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Nick Boyle held his breath as he grabbed the corner of the wall and spun around. With a quick glance behind him he ducked into one of the slits that protected a common opening in the back alleys of San Francisco. The door beside him was dark and brooding, a small sign read 'Hiring up to 6 dollars an hour'. He pondered the idea of picking the lock but quickly disregarded it as he heard the sounds of his persuer coming down the street. This guy was no expert, noisy in fact, Nick just wondered what it was the guy wanted with him.
Relaxing every tense muscle, Nick waited... and striked, hitting the guy's neck at exactly the right moment. Gagging, the small blond man fell to the ground and Nick went immediately for the guy's gun, having lost his own in the brawl at the bar earlier that night. Just as he grabbed it and straightened, something large hit him on the back at the head of his spine with jarring impact and he, too, went down to the ground.
Gulping in dusty air but taking the impending blow, Nick turned to who ever it was that had snuck up on him, only to find his hand that grappled for the gun suddenly pressed under a very large boot. Not bothering to resist the cry that rose to his lips, Nick gazed up at the large statured black man, squinting the water from his eyes.
The first of the two, the one Nick had knife handed was getting slowly back to his feet and rasped out, "he's not so tough!"
The black man looked at the younger darkly. "Francis, you're an obnoxious brat. She said he was dangerous. Don't take that lightly." Francis just shrugged and grinned.
Nick didn't have a clue who this she was, but he knew this was not a position he wanted to be in right now. He would figure it out later. The black man looked down at him and for a brief second they locked eyes, searching one another's souls. Then suddenly Nick leered evily, putting a wild look into his eyes. The black man moved to knock Nick out, but Nick instead blocked and grabbed the end of the gun with his one hand, yanking on it hard to throw the guy off balance. "Take your own advise!" He growled as he brought his leg around to kick the guy's knee out, subsequently releasing his hand. Continuing to turn, he spun just enough to side kick the first man from the ground and further around to come back up to his feet. The Black man's gun now in Nick's own hands. "Who are you?" He demanded, "who sent you?"
The difference in time between the sound of the gun shot and the impact of what Nick realized was not a bullet or he wouldn't have even heard the end of the shot, but was instead a dart, was only enough time to move maybe about an inch if he was lucky. Today just isn't my day! Nick thought. Furiously grabbing and pulling the insidious looking feathered piece from his neck, he turned and looked down the darkened alleyway, seeing only the form of a slender shadow. His vision blurred as the drug instantly took effect. Drowsily Nick stumbled back, hitting the wall and letting the gun clatter to the ground. He soon followed, futily fighting the sleep. He tried to listen and maybe get a clue as to who these people were, but the voices he did hear were mingled and distorted until finally all was quiet and dark.
"What is it about you men? I told you to shoot on sight! Did I not warn you?" The woman angrily stated as she walked towards them, holding her dart gun up and looking down at the sleeping form of Nick.
"Ah, come on. We wanted to have some fun with him first, that's all!"
The woman gave the small man a withering look. "Burton's right, Frank. You are a brat!" She turned to the black man. "Bring him." And then just left them expecting her orders to be carried out.
Frank watched Burton pick Nick's limp body up and grumbled, "man, I don't know why you put up with her!" Burton just gave him a look and followed where the woman had gone back up the street.
Rachel spoke into the receiver of her cell phone, "I don't know, Derek. He didn't drop by here at all. And you say you haven't heard from him for the last two days now? That's not like Nick."
"I know," Derek replied from his connection on Angel island. "When he had left he said there was something he needed to take care of, but he didn't take anything with him, so I didn't think much of it."
"Well you know Nick sometimes. If something came up he wouldn't hesitate, it's just not like him to not call, or leave a message, or something!"
"If you see him, tell him to call me?" Derek asked lamely, but didn't know what else to do.
"No problem." Rachel snapped the phone shut and leaned back shaking her head. She had a bad feeling about this and wondered briefly if she was picking up Derek's habits.
"Dr. Corrigan?" A nurse asked as she came around the corner.
Rachel nodded, "okay, I'm coming."
That night as Rachel was heading back out to her car a woman approached her. Rachel didn't much like it the moment she saw the woman's face and it's evil glint. "Are you Dr. Rachel Corrigan?"
"Yes, can I help you?" Rachel asked giving a well accustomed response.
The woman pulled out a gun and aimed it at Rachel with out hesitation. "I would advise you not to make a commotion." She motioned with the gun. "Get in the car, slowly." Rachel did as she was told and inside the woman had her start the car and drive where she directed.
"Who are you?" Rachel finally asked after the woman told her to turn yet another corner.
"Jordan Falconer, pleased to make your acquaintance." The woman curtly replied only paying Rachel the slightest attention as she followed the roads with her eyes.
"What is it you want with me?"
This time Jordan did look at Rachel, and smiled, "Nothing at all. Turn here." They turned into the back alley of one of the streets that held night joints on the ground floor that connected to several office like compartments above. Falconer told her to stop and park the car by the fire escape to one such place. The noise from the night club seeped out into the streets, completely unaware of anything that might be going on. "Get out."
They went up the fire escape to a door the third level up, no handle existed on the outside, but that didn't seem to bother Jordan. They stood there for a minute before anything happened, that's when Rachel noticed the miniature camera almost gone unseen inside the brick wall. It revealed the entire set of walkway and railings right down to the ground. A second later the door swung open and Jordan motioned her inside.
