Sally needed to be in New York to meet with some of the managers of her properties. She was in the process of breaking up her little empire and was giving the pieces to those who had earned it. As far as they knew, Sally was only divesting direct ownership, for tax purposes or other business reasons. They would believe she still controlled the entire empire and would make contact with them as necessary.
In some ways, everything seemed to be working out very nicely. I had made arrangements to meet with my publisher while Sally and I were there, and it just so happened Ned would be in New York that week and I really needed to speak with him as well.
The call came from Dempsey. She had been out to our home. She didn't say why; she knew Sally and I would be in New York.
"They've taken Andrew," she said as soon as I answered the phone. I didn't need to ask who had taken him. I knew it was NatAlSec.
"I don't understand, Dempsey. Why would they take Andrew?"
"Because they think like the thugs they are. Andrew is a 'servant.' Servants always know things. They think they'll beat information out of him, about us. It's us they really want, of course."
"What can we do Dempsey?" I asked.
"Nothing, she said."
"Nothing!? But we've got to do something."
"Well it's certain there is nothing you can do, Mark. I could do something, if it were a different situation, but if Andrew doesn't do anything, I can't do anything."
"What in the world do you expect Andrew to do?" I asked a bit belligerently.
"Don't you know yet, Mark?"
"Know what? I have no idea what you are talking about."
"Oh!" She said. "No wonder you're so worried. I don't mean there is nothing to worry about, but it's not what you're thinking, Mark."
"I still don't understand, Dempsey," I said more than a little impatiently.
"Mark, Andrew will be alright. He's a non-earth human like Roger and I. He's never revealed it to anyone. Perhaps I should not be revealing it now. Tell Sally, if you must; and of course you must; but please to do not tell anyone else.
"Mark, Andrew is different from me. He's more like Roger. He does not approve of what I did the night those NatAlSec agents came looking for me, and definitely does not approve of what I did for the Barretts. He'll never allow himself to be harmed, but will avoid anything that involves using resources that are not entirely available on this planet. It's what he believes. I could walk into wherever they are holding him, and walk back out with him and everyone there would thank me; everyone, that is, except Andrew.
"By the way. You cannot go back to the estate. NatAlSec goons will be swarming all over it, and will, as cretans always do, destroy most of it. I wonder how they'll like the illegal firing range and some of the weapons and ammo they'll find there?
"Dempsey, we've got to go back. Everything we own, all our work, all our records, everything is there.
"No it's not. Andrew and I worked all that out long ago. Everything important, which is mostly information, has been saved, and everything of monetary value, the gold, silver, and jewels, has also been moved. There are still a few millions (she meant dollars) of everything from machines to furniture, but everything important is gone.
"We can work all that out later, Mark. You no longer live at the Roger estate.
There was silence for a moment, as though she were listening to someone else. Then her voice took on a much more urgant tone.
"Mark, they're looking for you and Sally now, there. You have to leave New York. Get Sally to call me as soon as possible—like immediately, or sooner."
"Can't you tell me?" I asked.
"It's not secret, Mark, but you're not a pilot, and I need to talk to the pilot to tell her where to go. Sally's going have to submit some false flight plans, and do some fancy flying to get you safe."
That did nothing for my ego, but I was able to get Sally to call Dempsey from her meeting. Then she called me. It was more urgent than I thought.
"Mark, get out of the hotel now. Take a taxi to our airport immediately. I'll meet you there. Don't pack or anything. Just get out."
"I did get out, but it was a near miss. The moment my elevator reached the main floor, the three ladies accompanying me and I were all rushed out of the elevator and the elevator sealed. I could see the same thing was happening to all the elevators. There were a lot of men in suits, and more in uniforms streaming into the building. I didn't wait to see more, but hailed the first taxi I saw and told the driver to hurry to the Lennox private airport."
When I got out of the taxi I was surprised to find Ned waiting for me.
"Sally's already in the plane. Let's go," he said and started running. I ran, but could not keep up with Ned. We tumbled in as soon as we got there and Sally was already cleared for take off, and that's what she did."
"Look," Sally said as we circled the airport to head south. "That line of lights headed to the airport."
"NatAlSec?" I asked.
"Who knows what agents they are. Any thugs will do when they are determined to get someone," Ned said.
"Suddenly we were descending, and I could see airport lights ahead of us."
"What's going on, Sally. Are we landing already."
"Just temporarily. We're changing planes. Don't ask me how, Dempsey arranged it all. It's a jet with a known identity of a certain Congressman of the state we're going to. No one will question this flight. The one we were on will just disappear, and so will the plane."
"Oh," Ned said, as though he understood the whole thing. I certainly didn't.
"We're going on vacation," Sally said when she had everything on autopilot, and had turned to talk to us. The plane was entirely open. There was no division between the cockpit and where Ned was sitting directly behind the co-pilots seat, where I was sitting.
