side, it was comforting, but it didn't seem right. Suddenly, his hand went cold, like frozen metal, and Roald dissolved into the air like a hologram. Victoria looked up at Cal, wait, not Cal. Because it wasn't Cal that had his arm around Victoria, it was Roald. Behind Riley, another figure appeared. A guard. Right about Cal's size, just a little bulkier in the arm section. The guard reached for the grate blocking his face, and there was….

CAL?

Holographica, Fantastica!

Victoria squirmed away from Roald's grasp, and flung onto the wall.

She just stood, back to the wall, worried, and VERY scared. Images flashed through her mind of every time they kissed, hugged, talked about plans, and even danced or held hands. She was terrified. All those years growing a dead outcast, she had been with an impersonator. An impostor, one that only saw her as the dead ex-queen who was working on the inside team trying to get rid of him. Victoria felt used. She felt, offended. She felt, betrayed. Colt was the only one left. She looked to him, wanting advice. She wanted to be comforted. She had hot tears running onto her dress, and making the dirt become a filthy mud dripping onto the floor. She sank to the floor, and Colt rushed to her side. "Victoria? Are you okay?"

"NO! I'm not! I'm sorry Colt, I'm sorry for all of the years of you watching me with Cal. With Roald! I knew you were jealous, but I didn't know I was being used! I swear I would have…"

"I'm sure you would have come right to me if you knew. I'm trust you. And with me here, nothing this man can do, or Cal, or anyone, will stop me from protecting you." Colt's voice was so smooth and sincere, Victoria believed him. She gave him a hug, and he helped her up. They stood, holding hands, looking as if together, they could conquer the world.

"HOW SWEET." Roald said, and he flexed his bionic arm. The arm that had chilled Victoria, the one he had wrapped around her. Victoria couldn't help but stare at it. Roald noticed. "You like the arm huh? It's an impersonator. Once it gathers a cell from someone, it saves it, and I can impersonate them, whenever I need to. I can be Cal, I can be Riley, and I can even be the head administrator of the American human Navy. I could start a war. OH WAIT, I already have. 2 years ago. I recruited your dad. Told him that the enemy had kidnapped you, and the only way to save you, was to put him on the front lines. He went to war."

"No…" Victoria's voice wavered. Her steaming tears burnt her cheeks, leaving her face red, and her eyes dry. Victoria could feel the burns. She put her hand on her cheek, but the pain was too much to bear, so she laid her hand back down. She knew what Roald had done. He had killed her father. He had ended a pained man's life, and had gotten away with it. She screamed and thrashed. Colt was holding her down, trying to calm her once more. It was no use, she just kept wailing, she just kept hollering. Just kept flailing, as if tasered and struck by lightning, and a dagger through her chest has stuck her all at once. Her breathing stopped. She started choking. Choking on her own tears, she suffocated. She stopped moving. She stopped gagging. She stopped everything. The guard Cal fell forward, as if he had passed out. Meghan, May, and Darren all lunged to catch him, but he was already tumbling down the red velvet stairs, his armor clanking, making such a noise, the guards in the surrounding area fled to the scene, but none making any move to stop anything that was happening. Cal tumbled all the way down. His armor dented, and his helmet flew off. His hair was long now, REALLY LONG. It was in a messy pony tail, but had freed itself somewhere on the way down. He finally stopped at the bottom.

Colt slid over the tile floor to his friend. His brother. Or had Roald lied about that too? It didn't matter. Colt was furious enough to say he was his brother, or even his father, if it meant that his REAL friend would be back. Cal had stopped breathing too, and had started to suffocate from the weight of the armor. Colt promptly located a sharp object, his sword. (A little lo-tech for a palace guard, but effective!) He stabbed at the armor. It gave in, and Colt rushed to free Cal of the restraints. Cal's eyes fluttered open.

"Why would you save me? I didn't help you." Cal said.

"Because. You're my brother. Even if you WEREN'T the one who was kissing Victoria, and weren't the one who helped us plan how to break into this place. And weren't the one to restore Victoria's heart, and Matthias's mother to him with the locket, you are still Cal. Still MY brother. Still my friend and no one will ever change that."

"But…" Cal began. Then his face went from faint to dead serious. 'Even if you weren't the one kissing Victoria' rang in his head, and he gathered his strength into one short burst. He stood, and ran at Roald. He knocked him to the floor, and it immediately became a fistfight.

Colt dragged Victoria over to the stairs, and they began to limo slowly up to wear Darren, May, and Meghan were. May helped Victoria up the last steps to the platform, and Darren helped Colt. Meghan went down to wear Cal and Roald were going at it like 5 year old boys fighting over who got the last candy bar, or who got to get their Christmas gift first, or something else ridiculous. Roald's eyes were bleeding, and Cal's nose and mouth were bleeding. Meghan watched them role for a second, and then put her foot on Roald's chest. He calmed down and waited for a second. Cal got off him. He turned to Victoria, looking for approval. She had her head down, looking at her tattered, torn, scarred feet. They had dried bloody wounds, and Cal immediately got the impression that Roald had done this. He stopped that thought before it could grow any larger. Roald had hurt his girl. He had enslaved him. But the fight wasn't over yet.

"GUYS!" Meghan yelled, "LISTEN!"

They stopped looking around, and everyone focused on Meghan. Her yes said "I have news." But her body said "Wait a sec, slow down."

They all waited to see what she had to say, listening with anticipation. She signaled for May and Darren to come next to her. They too were holding the small finger projectors. Meghan held hers up, and pushed a small button on the top. Out came a beam of light so brilliant, if you stared directly at the source, it was sure to blind you almost instantly.

"Now, answers. What is going on?" Colt screamed.

"Well, uh, we've been using holograms to fake that we're with you guys since we've been on earth, trying to fix time."

TIME? When did TIME become a factor of this equation? Either way, everyone but the real Meg, Darren, and May seemed confused. Victoria relaxed a little, she felt lighter. As if the work baton had been passed, getting rid of excess weight she had carried for years. She stood a little taller, but seemed so relaxed.

With everyone finally all in one large group, they all stopped to listen to the hologrammers.

"Well, time became an issue when Matthias invented the Z-Phone a few years back. That's when Darren and I started to use our holograms to sneak away to Earth to meet Meghan and Matthias." May began, "Matthias and May new the potential of the Z-Phone was time travel. Only Darren and I saw that we could use the time travel to go back to the past to before Victoria/Valezonya had begun to teach me, and before Cal was released."

That was a delicate subject. Cal looked down at the ground, remembering, but Victoria said, "You don't have to go into detail about that little fiasco."

