by Sherri Smith
    Continued from page one...

"Well," Andrew answered truthfully, "I'm not exactly sure. I just know that this is a pretty big case ... it could mean a real change in the balance of Good versus Evil if it fails ... so I'm not sure what capacity I'm going to be needed for. But, for now, I'm here as a friend. You have questions ... so ask."

She smiled for she had always loved Andrew's bluntness. "I was just doin' a bit o'research on this Reverend Samuel McIntyre. Those objects downstairs ... they belonged to him and his followers, didn't they?"

"Yes," he answered simply.

"I get such a sense o'evil off o'them, Andrew; it's terrifying. I don't know how they can stand t'touch the stuff. But, if the cult really was destroyed as the book states, what could be causin' the evil sensation I'm feelin'?"

Andrew thought long and hard how best to answer. Finally, he stated, "Well, remember, the book also said that the bodies, souls and ground were cursed. It might have been done in God's name, but it wasn't necessarily done God's way. Samuel McIntyre was an evil man, Monica; he sacrificed other human beings in service to Lucifer. And remember, the book also stated that he and his followers were ready for the attack."

"So," Monica said, interpreting the heart of what Andrew was saying, "he made a deal with 'im, didn't he?"

"Right," Andrew responded. "He knew that he and his followers were going to be attacked and killed and made his pact with the Fallen Angel beforehand."

"But what kinda pact did he make?" Monica inquired. "He died right alongside his followers, didn't he? What could he've hoped to gain?"

"Immortality," Andrew answered, matter-of-factly. "Immortality is what he 'bargained' for. It's true that his body was killed alongside his followers, but his soul has remained imprisoned in one of those artifacts that had been buried ... one of the relics now spread out on the table below. What he 'gained' was another chance at life -- and another chance to restart his Satanic cult."

"Oh, Andrew," Monica exclaimed. "Then the people of this House are truly in mortal danger."

"Yes," he responded, sadly, "they most certainly are."

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Nick had had trouble sleeping during the evening and had risen early for his pre-breakfast run. His mind was still troubled at how quickly Derek -- and Alex ... he could see it in her eyes! -- had jumped to the conclusion that he had betrayed Legacy secrets in telling Monica about the Reverend. He could feel himself pounding his heels into the ground deeper and deeper with each stride and began to back off; this run was suppose to release his anger -- not build it back up.

As he rounded the corner and headed toward the front entrance, he noticed a San Francisco cab pulling away from the front doorway. 'Great,' he thought to himself, 'now what?!' He pushed himself a little harder and picked up the pace to see who the visitor was. As he entered the doorway and saw the young man standing there, he placed his hands on his knees to gather his breath. He finally looked up and said, sarcastically, "I should've known it would be you."

Philip turned and smiled at Nick's sarcastic greeting ... he hadn't expected anything less of his younger associate! "It's great t'see you too, Nick," he responded jovially. "Yer up and out pretty early this mornin', aren't ya? I mean, this is pretty early ... even for you!"

Nick brushed aside the somewhat sarcastic question and asked, "Did Derek know you were coming?"

"No," Philip responded, grateful that Nick wasn't in the mood to "spar" right now. "I only just decided t'make the trip. I figured you could use a hand on this investigation yer workin' on. Derek had said that the artifacts were from some 1600s cult or somethin'."

"Yeah, well, that about sums it up," Nick answered in response. He watched as Philip picked up his bags and started up the stairs, "Oh hey," Nick remembered, stopping Philip, "a young lady named Monica came with the shipment ... and don't ask ... but she's staying in your old room; you'll have to use another one."

"No problem," Philip replied as he continued up the stairs. He turned and then added, "Thanks fer tellin' me, Nick. It could've be quite embarrasin' y'know."

"Yeah, well, I did it for her -- not for you," Nick stated as he headed into the kitchen to start the coffee.

"I know that, Nick," Philip mumbled as went up the stairs. "Believe me, m'friend, I know that."

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Seated around the breakfast table, Monica had a sense that at least the majority of the Legacy House was now gathered together, and it made her happy that Raphael had succeeded in getting Father Callaghan to return to the House -- at least for this case. She liked the amiable young priest now sitting next to her at the table and he had been nothing but polite to her from the moment of their introduction. She was puzzled, however, at Nick's reaction to his older partner. She made a mental note that this was another thing to ask Tess about -- when she next saw her!

"So," Philip continued his explanation of his presence, "I just decided that I could afford t'take a few days away an' come t'help ya with the research." He looked at Derek as he finished, "An' ya know how fond I am of ancient relics, Derek."

Derek laughed as he remembered all the times he had to almost fight Philip for the right to research and inspect an antiquity they had received in the House. "Yes, Philip," he answered, "I remember all too well how anxious you can get. Your help is certainly welcome -- and appreciated -- my friend."

At that, Nick rose from the table. "I'm goin' for a run. I'll be back in an hour or so."

Derek saw Philip about to speak, but beat him to the comment, "I thought you already had gone out this morning ... didn't you?!"

Nick turned and replied, "Yeah, well, I'm goin' again. Any objection?"

The unmistakable challenge was in Nick's voice and Derek responded with an authoritative, yet compassionate tone, "No. Just be back in that 'hour or so' ... there's still alot to do around here and we're going to need your help."