"Vacation?" I said.
"Yes," she said, with a sly grin. "It's a resort in Arizona. You and Ned are combining a business/pleasure trip, discussing your investments. I'm your secretary.
"That's our cover?" Ned asked incredulously.
"Not really. It's unlikely we'll meet anyone we'd need it for. There will be a car waiting for us when we land. No one will know who the car is bing provided by, or for. We'll drive to our resort. There are bungalows reserved for us. We'll be using different names, of course, but no IDs are required.
"What are our names?" Ned Asked.
"Well yours is Sam Spade," Sally said with a perfectly straight face.
"Sam Spade!?" Ned responded, before he realized Sally was pulling his leg.
Sally told us the names we'd be using. I wasn't happy about the hyphenated name of Sally, but I'd live with it tonight.
I must have looked disappointed. "Dempsey knows what she's doing, Darling," Sally said. "At least we're in the same bungalow."
"And, by the way, we'll have friends at the resort."
"Really? Who?" I asked.
"The truth is I'm not certain. Dempsey rattled it all off so quickly, and I was concentrating on the flight info. If I've got it right, Frank will already be there, Margo and Franz are on the way, as well as Jo and Peter. Dempsey is sure NatAlSec has connected us all. They don't seem to know about Ned's connection with us, probably because he's connected with everybody. Of course they know about the Barretts, but Dempsey made them invisible to NatAlSec. Both the Barretts and Ned will be able to move about freely. The Barretts will also show up at some time, and have a surprise for us when they do.
"Joel may be the only one besides Ned that NatAlSec has not identified. Ned is sure they haven't, and Joel's ranch is one other place we might be able to go to if things get hot where we're headed."
"What about Ruth?"
"Ruth's in Europe, but will be arriving sometime later in the week. The only ones who won't be with us are Dempsey and Andrew.
"What about Andrew? Have you heard anything?" I asked.
"No, I've heard nothing, except what Dempsey told me," Mark. I'm so worried about him."
"Didn't Dempsey tell you?"
"Tell me what?"
I looked at Ned. "Well Dempsey said I could tell you, but not anyone else. So you're not hearing this, Ned."
Ned simply nodded.
"Andrew is one of them, a non-earth human, like Roger and Dempsey."
Sally's eyes opened so wide, I thought they'd pop out. "No!" she said. "Why that Andrew. But what does it mean?"
"It means they cannot really hurt him. Dempsey says he refuses to use any power except what is available to him as an earth human being, but that he would not allow himself to be harmed, and certainly will not give NatAlSec any useful information."
Ned had not said anything during this exchange, but listened carefully. Then remarked casually, "I've always suspected Andrew knew much more than anyone supposed, but he had me fooled." Then added. "Of course I don't know that."
It was not very late when we arrived. There was a huge barn-like building that was obviously the main center where we received our keys and instructions on how to find our, "lodges," as they were called. We did not have to register. We were told all that had been taken care of.
Sally drove us to our "lodge," and dropped Ned off at his, which was two lodges away from ours. He was not particularly pleased about that. We decided to find and meet any of the others that were there, "accidentally," the next day at breakfast in the main dining hall which was also in the main center. We were not sure it would make a difference but thought it might be better if we didn't look like we all knew each other.
The lodge was like a small home, with a kitchen, living room, two bedrooms, and two baths.
"This is great," I teased Sally. "A bedroom for each of us."
"Keep that up, Buster, and you just might be right," Sally informed me.
Happily it did not turn out that way, and lying in bed later, I asked Sally what she thought about the sudden change in everything.
"Sally, has it struck you that all this has happened in less then twenty four hours and we have not once questioned it? It's almost unreal, yet it seems so perfectly natural, like this is how it ought to be."
"It's not natural, though, Mark. Our whole world has been completely torn away. The only thing we'll have of that world is our friends, but, somehow, I do not miss that world, even though I know I'll never have anything like it again. It is strange Mark. I'm not the least bit worried, at least not for myself. I know what you told me about Andrew, Honey, but I cannot help worrying about Andrew. The thought of anyone torturing that beautiful human being is almost unbearable."
"I'm not worried about him, Love. I know he'll be alright now that I know what he is, but I have to admit I'm going to miss him terribly until he can be with us again.
"Oh, Mark, do you think he will be?"
Sally's question surprised me.
"I just assumed, I guess, that he would be, but now that you ask, love, I'm not sure. I'm not sure about anything that's going to happen in the future."
Sally looked very serious, not in a worried way, but in that settled way she has when she is certain about things.
"We never are sure about any part of the future that depends on others, Darling. The only thing we can be sure of is what we are going to do, and tomorrow we better start thinking about that."
It would have to be tomorrow, because we fell asleep in each others arms, as we always do, because that would never change.