Turning Point by TalgoM
Tangye made it as far as the front door before her legs gave out under her. She crashed down just barely catching herself from falling all the way down. She couldn't understand what Kat had just done. What had she been thinking and why would she believe that Tangye would understand? She wondered over those questions while she caught her breath and waited on feeling to return to her legs.
"Last I heard you were sick." Tangye felt the sudden hands gripping her sides to help her up. She wanted to look up in thanks until Kristin's hand brushed against the gash along her rib line. Tangye closed her eyes tightly against the flash of pain.
Kristin felt it too, the tear in the flesh and the moist substance around it. She pulled her hand back to look at it to confirm what she thought would be blood. "Kat happened, before you ask."
"Kat did this? By accident?" Kristin's voice rose in shock.
"Depends on your definition of accident. I need to get upstairs and tell Derek." Tangye slowly regained her footing but continued to grip Kristin's arm for support. Kristin helped her into the house making it as far as the stairs before Tangye needed to take a moment to catch her haggard breath. "Let's go, I'll be fine. I don't know where she is." Tangye lifted her foot slowly for the first step.
"I can't believe that Kat would do this to you on purpose." Kristin marveled. Kat had always been so sweet and loving to everyone in the house. She had been showing more independence recently, or at least a desire for it, but Kristin never thought it would allow her to do something so violent. She knew that there had to be more going on in the house then she was currently privy to and that not knowing what made her nervous. She continually checked over her shoulder for the little attacker but there was no movement from the downstairs.
"Does anyone know when Kat started wielding knives?" Tangye asked interrupting the work going on in the control room. Derek, Nick and Alex all turned to look at her as soon as she spoke and were on their feet just as quickly.
"What happened?" Nick demanded sweeping in to support her and free Kristin from her burden.
"Kat." Tangye stated again as she was lowered into a chair. Alex was busily pulling out the first aid kit from one of the cabinets along the wall.
"You can't be serious." She stated unable to accept such a claim.
"Yet I am." She winced as Derek leaned down and lifted the hem of her shirt to reveal the gash. She gave it a quick glance before her nausea made her turn away from the sight of her blood. It didn't look to deep and it really didn't hurt as badly as it could have. It could feel like that demon's claw, she repeated to herself remembering the intense burning that had caused her. This was nothing but a touch of discomfort in comparison to that wound.
"Are you alright?" Tangye's eyes slowly rose to meet with Alex's, a bored expression that clearly expressed her wonder that Alex would even ask such a thing. "Right, of course not." Alex turned away from the group to gather together some first aid.
"So what exactly happened?" Derek asked as Alex began to clean the wound.
"I went into the kitchen, said hi to her which she ignored entirely. I walked back behind her, she turned around and took a swing at me." Tangye winced when Alex poured the antiseptic on. Alex glanced up to her quickly and said a short apology. For several moments no one said anything while they tried to resolve the impossibility of what Tangye claimed and what Kat could actually do.
"So it could have been an accident?" Nick inquired hopefully. They had all accepted that something was wrong with Kat but the idea that she could make such a vicious attack was beyond him. He knew Kat; she didn't have violence in her. She would never have intentionally done this to someone she cared about.
"If she got me on the first try, she missed that time." Her face constricted as Alex attempted to clean the wound as much as possible. Nick reached down taking her hand in his own allowing her to work at grinding his bones to powder. "She took a few more swings after she did this but I managed to stay out of her reach."
"Did she say anything?" Derek asked when her face relaxed slightly as Alex finished her work.
"That I would thank her if I listened. Which I doubt." Tangye looked only into the eyes of the people she was with, refusing to allow her curiosity to let her eyes fall. The last thing that she wanted to see was another ounce of her blood outside of her body where it belonged. She could tell that none of them wanted to believe what she was telling them but she knew them all well enough to know that as unpleasant as the truth might be they would accept it.
"Kat couldn't really hope to hold her own against you." Nick pointed out. He couldn't imagine what Kat would be thinking to attack someone so much older and more skilled then she was.
"Except that Tangye has been sick..." Derek started to speak slowly trying to put it all together in his head. Kat's anger at them for events in the past could almost be understood as a child's reaction to unpleasant news. Her outburst made dismissing a greater threat more difficult but still not impossible. That vague hope that perhaps Kat was just entering a difficult stage fell away with this new development. Kat could not have attacked Tangye on her own. She just would never have even considered doing such a thing.
"But why would she do it? What does she have against you?" Tangye shrugged at Kristin's question. She had only just arrived back on the island and was already thrown into another series of strange events which filled her with dread. How long could any of them really believe that their luck was going to hold out? The things hunting them just moved closer and closer every time and she didn't think they could dodge the bullet of misfortune for much longer. She wanted to hold on to the idea that this was a horrible mistake that Tangye hadn't known what was going on. She didn't want to think that they were starting to turn on each other. "Maybe it wasn't Kat, maybe..." She began the sentence but was quickly cut short.
"It was Kat." Tangye mumbled. Kristin started to question how she could guess but let the words die in her throat. Tangye's voice was dead pan, serious as she informed them of her certainty. Perhaps something could masquerade as Kat's body but it could never completely convince those who loved her. Tangye recognized the difference because she knew the girl that was supposed to be in the body.
"We should go find her." Derek stated, moving towards the control panel for the hologram.
"Derek, she's just a kid. How do you plan on stopping her? We can't just hunt her." Nick stood up stepping away from the others by a few feet to get the words out privately. The idea that Kat could somehow become a danger to any of them sickened him but he couldn't ignore what Tangye said either. If she claimed that it was Kat there was little reason to question her instincts.
"No, we're not. We're going to ask Kat what happened. If this was an accident then she is probably very frightened by what happened." Derek explained carefully going over to the small keypad mounted in the wall by the entrance to the control room. He flipped the cover open and began typing in commands.
