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He could not believe his eyes. Someone who should not be in this place , was. The last he had seen this girl, she was dead, or so he was told. Anger burned in him, how could they have lied about such a thing! Feelings long buried rose to the surface, and choking them down, he vowed to find out what had really happened. His sister deserved no less. Then his heart froze, she was looking right at him, a puzzled look on her face. He held his breath, then slowly exhaled as her gaze moved on, as if searching for something. She hadn't recognized him at all! More puzzled now than ever, he vowed to find out what had really happened. The man turned and walked to his car.
* * *
Jade had been walking down to her last class of the day. In September, she had come to this college with hopes of finding out more about herself by learning what she could. It had surprised her, after taking the requisite exams, that her knowledge was at the level of a college soft more. Considering she couldn't remember anything before the last few months, that was somewhat of a shock. She smiled at the remembrance of those first days. She had been so lost and afraid. Good people had taken her in and made her welcome, and it was they who made it possible for her to attend Cal Poly in San Louis Obispo.
A burst of highly charged emotion interrupted her thoughts. It was so full of pain, anger, and sadness, she looked around for it's source. Only three people were around her. Two men and a woman pushing a stroller, she scanned them and found nothing. Puzzled, Jade gave up her search and entered the math building, it was time for statistics, a class she felt she could do without, but was required. Entering the hallway she comforted herself with the fact she was making a surprise visit 'home' this weekend. Jade entered the room with a happier heart, she missed her new family.
* * *
At that precise second, her new family was getting frustrated. They had agreed to look into her past to find out who she was and what had they come up with in three months. Nothing. No one with her fingerprints, face, or genetics could be found. Derek was running out of ideas. Alex and Nick were too. The tests they had run on Jade suggested she was about 19 years of age. That was the last thing they found out. Everything else they tried came up a dead end.
"What about infant death records?" Derek suddenly suggested. "Someone might be covering up something about her, maybe something will turn up there."
"Might be worth a look, " Alex replied thought fully, chewing on the end of her pen.
"What made you think of that?" Nick asked.
"I remember my father telling me something about a doctor who sold children on the black market. He told the parents the child had died, faked the death certificate, and sold the baby." Derek frowned, not liking the thought of Jade being abused like that.
"I'll get right on it." Alex left the room.
"Something else is bothering you?" Nick stated. He didn't like the look that crossed his precepts face.
"I have this feeling...." Derek paused.
"Good or bad?" Nick joked grimly. He knew the answer already.
"Bad. Something is not right, and I think it will put Jade in danger." Derek sighed.
"Maybe we should ask her to come visit while we sort this out?" Nick wondered where this latest threat would take them.
"I think she is already planning a visit, but call her anyway, would you Nick?" Derek looked up for Nick's confirmation. At his nod the precept went back to his work. The gnawing feeling of impending danger intensified.
* * *
Jade walked wearily back to her dorm room, Allison, her roommate had already left for the three day weekend to visit her parents in L.A. so she had the room to herself. She looked over at the answering machine, one message. She hit play. To her immense surprise and joy, Nick's voice came on.
"Hey kiddo. It's Nick. We all wondered here if you were ever planning to come visit us. So I took the liberty and am coming down there to bring you up for the weekend. Kat misses you and wants you to visit too. I'll be there around 5:00. Be ready! Bye."
Something in the tone of his voice made her pause. He was worried about something. Jade looked at her clock, it was 3:30 now, she had time to pack. She knew that the members of the Legacy had been working hard on finding out who she was, to no avail. Maybe she never would find out what happened to her and who her parents were, but at least she had them, and Father Philip. She smiled , thinking of their parting months ago, he was sad as was she,but when she asked him to be her legal guardian, some of the gloom had lifted. It would be good to see him again too. With a light heart, she began to pack.
* * *
Two men watched as the girl packed, she was going somewhere. One glanced over at his companion who nodded. When the Council had been informed that their quarry was still alive, an intensive search had turned up many interesting things. The Luna Foundation, a charitable organization was paying for her education, a Priest was her legal guardian, and before three months ago, she hadn't existed. The Council demanded answers, and when the Council demanded, everybody jumped.
The first man pulled out his cell phone, dialed a number and spoke in a code. Within seconds someone answered.
"Where?" was all the voice said.
"Luna Foundation, their chief of security just called, he is picking her up at 5:00 p.m." came the reply.
"Follow them, let me know where they end up. Do not approach under any circumstances. We have just received word that Rayne is getting closer to us, intervention may be necessary. Do you understand?" The voice was cold and emotionless,as if they were discussing matters of no importance.
"I hear and obey" came the answer.
Then the phone went dead.
* * *
Alex whistled softly, when her search turned up nothing on infant death certificates, she had narrowed her search to unexpected and sudden birth deaths. It was then she realized from 18 to 20 years ago there was a sudden increase of baby deaths that were not only unexpected, but challenged. Mothers remembered seeing their babies alive and then were told complications had set in. Alex searched deeper and found many of the parents were people she had heard of. With a chilling realization, she suddenly knew. All the babies on her new list came from parents who had some form of sight. There were 24 of them. Alex gathered her notes and went to find Derek.
* * *
The members of the Council sat around a table, when the last took it's place, the figure at the head stood up.
"We need a decision, Dr. Rayne is getting closer to finding out about the Project. The Child is on her way to his house even as we speak. The agents are in place, we can take them at any time." He sat.
Another rose. "What does he know? It should be found out before he is eliminated. Also who has he told? There are two others there at the house, plus Dr. Corrigan and her child. Let us not forget the Priest, he may have been told as well." Then he sat.
Agreement came from the others at the table. The decision was made, find out what they know and then eliminate the problem.
Philip Callaghan sighed and dipped his paintbrush into the paint can. He had drawn the job of painting the back wall of the church when some gang members covered it with graffiti. It seemed of late he was always drawing the worst jobs, Bishop Douglass had never really forgiven him for the Cardinals interference in what he termed "his" affairs. Secretly Philip was glad that he was outside, the very same Bishop was inside visiting, and Philip didn't really want to be near him.
"Father C?" One of the boys helping him caught his attention.
"Yes , Josh?" Philip glanced over.
"It's 5:00, our time is up." The boy cheerfully reminded him.
"Already?" Philip smiled back "Well then, ya ought t' be on yer way."
"We'll see you Monday for soccer practice?" Another boy, Dave said as he passed Philip.
"Yup, so be ready fer another day of pure fun and excitement." Philip laughed as the boys groaned and left for home. Philip returned his attention to the wall, in actuality he would be done before the day was out . As he began to finish the last section, a curious sensation washed over him. It was like someone was watching him from afar and he could sense them. Philip looked up and around him. The far wall was isolated and trees lined two of the three sides. The only path out led to the church. Puzzled, Philip put down his paintbrush and started for the trees, he was more sure now than he ever was that someone was watching him.
For his part the watcher was mystified, the priest had shown no signs of mental abilities, but he was aware of his presence. Delicate steps were to be taken if his plan was to succeed. He knew the Council would move quickly to recapture their lost "possession". He needed to know some things first, and the man before him would give him answers, willingly or not. With the speed of an Olympic sprinter, he made his move.
Philip felt a warning prickle on the back of his neck and turned. To his shock a man came barreling out of the trees at incredible speed. Philip tried to dodge the man, but to no avail. He was tackled roughly and pinned.
"Wha' do ya want?" He gasped, spitting out dirt.
The voice laughed harshly, Philip felt his captor lay a hand on his temple. Instantly a pressure invaded his mind, someone was trying to read his thoughts. Philip struggled, confused. What was going on! An image of Jade was brought into focus.
"What do you know of her" The voice in his mind screamed.
Philip felt the voice rather than heard it. He felt the rage and pain emanating from the other. He struggled even more, he had to protect her. Something was not right with this. The more he struggled against the powerful intrusion, the more pressure was put on him. Finally Philip could take no more, the dam of images broke, flooding his mind. Scenes from when he first saw her, to their parting, were snatched out of his mind and scanned. Then , when they were over, the intruder withdrew from his mind. The last thought Philip had was the intruders savage reaction to her name.
"Her name is NOT Jade! And make no mistake, I am all the family she will ever need!" And the contact withdrew.