Rachel's eyes widened slightly as the door clicked and beeped shut behind them. She turned to find a keypad next to the door and looked around the white walled hallways. Along it were several doors, also connected with keypads. "What is this place?" She demanded.
"That's not your concern," Jordan told her darkly and pushed her ahead. They took two turns following the hallway and soon came to a section of steel double doors. They passed through them into another small and closed in room. They stopped there and waited while Falconer checked a near by screen. She turned back to Rachel. "Would you mind giving me your cell phone and beeper please?"
Rachel obliged, catching a glimpse of the screen as she did. It was a bio and metal read out of them. Rachel's eyes scanned the room wondering where the sensors were, but she couldn't find any. After a short beep, the wall in front of them suddenly parted where there had been no line and opened to reveal another set of hallways ahead.
Jordan motioned with her gun again, this time they only made one turn before she stopped them at a certain door. Rachel watched as Jordan punched in a number sequence in the keypad and pressed her thumb on a scanner, the door clicked. Jordan grabbed the handle and twisted, opening it only an inch. She turned to Rachel with an intent gaze. "I'll be out here." Then let go of the handle and motioned for Rachel to go in.
Hesitantly Rachel stepped into the dark room. It was pitch black when the door snapped shut behind her so Rachel just stood there. A few minutes later she heard someone say, "Illuminate fourty percent." It was a horse voice, dry sounding but Rachel knew it instantly. The light obediently responded to the sound of the voice and Rachel rushed forward with a gasp. "Nick!"
Nick hung, suspended by his hands that were cuffed and chained to the ceiling just high enough that if he tried, his toes could touch the ground. He gave Rachel one of his grins and said again in that same tired and dry voice. "When no one turned the lights on I wondered who it was. Illuminate another twenty percent," he then said to the room and it responded once again. His eyes blinked a couple times to adjust to the increase in light but it wasn't too bad.
"Nick what happened?" Rachel asked as she reached up to feel his forehead and neck. His pulse was strong, but his skin was oily from dried sweat and he was hot to the touch. "You're completely dehydrated!"
Trying to shrug but not succeeding Nick merely nodded and said, "I was attacked by these two guys. Caught without my gun, lost it in a brawl, but I have a feeling that had been a set up. Shot with a dart gun and woke up here, been here since. How long was I...?" His voice had been cracking with every word and he'd swallowed several times trying to find something to soften the harshness but his voice finally failed.
Looking around the barren room, wishing there was something like a sink around but there appeared to be nothing that would give her any assistance, she finally answered Nick's question. "Two days."
Sighing heavily Nick's eyes closed and his breathing slowed dramatically, alarming Rachel until his raised his head again looking at her intently.
"Do you know what they want?" Rachel asked, wishing she didn't have to make him talk, it would only hurt him more, but this couldn't be avoided.
Nick shook his head and managed out, "they knew where I hide my emergency pick."
Rachel told him of the miniature camera at the door, the keypad hallways and the metal detector and bioscreen.
Nick was still shaking his head. "No," he whispered with a struggle, "it's not made of metal." At last his voice finally gave and ended in a series of hard dry coughs.
Putting a hand on his heaving chest, Rachel told him, "take it easy. Take a deep slow breath."
Nick did as she said and the hacking subsided. He swallowed once but it didn't help and he felt his throat constrict in response so he didn't readily do it again.
"Just relax," Rachel said sternly. "Don't try to speak." But her effort was in vain for she felt Nick's entire body tighten and with one look at his furious face spun around.
"Falcon!" Nick rasped out by Rachel's ear. The woman who had taken Rachel stood now just inside the door, watching them calmly. She tossed a small plastic bottle to Rachel which she caught easily. Looking at the clear liquid inside, Rachel didn't much trust this woman Nick apparently knew and opened it tasting the substance.
"It's sweet," Rachel said eyeing the woman suspiciously.
Falconer didn't react, merely telling her, "it's sugar water. Nick hasn't had anything to eat or drink for two days, sugar water would be much better for him than just ordinary water."
"He needs more than this, he's already got a high fever!" Rachel disputed angrily.
This time Falconer looked straight at Nick, her eyes furrowed. "What'd ya do? Go and catch the flu?" She half demanded but then shook her head, her features returning to that same calmness as she looked back to Rachel. "It's what he gets."
Rachel gave her a glare knowing that it would do nothing but it made her feel better anyway. She turned back to Nick and asked softly, "will you drink it?"
Nick was still gazing hard at Jordan, he hated it when people talked about him as if he weren't there, but then he looked to Rachel and her intent worried eyes. After a minute's thought he nodded in agreement. Rachel gave it to him sips at a time. Nick hated the fact that she had to do it at all, but he was too tired to really care for more then a second. Falconer just stood there, patiently leaning against the door. Then finally all the water was gone, yet it was enough for Nick to get something of a sound out of his throat again.
"Why have you brought us here, Falcon?" Nick asked in a cold voice.
Falconer pushed herself off the wall and stepped up to the two. "We have need of something the Legacy has."
"Why you little traitor!" Nick practically spit out. Rachel turned and looked at him in shock hearing the amount of venom he had in his voice.
Falconer's own face hardened. "I did not betray you or the SEALs!" She stated passionately. "I was recruited by the government to work with the Omega team. And how was I supposed to know you followed your father's line of work anyway?!"
Both Nick and Rachel were a little taken back by this, but Nick wouldn't let up. "I used to have trust in you."