Nick gave Philip a final, icy stare and exited the room, slamming the front entryway door as he left the House. Philip turned again towards Derek and said, "I'm sorry if my presence here is gonna make things worse. I only thought that I'd help out if I could. He seems much more upset than usual."

"It's not your fault," Derek replied. "I was a little harder on him than I needed to be yesterday. You're arrival was just 'bad timing' for him."

Monica's heart had gone out to Nick and she immediately commented, "Well, I could use a bit of a run m'self at such a delicious breakfast. I think I'll just try an' catch up with him now, if you all will excuse me."

As Monica was about to leave the room, Rachel came around and blocked her way. "I think he really just needs to be alone right now," she stated in a cool tone. "Why don't you just let him alone for now, hmm?"

Tess had warned Monica about Dr. Corrigan, and Monica was ready for the challenge. "Well," she answered, somewhat coolly herself, "That's not what'cha thought last night have ya chased after 'im yerself, now is it?" With that said, Monica rushed past Rachel and headed outside to catch up to Nick.

Alex could barely contain her shock at Monica having stood up to Rachel in that manner. Often times, Alex wished that she herself would have the nerve to stand up to Rachel more often. She was proud that the young visitor had had the nerve to do so. Likewise, Derek, had to hide his smile behind his coffee cup as Rachel sat down, clearly incensed with the young stranger. "I don't trust her," she remarked. "Ever since she's arrived, Nick's acted strangely."

"Oh c'mon, Rachel," Alex countered. "Nick's been acting hurt and upset -- not strange. And, he's been acting that way because Derek laced into him about Monica's presence and then we all jumped to the assumption that he had let her in on confidential information. He's reacting like any of us would under the circumstance ... hurt and betrayed!"

Before Rachel could argue, Derek cut the conversation short with an authoritative, "Enough! We've got work to do and I recommend we get busy doing it. Nick and Monica will be back in an hour or so. I suggest we do anything we need to in the Control Room while she's out with him and then join them in the Library for the actual cataloging and inspection of the relics when they return. We could start by running each object -- one by one -- through the spectroscope to see if anything shows up." With that, everyone exited the dining area leaving Mitchell to clean up.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Monica found that she had to really push her "Earthly" body to find and catch up with Nick. She shouted to him, out of breath from her run, to "wait up". He turned, shocked that anyone had been able to catch up with him at all; after all, whenever he was angry, he tended to run a great deal faster. He stopped, waiting for the young woman to approach. When she did, they stood several seconds in silence, each doubled over to catch their breath.

Finally looking up, Monica said, "I just thought I might join ya, Nick. I had no idea we'd be runnin' a marathon though, or I might've thought twice about it." He laughed at her intended joke and she continued in her friendly tone, "I was just wonderin' what was botherin' ya this mornin' ... is it yer friend showin' up like that? Or is there somethin' else troublin' ya."

Nick felt so comfortable with Monica; he hadn't felt this comfortable with a woman since Julia -- or Karen! -- and he wasn't sure he could or should trust his instincts and feelings about her. But, as he gazed into her compassionate eyes, he found himself pouring out his anger and hurt at having been mistrusted by Derek. He also admitted to a "bit of jealousy" at how Derek reacted whenever Philip would "waltz back into the Leg.... the Luna Foundation". At this point, he felt very unsure of himself and said, "Well, I think I better continue that run."

"Well," Monica chimed in, "I guess I'll be joinin' ya then." As they started off -- at a thankfully slower pace! -- she wondered again, how she might be able to help this troubled young man ease his hurt heart and aching soul. She wondered if he were the one in danger or if it was everyone in the House. But an overwhelming need to help the young man jogging at her side caused her to pray that God would show her the way to alleviate his suffering!

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

One by one, Derek, Philip, Rachel and Alex had moved the relics from the Library table to the Control Room, through the spectroscope and back again. They were through with all but seven of the objects, when they heard the front door open and close. The sound of cheerful and laughing voices eased Derek's heart -- and conscious! -- considerably. He made a mental note to talk to Monica later; to "thank her" for the change she made in Nick.

The others sat around the table, again each selecting an item to inspect and research. They had the files about Reverend McIntyre's group surrounding them and would read information and then inspect the information and then return to the reading. Monica and Nick both stated that they would join the examination of the artifacts shortly and headed to their respective rooms and showers. After they heard the click of the doors upstairs, Rachel looked up at Derek and said, "I just don't trust her ... there's just something about that woman I just don't trust."

"But," Alex started, "she hasn't given us any reason to distrust her either, Rachel. I think you're just being a little too hard on her."

Rachel looked at Alex, stunned. She normally counted on Alex to be on her side ... men against women and all that ... but now, here was Alex defending this stranger! "Well, for one thing, she certainly has attached herself to Nick now, hasn't she?!"

Alex couldn't really argue with this statement, although she didn't think of it in the terms that Rachel had expressed it. Derek resolved the matter by stating, "I don't think she 'attached' herself to anyone, Rachel. I just think that Nick was the first kind person she encountered and so she feels closest to him." With that said, he turned back to the goblet he was inspecting, hoping that would stop these endless discussions.