"Derek..." Tangye started to protest the accident theory again but Derek silenced her with a quick glance. It was hard enough for any of them to deal with Kat's new behavior; he did not see the need to upset them with his own belief that the incident wasn't an accident. He trusted her instincts and his own that both said there was something very wrong with the girl they all cared about so much. "She's in her room again." Her voice dropped noticeably and her eyes averted themselves in the direction of the floor.
"Thank you. Nick try to locate Rachel and get her in here to take a look at that." Derek nodded in Tangye's direction before stepping through the hologram.
They would come looking for her, it was only natural. They would have to protect themselves and she had accepted that they would go to any means necessary. She had seen it in Tangye. A fight to control her instinct to strike out in what they would all defend as self-preservation. She would have been forgiven if she acted to hurt Kat in order to stop her. Yet for some reason that Kat could no longer comprehend she had not done it. Even with Tangye at the disadvantage of a fever and surprise Kat knew the woman could still have won in any fight. Yet she had not wanted to stop Kat, she had left her there with the knife fleeing away from the threat.
Kat tried to puzzle out that behavior which didn't fit in the mold of her mind. They were predators. Weeding out the weak and leaving only those strong enough to stand beside them. She had seen it so clearly. Perhaps they were not at that point yet in their lives but it was coming. It was inside of them. She had seen what they would become. The man had said it in no uncertain terms. With time something would happen to take away the things that she loved about all of them the most. She could not allow such an event to occur.
A part of her tried desperately to be heard as she stated how wrong and foreign everything going on in her head was. Tangye didn't strike because no matter how much pain Kat caused her she would never have been able to retaliate. None of them would be able to hurt her. She knew that. Every corner of her should knew that was the truth but she was not being allowed to listen to that desperate voice.
Instead she just crouched down in her room by her dresser lying in wait. One of them would have to come find her soon. They would have questions at least. She knew that she could play right into their hands as she forced false tears to the surface of her eyes and prepared for her performance. With each passing instant Kat felt more of the anger build within her, shadowing every remaining corner that still held faith in those she loved. Her disgust intensified as images from the future repeated in front of her mind's eye.
"Kat? Are you in here?" She heard the creak of the door off to her right and barely managed to control the smile of pleasure to realize that he had been the one. He was the key. Perhaps if she could stop him she could set things right with little damage to the others. Emotionally they would be destroyed by what they would see as a betrayal and loss of their leader but those wounds would heal. Eventually they would all see how right she had been.
"Rach are you here?" The disgust at him rose just upon the sound of his voice calling out to her. Disgust at what he had let himself become when he could have been so much more. Nick Boyle could have been everything that Rachel's daughter attributed to him. He could have been that kind of hero if only he had been able to live life without living under someone else's orders. Instead Kat's image of the world was being shattered because of the truth about her idol. "C'mon Rachel, Tan got hurt we need your help. There was an accident."
'Good.' The voice in her head spoke maliciously drinking up the news that one of them had been hurt. She could see his shadow approaching her on the floor. She timed his steps carefully planning just when he would be at the edge of the door. The doctor tested the weight of the blade in her hand again closing her eyes before springing a trap on him that he couldn't possibly see coming. She didn't allow herself the luxury of breathing afraid that might compromise her position.
Her eyes looked down at the shadow again. The form was now clear due to its proximity to her. She noticed that one hand seemed to be in a pocket making him even more vulnerable. The smile crossing her face was not a look she would have ever thought herself as being capable of mastering. Not until she had been given a glimpse of what she had long feared the future could hold.
She timed her motion perfectly, turning with the knife's blade up to catch him in the middle. She pivoted around the door and was just about to strike when she heard the familiar click of a gun. Her eyes went down to see the beretta centered on her shoulder. He had expected the attack for some reason; he had been concealing the gun in his shadow. "Rachel I don't want to hurt you." The sound of the vow was honest but when she met his eyes she saw the set lines of his face and knew he would anyway. Nick was the hunter in the house, the one driven by necessity. He would do it to stop her and she doubted that he would allow himself too much time to later question the choice.
Derek was given just the minimum warning to avoid the blade. Kat kept it hidden under her lap while she expressed remorse about what she insisted had been an accident in the kitchen. He couldn't have kept himself from going to her when she was in such a state and she had known that. Before his hand had made contact with her arm to help her in some small way his Sight flashed an image in front of him. The stained blade of a knife accompanied by a searing pain that let him know the blood would be his.
He managed to recoil at the last moment and instead of Kat catching him she swung the knife through empty air. She had him at a disadvantage because of the size difference and she obviously knew that. He could not risk hurting Kat when she might not be acting on her own. He pushed himself backward just barely able to stay upright with the sudden motion. "Kat what is wrong with you?" Derek demanded of the girl. He wasn't sure that the Kat he knew could even hear him or that she would want to answer. Tangye had said that what she felt inside Rachel and Kat had been their own anger not some force occupying their forms
"You should understand this Derek, you always tell me you want to protect the innocent. Isn't that what you say, Derek?" Kat's voice rose to a yell as she demanded some answers of her own. "Isn't that true Derek? Isn't that what you want everyone to believe?"
Derek stepped back from her as she approached him confidently with the knife raised. "It isn't just something I want them to believe Kat, it's something I believe." Derek defended himself against her words. She laughed for a moment at that statement but it was a cold and menacing laugh. Derek used the tiny distraction to remove himself from the situation until he could control it better. The control room was already set to deny Kat access a decision he was glad he had made now. If he could get back there they should have the means necessary to figure out the puzzle and be safe while they did so. Kat was clearly focused on the members of the Legacy as the enemy, he did not think that she would go in search of any other victim.