"Okay, moving on!" May continued. "We continuously went to the past to try and fix where Victoria would go to Syken to Roald. But before we had gone to try and stop her from getting to Roald, we had accidentally stumbled TO ROALD, and saw him with a scientist creating the bionic arm that he used to impersonate people, and other living things."

Roald blushed. He seemed to NOT want people to know how he had used the bionic arm, or how he obtained it in the first place.

"Well, uh, after we had seen that, May and Meghan began to have meetings without me, so I worked alone as well perfecting my time-travel capabilities, as I knew that at the current point, it was a little complicated, and was NOT something you did just to do. You HAD TO HAVE a good purpose, or you'd avoid it at all costs." Matthias seemed to be bragging about his now perfect design, and genius.

Victoria waited for the rest of the story, and Cal and Roald just eyed each other. May and Darren squeezed each other's hands. Meghan inched away from Roald. Colt put his arm on Victoria's shoulder, as if warning Cal of the new ownership over her.

The whole thing was very awkward, so Victoria spoke first. "So Roald, did you enjoy your dictator ship?"

"Not really. I missed having an equal. Meghan wasn't around much."

He spoke so carefully, selecting each word from a small list of safe words he preferred to use so he didn't set off either of the women in the room.

"Well. Thanks." Meghan seemed offended. The awkwardness in the room only grew.

"Anything else we should know?" Colt asked Meghan and May. He felt bad about leaving Darren out, but he also felt that he had had his time to explain his portion of the story.

"Yes. Uh, while we were on Earth, we weren't just meeting Meghan. We were also trying to save the human souls you 3 left behind in your human bodies when you came here. We were… uh…"

"Unsuccessful." Darren said, "Since Cal and Victoria weren't only together through Syken, their human souls were together on Earth too. So since Cal and Victoria grew up together, Cal ended up marrying Victoria, but after, Roald drafted Cal for the navy, and Cal was forced to go. He and Victoria's father… died."

Victoria caught her breath. She began to panic. Her father… he… died. She couldn't believe it, but she knew she had to. She had to let him go. She had to, for the sake of their mission; she had to let him go.

Cal didn't seem very affected. He seemed no different than the regular Cal; the one Victoria had fallen in love with, and had been living without for 6 years. WOW, had they been in Syken that long? Victoria thought for a second, 3rd grade plus 5 years= abducted by guards plus 6 years=now. That's 11 years!

She stopped thinking, since her thoughts scared her. She had missed 11 years of her life, and it had been lived by some human! A human who GOT Christmas, who GOT prom, who got everything Victoria had missed in the 6 years since she had been deprived of her Earth life. Since she was stolen from Cal.

"So what are we gonna do?" Colt asked.

"We can't do anything. Because of our selves going back into the past, it caused a ripple that can't be repaired. None of us can go back to Earth. At least not without making it worse. It would cause so much disruption, that who over saw us would have the same fate as any non-aliens who found out." Meghan explained.

"But, Meg, YOU'RE a non-alien!" Victoria said.

"Yes, BUT, since Roald here is too, I was briefed in the whole ALIEN thing when he was put on the throne!"

"Wait, ALIENS?" Matthias was shocked, terrified, and looked so disturbed.

"Uh..." Victoria began, "Honey…" she reached for Matthias's shoulder.

"LET GO YOU FREAK!" He screamed then turned around and ran away from the group. They could all hear his cries, as he soared away from the stairs, and the guards caught him by the entrance, and then dragged him back to the hall with the stairs. He was crying. He felt betrayed that his own mother had just let him believe that a god of Syken had given her her life back. No. She was an alien freak who had a life out a life of him, and instead of telling him she was leaving, telling him she was going to live somewhere else, instead of being with him at home to take him to school, to go to the park, to show his inventions to, no. She was off god knows where doing who knows what and keeping it from him. Then she comes sauntering back into his life, thinking he would just forgive her. For NEVER being there. No, he couldn't and wouldn't, forgive her. He had to leave her be. Had to go his own way, and do his own things. Not thinking about her, or anything. Just his work. Only that HE was a genius with unlimited power. He could do anything he wanted to, and not even his "all powerful alien" mother could stop him.

Matthias!

I ran, far as I could from that place. That devil place. I ran faster and faster, until I stopped. I pulled out my Z-phone, and set it to home base locator. It powered up, and then away I went. Zooming through electric pulses, and then fell into my room. I was back home. Back to my solitary room in glass building on a planet for me. In a galaxy called Syken. In a universe hidden from me for my whole life, until now. I, Matthias Grazen, wait. No. I, Matthias Roald pledge my allegiance to MY galaxy. I swear to protect it from any and all dangers. Human, and Alien alike. Even if it means I'll orphan myself, even if it means getting rid of my mother, I'll do it. To protect Syken, and all of its inhabitants.

So I gear up. I grab 2 more Z-phones, a stun-gun with, a laser, a parachute (Don't know what I'll need it for, I have it!), a pocket plane, and a teleporter. Ready. Well, not really. I'm REALLY hungry all of a sudden, so I hike downstairs to the 2nd floor, the food court. I walked through the cold kitchen, seeing the old worn out metal, and the tarnished pans and plates. I guess when I wasn't at work, they thought I was missing. And since I never showed up anywhere, they assumed I had died and abandoned the place. It looks so old and worn. Like a haunted house. I stop at the fridge and open it up. The handle breaks off in my hand, and I drop it to the floor. Inside are perfectly stored contents. I'll have to experiment sometime with how these stayed fresh, but not now. I have to eat, and then go. Back to capital planet. I have to gain control of this dying society. I have to rule Syken. It is my destiny! I have to. To save my galaxy, I have to run it. Get Roald away from my sister. Outlaw the whole lot of them. Mom, Darren, Meghan, May, Colt, and Cal. All of them must go. Back to their homes. Well, Roald's home IS the palace, but I can send him somewhere else, with Meghan. As for the Alien bunch, Colt, Cal, May, Darren, and Mom, I'll send them back to, what was it called? Oh yeah! Earth, where they came from. They will go running. Begging for mercy. Begging forgiveness from the new ruler. Me. I will succeed. I'm smarter than all of them combined. I invented time travel. I invented teleportation, I even invented the Z-phone, the main too they are using to communicate, and are relying on to get from planet to planet, and to get back to the time they come from, 11 years ago. When Mom was still in charge. When I was too small to understand. And Dad hadn't left to live somewhere else with some other woman. Before it all started. Before I sent the guards to Earth to capture May, before Darren was mine. Before EVERYTHING went wrong.

I have to succeed. My plan is fool proof! I'll just storm in through the guards' entrance, and take their control easily. I'll declare war. I'll banish them when I reign superior. When I'm in charge.

