It took most of whatever will-power she had left to remain standing in place. She was so afraid and the Voice was so enraged with them all. They all called him "the Voice". They never saw his face or even a profile, which terrified them all the more. Nothing but a nameless, faceless void that could strike them down at any moment.
"How many Legacy houses have escaped because of your stupidity and incompetence!" the Voice screamed.
Oh God, she thought, I'm going to throw up. The kid in front of her stepped forward and said, "Sir, we still haven't heard back yet about Boston or Miami." The silence that followed terrified her to the point of passing out. Then suddenly the boy's mouth began to froth and veins bulged from his temples. She watched him fall to the floor. He jerked once before lying at her feet, motionless.
"Houston, Las Vegas, Seattle and San Francisco. Do not fail this time!" the Voice screeched.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
Nick dropped his gun and ran forward, pushing past the towering man in front of him to grab the girl around her waist. He lifted her up and twirled around.
"Nicolai!" she cried. Galina threw her arms around Nick's neck. Philip tried to choose between dropping the poker or holding on to it.
"Do I have to pry you two apart?" he asked.
Nick smiled and let Galina go. He turned around to face the man standing behind him. "Basil," he said, "Long time no see."
The Russian man frowned and replied, "You making fun of my English?"
"No," Nick said, "It's just a figure of, oh, nevermind, forget it."
He led them all inside the house, asking Irina and Bohdana if there was anything they needed. After Galina briefed Nick and Philip about what happened they walked out to the courtyard at the back of the house.
When Derek saw Nick and Philip walk into the yard he breathed out heavily and motioned for Alex, Rachel and Kat to come back inside.
Nick said, "I tried to call you yesterday, Galina." The young woman smiled sadly.
"We flew here in a hurry. We had to get more fuel and stop at a few airports along the way. Then we decided to get a new plane. To do that we had to use the company credit card. Whoever is hunting us will no doubt notice the paper leak," she said.
"Paper trail," Nick told her.
She smiled and said, "Yes, well, I'm afraid we don't have much time."
"That's okay," Nick told her.
"We'll grab your team some extra clothes and head on out, " Alex said. She eyed the woman carefully. So this was Galina Perovskaya, Alex thought, just a friend! The woman was beautiful and spoke with a heavy Russian accent that made her all the more mysterious. Alex and Philip watched Nick and Galina walk upstairs and into the library, shutting the door behind them.
Alex told Philip, "I'd love to be a fly on that wall." Philip smiled. So would he.
After they were all standing outside again, Derek said, "I have a safehouse set up for us. The Sydney house is going to meet us there. Let's go."
Jacob whispered for them to stay put. Helen and Rita tried to protest but in the end it was Jacob that emerged from the small space behind the wall. The two women waited in agonizing silence until they heard a string of gunfire that sounded like firecrackers. It mingled with their screams, which immediately ceased when they heard the footsteps run into the room.
Rita held her breath in completely as Helen strained her eyes to look through the tiny crack in the panel door. She put one finger in the air motioning to Rita that there was just one man in the room. The two women waited until his back was to the desk before springing forward. Helen landed directly on the man's back and bringing him down to the floor while Rita grabbed a large paperweight off the desk and brought it down on his head. Helen picked up the man's machine gun and the two of them ran from the room and down the stairs.
Halfway down Rita screamed for Helen to shoot. Helen never got the chance to pull the trigger as the trio of men at the foot of the stairs opened fire.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
Kat cried the whole time Rachel was packing their things. When Nick finally couldn't stand it anymore he walked over and picked the child up.
"You and your mom have to go, Kitty Kat. You'll be much safer," he said. After they had gotten to the old Victorian down by the Marina, Derek had suggested to Rachel that she take Kat and go someplace safe. Someplace only Rachel knew about.
"This is a safehouse," Kat said. "You're supposed to be safe here."
"Kat," Nick said, gently. "You have a really big job to do that is very important. You have to take care of your mom for us. Okay?"
"What about you? If I'm not here I won't be able to watch after you guys," she said.
"Nothing will happen to us, Kitty Kat. Besides, you still have to show me how to beat the dragon on level seven," he responded.
"Huh?" Kat asked.
"On Death Doom 2, silly!" Nick laughed.
"Oh yeah, that's real easy. You promise nothing will happen to you or Philip? Or Alex and Derek?" she asked.
"Cross my heart and hope-"
"No! Don't say that!" Kat yelled.
"Okay," Nick said, "How about Scout's Honor?"
Kat nodded as Rachel walked over and took her from Nick's arms. After they left Nick swallowed the lump in his throat while Galina laid her hand on his shoulder.
She said, "You love that little girl." Nick just nodded.
When the Sydney house had arrived they all sat down and tried to figure out what was going on. They all agreed it had to be someone who had prior connection with the Legacy, yet they were baffled as to how that someone could have gotten ahold of the locations to all the Legacy branches.
Galina stood up and announced that she was going to try to catch some sleep. Alex and Philip watched as Nick waited for a few minutes and then got up and walked after her.
"Do you really want to sleep right now?" Nick asked from the doorway. Galina looked up at him.
"No, I want to finish our talk," she said, smiling. Nick went in and sat down beside her. He opened his mouth to speak when Philip ran in.
"What?" Nick snapped. He felt immediately guilty for having done so and said, "I'm sorry, man."
"Forget it, I think you two should come in here," Philip told them. Galina and Nick followed Philip into the other room. Everyone was huddled around the television set.
"What is it?" Nick asked.
"We just lost Boston, New York and Miami," Derek said angrily.
