"Chorus of the Damned"
...By NightOwl -


As Nick Boyle's, distinctive red Mustang pulled up outside the Luna Foundation, he was surprised to see the house in darkness, illuminated only by the flashes of lightening signaling the on coming storm. As he got out of his car he glanced down at his watch. it was late, but not so late that no one would be up. Shouldering his duffel bag, he started towards the house, curious but not overly concerned by the darkness.

It began to rain as he started up the steps leading to the house. "Great!, just great... the perfect end to a perfect assignment," he moaned as he turned the key and entered the house. An eerie silence greeted him as he entered. Stopping, he looked around, surprised that no one had come to greet him. Putting down his duffel bag he moved further into the house "Hello!" no one answered, and no one appeared....... not even the staff. His instincts began to scream at him that something was wrong. Drawing his weapon he began to search the house.

Derek and the others heard Nick's call, but couldn't answer. Bound and gagged, they watched as their captors prepared to ambush the Legacy House's Chief of Security. Trapped in the basement, they had no way of warning Nick. As the intruders split up, heading out of the basement, the sound of weapons being cocked sent fear and desperation into the hostages. The basement door was locked and immediately Derek tried to free himself from his bonds.

Systematically searching the house, Nick soon saw signs of a struggle. Derek's usually neat office now lay in shambles, his desk lamp lay smashed on the floor, blood marking the carpet around the broken pieces. Checking his clip, Nick resumed his search, moving into the kitchen and on into the library. It was pitch black in the library. The heavy velvet curtains had been drawn, not even the lightening outside could penetrate the curtains sufficiently to allow him to see around the room. Reaching for the light switch, he flipped it, but nothing happened. The storm must have taken out the power, he thought, but why hasn't the emergency generator kicked in? A sound came from across the room and immediately Nick reacted, cocking his pistol. Cautiously crossing the room he strained to hear anything that would forewarn him of an attack. Suddenly as the storm raged over head a bright flash of lightening penetrated the curtains. For a moment the room was basked in light. Nick covered his eyes, as he did though, he saw movement off to his right. Spinning around he brought his weapon to bear on the target. He froze, quickly lowering the gun as he heard Kat's desperate sobs. "Kat!" he rushed over to her, crouching in front of her, pulling her into a comforting embrace "Kat, where is everyone... where's Derek and your mom ?" She continued to sob uncontrollably as she said "They...., they took them."

"Who, Kat ?........ who took them?" he questioned

"The men, ........ they attacked the house." As she again began to cry, he held her tight, rocking her back and forth in an attempt to calm her "It's OK, Kiddo, I'll find them," he said reassuringly. Suddenly Kat tensed within his grasp and he looked at her concerned. Her eyes glowed a mysterious red and immediately he let go of her, scrambling away. "What the.......?" As he watched, the being that had moments ago been Kat now stood in front of him, changing as it rose. Eyes wide, Nick watched mesmerized as Kat turned into a hideous monster, it's eyes glowing red, long fangs projecting from it's slime covered mouth. "I have waited for you long enough," declared the slathering demon as it reached out a clawed hand, grasping for Nick, who avoided it's hand with ease. "What do you want ?" demanded Nick as he scurried back, increasing the distance between himself and the demon. Hideous, blood thirsty laughter filled the library "YOU," was the demon's only response.

The horrifying laughter echoed throughout the house, sending fear into the trapped Legacy members in the basement. Desperately Derek renewed his efforts to free himself, as did Rachel and Alex. Philip still lay unconscious on the floor, after being struck by the one of the demon's minions.

The demon charged at him with alarming speed, the ex-SEAL barely had enough time to roll out of the way of the creature. As he did, he felt the demon's claws rip through the back of his shirt and the flesh beneath. He cried out as his entire consciousness was gripped by the savage shards of pain that ripped through his back "AGHHHH." Despite the pain, he continued his roll to safety and brought his gun up, aiming at the demon which now stood looking at the fresh blood dripping from it's claws. As he watched the demon, a look of hunger entered its eyes. He watched in horror as the demon proceeded to lick the warm blood from it's claws.

Reveling in the unexpected supply of fresh warm blood, the demon hungered for more. It could feel it's quarry's fears. The fears for his life, for the lives of his friends. This was what the demon wanted. It now knew how it would take what it wanted "I have your friends," it stated, with a slight grin "The child,........ the people you call family." It saw his reaction and knew that it had chosen wisely. This creature was exactly what it had been searching for. Once again, it charged forward. This time however, it's claws closed around the man's shoulders, digging deep into the layer of skin beneath the clothing.

Kat was the first to escape her bonds. Quickly she removed her gag and rushed to Derek's side to help him escape. "NO, LEAVE THEM ALONE.............AGHHHH." She stopped in fear, her eyes turning to the locked door. "NICK!" she shouted as she jumped to her feet and ran across to the door. Reaching it, she began to pound repeatedly. Tears streamed down her face as she imagined the horrors Nick now found himself confronting.

Renewing his efforts, Derek broke through his bonds which had been loosened by Kat. He quickly released Rachel and Alex and joined Kat at the door "Thank God they didn't search us," as he spoke he removed a set of keys from his pocket, searching for the correct key that would set them free from their prison. As he did, Rachel and Alex helped the dazed and confused Philip to his feet "What happened?"

"Philip are you all right ?" questioned Rachel as she checked him over "I'm fine. What's happening?" he questioned. Finding the key, Derek unlocked the door just as another blood curdling cry echoed throughout the house. Derek raced from the basement, bolting up the stairs, taking them two steps at a time.

Nick could feel himself losing consciousness. His eyes were almost swollen closed from the savage beating the demon and its minions had bestowed upon him. He watched in numb horror as the demon reveled in his blood, licking it from its claws and grinning in satisfaction at its taste. Movement in the doorway caught his attention, forcing his weary eyes to look in that direction. He saw Derek and a terrified Kat watching in horror the scene being played out in front of them. Spurred on by the sight of them, he renewed his efforts to break free of the minions holding him. Fighting with all his strength he pulled free of the demon's minions and fell to the floor. "Ahh, I see he still has some fight left in him," laughed the demon as it again moved towards Nick, the thirst for more blood returning to its eyes. "LEAVE HIM !" Nick heard Derek's words in the distance as he began to lapse into unconsciousness.

Philip, Rachel and Alex reached the library in time to see Derek tossed across the room by the demon. They heard Kat scream and ran into the room, each silently taking in the scene before them. Derek laid slumped against the far wall, Kat at his side sobbing uncontrollably, and Nick laid in the centre of the room, in a pool of his own blood. Grasping his crucifix Philip moved into the room "Be gone vile beast, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost I order you.......... be gone from this house." As he spoke the demon cried out in pain and began to back away. "Be gone vile beast, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost I order you......... BE GONE FROM THIS HOUSE," he repeated over and over again. The demon and its minions cried out in pain. Then, in a flash of lightning, they where gone. Philip stood in silence for a moment, then crossed himself.

Derek had watched in silence as Philip had banished the demon. Now he focused all his attention on Nick. The ex-SEAL lay motionless surrounded by his own blood "Dear God, Nick!" Moving to Nicks side he gently turned him over "Nick!, Nick can you hear me ?"

"D.... Derek!" the response was weak but at least he was still alive "Thank God. Nick lie still," ordered Derek as he rested his friends head on his lap. Derek carefully removed what remained of Nick's T-shirt and stared down in horror at the young mans injuries. As Rachel and the others joined him, the Precept looked into their horrified eyes and saw his own fears reflected there.

