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The Isis Incarnate
|by Annie S. O'Neill|
|...continued from the
"Now you can either raise my bet or call." he explained, retrieving his hand.
"Then I call, I guess." Nick nodded, concealing a smile. "Who shows first?"
"What's the harm?" Nick mumbled, throwing his cards down face-up. He grinned in satisfaction. "Three sevens." Nikara's frown grew at a phenomenal rate, and Nick began to gather the chips. The next thing he felt was her hand slamming down on top of his.
"Not so fast," she warned, dropping her cards atop the pile. "Full boat, jacks over fives." she moved around a few chips with her fingers. "That's fifty bucks you owe me, Nickie." his jaw dropped.
"You hustled me." he stated, dumbfounded.
"Yup," she replied plainly, extending her palm face up. They heard a chuckle from the far end of the badly lit room. Derek's body was outlined in the illuminated doorway. He shook his head as he turned the lights up all the way. Nikara rose from her seat as Nick began to clean up the failed game. He brushed by the two as he quickly exited the room.
"You should see her play chess," Derek called after him. Nick hollered something in reply, but neither were listening. "That wasn't really nice," Derek whispered to the Egyptian woman. She rolled her eyes.
"Yeah," she agreed, moving closer to the precept. "But now I'm fifty bucks richer." The ringing of the phone sliced through the silence, but Derek and Nikara chose to ignore it.
"Nick can get it," Derek muttered. Their lips met slowly, and at the same instant, Nick burst back into the room. They parted, cheeks flushing with embarrassment.
"Derek, it's Frank." he told him breathlessly. Derek's embarrassed facade disappeared and was replaced by one of curiosity and concern.
"Did he find anything for us?" Derek asked.
"I think so," Nick replied, nodding. Derek left Nikara's side and rushed over to the waiting phone. She moved over closer to Nick.
"Who's Frank?" she muttered quietly in his ear.
"He's a detective in the San Francisco PD." Nick answered, his voice equally as low. "He usually calls when they find something normal evidence doesn't quite explain."
"Frank!" Derek exclaimed into the receiver. "Is everything alright?"
"Well," Det. Frank Karmack's voice sounded filtered in Derek's ear. "Alright is a matter of opinion."
"What's going on?" Derek asked, turning his back on the other two, indicating the seriousness of the call. Nick and Nikara exchanged worried glances.
"I really can't describe it, Derek," Karmack replied. "You need to see it for yourself."
"OK," Derek agreed slowly. "Where are you?" he made a few affirmative grunts before saying good-bye and hanging up the phone. He turned sharply on his heel. Staring straight at Nick, he was all business now. "Find Alex and Rachel. We've got something." the young man nodded and left the room. Derek looked to Nikara.
"You gotta go?" she asked, already knowing the answer to the question. He shook his head in response.
"Do you want to come?" he posed.
"Oh, and miss a chance to stay in this big, creepy house for a few hours by myself? I better not," she drolled out sarcastically.
"Now is not the time for jokes." Derek told her, his tone serious.
"Yeah, I'm coming," she fired back, startled by Derek's quick mood swing.
* * *
The team finally arrived at their destination: an alleyway in the middle of San Francisco. The alley was usually dark and poorly lit, but now it was engulfed by the reds, whites, and blues of police cars and the flashes of the photographers from the local papers. Battling their way through a sea of curious spectators and anxious journalists, the five Legacy members made it to the barrier of bright yellow police tape. A young cop stepped in front of them as they tried to go under the barrier. "Frank!" Derek called, desperately trying to make his voice audible over the sirens, questions, and general murmuring from the crowd.
Frank Karmack was conversing with a medical examiner when he heard his name called from the alley's entrance. He turned his head to see Derek Rayne arguing with the rookie the force just hired. Karmack shook his head, excused himself from the examiner, and rushed over to the hotspot. "It's alright, Officer Decker. They have special clearance."
"By who, sir?" Decker asked.
"Me, son." Karmack replied forcefully. The young agent backed off, as Karmack held the tape up so the group could cross under. "Sorry about that," he whispered loudly in Derek's ear.
"Don't worry about it," he assured him. Derek placed his arm gently on Nikara's back, and forced her over between him and Karmack. "This is Nikara Lawson. She's from our 'department' in Cairo." Karmack nodded knowingly.
"Pleased," he rushed, shaking her hand. "That's where the victim is from." he told them. He began to move toward the back of the alley, where an ambulance was waiting with open doors. A swarm of EMTs were gathered on the ground against the wall.
"What happened?" Nick asked.
"Well, we got the call from a couple... I think they're over there somewhere..." he looked around the alley. "Anyway, they heard someone scream, found him lying there, and called us from a phone the next block over." he paused again, looking at Nikara. "Did he say your name was Nikara?" she nodded. "Do people call you Niki?" she looked at him strangely.
"Not if they have a death wish." she replied.
"It's funny you put it that way," Karmack commented. "I think you better look at this." the medical examiners began to clear away from their huddle on the ground, Nikara gasped and buried herself in Derek's arms. He caressed her back gently in support as his gaze remained locked on the scene in front of him. An eye stared right back; a deep red eye of Ra, it's outline oozing slowly down the cracks and crevices of the old wall. Below, a simple word was written in sloppy writing: Niki.
"What is that?" Alex breathed in from behind him. Derek did not turn when he offered his response.
"Blood." the word made the young researcher shiver. Nikara slowly lifted her head from Derek's shoulder. She looked up at him, fear replete in her brown eyes.
"It's the vision," she mumbled. Derek nodded as Karmack raised an eyebrow. He opened his mouth to speak, but Derek silenced him with a quick shake of his head. Nikara's stare shifted from the painting on the wall to the ground below. The EMTs were clearing away, revealing a pale body of a young man on a gurney. Tears began to swell in Nikara's eyes as she realized the body belonged to Scott O'Brien. Rivulets of blood streamed down his face, chest, and soaked the blankets that covered him. His eyes were rolled back into his skull. O'Brien groaned loudly as the EMTs raised the gurney.
"Oh my God," Rachel muttered. "He's still alive."
"His name is... Scott O'Brien. You know him?" Karmack asked. Derek nodded gently, tightening his embrace on the frightened woman in his arms.
"He was an aide for Benjamin Yaver. He leads our 'department' in Cairo." Derek replied.
"Any idea where this Ben Yaver is?" Karmack posed. Derek flipped his phone out of his pocket and handed it to Alex.