"Ya, well, we all change, Nick," Jordan told him her face softening with regret but it quickly disappeared. She took out a cell phone connected to her belt at the back. "Call Dr. Rayne," she said as she pushed a couple of small buttons on a portable key pad, also at her waist, "but be careful, I can hear what's being said on the other end."
"Why don't you just talk to him yourself?" Rachel asked testily.
Falconer gave her a droll look. "Very funny!" She handed the phone to Rachel
Taking it, Rachel flipped it open. "What do you want me to say?" She asked evenly this time.
"The truth. And that he needs to bring the Stone of Brakis."
Sighing, Rachel punched in the right buttons and waited.
"Derek," a handsome male voice answered the ring.
"Ya, Derek," Rachel said hesitantly.
"Rachel, what's wrong?" Derek asked immediately, picking up on the tone of her voice, and grabbing the receiver.
Rachel sighed one more time then stated, "I found Nick."
"Is he okay? Where are you?" The questions piled out but Rachel stopped him.
"He's not in the best condition, but he's okay. Derek, there's a group of people here who refuse to let us go unless you bring something called the Stone of Brakis."
Rachel heard Derek suck in a deep breath. She knew he was taking all this in and gave him some time. As is well known, nothing in the Legacy is for sale, and every piece is not just valuable, but often holds some kind of evil power. Rachel didn't know what this Stone of Brakis contained, but judging form the amount of time Derek was taking to think this through, she reasoned it must be something very dangerous indeed, in which case he might not agree, shouldn't agree. Bartering was never an option for the Legacy.
Then finally Derek spoke, "all right. Where do I go?"
Rachel looked at Falcon who immediately gave her directions, confirming the idea that she could hear what Derek was saying as well, and Rachel relayed it to anxiously waiting man.
"He'll get the rest on the road and he's to come alone. Ms. Moreau's not to follow!"
After Rachel told Derek the rest, he said to her gravely, "I understand." Then asked more sincerely, "are you two all right?"
"Yes," Rachel replied simply as Falconer held out her hand for the phone. "I'll see you soon." She shut it and handed it back.
Falconer gave her a polite nod in thanks and put it back in it's holster. She actually had a lot of things connected to her belt and right now the keypad beeped once before the door opened a crack behind her.
Rachel expected someone to walk in but instead not a person entered, but a little flying ball about the size of her fist. Curiously, Rachel wondered how the little thing stayed up.
"What is it Ichee?" Falconer asked directly to the flying ball.
It cheeped a couple of mechanical sounding spurts. It almost sounded to have a note of impedance to it.
Jordan's face scrunched up, "Damn!" She cursed, having understood the squeaks perfectly and said, "Go tell them I'll be there in few." Then the ball left the room just how it had come. Falconer turned back to the two saying with a smile, "I'm sorry, but I have to go right now. It was nice meeting you Dr. Corrigan, I hope we can get to know each other better in the future." Rachel didn't return the woman's smile. "Nick," was all Falconer said in way of parting to him and then left, the door locking behind her.
When she was gone, Rachel turned back to Nick with a sigh. He let his head sink wearily down to rest on his chest. She felt his forehead once more, it felt hotter this time, and she noticed he was beginning to sweat again. That little amount of water was most defiantly not enough. When he forced himself to look at her, she smiled, saying, "don't worry. It'll be over soon."
But Nick shook his head. "No, there's something else she wants other than the Stone, or she just would have taken it rather than go through this haggle."
Rachel's brow furled, "are you sure?"
Nick gave her an ironic smile, "I went through the academy with her. Trust me, she can get anything if she wants it bad enough. This isn't over."
Derek followed the instructions to the last and sat in his Range Rover, waiting. He looked at the covered object beside him in the passenger seat. He reached forward to pull the blanket away to look at it while he waited but suddenly jumped as his cell phone rang.
Picking it up, he spoke quickly into the receiver. "Rachel?"
"No," a feminine voice answered. "Take the next right. Park behind Dr. Corrigan's car and take the fire escape up to the third floor." Dial tone followed.
Derek glanced out the window at the nightclub he was parked beside. It was late, yet for them the party was really just getting started. He wondered about all this, but with out fail Rachel's car was parked in the alley along side the nightclub. Amongst the noise of the rambunctious teenagers, he parked and going around to the other door, retrieved the heavy burden, carrying it up with him the three flights to a door with no outside handle.
It clicked the moment he got there and swung open on it's own. Derek stepped inside only blinking as it swung shut behind him. After five minutes of starring at the empty hallways and locked doors rimming it's side, he decided to venture forth. There was really only one way to go, but when he came to his first real decision he stopped again. Each hallway looked identical and no one was in sight. Derek was still wondering which way to go when a sudden beeping above caught his attention.
Derek looked up, startled to be seeing a little flying ball hovering almost right in front of his face. It beeped once more and moved off down a hall. Now with his curiosity growing slightly, Derek followed the ball. This certainly was not like any other kidnapping exchange he'd known of.
The ball led him to the end of a hallway, and a set of doors closed behind them, blocking them off only to have a hidden door open in front to reveal yet another hallway. At the end of it, walking towards them was a woman and a big gruff looking black man just slightly behind her, they were talking softly but stopped when they noticed Derek standing there.
The woman gave him a nod as they neared, saying, "I'm Jordan Falconer, and this is my colleague Burton. You must be Dr. Rayne."
"Where's Nick and Rachel?" Derek didn't bother with pleasantries. Falconer smiled but her companion's expression stayed as blank as it had always been. Then the ball beeped a splur and Falconer looked up at it.