Philip gasped at the pain in his head, it was fading slowly. When he recovered enough to look around, he was alone again. Sighing he picked up his brush and looked at the wall, it was as good as it was going to get today, he decided and picked up the paint cans and brushes and made his way to the church.
Philip was so preoccupied in his thoughts that he missed the sight of a red mustang pulling up to the curb.
"Philip!" a voice hailed him. It was Nick, Jade ran up the steps to where he stood and gave him a bear hug.
Laughing Philip returned the embrace and the held a hand out to Nick. Smiling, Nick shook it. The trio walked into the main building after Philip put away the paint.
"Well, lass." Philip grinned at Jade and tried to keep his thought from his disturbing encounter lest she pick them up, "Ya picked a fine day t' come home Sister Margaret just got back from retreat an' she's been dyin' t' see ya."
Jade's eyes opened wide and she began to look around for her friend. Seeing her by the door to her office she grinned at the two men and raced off to surprise her. Philip decided to use the distraction to tell Nick what happened at the wall.
"Geez, Philip!" Nick was shocked, this was getting way to serious.
"I don' want her to know." Philip sighed and rubbed his brow. His head was killing him. "Someone is after her, you have t' get her t' safety."
Jade was leading Sister Margaret to them , Nick just nodded at his friend and then smiled a welcome to the Sister.
"Hello Mr. Boyle, Father." She gave one of her calm smiles.
"Nick, please Sister." He reminded her. She just nodded, Nick doubted she would ever call him by his first name, but he really hated 'Mr. Boyle'.
Jade signed to Philip to see if he was coming to the house with them. She felt he was scared of something and was deliberately keeping it from her. It worried her that her best friend and mentor would keep something from her, but she knew she would find out in time. Nick and the others had learned sign language along with her so they could communicate. Sister Margaret already knew, her Aunt was deaf, and she learned as a child.
"If I may..." a stern voice interrupted the silent discussion. It was Bishop Douglas, looking very put out....."a word with you Father?"
"Of course" Philip answered politely , inwardly groaning. What now he thought, then became instantly ashamed at his uncharitable thoughts. He moved into his office motioning for the Bishop to proceed him.
"Is that who I think it is?" The Bishop sat in a chair. "The silent girl?"
"That's, Jade, yes." Philip sat behind his desk. Wondering what was he getting at.
"She looks well, what is she doing now?" The Bishop was continuing to be pleasant.
"She's a student at Cal Poly in San Lugs Obispo, she came back t' visit fer to' long weekend." Philip kept his gaze neutral.
The Bishop nodded thoughtfully. "If you like, take the weekend off, your not scheduled for anything that I know of."
Philip raised his eyebrows in astonishment. "No, it's m' scheduled weekend off."
Bishop Douglas rose, "Then have a good time" He left, leaving a stunned Philip staring after him.
When he got back to the group, Father Luke Quinlan was laughing with the others about something Jade had told them all.
"What did he want?" Nick asked grinning, he knew Philip and the Bishop often didn't get along.
"He graciously 'let' me have to' weekend off." Philip grimaced.
"Well that's nice of him, " Luke shook his head, "Considering it already IS your scheduled weekend off."
"I'll not look a gift horse in to' mouth. I'll see you all on Monday." He grinned at the others and Nick laughed outright. Jade linked her arm in his as they walked out the door. They were not prepared for the reception that greeted them outside.
* * *
The Council waited, Rayne was getting closer to the truth about the death certificates and their prize pupil was soon to be theirs again. The truth of her disappearance needed to be figured out, but with her back, their plans would come to fruition that much sooner.. The head of the Council gave the order, take out the security man, grab the girl. If the priest interfered, kill him too. Dr. Rayne was to be captured at all costs. The other members of the Luna Foundation were of no consequence.
* * *
At that precise moment, Derek and Alex were making progress. Alex contacted the names she knew on her list and their stories were similar enough to be of note. A normal pregnancy, a normal delivery. Later the parents were told complications had set in or the baby had a defect and had died. Alex was appalled, how could anyone do this! Derek was just as disturbed, he knew he was onto something. Someone somewhere was manipulating things. That someone wanted children with various mental abilities. For what, he didn't know but was tempted to find out. For weeks, he had been seeing clues of some organization pulling strings, now he would pull some of his own and trap them.
"Derek, look at this. "Alex's excited reply jolted the precept out of his turbulent thoughts. He looked over her shoulder at the computer screen. "I did some digging, I found that most of the death certificates were signed by a different Doctor, but if you look, it's the same handwriting!"
Derek looked and saw that she was right, someone had gone to a lot of trouble to make it look like different Doctors had signed, but there were similarities that suggested they were from the same hand.
"Good work , Alex. Lets compare the writing to the criminal database, we may get lucky and find a match." He was one step closer to finding his answers. Then the lights went out.
To Philip's immense surprise, twelve members of one of the local gangs waited outside the door. Nick tensed immediately, but Philip glanced at him reassuringly. He knew these boys.
"Darrell?" Philip raised an eyebrow at the leader.
"We came to apologize, Father C, " Darrell wore an irritated frown, "One of the nubs was trying to look tough, picked the wrong activity."
Philip noted the one in the center of the group squirm. The boy was no older than 15. Philip sighed, he knew he couldn't do anything about young boys joining gangs, but he could help ease them from dangerous roads. He sighed and shook his head.
"I hope you didn't clean it up already. We were Donna make him do it." Darrell grinned mischievously.
"It's mostly done already. The lads from to' soccer team an I worked on it this afternoon. There is a small section left, two' . I imagine you know where to' paint is kept?" Philip grinned back at him. He noticed Nicks surprise at the conversation.
"Right Padre! We'll get on it. Is the scrimmage still on for Monday?" Darrell snapped his fingers and the troupe moved towards the shed where the paint was kept. The gang leader smiled knowingly and as he walked up to Philip, he held out his hand.
"To' lads are looking forward t' it. Same rules apply as last time." Philip shook the preferred hand.
"Right, see ya then Padre!" He moved off to join his friends, but not without first giving Jade an appreciative look.
Jade blushed and looked down at the ground, she was still uncomfortable about being the center of attention. A stray thought from another mind invaded her awareness. Instantly alert she opened her senses and felt the thoughts of several people coming towards them. There was nothing friendly about the way these people behaved. She grabbed Nicks arm and sent the thoughts to him.
Nick was startled when Jade grabbed his arm and showed him what she 'saw'. He looked up as the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He nodded to her and gently disengaged her hand.
"Philip, we have unfriendlies. Get her back to the church!" Nick drew his gun quietly and hid it in his jacked.
"Nick, what is it?" Philip looked around, his senses on overdrive too.
"Just go! Now!" Nick pushed Jade at Philip and took a step forward.
He was looking in the wrong direction, a man popped out of the bushes behind him and aimed a gun at his back.
Philip turned just in time to see the man pop up. Without warning he pushed Nick aside and grabbed Jade. A shot rang out. The loudness of it startled Philip and did not quite mask Nick's cry of pain. In alarm, Philip reached out and pulled himself to his friends side.
Nick felt someone push him and was about to round on that person when he felt something hit him in the left arm, white hot fire ripped through that arm and he couldn't suppress a cry of pain. Damn it! he thought, I'm not gonna do Philip and Jade any good lying here. As Nick tried to get his bearings, another shot rang out. A piece of concrete inches from his face was holed as the bullet missed it's mark. Nick felt chips of that concrete fly past his head.
"Nick!" Philip had succeeded in getting to his friends side. He was alarmed at the amount of blood on his friends arm and chest. He quickly pulled off his flannel shirt and pressed it to Nicks shoulder. If only he had seen the gunman sooner! Remembering Jade, he lifted his head to look for her, she was gone! Then he heard the second shot and hit the deck once again. A concrete chip scored his cheek and he flinched.
"Philip, get out of here!" Nick pulled his gun out and sighted the shooter. He squeezed the trigger twice rapidly, and was rewarded when the shooter fell with a scream. Dizziness overtook him and he had to shake his head to clear it. It just made it worse. With a groan he fell back to the pavement. Then the pain and blackness overcame his effort to stay conscious,
"Damn it, Nick! You're shot." Phillips voice seemed to come from far away, then with another groan, Nick was unconscious. Philip was scared, his friend was bleeding all over the church steps, and Jade had disappeared,. There was no question in his mind that this was connected to the incident at the wall. Jade was in mortal danger, and now so were they!