"Check the hotel," he ordered, as he passed Nikara into Nick's waiting arms. Alex began pressing numbers on the phone, walking off into a quieter corner of the alley. Nick ran his fingers through Nikara's hair, doing his best to comfort her and keep her eyes away from the man in front of them. Scott's groans became louder as Derek and Rachel got closer. The scrawny man's head turned to greet the approaching doctors.
"Dr. Rayne..." he croaked out. "Yaver..." his voice was broken and garbled from swallowing his own blood.
"What?" Derek asked, kneeling down beside the gurney. Rachel, instead of listening, began to converse with an EMT. "Did he do this to you?" Scott did his best to nod.
"Sacrifice..." he drew out.
"Sacrifice for what?" Derek inquired. Scott began to groan and convulse. "Scott, talk to me."
"I was sacrificed..." Scott responded. "For Seth..."
"Seth?" Karmack's voice asked from behind Derek. "Who's Seth?"
"Beware, Dr. Rayne. They call on Seth... You... Niki... grave dan..." convulsing violently, Scott cut off his words before he finished them. The EMTs finished their conversations with Rachel, and were instantly at O'Brien's side.
"Alright," one said. "We gotta get him to the hospital." he turned to Rachel. "Would you care to join us?" She looked to the Dutchman, who nodded affirmatively. Rachel silently followed the EMTs as they loaded the aide into the ambulance. Derek rose and jogged back over to Nick and Nikara, with Frank close behind.
"Derek?" he called. "Who's Seth?" Derek stopped and turned on his heel, stopping the detective in his tracks.
"Frank, we'll take this from here." he told him confidently.
"Derek, I can't let you do that." Karmack said.
"Trust me, Frank." Derek replied, staring right into his friend's eyes. Karmack nodded, and headed back for a group of officers a few feet away. Nikara left Nick's arms as Derek approached.
"We should get you home," Derek mumbled gently to Nikara, kissing her softly on the cheek. Alex ran up from her corner.
"Yaver checked out hours ago. They have no idea where he went." she stated. Handing Derek back his phone, he motioned for them to follow him. They left minutes later.
* * *
"So, what did he tell you, Derek?" Nick asked as they stormed into the control room of the mansion.
"He said something about Seth." Derek replied. Nikara's eyes and ears perked up from a seat in the corner.
"Seth?" she repeated, surprised.
"Who?" Nick questioned, sliding into a chair.
"He was an Egyptian god," Nikara uttered.
"What kind of god?" Alex asked, an uneasy feeling in her stomach.
"The very nasty kind." Nikara responded. Derek knelt down beside her and squeezed her hand. He mumbled a question softly, and she nodded loosely. Nick and Alex exchanged worried glances.
"Would you care to elaborate?" Nick probed.
" According to the myths, he was Osiris' brother," Nikara explained quietly. "Osiris was the pharaoh of Egypt. Seth hated him. So he killed him, nailed his sarcophagus shut, and sent it down the Nile. When Isis, Osiris' wife, found him, she hid his body in some weeds. Then Seth found the body of his brother, he cut it up and spread the pieces all over the kingdom."
"No brotherly dislike there," Nick commented.
"No kidding. Isis searched for the remains of her dead husband, and then reconstructed them with the help of Ra. Afterward, Ra gave Osiris eternal life, and made him the god of the Dead." Nikara finished. "Needless to say, Seth is not someone you want to deal with."
"But why would they call on his spirit?" Derek queried. Nikara looked at him with sorry eyes.
"I don't know." silence followed her words.
"Now what?" Alex asked. Derek checked his watch.
"It's late," he said. "I think we all better get some sleep." Nodding, Nick and Alex walked out of the control room. Nikara remained in her chair, Derek still at her side. "Why would they call on his spirit?" he asked again, his voice lower and more serious.
"Derek, I don't know, OK? I just don't know." she pleaded. "But if Sekhmet and Seth are in this together, we're into some deep shit."
Derek paused before returning his coffee to the table below, allowing himself to enjoy the sensation of the searing liquid slowly moving down his throat and disappearing into his stomach. About to take in more, he stopped as Nikara staggered into the room. Still clad in her pajamas, she was completely disheveled. Her long black hair hung all about her tired face. Through the strands of hair, her large brown eyes were bloodshot and half-open. She slumped down into a chair near Derek at the table. Reaching out for the coffee pot, Derek grabbed it before her trembling hand got the chance. He poured it quickly and handed it to her as she sat staring at the table top. "I suppose," he began, refilling his own mug, "that it's safe to assume that you did not sleep well." The mass of black hair turned slowly to face him, then returned to it's original position. "Is it anything you want to talk about?" he asked gently. The hair blob shook negatively in response.
"I don't know, Derek," she said, rubbing her eyes with her hands. "It was like, every time I closed my eyes, there was Scott."
"Do you think it was a vision?" Derek probed.
"Honestly? At this point, I don't know or care." she replied, wiping the hair away from her face in one graceful motion. "I just want this whole thing to be over. I mean, seriously Derek. Why the hell won't he just leave me alone?"
"Who, Yaver? I wish I could say," Derek told her. "He is definitely serving a darker purpose."
"Well, one thing's for damn sure." Nikara mumbled from inside her coffee mug.
"What's that?" he responded.
"It can't get much worse, right?" she half-stated, half-asked.
"I'm afraid it can," he said regretfully.
"I'm going to pretend I didn't hear you say that, Derek. I was just hearing things because I'm exhausted and didn't sleep at all last night." Nikara said flatly. Derek shook his head.
"I just got off the phone with William Sloan about ten minutes ago. He's leaving at some point today, and will be here tomorrow morning." Derek replied. "He didn't say exactly why he was coming, but I can venture what will be a few accurate guesses."
"Do you think he believes Yaver?" she asked, concern and fear in her voice.
"Well, I do know that I've known Sloan a lot longer than Yaver has. But unless I can prove to him why I can't return you to the Cairo house, that won't make any difference." Derek said. "Sloan and I have had enough run-ins that he doesn't take it too kindly when I just say 'Trust me' and slam the door in his face."
"Or hang up on him," Nikara offered. When Derek didn't respond, she continued. "So, how do we prove to Sloan that Yaver turned evil?"
"Well, Nick and Alex are trying to access the files at the Cairo House. They were wondering if you could lend them a hand."
"I don't know what I'll be able to do. We weren't allowed access to the computers at the House, unless we were entering in new data, and then we had guards over us the whole time to make sure we weren't doing anything we weren't supposed to." Nikara explained as she and Derek headed for the holographic entrance to the control room. Alex was seated quietly at a computer terminal, pounding keys on the keyboard. Nick stood in front of the large screen on the wall, watching a blown up versions of Alex's hacking.