She spoke directly to the flying object, "That's okay Ichee, we'll get it later." Then she looked back at Derek with a smile, turned, and motioning for him to follow her moved back down the hall. "I'm sorry I couldn't meet you at the door, but I had to deal with some," she paused, "officials!" Falconer supplied finally with a note of distaste. They walked down the hall and she coded and hand printed open a large door.
When they enter, Derek found himself gazing around a little surprised. They were in a large two story bay with plastic the only separation from them and the hazy view of men working studiously on something large and mechanical on the other side. They walked to a door at the other end of the bay which Jordan opened to gain them entrance to a much smaller room. It had a vague appearance to that of an office, but was bare except for a computer built into the wall and a padded metal box sitting on the counter. The door slid shut behind them.
Falconer turned to Derek again. "May I have the stone please?"
"Where are my friends?" Derek countered.
Falconer shook her head sadly, "Please, Derek. I know you're not carrying a gun, the worst you could do is throw the stone at me and then I'd have to kill you and where would you be then?" She stepped up to him gazing at him directly in the eyes. Then just gently took the stone from him. Derek let her, there really wasn't anything else he could do.
"I want to see Nick and Rachel," he tried again.
"You'll see them soon enough," was all Jordan said as she carefully placed the object in the box and put the flat metal lid on top. It seemed to suck itself into place and she keyed in a code on the panel set into the lid. "But I'm going to need your help to decode this mystery."
"That wasn't part of the deal!" Derek stated in a hard voice.
Spinning and placing her hands on her waist, the woman demanded in an exasperated voice, "what deal? I don't remember making any deal here!"
Derek's breath caught, and he wondered for the first time what was all involved with these people. "Where am I?" He suddenly questioned.
"This is one of the Omega's current location sites. It's not too final like the rest are, but it seems to work for now," Jordan told him lightly, "and we're going to be heading to another site. One a bit more isolated."
Derek laughed then. A mocking laugh. "Keeping us, won't do you any good! We're not scribes!"
Face curling up, Falconer mused, "Oh, yes, Father Callaghan was the transcribe in your group, wasn't he?"
"He's no longer with us," Derek replied, colder than he would have had this been any other situation but he had an idea what Falconer intended.
Jordan shrugged, meeting up to his expectations. "That's easily fixed!" She moved over and logged onto the computer. She quickly sorted through several codes and files until a map appeared, and selecting a spot, a bird's eye view of Ireland came up. The view centered and closed in on where she specified, right down to a single section of street just outside a church. The view was like live video, not a computer representation. And the action was live, with moving people and everything."
"How are you doing that?" Derek asked only half demanding as he was a little awed by this new technology even the legacy didn't posses.
"Satellite of course!"
Derek didn't know of any satellite that could take live film. He thought they only took pictures, and it would take a lot to change the course of one satellite, you have to get clearance or risk a traffic jam. Derek shook his head but continued to watch as she narrowed down on a man probably in his thirties, sitting on a bench reading a newspaper.
Falconer hit a button and the noise of people walking by came through a speaker. "Brandis!" Jordan sharply called out. The man practically jumped off the bench in surprise.
"Falcon, must you always scare me with that?"
Jordan smiled and replied, "I have to get my fun in at some time. Where's the Father?"
"Inside, talking to someone about the reunion he had with the SF House last week," the man said a little putted out and sat back down determinedly flipping open his paper again. Derek felt his breath catch yet again as he realized these people knew about the Legacy and from the sounds of it had been watching them for quite some time.
"Why aren't you in there?" Falcon demanded glancing at the astonished Derek sideways and inwardly smiling to herself.
"Ya, ya." Brandis mumbled not moving.
"It's time Brandis. But you'll have to take route B, the officials have the jet tied up."
This time the man did lower his paper. "Again?" He complained.
"Just don't bring him in with a broken jaw like the last one. I didn't appreciate having to wait three weeks for it to heal."
"That wasn't my fault," Brandis grumbled, "and he talked to much anyway."
"Brandis," Falconer said sternly.
Brandis sighed, stating, "you're the Falcon, Boss Lady!"
With a satisfied smile she turned off the computer and turned back to a now very alarmed Derek. "Oh, don't worry. Brandis with take the bestest of care of Philip."
A deep anger set into Derek's eyes. "I don't see why you didn't just take Alex, too."
Falconer smiled a cunning smile that hid more than it foretold, "it's always wise to leave one person at home to keep things calm." Then abruptly she nodded to Burton standing behind Derek.
Derek spun just as he felt something touch his neck and he immediately blacked out. Jordan's smile didn't lessen as she watched him crumple to the ground. Stepping over him she took something out of her many pockets along her belt. And pressing the cylindrical object to the back of his neck a soft hissing noise followed before she removed the item in her hand. Inspecting the area, her smile deepened as there was no visible mark showing and pushed the cylinder back in her pocket.
Glancing back up to Burton she told him, "prep him, then we'll go get the other doctor." Burton mutely nodded.
Not long after, Rachel was silently watching Nick while he slept. She figured by then Derek should have gotten there, which means what ever happens next would happen soon. Believing Nick's assumption, Rachel wondered what Falconer's plans were.
Rachel stood up as Nick stirred and groaned. He awoke from yet another fever spawned dream. She approached him wishing there was more that she could do for him, and again Rachel wondered what had happened to Derek hoping for his safety. Nick opened his eyes to her touch but suddenly tried to call out to her in warning, a fraction too late.