Jade screamed as Nick first collapsed, there were more men coming for her, she had to draw them away from the church! For some reason, she was sure this was over her! She looked around in desperation as Philip tended to his fallen friend. She suddenly remembered her time living in the sewers, she ran over to the grate and pulled it aside. She would lead them down here and lose them. Leaving the grate open , she disappeared down into the darkness. She grimaced as a second shot rang out. Please let them live! She prayed, and ran further into the tunnels.
* * *
When the power went out, Derek and Alex were not overly concerned, it happened occasionally, the generators would kick in momentarily. When they did not, Derek frowned, the holographic wall was down, all power out. He felt his senses gray as his sight kicked in. Figures came running into the house with guns, he saw one raise it and shoot Alex down. There was a bloody attack on the rest of the staff until an image of himself in chains crossed his eyes. When his vision cleared, he knew the people were here for him, and they would kill anyone else they came in contact with until they got him.
"Derek?" Alex whispered , suddenly afraid, she had just had the same vision.
"It's alright Alex, " Derek paused, he knew what he had to do. "I will let them take me, they won't harm anyone if they get me first."
"Derek NO!" Alex whispered louder. "If they take you, they'll kill you!"
"We don't know that, at least your lives will be spared, keep going on the research, contact Nick and tell him to hurry." Derek kissed her on the forehead.
He realized he may be throwing his life away, but he would never just sit back and allow another member of his team to die. Not after losing Julia. Derek strode from the room without another word. He waited by the front door for his 'guests' to arrive. He didn't have to wait long, the door burst open and Derek jumped back at the force displayed, that door was solid oak! Four men rushed forward and grabbed him. Derek struggled briefly before he felt a mind try to invade his. He slammed up his mental shields and locked him out.
"He's got some talent, take him back to the warehouse." The one who had probed him smiled cruelly, "we'll find out what he knows there."
With that, Derek was hustled outside, blindfolded and his hands were tied behind his back. He struggled when he felt a needle pinch his arm. Within seconds his body faded out and his last thoughts were of Alex and the others.
Alex watched from the window, a tear rolling down her cheek. She knew what Derek just did saved her life and the lives of the staff in the house, but she couldn't help feeling like she should have done something. Well she could do something now. She wheeled around and strode to the phone. If anyone had seen the anger on her face, it would have given them second thoughts about approaching her for any reason. She snatched the phone from the desk and dialed Nick's number.
* * *
The members of the 'Black Demons' gang had just walked out of the paint shed when the two shots rang out. Darrell, who had declared peace with the church, ran headlong back to the main door, drawing his pistol. The other members followed. Darrell slid to a stop at the corner and cautiously peered around it
To Darrell's surprise, Father Callaghan, was kneeling beside the man he had been standing next to when they came out of the church, he was pressing his flannel shirt to the mans chest and shoulder. The chick was nowhere to be seen. Darrell cautiously peeked around the corner again. Three men in black clothing strode up to Father C and pulled him to his feet. They began asking him questions, when the Father refused to answer, they hit him. Darrell's blood boiled, he may be a member of a gang, but the Father had always treated him with respect and compassion, to see him abused like this inflamed his notorious temper.
"Alright boys, surround and cover. They have Father C, and we WILL get him back." Darrell made eye contact with his men, then he nodded. They scurried to obey. A minute later the whistle came. Darrell shot once into the air, gaining the attention of the men.
"Let the Father go,and you live!" He yelled.
The man holding Philip smiled and drew his gun, this they had not expected. He put the gun to his captive's face.
"If you don't back off now, I kill him." he shouted and pressed the gun closer . He was rewarded with a grunt of pain from the priest.
Darrell was annoyed, he knew these men would do what they said, what should he do now. He was on church property, he hoped the Lord would forgive him for this. He saw the blood from a cut on Philip's face and sighed, no way were they going to hurt him again!
"Listen to me!" The man shouted at the gang leader, "We are going to leave with this man as our hostage. Accept it or die."
Darrell realized that he had no choice, they would fight down to the last man, but is that what Father C would want? Then his decision was made for him. The front door of the church opened and Sister Margaret and the Bishop stood in the doorway. The men's guns trained on them. Darrell knew they would shoot.
"Alright, go! But you had better not hurt him!" He was seething, no way were they going to get away with this! He would find Father C or die trying!
A van roared up to the curb, Philip was dragged towards it. Knowing intimately Darrell's temper, he had been praying that the young man would do nothing foolish. When Sister Margaret opened the door, he had been doubly afraid she would get shot. He was roughly pushed into the van, he yelped in surprise as a needle pricked his arm, instantly he felt himself slide into unconsciousness.
Nick swam back to reality just in time to see Philip herded off. Struggling to his feet, he took three wobbly steps after them when his legs gave out. The van disappeared around the corner. Nick made another attempt to rise when someone took his arm. He jerked away and pointed his gun. The woman's shriek brought him back to reality, it was Sister Margaret. Weakly he lowered his gun.
"Philip...." He began.
She hushed him and led him towards the church, Nick felt another grab his other arm as he started to fall.
"Tell Derek...." He mumbled, "Must tell Derek."
"Easy Mr. Boyle, we will take care of things." Sister Margaret soothed him as they entered the church. Bishop Douglas looked on disapprovingly as Nick was laid on a pew and a towel pressed to his shoulder.
"It's Nick." He whispered and the darkness took him again.
"Alright Nick." Margaret whispered, as worried as she was about Philip, she knew this man, his friend, could die if not treated soon. She instructed the others in the church to call 911, and bring her more towels. It was messy, but clean. A through and through shot. the bleeding was already stopping.
A cell phone in Nick jacket rang, to everyone's surprise, Darrell extracted it and answered.
"Yeah?" he spoke.
"Where's Nick? " It was a woman's voice, she sounded puzzled.
"He's here, but can't answer the phone." Darrell was sure this was someone who knew the guy well by the way she knew it wasn't who she was after.
"Is he alright?" The Voice became concerned.
"Not really, he was shot here at the church." He decided to be blunt.
"Phil.....Father Callaghan? Is he alright?" Now the woman was really frightened. Good job Darrell, he sarcastically congratulated himself. "I don't know. If you can get here I'll tell you about what happened."
The voice paused. "Stay there, keep the phone. When you know anything about Nick's condition or what hospital he's going to, let me know."
"Right, who are you?" Darrell asked. "I'm Darrell, a friend of Father C's"
"My name is Alex, I work with Nick and Father Philip at the Luna Foundation. I'll be there shortly." with that she hung up.
Darrell hung up as well and turned back to his brothers. "Find out everything you can about these people. I want to know who did this. Call in all favors . " He snapped his fingers and the rest sped out on their errands. He was still angry enough to kill something, but until he knew more, it was a waiting game.
* * *
Jade stopped dead in her tracks, a vision swam into focus, she saw Philip pulled into a van and Nick lying in a pool of blood. They hadn't followed her at all. They had Philip, they wanted her to come to them! Hurriedly she raced back to the church, she had to see if Nick was alive before she could go after her mentor. Then a second image swam into view, it was Derek, tied to a chair, she felt him cry out. They were assaulting him psychically, testing his defenses and trying to invade his mind. She felt the combination of many minds rip into his and he cried out. Startled, she realized her voice had echoed that cry. She had spoken aloud! The vision became too much. She cut it off and ran faster to the church. Revelations could wait, her family could not.
Alex drove like a madwoman, just after she had hung up with Darrell, she had called Rachel and told her what happened. She told her to take Kat and get out, this was much too big for them to deal with. Rachel had assured her she would do it and had quickly hung up the phone. Images of Derek as he was led away came unbidden into her mind. Don't worry Derek, I won't let you down.
She pulled into the church parking lot, just as an ambulance pulled off the curb and left. Alex leaped out of the car and strode to the knot of people at he curb. A young man wearing local gang colors turned at her approach, he held up Nick's cell phone, she nodded.
"They're taking him to Mercy Hospital, I can fill you in on the way." He said as she walked up. He tried to hand her back the phone.