"Morning," Nick offered to the new arrivals. He looked to Nikara. "You had trouble sleeping too, huh?"
"It was not the most pleasant nights of my life, no." Nikara responded. Derek crossed the room and began to peek over Alex's shoulder.
"How's it coming?" Derek asked.
"Slow." Alex huffed in frustration. "I managed to get my way into Yaver's personal computer, but there's one file that I can't retrieve..." she hit a few buttons and brought it up on the wall's monitor.
"Any ideas?" Derek posed to Nikara. She stared at the screen thoughtfully for a few moments.
"It might be the files from the temple. We were never allowed to see the artifacts from there." she guessed.
"What temple?" Alex asked.
"A temple I found immediately before Yaver came into power. He left his tent one night, then the next morning everyone, including myself, were shipped back to the House." she explained.
"What was in there?" Nick asked.
"That's just the thing. He personally cataloged all the artifacts inside. He never showed us anything." Nikara told them. "The researchers all knew that he kept the files on his PC, but we never dared to try and get them. Rumors were rampant that he had them under tighter security than us, but nobody could ever prove it."
"Any chance what is in those files deals with what O'Brien told us last night?" Nick asked.
"Could be. There was never anything at the house that linked Sekhmet to Seth. Or anything on Sekhmet, for that matter." Nikara replied, joining Derek and Alex.
"Have you tried running de-code programs?" Derek asked. Alex gave him a sarcastic glance.
"Of course, but nothing's working." she spat back.
"I wouldn't count on any one code working." Nikara told her. "Yaver probably has a whole load of them, maybe even mixed them up. Try running a few at a time." Alex began to enter a few commands, and symbols, numbers, and letters began to fly on the screen.
"Well, this may take a while," Alex sighed. "It's working, but it's definitely buried under a lot."
"Can you determine exactly how long?" Derek inquired.
"Nope." Alex replied. "Could be minutes, hours, days..."
"Have you heard from Rachel?" Nikara asked, changing the subject.
"Not yet," Nick replied.
"I'm heading over there," Derek said. "Nick, why don't you and Nikara stay here and monitor the progress of the program. Alex, I'm sure that Rachel would love a female companion."
"Sure," Alex agreed. Nick nodded from his position at the screen as Derek and Alex left the room.
* * *
Derek and Alex found Rachel falling asleep in a chair next to O'Brien's bed. The EKG beeped steadily as the respirator rose up and down with an eerie hiss. "Rachel?" Derek whispered gently in her ear. Rachel snapped awake, startled. She relaxed when she saw the Dutch precept kneeling beside her. "Good morning." Rachel looked at him strangely.
"It's morning already?" she asked in disbelief. She looked out of the window. "Oh my goodness. It feels like I just fell asleep 20 minutes ago."
"You did," a nurse said, entering the room. She made a few adjustments on the IV connected to O'Brien's arm, and headed for the door. "Would you care for some breakfast, Dr. Corrigan?" she asked. Rachel nodded. "I'll have someone bring up a tray for you."
"Thank you," Rachel replied, shifting her position in the chair. She groaned loudly.
"How is he?" Alex questioned.
"Oh, uh, well, he's been in and out of consciousness all night. Sometimes he talks, just mumbles things I can't make out. He's stable now; the doctors said if he made it through the night, then he might survive this." Rachel informed them, standing to massage her sore back.
"About how long does he stay awake?" Derek asked.
"Only for a few minutes. I try to talk to him, but he either doesn't understand or he doesn't want to respond." Rachel replied.
"I'd be willing to bet it's the latter," Derek muttered. "Perhaps..." he was cut off by groans from the nearby bed.
"He's waking up again," Rachel stated. Derek was instantly at the edge of the bed.
"Scott?" Derek asked. O'Brien's eyes fluttered as he groaned again. After a few long minutes, he focused on the man by his feet.
"Dr. Rayne..." his voice whispered softly. "Danger...."
"Yes, you told me before." Derek told him. "I am in danger from Yaver and Seth."
"You and Niki... danger..." he dragged out.
"But why?" Derek pushed.
"Derek, don't push it," Rachel advised.
"Beware the alliance..." O'Brien whispered, his voice barely audible over the noises of the machinery. "Danger...."
"Now Scott, listen to me," Derek ordered. "Last night you said Yaver and Sekhmet were going to call on the spirit of Seth."
"Danger... beware...." O'Brien garbled. Derek took that as an agreement and continued.
"Why are they calling on his spirit?" he asked forcefully.
"Terrible danger... sacrifice..." O'Brien responded. "The prophecy..."
"What prophecy?" Derek asked.
"Danger..." O'Brien repeated.
"Scott, what prophecy?" Derek demanded. O'Brien began to toss in his bed. "Dammit, what prophecy?!" Derek nearly yelled. O'Brien's eyes began to close as Derek opened his mouth again.
"Derek..." Rachel said warningly. "He's been doing this all night. Let him rest. He can tell you more later." Derek watched hopelessly as O'Brien lapsed into unconsciousness.
* * *
Nikara's ears perked up as she heard the holographic wall give way. Someone was coming. "Any progress?" the new arrival asked. She relaxed when she realized the voice belonged to Nick.
"I think we're past his first layer of coding." Nikara replied, still hunched over the computer. Nick sauntered over to her, placing a glass of water near her elbow. As she looked over, he took her hand and put some pills in it. "Ah... asprin. God's greatest invention." she popped them in her mouth and took a quick sip of water. "These computers really give you a headache."
"Yeah, that's why I let Alex do most of the computer work." Nick commented. "She's developed some kind of natural immunity..." he paused. "So we're only past one layer? That only took all day."
"Yeah, and I'd expect it to be longer as we go along. I think there are at least three more layers under here." Nikara told him. Nick sighed.
"I just got off the phone with Derek. He's on his way back from the hospital He'll be here in a few minutes." he said. "Sounds like O'Brien didn't give him a lot."
"Now there's a big surprise." Nikara muttered.
"How long have you known him?" Nick asked.
"Um... he was brought in a few months before Yaver came to power. He was never really accepted by the other researchers in the house. Ended up being on the receiving end of many jokes." Nikara answered, clicking the mouse around to begin running a new decode program. "I tried to talk to him a few times. He usually carried conversation for a few moments, then found some excuse to leave. After he was promoted, I never really saw him."
"What exactly did he do?" Nick queried.
"He's Yaver's personal aide." Nikara replied. Leaning back in her chair, her expression became confused and puzzled. "I wonder why Yaver would turn on him like that."