He moved with a spurt of fluid motion to the door out of Kat's room. She made good on her second attempt to reach him with the blade as she had a much better position to block his retreat. There was no way he could have made it past to the door and he had known that when he moved. What he counted on was that his legs would carry him faster to his destination. He felt the cold steel catch on the fabric of his shirt and then helped it rend the skin as he moved past it. Pain shot up his arm but nothing like what he knew he could have been experiencing if he had not been given the warning. He heard Kat's footfalls as she followed him down the hall. She was making small guttural noises from the throat as though she was nothing more then an animal catching the smell of blood off its prey.
Nick crouched down beside the chair holding Rachel with an exhausted sigh. He was really missing the sleep he lost over the past few days now. He had not wanted to actually lock her in place but when she caught him squarely in the jaw with her fist he didn't see that she was leaving him much choice. He slipped the second handcuff ring around the leg of the chair and fastened it in place. She was struggling as best she could but Alex and Kristin were doing a good job of holding her in place. As soon as the handcuff clicked to indicate it was locked all three of them quickly stepped away from her.
"Well, you asked us to wait on your return to let things get exciting, this qualify?" Alex asked with a quick glance in Kristin's direction. The blonde woman just raised her eyebrows in amazement at the situation. She had seen plenty of impossibilities in the house but the idea that Rachel or Kat would somehow turn on them felt to be a more unlikely stretch then those events. She brushed her hair back from her face and turned to the computer deciding that the best thing she could hope to do was pull information and not just stare at the wild eyed Rachel.
Everyone gathered in the room suddenly jumped when they heard the sudden soft whoosh of the hologram opening and then a loud thud following behind it. Their eyes went to the scene to find Derek regaining his breath and composure in the room with them and Kat slamming against the other side of the hologram denying her access to her prey. None of them had even realized what Derek had been doing when he fiddled with the control panel before leaving the room, now they had the answer. "We should be fine in here." Derek announced after watching Kat for a few moments and assuring himself that the wall would not give way under her barrage of fists.
"What did you do to her?" Rachel cried pulling against the steel bracelet. She wasn't able to move far though as Nick had also fastened another cuff to the table leg behind her.
"She lured me in." Derek said joining those members of the group he felt were still in control of their facilities. Nick and Alex's eyes both kept wandering in the direction of their protesting friends but he went on with his observations. "She tried to convince me that it had been an accident and then when I got close " Derek winced thinking again about the slice she had taken out of his arm. He looked down at the torn bit of his sleeve and drew the attention of the others to it as well with the act.
"Derek, are you alright?" Alex moved to him first, her anxiety to see any of them hurt was rising quickly to the surface. She tried to get a look at the wound but his sweater succeeded at covering it just well enough. "Nick grab me the scissors." Alex instructed focusing all of her attention on Derek's injury. She didn't want to look at Kat or Rachel anymore. She didn't want to look at their faces and see how much they had been changed before anyone had the chance to notice. Alex knew that the feeling in her stomach had finally reached its crux point. It was almost a relief to find herself able to attach the foreboding to an event rather then some possibility she couldn't hope to control.
She carefully cut the sleeve of his shirt away with all the eyes of her friends settled on her motions. "You're getting rather good at that." Derek spoke softly noticing how gentle her touch was and how cautious she was not to cause him any added discomfort.
"You haven't left me much of a choice." She smiled weakly up at the precept.
Kat was growing tired with them. Weary of waiting for them to come to her. She knew that two of them were injured, even if only in small ways. She had struck a blow to her enemy and that was a lesson they would certainly have to listen to.
Still their hiding was wearing thin on the little patience she could master. She just couldn't leave her spot at the hologram. She couldn't leave them a means of escape. They had her at a disadvantage since she could not reach them but she held them captive in the room behind her back. She tried to think like a hunter; to do things as Nick might have done them. How would he create a tactical advantage now?
She tapped the tip of the blade against the floor thinking over the options she had. She could not walk away. Not when they were so close. So no matter what advantage she could make she would ignore it. She could still see the stains of their blood. She knew that she was close to stopping all that she had seen if only they would let her in to them.
"So the only question left seems to be what's causing this." Nick stated taking a seat on the counter near the computer Alex was busily typing commands into. He rubbed at his eyes the rhythm of his headache picking itself up again louder.
"You. You caused all of this." Rachel proclaimed with spite. Nick was quickly regretting his choice to bring her in the room with them. There were plenty of other places in the house that he could have put her that would have been equally secure, but would have allowed him not to listen to her running commentary.
"I'm sure I did." Nick nodded turning away from her. "Derek, can I gag her yet?" Nick whispered to the precept standing by his shoulder.
Derek looked over at Alex choosing to ignore the comment he was dangerously close to agreeing with. "Do you have any ideas?" Alex sighed wiping at her eyes with a shake of her head. "Tangye do you think you could?" Derek redirected his attention to the woman slouched in one of the chairs at the table. He could see the exhaustion on every unnatural line of her face and wished he had never said the words.
"I could try, I guess. Can't make any promises. Maybe I can calm them though."
"I'll take it." Nick said thankfully. The constant background noise of Rachel verbally abusing all of them was pushing his lingering headache to new levels. Even if Tangye could only get them to shut up he would thank her for weeks. He started to help her to her feet but was cut short by an announcement on the other side of the room.
"Take a look at this." Kristin spoke up. She had settled down in front of the computer almost immediately upon her return to the control room. She listened to all the comments she was hearing behind her about the situation she had walked in to and using those details had been searching for something amongst the files Nick and Alex had compiled. She tapped a few keys and transferred the image from her small screen to the main monitor for everyone to read. "These are all incidents telling of skirmishes or battles where one member of the troupe suddenly turned on the others. In the rare cases when they managed to get the man back into custody he would stand by the idea that he had done the right thing in killing his group. Sounds familiar doesn't it?" She looked up to the group gathered around her, letting her eyes stray in Rachel's direction for a moment. This definitely wasn't Rachel's behavior they were seeing. Kristin knew the doctor frequently disagreed with the choices of the Legacy but she would never allow such frustration to be turned on her friends in such a violent way.