Rachel gently touched Nicks bruised and battered face, jerking him back to consciousness. Immediately Nick pulled himself into a ball in an attempt to protect vital organs from damage. Tears streamed down Rachel's face as she watched him "Nick, it's all right," she said gently, but Nick didn't respond. Instead, he tried to scurry away from her. "Nick, it's all right, your safe now."

"Rachel ?" His voice was weak and distant, but he slowly began to relax. "Nick are you all right?" questioned Kat between sobs. At the sound of her voice Nick pulled away from the group until he was crouched in a corner, his body trembling "NO, YOU'RE NOT KAT............. YOU'RE NOT!" he almost screamed as he pressed himself further into the corner. Kat burst into tears again, Rachel held her tightly. "It's OK Kitty Kat," she said trying to calm her distraught daughter, while also trying to keep control of her own anger at Nick's outburst.

Cautiously, Philip approached his traumatised friend, gently reaching out a hand to touch him. As his hand touched Nicks shoulder, the ex-SEAL shied away from him. "It's OK Nick. You're safe now," he said as calmly as he could as he fought back a wave of anger at what the demon had done to his friend. Slowly Nick turned his terrified, half closed eyes upon the priest "Philip!............ is it really you ?" as he spoke his eyes fell upon the crucifix around the priests neck. Immediately he threw his arms around Philip, his body still trembling from fear and exhaustion. "Yes Nick, it's really me," replied Philip as he held his friend close.

Philip and Derek helped the exhausted Nick into the lounge where Alex and Kat had made a bed for him on one of the couches. As they where about to lower him on to the couch they heard Rachel's voice. "Sit him down, I want to clean and dress his wounds." Nick groaned as he sat on the couch, Philip and Derek still on either side if him, supporting his tired body. Soon Rachel joined them, carrying her medical bag and what looked like a bottle of antiseptic. She knelt in front of Nick and surveyed the damage done to his muscular body. "I'm sorry honey, this is gonna hurt." He just nodded and awaited the pain.

An hour later, Nick lay asleep on the couch. It was a tormented sleep that disturbed his friends "I wish there was something more I could do for him," stated Rachel as she sat holding Kat. "He should really be at a hospital, but with this storm!" She jumped as a loud clap of thunder shook the house. It woke Nick. "NO!" he screamed as he sat bolt upright. Immediately Alex and Derek where at his side trying to calm him down. "It's all right, Nick," stated Alex as she gently touched his arm, trying to calm him. The strength of his emotions pushed through her mental barriers and she found herself witnessing what had happened to him while they had been locked in the basement.

She saw Nick stood at the door way, the house in total darkness as the rain lashed down around him. She saw him turn the key and enter. She saw Nick stood in the library his weapon drawn, heard the sound of a child crying, and saw Kat sobbing in a corner. She watched as he went over to the frightened child, drawing her into a hug. Watched as that child in her friend's grasp began to change into the demon.

Breaking the link, Alex stared up at Derek with the same terrified eyes that the ex-SEAL had just moments ago. The slowly she rose from Nick's side and went over to the bay windows, staring out at the storm that still raged beyond the glass.

When Nick lay back and was once again asleep, Derek joined Alex at the window "What did you see?" he questioned as he laid a reassuring hand on her shoulder. As he spoke, she slowly turned to face him. Tears streaming down her face. For a moment she stood looking at the group in silence, until finally her eyes came to rest on Kat. "Nick didn't mean to scare you Kat," she stated as fresh tears ran down her cheeks "The creature used his love for you, for all of us, against him."

"What do you mean, it used his love against him?" questioned Derek, confused by what she was saying. Alex sighed as she drew her arms around herself trying to hold on to her strength and resolve "The creature took Kat's form." As she spoke, she looked at Nick, who now lay sleeping again. "It used that form to get close to him." She wiped the tears from her eyes as she continued. "He thought the creature was Kat, and believing her to be frightened and upset he hugged her, trying to calm her. Only then did it show its true form." Again she sighed. "It threatened to hurt us......... just to cause Nick more pain." As she spoke, Kat again burst into tears and was again comforted by her mother, who now also had tears running down her face. Philip just sat in silence, his eyes never leaving Nick as he listened to Alex's description of what his friend had been through. Derek, too, looked at their sleeping friend, a look of compassion in his eyes. As he watched the display of emotions that crossed Nick's face, he found a new level of understanding and admiration for him "Why did the creature only attack Nick, it had plenty of time to attack us but didn't. Why ?" questioned Derek trying to understand what had been happening. "I don't know," replied Alex as she stood at Derek's side, keeping her voice low so as not to disturb Nick. "I don't think he knows either." She glanced at Nick then back to Derek. "All the creature said was that it had been waiting a long time for him." At this statement Derek looked at Alex shocked, his mind quickly racing through what those words meant. "If it has been waiting for him, then it will return!" Alex hadn't thought of that and the prospect of the creature returning to take her friend terrified her. "There must be something we can do to stop it?" She looked at Nick. "He won't survive another attack!"

Echoes of the demons laughter haunted his sleep, drawing him back, time and time again, to the library. To the terrified Kat, who crouched in the corner crying. Again and again he relived those moments but with one difference, in his nightmares Philip had not banished the demon, instead his friend had joined with the demon, and he had died, torn apart both physically and mentally by the demon.

Rachel and Kat staid with Nick, while the others began to sift through the shambles in the library, searching for any clue that would help them identify the demon that had come and was certain to return for Nick.

Kat sat watching as her mother mopped Nicks sweat drenched forehead. Never before had she seen the ex-SEAL look so weak and helpless and that scared her. What if the creature did return?........ would they be able to protect the man, who for so many years had protected them? Could they truly save the man she had come to think of as a big brother, and if they couldn't, how could she cope with his loss?. Rachel glanced at her daughter and could see her fears and doubts in her eyes.

"Kat, are you all right?"

"We can't let it take him mom..... we can't!" The desperation in her daughters voice tore at her heart. She wanted to promise her that everything would be all right, that Nick would be all right, but she couldn't. She couldn't bring herself to lie to Kat, not even to take away her fears. What if she lied and Nick didn't make it, how would she be able to face her daughter again? Moving over to her daughter's side, she held her tight saying "We'll do everything we can Kat, I promise. We'll do everything we can to save him."

Alex left Philip and Derek to search the library. She headed for the control room which held the Legacy computer database. As she sat down at the keyboard, she found herself reflecting on the images she had seen. Sighing, she turned to the computer screen and began to enter in the data that would conduct the search of the Legacy Archives.

William Sloan stood on San Francisco pier and gazed out at Angel Island. He had hoped to arrive before nightfall, but the storm had delayed them. The rain beat down on him, but he didn't notice, his mind focused on the violent display of natures strength occurring out in the bay. Just hold on Nick, just hold on until day break, he thought to himself as he turned and slowly walked back to the waiting car. The driver got out and opened the door, and after one last glances back at Angel Island, he got into the back of the car. Moments later it pulled away, heading back into the city.

Pain was the first thing that greeted Nick as he began to return to consciousness. The second was the feeling of terror. He sat upright, suddenly wide awake, but his eyes refused to focus............ all he could see where blurred images of light and darkness. Something moved in front of him, his terror increasing with the movement. He tried to back away, but felt something behind him. "Nick!, it's all right............. it's Rachel, you're safe."

"Rachel ?" his voice sounded surprisingly weak to himself, "The demon!"

"It's gone Nick, Philip banished it....... remember?" He tried to focus to no avail. Suddenly, a thought struck him and he tried to get off the couch. "Kat! where's she all right?" Hands gently but firmly grasped his shoulders and pushed him back down onto the couch. "NICK!, lie still, you need to rest."