"Well, if he's in league with them spirits you told us about last night, that would be a pretty good explanation." Nick told her. "Trust me. You wouldn't believe some of the stuff they've made Derek do."
"Did Derek ever sacrifice a man and then wipe his blood over the wall?" Nikara spat.
"Thankfully, no." Nick replied. Grinning, he paused. "Well, at least not yet. Give him time."
"That's what I'm afraid of," Nikara said, returning Nick's smile.
"Actually, I had that scheduled for tomorrow night, if you two would care to join me." Derek said from the far end of the control room.
"Funny, Derek." Nikara hissed from the computer.
"How's the victim?" Nick asked.
"He's stable. In and out of unconsciousness." Derek replied. "He woke up long enough to tell me something new."
"Really?" Nikara asked. "What?"
"Well, nothing definite. He mentioned something about a prophecy." Derek answered.
"Prophecy?" Nick asked. "What kind of prophecy?"
"I don't know. He was barely awake when he told me that. Went back under before he could elaborate." Derek explained.
"Is Rachel doing OK?" Nick asked.
"Yes. Alex is staying with her." he said. "They're going to call if they find out anything else."
"Derek," Nick said plainly, indicating for the Dutchman to join him in a corner of the control room. He lowered his voice. "Think Yaver might crash the party?" Nick posed, concerned for the safety of his female colleagues.
"It's conceivable," Derek agreed. "Scott has not been sacrificed completely. As long as he's still alive, Yaver's got a job to finish."
"You think I should go and keep an eye on them?" Nick offered. "In case he shows up?" Derek nodded. He whispered a few instructions to the ex-SEAL before he exited. He turned to Nikara.
"Nick is going to the hospital." Derek told her.
"That's probably wise," she concurred, tapping the keyboard lightly. "He was getting cabin fever."
"How about you?" Derek's voice asked from behind her. She jumped a bit, surprised he had crossed the chamber so fast.
"I'm fine," she responded. "Just the mere possibility of seeing what was in my temple is enough to keep me in front of this screen for months." She felt Derek kiss the top of her head.
"For your sake, I hope it doesn't take that long."
* * *
Sleep continued to plague the eyes of Derek Rayne. The pen in his hand began to drift aimlessly across the page of the Dutch precept's journal. Wiping his eyes with the back of his hand, Derek sighed to himself at the random lines across his clean script made by the wandering writing tool. He slammed his journal shut and looked at the clock to his left on the desk. It was just past eleven thirty. Rising from his chair, he remembered Nikara still had not checked in with him before going to bed, as he specifically instructed her to do. Staggering from fatigue, Derek made his way to the holographic wall and the secret control room. He found Nikara still at her post in front of the computer, nearly half asleep herself. "Do you have any idea what time it is?" he asked, his voice low, rash, and thick with his European accent.
"Yes." Nikara replied robotically, still tapping keys on the console in front of her.
"Don't you think the computer can handle itself for a few hours? You need to sleep." Derek told her. She shrugged.
"I'd feel a lot better if you went to bed." Derek said.
"OK." she replied, still remaining at her post. Derek shook his head, knowing he was fighting a losing battle.
"Nikara..." he started.
"Derek, I just feel safer awake." Nikara said.
"Please excuse me for sounding insensitive, but if Yaver's going to come after you, he'll do it regardless if you're asleep or awake." Derek mumbled.
"Yeah, but if I'm awake, I can fight back." she countered. Derek again decided to give up.
"Has the de-code gotten any farther?" he asked. She nodded.
"It cracked another layer just before you came in. I think there's two more left, but I can't be positive." she paused. "Did you hear from Nick?"
"Scott hasn't regained consciousness yet." Derek said. "I'll take you to see him tomorrow morning. Sloan will want to see him, as well."
"How about you and I leave before he gets here?" she asked, playfully leaning back to look at Derek standing behind her.
"You know we can't do that." Nikara picked herself back up. Derek slowly swiveled her chair around to face him. He rested his hands on either arm and looked her straight in the eyes. "Promise me you'll go to sleep soon." She looked at him helplessly.
"I can't, Derek." she confessed.
"Why not?" he asked. She looked at the floor, her face with an ashamed hue, before responding.
"I'm scared." Derek looked at her with pitiful eyes. He couldn't blame her; she had every right to be scared out of her wits.
"Alright," he said softly. He grabbed a nearby chair and pulled it noisily to Nikara's computer terminal. Sitting down, he took her hand in a comforting squeeze. Nikara stared at the bond for a moment, then returned her line of vision to the screen, resuming her tiresome task.
William Sloan waited patiently inside the helicopter for the pilot to exit and open the door. Through the plexiglass windows, he saw Derek Rayne standing diligently near the landing pad. The pilot flung open the doors quickly, letting the wind generated by the still moving blades rush against Sloan's face. Sloan unbuckled his safety belt and exited the contraption speedily. He jogged over to the San Francisco precept. Turning, the two men watched as the helicopter took off and headed for the mainland. "Pleasant flight?" Derek asked.
"Not particularly. We hit some turbulence at about two thirty in the morning." Sloan responded. They turned and headed for the castle.
"Then the curse worked," Derek joked. Sloan cast him a disapproving stare.
"Derek, I want to get right down to business, here." he told him sternly. Derek didn't respond, just held the door open for the Legacy leader. "First of all, what is the condition of Mr. O'Brien?"
"I haven't heard from Rachel since last night, but it was nothing new since we last spoke," Derek replied. "Nikara is still a bit shaken up. She hasn't slept since it happened." When Sloan raised a suspicious eyebrow, Derek quickly added "She's been working on some records we are in the process of retrieving from the Cairo House."
"They sent files?" Sloan asked.
"Not exactly. Alex managed to 'access' Yaver's personal computer." Derek said.
"Have you found Yaver yet?" Sloan inquired. Derek shook his head. "How certain are you he did this to Mr. O'Brien?"
"Scott himself told me." Derek answered. "I hope now you at least have an idea about why I wouldn't give Nikara back to Yaver."
"Where is she?" Sloan demanded.
"You didn't answer my question." Derek stated matter-of-factly.
"Where is she?" Sloan demanded again. Not wanting yet another fight with his superior, Derek grudgingly yielded to Sloan's authority.
"She's in the control room." Derek informed him. Sloan looked at him intently; he obviously wanted to go now. Derek solemnly led the way, Sloan close behind him. The two men walked in silence for a moment, until Sloan's voice pierced the tension in the air.
"Derek do you understand why I'm here?" the elder asked. "It's not because I don't believe you; I do; but the Ruling Council wants me to get the entire story before we make a final decision."
"And how is the Ruling Council looking on this issue?" Derek wanted to know.