THE MARINA, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
Alex explained, "They found the bodies of four people in a house in Boston shot to death. There were four in New York and three in Miami including one man whose head was crushed. The police think it's some kind professional string of mob killings."
Nick asked, "How do you know it's them for sure?"
"I know," Derek snarled. He stormed out of the room and Nick looked at Alex with questioning eyes.
"Richard Reamonn was a friend of Derek's," Alex explained.
Galina closed her eyes and sighed. After a few moments of careful contemplation she decided she couldn't wait any longer. She walked up to Nick and gently pulled him into a corner, something that didn't escape Philip's attention.
"I want to talk to you, Nicolai. It is important," she whispered. Sensing an urgency within her, Nick took hold of her hand and led her down the hall into another room.
"Galina-" he began. She put her hand over his mouth. The feel of his lips underneath her fingertips made her caught her heart.
"Don't. Let me do this. I have been working up the nerve for this for quite a while," Galina told him.
He kissed her palm and then slowly took her hand away from his mouth and said, "Talk to me."
"For the last three years of my life, since the day you left Russia, I have lived with regret. I hurt you when I didn't go back with you to San Francisco," she said.
"That was a long time ago," said Nick.
"No, it wasn't. Not to me. But it is a long time to be thinking about all of the things I could have done differently," said Galina.
"St. Petersburg was your home, Galina. I had no right to ask you to leave everything behind for me," Nick answered. Galina walked over and shut the door, locking them in.
She said, "If you were to ask me now, Nicolai, I would say yes. I would give everything I have to be able to go back three years ago and tell you yes."
"Galina," Nick said her name softly. "When this is over, will you stay with me here in San Francisco?" he asked her.
She started to cry very gently and said, "Yes, if you still want me."
Nick's answer was a soft kiss on her lips. He whispered, "I still love you." As he pushed her back onto the bed, he thought, I will never let you go again. He didn't know that Galina was thinking the same thing.
"Well," Philip said, taking a good look at Nick. "The cat has swallowed the canary."
Nick grinned and said, "Philip, I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Sure, she's just a friend," Philip laughed. Nick's face grew serious and yet full of happiness.
"I love her," Nick told him. "She's going to stay with me her in San Francisco when this is all over."
"I know," Philip said.
"How do you know?" Nick asked.
"Because the look she wears on her face every time she sees you is a look that only comes 'round once in a lifetime. The ancient Irish believed that the same people were reincarnated and stayed t'gether in every life. That they weren't just a reincarnation, but a link between the past, the present and the future," Philip explained.
Nick asked, "Are you going somewhere with this?"
"Yes," Philip said. "I believe that you and Galina have been t'gether since the dawn of time. Haven't you ever seen two people who're in love? Who're meant to be with each other? You can feel a power emanatin' from them that is stronger than any power on earth save faith. That is love in its purest and rawest form. I felt that when you and Galina were standin' next to each other, it almost knocked me off my feet."
Nick smiled at his friend and was about to answer when both Galina and Derek cried out. Both men jumped from their seats and ran like their lives depended on it. When they got to the living room Derek had his head in his hands and Galina was shaking violently. Nick noticed Alex was fidgeting as well.
"I just saw something, terrible," Derek said. "And from the looks of it I'd say Galina saw it too." The woman only nodded.
"Your sight?" Alex asked. When Derek said yes she added, "I didn't see anything but I sure as hell felt it."
"What?" Philip asked.
"Death," Derek replied. " Back at the Legacy house. And I saw Terence Edmunds, I, oh God, you don't think they've come to San Francisco to try to reach us?" Derek asked.
"Who knows," Nick answered. "But we'd better check it out. What if they decided to fly to our house for safety and whoever's been assassinating Legacy members shows up as well?"
Galina drained of color and said, "I think that's it. I think that's what I saw. It was only flashes but I know this, a lot more people are going to die."
THE BAY OF SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
The girl sat back and grabbed hold of the rail, trying not to get queasy. She hated boats, she always did. And the fact that the Las Vegas team had failed made her feel worse. There was no way to be sure that the Voice wouldn't take it out on any of them. She shuddered at the thought of the Voice had done to those that failed. If they succeeded they were allowed death. The Voice promised them they could have immortality. That they could rule the world with him in darkness. Then quick and incessant flashes would erupt in her mind. Flashes of what her life was like at one time. Flashes of the girl she used to be, the things she used to do. More and more she was coming under the realization that she had made a huge mistake at pledging her life to some damn cult. She didn't want to die. She didn't want to rule the world or have immortality. She just wanted her old life back.
She looked at the men with her. There were four of them. True-believers, she thought. She couldn't see any way of getting out it. She hated the thought of having to kill more innocent people. She hardly believed that this Legacy was so evil and dangerous. She would have to figure out some way of escaping, maybe faking her death or just running away. If she ran now, she'd be running the rest of her life. No, she thought, I can't run away, it won't work.
"We're here," one of the men snarled. "And look, a helicopter just landed. Looks like we got here just in time."
THE MARINA, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
"I'll go," Nick replied when Derek mentioned that someone should go back to Angel Island.
"Then I'll go too," Galina and Philip said together.
"Right, then the three of you-"
"What about one of us?" Adelle asked. "The Sydney house isn't just going to sit here and do nothing."
"I have something else planned for your team, Adelle," derek said. Basil placed a bear-like hand on Derek's shoulder.
He said, "I go with Galina."
"I'm sorry," Derek responded, brushing him off. "Three's enough, we-"
"I GO!" Basil shouted.