I quickly eat then go back to my office to take a quick rest. I see my desk and remember my computer. There isn't a password setting, so even if I lock my office, Roald could access it from his office at the palace. I walk to the desk and take out the memory chip and put it in my pocket. Now they can locate me, but they probably won't think to use to computer chip tracker.

I laid myself down on a padded bench in the hallway, and that was the first time I realized how cold it was in here without the power working to heat the building. Br. I walked back into my office and grabbed the conveniently located blanket that was hanging over the back of my chair.

Wow, handy. I walked back out into the hall and laid down again. I drifted off pretty quick, really easily. I was so exhausted.

The last thing I heard while drifting away was the faint sound of someone calling… "Matty….."

Earthians UNITE!

All of them were together again. Matthias and all. Everyone was huddled in Matthias's room, planning and working. Busy as bees in the spring time.

It was Cal that first noticed that Matthias was conscious again, and sitting upright in his bed. He walked over and spoke him. "Hey Mat. Can I call you that?"

"Yeah, sure, what am I doing here?" Matthias was still groggy and quite sleepy, but the lights and sounds around him were waking him up slowly.

"We came to find you, and then we brought you back here. Are you okay?" Cal asked carefully. Matthias had seemed furious with Victoria the night before, and now was no different after Cal had said this.

"Oh. Uh, thanks?" Fury flashed in his eyes. He was one step back. He'd have to go back and get all of his things before attempting a takeover now. How was he going to do that before they were done with… whatever they were doing...? Still blurry eyed from sleeping, Matthias got up and walked the familiar path from his bed to the down stairs kitchen of the palace. On the way down, Matthias looked out the hallway window, and saw the remains of a camp made outside the palace walls. It was in ruins now, and coals and wood were scattered everywhere. Even a skeleton was a sign a camp had once been there. It looked as if it would've belonged to someone 12 or 13, and had obviously starved to death. The thought chilled Matthias, and made him rush down the stairs as if someone, or something, was chasing him. He felt like a little kid running down the stairs on Queen's Day (Like a Syken Christmas), he just couldn't wait to turn on the lights and wake everyone up to come open presents together. (The legend is that the Eye gives the little kids' presents and only GOOD adults get gifts. It's called Queen's Day, because everyone has to give the royal family a gift of value. For example, a necklace with sentimental value, a treasured picture, money, or something else with personal value.) Victoria didn't enforce this holiday while SHE was in control, but Roald had, very severely too. He had more pictures of random families and wedding rings than any ruler had!

He strolled into the kitchen, shocked to see faces of people who used to serve HIM while he was living here. Lydia, and old friend, had served his breakfast and dinner; everyone else had worked on lunch and snacks. Lydia had been a personal friend to Matthias, but had been fired after Roald was put on the throne. Matthias didn't have time to think before he ran up to her and gave her a big hug. She reeled back then hugged him in return. He looked into her eyes. They were a lot more worn out than they once had been, but they were still the majestic royal purple they always had been. "What are you doing here Lydia?" Matthias was over joyed.

"Working. Get off me child!" She seemed a lot stiffer then she had before.

"Well, sorry. I'm just REALLY happy!" Matthias said. He looked down at himself, feeling silly for hugging his child hood chef. He was 23 now, and she was at least 55.

"I can see that, but aren't we a little OLD for hugging staff workers?" She seemed normal again. She used to say that to him after one evening when he insisted on having "big kid food, because he was 7 now, and deserved big kid food. Not macaroni noodles with tomato soup."

Suddenly, a scream, or yelp of happiness went echoing down the stairs, and alarmed all in the palace! Since it was mostly tile floors and empty corridors, it echoed pretty well. Matthias and Lydia both bolted to the door, realizing where the whoop had come from. Matthias got there first, and he opened the door for Lydia and him to pass through. They both ran up the stairs together, and Lydia had remarkable speed, and much to Matthias's surprise, she got to his room first!

"What's going on in…" her voice faded down to almost a whisper.

Victoria's hands were above her head, and she was being held up by Colt and was kissing him. When he set her down, they were both smiling, but Cal wasn't. It was just the night before that He and Roald were in a fist fight about her. Now she was kissing Colt? Unreal.

They turned to look at Matthias and Lydia, who were still in the door way. Lydia's face said SHOCK, but her eyes said KNEW IT ALL A LONG.

Victoria was the one who had let out the noise in the first place, but no one had thought to look at her but Matthias who was the first to speak after the room fell silent when Lydia finished speaking.

"So Mom, what was that noise for?"

"Well, I was talking to Roald," Everyone gasped, as If it was an event that she talked to the evil man she shared many kisses with while traveling the galaxy for the past years, "and he said he wouldn't give me the throne back, but that he would let Colt, Cal, Meghan, Darren, May, you, and I all live here in Syken and that he would take the gas off of the planets and un-enslave the people! THAT WHY I SCREAMED!" she was beaming so bright Matthias assumed she hadn't thought to think about what kind of job Roald had in mind for them. He was happy with his job! He was a billionaire in his 20s and was able to live and create and design as he wished! He was a genius scientist and… there it was. Victoria's expression went from excited beauty to dead seriousness. She turned to Roald, "And what job did you have in mind?"

Moving In.

"Are you guys ready?" Roald asked in a more polite voice. It almost sounded like his voice from WAY BACK WHEN he and Victoria were Matthias's age. Young and ready to conquer the worlds.

"YEAH!" They all said together, yes, all of them. Colt, Cal and Victoria, who broke up and now Victoria is dating Colt, Matthias, who gave up on taking over and just let Roald and Meg have their way, Darren and May, who eventually got together but broke up after a year and now are just healthy friends, and even Meghan, who along with running the galaxy, took on the job of working with the others, just because she felt that was WAY BETTER than spending her time ordering people around the palace, like Roald was so accustomed to.

"SET?" He teased them.

"YES!" They were all eager to get to open their eyes to the new office.

"GO!" He yelled. They all opened their eyes to a magnificent building. It was white stone. It was pure cleanliness, and had a brilliant glowing logo of the letters "COTU working here!" Now what could COTU stand for? Other than Children of the Universe of course!