"Derek, you know that's classified information right now." Sloan replied simply. "I can tell you that we have..." he paused mid-sentence for the cornea scan at the holographic wall. He stepped through the imagery and continued. "... had suspicions about the Cairo House, and that this..."
"Then why haven't you done anything?" a scratchy, female voice fired from across the room. Sloan directed his gaze away from Derek, who wasn't really listening, to the slender woman perched in a chair in front of a computer. She stared at him with a look of distrust in her eyes.
"They were merely suspicions and unsupported claims from some other houses in North Africa. We never had any solid reason to..." Sloan once again was cut off by the angered Egyptian.
"You never felt that six people dying in half has many months isn't grounds for some investigation?" Nikara spat. Derek struggled to keep from laughing, although a few chuckles managed to escape his lips. Nikara was holding her own quite well against the seasoned debater. She stared at him with a look that made guilt poisoned Derek's body. "I'm glad you find this amusing, Derek."
"Sorry," Derek quickly uttered.
Not wanted to get roped into another argument defending the Ruling Council, Sloan changed the subject. "You do realize, Ms. Lawson, you have some explaining to do." her heart stopped out of sheer anger.
"I?!" she laughed in disbelief, "I?! I have some explaining to do? Need I remind..."
"Don't raise your voice with me," Sloan commanded, his own voice becoming louder with each word. "Let me remind you that I am your superior..."
"She's a Legacy refugee for Christ's sake, William. Do you really think that she respects authority?"
"She seems to respect you," Sloan countered.
"I respect Derek because..."
"Don't finish that," a new voice behind them said. Nikara looked passed Sloan to find Nick and Alex standing there with amused looks on their faces. A relieved look spread on Derek's pace; finally, there was a distraction. "Nikara, honey, when are you going to learn not to bite the head off the Boss-man the minute you meet him?" Nick finished.
"It's alright, Nick," Sloan assured the young man.
"Like hell," Nikara muttered under her breath.
"How is Scott?" Derek asked quickly. Nick shook his head as Alex joined Nikara at the computer terminal.
"The guy's still sleeping like a baby. He woke up for about five minutes early this morning, but he just said a bunch of gibberish." he replied, yawning. "Now, if you gentlemen will excuse me, there's a shower upstairs with my name on it."
Derek nodded. "Thanks, Nick," he said crisply. He looked over to Alex. "Alex, why don't you go rest up? I'm sure Nikara can handle things a little while longer." Alex smiled and shook her head.
"I'm fine, Derek," she replied.
"Then Nikara..." Derek began.
"No," she said flatly.
"But..." Derek protested.
"No." Nikara repeated.
"Derek?" Sloan piped up. "A word in private, please?" the precept looked over to Nikara.
"We'll be in my office," he told her. Nikara and Alex's eyes were transfixed on the screen, so Derek's only response was a lazy wave of their hands.
"It broke two more levels since last night?" Derek could hear Alex asking as he and Sloan exited the control room. Once the two men were far enough away from the control room, Derek grabbed Sloan by the shoulder, forcing him to stop in his tracks.
"What's going on here, William?" he hissed loudly.
"What do you mean?" Sloan asked innocently.
"You know very well what I mean. First you tell me you don't believe me and threaten to bring me up before the Ruling Council. Then you tell me you believe me. Then you have a shouting match with the very thing I'm trying to protect?" Derek nearly yelled. "Excuse me, but something doesn't seem quite right here." He and Sloan stared eachother down for a moment before Sloan's expression softened.
"Derek," he started slowly. "To be perfectly honest, the Ruling Council has no idea on what's happening right now."
"I beg your pardon?" Derek stated.
"Up until a few months ago, Ben Yaver was a fine precept," Sloan explained. "Lately, his behavior has begun to be less and less...." he searched for the right word. "... appropriate. The Ruling Council has wanted to investigate, but the five years of spotless service as a precept outweighs the six months of questionability."
"What happens now?" Derek questioned.
"Well," Sloan thought about his answer carefully. "If your suspicions about Yaver are correct, the Ruling Council will take the appropriate actions," he paused, watching Derek nod. He knew just what Sloan meant by 'appropriate actions'. "And if not, Nikara will probably be brought before us. Maybe you, too." Derek regarded Sloan for a moment, let out a solemn sigh, and walked away.
* * *
Yaver cursed as the traffic light turned it's vibrant red. The delay had just added to his bad mood; he did not want to sacrifice O'Brien, although it greatly displeased him that he had not died. In fact, he was alive in the hospital... with one of Derek Rayne's colleagues watching him. Yaver was not a content man, as he continued to swear to thin air.
"My servant will be silent," Sekhmet's voice filled the rented Mercedes. Jumping, Yaver failed to notice the light had changed to green. A few cars behind him began to honk as he finally regained himself and stepped on the gas.
"Are you in need of me, my Goddess?" he asked obediently. He saw Sekhmet's feline image in the rear-view mirror.
"My servant, we must seek Rayne out." she ordered.
"Now?" Yaver said, half-complaining. The image of Sekhmet began to dissipate, but not before she made her last command.
"Yes, my servant. We will take the Isis incarnate this night."
* * *
(later that evening)
Nick and Alex jogged swiftly down the corridor, heading for their precept's office. Lunging for the doorknob, Nick turned and grinned at his partner. "Beat ya," he bragged. He knocked on the Dutchman's door, and opened it without waiting to hear a response. "Derek, we got it!" he exclaimed, waving around a fistfull of papers.
"Got what?" Sloan asked from in front of Derek's desk.
"The decryption programs broke Yaver's code about five minutes ago." Alex told them. Eyes widening, Derek stared at the papers in Nick's hands.
"Where is Nikara?" he suddenly asked.
"We had a bit of a coup," Nick explained with a small laugh. "Alex and I kicked her out of the control room. She's taking a nap."
"What did you find?" Sloan demanded, not enjoying the digression from this need-to-know information.
"Well, there was something in that temple that got to Yaver." Alex said, her voice hinting the news was definately not to Nikara's benefit.
"Yeah," Nick chimed in. "The temple was built to worship a goddess called Sekhmet. She's about as nice as that Seth character. And apparently, the hieroglyphics on the temple walls spelled out a little love-fling between 'em."
"That, of course, came crashing to a halt when Isis and Ra defeated Seth." Alex put in.
"But the fun ain't over, kiddies," Nick continued sarcastically. "This Sekhmet wasn't too happy when her boy-toy fell."
"Understandable," Derek observed.