Galina shouted to the man in Russian and he backed off. When Philip, Nick and Galina got into the car Nick asked, "What did you say to him back there?"
"I told him I was precept, it was my decision and there was no way I was changing my mind on the subject," she answered.
"You're precept?" Nick asked.
"Tatiana always said that if anything ever happened to her, for me to take over. The others agreed with her," Galina said.
"You've wanted to be precept of the St. Petersburg house as long as I've known you, Galina. You've always worked so hard for the Legacy. You'd give that up and stay here with me?" Nick asked her.
"I love you more than any job or title, Nicolai," she said, forgetting Philip was sitting in the back seat. At the same moment, both Galina and Nick realized he was there and flushed.
"Oh don't mind me," Philip said. "This is much better than All My Children."
ANGEL ISLAND, CALIFORNIA "Oh God," Nick breathed. "We're too late."
Galina sucked in her breath at the sight of Elise Stuart lying dead by the Legacy chopper. Philip walked over and took off his coat, laying it over her. He began the last rites while Nick and Galina went into the house.
The door was wide open and as soon as she crossed the threshold, Galina latched on to Nick's arm. Nick thought the place looked exactly as it had when they left except for the bullet holes in the wall above the stairs. Nick motioned for Galina to stay put and walked towards the stairs. Terence Edmunds was lying face down at the top of the stairs. Nick swallowed hard. He had felt so bad for the man since Marla and Christine's death even though he had blamed Derek and the rest of them for it. Now the man was dead as well and Nick boiled with rage.
"It's not fair," Nick growled with his teeth clenched.
"Look, Nicolai, over there," Galina said. Nick turned and saw Jack Risley dead on the floor in the hallway.
His rage turned white hot and he grabbed Galina's hand and said, "We're getting out of here."
From the bushes the man whispered, "Look, the priest. Kill him."
In her mind the girl immediately screamed at the thought of killing a priest. She watched as her team leveled their guns at the man's head, feeling powerless to do anything about it.
She knocked the gun out of the man's hand and in retaliation he grabbed her by the throat. She gasped and sputtered out, "We can follow them...they could lead us to other Legacy members."
The man released her and they stepped back into the bushes, watching as a man and a woman came out of the castle. The priest stood up and walked over to them.
"They're all dead, Philip. Let's get out of here," Nick said. When they left the ferry building back on the mainland and were driving away, Nick stiffened and said, "We're being followed." From the back seat Philip started to turn around and Nick said, "No, Philip! I don't want them to know we're on to them."
"What do we do?" asked Galina.
Nick thought quickly and said, "One of us has got to try and make it to someplace safe and get through to the others. We can't go to the safehouse, we can't risk being followed there. One of you has got to-"
"I'm not leaving you, Nicolai," Galina said, firmly.
"Neither am I," Philip answered.
"Look, I don't have time to argue with you guys, one of-" Nick started.
Galina cut him off, "I'm NOT leaving you!" she told him. Nick glanced at her quickly and saw that she was deadly serious.
"Philip," he said.
"Absolutely not!" Philip replied.
"Come on, Philip! I'm going to find someplace to stop around here, an abandoned building or something. We'll run inside and Galina and I can hold them off. I want you to make it to a hotel somewhere," Nick explained. Looking in the rear view mirror Nick saw Philip's face contorted in anger. "Look, man. I'm not debating this anymore. Please Philip, just do this for me, okay?"
He pulled over to a wherehouse near the wharf. The three of them ran inside. Nick ran to a window and watched two men and two women get out of a van and run towards the building.
"Philip, go now!" Nick cried, pulling his gun from its holster. Nick looked at Philip and said, "Please Philip, go and don't come back for me this time!"
Philip turned and ran to the back of the building and out a side door. Nick took Galina's hand and they ran up several flights of stairs and up to a catwalk. He pushed her into a corner and opened fire on the assassins as they ran through the door. One of the men immediately flew backwards and hit the wall. Nick dodged the bullets that were flying at him. He fired back and watched as the two women went back out the door as the man ran off behind a bunch of crates.
"Shit, they're circling us," Nick growled. He grabbed Galina and they ran across the catwalk. They hunched down close and listened. "He's coming up the stairs," Nick whispered and the two of them started to run. Galina's body jerked violently sideways, pulling Nick down with her as she hit the ground.
Philip ran out into the fog. He made his way off of the wharf, stopping once to look back at the wherehouse when he heard the gunfire. He decided to leave the car for Nick and Galina. He ran down several city blocks before coming to a small motel.
Nick looked down at Galina who was covered in blood. He growled and whipped his hand around, catching the assassin by the leg as the man came in to finish them off. The man toppled backwards as Nick pointed his gun at the man's head and fired. Nick turned back to Galina, who was sitting up.
"It's just my shoulder," she said, weakly. Nick looked around him. There were still two of them left. He picked up Galina and headed off down the stairs and out to the car.
"You're going to be okay," Nick said to her.
"Of course I am, I told you I'm staying with you," said Galina.
Pulling out onto the road, Nick kept a careful eye out to make sure they weren't being followed. He said, "I'm taking you to a hospital."
"Is that safe?" asked Galina.
"I'm not sure, but I'm not going to risk having you bleed out on me. I'm not taking any chances with your life," he said.
Philip paid the man for a room and immediately ran inside, locking the door behind him. He sat down on the bed, exhausted, and tried to think.
Nick turned the corner sharply and Galina moaned.
"Sorry," he said softly.
"It's alright," she answered. "This is worth it."