Rachel felt and heard him tense but never had the chance to turn around as her vision blacked and she fell instantly unconscious. Falcon caught and eased her path down. Then put the one cylinder on the ground only to take out another that she placed against the back of Rachel's neck.
"What are you doing? What happened with Derek?" Nick demanded, his anger anewed dispite his fatigue.
Falcon ignored him but pressed the button to release the hiss and took the device back inspecting the spot like she had with Derek. Then she nodded to Burton behind her and he came and took Rachel, the door closing again once they had left. Jordan had punched a few buttons on her pad and before the door had closed entirely the little ball came in to join them.
"Where are you taking her?"
Falcon just stood back up and gazed at Nick with intent eyes. There was softness to them as she reassured Nick, "don't worry. We're just switching locations. I'd knock you out for it, too, but with this bug you've caught I'm afraid the knock out might have a side effect. So, instead..." she reached down and picked up the cylindrical object sliding a component out to replace it with another one from her pocket. "You're coming with us on your own two feet!" She stated as she reached up and pressed it against the side of his neck.
Nick flinched as he felt the substance enter his artery and begin it's cycle, but his vision didn't fade and he didn't pass out. Strangely, he felt somewhat better. What ever it had been was taking effect quickly. "What was that?" He asked, for the first time without a hint of anger to his voice.
Falcon smiled at that and glance up at him before going back to fishing out the other cylinder, saying as she worked and moved behind him, "that was a hypospray, I know, it's a Startrek term, but no one like the original name given to it, so," she left that trail of thought unfinished and continued, "I gave you something to lower that fever of yours and supply your body with the nutrients it's lost over the last few days."
Then to Nick's shock something else was injected to the back of his neck only it didn't go in easy and in short felt like a sharp needled being rammed in place!
"Ouch! Oh hey, that one hurt!" He complained loudly.
Falcon just grinned and rubbed the area to loosen the pain. "You'll be fine Hot Shot!" Then the smile momentarily vanished as an old memory came floating back. Snapping herself out of it, Jordan stated to the patiently waiting ball. "Bring him down, Ichee."
Nick gasped once as a laser shot out of the ball hitting the handcuffs holding him up and snapping them cleanly in two, then once more as his feet suddenly had to hold him up. Jordan helped him stay upright and they moved over to the wall so he could lean against it for support.
"Keep your hands above your head, let the circulation draw back slowly," Falcon told him unnecessarily.
Nick didn't argue or point out that that was exactly what he was trying to do, he was concentrating too much on keeping his legs under him. When he felt more sure of himself he lowered his arms all the way, still hating the tingling "pins and needles" as he did, and wishing they would stop moving on their own. Eventually, with Jordan's help he even manage to stand erect again.
Suddenly Nick burst out laughing in a short spurt of hysteria. Jordan looked at him in alarm. Nick just shook his head, he had no strength to fight her, but what had just hit him was the fact that he hadn't even considered fighting her anymore. Somewhere in the depths of his mind he wondered if it was an effect of the drug she had given him or something left from a long ago buried friendship.
"What?" Falcon finally asked unable to draw anything but more laughter with her glares.
Nick subsided and said softly, "it's just that it's been so long, and I'd swear you still where the same perfume."
Falcon's eyes furled, "I never wore perfume."
"That's what I mean." He grinned but she wouldn't meet his gaze on that one. Falcon did have to admit though, at least to herself, that with all this she had forgotten how soothing Nick's close proximity always felt to her.
With that, Nick pushed away from her to stand on his own. He was slightly wobbly, but good enough. "I don't know what you gave me, but it works wonders," he commented quietly, taking another step forward. The steps increased until only five minutes later Nick was stretching and moving fluidly once again.
Falcon smiled mysteriously but then said, "We don't leave until morning and you must be famished. I'll brief you on the plan over diner."
"What makes you think I'll cooperate?" Nick suddenly interrupted with a raised hand.
With an impish grin, Falcon responded, "I know you too well, Nick! You'll play along as long as we have Derek and Rachel in our care."
Nick just looked at her and Falcon continued on as is the question had never even popped up. Together they left the room, the flying ball Ichee following them out. "I've already talked to the rest and they've excepted the idea, having the upper hand on the officials didn't seem like a bad idea either, considering we have to work with the military intelligence on this one. So what you're going to do is..."
Philip parked the car and unlocked the door to his place like he did every time he came home. There was nothing to indicate it coming, and it didn't come from behind as one would expect but instead from the front, from inside his own home.
When he came to a few hours later it was to the rythemetic rumbling of a car in motion. Groaning his hand tried to move to his throbbing head but something was restraining it so he used his left hand to reach up and feel the small cut running just above his left eyebrow. The skin felt tender and was sore to the touch. Then he flinched as the car jerked over a bump knocking his hand into the cut, and he withdrew it quickly, forcing his vision to steady and focus. Philip looked around.
Surprised to find the rest of him fine but dressed in one of his more casual sets of clothing, not what he'd been wearing before, he discovered his right hand was handcuffed to the passenger seat door of his own car. A vision of what had happened flooded back. He remembered the shock he'd felt at having opened the door only to find a fist belonging to a strange man heading straight towards him.
Philip looked over to that man now who was calmly driving the vehicle down the busy road. He's eyes immediately spotted the sharp looking ring the guy wore, the probable reason for the cut on Philip's brow. Sitting cautiously back and settling into the seat a bit more, Philip really didn't know what to say or do, he finally asked, "who are you?"