They all gasped at the beauty of the enormous building before them. Victoria lunged forward, and ran to open the door, but it opened before she got there. It slip up, instead of apart, like a garage door, but didn't bend onto the roof, it went straight up behind a layer of glass that HAD been clear with a symbol on it. It wasn't until the pattern on the door was in line with the window that they realized what the symbol was. It was an iron spiked heart. The same shape as a charm of a necklace Victoria had lost CENTURIES ago. It was a ruby surrounded in iron spikes, to symbolize a warrior queen and a wise queen. She gasped and stopped to stare at the beauty of the heart. Colt joined her in awe, his hands on her shoulders from behind, hugging her close. He moved his arms down to her stomach and gave her a hug. She was so beautiful. It's a pity Cal never got to hold her like this. It's a pity Roald did. But the past is the past, and now they were all looking up at it. Victoria moved forward, and walked into the building at last. It was a laboratory. Roald had given them a lab. But there were already thing in it… A transporter, a display case of Z-phone looking things, files, and a colossal computer screen on the wall. A projector, a filing cabinet, desks and chairs, more computers! There were laptops and books and so many wonderful things inside, Victoria's heart almost stopped! It was weird for her to be breathing again; she was so used to not having to bother with eating, drinking, breathing, sleeping, or anything. She was a perfect and perfectly useless being. Her stomach growled. She realized that living again meant she had to eat, drink, blink, and breathe again.

Cal thought to himself, remembering his promise to her. "The first thing I do when we get out of here is take her to a Dairy Queen and Order a large everything." Wait, he never thought that! Must be from when Roald was impersonating him. It felt good to not have to serve him anymore, but he wasn't sorry he had. He was making up for all of the years he COULD have been visiting, learning, and increasing his knowledge of himself, but he was too busy not! He had quit Victoria's class, and when he found she liked him, he was frozen in time. She cared enough to give him friends, and even sacrificed herself to save Roald many a time while he was impersonating him. Cal stopped to look at her. She was genuinely perfect. Blonde hair flapping from the air blowing out of the vent in the lab. Skin so perfect it was as if it had been store bought! It was so clean, so smooth, so, so, amazing. Her eyes were like rounded stars. Like the shining Moon in the painting "Starry Night". She was just too perfect to describe.

Colt was amazed. His father, an evil dictator of the galaxy Victoria had once called home was donating an amazing lab just for him and his friends to live and create as they wish in. His friends. Yeah, that's what they are. It was weird calling Cal a friend, but he was glad he did. He had a human brother, and they would never call each other friends. They were mortal enemies at best! But oh, how he missed his brother. How he missed Earth, and how they must miss their lives too… Their lives. Cal can't go back to his, and Victoria may or may not have anything to go back to either! Her father is dead, and her mom may or may not be. Not to mention herself. Where they live, he wouldn't be surprised if Victoria had been killed in a car accident or even a drive by shooting by one of the gangs. It's good she seems to have forgotten about her other life. She seems to be enjoying this one. She's eternally 19, but her age would only show in her face. They could celebrate as many birthdays as they want, but she would never GROW any older. She's an immortal. What would Colt do when HE died? Same as her? Come back? What about Cal? And May? And even Darren? They would have to make a pact to live eternally. Or maybe science will be on their sides. Maybe Colt can replicate death in his lab, and then he would be an eternal being. The idea was insane, but for the woman he loved, he would try anything. It was a strange feeling, calling her a woman. When she died, she was 96.5 pounds of 13 year old 7th grader in a parallel universe. Brought there by force of an evil king that was giving her joy right now. She never DID get to graduate, or say goodbye to her father. Or celebrate her sweet didn't know much about those, and he knew she was upset on her 16th when they made her a cake, but she couldn't have a party. She'd been spending her EARTH life planning it. She had all of the décor pre-ordered and it was in her garage. All of her money saved, everything was set until the she was stolen. Colt wanted only to please her, so he gave her a hug every day. She deserved a hug from a REAL friend, not an imposter.

Darren just stared. He had been half hoping they were going to be at Matthias's workshop, his tech-lab. Nah, he would DEFINITELY be trying to impress May, since she had been living back on Earth again. But as they built their lives in Syken, she became more and more attached to living there as well. She all at once went back to Earth with Victoria and they went to her house. She was almost shocked to see it in perfect condition. She rang the door bell. An old lady opened the door "Are you here to sell me something? Cos I don't do salacity."

"I don't want to sell you anything. I want to say HI."

"Then by all means do so." The woman said, "My daughter used to do that. She'd call just to say HI."

"That's right. I used to do that didn't I?" Victoria said. It took a moment, but it finally dawned on the woman who this mysterious teenager was. It was her long lost daughter, who she had O.P.D'd at a funeral for her, and her 3 friends Cal, Colt, and May. (O.P.D means officially pronounced dead.)

The woman lunged forward to hug Victoria. She wrapped her arms around her, and then her mom invited her and May in. They sat in the familiar living room, walked down the same halls, and looked at the same pictures. But there was a new gallery. A gallery of her growing up AFTER the silver and gold all. Her sweet 16. Her 18th birthday, her father's 50th, and even his death. She was so heartbroken. She had been sharing her mother's love with a human duplicate. Her mother didn't even seem confused. She turned to her. "Mom? How did you know she wasn't me?"

"After you were taken, and Colt and Cal went looking for you where ever you were, the FBI branch that had been investigating your case apparently had an agent just like you. An alien. The agent went to your leader, oh, is it okay I say leader?"

"It's fine." Victoria answered. "Please continue."

"Okay. Well he went to whoever is in charge out there and asked, well did more than ASKED, for the law to be changed about humans knowing about your worlds. They did a big show of it. At first, I didn't believe them I thought they just wanted us to have another reason to obey. But slowly, we all warmed up to the idea. It was then we, the other parents and I, realized what you were. You were aliens, and when you disappeared, that's where you went. Syken."

"But, what about the human girl that was left from my soul?" She asked.

"We let her live, and she died in a car wreck at the high school. But I knew it wasn't YOU, so I was only SOMEWHAT devastated. The sad part was that we had no way of knowing if you would be coming back. So that was why. When I saw you again today, at first, I thought it was you. Then, when you said HI, it didn't sound right. But after I talked, and you talked again, OH! MAN WAS IT YOU!" She beamed so bright, Victoria and May BOTH just wanted to up and hug her. Take her with them. They knew they couldn't, but they hugged her anyway.

Part 2-

Falling through the time stream, I could feel the heat and cold all at once. The warm summers blazing through me, darkening my skin, and the cold winters darkening my hair all at once. My head was spinning, time was racing, my heart was beating so fast, I thought not only IT would explode, but I would too! Lights and darks whizzed by me, wind through my hair made me dizzy, and my ears rattled from hearing all of my life's conversations played on full blast, drilling them into my memory. I can hear Mom now, "The future awaits, Ella." As she tossed me into the future. Suddenly, the world went white, the noises and wind, and the cold wet water from the time stream disappeared, and I was dry, and warm, and, I looked at myself. I'm older! I can remember Mom tossing me in as an infant. Where am I now? 11? 12? I look around. I'm on the floor of a laboratory.

There are people here. They are all in white lab coats, and look about the same age. Except for one. Her coat says "Victoria".