"What is?" he asked her.
"Being run out of Russia, away from my home, being hunted down and shot. I would go through that a million times again to be with you. Even if I die," Galina told him.
"You're not going to die. We're going to the hospital, patch you up and then find Philip. Everything is going to be okay," Nick said.
"That wasn't what I meant, Nicolai. If I die I won't care so much. Just a few precious moments in the middle of all this is worth more than a lifetime of nothing. A lifetime spent alone," she said.
Nick looked at her and smiled. His smile faded away when Galina screamed his name. He turned and reacted instinctively but didn't have enough time to get out of the way of the oncoming car. It him them head-on, knocking them back and flipping them into the air. Nick's head slammed into the steering wheel violently.
She watched as the young man lay unconscious. Yes, she thought, this was Nick Boyle. Rachel's friend. Dr. Widmere remembered seeing him at a party Rachel had invited her to for the Luna Foundation. Now the doctor had a million questions she wanted to ask him. Like why he had been brought in carrying a gun. Why the woman he was with had been shot. She wondered if maybe he had shot her then quickly dismissed the thought from her mind. No, he wouldn't do that. Something else was going on. Rachel said the Luna Foundation did a lot of investigating. Maybe it was an investigation that went wrong.
Nick awoke in a darkened hospital room.
"Mr. Boyle?" a voice called to him. Nick opened his eyes painfully to see an older woman standing over him. "I'm Doctor Widmere, I'm a friend of Rachel Corrigan's. Do you remember me?" she asked him.
"Yes," he breathed. "Have you finished yet?" he asked.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Boyle?"
"Is she all patched up now, can I take her home?" Nick asked.
"Mr. Boyle, you were in a car accident, you were hit by a drunk driver. Don't you remember?" Dr. Widmere asked.
Consciousness slammed into him and he sat upright and shouted Galina's name. Dr. Widmere tried to shove Nick back down.
"You've been in a serious accident, Mr. Boyle, please lay down," she said.
"Not until I know that Galina is okay," Nick moaned.
Dr. Widmere looked on him with compassion and said, "I'm very sorry, Mr. Boyle. She was killed in the accident. So was the driver of the other car. You were the only survivor."
Nick flopped backward onto the bed and squeezed his eyes shut. He said, "Get out."
Dr. Widmere started to respond when Nick screamed at her, "GET OUT!"
She left him alone. Nick laid in the bed for a few moments before summoning up the strength to get up. He walked over to the closet and grabbed his clothes, taking his time to put them on. He caught his reflection in the mirror and stopped. His shirt was covered with dried blood. His forehead was a dark purple from where he had hit the steering wheel. He stepped outside the room and cautiously made his way to Dr. Widmere's office.
When Dr. Widmere walked into her office she was grabbed from behind and tossed across the room. She whirled around and braced herself against her desk.
"Where's my gun," Nick asked in a raspy voice. She looked over at the cabinet against the wall. Nick walked over and opened the drawer, pulling it out. He turned around and asked, "What kind of car do you have?"
"What?" she asked.
"WHAT KIND OF CAR DO YOU HAVE!" he screamed at her.
"I, I have a Lexus," she stammered.
Nick pointed his gun at her and said, "Give me your keys."
"Keys? You can't drive, you're in no condition," she said.
"Someone is trying to kill me and if I don't get the hell out of here right now they're going to come looking for me and they will kill anyone who gets in their way, including you, SO GIVE ME THE GOD DAMNED KEYS!" he shouted.
The woman quickly grabbed her purse and pulled out her keys. She said, "It's a blue one, in my marked spot."
He grabbed the keys and ran down to the parking lot. He drove Dr. Widmere's car around to the back exit of the hospital morgue and ran inside. He knocked the only attendant in the room unconscious. He saw Galina's body lying on a slab and grabbed a sheet, draping it over her before he picked her up and carried her out.
Philip bolted up out of bed. He looked at his watch and cursed himself for falling asleep. It had been four hours since he left Nick and Galina. He felt sick to his stomach and was about to grab the phone when he thought he heard Nick's voice. He peeped his head out the window and saw Nick at the manager's window asking for a room. He saw Galina in the front seat and breathed a silent prayer of thanks that they were both okay.
He bounded out the front door and Philip told the manager that the couple would be staying with him. He watched as the man went off into the back room to watch his football game. He looked at Nick who simply stood staring at him. "My God, Nick, are you okay? What happened to your head?" Philip asked.
Nick didn't answer him. Philip said, "Get inside, you too Galina" he called over to the car. Nick passed out in front of Philip, who caught him and dragged him into the hotel room. He ran back outside and ran up to the passenger's side window and tapped on the glass. When Galina didn't respond he opened her door and she fell out onto his feet.
"Oh God, no," Philip moaned.
COW HOLLOW DISTRICT, SAN FRANCISCO
Five hours after Nick, Philip and Galina had left, Alex switched on the television to calm her nerves. Derek walked in and listened to the news broadcast that two men and a woman were found shot to death in a wherehouse near the ferry terminal. Alex burst into tears and walked up to Derek, who pushed her aside and said, "We have work to do Alex, we can grieve later."
Derek left the room and a crushed Alex behind. He stood in the hallway and heaved a quivering sigh, trying to push the aching away.
He turned and walked into the other room and informed the St. Petersburg House of their colleague's death. Alex listened to the cries coming from the other room and wiped away her tears. She walked slowly into the kitchen where the Sydney House had created a makeshift control room.
Samuel Basildon looked up at her and asked, "Is something wrong, Miss Moreau?"