"But Kat, Rachel where is she........... is she all right?" The desperation in his voice was obvious, even to him. "Shhh, Nick. She's all right, she's here." Nick tried to see her but couldn't, he couldn't even see a dark figure. He felt Rachel's hand gently brushing his hair back and with a shaky voice he questioned "Where ?"

"Nick! what's wrong?" questioned Rachel, her voice suddenly taking on a professional tone. Taking a deep breath he replied, "I can't see her, Rachel Kat !, Kat, where are you?" A small hand forced its way into his. "I'm here Nick, right here." Breathing a sigh of relief he grasped her hand. Turning his head in the direction her voice had come from, "Kat are you all right, it didn't hurt you?"

"No Nick, I'm fine............ it didn't hurt me," she replied.

Derek and Philip heard Nick calling for Kat and ran out of the library, quickly joining Rachel and Kat. They immediately saw the concern on their faces. Rachel looked up at them for a moment. "Nick, I'm gonna check your pupil response, tell me if you see anything." Derek and Philip exchanged confused and concerned glances as they moved further into the room. They watched in silence as the test was performed. "Anything?" questioned Rachel.

"Just a dim light. Rachel, what's happening, I going blind ?"

"I don't know Nick, I just don't know," she replied with a tear running down her cheek. She again looked at Derek and Philip. "I wish I did," she added as she got to her feet and ran from the room crying. "Kat, go look after your mom," ordered Nick as he squeezed her hand, then let go of it. "Will you be all right?" questioned Kat. Nick smiled replying, "I'll be fine, Derek and Philip will stay with me, won't you guys ?"

"Of course we will," replied Philip, glancing at Derek confused. "But how did ya know we were here?" Nick chuckled to himself and replied, "I heard you come in."

"How are you feeling Nick ?" questioned Derek as Kat left them alone. Derek watched Nicks smile vanish as soon as Kat was gone. It was replaced by a slight grimace and a low moan. "I've been better," Nick finally replied once he again had the pain under control. Derek and Philip moved closer to their injured friend, both could see how much pain Nick was in and wanted to help him, "Nick, do you want me to get Rachel to give you something for the pain ?" questioned Philip.

"No," replied Nick adamantly. "Nick, it's obvious your in a great deal of pain." As Derek spoke, Nick began to shake his head, "I said NO!" Both men where taken aback by the sudden outburst.

"Nick, calm down," insisted Philip as he sat next to his friend on the couch. "We won't call Rachel if you don't want us to," he added.

Rachel ran into the control room and dropped down into one of the high-backed chairs and cried. Seeing Rachel's behaviour, Alex ran over to her, fearing the worst. "My God, Rachel, what's happened?............. what's wrong?" As she knelt in front of Rachel she saw the terrified expression on her face. "Alex, he's blind......... he's blind." As she finished, Rachel threw her arms around Alex and began to cry uncontrollably. Alex knelt there holding Rachel, feeling numb, desperately trying to understand what she had just been told. Just then Kat joined them in a group hug. "It'll be all right, I know it will," stated Kat as she hugged her mother and Alex.

In his hotel room William Sloan sat sipping a brandy and watching the storm. His telephone rang inches from his hand, but he didn't answer it. His entire consciousness was focused on the storm, to will it to end, so he could reach Angel Island in time.

As Alex and Kat finally released Rachel from their hug, they noticed a strange beeping noise. "I think the computer may have found something," stated Alex as she stood up and went over to the computer, putting the display on the large screen. All three turned and studied the information it was showing them. "Marthos, demon of the damned," read Alex out loud. "Marthos collects the souls from those who have been promised into slavery," she paused, glancing at Rachel. "The victim's soul is passed onto Marthos, usually by either a relative or a friend who has sought something from the demon." Alex and Rachel looked at each other confused. "Who would do something like that, and especially to Nick?" questioned Rachel. The answer immediately coming to both women at the same time. "His father!" they said in unison.

"Could someone really be that cold hearted?" questioned Rachel, "to sell their own child's soul to a demon?" she continued. She had never known Jonathan Boyle, all she knew of him was what Nick and Derek had told her. From their statements about him, she knew that he could have easily done it and not given it a second thought. Alex called Derek on the intercom and asked him and Philip to join them in the control room.

Derek glanced from Philip to Nick, to find the ex-SEAL fast asleep. "Philip," the priest nodded and followed Derek to the control room where they found Rachel had gone from being distraught to angry. The two men exchanged confused glances as they joined the others at the computer. "What have you found?" questioned Derek as he glanced up at the display screen. Alex sighed as she related the information they had found out. "The demon who attacked Nick is called Marthos, he's an Aztec demon who collects souls."

"Marthos?" questioned Philip, having never heard of the demon. Again Alex sighed, "Marthos collects souls in repayment for acts or favours carried out by the demon. The souls are usually sold by relatives or friends." Alex looked at the two men and saw the horror on their faces, both knowing and understanding the implications of what she was saying.

Philip sat down and looked in horror at the image of the demon Marthos. "Dear God, could he really have been that cruel?" he questioned, his eyes wandering over to Derek. "How could he do it, how could he sell his own son's soul?"

"I don't know," replied Derek. Philip's mind raced through the years he had spent as a child in the San Francisco Legacy House, playing with Nick who had been a few years younger than him. He remembered how Nick had hated to go back to the house, how he had often made excuses to stay out until well after sun set. As a child he hadn't thought much about it, but now as an adult in full verse of the facts, his young friends actions made sense. The thought of the horrors of Nick's childhood sent shudders up and down his spine.

Nick awoke to find himself in a cold, damp place. "Derek!" the sound of his own voice echoed around him. He knew he was no longer in the house, but where was he? Using his other senses he quickly established that he was in a cave. But where? The sound of waves crashing against the rocks reached him and he could taste the bitterness of the sea spray in the air.

Alex cross-referenced the name "Marthos" against the Legacy computers and was able to come up with more details. She read the details and glanced at the others. "I have additional information on Marthos, but your not gonna like it," she stated as she displayed the information on the screen. "Marthos, a demon dating back as far as the written word. He gathers souls, bonded into slavery for all time, by family or close friends." She looked from the screen to Derek. "Only the person who bonded the soul can release it. By giving up their own soul in exchange."

"But if Nick's father gave his soul to Marthos how are we going to help him! His father's already dead !" exclaimed Rachel. Derek stood in silence, reading the information on the screen. "There has to be a way to defeat this demon?" questioned Philip his eyes locked on Alex, praying she would have a way. She just shook her head saying, "If there is, I haven't come across it yet."

Kat had left the control room and returned to the lounge. As she entered, she saw Nick laid on the floor in a heap. Fearing the worst, she ran to his side. "Nick!, Nick are you all right ?" she questioned anxiously as she turned him onto his back. As she did, his eyes flew open and he looked up at her confused. "Nick are you all right ?" she again questioned, this time calmer. "K, K........ Kat, where am I ?"

"Your with me, in the lounge," she replied confused, gently taking hold of his hand. "You must have fallen off the couch," she added. Nick held onto her hand tightly as he began to slowly sit up. "What's happening Kat! What's happening to me?"

"Shhh, it's all right Nick.......... your safe," she put her arms around him, giving him a hug which he returned, his body still trembling under her grip. "Come on, lets get you back on the couch." He nodded and felt for the couch and with Kat's help, he was soon on the couch again. "What's happening, where're Derek and the others ?" he questioned. "They're in the control room, do you want me to get them?" Kat stood to get them but Nick grabbed her hand saying, "No, no it's all right," he squeezed her hand gently saying, "Just stay with me," he almost pleaded with her. She again hugged him saying, "I'm not going anywhere." At her words the tension in his body vanished and he visibly relaxed.