I was dashing through the time stream, I felt wet and cold. Mother had tossed me forward. I don't know why, I don't understand how, I just know she did. I can feel the years flowing through my blood, food I've never tasted, memories I never had, races I never ran, friends I don't recognize, and a death that wasn't mine all happened at once. Drilled into me like nails into a house under construction. I died? What's going on? Who were those people? Why would my own mother not want me SO MUCH she would risk sending me into my own, and the rest of Syken's, future? I was 8, and time travel had already been explained to me in school. They were sending objects, letters, animals, but not people. It was too risky. The monkey didn't survive, the birds did. The dog did, the cat didn't. If a MONKEY couldn't, why risk sending a human? She must have REALLY not wanted me. I suddenly felt a sharp, surprising tear at my heart. As if love was just ripped out of me by blade. And right then, I fell out of the time stream onto a cold hard tile floor. I guess in the future they still use tile to surround their time stream portals. Brilliant.

I looked around the room I'd landed in. "Where am I? Wait, I know this." I felt Clever, "WHEN am I?"

"You are in 2137," A scientist said above me as I lay on the floor, "and I'm Colt. These are my friends, Cal, Victoria, Meghan, Victoria's son Matthias, Riley, Victoria's Granddaughter. Welcome to your future!" He motioned to everyone as he listed them.

"Oh. Hi." I waved and smiled. Then I saw my hand. It looked, OLD. But not OLD old, just OLDer. It was painted a solid, bright red. They were longer than usual. More mature looking. I took it in slowly, going up my arm, down my chest, onto my legs, feet, other arm, I asked for a mirror.

"Just turn around." Cal said. I had forgotten that all time streams were reflective. I did. About 12? 13? Let's go with 12. I stood up, to get a better look, and escape the floor. It wasn't the most pleasant of places. After all, shoes of these people trekked in dirt and toxins all day.

"So, what am I doing here?" I asked after getting a nice long look. Getting used to the new me.

"Oh, you didn't know?" Victoria looked concerned and confused.

"No…" I was slow. Not understanding, but extra curious.

"We are supposed to protect you."

-Chapter 1

It didn't matter to me who said that they were supposed to protect me. I wasn't paying close enough attention to care. It was the words that were said that were the scary part. So Mom DID want me, just… couldn't HAVE me. Was it because I'm an alien? Because of my dad looking for me? Mom told me she'd never let him get me. That he was dangerous. But why couldn't she have me? If it was because I'm alien, I was getting my proper training! If it was my dad, I'm really safe! Never go out alone, never talk to people I don't know. Always ask who it is before I answer the door or undisguise my voice on the phone. And if I don't recognize the caller, I just hang up. Always been careful. But now I had more questions. "From what?"

"Um, we aren't uh… supposed to tell you." Roald was looking around, rather guiltily, "Your mother instructed us in a letter to wait until you had the "right questions"."

I wanted to know what the right questions were, but these scientists were being difficult. I decided I'd have to do my own work. I examined my challenge. Victoria was leaning against Colt, and Colt had his arm around her waist. It was obvious they were together. Cal was infuriated. Was he Victoria's Ex by any chance? Meghan was younger than Roald, but they looked alike. Was Roald old enough to be her father? Was Victoria old enough to be her mother? I moved on to Matthias. He was DEFFINATELY young enough to be Victoria's son. But where was the father of he and his sister? Was Roald even related to these people? Wait. I got the connection. They must have noticed I was taking in her surroundings and Meghan leaned to Roald, and he did as Colt was, holding her close. Matthias and Meghan DID look like Victoria, and Meghan looked like both of them. But Both Matthias and Meghan BOTH looked like someone from history. Who was it? Um…a previous king? I waited for an answer to come to me. No such answer came. I looked at Victoria again. She was definitely Ex-royalty. Syken had never had commoners who had enough money to live a nice enough life style to have such beauty. I hoped I was complimenting, not insulting Victoria in that it was possibly natural and was calling it surgical. Then the answer hit me like a bullet. Matthias and Meghan were descendants of King Henry Tutor! That evil man. And poor Victoria! Henry had left her for the queen of the Lorettians. Loretta herself had called him. They married and he became their king. Left Victoria in charge of a falling galaxy. How hard that must have been on Matthias and Meghan! But it looks like it could have been good news for Meg! She had managed to stay in the royal family! She had married Roald when he over threw Victoria. She was arrested and put in a digi-cell to await her death. But she had been put away WITH someone. A former student also in this room. My eyes moved to May. She was skinny, and pale. She had obviously never recovered from being locked up there. Her hair was gorgeous though. Intensely brown with golden steaks and blonde tips. It was amazing how she had maintained her hair and skin while her body was decaying from starvation and lack of oxygen. She was born human, but was bitten by a snake from Syken and her blood created the alien part on it's own to survive. I knew all of their histories. It was weird, going through 4 years of school without actually going to school. I just realized the room was silent. No one hade said anything. Moved, adjusted, tried to end the awkwardness. Nothing. So I did. "So, how long have you guys been expecting me?"

"Eliza, we can't tell you." someone in the back of the room said. We all jumped. Did I miss some one?

"Ah! Darren! There you are!" May's face lit up so bright, she could have been a Yentl Tree! It had been so long since we celebrated Yentl. It was called Christmas now. All kinds of religions were migrating to Syken, and we were adopting them as if we were moving to THEIR home. But we weren't moving. They were. Taking over my beautiful galaxy, with their clothing, holidays, food… actually I didn't mind the food to much. I'm a huge Burger fan! And Pizza. That's good stuff. Yentl was a lot like Christmas, but it wasn't religious. Just the celebration of a successful year! Christmas was a Christian holiday. I had a Christian friend. They tried to get me to come to church a couple times, I never did. They were human in MY galaxy. I didn't want them here, but we were friends, never the less. Darren came around to our side of the room. He took a position by May. Ah. That was it. Everyone but Cal had a relationship. Poor guy. But he was cute… No. I can't. I'm only 12! But what was he? 20? Maybe? Yea. 20.

"Well, If you can't tell me, how Am I supposed to find out what the "Right" questions are?"

They all looked stumped. I guess they had expected me to be your stereotypical pre teen. Not to bright, not to curious, not to clever. But I was. I was going to figure this out. They'd just have to wait and see. I'll get it. I'll get them. Yea.