"Keep it for now, I may need to find you again. Where's Father Callaghan? and Jade?" Philip had told her about his relationship with this gang, she knew she could trust him. Alex looked around at the area, trying to get a sense of what happened. She almost missed a figure huddled near the sewer gate.
"Jade!" Alex cried and ran to her, she pulled Jade out of the bushes and held the trembling girl in her arms. "Oh baby!"
Jade had come out of the sewers just as the ambulance came for Nick. She felt every last bit of his pain and it had overwhelmed her. She had been hiding from the others there until she could cope. Jade sent Alex the images of the attack and her subsequent visions while she was in the tunnel. She was only vaguely aware of Darrell's presence as he stood over the two ladies.
"Jade, let's go see Nick, when we know he's better, we'll do something about Philip and Derek. O.K.?" Alex could barely restrain her tears and anger. She was going to get them back if she had to kill to do it!
Jade smiled up at Alex, Oh how she sounds like Nick right now! She thought and allowed Alex to pull her to her feet. She noticed the gang leader for the first time and frowned. Sensing he was an ally, she held out her hand to him. With a suspicious look he gently took it. He had suffered, she felt and saw what his home life had been and realized she was very lucky. Releasing his hand with a smile, she nodded to Alex and made her way to the car.
Darrell caught Alex's arm as she passed, "She's special, isn't she." The gang leaders tone was serious.
"Yes, she is," Alex answered, curious.
"I'll keep the phone on me and check the streets. You can count on my support. I'll put the word out you're," He gestured to Jade and herself, "to be protected and given all you need."Without another word the gang leader turned and jogged away.
A bemused Alex closed the door to her car and the two rushed to the hospital to check on their friend. Neither said a word the entire trip.
* * *
Derek awoke to find himself tied to a chair, he shook his head to clear the fog in his skull. Worried , he tried to lift images and impressions from where he was. Nothing came back, it was as if his sight was being blocked. He wondered what they wanted him for. He knew he was close to the answers he sought about Jade and the people who took her. Maybe he had bitten off more than he could chew. He hoped the rest of his team was well, he feared for their safety, especially Jade's. I guess I will just have to sit here and wait! he thought, knowing he wasn't going to like what happened next.
He didn't have long to wait, as soon as his captors noticed he was awake, they started to invade his mind. First subtly, then more forcefully. Soon, Derek was hard-pressed to keep them out. He was aware of the immense pressure that was the other mind, growing in power. Soon, he wouldn't be able to keep them out.
What do you want? Derek called to them in his mind.
We want you to open to us unconditionally, release your mind to us, Came the answer.
Why? Derek was now sure that this was many minds powering up against him, not just one.
What do you know of us? Where is the girl? Who else knows of us? To Derek the questions came at the same time, one upon the other.
The voices were growing louder and louder. In desperation Derek turned inward into himself and shut them out. In this place they would never reach him, but he also knew, if they didn't break off soon, he may never come out!
As soon as the members of the Council felt Rayne's retreat into his own mind, they stopped. How could a telepath so strong elude their selection? Where did he come from and were there any more strong wild talents like himself.
"We need him alive," spoke the Chairman. "Allow him time to recover, if a direct assault does not work we will use another tactics."
"We have the priest, he is on his way here as we speak." Another member spoke up.
"Good, " The Chairman smiled cruelly, "He will be perfect for what I have in mind!"
The other members laughed with him, they would break Rayne, he would tell them anything they wanted to know. It was only a matter of time.
Derek sighed inwardly as the pressure lessened, as the minds withdrew, he felt one get careless and Derek saw what they had done. Oh God! Nick! Philip! What have they done to you! Somehow he knew Jade was free and Alex alive, he hoped they would stay that way. Furious, Derek quickly tried to think of a plan. Time was running out for himself and his friends, he had to stall!
* * *
Alex and Jade ran into the emergency room, not knowing where they had taken Nick, Alex headed towards a receptionist when a familiar voice rang out.
"Damnit, I'm fine!" The voice shouted. "It went in and out, I've been shot before! This, believe me, is nothing!"
Jade giggled and joined Alex in the doorway of an examination room. Nick was sitting up on the table glaring at a nurse who was trying to apply a dressing to the wound. To Alex it looked as though it went through the shoulder muscle and missed all the vital nerve centers.
"That's our Nick." She spoke up, walking into the room. "Always being a good patient!"
"Alex!" Nick was surprised "How? Where?"
"Darrell called me. I know what happened!" Alex looked around for Jade and found her hiding behind the doorway. Before she could coax her in, Nick spotted her.
"Jade!" He exclaimed and jumped off the table, much to the doctors dismay "Your o.k.!"
Jade smiled weakly, she had thought he would be mad at her for leaving them. She was wrong. Nick just wrapped his arms around her, grimacing when his shoulder moved, and hugged her. In her mind she heard Nick thanking God she was safe. She felt his horror and rage, Boy will he blow when he finds out about Derek!
"Ahem!" The doctor interrupted. "Mr. Boyle? If you let us finish treating you I will let you go!"
Nick turned and faced the furious doctor, now that he knew some of his friends were safe, he consented to the bandaging. He didn't say one more word until they were done. He listened politely to the doctors instructions, and then quite nicely thanked them and apologized for his behavior. The doctor shook his head and told him to be careful.
Alex would have been more amused if things weren't so grim. Two out of their number were gone, and a new, dangerous enemy was slowly revealing itself. She shook her head as Nick climbed down off of the table and went to sign the release papers. Jade followed close behind, with Alex bringing up the rear. She saw Jade tense and look around. instantly alert. Alex sensed it too. Someone was watching them!
The figure in the shadows watched as the wounded security man was followed out of the examination room by the tall dark woman and his sister. He saw them both tense up and look around. Smiling, he knew there was no way they could spot him and relaxed further into the shadows. He was filled with an overwhelming desire to reach out to his sister and share memories like they had when they were children. With a sad smile, he watched them resume following Boyle to the door. Maybe he would contact her. Maybe it was better if he found out what was going on before he turned her over. He smiled again, maybe so!
Nick had been silent all the way back to the Legacy house. Alex was worried, she knew he was hurting more than he was saying, and not just about his shoulder. Alex sighed as she drove up to the front door, they all had a long day ahead of them if they were to find out where their friends had been taken. The were close to the answer, but were they close enough.
As they climbed out of her car, Alex noticed something was wrong, Duncan did not come out to greet them, as usual. Nick frowned and took his gun out, Alex noticed the slight tremble in his hand as he opened the door.
"I told you young man, they are not here!" Duncan's quiet voice was steely with displeasure. Alex wondered who he was talking to.
As she and Nick walked into the reception room, to their surprise a young man stood there.
"I hope they get here soon, old man. This is not a social call." The gang leader Darrell was equally adamant.
"We're here now," Nick spoke up, putting his gun away. He didn't miss the gang leaders quick jump to a defensive posture, and it's almost immediate relaxing of it. Nick smiled, he liked that in a person, instinct and control.
"Well....My contacts came up with something faster that I thought. You had left the hospital before I could catch you there, so I figured you'd show up here eventually." Darrell took a deep breath and a grim look came over his face.
Jade walked up to him and laid a comforting hand on his arm. She smiled up at him and nodded as if to say, 'It's alright, you can tell us'. The gang leader relaxed and gently disengaged her hand from his arm. The was a gentleness in it that surprised Nick and Alex.
"We don't know who the players are. But I can say that they run most of the major ops around here. They don't reveal themselves to anyone, everything is done by middle men." Darrell grimaced. "My boys called in lots of favors and we found a similarity that might be useful."
"What?" Alex put her coat down and looked the man in the eyes. There was a hardness in them that she didn't like.
"People who have challenged them over the years wind up very dead, in very strange ways. Not a mark is on their bodies, but they....." He stopped took a deep breath. "It's like their brains were fried. I can't think of any other way to describe it."
Nick shot a look at Alex and she nodded. Jade turned pale and sat down in a chair. She knew then and there, psychic people were using something to burn out minds.
Darrell noticed their lack of surprise at he pronouncement, they knew something. His eyes narrowed. What were they holding back? He had one more piece of information for them, he hoped they could take it.