"Brandis," the man said simply only giving Philip a quick glance as he slowed the car down. For the first time Philip noticed where they were, the airport. "If you know what's good for you, stay silent," Brandis told him quickly as they came to the edge of the parking garage and the awaiting attendant, but he merely took the fee not bothering to look in. Philip wished the guy had, but they were already passed and looking for a parking spot.
When Brandis eventually stopped the car he turned to Philip and stated, "if you cause any ruckus what so ever I'll make you wish you hadn't." It wasn't so much a command but a dare. Then the man got out and went around to the other side of the car. Philip wondered if he should at least try to get away. Nick probably would, he thought dryly, but as Brandis opened the door, one look into his eyes told Philip the man was not only waiting for it but hoping. So instead, Philip just stepped out with the door and stood patiently waiting. He heard the other mumble, "priests are no fun," before the man undid the one set of cuffs taking them off completely.
Then Brandis attached them to his own right wrist and Philip's left. Dragging Philip with him to the back, Brandis unlocked the trunk and passed the keys back to him saying lightly, "these are yours by the way."
"Thanks," Philip grumbled sourly. He didn't understand what was going on here and still wondered how this guy was planning to get passed security, especially with the cuffs on, but he knew one thing, whatever was going to happen he wasn't going to enjoy it!
Then a back pack Philip immediately recognized as his own was shoved into his chest. "Here, carry your own stuff, I hate having to do it all the time." The man stated and took out another pack that Philip guessed was Brandis'. Giving his newly acquired keeper a glare, Philip inwardly wondered what this strange man had packed for him, but slipped the pack onto his back and sighed. This apparently wasn't going to be a one day adventure either.
Brandis grinned mischievously, saying, "come on, Father. Our plane awaits. And remember what I said." He added as an after thought before they headed off towards the terminal.
At the gate they met the customs security, but to Philip's shock Brandis pulled out his gun handing it to them as well as a federal badge, a fake ID of Philip and the papers required for the gun and transfer of a convict from a jail in this country to one in the states. The papers were all signed legit, security even called the prison house and it all checked out.
Philip just couldn't believe what he was hearing. HIM, a known CRIMINAL?! Brandis jabbed him in the ribs bringing him back from his initial shock, and to Philip's torment he had to continue to stand there and listen to this as they passed slowly through customs. Even by the time they were sitting down in the plane in the first class section, Philip was still trying to grip the idea of him being a criminal, fictitious or not! And the chances of this Brandis actually pulling it off! He looked at Brandis, but the man wasn't even concerned, hadn't been the entire time. What kind of elaborate scheme was this that they could alter so much?
Brandis smiled with Philip's distraught. "Take it easy, Father." He finally stated to the priest. "Relax. Sit back. This is a long flight you know," Brandis pointed out and sat back himself. He even closed his eyes.
Philip looked out the window beside him but finding no reasonable explanation for all this questioned. "Why is this happening?" He looked at Brandis who open his eyes with a smile to meet Philip's gaze. "What is it you want with me?"
"Let's just say your friends have need of you." Brandis replied closing his eyes again.
"Friends?" But Brandis didn't answer him further.
Nick checked Rachel and Derek himself. Making sure they were securely tied in place. Each were sleeping in the catatonic state Falcon had put them in on stretchers in a back compartment of a private jet that was just proceeding it's flight up the run way. Nick braced himself against the rocky shaking of the plane. He knew he should have been in a seat up front but had snuck back here instead. When they had finally cleared turbulence and leveled out, Nick looked sadly down at the still form of Derek, voicing his troubled thoughts.
"I don't know if you would have agreed with me on this one Derek, but I couldn't risk yours and Rachel's lives." He searched for some sort of sign to tell him that he had made the right decision, but there was no registration of anything Nick had said on Derek's face. Then Nick took out his gun, thoughtfully looking at it. Falcon had given it back to him the night before, as a sign of faith, in him and in her own confidence. He took out one of the two clips and jammed one in place before slipping it back where he usually kept it. The gun so far was the only item that had been returned to him, but Nick felt better with it already.
What made him so uneasy was the thought that, here he was free, with a weapon, and with Derek and Rachel right here. So why wasn't he trying to bust them out of this predicament instead of getting them all in deeper and deeper?
Falcon opened the door and poked her head in. "I figured I'd find you back here. How are they?"
"Fine, I guess," Nick replied not bothering to hide his frustration. "I really can't say because I don't know what it is you did to them!"
Falcon just smiled kindly, stating, "then that should clear your conscience for not trying to free them. You can't very well do that until you have an antidote."
Nick sighed, he'd forgotten how well Falcon could read his mind. She came in all the way and her smile deepened. "Come on Nick. It's time for me to introduce you to the rest of the team." he conceded and followed her to the front of the plane where three others stood leaning against a counter and a fourth sitting at a computer terminal.
As they approached the counter, Nick locked eyes with the black man in front of him, recognizing him as one of the men that had attacked him in the alley way. The second attacker was the guy now at the computer.
"You already know Burton, and Frank over there, he's our nerd."
"Hacker!" Frank spoke up as if he had done it many times before and it had become more of a natural reaction then a protest. Burton tipped his head at Nick respectfully.
Then Falcon introduced the other two. "This is Kim and that there's Jimmy." Each gave Nick a nod as Burton had done as if more in respect to Burton's than to Nick.
"And our last member is Brandis, Kim will be picking him and Philip up at the airport when we get to Arizona. We'll see them later, but until then, welcome to the team." With that Falcon left, leaving Nick to fend for himself.