Alex, likewise, turned her attention to the silverware she was investigating and Philip turned his to the toy ship. Rachel looked around the room and saw that no one else shared her concern. Huffily, she picked up her own artifact she was inspecting -- an old-fashioned pipe -- and lost herself in its shape and contours.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Freshening up and just about ready to head out of her room, Monica was startled by Tess' presence. "Oh, Tess," she exclaimed, "Ya scared me!"

"Gettin' a little 'jumpy', eh, Angel Girl," Tess laughed. "I just thought I'd check on you ... see if you needed anything and to let you know that I've been assigned to help you on this case and I'll be showin' up on the front doorstep real soon! And I'll probably have Raphael and maybe even Andrew with me!"

Monica felt a little uneasy, remembering how harsh the others downstairs had been toward her presence. "D'ya think that's the best idea?" she inquired. "I mean ... I'd love t'have ya help me on this case -- I do feel a little lost! -- but, well ...."

"I know, Baby," Tess replied in an assuring voice. "I know. They're not always the easiest bunch t'get to know. But they are all decent and fine people. They just need some guidance and a push in the right direction sometimes."

"Is that why yer comin' then," Monica continued, "t'push 'em in the right direction or guide them in their investigation?"

"No, Monica. I'm comin' because a terrible evil is about to get unleashed; and they're gonna need all the help and strength we angels have to offer 'em. Now, you best get downstairs ... and keep yer eye on 'em. Try an' keep 'em out of trouble -- and from turnin' on each other! -- until I get there."

Monica's face lit up with understanding, "So that's part o'Nick's problem, is it? Is the evil affecting him?"

Tess nodded sadly. "I'm afraid so, Angel Girl. It knows each person's vulnerability and it's reached out to his insecurities; it's already testing Nick on his. See, the spirit of Reverend McIntyre was cursed and has been livin' inside one of those objects downstairs. An' it's just waiting to be set free and take over a living, breathing body."

"You mean ... possession?!" Monica cried. "It wants t'possess one of 'em?! Andrew said that the Reverend's soul had been imprisoned and that he had hoped t'rise again. I just didn't understand that it intended t'be usin' one of them downstairs at it's vessel! He already knows who he wants t'possess, doesn't he, Tess?" she asked, with real fear in her voice and in her heart.

"Um hmmm," Tess answered, solemnly. "An' I think you can guess which one ... Nick! He's a strong, healthy young man, with a very troubled soul and spirit; just ripe for being possessed by an ancient evil minion of Lucifer's like Reverend McIntyre!"

"Dear God," Monica exclaimed. "We've got t'help 'im, Tess! We've just got to help him!"

"We'll do our best, Monica," Tess replied. "I promise you this, Baby ... we will do our best!"

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Nick sat at the table with his associates and watched as they continued their individual observations. Finally, he broke the silence, asking, "So what's up? Did ya find out anything ... interesting ... while I was out with Monica?"

Derek looked up, half believing that Nick was implying that he had staged that exit in order to get Monica out of the house with him, thereby giving the others time to do some "Legacy" research. He remembered his vision of Nick shouting and storming out of the House and shuttered slightly, wondering if the rest of that terrible vision was still to come. He looked up to see Nick smiling at Derek's knowing eyes as the Precept finally answered, "Yes. We were able to put the majority of the items under the spectroscope. So far, we haven't found any evidence of possession or a curse on the objects we were able to test."

"How many didn't get tested?" Nick asked, looking over the objects scattered on the table.

"The seven in the middle," Derek replied. "I figure we can run them through tonight ... after Monica retires for the evening." He paused, then added, "I'd really like your help on that, Nick. Can I count on you?"

"Sure thing, Boss," he replied jovially, as if nothing had been troubling him. Derek was grateful for his good mood; however, Philip and Alex were becoming suspicious of Nick's mood. They knew the ex-SEAL better than Derek did sometimes and they were a little concerned at how quickly Nick had let go of his anger. Nick looked over at the of them two staring at him. "What?" he asked. "I'm in a good mood ... is that so terrible?!"

"Not at all," Philip replied with a smile. "Just ... unusual!" They all laughed and everyone continued looking over their chosen objects, being careful to catalog each and every detail they found.

Nick looked at the "cleared" objects that laid waiting for cataloging and at the seven located in the center of the table. As Monica entered the room, he reached out and picked up the ancient manuscript that laid in the middle of the pile. Just as he touched it, a terrible wind began to lash through the room, blowing the papers off the table. The lights flickered and then went out altogether as the Legacy members around the table heard Monica cry out, "NOOOOOO!"

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Just as Tess, Raphael and Andrew were about to ring the bell of the Luna Foundation entrance, they felt a dreadful evil surround them. "Oh dear Lord," Tess stated, "we're too late!" She could feel the chill in the air just as she heard Monica cry out. "C'mon," she shouted at her two companions. "Cover stories aren't important now! We've gotta get in there an' help 'em!"

Likewise, the inhabitants of the Library could "sense" the evil surrounding them ... permeating throughout the room. 'My Gott,' Derek thought, feeling sickness form in the pit of his stomach. 'It's all coming true; my vision is all coming true.' He began to fumble in the dark, to reach out to Alex, remembering the image of her crying out in pain.