"There's one more thing," he paused, getting their full attention, "Someone has been following you since the hospital."
"What?" Nick exclaimed, "I didn't spot anyone?"
"That's because he is very good" Darrell grinned at Nick's surprise. "My boys have put out the word, you are watched wherever you go. We noticed him at the church , the hospital, and he's probably here as well."
Nick returned Darrell's grin, "then maybe we should find out!"
* * *
Philip awoke to a pounding headache, he groaned as he tried to sit up. When he was finally able to open his eyes, he found himself in a small, gray featureless room. There were no windows and only one door, other than that door, there was nothing else. He looked down at his clothes, he was still covered in Nick's blood, but now it was dried. How long had he been here? He hoped Nick had survived, and Jade as well. Worried he got up and started pacing unaware he was being monitored from those outside the room
The Council listened to the reports on their two captives. Rayne was still unconscious and the priest was up and pacing. The curious thing the agent watching him reported, was that he was not worried for himself, but the others he left behind. Most captives immediately wondered for their own safety and lives, this new twist intrigued the Council, and they began to discuss how to exploit it.
Derek was not unconscious, he had been faking for quite some time. His mind racing to find a way out of this predicament. The more he felt the contacts of the other minds around him, the more he realized they were augmented by something not human. Somehow these people had found a way to boost their abilities to enormous proportions. Casting his mind back to the past, Derek searched for a familiar feeling. He had heard of something like this before, but he couldn't put his finger on it. He hoped to remember before his time ran out.
* * *
Ever since Jade had learned of being followed, she had started to cast her sight, looking for the touch of another's mind. She had no idea how she knew to do this, but suddenly she was able to. Maybe this had more to do with her missing past than she realized. As she swept the grounds, she almost missed a whisper of a touch. The person was well guarded from her intrusion, but she got a location.
Jade looked up and saw Nick and Alex going over reports of major crimes with Darrell. She would handle this herself. Getting up quietly, she lightly made her way out of the room and to a door leading to the rose garden. She knew the intruder was there. As quietly as she could, both physically and mentally she crept up on the unsuspecting man. With a quick leap she grabbed his arm and flooded his mind. He fought her at first and then unaccountably he stopped.
He was shocked a someone grabbed his arm and invaded his mind, on instinct he fought her, then he realized it WAS her! His sister, he made a snap decision and stopped. He let her explore his mind as deeply as she wanted to go.
Jade was startled, this man held the answers to her past! Images of him and 30 other children playing games and sharpening their minds, filled her. She couldn't help but smile. The she saw herself older, in a ceremony all dressed in red. She heard chanting and remembered her fear. Unable to pull away, she faced the creature again, she saw it touch her dream self, heard herself scream and collapse to the ground.
Jade trembled, she remembered that horrible day. The innocent teens had been told they were going to relieve a great gift, most had been killed in the transfer of power from the bound creature, but some had survived. Like her brother. Suddenly the memories of those days flooded into her , riding the flood of images like a boat rides the waves she allowed them to wash into her.
"Kara, come back with me!" He brother asked. "Fulfill your destiny! Come back to us!"
Jade shook her head, no. The Council was evil and would pay for the destruction of her childhood. She also knew without a doubt that if they didn't hurry Derek and Philip would never come home. Gently, so as not to unduly injure her newly found brother, she hit him . Surprised he tumbled into the planter, and was knocked out.
For a moment, Jade just sat there, letting the new found memories integrate themselves into her mind. She knew she had to tell Alex and Nick. With a sigh she made her way to the house.
* * *
Derek knew he was running out of time, soon they would figure out he was faking and begin their assault again, the thought of these people finding out about the Legacy filled him with dread. They would destroy it and corrupt it's purpose to theirs, of that he was certain.
The door opened, Derek heard the someone come in, wheeling something with him. He tried to peek into the persons mind and found himself locked out. Whoever this was, was powerful.
"You can wake up now Dr. Rayne." came a pleasant, female voice.
Startled Derek lifted his head and looked into a pair of slate gray eyes. The woman was in her early 40's black short hair wearing a gray pant suit. Derek got an impression of hardness and uncaring from her. Without a doubt he knew she was a member of the Council.
The woman smiled cruelly at his appraisal of her. No one had challenged them in far too long, this would be interesting. He was hiding something from them, and she loved finding out secrets.
"Well, now your awake, I'll give you one last opportunity to let us read you." She walked over to the monitor she had wheeled in.
"Never!" Derek hissed.
"I was rather hoping you would say that!" The woman replied , smiling.
Derek didn't like her smile one bit. This was not going to go well for him. He watched as she walked over to the monitor and turned it on. Derek gasped and turned white.
On the monitor was Philip, pacing in a cell just like the one he was in.
Derek felt a cold rage enter him as he watched the monitor. He knew they intended to use Philip to force him to give in to their demands. He also knew Philip would want him to fight these people, they were truly evil. As Derek watched, three men entered Phillips cell, a cold feeling of dread washed his anger away momentarily, closing his eyes Derek prayed that he could hold out long enough for help to arrive.
Philip watched with apprehension as the three men advanced towards him. Scared though he was, he wasn't about to let them see it.
"Wha' do ya want from me?" He asked calmly.
The three men only grinned and kept coming. Philip suddenly knew without a doubt, that he was not going to like this. Philip began praying, it was the only thing left for him to do. Two of the men grabbed his arms and the third placed a hand on his bare arm.
Derek took his eyes off the screen and looked at the Council member in his room. Her face was curled in a cruel smile. Noticing he was looking at him, she turned.
"This is a demonstration of what will happen to your fiend if you refuse us again." She did not bother to disguise the pleasure she felt as she told her minions to proceed.
Derek dreaded what was to come , but he wasn't prepared when the man not holding Philip just laid his hand on Philip's arm. Then he realized, they were assaulting him on a mental level. They were planning on ripping apart his mind! Derek's rage returned as Philip began to gasp at the pain in his head. Despite his growing horror, Derek could not take his eyes off his friend, he would not desert him in any way. Not even in this small way. Every gasp and cry tore at his heart, these people were monsters!
Philip knew with a growing certainty, that he was going to die. The pain in his mind grew steadily worse with every passing second. He prayed harder, concentrating on the words and trying to ignore the pain. He sensed he was being used to hurt someone else, but who, he didn't know. Throughout the assault, the mind invading his, never asked for anything, just ripped into him with relish. Just when Philip thought he could take no more, the man stopped . Sagging in the other two men's grip, Philip sighed with relief. His head was ballooning with agony, but he was alive. He thanked God for that, and hoped it was over.
Suddenly, the three men let him go and he crashed to the floor. Weak, Philip just lay there gasping for breath. The men left and Philip let out a relieved sigh. He had no idea what was going on , or why they assaulted him. He hoped the others were safe, he was especially worried about Jade and Nick. He hoped they were alive and free. With those thoughts, Philip felt his body slipping away, the shock was too much, he closed his eyes and was out like a light.
Derek's fury grew with each passing second, them they stopped. The woman turned to face him, the pleasure from watching Philip attacked written all over her face. It sickened Derek to think such people actually existed.
"You will have no more warnings, if you do not give in to us, we will shatter him from within!" her contempt was obvious.
"Why do you hate him so? He has never hurt anyone" The words were out before Derek knew what he was saying.
"He is not one of US! "she quietly snarled, then she turned to him. "But you could be. You have immense untrained talent. If you joined us, you too could rule those insignificant dead-heads"
Derek was sick. He tried to respond but the images that flooded his mind sickened him.
She noticed his reaction and frowned. This was why they had chosen to steal the babies. Teach and mold their thoughts to the grand purpose, this stupid morality was a hindrance.
"Very well, since you so obviously refuse, I will give you 30 minutes to think about things. By then your friend will be conscious and I will be back." With that she strode from the room.
30 minutes. Derek hoped the others would arrive in time.
* * *
Jade slowly crept back into the house, she had dragged her brother to the door and was about to pull him inside when Darrell came around the corner. His eyebrows rose in shock at the sight of her dragging a man twice her size into the house. With a grin, and shaking his head, he silently picked up the man and threw him over his shoulder. Jade was amazed as always, that even though his aura was dark, he was so kind . It was like he was hiding what he truly was underneath a shell of uncaring. Realizing she would now have to face Nick, she grimaced and gestured, not unkindly, for Darrell to follow her.