"According to what we found in Yaver's computer, Sekhmet used all of her power to make one last prophecy." Alex said. "Her prophecy was that one day, she and her lost love will rise again."
"Except this wouldn't be your average rising," Nick stated. "The way it was written made it a sort of poetic justice. Sekhmet would live within the body of Isis' incarnate, with Seth's spirit inhabiting the body of a chosen male."
"We're guessing that when he was in the temple, Yaver had contact with the spirit of Sekhmet, who talked him into helping her." Alex finished. Derek took a few moments to digest the information.
"Well," he drew out. "It's obvious that Yaver is the chosen male..."
"That just leaves the identity of the Isis incarnate," Sloan interrupted. He appeared to be in deep thought for a brief second. "If she's just like Isis, she's probably rather courageous."
"Not to mention intelligent," Alex contributed, sharing a glance with Nick, who nodded in agreement. They both knew...
"I'd bet the house she's prettier than Hell," he looked to Derek, who sat silently behind his desk with a disturbed look on his face. Closing his hazel eyes, he needed to use all of his willpower to say his next word.
"Nikara." the office was wordless. Finally, Derek's eyes opened, and he glared directly at Sloan. "You wanted your proof?" he asked defiantly. "There you go." as Sloan gazed from Derek to Alex and back again, Derek rose and began to issue commands to his young friends. "From now on, I want her in the presence of one of us until this whole situation is over with. Constant supervision. Am I clear?"
"Sure thing, Boss." Nick replied coolly, wondering how much of Derek's personal emotions were coming into play.
"Nick, watch her tonight. Take her out somewhere. Clubbing.... the pier... whatever." Derek ordered. When Nick nodded, he continued. "I'll take tomorrow morning, Alex, tomorrow afternoon."
"OK," Alex agreed.
"Right now, Alex, take Sloan and go to the hospital and tell Rachel." Derek commanded. Alex nodded and left the room with Sloan close behind. Letting out a frustrated sigh, Derek slumped back into his leather chair. He covered his eyes with his hand as Nick's heart filled with sympathy.
"Don't worry, Derek," he assured him, "I'll keep her safe."
* * *
(a few hours later)
Once again, it was nearing midnight, and once again, Derek Rayne was still awake. He had finished his journal hours ago; he was awake out of fear. He just wanted to make sure Nikara made it home safely. Yawning, Derek rose from his desk. Spending most of the night in there, he was beginning to hear the call of the bedroom. He staggered out of the office, his eyes half-open. As he walked down the hall, he didn't take notice to the growing shadow behind him. Advancing down the empty corridor, Derek could've sworn he heard footsteps that were not his own. Attributing the noises to fatigue, Derek never stopped and looked back, although he did quicken his step. It wasn't until Derek had almost reached his bedroom that he had learned he should've paid closer attention to his sixth sense, which had always been so reliable in the past. "I suppose I should offer you a 'Congratulations', Dr. Rayne," a deep voice behind him stated. Turning slowly, Derek saw Yaver standing there with a very serious tone on his middle-aged face.
"Yaver?" Derek asked, not believing his sleepy eyes. "How did you get past the security systems?"
"I have friends in high places," Yaver replied. "As I was saying Dr. Rayne, congratulations."
"Congratulations?" Derek echoed.
"Yes, Dr. Rayne." Yaver said. "Be honored. Sekhmet has selected you to carry the spirit of the immortal Seth."
"Wha..." Derek didn't have time to finish the word. As his lips parted, he felt an evil wave rush towards him. Derek felt the full brunt of the force; it knocked him over backwards. The last thing he heard was his head hitting the hardwood floor before he passed out.
* * *
A small voice in Derek's head told him he should be in a great deal of pain when he woke up. But it was a small voice, and nothing more. He felt rejuvenated. He felt alive. He felt strong.
He felt evil.
And he liked it.
"Derek?" he heard a voice call from downstairs. He noticed Yaver begin to shift about from the shadows. "Derek? I'm home. It's just us tonight, 'cause Nick went over to the hospital...." Yaver and Derek exchanged sinister glances.
The Isis incarnate had arrived.
* * *
There was also a small voice in Scott O'Brien's head. Except this voice was screaming for him to wake up. He waged a mental verbal battle in his mind. He wanted to get up. He wanted to open his eyes. He wanted to talk. He had to. He had to warn...
"Dr. Rayne!" the comatose Egyptian suddenly called out. Rachel, Sloan, and Alex stopped their conversation and stared in surprise. "Dr. Rayne!" O'Brien yelled again. His dry eyes opened slowly. That blond woman was looming over him... again.
"Shhh," she cooed. "Take it easy."
"Dr. Rayne..." O'Brien repeated. "Danger..."
"What did he say?" O'Brien heard a ma ask. As the voice's owner stepped into view, O'Brien immediately recognized him- William Sloan. He was definately in for it now.
"Dr. Rayne!" O'Brien was beginning to get angry he couldn't force himself to say more. He fought his sluggish body with all his power. "Dr. Rayne... is.... the... chosen.... one."
"Did he just say that Derek is the chosen one?" the African-American woman was back, too. She looked worried.
"Derek... chosen one..." O'Brien croaked out. The three looked at eachother with panicked expressions. The left his bedside as quickly as they had arrived. Bursting through the door, the team nearly trampled Nick.
"Whoa!" he exclaimed. "Where's the fire?" Alex frantically looked around and behind the ex-SEAL.
"Where's Nikara?" she asked.
"I dropped her off at the house." he replied. When he saw their terrified facades, he tried to allay their anxiety. "Don't worry... Derek's there. She'll be fine." Rachel grabbed his jacket sleeve and tugged him along as she ran. "What's going on?" he asked.
"I'll explain on the way. Let's go." Rachel replied quickly, hoping to God they wouldn't be too late.
"Derek?" Nikara continued to holler about the empty castle. Derek looked across his bedroom to Yaver, who still wore an evil smile.
"It is time," he said simply, rubbing his large palms together. Nodding, Derek rose and started off down the hallway. Nikara smiled when she saw him approaching.
"Did I wake you?" she asked, concerned. Nodding his head again, Derek slipped his arm around Nikara's back.
"Yes, but it's alright." Nikara gave him a strange look.
"You went to sleep in your clothes?" she asked. Derek swore to himself as he searched for an excuse.
"I forgot...?" he started, pausing for a second to watch her reaction. When her expression did not change, he added "I was just really tired."
"Oh." she seemed satisfied with that answer. "I'm like that, too, at times... what are you doing up so late?"
"I was worrying about you." he replied, with a sly smile on his face. He leaned down and kissed Nikara gently on her delicate mouth. She pulled back abruptly.