Frank was oblivious to everything but Jimmy and Kim were giving Nick the cold shoulder, that is until Burton suddenly said in way of comradship, "one day you'll have to show me how you expected my hit and reacted so quickly."
Nick eyed him uncertain, but answered, "It all has to do with watching the movement of the pupil. The eyes tell all."
This time Burton openly smiled, "you make it sound simple." Surprisingly he stuck out his hand the smile never leaving his face. Nick looked at the open palm and then at Burton and finally gripped it in a firm handshake. Burton left, but that handshake alone had broken the ice and Nick turned to lean up against the counter with ease.
Kim came up to stand next to him a small playful smile crossing his face. "You must be really good to get the better of Burton. The only other person I've ever known who could over take Burton was the Falcon."
"It wasn't a fair fight," Nick murmured but Kim was shaking his head in mirth.
"Ya, he had the gun! You're all right, man. You'll do fine with us."
"Even with him?" Nick questioned motioning to Jimmy who had settled in a seat in the back with a Stephen King novel.
"Who, Jimmy? Ya, he's always quiet around people he doesn't know that well. But don't worry, if he didn't like you he would have said so." Kim said with such bluntness Nick wondered just exactly how that dislike would have been portrayed.
They changed planes once and twice the stewardess offered them wine which Brandis dismissed for both of them on both occasions. By the time they finally got to Arizona, their apparent destination, Philip had gone through customs four times as a known criminal. He never realized how different people looked at you when they thought you were a convict. It was unnerving and he was highly relieved when Brandis announced this would be there last stop to the customs agent.
Together they stepped out into the hot dusty Arizona sun. "They had to pick summer to do this, didn't they!" Brandis grumbled before nudging Philip down the steps and heading towards the stairs of the parking lot. They climbed to the fifth floor and headed for the back.
Philip could see a man leaning against a Ford Expedition, patiently waiting. Brandis greeted the man once they were close enough. "Ho, Kim! Long time no see!."
Kim was gazing at Brandis with a puzzled expression. "I'd swear you're a shade darker every time you come back!"
Brandis gave him a droll look, "In Ireland? Are you kidding? There's no sun to get darker!" Then the two broke out into broad smiles.
Kim turn to Philip who'd been silently watching this exchange. "So you're the priest, eh?" Kim mused. "I suppose so, but then again, according to my sister you'd fit the bill. To quote, 'it's the unavailable that are the most attractive.'"
"I'm attractive!" Brandis griped as he absently unlocked Philip's handcuffs. Philip just remained silent.
"Ya, as a warthogs behind!" Kim disputed with a laugh. You could tell from their bantering that neither of then meant any of the insults they continued to throw, and they were probably the bestest of friends. Then Brandis asked more seriously, "the usual prep?"
Kim shook his head. "Nope! As is." Brandis looked at him wide eyed. There was a mischievous glint in Kim's eyes. "Falcon wants to throw MI off balance on this one. She doesn't like their plans and wants to get the upper hand."
"Serious?" Brandis asked still shocked but quickly liking the idea all the same.
"Ya, she even brought in the new guy, but don't worry, he's cool. And as a warning, he threw Burton."
"Really? He was initiated?"
"Sort of, cut back in time allowed for only two days rather than the three with the bug, but I'm telling you, he could have lasted much longer then that easy. You know how simple it had been for Burton, and this guy's the same class as Falcon."
Having absolutely no idea what they were talking about Philip wondered if they'd notice if he just slipped away. But then Kim motioned for him to go around to the other side. "You're beside me, Philip."
"Not fair!" Brandis protested, "you got to drive up here!"
"That doesn't count and you drove last time!" Kim countered then got in to finalize it. Brandis waited until Philip had closed his car door before grudgingly getting into the back seat.
Philip wondered again how smart this people really were but as they started off his door automatically locked and when he tried at it, it wouldn't budge. All right, so I'm stuck again, he thought to himself and sighed. He really didn't feel like sitting still, he'd been doing that for hours now, yet once again, he had no choice and sat back to wait it out.
Watching the land pass before them, they had been driving for two hours now, heading into lower Arizona, Philip listened to the two chat, picking out pieces of their conversation as they went. One such piece jumped right out at him.
"So I asked Nick," Kim said telling Brandis something Philip gathered had happened on the way here, "and he of course denied it."
Hearing his friend's name Philip couldn't help but jerk and slightly alarmed asked, "Nick?"
"Ya," Kim said offhandedly, "The new guy, you know him don't you?"
Before Philip could reply, Brandis shushed him, eagerly awaiting the rest of the story from Kim. "Of course he does. So, were they, you know?"
Kim's face furrowed up, "I don't know, I can't figure it. The Falcon won't say and with the way they treat each other, I just can't figure it out!"
"Well there has to be something left if they had! Say didn't Falcon have a baby about then?" Brandis teased. Either of them were oblivious to Philip's shock and anger at what he was hearing. Could they really be talking about the same Nick? And who was this Falcon they kept referring to?
Kim swept back a hand to hit Brandis, but the man pushed it away playfully. "No, really though," Brandis reasserted.
"As I said, I can't tell. There's no anger, no rivalry fling, or new flame for that matter. There's just an awareness between them."
"What does Jimmy say?" Brandis asked as if that should finalize it.
Philip's thoughts had drifted until they moved erratically and he no longer listened to what the others were talking about. He just couldn't believe that Nick would ever join this group. It couldn't be, no matter what they said. He would never betray the Legacy. "He would never do that," Philip murmured not realizing he had spoken out loud. Kim raised an eyebrow and exchanged looks with Brandis, but neither said anything to the distraught Priest.