"Anything else?" Derek hoped there would be more then that to go on. It was a good starting point but with a struggling, screaming Rachel and blood crazed Kat on their hands he wanted to be much further along then a good start. He wanted to be able to fix whatever had gone wrong and have things back to normal in the house.
"They seem to be frequently contested involvement's, local government or citizens feeling that the troupes were overstepping their bounds." Kristin shrugged as she scanned more of the files. She started to page to another one when Alex held out her hand to pause the action.
"Look at the reports after the fact. In several cases they mention that a figure had been seen with the traitor before it happened." Alex highlighted the pertinent text for everyone to read. "It also says that there were whispers among the local contingent saying that the troupes got what they deserved with the betrayal."
"Didn't see anyone." Tangye commented as she looked up to Derek. He just shook his head to deny that he had either.
"What sort of figure?" Nick asked with a worried tone.
"Usually a man that they claimed to recognize but they weren't sure from where. These reports of course come from men after the betrayal, who knows what that did to them. Why Nick?" Alex looked away from the words on the screen that had her captivated, hearing the tiny catch in his voice.
"Because it happened to me." Nick replied slowly. "It was my first mission with the SEALs. We were going in to stop a military faction who were getting restless but it was pretty much a known fact that no one really wanted our help or our presence."
"But you followed their orders didn't you Nick? You did what you were told." Rachel screamed at him with all the hate she could muster. Nick wanted to yell right back and confess to that. It was his job and he had done it. There was nothing wrong with that. Maybe the locals didn't like what they came to do but people didn't always like what as best for them. There were supporters of any cause if you looked hard enough not that Nick ever felt the people in general really supported what was going on around them. He saw them as willing to claim their support of the faction in order to hold off the wrath of a group that could wipe them out. Nick shot Rachel an annoyed glance to tell her as best he could to be quiet, not that she would listen. Rather then argue with the doctor he made himself ignore whatever else she might say, focusing on the memories so close to the surface in recent days.
"Wakefield, one of the guys in my troupe shot me. Said he was aiming at some little merchant behind me." Nick explained directing all of his attention to the people on his side of the room.
"You didn't see the man?" Nick shook his head. "Did he betray you?" Nick felt a certain level of defensiveness rise at the suggestion. They had been a team, they stood behind one another and that loyalty ran deep. Derek didn't understand that evidently.
"Do you mean did he try to stop us from getting the job done? Nope, just shot me and went on with the mission." Nick rubbed at the back of his neck. "I've been dreaming about it the last few nights, I thought it was because Kat found the music " Nick let the sentence hang as the truth hit him. "Son of a bitch, the music box." He knew the box was in the house, recalling the he had heard its song the other night from Kat's room. Having an answer in front of him, even one no one else understood, made his urgency to get something done increase. He was ready to bolt out of the control room in search of the small decorative piece and Derek sensing that reached out to stop him.
"What music box?" He asked calmly not wanting to allow Nick to run headfirst into another dangerous situation. He didn't want to have any of them rushing off alone at that moment. Kat may have only been occupying a child's small form but she was clearly dangerous, even possibly more so because no one would want to risk hurting her by defending themselves to actively. Nick was the best suited to elude her in the house but Derek wasn't going to let him yet.
"I bought it on the mission, entirely against regulation but I couldn't stop myself. It ended up being broken when I fell. Kat found it the other day in with some of my stuff and I gave it to her..." Nick explained his eyes wandering over all the victims in the situation. Derek and Tangye both were injured, Rachel and Kat enduring who knows what sort of mental torture all because he wanted to buy his mother a keepsake years ago. "I bought it from the same guy that Wakefield said he saw behind me."
"Then that fits with these stories. But why?" Alex asked looking back at the computer screen and considering what Nick had just said. Her eyes scanned over the words quickly taking them each in and formulating a picture in her mind.
"The common thread aside from the betrayal..." Kristin leaned in studying the details of the articles more closely. "Nick you said that the people of the area did not want you there?" Nick nodded the realization tugging at the back of his mind. "In each of these cases the reports indicate that the locals did not want military interference."
"Dammit the little guy cursed me." Nick swore when the truth fully hit him.
"Or tried to Nick." Tangye said with a glance in the direction of Rachel still struggling against the steel around her wrist. "He may have tried but it didn't work or you would have "
"Done what he's been built to do." Rachel screamed. Nick shot her a bored smirk giving up with the idea of trying to argue the point with her any longer. It was almost as if she knew his head was threatening to crush itself inward and knew that her every cry would cut through his skull with knife like precision. There was no need to goad her on and thus just make it worse for himself.
"That was their way of stopping the troupes without sacrificing any of their own. The music box somehow prods the need to destroy the others out of the one who has it. But how?" Alex asked tapping a pen in her free hand. The sudden sound of Kat's renewed pounding against the hologram startled them all.
"Who cares how or why or why he chose me, let's just go destroy the thing." Nick stated flatly. He knew where the object causing their problems was. Getting past Kat might be difficult but it was no where near being impossible. All he had to do was get the problem in his hands and destroy it.
"That's right Nick, that's what you do isn't it?" Rachel sneered in his direction.
"What do you mean he chose you Nick?" Derek said ignoring the growing distractions and latching onto Nick's offhand comment.
"I don't know. It seemed like nothing at the time but when I dreamed about it I remembered that he did focus on me, ignoring the other two guys with me. They said I was an easy mark. Why?" Nick tried to calm himself enough to stay and learn as much as he could. He knew it wasn't a good idea to run into the situation when they still didn't really know what to do about it but he desperately wanted to.
"You said it was your first mission?" Nick nodded in response. "You were the youngest of the group, probably considered to be the weakest for that reason." Derek mused.