Alex could not answer him so instead she bit her lip. Samuel's face turned grave as he stood up and asked, "We've lost more members, haven't we? Whose house?"
"Mine," Alex choked. She painfully swallowed the lump in her throat and asked Adelle, "Have you come up with anything?"
"Yes," Adelle told her, "about a million and one possibilities. Who knows how many enemies the Legacy has. Thousands and thousands I would assume."
"Yes, but do any of them fit this situation? Have any of them sworn to destroy the entire Legacy? Do any of them have the resources and the capabilities to do it?" Alex asked, raising her voice.
"Look, Alexandra," Adelle said, "We all have friends in the Legacy. Friends who are now dead or missing. I have a niece in the London House and we haven't heard from them in days. We are all trying as hard as we can to find out who is responsible for all of this." On an afternote Adelle added, "I'm sorry about your friends."
EMBARCADERO DISTRICT, SAN FRANCISCO
The girl watched the priest carry a woman into the motel room. Judging from the way the woman hung in his arms, the girl knew she was dead. She winced, she didn't mean for this to happen. She wanted a way out. She wanted help. These people would never help her now. The girl crossed the street and inched her way towards the room.
Nick opened his eyes to see Philip administering Galina's last rites. He leaned back into the chair and shut his eyes, laying his hand over his face. After a few moments he heard Philip call his name and he looked up.
"Nick," Philip asked, "What happened?"
After Nick managed to choke the words out, Philip laid a compassionate hand on Nick's shoulder. He studied him carefully. The young man's eyes glazed over and Philip grew increasingly nervous. The priest stood up and said, "I should call Derek, he's probably wondering what happened to us."
"Yeah," Nick said. "Duncan will have a fit if we miss dinner."
Philip turned around and looked at Nick closely. He asked, "What did you say?"
"We should probably call Julia too, and see...see what she came up with...and..." Nick was mumbling. Philip grimaced and sat down on the edge of the bed.
"Nick," he said. "Do you know where you are?"
"San Francisco," Nick answered.
"Yes, " Philip said, "but where in San Francisco? Do you remember anything?"
Nick shook his head and for the first time in his life he started to cry. Philip kept his distance from him but uttered soothing words to try and comfort him.
From the window the girl watched the two men. The dead woman lay on the bed. It was clear to her that she was someone very loved as the men seemed painfully mournful. I'd better get out of here, she thought. She started up but lost her balance, tumbling to the sidewalk and landing on a small shrub in front of the window.
Philip snapped his head up. "What was that?" he asked. He turned and looked at Nick, who didn't seem to hear a thing. Philip walked up to Nick and reached around him, pulling out his gun. "Bloody hell, I hate these things," Philip whispered, walking towards the door.
The girl got up off of the ground to the sight of a gun pointed in her face. She caught her breath and said, "So this is what it feels like before you die." The man looked at her intently, yet his face softened and the girl realized that it was the priest standing in front of her.
"I'm not going to kill you," he said. "But I might maim you a little," Philip said, trying to sound as threatening as he could. He hoped to high heaven he wouldn't have to use the damn gun in his hand. He ushered the girl inside and motioned for her to stand in the corner. "You're one of them, aren't you?" Philip asked. His back was facing Nick, who snapped his head up.
"Yes, and no," she said. She slowly put her hand inside of her jacket and pulled out a gun, plopping down onto the bed by Galina's body. "I don't want any trouble, I want your help," she said.
"What's your name?" Philip asked. He didn't see Nick slowly getting up out of his chair.
"Roxanne Parker, well, it used to be, anyway. We're not names anymore, just numbers," she answered. Before Philip could ask her what she meant, he felt a breeze rush past him. He realized it was Nick when he saw the girl tumble backwards against the wall. Nick began to pummel the girl with his fists as Philip dropped Nick's gun and lunged forward. He was met with Nick's fist, which sent Philip sprawling back. Nick made no gesture that he was aware he had hit Philip at all, he kept on attacking the girl. Philip grabbed a blanket and threw it over Nick, wrapping his arms around him in a bear-like fashion and pulling him away. He tried to keep a strong hold on Nick as he dragged him across the room.
He listened to Nick's screams from under the blanket but kept his grip until Nick had tired himself out. After a few moments of silence Philip asked, "Will you stop this?"
"Yes," Nick breathed. Philip released him and Nick tore the blanket off of him and started forward again. Philip was about to stop him when both men heard the sound a gun being cocked. They turned around.
"Keep him away from me!" Roxanne shouted. She winced as she wiped the blood from her mouth. "I don't want any trouble with you guys-"
"You don't want any trouble?!" Nick screamed. He shoved Philip out of the way and grabbed his gun from Roxanne's hand before she could even blink. Nick grabbed the girl by the hair and forced her to look at Galina's body. "Do you think we wanted any trouble?!" he screamed.
Philip ran up behind him and whispered, "Oh Jesus, forgive me" before bringing Roxanne's gun down on Nick's head.
He crumpled down to the floor. Roxanne looked at him cautiously and asked, "Why didn't you just let him kill me?"
"You could have killed us, but you didn't. There's a reason you followed us here, other than to kill us I assume," Philip told her. He bent down and dragged Nick back to the chair. He turned around and looked the girl over. "Jesus," Philip breathed, "how old are you, Roxanne?"
"Fifteen," she answered.
Philip squeezed his eyes shut and said, "A fifteen-year-old murderer."