Alex had been right, Derek didn't like what he was being told, his locked jaw and raging eyes forewarned them of what was to come "Alex, I want to speak to Sloan immediately." With that Derek turned on his heels and marched out of the control room.

Heading for his office, Derek paused outside the lounge, his gaze falling upon Nick and Kat who where hugging each other. Kat looked up at him and smiled weakly, he returned the smile briefly, then continued on his way to his office. Once inside, he went over to the window and stared out at the raging storm.

A few minutes later the phone rang, slowly he moved over to his phone which lay on the floor, and picked it up, replacing it on the desk. After a moment to calm himself he answered it "Yes."

"Derek, it's William......... what's going on out there?" The Precept sighed heavily as he lifted his chair, which also lay on the floor, and sat down "William, Nick's in trouble, serious trouble."

"Let me guess........... this has something to do with his father?"

"How did you know?" questioned Derek surprised and suspicious. William Sloan sighed replying "That's not important right now........... how's Nick?"

"He's hurt bad William." Derek rubbed at his weary eyes as he sat back in the chair. "I don't think this is over yet, I think Marthos will try again."

"Marthos!" exclaimed Sloan, his voice suddenly holding a tone of relief.

"You have heard of this demon?" questioned Derek surprised. "Derek I can't explain, it would take too long, but you MUST keep Nick awake. The demon will try to take him in his sleep."

"But William, we can't keep him awake for the rest of his life!"

"You don't have to Derek, Marthos can only take the soul on one night. Tonight" Sloan could not keep the excitement and relief from his voice "After tonight Nick will be free!"

"Thank God !" exclaimed Derek, pleased to hear some good news for a change. "As soon as this storm lets up I'll join you at the house, I'm all ready in San Francisco."

"Thank you William, we'll see you soon" Derek then hung up the phone and breathed a deep sigh of relief. At last he could see an end to this nightmare, soon Nick would be safe and life could return to normal.

Nick lay down on the couch, maintaining a tight hold of Kat's hand "Talk to me Kat, I don't want to go to sleep"

"But Nick, mom said you need to rest, you have to sleep,............ I promise I won't leave you." His hazel eyes glistened as he forced down the wave of fear that now gripped him. "Please Kat, I'm afraid." He felt her squeeze his hand as she gently touched his cheek. "Shh, your safe now ......... just try to relax," her soft tone and gentle words began to lull him to sleep. He tried to fight it, but it was as useless as trying to hold back a tidal wave. Soon he found himself in the warm folds of sleep.

Kat watched him as he slept, he looked so peaceful. She smiled to herself as she looked at him, and saw the pain of experiences vanish for at least the moment. Cautiously she lay down next to him and pulled the blanket over them both. He still maintained a firm grip on her hand, even in sleep.

Philip, Alex and Rachel left the control room and headed for Derek's office. They had received a call from him saying that Sloan had given him some good news. As they passed the lounge, they paused to check on Nick. Coming around the couch, they smiled at each other, at the scene that greeted them. Nick and Kat laid side by side, both fast asleep. Rachel nodded her head towards the hall and they left as silently as they had entered.

They where still grinning as they entered Derek's office, "Oh, they looked so sweet" commented Alex as they entered. Derek looked up at them confused. "Who looked sweet?" he questioned.

"Nick and Kat, they're fast asleep in the lounge" explained Philip. His grin suddenly vanished at Derek's distraught expression. "NO, we have to wake him !" exclaimed Derek as he jumped to his feet and raced out of the office. The others followed, bemused and bewildered by Derek's behaviour.

Once again, Nick awoke to find himself in the cave. The sound of the crashing waves seemed more distant this time, the sea spray wasn't as heavy in the air either. Clearly he was further inside the cave this time, but still it was damp and bitterly cold. With his upper body devoid of any clothing and only covered by the bandages he quickly began to feel the effect of the cold. He began to shiver uncontrollably. Something touched his arm, immediately he shied away from it, pressing himself against the cold wall of the cave "Who's there?"

"Nick, what's happening........... where are we?" it was Kat's voice. Nick didn't know whether to be pleased or angry. "Kat, are you all right ?" her hand gently touched his arm "God Nick, you're cold." She immediately moved to his side, pressing her body against his in an attempt to warm him.

Anxiety was etched across Derek's face as he rushed into the lounge and across to the sleeping duo. At first he tried to gently awaken Nick, but to no avail. In pure desperation he shook Nick's shoulders violently. "Derek please be careful, you'll open up his wounds!" pleaded Rachel as she moved over to Derek and pulled him away from Nick. "Rachel we have to wake him, Marthos will try to take him in his sleep," continued Derek as he again began to try and shake Nick awake.

Pain surged through out Nick's shoulders until he was unable to stand the pain any longer and he cried out.

Kat and Nick awoke almost simultaneously. Nick cried out and grabbed for the hands inflicting the pain. "Nick, thank God we where able to wake you," stated Derek with relief. Nick's face was etched with confusion and pain. "What's happening, why did you wake me Derek ?"

"You mustn't go to sleep Nick," stated Derek anxiously.

"But I need to rest, I'm so tired" objected Nick as his eyes again began to flutter closed. "Damn it Nick, I'm trying to keep you alive. STAY AWAKE!" Derek again grabbed Nicks shoulders as he shouted at the tired ex-SEAL, his frustration growing with each passing moment that Nick grew closer and closer to sleep again. "Don't go back to sleep......... Nick fight it. It's your only chance. You must stay awake." When Nick didn't respond, Derek lost his temper and violently slapped the ex-SEAL across the face. Immediately Nick was wide awake. His first reaction was to strike back, but he caught himself before his fist hit Derek. Glaring at the direction the assault had come, Nick slowly questioned, "What did you do that for?"

"Nick, you must stay awake. You are vulnerable when your asleep....... Marthos can take you then." Derek watched his young friends face, he saw something flash across his eyes, but it was gone before he knew what it was. "Nick I understand it will be difficult, but you have to stay awake."

'Marthos' the demon paced the sacrificial cave, his patience quickly growing thin "He should have been here by now" it stated to it's minions "GO! find him...... bring him too me," it ordered. Quickly its minions vanished, leaving the demon alone at the sacrificial alter.

A fresh pot of coffee lay on the table at Nick's side, in his hand he held a half full mug of coffee. "Why is this happening?" he questioned to no one in particular. The silence that followed warned him that the reason was bad, he tried to use his other senses to locate his friends positions in the room but failed. "Who's done this" he demanded growing annoyed at their silence. He heard Philip cough and turned his head in the young priests direction. "Philip?"

"I'm sorry Nick, I don't know how to say this" Philip's voice held a mixture of anger and sorrow. "It's your father, from what we've been able to piece together. Your father made a deal with Marthos, he asked for something....... the payment is to be your soul." Nick just lay there in silence, listening to Philip's words.

Derek couldn't bring himself to look at Nick as Philip told him of their suspicions, when he did finally look at him it was just as the mug in the ex-SEAL's hand shattered. Nick appeared to be oblivious to what had just happened, and the blood that now trickled out from between his fingers. Derek moved to his friend's side and tried to force him to release the

broken pieces of the mug still within his hand, but Nick held a firm grip on them, and no matter what he tried, Nick's grip remained solid. "Nick let go" he ordered as he tried to pry the fingers away. As he sighed, Derek was joined by Philip and together they tried to break Nick's grip "Damn it Nick, let go. LET GO," cursed Derek. Suddenly Nick released his grip and began to tremble "Why ?" he questioned repeatedly, his voice barely above a whisper.