"So he would have thought that Nick would be the easiest to manipulate. He wasn't as close to the group he was with so he was "
"Capable of doing anything." Rachel's latest outburst cut Tangye's thoughts short. Nick couldn't control the frustration of listening to her damning comments any longer.
"Shut the hell up Rachel." Nick turned, his temper finally overwhelming him. Everyone else in the room stepped back away from the swell of anger from him. Even while he only yelled there was a threat carried in it that made them all uncomfortable.
"Nick, just ignore her." Nick sighed disgusted by that advice from Alex. "How do you think it's causing the change in them?" Alex looked away from the younger man nervously. She had lived under the same roof long enough to be able to see Nick's sudden mood swings coming as much as anyone could. It was better not to push him into one if it could be avoided.
"Wait a second. I heard it playing in Kat's room the other night." Nick suddenly burst out with the information that sounded insignificant to them all.
"Uh-huh?" Tangye nodded him on with confusion.
"When Kat and I found it I played a bit of it then gave it over to her. None of you have ever heard it have you?" Nick asked the group anxiously as each of them shook their head. "I heard it for a second, they must have heard it longer. Kat obviously the longest." Nick looked over at the rabid little girl still pounding on the wall with renewed interest. She was not making out any words, merely managing feral noises from her throat.
"So somehow the suggestion is built into the song?" Alex thought out loud beginning to type new information into the computer. She wasn't really sure that the action would manage to keep Nick from running out of the room without thought to the danger but she hoped the possibility of more information would lure him.
"And it makes them think that killing the others in their group is a good idea?" Kristin added.
"Not just a good idea, necessary." Tangye corrected her. "When I checked them out for you last night I felt war. I can't see what they see, it's not like a movie, everything is emotional and that tells me the story. They're seeing a war." Tangye struggled to explain how she knew what she had felt in her friends. She clearly remembered the last time she had felt that sensation and what had been on the other's mind at the time. The two sensations were almost identical, only in one case much of the fear had been absent.
"Couldn't it just be a conflict? Their thoughts about the Legacy?" Kristin pressed. She knew her own thoughts frequently dwelled on the harder acts associated with their work. Unpleasantness was a major factor in their line of work and it was natural that it linger in one's mind.
"Ahh." Tangye groaned as the right words evaded her. "I can't explain it right it's just war." She turned away for a moment then with a flurry of movement spun back to face them. "James showed it to me." She proclaimed. "He had been in Vietnam and when I talked to him it was there, it was always there. I know this feeling." She was obviously very certain about this knowledge. She remembered the lingering feeling that attached itself to James every moment of his life. He never spoke of it and it was something that he put behind him as best he could. Still in never entirely left him, memories like that never could be completely forgotten.
"I believe you." Derek said slowly thinking of the articles he had read about the man that she spoke of and how much clearer his picture was beginning to become. "So it implanted a war in their minds, and all things would indicate that we are the wrongdoers in the situation." His eyes slowly wandered over to Rachel's face. He wondered how difficult it had been for her to be convinced of such a horrid truth. He imagined the box had a regretfully small battle to sway her. Rachel accused him many times over of the years of being callous in his righteousness and implying the Legacy's power had grown out of control. She would probably accept any number of negative outlooks for the future of the group.
"So if it can't play anymore it can't effect anyone else?" Nick asked roughly. "We can figure out how to fix them when it's gone." Derek hated to agree so quickly but his anger over the manipulation got the best of him. "I'll be back then."
"I'll stay here Derek, see if I can learn anything." Alex said from her spot at the computer. She had a feeling Nick was running in too soon and that he would need additional information. She wanted to be there to back him up but also knew she might be better at it from the control room.
Derek nodded to her and returned his attention to the anxious young man. "Nick do you think you can get past her?" Nick nodded eyeing Kat's position in front of the hologram. "You lure her away from here to the music box and we'll follow you." Again Nick's only response was a nod. Derek wasn't sure what Nick was waiting for as he watched the door but trusted that he knew what he was doing. He saw the slight head bob as Nick watched Kat.
Nick noticed the pattern to Kat's pounding on the wall. Timing in his head how frequent the fist gripping the knife blade slammed into the wall. Timing his own dash across the room. If he did it wrong she would have the knife drawn back for an easy blow. As it was he propelled himself forward hitting the hologram which Alex released for him, about three feet away from Kat just as her hand hit the wall and was at its lowest. Of course her hand feel through the false wall but Nick recognized the animalistic manner she had. She wasn't thinking logically, she wouldn't think of the many prey when she caught sight of one.
He turned easily bolting for the door with her in eager pursuit. He knew that he could outrun her due to much longer strides and natural speed, he just hoped nothing else worked to slow him down. He made it down the hallway gaining distance on her with each step then cursed his luck silently to see that her door was shut. It would only stop him for a second but each felt precious. He knew that he could keep Kat from hurting any of them, getting the knife away from her was not the problem. Doing it without harming the body was difficult. Nick could disarm a grown man without permanent damage but those tactics would be too much for Kat.
He made it into the room still several yards in front of Kat. His eyes scanned the area urgently trying to locate the source of the problems but he did not find it. "No where left to run." Kat growled from behind him. He turned to look at her as she shook her hand holding loosely onto the knife. He couldn't hurt her; he just couldn't do it.
"Kat think about what you're seeing, does it really make any sense?" Nick pleaded with her taking a few steps back further into the room.
"I have and it does. You said it Nick, 'a last line of defense, protect that world or it can't exist.' I do know what I'm doing and I learned it from you." Kat insisted angrily.
"Kat this isn't anything that Nick would have taught you." Derek said from behind her in the doorway. The sudden appearance of two more of her enemies in the scene startled her and she moved away from them to the other side of the room hastily.