The girl grew defensive and said, "I was protecting the world from your evil! The Legacy is a festering sore, a blight on the face of mankind, a-"
"Shut up!" Philip cried, surprising himself at the tone in his voice. This kid is programmed, he thought. He watched Roxanne plop down in the seat across the room. She seemed wary of Galina's body and kept her eye on it, as if it would rise and attack her. "You want help?" Philip asked. The girl nodded shyly. Philip got up and went into the bathroom, grabbing a wet towel. He walked over and handed it to her. "It's for your face," he said.
The girl took it and said, "I didn't want to do it."
Philip asked, "Do what?"
"Kill Lana," she answered.
"Who?" he asked her.
"She was the other girl at the warehouse. She was going to kill your friend when he was trying to help that girl out to the car," Roxanne said, her gaze moving from Nick to Galina. "She was my friend," Roxanne continued. "She was the one who got me to join the Voice, she said he would get me off the street, he would help us all and if we were loyal we could be immortal and be at his side when he took over the world. He said before we could do that we would have to destroy his enemy first."
"Who is the Voice?" Philip asked.
"That's what we call him. We never see him, he's just a voice," she said.
"You killed your friend, and came here for help. Even after they brainwashed you and filled your head with garbage." Philip asked, "What brought it on?"
"I started to remember things. My home. My mom and dad. I just want to go home," the girl started to cry. For a few moments, Philip couldn't decide whether it was an act or the genuine thing. He sat down on the edge of the bed and thought about what she had said. Who was this Voice? Something about it rung a bell in his head but he couldn't understand why. He turned when he heard Nick's voice.
"I won't leave you, I didn't want to leave you, I didn't-" he was mumbling. Philip swore silently as he walked over to Nick, who had laid his head on Galina's hand.
"Okay, Nick, it's okay, get up, it's okay," Philip was saying. He helped Nick up and heard the girl whimper in fear as Nick looked directly at her.
"Who's she?" Nick asked. Philip looked at him, amazed at first and then troubled.
"Damn it," Philip said to himself, "he's gone." He lead Nick back over to the chair and Roxanne cried, "Is he crazy? Did I make him go crazy?"
"He's crazy with grief, that girl was someone special to him," Philip snapped at her. He stared at his shell of a friend and turned on the girl. "This Voice, where is he? Where can I find him?" Philip asked her.
"You don't want to know," she replied. "Besides, if I tell you where he is he'll kill me. I'm in bad enough shape as it is just running away."
"If you don't tell me where he is, I'll let my friend have another go at you!" Philip yelled. He hated making idle threats but Philip saw he had no choice.
"You would not! You're a priest!" she cried. Philip tried to come up with something to say.
"Fine," he said. "Have it your way." Turning around he said, "Nick, do you remember this girl?" He hoped that Nick would be so far gone he wouldn't know. Philip was sure he couldn't restrain Nick a second time. He blocked the girl's view of Nick's face so she wouldn't see his blank expression. The girl shrieked.
"Okay! I'll tell you," she cried.
COW HOLLOW DISTRICT, SAN FRANCISCO
"My God, are you sure?" Derek cried over the phone. Alex watched his face intently. She could hardly believe it when Derek called out that it was Philip on the phone. He hung up and put his hands on her shoulders. "Philip is okay," he said, hesitating. Alex's face fell.
"Nick?" she asked.
"He's alive but not in good shape, Galina's dead," Derek replied. He sighed and let go of her, saying, "Philip has a girl who is involved in this."
"How involved?" Alex asked.
"She's one of them, one of the killers," Derek said. "But she knows where the Voice is."
"Voice?" Alex asked.
"That's who Philip says is behind this," Derek answered her.
"Wait a minute," Alex said, "I know that from somewhere, that name, I can't remember where." She ran into the other room and asked Adelle to look the name up in the Legacy database. Derek followed her. She turned around and said, "How can we know for sure that this girl is telling the truth?"
"We'll just have to trust Philip's judgement," Derek said.
From her seat in front of the laptop computer, Adelle cried out, "Oh my God, the Voice, I know who he is."
Adelle gasped, "Hekhef, the Voice of Darkness, the Voice of Death."
Derek's eyes widened. He said, "My God, I thought it was just a myth."
"Who?" Alex asked.
Derek explained, "Hekhef was a powerful demon in ancient times. He had no essence, no form. Just a voice that rose out of the darkness to lay claim to the weak and despondent, those who were without faith or hope. The legend is that a group of men and women gathered together, and with faith, they were strong enough to destroy Hekhef."
"And," Adelle spoke up, "those men and women were the foundation of what we know today to be the Legacy."
"Then somehow," Alex said, "Hekhef has found a way to come back, and he's avenging himself on the Legacy, or the legacy left behind by those men and women."
The three of them jumped when the phone rang. Samuel answered the phone and then handed it to Derek and said, "It's Philip."
Derek said, "Philip, we know who it is, stay put, we're on our way!"
Twenty minutes later, Derek, Alex, Samuel, and Adelle piled into a car, leaving the remaining members of the St. Petersburg and Sydney houses behind.
EMBARCADERO DISTRICT, SAN FRANCISCO
Philip hung up the phone and leaned against the wall. When Derek had filled him in on the identity of the Voice, he felt a chill right down to the bone. He looked over at Roxanne, who looked like a frightened fifteen-year-old girl. A fifteen-year-old girl who had murdered God knows how many Legacy members. He wanted to feel sorry for her, but his loyalty to Nick and to the Legacy prevented him from doing so. Not to mention the fact that his best friend's love was lying dead a few feet away.