"About me?" she questioned, puzzled. "Why?"
"Because he was afraid I might find you," Yaver's voice carried ominously around the empty house. Nikara bent her upper body to the side, and saw Yaver standing there, arms crossed, and a hideously evil expression on his tan face.
"What?" Nikara whispered in surprise. "Derek, what's going on?"
"Just be quiet and don't resist. The time has come." Derek whispered gently into her ear. he turned her around in his arms until his chest was pressed up against her back. He pinned her arms behind her as Nikara began to squirm violently.
"Derek, what are you doing?" Nikara yelled, panicked and scared. "What's going on?" Yaver watched the entire process with gross fascination. Reaching into his coat pocket, he pulled out a damp cloth.
"You should be honored," he said, toying with the cloth in his hand. "It's not every woman that can say she's been sacrificed so that Sekhmet may live gain." Overcome with fear, Nikara attempted to break away from her captor, who tightened his grip every time she moved.
"Let me go! Derek?!" she pleaded. "What are you doing?" she cranned her neck far enough to look into his eyes. Her own filled with scared tears as she slowly realized that the man holding her was not the ma she had come to respect and love.
"Relax, my dear." Yaver cooed, approaching her. "Just relax." Nikara felt one of Derek's hands leave her back, but before she could try and escape, she felt it clamp shut on her throat.
"Hold still and comply or I will break your neck." Derek's words seared sharply into Nikara's ears. Knowing his strength, Nikara froze, still shivering. In the moment it took her to blink, Yaver had crossed the room.
"Just breathe deeply, Niki. And all will be well." he ordered, still playing with the small white cloth. Dizzying fumes began to emulate from the piece of fabric.
"Bullshit." Nikara spat, heart racing. A sharp look from Yaver was all it took for Derek to apply pressure to Nikara's neck. Before her astute mind could calculate what was happening, she felt Yaver's hand on the back of her head, and a wretched-smelling white cloth covering her nose and mouth.
She blacked out seconds later.
* * *
Nick cursed, hearing the tires to his Mustang squeal as he pulled into the house's driveway. He had hit the brakes far too hard, but he quickly dismissed it in the name of saving his friends. Seconds later, Alex and Rachel raced up the pavement in their respective cars. "Did you get an answer?" Nick called to Alex, who had been trying to reach the house on the cell phone.
"No," she said, her voice laden with frustration. "Nobody's picking up and the machine won't turn on."
"I hope we're not too late," Rachel muttered, following her colleagues into the house. As soon as they entered, they paired off and began to call out names.
"Derek?" Sloan yelled, heading for the library with Nick.
"Nikara," Nick shouted. "You still owe me a beer..."
"Nick!" Rachel's voice hollered from another room. As Nick and Sloan ran in, they saw Alex lasting solemnly in front of the basement door, Rachel near her side. "I think it's the Sight," Rachel concluded silently.
"What is it, sweetie?" Nick asked gently.
"The basement door," Alex pointed. The large oak door was shut tight. Nick looked at the young woman strangely.
"Yeah... it's closed." he stated.
"What did you see?" Sloan prodded.
"Derek and Ben Yaver..." she trailed off. "They took her downstairs."
"Nick?" Rachel began. "Are those ancient Egyptian artifacts still down there?"
"Which on-" he paused mid-word. He knew exactly which one Rachel was thinking about. The sacrificing table was still down there. He reached out slowly for the gold-plated doorknob. Grasping it firmly, he began to turn it while reaching behind his back to pull out his gun. With a small click, the door began to open.
* * *
Nikara didn't feel well when she finally came to. There was still a nauseating feeling in her stomach, and she also felt a bit dizzy. She didn't dare open her eyes yet; she could hear Derek and Yaver conversing somewhere close by. She felt cold metal on her wrists and ankles. In fact, her entire body felt cold. Opening her eyes slowly, she saw someone had changed her into the still grass-and-blood-stained white dress from dinner a few nights ago. AS she rolled her eyes from side to side, she could feel a heavy and poor make-up job. By her surroundings, she guessed she was in the basement. She had only seen it once, just after she had first arrived and Nick gave her a tour.
She looked over in the direction Derek and Yaver's voices were coming from. Both men were standing with their backs to her, clad only in loose-fitting white skirts. Only the backs of the gold chains they wore were visible. Their hair was wetted and slicked back. As the two men knelt in prayer, Nikara decided it was the right time to get out of there. As she tried to sit up, the cold feeling on her ankles and wrists turned to sharp pain. Her eyes widened at the horrid realization that she was chained to a table... the same table she recognized as a sacrificial table during the tour only a week earlier.
Derek and Yaver's ears perked up when they heard Nikara's chains clang against the stone altar. As they turned, they watched as Nikara continued to struggle against the shackles that bound her. They walked slowly to opposite sides of the table. Nikara stopped her quest long enough to look Derek right in the eyes. Normally a soft hazel, Derek's irises were glazed over with a steel gray. His expression was on the borderline of indifference and anger as he watched the Egyptian fight against her predicament without breaking her desperate stare. "Derek..." she begged, her tone soft and on the brink of tears. "Derek, let me go. If you feel anything for me, Derek, please let me go." The gray coating in the middle of Derek's eye began to swirl around, letting the original shade show through. He quickly slammed them shut, confusion spreading on his face. "That's it, Derek!" Nikara encouraged. "Fight it! Derek, I know you're in there Derek! Fight..."
"Derek!" Nikara was still pleading, rather futily by this point. Derek's eyes opened, still with their gray shading. Face filling with anger, Derek raised his hand and smacked the Egyptian woman across the face, sending her backward. Yaver made a soft clicking noise with his tongue in disapproval.
"There's no need to be violent," he scolded, watching a drop or two of blood ooze from the corner of Nikara's mouth. "Although she did quiet down." He heard a click coming from the top of the stairs. He lowered his voice drastically. "Did you hear that?" Derek perked his ears up to listen. Nikara tried to see where the noise originated from her position on the table. Realizing it was near the door, she again began to fight against her fetters.
"Nick?" she yelled. "Alex? Is that you?!" she paused briefly. "Help me!" her cries prompted another slap, from Yaver this time.
"Actually, I rather like your policy," he commented to Derek.
"Nikara?" they heard Nick yell from the top of the stairs. The clangs of four Legacy members echoed around the basement, as a purple haze began to form over Nikara. A pair of feline eyes stared down at the helpless woman from her smoky cover.
"You are mine," the haze seemed to say. Nikara's heart froze and she began to hyperventilate. The chains on the table began to rattle from the tremors her frightened body produced.