Nick looked up in shook as Darrell came back in with a body over his shoulder. He was even more surprised when Darrell admitted it was Jade that had dragged him into the house. As Jade signed her confrontation to them, he began to get angrier.
"So you just snuck out of here and confronted this guy! What were you thinking!" Nick shouted, ignoring the stabbing pain in his shoulder.
Jade sighed and signed back. "I knew I could do it, Nick. I was the only one who could get to him."
"Why do you say that?" Alex broke in.
"Because he knows my past. He's my brother," Jade weakly signed. Dreading the explosion to follow.
Alex and Nick were stunned. Brother? This guy? How?
"How do you know, sweetie?" Nick asked, calmer.
"I read it in his mind. I read it all! They stole us as babies, we all had some variation of the sight. At first there were only a few of us, but then I remember over 30. On or near the 18th year we all were in a ceremony. I'm not really sure what it was about, but I remember now touching this figurine. I felt it's evil and screamed. Then it overloaded my mind, trying to take control. I wouldn't let it. That's what caused my amnesia. Since that day until today, it burned my mind out." Jade finished signing and sat down in a chair.
Alex knelt on the floor next to her and put her arms around the shivering girl.
"What happened to the other children?" She softly asked.
Jade raised her face, tears running down her cheeks. Instead of signing, she sent the images into Alex's mind. Images of only one in eight living after the ceremony. Images of all the brothers and sisters of her young life dead at her feet.
Alex cried, all those children! She felt a hand on her shoulder. Expecting it to be Nick, it shocked her to see Darrell standing next to her.
"Tell me," was all he said.
Alex related the images she saw to both Darrell and Nick. She was a little amused to note that the two men's reactions were the same. Horror at what Jade had to endure, and extreme anger for those who did it.
Darrell knelt down next to Jade, his eyes blazing.
"Do you know where they are?" He peered into her face.
Jade hardened her features. She nodded and signed to them that she would take them there. If they had Derek and Philip, they were in terrible danger.
Darrell didn't understand sign language, but he knew if his friend Father C was with these dudes, he was in serious trouble. Trouble was something Darrell was good at though, and he would give them some if they hurt his friend. He looked over at Nick, now there was somebody to have at your back in a fight. Alex had told him he was an ex-SEAL, so he knew he could fight. Even with his arm in a sling and bandaged from shoulder to chest.
Nick sighed at the inevitable, he didn't want the ladies to go, but he doubted they would stay. He glanced over at Darrell, the gang leader was obviously agitated and willing to go as well. Nick was inclined to let him, since he was not 100%
"Alright, " Nick said making a decision. "Well keep this guy here on ice, and all of us will go get Derek and Philip. I don't think we should wait for help, we don't have the time."
"Wait" Darrell fished out the phone from his pocket. He quickly dialed a number "Izzy, it's me. Yeah, keep up the patrols, I may need you at a moment's notice so put everybody on full alert. Right. See 'ya bro!"
Darrell hung up the phone and handed it to Nick.
"It's your phone, man!" He grinned.
Bemused Nick shook his head and they went out the door.
Time was running out. Derek sighed as he somehow knew he didn't have long before the woman came back. In his mind he had been playing with the idea of trying to reach out with his mind to help Philip shield himself from the attack. If he could just reach him! He had never even thought himself capable of this aspect of his sight before this. In trial, he cast his mind out to try to find Philip's. He concentrated on his friends image and personality, then, with a start, he touched the tortured mind. He was still out, but Derek was now sure he could find it again given the opportunity. He settled down in his chair to wait.
* * *
The Council was amazed. No one individual had ever stood up to them like this before. It was annoying at the same time as exhilarating.
"What is our next course of action?" The woman who had been with Derek asked. "Dr.Rayne was most upset at his friends treatment, but there was a strong resolve not to tell us something. I got the impression it has nothing to do with us."
"What then?" Another member asked.
"I don't know." The woman paused. "There is also more of a connection to the priest than as just friends, they are almost as brothers. He might know."
The Chairman nodded. There was something disquieting about Derek Rayne. A confidence that he wanted to break into a million pieces. It was too bad they had not sensed his talent thirty years ago, he would have made an excellent council member.
"As soon as Father Callaghan regains his bearings, start in on him again. I feel Rayne trying to reach him mentally, instead of ripping the priest to shreds, gather what information you can about his relationship with Rayne." The Chairman laughed cruelly. "Take Rayne to his friend as soon as his mind is destroyed, let Rayne gaze on the ruined priest and know it was his fault "
The murmured acceptance of the plan was unanimous, it would be so.
* * *
Jade guided Alex to the warehouse, the location of which she had gotten from her 'brother'. Nick was watching for followers and Darrell smiled every other half-block at one of his men. Nick had shook his head at Darrell's command of his people. Nick had tried to ask the gang leader about his life to polite refusals. Finally Nick left him alone as they approached their target.
"I will shield us from their mental probes," Jade signed, "I think we should go after the icon and destroy it first, then we will be able to fight them better."
"I agree, take their strength and they might just be confused enough to make our job easier." Nick loaded his gun with one hand, checked his other gun, and looked up at their expectant faces.
Darrell for his part had been silent, he didn't quite believe in all this psychic mumbo-jumbo, but it was clear to him the others did. He peered over at Jade who was lost in concentration. She gave the 'all clear', and they moved out. Nick led the way followed by Jade and Alex, Darrell brought up the rear, keeping an eye behind for any surprises.
They entered the building.
* * *
Philip awoke to a pounding headache. He groaned and shook his head to clear it. He immediately gasped in pain as the movement made it worse. He could have sworn that just as he was waking up he had heard Derek call his name. Wi shful thinkin' on your part , laddie. he thought. He had hoped in all of his heart that his friends would be there when he woke up. Philip could not remember such a bleak time as this. If those people started in on him again, he would lose his mind.
The door opened and the three men softly walked in. Philip closed his eyes and sighed. This was it, the end of the road. He didn't resist as they grabbed his arms again. He knew it would do no good. They started immediately. The pressure invading his mind was different, now they were looking for something. He could only scream in agony as they searched his mind, looking for something. Then Philip knew without a doubt, they were after the Legacy!
The woman walked imperiously into Derek's cell. Two burly men were with her. As soon as they came in, the monitor turned on and Derek saw Philip again. They had already started, Philip was struggling weakly in the grip of the same two men as before. Hesitantly Derek reached out to him. Images of pain, confusion, anger, and sheer terror spilled into Derek's mind. They were Philip's, but he felt them just as if they were his. Derek sensed they were using Philip to find the Legacy and was horrified. Philip had no shield to protect himself. Eventually these people would get what they wanted from him.
Derek let a sigh out as he felt them ease up their pressure for just an instant. he seized the opportunity and touched his mind deeper.
"Philip!" he called." Philip , it's Derek, listen to me. Hear me. I will help you!"
"NO!!!!!! Your not Derek, it's a trick. I will no give you what ya want! Not now or EVER!!!" Phillips half-mad mental tone struck Derek like a blow.
As Derek came back to his mind, he heard the woman chuckling. He stared into her eyes. He sensed her amusement at first, his attempt to help Philip, then malicious laughter as Philip refused him, thinking it was not real.
"You see! You are no match for us. Through your friend we will get what we need and we will destroy what you fight so hard to keep us from!" As she turned back to the screen, the lights went out.
* * *
Nick gave Alex a puzzled glance as she insisted on cutting the power. He knew the bare bones of what had happened at the castle when Derek was taken, but didn't expect his friend to be so aggressively belligerent.
"I owe them." Was all the researcher said as she destroyed the panel.
Darrell smiled at her tone and kept his eyes on the corridor. Jade had shielded them from mental detection, and now they had effectively disabled any electronic device.
"Let's split up." Nick suggested. Darrell you go with Jade to find the icon and destroy it, Alex and I will find Derek and Philip."
Darrell nodded and he and Jade took off. Before she left, Jade pointed out where she thought the two men might be. Alex looked grimly at Nick as he pulled out his second gun and hid it in his sling. He nodded to Alex and they were off.