Suddenly, the three angels rushed in just as the back-up generator lights automatically turned on. They rushed toward the Library to see the stunned faces of Derek, Alex, Rachel and Philip. They looked at Monica to make sure she was alright and saw the frightened look in her eyes. Then, with a puzzled expression, Derek approached Tess and the two gentlemen who were with her. "Who the Hell are you? And what are you doing in this House?"

There comes a times when every angel knows it is time to reveal their true identities. Monica turned to Derek before Tess could reply. As he stared at her, the beautiful young stranger they had welcomed in their home became bathed in a brilliant, warming light. "I'm an angel, Derek, sent by God t'help you and yer associates with this investigation." At that moment, Derek and the others noticed the three strangers had also begun to glow.

Philip crossed himself and whispered, "Dear God!"

"Yes," Tess smiled, "He is!! An' he sent us here to help you with this case because He knew you were up against a terrible evil ... unlike anything else you've encountered in the past."

"I just don't believe this," Rachel spit. "I just don't believe it! There is no such thing as 'angels'!!"

Andrew approached Dr. Corrigan and gently said, "I know that you haven't wanted to believe in Heaven ... or God ... or even angels ever since the death of your husband and son, Rachel. But that doesn't mean we don't exist! And that doesn't give you the right to live the rest of your life in bitterness, clinging to the darkness of ignorance."

Rachel was stunned, she felt as though this stranger had just read her very soul. "It's true," she whispered as he nodded. "You really are angels?!"

"I don't understand," Derek replied, stunned. "How can this be?! The Legacy has worked for thousands of years without ...."

"Are you so sure of that, my good man," Tess countered. "Have you been around for that thousand year history to know that no angels ever intervened on a particularly difficult case?!" She watched satisfactorily as Derek reluctantly shook his head. "Course not! And I'm here to tell you that God has sent his angels to The Legacy ... but only when they've truly been needed."

Derek looked at Monica, realization dawning, "It was you," he stated simply. "It was your presence I felt in the Control Room the other day, wasn't it. You were here then, right?!"

Monica nodded and spoke gently and soothingly so as not to cause fear in the people she was there to help and guide. "That's right; Tess an' I were both here. We kept our presence hidden until our help was needed."

"An' yer truly needed now, then?" Philip inquired, marvelling at the creatures before him. "God sent you here to help us?!"

"That's right, Philip," Monica answered. "Ya see, Reverend McIntyre's spirit's been imprisoned in one of these artifacts for all these centuries. An' now that they've been unearthed, his pact with Lucifer ... Satan as ya call 'im ... was that he would rise again to begin a new cult. He was a verra evil and dangerous man. We're here t'help ya stop it from ...."

A cruel, wicked laugh cut Monica's words off cold. Everyone turned in the direction of the sound to see Nick sitting on the edge of the Library table clutching an ancient book to his chest. They were stunned at the sight of the young man; his body was drenched in sweat and they could see an internal struggle taking place before their eyes.

Worried and concerned, Alex stepped over to her junior associate to try to ascertain if he was alright. As she reached out her hand to touch his arm, Derek's vision flashed in his mind. He shouted at her not to touch him, but it was too late; upon contact with Nick's arm, Alex felt a searing pain shoot through her entire being and she cried out in agony. She was then flung across the room and landed with a sickening thud against the wall.

Monica, Raphael and Rachel all rushed to Alex's side. She was shaken from the jolt that had coursed through her and a welt was already appearing at the back of her head from it's connection with the wall, but she stumbled to her feet and allowed them to assist her into a chair. Derek walked around the table and faced "Nick".

Tess quickly moved by his side, advising him, "Be careful, Honey; he's not quite himself right now."

"But he is struggling ... trying to hold on, isn't he?" Derek asked, looking for reassurance. After a long wait, he implored more urgently, "He's fighting this ... can't you see?! He needs our help! We can't just stand here and watch this struggle and not help him!"

"We will help him, Derek," Monica said soothingly as she approached the Precept. She placed a comforting hand on his arm and continued, "But, it's gonna take all of us t'reach 'im. He's fighting a verra strong presence."

"She's right," Raphael continued. "You can see the struggle that's goin' on. And, when one -- or the other -- personality surfaces, we'll all deal with it together."

Understanding dawned on Philip as he replied, "Ya mean, until the ... 'Reverend' ... has totally taken over Nick, we can't get rid of 'em, don't ya?"

"That's right," Raphael replied, matter-of-factly. "He's gonna lose this struggle ... that's fer sure! ... but it doesn't mean he's gonna lose the war, to coin a common phrase."

The Legacy members all moved closer to the angels as they watched Nick's continued struggle with the being that tried to possess his body, mind and soul. They felt completely helpless as they watched their friend slowly lose that battle ... and they silently prepared themselves for whatever might lie ahead!

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Nick could see his friends standing there staring at him. 'Why the Hell aren't they trying to help me!' his mind screamed at him as he tried to fight the being within him. He had felt the course of energy -- pure evil! -- flood over him the moment he picked up the manuscript. He tried with all his might to drop the possessed book, but could not make any of his limbs function the way he wanted them to. He felt the being flow into him, growing ever stronger with each passing moment!