Eliza woke up on the floor the next morning. She wasn't cold, or tired, she was warm, wide awake, and lying on something soft. She had never had a comfortable bed. Her mom couldn't afford anything better than just a little sheet on the floor and a shared pillow for her and her sister. The lights were out, and no one else was in the lab. She decided she'd investigate. This was her chance. She sat up right then realized there was a problem. There were laser sensors all over the room. She didn't want to set off an alarm, but she DID want some answers. She stood up carefully, doing her best not to touch any of the lights. She was next to a table cluttered with papers. All of them were hand written. Why? Syken was not a poor galaxy. And in such a complex lab, why wouldn't they have printed files and documents. But then she read the papers. These weren't documents. They were letters. They were tattered at the edges as if they had been sent through the… Time Stream. There weren't just letters. They were the answers. These were from her mother.

-Chapter 2

Cal walked in and turned on the lights and disabled the alarm system. "Eliza? Are you awake?"

"I'm back here Cal!" She shouted from behind a door.

"Oh, hey. We left a toothbrush and stuff for ya!" He started at his work on the time teleporter. It can take a person from the future to the past, and in the process, it makes you younger, and then can take you back to your own time but keeps you the age you were when you went back in time. It was a cool device, but rather complicated. Meghan had already used it a couple times, for reasons she wouldn't share. But of course, considering how it worked, she was no longer 36, but instead 23.

"Yeah, I saw. I'm brushing my teeth right now!" She obviously had her mouth full of foam because her words slurred together, "So hey, who wrote those letters on the table there?"

"Um… The others wouldn't want me to tell you this, but they won't be here for a few hours. Your mother wrote them. She had been sending them in advance to give us the info we needed to take care of you, for how long, when you'd be arriving, and she had also been sending little packages of supplies to help us prepare. Like the sleeping bag you were using and your favorite foods."

"Oh. Did she tell you why she had to give me up?"

Cal stopped working and glanced up at Eliza. "She did."

"Can you tell me?" She was so curious; she was willing to do anything to get the answers she wanted.

"You know I can't do that, Eliza. Your mother would not be happy. But… No. I won't tell you. I can't."

"Does Victoria know you still like her?"

Cal blushed. She could tell that he liked her? Maybe she wasn't as young and vulnerable as her mother had made it seem! "No. And even if she did, she wouldn't come back to me. She's with Colt now. They are very happy as far as I know! They are always together. She barely talks to me anymore. I think she's still mad at me from back a few years ago."

"Why? What happened?"

"Well, she…" He stopped. "It's complicated kid. Just enjoy being a kid while it lasts. When love gets in the way, and especially with how complicated our lives got after that unforgettable night in 8th grade when- forget that. Well, we had to start being adults, and had to start fast. We didn't get a child hood as you are. Sure you have a special ride too, but not as bad as we did. Back when WE were growing up, Aliens weren't as common."

"Yeah. The revolution wasn't that long ago was it?"

"No, it really wasn't." They were sitting now at the coffee table in the back of the lab, and just both resting there, having a civilized conversation. "But Victoria was my teacher. And after a lesson she had given us, I kinda quit because my religion had said one, but my mind and she were telling me different. So I decided to go the way I had always known. And she uh, she kissed me while she was casting the charm to freeze time so she could me back home with an all new memory. That was when she told me she loved me. It wasn't until later we got together."

"Yeah. We learned all that in history!"

Cal was blushing again. HE and VICTORIA were in the history books for a kiss? Wow. History was much more detailed in Syken than he thought! They were both leaning in over the table, so they were barely ten inches from the other's face. Cal was taking in what he saw. She was gorgeous. Vibrantly blue eyes that looked like a mirror had been carved from the sky reflecting on clear, crisp water then struck by a bolt of purple lightning. Her skin was so smooth and perfect. Her hair cascaded past her shoulders in thick, wavy, red cylinders, looking like the curling iron was still holding them in perfect shape. Where had she gotten such beautiful hair? Cal knew her mother, and she had BLONDE hair. It was the same shape though, perfectly curled without the use of an iron or roller or anything. But Cal also knew the father. He was a red head, but it was the ORANGE kind of red head. This was SERIOUSLY RED hair. The color red. Strong, and dark. Black roots and tips. Dyed? No way. Your hair falls out after it's dyed. Not immediately, but what did Cal know about hair? "Oh did you now?"

"Yea." She said. Her mouth moving so little, if you hadn't heard her, it would have looked liked she had just opened then closed her mouth.

"So… um… what all did you learn?" Cal was really embarrassed now.

"That she had been teaching you and then you decided to quit and she… yeah."

As she finished her sentence, Colt barged into the room, his eyes rushing around, then he dashed to his work desk and began tinkering with an invention.

"What's up, Colt?" Cal asked, concerned.

"I have to work on this! It was M- Eliza's mom's request!"

"Who's? WHO'S REQUEST?" Eliza got up and ran half way to Colt. It was then that Colt and Cal realized, it wasn't Eliza's mom who had raised her, it was someone else entirely. Eliza didn't know her mother, her mother didn't want her to.

It was noon Earth time, and everyone was in the office excepts May and Darren. No one suspected anything more than more science experiments about how to improve vegetation speed in the gardens or something, but what they were doing, surprised the once any who didn't know once they found out.

"We got it!" May burst into the lab smiling wider than she would have it was being held open by an orange or maybe a grapefruit.

"Got it!" Cal rushed up to her, smiling almost as big as she was.

"WE GOT IT!" Darren joined in on the "it"s and "got"s.

"Got what?" Victoria was a little concerned now.

"We found the—" May began. She lowered her voice so only Darren Cal and Victoria could hear, "We got to time capsule she left for Eliza."

Colt, Meg and Roald hadn't even looked up from their work desks. Meg was especially interested in the device Colt was tinkering with. Roald was just interested in finding a way to get a spot of hot pink poinsettia paint inside a diamond for Meg's birthday. He was being especially secretive with the project, pretending he was trying a new way to make poinsettia pain with less use of the of the beautiful flower's chlorophyll. Meghan had always liked the flower, and when she was still living in the palace, now Matthias is king and lives with just the staffing and his dog Deogee, she had kept a garden of them. It was lush, and very pink. Surrounding a little shed with a portal to Earth, and a work station where she made her own paint from many flowers. Mostly pink, but she had electric blues, neon lime greens, blazing reds, blinding yellows, and deadly blacks all from flowers grown just outside.

The group had moved in from the door and were surrounding May as she opened the box. There were pictures of A woman with Eliza, and a man none of them knew were in many of the pictures. There was also a note, and an old telephone. When Meg finally walked over to look, she had no clue what it was and ordered Colt to explain it to her. He refused, and just hit the power button. Victoria was familiar with the phone, it was the 6th generation iPhone. She had given her mother one for her last birthday and she had not a clue how to use it. You could take holographic recordings, pictures that could be projected through the camera onto any surface, even water. It was the last iPhone ever made, before people went to all laptops and could make calls from anything. Any non-video calling was rare, but still some preferred the privacy. iPhone were still sold, and iPods galore, but none were "new" anymore. There were very few who would remember Victoria, Cal, Colt's time on Earth because many had moved to Loretta's Keep during the 1st Universal War. There had been 3, but only during the 1st had people migrated now people just stayed where they were, and rarely left there immediate communities. May hit the play button on a hologram video, and everyone in the room stopped to watch. The lights went out automatically, and even Eliza watched. No one stopped her. They were entranced. A woman was talking, but everyone knew her. It was Meghan.