"Roxanne," Philip asked, "how many Legacy members have you killed? Tell me the truth."
"None. My team killed the Boston house, I was there, but I didn't kill anyone myself. And the Pittsburgh house showed up at Angel Island and when we went in to kill them, I pretended my gun jammed. Then the three of you showed up and they were going to kill you but I stopped them," she said.
"Why?" Philip asked.
"Your collar. I went to Catholic school before I ran away from home and when I saw your collar, it was sort of like I was hit by a truck and I just couldn't let them do it," she said.
"What about the numbers? You said you were just a number," Philip said.
"We were like cattle, we weren't people anymore, just numbers," she explained. "The Voice found us. All of us who were weak and had turned away from ourselves. We were easy pray. He had us all brainwashed."
"Do you swear by your soul, Roxanne," Philip said, "that you are telling me the truth?"
"Yes!" she exclaimed. "Please help me, I just want to go home!"
"Why did you run away from home in the first place?" he asked her.
"It's so stupid really. There was a boy I liked in school. My parents said fourteen was too young to be dating so I told them to stick it and I ran away. I thought I would have a much better life without them. Now I'm a murderer," she sobbed.
"You mean your friend, Lana?" Philip asked.
"I had to do it, she was going to kill your friends and I couldn't make her see how wrong she was. I just didn't want to be a part of it anymore!" Roxanne cried.
"I don't condone violence or killing, Roxanne, but you said yourself that you had to do it," Philip said. "You saved his life." He pointed to Nick, who sat in a catatonic state.
"Yes, but I didn't save hers," she said.
Philip heard a sound from behind him and turned around. "Nick," he asked. "Are you okay?" Philip got up and walked over to Nick, kneeling beside him.
"No, not really," Nick answered. He closed his eyes for a moment and then looked at Philip. "I didn't do that, did I?" Nick asked, looking at Philip's eye. Nick leaned forward and put his head in his hands.
"It's alright, Nick," Philip told him, "You weren't in your right mind at the time."
Nick moaned and looked up, "I can't believe she's gone, look at her. She looks like she's asleep. Why did she have to die?" Nick asked.
His eyes watered but the crying came not from Nick but from the other side of the room. Nick and Philip turned and looked at Roxanne.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," she repeated.
Nick shifted in his seat.
"Nick," Philip began.
"It's alright, Philip, I heard you two talking," Nick said. He looked at the girl's bruised face and mumbled an apology, but his grief over losing Galina cancelled out any guilty feelings he may have had. He leaned back in the chair and told Philip, "Just keep her over there."
"I didn't kill your friend," Roxanne said.
"I don't care, just stay over there!" Nick said. He turned back and looked at Philip. After a few moments he said, "Give me some answers, tell me why it had to be her, why she had to die like that?"
"Nick," Philip explained, "You know I don't have those answers. And I don't think they would make you feel any better if I did have them. Just because I am a priest doesn't mean I know God's plan for all of us. I know you must be angry with him right now-"
"No, I'm not angry. I need to know that Galina has gone someplace better. I need to know she is somewhere where she won't suffer anymore," Nick told him.
"I'm sorry, Nick. I wish it had been me. If there were any chance I could take her place I would," Philip said.
Nick didn't respond, he just laid back in the chair and looked up at the ceiling.
Philip said, "There was an old Welsh song that my mother used to sing to me."
"Oh, man," Nick said, "don't sing to me, please."
"No, no, no," Philip said. "But I'll tell you the words: Sleep my love, and peace will attend thee all through the night. Guardian angels God will lend thee all through the night. Soft the drowsy hours are creeping. hill and vale in slumber sleeping. Love alone His watch is keeping all through the night."
Philip smiled at him and said, "I know this sounds rather corny but you have to believe that Galina is an angel now, attending over you, your guardian angel."
There was a knock at the door and both men jumped into the air. Philip looked out the window and ran to the door. He unlocked it and let Derek and Alex in.
"Just you guys?" Philip asked.
"No, the others are in the car," Alex whispered, looking at Nick. Her gaze shifted to Galina and she closed her eyes. Derek looked at Roxanne with contempt, but when he eyed her more carefully and realized she was just a little girl, his gaze softened to pity.
"Let's get moving," he said to Philip.
"I don't think Nick is in any condition to go with us. Alex, will you stay with him?" Philip asked.
Alex nodded, but Derek said, "We need her."
"No," Philip said, "We just need Roxanne."
"No! I'm not going!" the girl cried.
After some coaxing, Philip was able to get her to go. They climbed into the car and went off to meet their fate.
SAN RAFAEL, CALIFORNIA
When they reached the large house up in the hills of San Rafael, it was ominously quiet. They got out of the car and Derek motioned for Samuel and Adelle to go around back. They walked up to the front door and went inside. Roxanne gagged and tumbled into Philip's grasp. They stood there among the bodies, stunned.
"They were others like me," Roxanne said.
"Hekhef killed them," Derek whispered.
"No," the girl said. "They killed themselves. The Voice promised us immortality that way."
"He got what he needed out of them, they did his dirty work and then when he didn't need them he just threw their lives away," said Philip, disgusted.
EMBARCADERO DISTRICT, SAN FRANCISCO
For several moments after Philip, Derek and Roxanne left, Alex stood standing still, staring at Nick. She wasn't sure whether or not she should try to talk to him or leave him alone. She decided she would talk to him but he got up and walked over and knelt by Galina's body. He started to mumble something and Alex had to step closer to hear what he was saying.
"Nick?" she asked, quietly.