"Nikara!" Nick exclaimed as he dashed around the corner of the stairway. Rachel landed half a minute later, and stared at her friend in shocked surprise.
"Derek, what the hell are you doing?" she asked in disbelief. The over-taken Dutchman looked from his colleagues and stared at his evil partner.
"I think that the goddess should take care of our new guests." he said, a wicked tone in his normally soft voice.
"My goddess, if you please." Yaver requested. The violet vapor floated over from it's perch above Nikara and darted sharply over to the unwanted arrivals.
"Don't hurt them," Nikara nearly wailed. She looked up at Derek. "They're your friends, Derek! Don't you know what you're doing?"
"Shut up," Derek ordered, the confusion again spreading over his face. He was trying to fight the evil within him.
"Maintain yourself, Derek," Yaver said silently. "There is no need to worry, my friend. The great Sekhmet has taken care of the filthy meddlers." he directed his open hand to the group of resistors a few feet away. Sekhmet's cloud had stricken them all to the floor. Alex, Rachel, Nick, and Sloan laid silently on the hard, stone floor, as if Sekhmet had claimed their life forces and added them to her own. "Derek, it is time."
Watching as Yaver picked up a small, flat, and sharp piece of gray stone, Nikara realized it was an ancient dagger. With Nick and the rest lying motionless on the floor and Derek on the side of evil, tears rolled out of Nikara's eyes as she came to the conclusion that she was going to die. Sacrificed in the name of evil. She watched Derek's eyes as the smoke continued to swirl within them, knowing he was losing he battle inside. Yaver began to chant in Egyptian as he passed the dagger over Nikara's shaking body to Derek's waiting hands. Sekhmet resumed her position above her sacrifice, waiting to take corporeal form as soon as Nikara's soul had departed. Nikara's sporadic tears turned to a steady stream as Derek began to join Yaver in his chants. "Derek, please." she whispered, her voice barely audible over the chanting. "I know you can hear me," she was protesting for the sake of protesting. Nikara knew Derek was too far gone to save him. Her throat tightening, she uttered her last words, "I love you."
Nick groaned as he tried to move his body. He couldn't. He was paralyzed and lying on the floor, and he wasn't enjoying it. Opening his eyes, his view of his friend and employer was hindered by the half-naked Yaver. "Hey, Sloan?" he managed to croak out quietly.
"Nick?" Sloan replied, his voice equally as cracked and low.
"What's going on?" Nick asked. "I can't see." Sloan grunted as he tried to cran his neck to watch the sacrificial proceedings. Derek was now raising the dagger above his head, positioned exactly over Nikara's throbbing heart.
"Derek, no!" Sloan yelled as loudly as possible, which was just louder then his normal speaking voice. He pushed his neck downward to get a better look at the ex-SEAL who was lying near his feet. "Can you move?"
"No." Nick replied flatly, bitterness apparent in his labored breaths. Derek now had extended his arms to their maximum length, the dagger poised and ready to be brought down at any moment. A hard wind began to generate from Sekhmet's haze. It was almost time...
Yaver raised his arms into a Y-shape above his head. Throwing his head back, he yelled "Let the spirit of Sekhmet live again!" he returned his head to his normal position and looked across the table to his accomplice. "Now."
Nikara squeezed her eyes shut, waiting for the pain to come fast and her life to leave her just as quickly. Derek brought the dagger down with amazing speed. Nick and Sloan closed their eyes and did their best to turn away, waiting for the screams to echo in their ears.
Derek's eyes flew open a matter of seconds before the dagger pierced Nikara's innocent skin. Knowing there was only one thing left to do, he allowed one hand to drop away from the dagger. He looked up, and saw the bare-chested Yaver standing there, arms extended, and eyes shut. With an instantaneous flick of his wrist, Derek send the stone dagger flying at Yaver. His warm, deep red blood began to wash over the dagger as it sliced through his abdomen. Blood began to drop onto Nikara and the table as Yaver seized the knife with his hands. As he was about to pull it out, he collapsed onto the floor, a pool of his life-giving potion spreading out underneath him.
Nikara's eyes opened as she heard Yaver thud to the floor. The purple haze above her began to wail in agony. "You have been defeated again," a voice beside her said. Derek.
Derek began to feel weak as gray smoke emulated from his body. He fell to his knees, his power gone from fighting Seth. The feeling in Nick's body began to return, and he immediately rolled himself over in time to watch the two corrupt clouds merge and dissipate in the air.
Groping around on the floor, Derek soon found what he was looking for. The key to Nikara's binders. As he unlocked her wrists, Nick forced himself to stand up. Alex and Rachel were beginning to stir. He helped Sloan up, and left him to deal with the women as he joined Derek at Nikara's side. Derek forced the key into the locks, and removed the cold, metal strips as quickly as possible. Nikara rubbed her ailing wrists as Derek tossed the key over to Nick, who proceeded to free her feet.
Derek took Nikara into his arms and hugged her tightly. Rocking her back and forth, he kissed the top of her head and whispered softly "I love you, too."
(three days later)
Nikara set down her backpack with a heavy heart. Nick, Alex, and Rachel stood in a line, waiting to say good-bye. Derek was waiting outside the open door, and Sloan was sitting impatiently in the helicopter. "You promise you'll keep in touch now, right?" Nick asked for what seemed to be the millionth time that day.
"You'll be sick of me," Nikara reassured him, remembering how much she hated extended good-byes. They usually ended in tears.
"Not possible," Rachel told her, giving the Egyptian a quick hug. Nick and Alex followed Rachel's lead.
"Best of luck," Alex half-laughed. Nikara smiled reluctantly.
"Yeah, getting the Cairo House back in order is not high on my 'Whoopie' list." she said. She glanced out the door, past Derek, and to Sloan, who hit his watch with his index finger. "Well, I must be off." opening her arms for one last hug, Nikara slung her bag across her back and made her way out the door.
"So, am I looking at the next precept of the Cairo House?" Derek asked her. She shook her head.
"No," she told him, a hint of regret in her voice. "An old friend of mine, Jared Rabin will be. He was in London at the time Yaver took over. He never liked him, so he handed in his resignation once he got word Yaver was running things. Sloan wants him back."
"Maybe someday," Derek stated, not really knowing what to say.
"Yeah," Nikara agreed, drumming her fingers on her thigh. Pushing herself onto her tip-toes, she kissed Derek gently. "Don't worry, Derek. We'll see each other again."
"What makes you so sure?"
"You said so yourself, Derek, remember?" she replied playfully. "This is the San Francisco branch of the Legacy. Nothing is ever finished."