"As you can see, all the safeties are set up, the artifact will remain safe," The man said. He was decked out in a blue uniform and led the head of this operation, or at least the military's involvement. He was also exactly what you'd expect, tall, muscular, and completely full of himself!
"It not the artifact's safety I'm worried about General, it's ours!" Falcon stated bluntly. General Brown gave her a regarding look then turned it upon the two men that flanked her.
Both Nick and Burton returned a cold even gaze and Nick inwardly noticed the look of anger flash in response before the General continued on. His own two men walked behind Nick and Burton, at the back of the procession.
Apparently the military didn't like them being there. The feeling was mutual. The tour continued on, Falcon contending for power with the General, each pulling rank a couple of times and Nick and Burton following as nothing but dark, brooding, silent cathedrals to watch over her. Not like Falcon needed it Nick thought smugly, but it was a smart plan and eventually Falcon gained some on the military, taking at least some control of the operation rather then bending to the military's whims and demands.
After, when they were finally alone and the General had moved off with his men, not very pleased, Falcon allowed herself a small smile of victory. Then, "he's a fool for doing this in the first place!" She spat out and sighed heavily. Turning to Burton she told him, "go find Frank. Skip setting up the computer route for now and walk him through, inside out. I'm sure he can come up with some new ideas for containment. I don't like the idea of being in the same building as that thing, let alone the same room." Burton curtly nodded and moved off. Then Falcon turned to Nick and grinned. "You're still the same, Nick!" Nick just gave her an even gaze and she moved passed him saying, "you must be anxious to see your friend. Ichee tells me they're coming in now."
Philip had been surprised when they suddenly left the paved road and started across a dirt path, but not as surprised as he was when they came to a military base. This was a military operation? But at the gate the soldier cleared them from a list, not from any rank or set of commands. Again Philip wondered who these people were but then just as suddenly his all prior thoughts left him, replaced by a shocked anger.
There was Nick, waiting with a woman of equal height and waist length straight brown hair.
Kim stopped the car and every body got out, Philip a little slower than the rest, his eyes never leaving Nick's. Nick and Jordan walked up to meet them.
Jordan motioned to Brandis quickly introducing, "Brandis, Nick. Nick, Brandis." Brandis and Nick exchanged a curt nod but Nick hadn't let his gaze leave Philip's. "You two, scadat!" Falconer barked.
Brandis slyly grinned, saying, "you're the Falcon!" Before he pemelted after Kim.
Nick took a step towards Philip giving him one of his half smiles. "Hello, Philip."
Then Philip did something no one expected and hit Nick with a hard right punch directly in the jaw. Nick stumbled back but didn't cry out. He was too shocked to really react.
"I thought you said he was a priest?" Jordan asked with a mild smile.
Nick looked at her, feeling his jaw and mumbled, "he is!" Then with an injured expression demanded of Philip, "what was that for?"
"I don't know what's gotten into you Nick, but I swear..."
"Whoa, hey! It's not what you think!" Nick stated cutting him off.
Then Jordan interrupted them both with a glance at her watch. "I'm sorry but we're going to have to hurry this up. Philip, if you wouldn't mind putting your hands on the hood of the car."
Philip just turned his angry gaze upon her and stood there. He'd done everything he'd been asked to do before and quite frankly his patience had worn out.
Falcon just looked at her watch again and commanded with a single word. "Nick."
He sighed and took the last step towards Philip. Philip raised a hand subconsciously in defense, expecting Nick to back off but instead he grabbed Philip's hand, twisting him around and pushed him against the car with his other arm.
"Nick!" Philip cried out in alarm. "What are you doing?!"
Nick just sighed again, murmuring, "sorry, Philip." But he held strong when Philip struggled to brake free. Nick watched Jordan fish the cylinder out of her pocket and press it against the back of priest's neck.
"Agh!" Philip softly cried out as the cylinder hissed and his body tightened in response to the pain. Nick simultaneously let go of him and he immediately reached back to feel his neck, but there was nothing, no mark and only the residual feeling of the quickly fading pain. "What was that?" He demanded and like he expected, no one answered.
Falcon slipped the cylinder away saying to Nick, "you have until Frank's set up connection." Nick nodded and quietly watched her move off back towards the main building. He silently noted the flying ball trailing behind.
Then, finally, Nick turned back to the still highly upset and stunned Philip. "Come on," Nick said grabbing Philip's bag from inside the car and slipping it over his shoulder.
The priest was still too furious to argue so he followed the traitorous scum, as Philip's thoughts went. When he found himself a bit more under control he asked in a reasonably calmer voice, "what is going on, Nick?"
"Have you ever heard of the Stone of Brakis?"
"Yes, it was supposed to be the key to some sort of ancient power, but the Legacy destroyed it years ago," he replied baffled.
Nick shook his head and smiled. "No. That's just what Derek made everybody think. But some how the military found out that the Luna foundation still had it, and they in turn found the other piece."
"Other piece?" Philip asked alarmed. "But who are these people you're with?"
Nick slipped a card through a slit in the coded door and punched in the right buttons. "I'll tell you when we wake the others."
"Others? Everybody's here with you?" Philip asked even more alarmed now then he had been before but was slightly reassured to think that Derek knew what was going on. He would never have come into this unless it was willingly, on his own behalf, but then from the expression on Nick face Philip began to rethink that assessment.
"Sort of. Alex isn't, and well...you'll see," was all Nick could manage before opening the door the entire way.
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