The wait is unbearable. I can hear their voices in the building, but force myself to not listen. It would be wrong of me to ignore an order from Lord Zadkiel. I can still speculate, though.

What would The Dominion want from a human? I mean, a soldier or messenger might talk to Dr. Matthews for information, but the combined sight of these angels encompasses almost all of creation. And for things they can’t see, they can speak with the archangels, or in extreme cases, The Creator!

Why manifest here themselves? And now that I think of it, where did Kushiel and Ariel take Rand? The human is talented, but the power of The Dominion would crush him.

The door starts to click open. I straighten up from the reclined position I had taken in the air as I played with my thoughts. As much as I’m questioning in my mind, I still feel the need to obey and assist these powerful beings anyway I can. …And, maybe follow the protocols a little more closely while they’re around.  Don’t judge me! I’ve seen enough mortals to know I am not alone in this reaction. I’m not used to them following me around all the time.

Dr. Matthews leads them back here, his face scrunched in thought. What did they talk with him about? What could perplex the good doctor so thoroughly?

“Thank you for your help, Alexander.” Lord Zadkiel came after the doctor. He’s taken to calling the human by his first name, which seems more than a little disrespectful. But then, he’s been like that since he landed…

“Of course, my lord.” Despite responding quickly, the doctor’s voice sounds far away. This is going to drive me crazy.

“If you learn anything else, please, pray to us. We will hear you.” Lady Puriel spoke reassuringly, which was strange to me. In my defense, it’s the first time she’s spoken like that since she landed.

The hosts piled out of the building, while I stood at attention. I thanked the good doctor for his help as they left. He finally looked me in the eye, and I could see more to his expression. He was scared. Terrified. I wish I could help, but all I could do is give him my own frightened look back.

The matters of hosts are rarely simple, but the Dominion are something else entirely. As Zadkiel put it, all of creation must be at risk for all five of them to land. But the secrecy is different. Last time they were here, they fought the threat of the Nephilim. An open war. Glorified in their actions and majestic in their terrible might. So to see them being so… subtle, is jarring.

But it makes me think of the kind of cloak and dagger missions Rand had been engaging. Have I really been the only one to still see this war as it was? To be left behind as my leaders and allies fight a new battle? I never did apologize to Rand. I suppose I now really should when I see him.

“Aluma, thank you for your assistance.” Puriel spoke to me with the same assurance she used with Dr. Matthews. I was still not used to it.

“Of course, my lady. What will we do now?”

Lord Zadkiel looked to his comrades and then to me. “If I remember correctly, you still have your own assignment to complete. You may resume your hunt. If we need you again, we will call upon you.”

I was stunned. But Zadkiel said I would be needed. That they needed someone to help guide them on earth. Did I do something wrong?

“Of course. I wish you well, my lord and ladies.” I took off into the air, too ashamed of the tears I felt. I did not want them to see. Dammit, Aluma! Get yourself together!

I soared over the rooftops of the city, not really looking for anything. Instead I fought with my emotions and questions. It would be wrong of me to disobey a direct order, but…

Was it an order? Zadkiel had said I ‘may’ go back to my mission.

“Piecing it together are you?”

I whip around, shocked at the voice I heard. Lord Zadkiel was right behind me. I didn’t even realize I had stopped flying forward.

“Well, Aluma, you are a loyal soldier. I was right to think I could trust you.”

“My Lord,” I exclaim, bowing as I do, “Where are the Ladies Muriel and Puriel?”

“Busy.” His calm demeanor was actually starting to worry me. “But you need not worry. I am here because I need your help.”

I would like to say I was humble, and not at all proud of his trust in me, but that would be an absolute lie.

“You’ve been a busy host, Aluma.” Zadkiel and I were floating around the city. While I’ve been torn between my feelings, I do my best to piece together what exactly is going on. Lord Zadkiel seems to be betraying the trust of the rest of The Dominion, but at the same time, I have to think that he has a reason for doing so. The whole of creation is in jeopardy, right?

“I suppose so, my lord.” The pride I had felt was gone, and instead replaced with my confusion.

“How many demons have you sent to The Pit in just these last seven missions?”

Was he genuinely curious? Potentially getting me buttered up?

“I am unsure. A few dozen?”

He smiles, “In such a short amount of time. A mere blink of an eye and so many of our enemies fade into the void. It is not just your strength, Firebrand. You can find where these creatures hide. Your tenacity in the face of demonic entities is nothing short of spectacular. This is why I need your help.”

“Of course. I am at your service, Lord Zadkiel.”

We slow to a stop, his eyes still searching over the city.

“Come, we shouldn’t talk in the open.” He floats straight down, almost losing me. I go after quickly, keeping my eye on him. He descends into an alleyway, taking care to examine the area around us. What is he hiding?

“My lord,” I speak calmly, “why are we taking such pains to not be seen or heard?”

When he appeared satisfied that we were alone, he spoke.

“Aluma, were you not listening when we spoke of The Box?”

“All of reality was at risk. I heard you, my lord.”

He sighs.

“It goes deeper than that. The Presence, The Creator himself might be in danger.”

…Excuse me?

“I’m sorry, sir, but that’s not possible. He is-”

“Missing.”

EXCUSE ME?!