"...and peace attend thee all through the night...angels God will lend thee all through the night.." he repeated.
"Oh, Nick," Alex murmured. She was about to step forward when she was stopped by a light that came from nowhere.
SAN RAFAEL, CALIFORNIA
When the Voice spoke out, Derek felt like a cold hand grasped his heart.
"Good girl, you led them to me, come and I will give you your reward," said the Voice.
"No!" Roxanne cried.
They heard the screams of Adelle and Samuel outside the house. Derek yelled for Philip and Roxanne to stay put as he dashed out the front door and around the back.
"Are you alright?" he asked them.
"We're fine," said Samuel. He pointed to the open door and said, "We were just about to go inside."
"You screamed for help!" Derek said.
"No we didn't," Adelle told him.
The door slammed shut and they heard something akin to laughter filling the air.
"Philip!" Derek shouted. The three of them ran around to the front of the house and banged on the front door.
"It won't budge," Adelle shrieked. They could hear Philip pounding on the door.
"Alright, Roxanne," Philip said. "Calm down." He pulled a small bible from his jacket pocket and began to read, using every bit of his heart and soul.
"Rise up! O Lord! Deliver me! For you strike my enemies! You destroy those who speak lies!" Philip yelled. The house began to tremble and shake. Philip grabbed Roxanne's hand and pulled her close, saying, "You have to help me, Roxanne. You have to stop this! You have to regain your strength and faith!"
Things started to fly about the room and Philip could hear Derek's anxious cries outside. Roxanne squeezed Philip's hand and the two of them said out loud, "Hide me in the shadow of your wings, O Lord! From the wicked who despoil me! From my deadly enemies that surround me! Rise up! Confront them! Overthrow them! By your sword deliver us from evil!"
At the screaming of their prayers, Hekhef appeared. EMBARCADERO DISTRICT, SAN FRANCISCO Nick felt a hand on his shoulder. A hand that sent a surge of warmth throughout his body and he looked up. A golden-haired man stood over him and smiled. Alex watched, breathless, as the man bent over Galina and laid a hand over her forehead, saying, "Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved."
Alex's jaw dropped open as Nick looked back at Galina and wept.
The man spoke to him, "Do not weep, for she is not dead, but only sleeping." The gentle-faced man took Galina's hand and said, "Child, arise."
Nick inhaled sharply when Galina opened her eyes and called his name. The heavenly being stepped back as the couple embraced. He looked at Alex and said, "Some things are meant to be, and some are not."
She watched him smile at her while disappearing in a wall of light.
SAN RAFAEL, CALIFORNIA
Derek pounded on the door vehemently. Samuel screamed, "Give me a hand!"
The two men grabbed a large potted plant off the porch and were about to throw it through the window when the earth beneath them jerked and tossed them over the railing of the porch. They landed on the ground with a jarring jolt. Derek looked back up at the house, furious that he could not get inside.
Philip blinked hard. He couldn't believe what was standing in front of him. Hekhef was a tiny, wrinkled old man. Roxanne stepped forward and started quoting from Philip's bible without even having to look at it. With each word she uttered the demon grew increasingly wrinkled and small, until finally, with a final shriek, a reddened flame shot from the floorboards and encircled Hekhef and pulled him, screaming, into hell.
When the quaking stopped, Derek bounded up the stairs to the front door. He jumped when Philip opened the door and stepped out.
"Philip?" he asked.
"It's alright, Derek, it's over with," Philip said, walking out with Roxanne. "It was actually her doing," he said, pointing to her. "She took back her strength and her faith, she believed in herself."
"Me?" she asked.
"The only power that evil ever has is the power we give it. Take it away, and it has nothing." Philip told her.
"Does this mean I can go home now?" the girl asked.
"Yes it does," Philip said.
Derek and Adelle were the only ones to notice the Lexus coming up the drive, but they were all astounded when Galina jumped out of the driver's side.
"Holy Jesus!" Philip exclaimed, "How?"
"Holy Jesus IS how," Nick smiled, grabbing Galina around the waist.
Galina said, "I guess love does conquer all!"
"Or faith," Philip said, squeezing Roxanne's hand.
ANGEL ISLAND, CALIFORNIA
Over a week later, the final numbers had come in, devastating them all. The remaining members of the Rome house had been trying to clean up the aftermath in Europe. Lucia Agosto from the Rome house called Derek on the phone with news from Europe and Asia. Not long after he hung up the phone, Jane Merrill called from the Las Vegas house with the feedback on the North and South American contingents. Ninety-seven Legacy members had lost their lives, over twenty Houses annihilated.
Derek led them all into the garden and they stood together in silence. Because of the Legacy's secret existence, no splendid funerals or memorials took place. Few came forward to the various police agencies across the world to claim the dead. Their deaths were passed off as mob hits, terrorist attacks, or were just labeled "unsolved murders".
Derek's dream had finally revealed it's true meaning. A field of stones that must forever remain nameless. Those that were left said silent prayers for their fallen friends, while saying a prayer of thanks that they had survived. Nick and Roxanne had been given second chances. One at love and one at life. The final outcome only made them more aware of how much they all were needed.
As they stood in the garden, they swore silently to God and to themselves, that never again would any human being be reduced to a nameless headstone in a graveyard. They swore they would never forget all of the names left off of those stones. Philip broke the silence and quoted, "You shall be hidden from the scourge of the tongue, and shall not fear destruction when it comes. At destruction and famine you shall laugh. For you shall be in league with the stones of the field."
Now go e-mail Katy and let her know what you think!