"It's gone Derek." Nick proclaimed still looking the room over while trying to keep Kat in the corner of his vision.
"We may need to subdue her and then look for it." Derek answered him wondering how much of the conversation the maddened Kat was understanding.
"We may need her to find it." Kristin said amazed by the sight in front of her. Kat eyeing each of them with hunger, her blouse streaked with blood cleaned from her weapon.
"I might have trouble doing this period, I definitely don't know if I can hold her conscious and not have something break." Nick spoke the words as a warning of things to come. He wanted people to know the difficult situation he was being put in and not think later that he had just gone right in to hurt Kat. Rachel might never forgive him even when she was herself again but he didn't want the others thinking that he had not considered his options and grabbed at the best one. If he judged the situation right Kat was jumpy like any cornered animal. They would go down with a fight, maybe even survive because of the desperation. Still the only thing that mattered to Nick was that she was easily startled.
Firing a gun on Kat was not something he resolved himself to quickly. He had no intent of hitting her with a bullet, just using the sudden noise as hopefully a way for her to drop her knife. He could then get to her without the threat in her hand and hopefully grab her if she went after it. Nick knew he was counting on just the right events occurring too much but it was the only choice he had. The hard part was just making his arm draw the gun against someone he loved.
"Do what you need to Nick." Derek instructed dreading whatever might come next. Kat just smiled at them all as she shifted her position and reached down to pick something up.
"Looking for this?" Kat asked revealing the wooden bird from the spot she had hid it in behind the bathroom door. She could see them all jump a bit this time at her surprise. Just looking at the object caused them fear and her to smile sinisterly. They knew the power it held and they were afraid of what she now knew to be true.
"C'mon Kat, hand it over." Kat saw the flash of images suddenly in her mind. Nick's broken form, the blood attached to her crude weapon in the dream. Then she looked up to his eyes. She saw the emotional strain within them and knew that if any of them could be saved it would be Nick. If she could make him understand he would help her. Nick did what had to be done no matter how distasteful; it was what he lived by. If she could make this necessary to him now he could be saved from the change.
"Of course." Kat held the carving out to him. Nick didn't even pause to consider what he was doing. His hand just shot out taking the cursed item back.
"Nick wait." Derek started to reach out to stop his friend but start was all he could do. Nick's hand wrapped around the wood bird and Kat flipped the small pause switch on the back.
The instant the song started Nick felt the foreign feeling build in him. A curse finally hitting its mark after having years to grow upon itself. He saw still frames of Richter and the other SEALs. Richter in the small camp. Right in the middle of the fighting. Moving with the precision of an expert hunter, never looking back at the damage he had done. Then he saw the clearing where he had found the bodies of his team months later. He remembered the empty spot where Richter should have been. Then the frozen image of the Archbishop being thrown back by the assassin's bullet.
All those murders years later could have been prevented if Nick had just heard what the music box had been trying to tell him.
Then a different little show began in his mind's eye. Stacks of bodies littering a once busy roadway he recognized from San Francisco. The backdrop of buildings had mostly been destroyed but he still knew the scene. He saw the creatures in hooded cloaks working their way through those few souls left still alive. Blood was flowing like water into the gutters. His mind flashed forward moving him closer to one of the hooded attackers. He watched as his view turned around to the other side of the person. Their features were hidden for a moment and then they raised their head to take a look at the cloud filled sky.
Alex's features changed and a hardness that should never have been there stared back. The picture show moved to another of the creatures and repeated the action of finding their face. It happened over and over again revealing his fellow members of the Legacy.
What could possibly make them do such a thing? Nick's mind cried out to deny what he saw, to find the answers to the questions bombarding his mind. He had been trained not to react in such a way. He was trained to take care of the problem the first chance you had, worry about the questions later, if at all. "Do you think you'll get away with it Derek?" Nick's voice was even lower then normal and his gun appeared in his hand as if from nowhere.
Kat knew she was supposed to feel pleasure to have things turn her way. Unfortunately, it was not an emotion she could muster. She saw the situation for the first time outside of herself. Nick's gun lowered on the people he cared most about in the world. Loyalty was paramount to Nick and this was against that trait within him.
Nothing that could cause Nick to even consider what he was doing could possibly be honest in its effort to warn her of things to come. Only something evil could make Nick do such a thing.
"It's tactile Derek." Alex's voice suddenly interrupted the shocked silence. She burst into the room but froze seeing Nick's gun on the precept and the music box in his other hand still playing. "You know that." She mumbled wondering how the situation had turned to this.
"C'mon Derek, defend yourself. Tell me that isn't what you have planned. Tell me." Nick screamed demanding the words from Derek. He wanted reason to pull the trigger and one lie would be enough.
"I don't know what you saw me do Nick." Derek answered slowly not wanting Nick to find any motive for killing him. The images had bombarded Nick so quickly, taking over his mind it was clear to Derek that the merchant had chosen Nick intentionally. The curse had not been concocted for just anyone in the group it had been meant for Nick. It still had enough power to effect others but it had been created in order to destroy Nick.
"What about you Alex? Can you deny it? Can you tell me you wouldn't do anything Derek asked?" Alex stood her ground mute under the rage. "One reason Derek. You always have a reason don't you? Give me one right now." Nick's hand gripping the gun shook ever so slightly as his heart began to race faster and faster. He tried to control himself, stop the finger from even twitching but it felt as if some outside force was pushing down on it.
"Nick I want the music box back now." Kat spoke from her side of the room. Nick turned at the sound leveling the gun down so it would catch her squarely in the middle. He saw the Kat from his mind's eye; powerful and unconcerned with those she was cutting through like paper. Kat had gifts that they might still not really understand and those gifts left little guarantee that she could not be swayed to the other side of the fight. The hesitancy of pulling the gun on her fell away and he found the action easier then he thought possible. If Kat would be a threat down the line it was better not to let that develop. "You gave it to me."