* * *
Derek grinned into the darkened confusion. They were here. He knew it. A hand roughly grabbed his hair and yanked.
"Cut him free, we'll use him as a hostage. Have the others kill the priest and follow." The woman's commands rang loudly into the dark, quiet room.
It took Derek a few seconds to realize he was free, once the ropes parted. shaking his hands to get the circulation going, he listened for his friends. As he was pulled savagely out of the room, the woman gasped, her grip weakened and then fell away. Derek stumbled away from her and wondered what had happened. Then he felt it. The pressure of the minds was gone! Without wasting another second, he ran in the direction he believed Philip's room to be in. Someone had just destroyed their source of mental power.
* * *
Minutes before Derek's release, Jade led Darrell into a hallway. They had spent the last minutes dodging anyone who met them in the corridors. They knew Nick and Alex were on the other side of the building, so anyone they ran into would be from the Council. They crept down an ornate set of stairs and crept down a gilded corridor, at the end was two foot high shrouded icon.
It was magnificient. the ancient Egyptian god was carved out of solid stone. It looked like the head of a cat perched n the body of the man. It was Sekmet. Jade felt a pressure on her mind. She could go no further. Darrell, having no mine gifts, walked right up to it . Without hesitation, Jade motioned Darrell to pick it up and smash it.
All the images of her first encounter with it, swirling around her mind. All the dead children would now have a measure of peace.
"Now your sure this thing won't harm me?" He asked as he reached for it.
Jade smiled and shook her head. Without another second, Darrell lifted the icon over his head and dashed it to the floor. As it shattered an angry scream erupted behind Jade.
"Look out!" The gang leader leapt past Jade and clothes lined the attacker. As the man hit the floor several more popped up out of the shadows. Darrell took out his gun and shot one who was going after Jade. Running to him, she hid behind him as he shot three more. He was forced to go after the last two with his knife when his gun was kicked from his hand. He disposed of the first and was looking for the second, when a scream interrupted him.
"Behind you!!!" Jade screamed. She had seen him struggling with the first man when the second had gotten the drop on him. All the horror and rage built up in her and she broke the barrier impeding her speech. After seeing the icon destroyed and feeling it's evil energy dissipate, it felt like the final barrier had been lifted.
Darrell had no time to think or ponder who's voice it was, he just reacted. He spun around while crouching down. The assailant sailed over his head and into the wall. Darrell picked his knife up and threw it, it hit the assailant dead in the heart. The man slid to the wall.
Jade ran to him and threw her arms around his waist, grateful he was not hurt. He looked down at her and smiled.
"Was that you?" He inquired with the smile still in place.
Jade was about to nod, when she tried speech instead.
"Yes" It was scratchy but she was thrilled none the less. It was her voice.
"Lets go find the others." Darrell took her hand and led her down the dark corridors.
* * *
Nick was in heaven. In the darkened corridors, he and Alex crept around unnoticed. If they ran into anyone, it had been so easy to ambush them that Nick had to keep from laughing every time one of the Councils muscle fell into his traps. Every once in a while his shoulder twinged hard enough to make him gasp, but he ignored it. He could worry about it later when everyone was safe.
As of yet they had not found either Derek of Philip and time was running out. Nick heard someone coming. Alex faded into one doorway and Nick into another. He nodded at her to keep still. The figure was fumbling along the corridor as if looking for something. Nick was about to pounce, when the figure bumped into the wall and let out a few soft expletives in Dutch.
"Derek?" Alex whispered, hoping.
"Alex? Is that you?" The tired voice came back.
Alex practically flew into Derek's arms and wrapped him in a hug. She pulled out of it and began looking her precept over for any injuries.
"Alex, I'm fine, really" Derek chuckled, keeping his choice soft.
"Do you know where Philip is?" Nick asked checking the corridor for movement
"No," Derek shook his head and sighed sadly. "He must be around her somewhere."
"Alright, let's head down that side corridor, Alex stay between us. Derek, you up to taking point?" Nick grasped his friends arm in greeting.
"Yes, " Derek returned the grip and was startled when his hand met the sling "What happened to you?"
"Got shot, " Nick replied brusquely, "I'm o.k., let's go get Philip and met the others."
They crept down the corridor in silence. Every door they came to was opened and the room inspected briefly before moving on. When they neared the end of the corridor, Nick picked up voices. Derek stopped moving and held Alex behind him. The voices were just loud enough to hear.
"The orders are to kill this one and then find the others. The Council has moved on, but is awaiting your success. Do not fail us." It was the woman. Derek recognized her voice.
"Nick, Philip is there, we have to hurry." He whispered.
"Yeah, I gathered that." Nick paused. "Alex, Derek and I will draw them off, you get Philip and get out of here. You know where to meet?"
"Yeah, be careful guys." Alex sank into a room and closed the door.
"Ready?" Nick asked his precept, and was startled to see the malevolent look that crossed Derek's face.
"Whenever you are." He replied, his voice steel.
"Let's draw them to that intersection back there, we can ambush them from around the corridor." Nick said as the approached the door.
Just before he announced themselves, Nick took out his spare pistol and gave it to Derek. Without a word, the precept accepted it and they moved into the doorway.
One thug noticed them right away. "There they are!"
The other four moved away from the figure curled up on the floor. Nick raised his gun and shot one, then he raced out the doorway and down the corridor. Derek followed, checking over his shoulder. Four men followed them down the hallway.
Alex heard the gunshot and then footsteps racing past. When it was quiet again, she cautiously open the door and looked around. Nothing. With a silent step, she made her way to the room in question. It was too dark inside for her to see clearly, but there was a darker lump on the floor. Carefully she eased herself into the room. There were two men lying on the floor. One was stirring, the other was not.
"Philip?" Alex whispered.
"Alex?" Came a shaky voice.
In relief she ran to the stirring figure. It was Philip,looking very confused. His eyes couldn't seem to track on anything and he was disoriented. Alex checked him over and found no physical wounds. As her bare skin touched his, impressions of what they had done crossed her vision. Gasping, she held him tighter and gently tried to ease the pain. Philip's mind recoiled from her gentle touch, afraid of the pain. She soothed him more and he calmed down. As she soothed his confusion and pain, Philip's mind began to rally, the wounds began to heal, and he started to regain control.
So concentrated she was on helping Philip, Alex didn't notice when three Council lackeys entered the room. Before she noticed they were there, they grabbed her and pulled her away. Alex screamed in shock.
Blearily, Philip gazed around the room. Something was wrong, but he couldn't think. Then someone screamed again. Philip heard the sound of cloth tearing and fixed his eyes on the location of the sound. In his confused state all Philip could think of was that Alex was in trouble and needed help. Without a further thought, he pulled himself to his feet and launched himself at her attackers.
Alex was surprised when one of her assailants was ripped off of her. She struggled with the other two, but to her amazement Philip threw the one into a wall and ripped the second off her. In her shock, she saw her gentle friend hit the second in the jaw with a terrific right cross. The man went down as if hit by a truck. The third man let her go and started stalking Philip. By his unsteady step, Alex wondered how much longer her friend would stay on his feet. She hoped help would come in time.
Nick ran just fast enough to encourage their pursuers to follow, Derek hot on his heels. When the intersection came into view, he put on a burst of speed and dashed around the corner. Stopping and turning around, he saw Derek go to the other side. Good Derek, he thought, setting up a crossfire! The ex-SEAL heard the men running towards them and crouched down. The last place anybody looked was up or down, so he should be able to get the jump on whomever followed him.
Nick didn't have long to wait. The first man scrambled around the corner, right into Nicks line of sight. Quickly Nick fired off three shots. The man went down. The second man was faster, using his not so lucky comrade to hold Nick's attention, he slipped in and kicked his arm. In surprise Nick cried out as his shoulder was jarred. Falling into a defensive position, Nick tried to cover his mistake. The guy was too fast, he kept coming in under Nicks guard on his sling side and tagging him with blows. Nick reeled into a doorway desperate to keep on his feet.
For his part Derek was having trouble as well. His first hasty shots had missed one of the two men who followed him. The assailant had gotten to him to soon for him to get off another round. Derek let his fury overtake him and he lashed out with his fists. Connecting with his opponents face and chest, Derek hammered the man time after time. The few return blows only made him hesitate before coming on again. This was the man who had probed Philip's mind and caused him his pain. Derek was not about to let him off the hook.