"Eliza. I didn't think it would come to this! I took every precaution to make sure you were human, I even had a doctor do surgery on me to removed every drop of alien blood, but I guess Roald has had some alien genes in him. I'm sorry that you never knew, I just couldn't take the risk that you would be in danger if I was seen with a child. They were coming for me. The guards released an order on hospitals that no more alien children were legal to be born. I had to keep you safe. I hired a look-alike and she did her job, but I want you to know, I never thought it would go this far. They started hunting for the new child, and I just couldn't risk them seeing your veins! I—I'm sorry. Now you know I guess! I love you!"

The hologram disappeared and every one turned to Meg, as she blushed and quickly walked out the front door. Her coat billowed behind her, like a cloak, and no one dared follow her.

-Chapter 3

After a few moments, every one slowly got back to their work benches and began their jobs again. Silence and sweat were in the air, along with the faint odor of poinsettia chlorophyll near Roald. Cal continued to work on his time teleporter, and Colt on a similar device without the effects of keeping you young as you were in the time of the past you entered. Called it a timeporter. It was creative and Cal was jealous of his interesting word mash, but guessed Victoria had had some input on the name for the device. It wasn't more advanced, just less… okay, Cal was jealous, Colt was happy, Meg liked Flowers, Roald Was working on a microscopic drill to give her flowers in a diamond. Work continued. It had been about 10 minutes before it started to irk Victoria that not even Roald had made a motion to the door to go comfort the newly exposed mother. Cal had finally put the pieces together on Eliza's hair, and Eliza was still getting used to the idea that she too, was a figure of future history, yet to be exposed to be written in to the history books. She didn't WANT TO BE history, she wanted to READ history! She didn't want her life stored away in a book, she started her life in a hospital eye knows where not knowing that the figure she called mother was a stranger hired by her mother. Didn't Meghan, uh, Mom, want to hold her? Kiss her? Hug her? Read her a good night story? Spend Christmas morning unwrapping presents from the numerous Spirit figures? Didn't her mother want her?

Eliza's questions would be answered. She had to know what had happened. Who were the guards? Why didn't they let any more alien babies be born? If Eliza was illegal, does that mean that other kids her age were too? Was she late? She didn't have a late birthday in her class, she had always had a birthday right before the winter solstice break, when school was out for 2 weeks, so that all of the children of the many religions could celebrate. Kwanza, Chanukah, Christmas, Galivernta, (The Syken Version of Christmas that was celebrated amongst all-alien families.) maybe even some she didn't know! Her mother, this monster… she stopped that thought, remembering a line from someone, her class had read an Earth book… Picture something, something Perfect? Picture Perfect? That sounded right. The line was "Just because someone does monstrous things, does that make them a monster?" And it had stumped Eliza to the point she set the book down and demanded to read a Syken book. Her teacher happily switched over, obviously not wanting her class reading some probably human-written book, and would much rather they read a Syken book. After Eliza's little show of frustration, her class followed to exchange their books aswell. She stood up from her perch next to Darren's station, who had obviously been wondering all kinds of things about her; (did she like him? Did she know he didn't like her? Did she know he liked May? Did she know that he was jealous of Cal for obviously catching May's attention, slowly removing her from his grasp? No she didn't, how dare he think that? UGH! Doing more thinking! Wait, she walked away…)

Eliza strolled out the door, watching the odd garage style door shoot straight up into the ceiling to allow her to walk out. Meghan was sitting on the curb holding a jar of something, and her hair had been mussed up, all out of place, frizzed and knotted, had she been rolling around? Throwing a tantrum? There hadn't been any noise… Maybe that's just her hands nervously moving over it… She did have her mom's hair, and knew that it was really easy to knock out of place. Just walking could lift their light hairs over their face, switch a part from left to right, even knot it until it didn't look soft and curly, the beautiful way it was, it looked like they hadn't brushed it for weeks. Eliza had always looked good in hats, so she wore a lot of them. She didn't know if Meg did, but those were all questions that could be asked if she got Meg to talk to her.

"Meg? I mean- Mom?" Eliza began as she sat down on the curb.

"What do you want?" Meg had obviously been crying. Her voice sounded like static lathered in honey to try and sweeten it, but it only made it worse. Thicker.

"I want to know about… Well, everything!"

"WHY? You were supposed to be perfect! You were supposed to be the best one ever! The best child, student, scholar, and best daughter. I wanted a human and instead I got…" Her voice trailed off, and now she was embarrassed to have insulted her daughter to the extent of calling her stupid and not her daughter.

Eliza began to cry. What had she expected? The lights to dim, the music to begin, the sun to set and the credits to roll? Standing ovation? She lifted her knees up to her chest and scooted away from Meghan. She was a monster. She did monstrous things, and she was a monster. Not a mother. But she was a mother, just not a good one. The thought disgusted her. She just called Meghan a bad mom. She scooted back and gave her a hug, as if it could melt away all of the hatred ice built up in Meghan's mind and heart, and bring her back to the sweet, smart, wonderful person everyone knew her to be. The rightful "Queen" of Syken. Daughter of a woman who made the history books change the unit on laws and all of history of teachings all together! She was her mother. Eliza's mother was all of these things, and more! When she had first wrapped her arms around Meghan, she had rejected the show of affection. She sat up right again, wanting to walk away, but wanting answers more. Then Meghan rose from her seat, lifted Eliza with her, and dragged her away from the lab at running speed, and tore through the bare day streets, getting to a park surrounded by shrubberies and topiaries. If you weren't looking at a map, didn't know there was one, or IN the park, you wouldn't have known it was even there! It was so consolidated; it must have been a private park. Meghan stopped to stare at the horrid sight waiting inside the high brush and bushes, and began to weep again. The slides and swings were rusted, and had fallen, the hole once a pool was dry and had cracked, the jungle gym climber was caved in at the top, and nothing was usable. The only paint left on something were the lines on the trees in the park showing where it's safe to climb, where branches had been, or would be cut, and where you needed a magnet harness. (It was a vest with electromagnets in it, and there was a big one underground so that if you fell from anywhere above the line, you wouldn't fall far before the magnets facing the other way allowed you to levitate in air, stopping the fall.) She sat down, now she was pulling her knees up to her. Eliza tried for another hug, and this time she got it! Meghan whirled around seeing Eliza's shadow kneeling down, and embraced her as if she had never had a hug before. Their eyes locked, and Meghan stared into Eliza's perfect eyes. These gleaming, beaming, radiant, blue eyes with a ring of purple enchanting her, giving her a perfect quality that could never compare. They shared those eyes, the ones that could make you scream if seen by low light, for the light dances, setting the purple aflame, and changing the water to ice. Yet in the sun, they were only eyes, but more than eyes. The blue could penetrate any outer evil, leaving behind only warmth poisoned with guilt from having evil to be melted. Meghan was Eliza's mother, Eliza was Meghan's daughter, and if any one said differently, they didn't care.