He was only slightly aware of the glowing sensation radiating off Monica and her comrades; however, instead of being comforted by it, there was a part of him ... the new part! ... that felt fear! 'Help me,' he tried to cry out. 'Derek, please ... it's too strong!' He felt himself falling farther and farther into a dank and dark section of his own mind. Locked there were all the horrors he had ever repressed -- his father's beatings, the "ordered" government killings that he never understood, Julia's death (which he had been unable to prevent). All these horrors laid in this shadowy and frightening place the presence within him had imprisoned him to; they laid waiting for him ... and for revenge!

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Those gathered in the Library watched as "Nick" bent his head down. They knew that the ex-SEAL had lost "round one" as he would've called it; they prayed they would be able to help him win "round two".

As they continued to watch, "Reverend McIntyre" stared out at them through Nick's eyes. He looked down at the manuscript "he" had been clutching and smiled to himself. 'So it worked,' he thought with a relieved sigh. 'My pact with Lucifer is now sealed!' He turned his malicious smile on the strangers in the room. Knowing that it was unnecessary, he took great pleasure in introducing himself, nonetheless. "Reverend Samuel McIntyre," he said in a slight Irish brogue. "At yer service." He made a bowing gesture and then laughed a heart-wrenching, gut-splitting laugh!

"'Tis a fine thing t'be alive, again, m'dears," he continued as he placed the manuscript gently on the table beside him. He stepped forward and approached the gathered spectators. "But I dare say ye don't want t'be keepin' me that way now, do ye?"

Before anyone could stop him, Philip stepped forward and began an incantation of exorcism. Both Monica and Tess reached out to the young priest to stop him -- to pull him back -- but it was too late. He had already incurred the wrath of Reverend McIntyre as he ... like Alex before him ... was hit with a brilliant blue bolt of energy. The force picked Philip up as though he were a rag doll and flung him so hard against the Library doors that swung open from the force!

Rachel and Alex rushed to Philip's side and the servant of Satan laughed as he watched the women hovering over the priest. He began to advance on them, but was suddenly blocked by Tess and Andrew. "Leave them alone!" Tess demanded.

The Reverend stepped backward in fear. He had never encountered anyone like these particular people before. "What manner o'creature might ye be?" he inquired, with a trace of apprehension in his voice. "I've never seen the likes o'ye befer."

"No, you haven't," Andrew replied. "Because we are angels ... sent by God!"

As Andrew said the name of "God", "Reverend McIntyre" fell to "his" knees, placing his hands over his ears as if in pain. "Say n'more!" he commanded from the floor. "Ye have no business here, Angel!" He rose again, but everyone in the room could see that the "Reverend" had been weakened. For the first time, the Legacy member's hearts began to hope!

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Nick began to tentatively wander around the hellish part of his mind that he had been relegated to in hopes of finding an escape. As he rounded the corner, he was suddenly transported to a Middle Eastern village. He recognized it immediately and turned, wanting to run -- not wanting to relive the atrocities that had happened there. But he was trapped!

He watched as his SEAL team quietly set the bombs in their designated places in the quiet, sleepy village -- just as they had been ordered to. He saw himself as he placed a large quantity of C4 against the side of a church. He remembered with sickening fear how he had prayed no one would be inside! The team leader gave the signal, and they pulled out.

From their vantage point five miles away, the team waited for the bombs to explode. They were then assigned to advance and "sweep the area" ... which in government terminology meant "kill any survivors of the blast". He looked at Peters, who had his head bowed, seemingly in prayer. As the young man looked up and faced Nick he whispered, "My God, what kinda animals are we? This isn't what I joined up for!" Nick shook his head; they had followed orders and would continue to do so ... whatever the cost ... that's what they were "trained / conditioned / programmed" to do! But, inside, he could feel himself praying just as hard as Peters was!

Nick closed his eyes, not wanting to see what happened next, but was unsuccessful in blocking the horrendous memory from crashing through.

At that moment, the tremendous booming sound of the explosions filled the air. Even from five miles away, Nick was certain he could hear the screams and cries of the dying! He crouched lower, staying close to the rest of his team, waiting for the signal to get in the jeeps and head to the village.

When it came, his heart sank. 'Please God,' he prayed, 'don't let me find anyone alive! Don't make me kill 'em!' He jumped in the jeep alongside Peters and Wylie as it sped to the village.

In units of three, one by one, the team went into the remains of the hollowed-out buildings. Nick had felt as though his prayers had been ignored; he found several men ... and women ... who were moving beneath the rubble in one of the buildings. His instincts to help them ... to ease their suffering ... conflicted with his orders. As he stood there momentarily wavering, his SEAL team leader approached shouting, "Boyle! What're you waiting for ... SHOOT!" He shot -- as ordered -- and then turned quickly, trying not to vomit!

At the last building his unit was to search ... the church where Nick himself had placed the detonation ... was where he came upon the true horror of this assignment. Lying among the rubble were nearly 20 bodies ... all of them children! Both Nick and another member of his unit -- Jacks -- had to exit quickly before they were sick. They had been taught to detach ... but this was too much! They looked at one another shaking their heads. "What the Hell did we do?!" Nick asked aloud. "What'd we DO?!"

Nick could feel the tears of repressed emotion in his eyes as he looked for a way to escape this memory. Suddenly, he found himself pitched forward, once again, into the blackness of his mind!