William Sloan slowly rose to his feet at the sound of someone knocking on his hotel room door "Who is it?" he questioned as he approached the door "William, it's me Chris...... Chris Bateman", sighing with relief Sloan unlocked the door and opened it. In front of him he saw a man in his mid-sixties, dressed in a suit, with a quizzing glass tucked in his waist coat breast pocket "Thank you for coming on such short notice Chris."

"Don't mention it William," replied the man as he stepped into the hotel room and Sloan closed the door behind him, again locking it. "Now, what seems to be the trouble?" questioned Chris as he sat down on the bed. With a heavy sigh, Sloan returned to his chair by the window and returned to staring at Angel Island. As the sky was suddenly lit up by another flash of lightening, moments later followed by an almighty clap of thunder. Sloan began to explain. "Marthos has come for Nick Boyle," he stated.

"We knew this day would come, eventually," replied Chris sadly. Sloan nodded as he looked at his friend. "I only wish there was more we could do."

"Does Derek know ?" questioned Chris sitting forward.

"Not everything...... and I pray we never have to tell him the whole truth." Sloan again looked out the window, "All we can do now, is hope that after tonight Nick's torment will finally be over."

Alex sat watching as Rachel re-bandaged Nick's shoulders. Unknown to him at the time, Derek had reopened Nick's shoulder wounds "That should do it for the moment" stated Rachel as she stood up "How do you feel?"

"Not too bad, a bit nauseous" he replied as he stifled a yawn. "What time is it?"

"3 am" replied Rachel as she placed her hand on his forehead and felt the raging temperature. Concerned, Rachel glanced back at Alex and the others "Here have some more coffee." She placed the mug into his hand as he said "I feel like I'm swimming in the stuff. When this is all over, I don't want to see another mug of coffee, let alone drink one." Rachel smiled at him, out of force of habit. She almost burst into tears again when she realised he couldn't see her smiling.

Gathered in the lounge, the group awaited the dawning of a new day together. "What's the time ?" questioned Derek for the fifth time in 30 minutes. "3:45 am" replied Rachel sounding slightly annoyed. As Derek and the others glanced at her, she sighed saying, "I'm sorry, this waiting is killing me." Derek stood up and went over to her, placing an understanding hand on her shoulder he said "It's OK Rachel, why don't you try to get some rest, we'll call if we need you." She hesitated for a moment then nodded agreement, her eyes falling upon her sleeping daughter, who was still lying at Nick's side. Reluctantly, Rachel stood and after one last glance at Nick and Kat she left the lounge heading for her room.

The freshly cut meadow smelled sweet and alive to her as she ran, playing with the other children in her dream. Their game of tag sent the children running throughout the meadow in all different directions. Laughter and screams of excitement filled the air as Kat raced around the meadow trying to 'tag' one of the other children. Suddenly the sky above became dark, and Kat found herself stood alone in the meadow. Bitter winds began to lash around her, her hair being blown into her face, preventing her from seeing. A haunting laughter filled the air, carried on the wind. "Who's there?" she called out, but the only response was that same laughter. As suddenly as it had started the wind vanished. Scared and confused, she slowly looked around the meadow, as she turned her eyes locked on the figure stood behind her. To her horror she found the demon Marthos stood grinning at her. She screamed and tried to run away, but the demon's minions grabbed her.

Nick felt the tension in Kat's body and knew something was wrong. His mind flashed back to his last dream, 'My God, Kat!...... Kat was in my dream! Glancing around desperately trying to see if he could make out the forms of his friends he began to call out to them "Derek!, Alex........ Philip!"

"It's OK Nick, were here" replied Derek his voice laced with anxiety "What is it, what's wrong?"

"Kat's in trouble, serious trouble" he stated his own voice hovering on the verge of hysterical. "Nick, Kat's fine..... she's fast asleep right next to you" stated Alex as she tried to calm him down, confused by his undue concerns for Kat. Nick's frustration grew with each passing moment "Damn it, listen to me. Kat is in danger. When we where both asleep she was in my dream." The silence that greeted him told him that they didn't understand. "Marthos can take me in my sleep right, we'll he can take Kat as well. She's his logical choice. He knows how much she means to me." It was Philip who spoke first. "Dear God, what can we do to stop him?"

"We must wake her !" exclaimed Derek as he rushed over to the couch and began to shake Kat. She didn't wake. "I can't wake her !" the fear in his voice promoted Nick into his decision. "I'm going to get her" he stated as he shifted into a more comfortable position. "Nick you can't, you'll be giving Marthos what he wants !" exclaimed Alex. Nick simply replied "I won't let anything happen to Kat, I'd rather die than see her hurt because of me." Closing his eyes he forced his body to relax.

Kat struggled to break free of the vice like grip around her arm "Soon he shall come," stated the demon. His burning red eyes cut straight to her soul, and flashed with anger at the innocence and purity it found there. As if on cue, Nick appeared in the meadow. He stood facing the demon. His physical injuries no longer effecting him "Let her go, it's me you want" he stated calmly, his eyes never leaving Kat's. Once again the demons haunting laughter filled the air. "This child means nothing to me," it said as it released her and pushed her towards Nick. "Be gone child!" it ordered and immediately she vanished, leaving Nick alone with the demon and its minions. "I have waited a long time for your soul," stated Marthos as it moved closer to it's prey. Nick stood watching it. The demon stopped, mere feet from Nick and studied him "You are in good condition, you shall make an excellent slave."

"Not if I can help it," replied Nick venomously as he glared at the demon. The demon grinned at him as it said. "If you wish the child to remain safe, you will do as I instruct you."

"Leave her alone, I'll do anything you ask as long as you don't hurt her or any of my friends," his response broadened Marthos' grin.

Kat jerked awake, she looked around at the anxious faces that surrounded her and she burst into tears. "Kat, where's Nick?" questioned Derek concerned. Slowly Kat looked at him "In.... in the meadow,....... the demon, the demon's there" with a sob she added. "He gave up his soul for me,......... he's gone and it's all my fault." Shocked, the three adults looked at each other in silence. Then Alex began to cry, Philip put his arms around her, hugging her. Derek did the same with Kat, his eyes remaining locked on the pale motionless face of his friend, Nick Boyle.

As dawn approached the storm began to dissipate, soon they would be able to reach Angel Island. Sloan switched the TV off and settled back into his chair. "The storm's letting up," commented Chris as he left the window and went over to the unused in bed and sat down. "Another hour or so and we'll be on our way."

"I only hope Nick can hold on that long" commented Sloan with a heavy sigh.

Rachel entered the lounge to find Derek and Philip comforting Kat and Alex. "What's happened ?" she questioned anxiously. Kat looked up at her mother and again burst into tears. "He's gone mom, he gave up his soul to save me," she sobbed. Rachel just stood there in silence, unable to believe what she was hearing. "It's all my fault," sobbed Kat as she again buried her face in Derek's shoulder.

Slowly the Legacy helicopter carrying Sloan and Chris, lifted into the air and began the short flight across the bay to Angel Island. After ten minutes they began to descend and finally touched down on the Island. As soon as Sloan and Chris left the helicopter and had moved to a safe distance, it took off again, returning to the mainland. Together the two men walked up to the house's main door. Using Sloan's master key, they entered the house unnoticed. As they did however, they immediately heard the sobs of the female's within the house.

Moving over to the lounge door they stood watching for a moment, the various different displays of emotion. From Rage to sorrow, to anger and disbelief. Sloan cleared his throat, drawing the groups attention to their presence. "I take it the news isn't good," stated William Sloan matter-of-factly. "I'm afraid not", replied Derek angrily as he released Rachel and Kat and stood up. "Marthos trapped Kat in the dream world, Nick had to give up his soul to save her," he continued.