"I love you, Mom!" Eliza was crying.

"I love you too, Eliza." Meghan was bawling.

"We have to get back to lab."

"Yeah."

And for a brief moment, everything stood perfectly still, and no one, nothing, not even death, could disturb them.

-Chapter 4

Eliza and Meghan walked back into the lab, faces tear stained and eyes red. Their hands were clamped together, impossible to split. The lab doors shot up into the ceiling, impressing Eliza every time she walked in. Colt had his nose stuck in an industrial guide for time travelers, and Victoria was painting her nails with a foul smelling paint that reminded Eliza of a polish she had found in her mom's closet as a child, and the woman she knew as "mom" had thrown it away, and Eliza was locked in her room all night. Cal was walking around with May, swinging her back and forth and she stood on his toes, letting him swing her, and take enormous steps, moving her ahead. Eliza walked to the back of the lab, and sat down at the small coffee table she had been at only this morning.

Meghan strolled over to Roald, and he looked so happy to see her, his whole face transformed into a brilliant smile. He whirled around, and grabbed a small velvet box from under a lamp. He handed her the box, and her face lit up. She glanced over at Eliza, who had begun to read her book again, so she didn't have to worry about Eliza being immediately skeptical, or putting two and two together, and asking who her father was. She snapped the box open, and inside was a gorgeous golden ring. Light danced off of the band, and an amazing jewel was in the middle.

It looked like a wedding ring, but there was a pink flower in the middle of the ring… made of paint! She tilted the ring around on her finger, looking at the paint at all angles. A clear liquid was floating it, and moved against gravity, pushing the flower into the air, so it wouldn't get ruined. Meghan shook the ring, and watched the flower disappear. She frowned for half a second, having ruined the beautiful gift. Then she saw the magic of it. The flower blossomed again, forming from the paint, rising out of the clear liquid. All Meghan could do was smile, then she kissed Roald, and he slid the ring back on her finger. She smiled and hugged him, and her hugged her back. Her hair fell back into place, and everything was silent. Everyone was happy, and loving the lives they were miraculously given. Nothing could go wrong. Yet.

Matthias walked in through the back door. Everyone had forgotten about him! They carried on with their lives as if he WASN'T the ruler of the land they called Syken, as if he didn't exist. He snapped his fingers, making a thunderous noise, reawakening the whole room into reality, from the peace they rarely got to enjoy.

Epilogues

Dear Diary,

Today Victoria came into the office so happy; I didn't think it was REALLY her at first. But after she ran to kiss Colt, then walked to her usual perch on the levitating bench to watch the rest of us blast our minds into our work, I knew it was her. I wonder sometimes if she misses kissing ME in the mornings. After all, while we were dating on EARTH, we kissed a lot. It's weird to write that. I never thought that much of it. It was just what couples DO on Earth. Roald didn't understand this show of emotion, so Victoria explained it to him. Meghan had picked up on the subject pretty quick on Earth, as they DID go to a high school a lot to watch what the HUMAN Victoria was doing, and study what she did on a daily basis. She taught Roald well, but I don't think he REALLY gets it. Glad we had this little chat Diary, in this ever changing universe, I'm glad to have something I can vent to.

-Cal Cade Roald (odd name, isn't it?)

Dear Diary,

I love coming to work. It's an all new environment now! I have so many tools to choose from, and I think May likes me. Ha! I'm just dreaming out loud. Well, out write anyway.

Really not much to write about today, so I guess that's it!

-Matthias Grazen (Odd, I didn't go back to my old name, Matt Roald!)

Dear Diary,

I know the guys went first today to record their entries in the log. It's cool we have this. OOPS! Broke my lead! Now it's all thin. GRF. Oh well. It's still read-able. Is that a word? Either way, this whole diary thing is pretty neat. I just love being able to write anything, and sometime in the future, someone new will read this. And they'll know exactly what happened to us today from 6 different Points Of View. COOL RIGHT?

Well, bye for tonight.

-May

Dear Diary,

Wow. I have GOOD hand writing! It's never been this nice!

Anyway, I just wanted to say, oops, there it is. My old familiar hand writing! Sucks how fast I can go from nice and neat, to terrible! Oh well. I was pretty happy today, so I drank my coffee faster than usual. I had inspiration for a new device that mashes together the power of the Teleporter, with the time traveler. So we can go EVER WHERE AND WHEN EVERY WE WANT! It's not done yet, and Cal is working with me on it. Ah, poor Cal. I think he still has some deep feelings for me.

Must suck to be Cal,

-Victoria

Dear Diary,

I don't USUALLY write, but I'm pretty upset today. Cal volunteered to help Victoria with her new invention even though it's MY technology! WHAT? Suddenly he knows my machines better than me?

Oh well, just have to let it go.

-Colt Creight Roald (Hmm, maybe I should use my alien name instead of both…?)

Dear diary,

Writing this book was SO MUCH FUN! I hope I can get it published someday… I want to thank my good friends for helping me with inspiration and encouragement (for the most part!)

Maya Jimenez – Inspiration for May

Andrea Huynh-Duong – Inspiration for Audree

Colton Simpson – Inspiration for Colt/Creight

Declan Simpson – Inspiration for Matthias Grazen and Roald

Dakota Noe – Inspiration for Darren

Olivia Graves – Olive

Kayla Garen – Kayra

My Mother, Cristin Gaffney – Inspiration for Victoria's mother

And the following people I went to school with who ALSO gave me inspiration, but aren't necessarily FRIENDS….

Calvin Householder – Cal/Cade

Emely Rosa – Emma Lynn

Paige Holtzendorf – Sage

Jacob Lee- Jake (Cal's friend)

Heather Manning - Hanna

Joshua Evans – Joshua (as himself)

Well, I think that's it. I sure hope it is!

I absolutely hope that you will read a book by my best friend, Maya Jimenez "" and that you love it as much as I do.

-Virginia Gaffney, Child of the Universe