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Monica was concerned about Nick! She knew that despite the outward appearance of "Reverend McIntyre", Nick was still somewhere inside his own body. She worried now for the young man's safety -- and sanity! -- and turned to Tess. "Is Nick alright, Tess?"

"Fer now," she answered slowly. "Fer now. We've just got t'help him get rid of this creature. That's the first step."

"The first step," Monica exclaimed. "What more is he gonna have to endure?!"

"Himself, Baby," Tess answered solemnly. "Himself ... and his memories!"

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Straightening himself up, Reverend McIntyre stared at his opposition. "So," he proclaimed, "'tis a head-on confrontation ye'll b'wantin' then, is it? So be it!" As he shouted this last part, he spread his arms wide and the room was hit by the force of hurricane-style winds. Alex and Rachel both clung to the unsteady Philip as they tried to make their way to a solid piece of furniture to cling to. Derek grabbed the end of the table and held on, reaching his hand out to assist the others.

The angels managed to levitate themselves off the floor and, joining hands, simultaneously prayed, "Father, give us the strength to ward off this creature's evil powers!" At that, the "Reverend" screamed again, once again thrown to his knees -- this time a look of anguish on "his" face. The wind died as suddenly as it had started and the others watched as Nick's body struggled to get up off the floor.

Resisting the urge to help him ... knowing it was still not him, Derek and his associates watched -- and waited!

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Nick felt moments when he could almost be himself again; but they were fast and fleeting. He longed to escape this place, but could not find an exit. He continued to roam the darkness, not wanting to go any further into the recesses of his memory, but having no where else to go! Suddenly, he found himself in a familiar "room". He looked around with some relief, thinking, 'I know this place. Nothing bad ever happened here!'

He was in Julia's room -- at the Legacy House -- and it was decorated just the way it use to be when she lived there. But, the relief that had overcome him was short-lived when he realized when it was ... it was the evening before they had left for Ireland -- just before she died! 'Oh God, NO!!!!' his mind screamed. 'I can't take this ... not this!' However, the apparitions of the past appeared before him nonetheless!

"What's with you tonight?" he heard himself ask Julia as they walked into her bedroom after the party. "Are you upset about that story I told that lady, 'cause, honestly, I wasn't hitting on her!"

"Yes you were," Julia answered smartly. Then she smiled, "But that's not it. I know you by now, Hotshot ... and I'm not worried about you cheating on me, if that's what you think!" She walked over and they wrapped their arms around each other in a warm and familiar embrace.

"Then what's up? Somethin's bugging you; an' I know you to ... remember?!" They both laughed lightly and then slowly Julia pulled away from Nick and walked to gaze out at the moonlit night.

"Great night out," she said, trying to change the subject.

Nick plopped himself on Julia's bed, now becoming concerned about the beautiful young woman who had captured his heart. "Good change of subject there, Kiddo," he replied. "But, it ain't gonna work; I'm not leavin' here 'til you tell me what's wrong."

Nick struggled to get out of the room. The pain of the memory ... the hurt of losing Julia tore at his heart and soul! He didn't want to see this; he didn't want to hear it ... he remembered what was coming next -- and what was yet to happen.

Finally, Julia sighed and sat down next to Nick. He began giving her one of his "famous" neck massages and she began to open up, "To be honest, I don't know what's bothering me. I just ... I feel like time's so short sometimes; that there's just never enough time to do all the things in life you want to do. You know what I mean, Nick?"

He nodded and then sadly answered, "Yeah ... I do." He turned her towards him and looked deep in her eyes. "But what's that got to do with tonight ... with the way you're feeling right now."

She rose and began to pace the floor. "That's just it," she replied, sounding frustrated. "That is how I feel ... like there's so much I want to do and so little time to do it in."

Nick didn't know whether to be scared or to laugh; was Julia just being over-dramatic or was something really wrong?! He took her in his arms, saying, "Just calm down, alright? I'm here and I'm never gonna let anything happen to you ... you know that, right?!"

He held her closer as their eyes met and she nodded her head. They sealed the conversation with a passionate kiss. Finally, she broke it and pushed him away, stating, "OK, Hotshot! That's enough for tonight!! I'm beat and could use a good night's sleep for once." He held on a moment longer and then nodded, letting go and heading for the door. She stopped him by saying, "Nick ...."


"Well ... I just wanted to make sure that I said, 'I love you'," she replied with heartfelt emotion. "I just wanted to make sure you knew that!"

Nick stood staring at Julia, perplexed. He shrugged it off as just another "female emotional outburst" and smiled, saying, "I know, Julia ... I know!"

'Tell 'er you love her too, you Sonofabitch,' his mind screamed at himself. Knowing that he wasn't able to live up to his promise to Julia, his heart sank; knowing that he never told her one last time how much he loved her. With regret he thought, 'You're gonna lose her without having said it back and you're gonna have to live with that fer the rest of your life!' Which, at this point, Nick was beginning to wish would end ... soon!

He looked around to once again find himself in a veil of darkness. 'I can't take this anymore,' he thought as the pain and anguish of the two memories knocked the wind from his body. He fell to his knees in the darkness and prayed for the silent peace of death!

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

"We have to end this ... now," Raphael interjected. The urgency in his voice frightened everyone. They turned to him as he continued, "Nick's still fightin' the fight, but he is beginnin' to lose the war!"