"He willingly gave up his soul ?" questioned Chris with a slight tone of excitement. Derek nodded as he looked at Sloan questioningly. Realising his friend hadn't been introduced, Sloan proceeded to do so. "Derek Rayne, this is Christian Bateman from the Toronto house."

"Mr. Bateman." Derek and Chris shook hands as Chris said "Please, call me Chris." Sloan continued the introductions until only Nick remained. Cautiously Sloan sat on the couch next to Nick "How long has he been like this?" he questioned.

"About 40 minutes" replied Derek glancing at Chris, hoping he would have some answers. "And you say he willingly gave up his soul to save Kat?" questioned Sloan as he again stood up. Derek just nodded, unsure of where Sloan was going with all these questions.

Pain and desperation filled Nick as his conscious mind swam through the torrent of captive souls. He desperately wanted to escape the torment, but could find no safe haven. All around him was the pain and despair of others, and it grasped him with such force that he feared he would be enveloped by it. The thought of being trapped here scared Nick more than anything else the demon could do to him.

Derek paced the lounge as he listened to what Sloan and Chris where saying "You see it's not too late. We can still save him," stated Sloan.

"Let me get this straight, you want my daughter to go back into Marthos realm?" questioned Rachel anxiously as she tightened her grip on Kat. "That's correct Dr. Corrigan, don't worry, though, she'll be perfectly safe," replied Chris.

"SAFE!, that thing has already grabbed her once.... what's to prevent it from doing it again and not letting go this time?" Derek stopped his pacing and looked at Sloan and Chris questioningly. "Her innocence," replied Sloan, causing everyone except Chris to look at him. With a sigh he explained. "The demon cannot take her permanently because of her innocence. Why do you think it has waited this long to take Nick?"

"But how will she be able to free him ?" questioned Philip confused. This time Chris explained "Mr. Boyle is only remaining within the demons realm, because he believes he is saving the child by staying. he is the only one who can free himself, but if he isn't free by sun rise, that imprisonment becomes permanent. That's why she must go back immediately otherwise Mr. Boyle will be lost forever." All eyes turned to the motionless form laid on the couch, the one by one they looked at the frightened young girl, clasped in her mothers protective arms. "Mom, I have to help Nick," she stated as she turned to face her mother. "I can't let him remain trapped in there because of me, I have to help him," she hugged her mother for a moment, then slowly went over to the couch where Nick still lay motionless. Once again snuggling down beside him on the couch, she closed her eyes and soon fell asleep again.

Nick sat in the cave, his body pressed against the cave wall, his hands tightly clasped around his ears, trying to keep out the wailing of the other trapped souls. The wailing tore deep into him, filling his every thought. Ripping at the strings of his sanity. As the cries got louder he began to rock back and forth, humming one of his favourite songs. Unable

to stand it any longer, he jumped to his feet and bolted down one of the side passages, no longer caring where it would take him, as long as it was away from the wailing. He ran and ran, until finally he could run no further, but still that hideous wailing continued, still it ripped at him, tearing away at his sanity, robbing him of any and all conscious thought.

Rachel knelt next to Nicks motionless body and began to check his vital signs, she was disheartened to find them becoming dangerously weak. "We have to get him to a hospital and soon," she stated as she looked up at Derek. The precept nodded with understanding, but his eyes held doubts about the feasibility of that plan. The storm had quickly closed in again around the Island shortly after Sloan and Bateman had arrived. Preventing the helicopter from returning for them. She looked back at her patient and pulled the blanket over his shoulders and her sleeping daughter. "Hold on Nick, just hold on," she whispered before she rose and went over to join Philip and Alex.

Forcing his exhausted body on, he raced through the catacombs, which where now cast in almost pitch darkness. He came to a crashing halt as he ran into one of the walls. "DAMN YOU!" he shouted as he sat on the dirt floor, once again grasping his ears trying to hold on to his sanity. As he rocked back and forth, a new voice joined the wailing, at first it was woven into the wails, but soon it became separate........... a single voice calling to him "Nick, where are you ?" He ignored it believing it to be Marthos playing tricks on him, trying to rob him of what little was left of his sanity. The voice became louder and louder, until it was all he could hear "Leave me alone!" he shouted in frustration as he again got to his feet and resumed running.

Derek turned to face Sloan and Bateman "What do you know about this ?" he questioned, his voice carrying a tone of anger and suspicion. "Is this," Derek pointed at Nick's motionless body, "the reason your both in San Francisco?" Sloan nodded as he rose from his chair and slowly moved over to the bay window. "Chris and I learned of this deal with Marthos shortly after Jonathan died. We had hoped that his death would quash the deal."

"But it hasn't" stated Alex angrily, her frustration at the situation obvious to all. Sloan sighed as he continued to stare out the window at the raging storm. "But it hasn't," he agreed. "We came to San Francisco.... just in case. We had no idea what to expect."

"So what did Jonathan Sloan get in exchange for his son's soul?" questioned Philip bitterly as he held Alex. "What could be worth that price ?" he continued. Sloan looked for a moment at the groups reflection in the glass, he had no answer for them and so didn't try to give them one. "Well, what was it ?" demanded Derek. When Sloan turned to face them his eyes held an empty sorrow "I don't know," he sighed and looked away again as he replied, "I couldn't find anything in his journals."

"Are you saying he might have done this out of spite?" questioned Rachel unable to imagine any parent doing something like this. As she gazed at the group she could see a strange pained expression on their faces "He could have, couldn't he ?" she questioned shocked at the thought. Sloan nodded solemnly "He was a man capable of doing anything," he stated sadly as he turned back to the window.

'Including beating his own son into a state of unconsciousness', thought Derek, as his mind flashed back to the days Nick and Philip had played together in the grounds of the house. He remembered how the little boy had hated going home, and how he had always arrived covered in bruises that his father dismissed as accidents. It was only later that he had learned the truth about Nick's childhood, and each time he thought about it, he chastised himself for not realising what had been happening. 'I could have tried to stop it, there and then, if only I had known.' As he glanced at Philip he could see a similar regret in the priest's eyes. Returning his attention to the situation at hand he questioned "When will Nick finally be free ?" The question caused all eyes to turn on Sloan and Bateman, both sighed, then finally Sloan replied "Of Marthos, at dawn. Of his father, I can't say."

Exhausted, Nick sat in one of the catacombs, once again rocking back and forth, his hands clasped over his ears, trying to block out the sound of the wailing souls, trying to keep them from reaching him. Again that same voice called to him, "Nick, Nick where are you...... please Nick I'm scared!" The fear in the voice reaching him, he began to rise, to go in search of the voice, in search of Kat. He stopped when the demon's laughter filled the air, blotting out everything, except Kat's voice. "Nick, please Nick!" Staying where he was, he allowed her to come to him, "Kat!, Kat is that you?" he questioned.

"Nick !, thank God I've found you" as Kat entered the small catacomb Nick was in, it was suddenly bathed in light, forcing both of them to cover their eyes. When Nick looked, he found himself standing at the foot of an alter, and confronted by two Kat's. "Why can't you just leave me alone?" he pleaded, looking at them quizzically, trying to tell which was the real Kat and which was the demon.

Kat turned to face the mirror image of herself, her anger growing , she shouted "Leave him alone." Her mirror image looked at him saying, "Nick don't go, I don't want you to." Realising what it was playing at, Kat grabbed her opportunity to tell him what he needed to do to be free of the demon. "Nick, Mr. Sloan knows how to free you, your the key. You don't need to stay here, not because of me." A moment later the demon sent out a charge that sent Kat recoiling into the wall. "NO!, leave her alone!" demanded Nick as he ran to Kat's side and held her "Kat, Kat are you all right?"