Derek was jolted out of his single minded pursuit of his victim by Nick's pained cry. He looked over to see his security chief get knocked into the doorway. With a final punch he sent his opponent into the wall, the man slid down it , unconscious. Derek ran to Nick's aid, calling his friends name.
Nick heard Derek call his name as the guy landed another punch on his wounded shoulder. In desperation, Nick kicked out and felt his foot connect with a knee. Staggered momentarily and cursing, the Council flunky, as Nick thought of them,came at him again. Bracing himself, Nick prepared for the blow. When it didn't come, he looked around. Derek was running to him, so who was there.
Derek saw he was going to be too late, then out of the shadows a man in gang garb neatly picked the man up and carried him off, throwing the man head first into the wall. Derek decided to check on Nick before anything else.
Nick turned as Derek strode up to him. He had just seen Darrell bodily lift his assailant and throw him head first into the wall. He shook hids head as the gang leader approached.
"Remind me not to wrestle you in the future," Nick grinned.
"Remind yourself not to let your guard down when I'm not there to watch your back!" The man retorted.
Derek looked from one to the other. Obviously, Nick knew this boy.
"Nick?" The precept asked "Would you mind telling me who our friend here is?"
Nick just laughed. Darrell smiled down at the older man.
"I'm Darrell, Leader of the "Black Demons" and a friend of Father C's," he extended his hand.
Bemusedly Derek returned the handshake. "I'm Derek Rayne"
"Don't forget your my friend too!" came an unfamiliar voice. Derek and Nick whirled into defensive positions. Darrell laughed at their reactions.
Derek was shocked as Jade came out of the shadows. He wanted to ask but he couldn't find his voice. Nick looked equally taken a-back.
"Yes, it's mine." She smiled and walked up to the two men and hugged them both.
Nick laughed in delight and was about to say something when an angry shout and a scream pierced the darkened quiet.
"That was Alex!" Derek turned and ran back down the corridor.
When they got to Phillips room, an unbelievable sight greeted their eyes. Philip was savagely laying into one of the Council's men. Nick's jaw dropped as his friend landed blow after blow on his opponent, driving him back. Alex was sitting of the floor, her shirt was torn and she looked dazed.
Despite the fury of the priest, the other man ducked under Phillip's swing and grabbed the chair, wasting no time he brought it down on the priests back and shoulders. Alex leapt to her feet, and as the man staggered and lifted the chair for another blow, she hit him across the back of the head. The man went down.
As if that was some sort of signal, the others flooded into the room. Nick checked the bodies and Derek went to help Alex and Jade with Philip. Darrell watched the door.
"What happened?" Derek asked .
"Whatever they did to him scrambled his brain a little. I was trying to help him when we were attacked. Philip just went nuts!" Alex laid her hand on Phillip's cheek.
She tried to make contact with him once again. Jade too laid her hand on him and gently the two women soothed his turbulent mind. It seemed like forever, but the damage was reversed. Jade and Alex wearily lifted themselves to their feet.
"Will he be o.k.?" Nick asked from the door. He had joined Darrell there after checking to make sure none of the men in this room would bother them.
"I think so." Alex rubbed her forehead
"So do I," Jade spoke up
"I would agree," came a weak voice from the floor. "If my head wasn't poundin' so much"
"Philip!" Jade spun around and kneeled next to him.
He looked at her with a wondering smile. "You....."
"Yup!" She smiled and helped him to sit.
"I have no idea what's going on here!" Philip held his aching head. "When did you all get here?"
Derek, startled, looked over at Alex. She shook her head. Nick just raised his eyebrow. Jade smothered a laugh.
Darrell grinned, turning away. Trust Philip not to remembering kicking serious butt., the gang leader thought.
"What's the last thing you remember?" Alex kneeled on his other side and peered into his eyes.
Philip looked confused. He just shook his head. "After th' church..... not much, a lot of pain and someone trying t' get int' my mind. Then waking up with ya all here."
"Well my friend, lets get out of here and get you home." Derek put out his hand .
Philip grinned and nodded agreement, leaning on Dereks support to get up off the floor. He was surprised at how weak he felt. He looked at the bodies lying all around him.
"Who did this, then?" He asked the room at large.
It was all anyone could do to keep from laughing out loud. Carefully they made their way out to Alex's car and piled in for the trip home.
* * *
The council was in uproar, they had just been handed a major setback. Their source of power had been destroyed and Rayne had escaped. A new location would have to be set up and the other Icon found. They would have to start all over again. The only bright spot was that the finally knew the name of their enemy, the Legacy! Now, while they waited for their full power to return, they would concentration destroying whatever this 'Legacy' was as well as Rayne and his friends.
* * *
Alex drove toward the church, Philip had insisted on going there rather than the hospital or Angel Island. No one was really surprised, Nick had commented that Philip had to get home to clean up the steps. After a startled expression, Philip saw what Nick was grinning at and gave them the first genuine smile since leaving the warehouse.
Alex started giggling, the mental picture of Philip scrubbing the steps of the church with a brush, bucket at his side, was too much. Nick caught her eyes and started giggling too. Philip, still grinning, looked from our to the other and shook his head.
To everyone's surprise, Derek began to smile too. "Apron?" Was all he said. That set Nick off and he started laughing harder. Soon everyone in the car was caught in the hysteria. Philip shook his head again, but was laughing softly too.
Everyone was still grinning when the car pulled up in front of the church. Phillip's face fell as he recognized Bishop Douglas in the doorway. Sighing in resignation, he got out of the car.
"This is my stop too." Darrell followed him out. "I'll catch ya all later."
"Bye Darrell!" Jade smiled at him
"Bye Sis," Darrell winked at her and faded away into the streets.
Meanwhile Philip had been noticed and a commotion from the church brought every ones attention back to the steps.
To Phillip's surprise, Cardinal Aranna stepped out of the doorway and almost ran to Philip.
"My dear boy, are you alright?" The Cardinal looked him over. "We were very worried."
Philip blushed at the attention. He turned back to the car and waved as the pulled away from the curb. Before they got out of sight , he caught Nick's wink of encouragement. Maybe I should have gone with them, this is going t' be uncomfortable. Philip turned his attention back to the people around him. Fathers Quinlan and Andrews were coming out of the church, followed by the rest of the church. He realized they must have been in service when he got there.
"Sorry fer interruptin' Luke." Philip said quietly as they shook hands.
"Don't worry about it, we were almost done." Luke smiled at him.
"Welcome home Father Callaghan." It was Bishop Douglas. Philip shook his hand. "Are you well?"
"Well enough." Philip answered him in the same bland tone. Not in the mood for his games. Not in the mood at all.
"I think we should get you inside..." Cardinal Aranna gently took his arm and started to lead him back to the church. Away from the disapproving Bishop. "and then you can tell us about it"
Philip went unprotesting, giving greetings to his parishioners and reassuring smiles. Although he didn't remember a whole lot about what had happened, he knew one thing. He was sure to hear about this 'Council' again. But for now he was grateful to be home.
* * *
Not too much later, Alex pulled the car up to the castle, the staff came rushing out the door to greet them. Duncan helped Nick out of the car and asked if all was well.
"Yes Duncan, we are well. Thank you for inquiring." Derek answered with a smile.
"I have to report a failure, I'm afraid." Duncan said hesitantly.
"He got away, didn't he?" Nick frowned.
"Yes Sir, I'm afraid so." Duncan looked at the ground.
"Don't worry about it , Duncan. I expected this might happen. Was anyone hurt?" Alex reassured the man.
"No, he was just gone!" Duncan was relieved.
"Who are we talking about?" Derek was puzzled. "Who got away?"
"We caught one of the Council members, Jade got him. We tied him up in a room in the east wing. " Nick answered.
"I hate to say this, but I have a feeling we will be seeing him again!" Alex said.
Jade nodded, Yes we will! I can promise that. she thought to herself. She knew the Council would strike again, but not for awhile. They had time.
"Let's get inside," Derek walked towards the door. "I don't know about you all, but I for one, am very hungry."
Nick and Alex laughed and followed him in. Jade took one more look around before joining them. She was home.