"What do you mean?" Derek inquired, looking over at "Reverend McIntyre" as "he" attempted to once again stand against his new-found enemies. "I don't see any difference ... other than the injuries caused to 'the Reverend'." A thought struck Derek and he asked, "Is this also hurting Nick?"

"No," Tess replied, placing a reassuring hand on Derek's arm. "But 'the Reverend' there sent Nick to his own personal Hell ... the one that Nick keeps buried deep -- in his mind. He's reliving some terrible things there ... and I'm afraid the boy is about t'give up!"

"What can we do?" Philip asked, feeling fear enter his heart at the thought of losing his dearest friend. "Can we help 'im?"

"Yes," Tess continued, "you can! We can pray ... right now ... altogether, fer God to give 'im strength to fight this."

As the four angels and the four Legacy members huddled in a circle to pray for Nick, the Reverend began to scream, "NOOOO! NOOOO!! You must stop ... you must!" They continued their prayer, louder and stronger, holding hands as these did so.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Nick felt a rush of strength pour through him. He had no idea where it was coming from, but he found the courage to pick himself up and continue his journey through the images in his mind ... trying to find a way to take back control of his body. He pressed forward, feeling a trace of confidence for the first time since entering this dark world.

As he rounded yet another corner of his subconscious, he found himself in a basement. With the help of this new-found strength, he pushed back the fear that threatened to wash over him. He had no doubts where he was ... and what he was going to witness; he was in the basement of his home -- at the age of 13 -- and his father was about to put him in the hospital!

The boy crouched in the corner of the basement as he heard the footsteps descend the stairs. He looked around anxiously, hoping to find a means of escape. 'But there is no escape,' the boy told himself, 'there's only the delay of the inevitable!' He watched as the man stood at the bottom of the stairs, swaying a little from his recently consumed dinner.

"Don't make it worse on yerself, Nick," the man stammered. "Get yer ass out here right now!"

The boy knew the tone and the truth behind the words and stepped out of the shadows to face his father. He saw the glazed look in the man's eyes and secretly prayed that maybe he would pass out -- like last time -- and not hurt him too badly! But that particular prayer wasn't answered, as the man grabbed the boy by the collar of his shirt and shouted in his face, "Just what the Hell did ya think you were doin', telling my co-worker off like that?!? What's the matter with you? Are you really THAT stupid?!?"

The boy felt as though he were going to be sick -- either from the smell of the alcohol or the anticipation of the beating ... he didn't know which! He continued to stare at the man, waiting for what came next. The man shook his son ... hard ... and shouted, "Answer me, DAMN IT!!"

Nick felt some of the strength leaving him as he remembered what was about to happen. 'Why didn't God answer my prayer,' he wondered to himself. 'Why didn't he answer any of my prayers?!'

"I'm sss...ssorry," the boy stammered. "It's just ...."

"Just what?!" the man demanded, shaking the boy again. "Why would you ever do somethin' so stupid as smart off to a co-worker of mine like that for?!" With that, he released the boy. With a sudden and ferocious strength, he back-handed the young man across the mouth and sent him sprawling on the ground. He approached him, still unsteady, but somehow fed by his anger. He raised a leg and connected his foot with his son's stomach as hard as he could. "Talk, damn it. Tell me ... what did you think you were doing?!"

The young man felt all the wind knocked out of him from the kick in his abdomen, but he struggled to rise and answer his father; if he didn't at least attempt to ... things would be worse! "You always say how much you hate Derek ... I--I--I thought, maybe, if I was--was rude to 'im, he'd leave--leave you alone. I'm sorry, Da-Dad," he continued, trying not to cough, afraid that would make his father angrier somehow. "I--I just wanted to try to help you."

"Oh you've helped me alright, Nick," the man snapped back, "You've helped me be totally embarrassed in front of the man I hate the most!" With that statement made, all reason and sanity left Jonathan Boyle as he descended on the young man -- hitting him, kicking him and tossing him about the room -- until the boy was no longer conscious. And, even then, he threw in a few more blows ... "fer good measure so maybe that'll teach ya!"

Nick could stand no more! 'Please God,' his mind screamed. 'Whatever I've done, please listen to me now! I can't take this anymore! I've tried to live right -- do the right thing no matter what's happened -- but I just can't do it anymore ... not on my own ... not all alone!!

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Andrew interrupted the groups praying. He turned to Monica with sadness in his voice that reached his eyes, "He's giving up. I'll have to take him, Monica; unless you reach him." He looked around at the saddened faces of the Legacy members. "You must reach him now, or he'll be lost to you ... forever."

Realization struck Derek and he turned to face "Reverend McIntyre". He shouted at the young man's body before him. "Nick! Nick! I know you can hear me, Nick!! Don't give up ... we need you! Do you hear me?! WE NEED YOU!!" As he said this, he turned to Monica. "You must help him ... now. In the name of Gott ... help him!"

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

In darkest cavern of his mind, Nick felt Derek's words reach out to him. He could hear the urgency in the Precept's voice and tried to rise to his feet. But the repressed pain, hurt and anger from the memories he had encountered were too great. He felt he had nothing more to offer his Legacy associates, but sorrow, pain or death. He could feel the will to live ... to survive ... fading from him as the room somehow became still darker. He closed his eyes, ready to surrender his heart and soul.