"Nick, you mustn't stay .... come back, come back to us" as she finished she vanished, returning to the real world where the others awaited her.

Nick glared at the demon, that had now returned to its natural form, the slavering, fanged monster. His mind raced to understand what Kat had told him. The demon, however, was not willing to give him the time he needed. It charged at him, it's fangs and claws showing. Nick was ready for it this time and simply side stepped out of its path. The demon smashed head first into the cave wall, the blow had little effect on it though, as it spun around immediately, ready to attack again. It lashed out at him with its claws, tearing four deep cuts across his cheek. Again the blood lust entered the demons eyes. "You cannot win," it stated as it exalted in the blood. "Your father sold your soul to me, and I shall have it for all eternity." He didn't respond to the demon's taunts. Instead he prepared for the demon's next attack. When it came it was with a savagery he had not expected, it's claws tearing at the bandages around his upper torso. Desperately, he tried to break free of the demon, to put some distance between them, but the demon continued it's onslaught. He cried out as the demons claws reached the skin beneath the bandages, and ripped new scars over old ones. As he felt his strength draining away, he tried one last effort to be free of the demon, to no avail. As he lapsed into unconsciousness he once again heard the savage laughter of the demon as it exalted in his blood and pain.

Anxiously Derek paced the lounge. It had been almost twenty minutes since Kay had woken up, but still there was no sign of Nick regaining consciousness. Tension fill the lounge, it had steadily been growing since Kat's return and as dawn approached. "He should have woken up by now," stated Kat as she looked at the others. Taking a deep breath, Alex stood and walked over to Nick's side. All eyes turned upon her as she crouched at his side "Alex?" questioned Derek as he placed a hand on her shoulder, she looked up at him. "It's OK Derek, I know what I'm doing. We have to know what's happening to him." As she spoke she looked down at her young friends face and a tear came to her eye. Without another word Derek joined her at his side, and together they prepared to enter Marthos' realm, to find their lost friend and bring him home.

Strange chanting filled the air as Nick began to return to consciousness. Slowly, he opened his eyes to find himself staring up at the cave ceiling, which was adorned with a carved Pentagram. The chanting continued, drawing his attention from the Pentagram to the group gathered in the cave. Glancing around, he saw Marthos surrounded by his minions, who where now clad in black robes. He tried to move but found that his arms and legs had been shackled to the alter upon which he now lay. As he watched Marthos turned to face the alter, the demon held what appeared to be a 8" sacrificial dagger. His eyes locked upon the dagger and it's blade as Marthos moved towards the alter, he watched as the dagger was raised above him.

Alex and Derek found themselves standing in a large cave, around them the sounds of wailing souls echoed every where. Both grasped their ears, desperate to keep out the sounds "Dear God," exclaimed Derek as he grasped Alex's hand and together they started down one of the side passages heading only God knew where. All they wanted at that moment was to escape the hideous sound. As they moved through the passages the wailing didn't stop, instead it was replaced by a strange distant chanting, which was sporadically penetrated by cries of agony. They looked at each other terrified "Nick!" exclaimed Alex as she and Derek began to run down the passage towards the distant light and what they hoped would be the location of their friend.

The hot metal dug deep into his leg, sending waves of pain surging through his body. He cried out as slowly the blade was removed. Again and again Marthos repeated his actions, each time pressing the blade into another limb. His eyes wide with pain he watched every move the demon made, he watched as the blade was held above his chest "Lucifer, I give you the soul of this man..... take it so as I may pay homage to your eternal strength and power." Marthos suddenly brought the dagger down, but stopped just millimetres from his victim's chest, an evil grin appearing upon his face as he witnessed the anguish he had caused. "I mark his body with the Pentagram in your honour." As it spoke, Marthos used the tip of the blade to cut open Nick's shirt, and through the bandages beneath, then with slow precise motions it used the blade edge to cut the exposed skin, joining the stab wounds together to form the shape of a Pentagram "I make this offering in blood," it said as it watched the blood as it poured down Nick's rib cage onto the alter.

Standing within one of the passages leading to the sacrificial cave, they watched the gathering. They couldn't see Nick but they could hear his cries, of anger and agony. Alex had to fight to hold Derek back, but she herself was having trouble remaining composed as they watched the ritual being performed before them. She gasped in shock when they finally saw Nick, his upper torso exposed, the bandages cut away, lying on the alter beneath him, the blood slowly trickling down his chest to gather in grooves around the edge of the alter, and down into a gold chalice, of which Marthos now stood at his eyes once again filled by that same blood lust it had had in the library. Derek couldn't stand it any longer, he rushed forward into the cave, closely followed by Alex. "Nick!" Desperate to help her friend, she raced across the cavern towards him "Leave him alone." Marthos' minions gathered around them quickly, preventing them from reaching their friend. "Nick!" shouted Derek as he tried to pull free, he could see the anguish held within his friend's eyes and wanted to end it.

"Derek!" Nick strained against the shackles that bound him, "Alex!" His wrists rubbed raw as he strained trying to pull free, trying to reach his now captive friends. They began to bleed as he resumed his efforts no longer caring what happened to him as long as nothing happened to them. "Leave them alone," he pleaded his eyes locked on Derek's, he could see his friends fears for him and no longer had the energy to fight. "Leave them and I will willingly remain here, for all eternity," he stated as he looked away from Derek to the demon Marthos. Unable to look at them as he said it, afraid of the hurt he would see in their eyes. The demon turned to look at the new arrivals "You have come for your friend," it stated with a hint of laughter in it's voice "You are too late, he shall be mine for all eternity."

"No Nick! don't give in to it. You can still free yourself." She pulled free of the minions and ran across to Nick's side "Nick, your free to leave...... he has no control over you. He can't hurt us." As if to confirm her statement she moved closer to the demon, as is daring him to strike out at her. The demon glared at her as she approached. "Stay back witch or I shall end your rantings here and now," it ordered as she closed the gap. Nick's eyes locked on the dagger still held within the demons hand, he watched as the demon tightened it's grip on the blade, then to his horror, Marthos raised the dagger and brought it down towards Alex's chest. "ALEX!" screamed Nick as the blade vanished from sight, imbedded in his friends chest. "NO!" He screamed, as he watched his friend slowly slump to the ground, and lie there motionless. Once again straining against the shackles which this time gave way, and he was able to move from the alter. Slowly he lowered himself from the alter, holding his tired and bloody body up with all of his strength.

Philip watched the anguish on Nick's face, he was obviously being exposed to a very stressful situation. He could see the same concern's on Derek's face but not on Alex's. "I wish I knew what was happening" he stated with a heavy sigh. Glancing out of the bay windows he could see that dawn was rapidly approaching. They only had another 30-45 minutes before dawn would be upon them and it would be too late to save Nick. "How much longer do you think they'll be?" questioned Rachel as she too noticed the dawn approaching. Sloan glanced at Chris and questioned "How much longer can they safely remain in Marthos' realm?"

"They must be free within 20 minutes or they may all be trapped." Sloan glanced at his watch 5.23 am. He could only pray that they where successful and that all three would be able to return safe and sound.

Spurred on by his anger, Nick charged at Marthos, all he could think about was that Alex lay on the ground, probably dead because of him. With his temper flaring he smashed into the demon, sending them both back into the cave wall. He could no longer feel the physical pain that had gripped him mere moments ago, now all he felt was anger and loathing. He would destroy the beast that had killed his friend, he would kill it before it could kill all those he loved. The beast cried out as it's grip on its quarry began to fade away, no longer did it have the ability to effect him, now all it could do was fight for its own safety, this man was no longer just a man, he held the key to ending Marthos' rule of the damned souls. It had to hold onto him, until it was no longer possible to escape and it would once again be able to exert its dominance over him and his friends who would also remain trapped within it's realm.