"I shouldn't have." Nick insisted clutching it tighter against his side. Kat's knife rose and she started to go around to Derek and the others. He followed her motions carefully with the sight of his gun wondering what she was doing. He was still waiting on his answer from Derek and didn't want her distraction. She raised the knife in front of Derek and he felt the urge build in him to stop Kat and protect Derek. Yet Derek was suddenly the enemy as well, Nick should allow her to continue.
Kat wasn't entirely in control of herself, she hoped that at the last second she could still control the compulsion in her arm to strike Derek fatally. She hoped Alex or Kristin would see how distracted Nick was by her actions. "Kat stop." Nick screamed shooting off a round into the dresser beside her. "I want answers." Kat saw the movement out of the corner of her eye.
Alex managed to get to him when everyone else was stunned by the sound of the gun. She couldn't get past his engrained defense yet she considered herself lucky that he didn't turn to her with the gun. Instead he rose his elbow to catch her square in the breastbone. It sent a shock wave of pain through her chest but also afforded her the chance to grab the music box out of his hand when it moved away from his body with the blow. She staggered backward fumbling to turn the song off. "Alex." She heard Derek's pained cry but she didn't have the moment to give assurance of her well-being as he desired or she wished to give him.
Kat watched the scene with relief as Alex stopped the music and turned, slamming the fragile creature into the wall. She snapped off greater pieces of the bird's form on the first blow and the second shattered the interior as she beat it against the corner of the dresser. Kat felt the haze lift away from her like smoke billowing out of a fire, floating off with the breeze. The anger and distrust slipped away from her as she remembered that these were people she loved dearly and who would never be capable of what she had seen. The knowledge she had been searching for all day and demanding from them, wanting words they didn't have. It had been a truth Kat had always just known but that the song had managed to keep her from remembering. Until, that was, she saw the effect it was capable of having on Nick.
"Oh my God." Nick whispered the words dropping his gun to his side. It had all rushed over him so quickly, engulfing him like a piece of driftwood in a tidal wave. He had wanted them dead, each and every one of them and he would have done it if Derek had only answered the question one way or another. It hadn't mattered what Derek said the end would have been the same because Nick wouldn't have trusted anything he said. If he denied it he was lying, if he confessed he deserved to die.
"Are you okay?" Alex's hand carefully reached out to his shoulder. She wanted to trust that it was over with the destruction of the object but she was still fearful of another blow from Nick.
"Are you?" Nick turned and her worries vanished. He had to be okay if he was showing such remorse and concern for what he had done to her.
"I'll be fine." Alex nodded, her eyes wandering over to the little girl standing in utter shock over what had happened. "Kat? Are you okay, Kat?" She asked softly. Kat merely shrugged her response. Derek leaned over to cup her chin in his hands, looking deep into her eyes.
"That was very dangerous." Derek said as he began checking her over for injuries that didn't exist. "What were you thinking?"
"I knew Nick couldn't do it. It made me think some awful things but I knew Nick couldn't hurt me." Kat smiled up at the man so much a hero to her. Today a bit of that youthful sort of worship may have slipped away as she saw him as just a man but that didn't make him any less special to her.
"Thanks for that Kat." Nick mumbled, knowing to himself that he might still have been capable of it. He had felt the urgency to do it in himself, something he wasn't entirely sure he could have ignored.
"I cut you didn't I Derek?" Derek nodded slowly. "And Tangye?" Again he nodded. "I'm sorry." She said weakly with embarrassment and shame. Derek merely pulled her close to himself in a hug, just thankful that she was all right. Seeing Nick with that wild look in his eyes, a man without any options and holding a gun on a child had chilled him. "My mom's probably still yelling at her." Kat added.
"Curse or no curse Rachel's going to be mad." Kristin nodded in agreement, wondering just how out of control the doctor would be when she heard the gunshots.
Nick recalled Richter warning him that there could be locals wandering around in the woods a few miles from the village. Nick hadn't entirely ignored the words but he didn't take them too seriously. The others were always trying to scare him with stories like that. When Nick was out on patrol one night that assumption had changed. Still what he found hadn't been anything to be afraid of. A child of about seven had appeared from behind a tree only about thirty yards from their camp. The little boy had sheepishly smiled when "discovered" and asked Nick if he had anything the child could have. Nick had tried to dismiss the child, telling him the area wasn't safe but the child could not be persuaded. Not until Nick had relinquished the stray key ring he found in his pocket. It had satisfied the boy and sent him running back in the direction of the village. When Nick had handed it to him he had said, 'thank you rook,' which he clearly thought was Nick's name. That title had confirmed what Richter had warned him of. The locals were not only nearby they were close enough to hear the SEALs conversations. Rook being the moniker Nick was still living under.
Nick had given the child the item necessary for the little merchant to cast the curse on the music box. Nick had foolishly created this situation for himself and been manipulated all along. The child may not have understood what the other SEALs meant by calling him rook but if he had told the old merchant about it he might have. He could have known that it meant Nick was younger and less experienced. A perfect tool for the manipulation to stop the military unit from breaking up the action in the hills. He wondered if there had ever been a chance for him to say no to the merchant's offer or if that compulsion was also cast upon him somehow. Wakefield probably had seen the little man beside him during the battle. Derek explained that it was probably a spectral form checking on his work, how he was visible Derek didn't know but Nick didn't care either any more. He told himself it was over and that was what mattered.
His eyes wandered over to the phone again. It had started as a simple gift to a mother from a son who believed his choices were disapproved of. He had wanted to do something nice for her then, something to show that he was okay and that she was still important to him. That had been years ago and the message was still not delivered. He sighed resolving himself to the necessity.
"Christine Boyle." Nick felt the small grin tug at his cheeks just to hear her voice again after so long.
"It's me." Nick stated, certain that she would know whom.