"Ya have the strength inside ya, Nick," he heard a familiar, tender voice say. He opened his eyes and saw a brilliant light shining down on him. As his eyes slowly adjusted to the brightness, he recognized the image of Monica before him. 'Great,' he thought to himself, 'now I'm hallucinating. What's next?!'

"Yer not hallucinatin', Nick," Monica said as she bent closer to the young man. "I'm real ... and I'm here t'help ya escape this prison yer in." She could see the confusion on his face and continued, "I'm an angel ... sent by God t'help you -- an' yer friends -- with this case. Yer friends are prayin' fer ya, Nick. They're weakenin' the Reverend fer ya -- but the rest is up to you. Ya must fight back, Nick. You must do it now!"

Nick felt a wave of emotion flood through him -- relief, fear, anger. He stared at this woman who had so richly touched his life and believed every word that she said ... except for the part about God wanting to help him. He struggled to his feet and faced the angel before him. "You're wrong!" he spat back. "God doesn't want to help me ... he's never wanted to help me!"

Monica felt pain and sorrow fill through her. This young man had been through so much and still didn't seem to realize that God had carried him through it all! She searched her heart for the right words to say and then spoke with gentle compassion. "Nick, God has always helped you! It might not've been in the way ya wanted 'im to, but He has never turned His back on you! He loves ya, Nick. He's carried ya through all the dangers in yer life an' made ya stronger fer them. Can't ya see that?!"

Although her words were hard to hear, Nick had to admit that she was right; no matter what he had been through, he had survived it! He turned to the angel and said, "I'm sorry. What'd I have to do?"

Monica smiled as she replied, "Pray with me -- pray fer the strength t'overcome the memories that've been hauntin' ya; pray t'rid the world o'Reverend Samuel McIntyre ... ferever; an' pray t'return t'the love and companionship o'yer friends, Nick. They truly do need you, ya know?!"

Nick took Monica's offered hand and closed his eyes. For the first time since Julia's death, he began to pray!

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

A forceful wind began to whirl throughout the Library as the Legacy members and angels watched the final battle take place over Nick's body. They watched as the sweat poured out of the ex-SEAL from the force of the struggle, followed by a heart-wrenching scream. The young man's body dropped to the ground, and Derek could not push away the impulse to help his junior associate.

Turning Nick over, checking for signs of life or breathing, Derek spoke gently, "Nick? Can you hear me?" He paused as their was no response. He looked into the eyes of Monica, brimming with tears and she nodded for him to continue. "Nick!" he said, a little more forcefully. "If you can hear me, look at me!"

Slowly, the young man, opened his eyes. He blinked them several times to get them in focus and was thrilled to recognize his friends ... all huddled around him. He tried to rise, but found that his body felt too heavy and sore. He took Derek's and Philip's offered hands and they helped him rise and into a chair. Rachel hovered over him, checking for any permanent signs of damage.

"I'm OK," he said in a slightly shaky voice. "Really." He looked around at everyone before adding, "Thanks!"

"Don't mention it," Philip said with a smile as he patted his friend's arm. "All in a day's work!"

"Well," Tess said, "our work here is through; we'll be goin' now." She looked at the five Legacy associates staring at them and added, "You all take care now ... and keep doin' God's work!"

Derek assured her that they would and thanked them for their intervention. Before they left the room, Nick rose and approached Monica. She smiled at him, knowing that words were difficult. Finally, he struggled, "I just ... I just wanted to say, 'Thanks' -- thanks fer coming in after me; and ... thanks for making me believe again."

"Yer welcome," Monica said as she gave the young man a warm and tender hug. "Take care of yerself, Nick." With that, the four angels vanished into air.

Nick stood there a minute longer until Derek came up and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Are you alright?" he asked, concerned.

"Yeah," Nick answered, sounding once again confident. "For the first time in a long time ... I'm really alright!"

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Enjoying the silence that surrounded the House, Nick sat at the dining room table, finishing an apple as he wrote in his Journal:

I never realized how much I turned to God during my lifetime; and how often I blamed Him for the things that went wrong ... ending with Julia's death. I guess I've been just as disconnected since her death as I was before I met her. It took this case -- with the investigation of Reverend McIntyre's artifacts -- to make me realize it.

But I know now that I do have a purpose in life ... no matter what it might be ... and so I'll continue to use whatever strength I have to do my job the best I can. I will try to never let my friends down and always be there for them ... just like they were there for me today!

I also realize that, without a little "divine intervention" on this case ... I wouldn't be here. Wherever Monica is now, I hope she knows how grateful I am ... and that I'll never forget what she taught me!

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

From her unseen place beside Nick, Monica smiled and sighed. "I know, Nick," she whispered. "I know!" She wished she could spend more time with him ... to help erase the pain -- and demons -- she knew still lived inside. But, the words he had written just now in his Journal encouraged her ... for she knew that, so long as he never forgot that God loved him, he would always have the courage and strength to survive!

The End

I would like to acknowledge and thank all those behind the two series incorporated in this fanfic: Touched By An Angel and Poltergeist: The Legacy. Thanks especially to all my beta readers (and regular readers!) for their constant encouragement and inspiration! And, I would like to once again thank Clarianna for the maintenance and dedication she gives to this website and the fanfic library!