As Marthos' minions scattered from the cave, Derek was at last able to reach Alex. He crouched at her side and slowly turned her onto her back. He gazed down in amazement, there was no blood, no sign that the blade had even touched her. "Alex?" he questioned as he gently laid her head on his lap, she opened her eyes and stared up at him. Then, as she did, a strange grin appeared on her face. "I knew he couldn't hurt me," she stated. Derek just knelt there looking at her shocked "But, but?" he questioned confused by her actions. She touched his face and replied, "I had to make Nick fight, he's the only one who can free himself from this nightmare." Derek nodded with understanding as he glanced up at Nick, who was indeed fighting for his freedom and the freedom of his friends.

Slowly Alex sat up and joined Derek as they watched the battle being fought in front of them.

The group gathered within the lounge watched as the sun broke through the rain, and announced the arrival of a new day. Glancing at his watch Sloan sighed with deep sorrow. It was now 6:15 am and there was no time left. They had lost not only Nick but Derek and Alex as well. It would be a long time before the Legacy would recover from this day. They had lost three of the finest operatives the Legacy had.

Standing Sloan glanced at Rachel and Kat, he could see the fear and realisation of what was happening on their faces, he could also see the pain of the lose they all felt. "I'm sorry," he said as he touched Rachel's shoulder for a brief moment. "No this can't be happening,... dear God this can't be happening," as he spoke Philip gripped his crucifix, silently praying for the souls of his friends.

Chris watched as each of the remaining San Francisco Legacy members tried to deal with the events of the night, he could see their pain and loss, and sympathised with them, for he too over the years of working for the Legacy had lost close friends, but never like this. As he looked at the three lost members, he gasped as he saw the young women who had been introduced as Alex begin to move. "My God, Alex are you all right?" he questioned as he rushed to her side. She moved slowly as if unsure of her surroundings, but soon she looked up at him and smiled. "Chris, what happened...... is Nick back?, what about Derek, is he here yet ?" she questioned as she turned to look at the two men in question. She was glad to see Derek's eyes slowly open and after a moment come into focus. "Derek, where's Nick ?" she questioned as they embraced. Pulling away Derek looked at the still motionless form lying on the couch, desperation entered his voice as he stated, "I thought he had already gone, I looked for him in the cavern but couldn't find him. My God, Alex it's past sunrise!" Alex looked out the window, her happiness suddenly gone, they had failed, and Nick was doomed to spend all eternity trapped within that cave, trapped with the lost wailing souls.

Standing alone in the cave, Nick desperately looked around, trying to find some sign of his friends. "Alex......... Derek!" he called out to them, but there was no reply. He was once again alone in the cave, alone with the wailing souls. Dropping to his knees he called out to them one last time. "ALEX........... DEREK!" As his emotions gripped him and tears began to fall he began to rock back and forth saying "Please God. let them be safe...... let them be back at the house, with Rachel, Philip and Kat. Please don't let them be damned to the same fate as I am." Hugging his legs into his chest, he continued to rock back and forth, once again listening to the wailings of the other lost souls that surrounded him.

Unable to believe that they had truly lost Nick, Derek began to shake their unconscious friend, trying to force him to return to them as he had before. No matter how hard he shook him, he did not wake, he didn't even stir in the slightest. Again and again Derek called to Nick trying to guide him back to the real world, his despair at losing him, after he had fought so hard to be free tore at him, and eventually he felt Philip's strong hands close around his shoulders and gently guided him to his feet. "Let him be Derek, he's gone, we must come to terms with it," came the priest's soft Irish voice as he began to lead Derek over to the opposite couch where Rachel sat comforting Kat.

As he sat on the cavern floor the wailing grew in intensity, becoming louder and louder with each second that passed. Grasping his ears he tried to hold out the sound, but with no success. The wails became so loud that he feared that his hear drums would burst. That thought wasn't as bad as he first thought. 'At least I won't be able to hear the wailing anymore, at least I will have silence instead of the chorus of the damned.' Suddenly as he was about to cry out in pain, the wailing stopped. Cautiously he removed his hands from his ears and looked around. Where before there had been the colour of the swirling lost souls now, there was nothing. The cave in which he sat was now in pitch black, no light entered the cave. And for the first time since entering the cave Nick felt totally alone. He slowly stood up and began to move through the cave. "Hello!" he called out praying that someone would answer, but none came. He heard a distant rumbling and then the cave was filled with light. Covering his eyes he glanced up trying to find the source of the light and was shocked to find himself staring up at the night sky. As he began to laugh the heavens opened and it began to rain, but he didn't care, he stood staring up at the sky, allowing the rain to soak him unhindered. Suddenly remembering the events in the cave he glanced down at his body, which was now covered by a T-shirt. He raised it examining his chest beneath. Grinning, he could find no sign of the beast's claws or the Pentagram which had been carved into his body. Laughing he ran towards the house, where he knew his friends would be waiting.

As he bounded up the stairs leading to the main door, he again noticed that the house was in darkness and a strange feeling a deja-vu. He drew his pistol as he cautiously approached the house, and put his key in the door. As he began to turn it, the door suddenly opened and he jumped back, cocking his pistol. In front of him stood a very surprised and stunned servant. "Mr. Boyle?" he questioned as he automatically raised his hands. Nick quickly lowered the pistol and blushed. "Sorry about that," he said as he entered the house, ignoring the servants exasperated expression. As he entered he could hear voices coming from the lounge.

"Shh, he'll hear you," came Kat's annoyed voice. Which was closely followed by laughter which sounded like Alex or perhaps Rachel. As he entered the lounge he reached for the light switch, and flicked it up, the lights came on and to his surprise he found the room decorated with balloons and a large banner that said "Happy Birthday." At the same moment his friends jumped out from behind the couches. "Happy Birthday, Nick," they all cried in unison, and Nick couldn't help but grin to himself. He glanced around the room at their happy faces and began to laugh. Happy to once again be reunited with his friends, and at the fact that they had been spared the nightmare he had been through. As he moved further into the lounge Kat came bounding up to him, she jumped up into his arms and hugged him, he held her tight and kissed her on the cheek "So how do you like our surprise?" she questioned as he carried her further into the room, over to where the rest of the group stood watching. "I love it Kat, thanks."

Derek smiled at Nick as he moved into the lounge and watched as Kat jumped into his arms. As he did though he saw a strange look of relief cross Nick's face, and watched him closely for a moment. There was a strange exhaustion to Nick's movements as if he hadn't slept in days. Walking over to his side he questioned, "Everything all right?" A strange smile appeared on Nick's face as he replied, "It is now." Without another word Nick joined the party, leaving Derek confused by his statement.

As Nick joined Philip and the others he breathed a deep sigh of relief, the nightmare was finally over, his friends where safe and he was now free to carry on his life. Marthos was now only a bad memory, that would be stored away with the others in the back of his mind. He was home and that was all that mattered.

'It is clear that no one else remembers the events of the last 48 hours.

To them, Marthos and his realm do not exist. Why is that?, I don't know.

It doesn't really matter though, the fact they have been spared, the horrors that happened is something I will always be grateful for.

I and my friends are free of this terrible demon that had battered for my soul and the souls of many others over the centuries.

I find myself wondering though, has he truly gone or have I just given banished him for the moment.

Will he return to haunt our dreams? I can not say, all I can say though is that I now know the true meaning of friendship and to what depths I will go to protect those I love. To hell and back.'

The End