"Nick?" He could hear the excitement in her voice, excitement that he read as fear.
"Everything's fine." He answered the question before it could be asked.
"That's good, why are you calling?" He felt a bit of himself deflate at that question. Why did he have to have a reason, he was her son?
"Can't I just call sometimes?" Nick asked a bit too defensively.
"I wish you would, but you don't." Christine responded in an even tone. She wasn't going to give in to Nick's moods knowing that it just helped to feed them.
"I was wondering if we could talk?" Nick forced his voice to be calmer and softer. He had not called to grill her and he shouldn't be acting like he was. That tactic would do very little for an already strained relationship with her.
"Of course, Nick." She said and he sensed a bit of relief to her voice.
"I don't know if you're really want to hear some of this." Nick warned. He wanted to talk to her about everything starting about the time he turned eighteen. Everything that he had never found the nerve in himself to discuss with her. The good, the bad, the tragic. Every last bit of it.
"Nick, I'll listen to anything you have to say." She answered comfortingly.
"Some might be about the SEALs." Nick whispered.
"So?" She asked. "Nick I never wanted you not to talk about that."
"But I know how you felt about the Navy." He started to insist.
"I don't feel anything for the Navy, Nick. I wasn't pleased that you decided to risk your life but it was your decision. I was proud of what you did. You decided I didn't want to talk about the Navy and you've decided you don't want to talk about the Legacy either. I just respected that." She explained carefully. Nick wondered if she really meant that. Did he really cut her out of his life because of a miscommunication? He thought about Gilby's story about the party his mother planned to welcome him back, was that really the action of a woman wishing to deny what her son was doing?
"Then you "
"Nick you're my only child, I want to hear about everything." She repeated the thought, which made Nick smile to himself. There was plenty he was willing to tell her if she would hear it. Years worth of questions popped into his head, things he should have known about her years ago that he wanted answers to now. He had never had much of chance to get to know his mother as a person and now that he was older the opportunity was not something he could resist. He tucked the phone against his chin and turned back to look at the bed.
She had said that she was fine after the action of the day but Rachel had insisted that she rest in her room. As soon as he had got her under the sheets she had drifted off to an exhausted sleep. He went over to the bed sitting down on it beside her. He reached out and brushed some stray strands of hair away from her face with a pleased smile. Start with the good news Nick, his mind spoke to him. Let her know you're okay now so when she hears about the past she understands that it all worked out. "Nick are you there?" His mother's voice broke into his thoughts.
"Yeah, I'm here." Nick said with a nod she couldn't see. "Got some good news for you mom "
"So the effects are completely gone?" Alex asked following Rachel and Kat to the door of the house. She was amazed that everything had returned to normal so quickly after so many days of her worry. That always did seem to be the way it worked out though, periods of high drama but never much time left to deal with the aftermath.
"I know that it was all just something created to drive a betrayal." Rachel nodded. Some of it might have come from her own soul but the bloodlust was gone. She knew that it did all balance now and did not believe for an instant that the Legacy would be involved in such a massacre. She didn't deny that she still felt they might have too much power or were too self assured to question themselves but that was entirely different then what she had been thinking about them.
"And what about you Kat, are you okay?" Alex turned her attention to the girl. She nodded her answer but then looked up at the face of her friend. The image of the man she had trusted to tell her the truth returned to her mind. Why had she let herself believe a word that he said? "Well I'm glad to hear that, you had me really worried." Alex hugged Kat against her side, throwing Rachel a relieved look.
"Can I ask you something?" Alex and Rachel both looked down recognizing the worried tone in Kat's voice. "Who was the man in my dream who explained everything?"
"What are you talking about Kat, what man?" Rachel pressed feeling a surge of fear at the inquiry. She didn't like these sort of questions since they did seem to invariably lead to something dreaded.
"You didn't see him?" Alex asked with concern but Rachel just shook her head. "It was probably the man Nick bought it from, that would make sense. Was it an old man Kat?" Alex tried to recall anything specific Nick might have said but all she remembered was old and little.
"Not really. Derek's age, maybe a bit older. He wasn't touched by anything I was seeing, he was clean and for some reason that made me feel better. I remember thinking he seemed kind to me because of what I was seeing, but I don't think he would have otherwise." Rachel watched Alex for her reaction, sure the psychic would not be able to hide her concern. Alex relieved Rachel by smiling sweetly without furrowing her brow at all.
"I'm sure he was just someone you saw on the street recently, or on TV. Something vaguely familiar that you had no reason to distrust." Alex nodded at her explanation. It was the only thing that made any sense after all. If he had just taken on some form to interact with her it would be best to be something more soothing then an old man to a little girl. Something more fatherly was better. She kissed Kat on the top of the head satisfying her own need to get those gestures in. "Call me tomorrow so we can talk?"
"Sure." Rachel nodded with a grin. She wanted to apologize again but could see that Alex didn't think it was necessary. She turned from the door leaving Alex standing in its frame as they walked to their car. She waved at them as they pulled away moments later and remained lingering there after they were gone. She just let her eyes take in the damp grounds outside of the house. Off to one side one had a clear view of the bay covered in a thick evening fog. Everything was peaceful on nights like this and she was glad to think that she would be able to turn around and feel the same thing.
The pieces all appeared to fit together now. The concern for each of them was built by what had been implanted into Kat and Rachel. A warning from her that something in her surroundings was wrong. Christina must have visited Tangye to tell her the same thing in a more direct fashion, warning her of the danger just hours away. Everything fit which meant that growing fear in her stomach could finally go away. That was all she wanted.
The peace she had been enjoying was suddenly interrupted by the sound of a ringing phone, moments later Kristin called out to her. "Alex, it's Philip." Her blood ran cold upon the sound of the name. She was hit by the sensation all over again. Philip was the piece that didn't fit and the feeling was back.