TO FANFIC LIBRARY
Nick drove Philip back to the castle in his Mustang. Darrell had suggested that they get while the getting was good. Derek, Alex and Rachel were following them in Rachels car.
"So how are you doing?" Nick looked at his friend, The silence had been oppressive.
"I'll be fine, Nick." Philip answered. "I'll feel better when we've destroyed this icon and Jade is found safe and sound, though!"
"You and me both, brother." Nick whispered.
"What?" Nick glanced over at him.
" 'Brother?' " He repeated. Sounding sad. "I haven't heard that in a long time."
"We haven't had the best of luck with our friendship, have we?" Nick agreed.
"No." Was all Philip said.
Nick bit the bullet and pushed on.
"Look, I know we shouldn't have kept what we did from you , but...." Philip didn't let Nick finish.
"You had no way of knowing, Nick. I just was so shocked by what I saw." He shook his head. "I was unfair."
Nick didn't know what to say to this. It seemed they were forever passing blame around. They reverted back to silence. After boarding the ferry to the island, they got out of the car and joined the others on deck. Since they were the only ones going to Angel Island, they were alone for the trip.
"We need to find this "Citadel" Philip told us about." Derek was getting the ball rolling so that when they go to the island,they could get right to work.
"Did you get any impressions from Jade's contact earlier?" Alex had only felt a little of what her precept did, not being the focus of the contact.
"Not really, it was strange though..." he paused, remembering.
"What?" Rachel prompted.
"It felt like the air was old. I don't know how else to describe it" Derek was puzzled, so many impressions had hit him, he was only now getting them sorted out.
Philip hadn't heard of this before and was paying close attention. He was the first to notice Derek's eyes unfocus.
"Derek?" He touched the mans arm. He looked like he was 'seeing' something.
Derek's mind was touched once again by Jade, this time she sent him pictures of what she had seen from the other minds of the Council members. Derek focused on her mental tone. It was weakening, they didn't have long. Hold on, we're coming! He thought to her. Then the contact broke off.
Derek came to himself and noticed the concerned faces surrounding him. He smiled to relieve their apprehension.
"What happened?" Nick voiced what was on all their minds.
"Jade contacted me again, she gave me some more clues to her location. We don't have much time." Derek saw they were almost to the Island. "Nick, see if the captain will wait for a half hour. Philip can you find the book you mentioned in that time?"
"Easily" Philip answered.
"Good, with what I just saw, we should have a location in that time." Derek saw the others mentally grit their teeth and get ready to work fast. They were running out of time, and a friends live depended on them.
* * *
The rest of the trip went in silence. As soon as they pulled the cars into the drive, each team member focused on their jobs.They had much to do in very little time. Duncan opened the door, relief on his face when he spotted Philip.
"Father Callaghan, you have a visitor. I told him you were not here, but he insisted on waiting." The aging man looked a little put out.
"Who is it?" Philip was puzzled.
"He gave his name as Robert Aranna. He looks familiar, but I couldn't place him." He noticed Philip's startled reaction. "Do you know him?"
"He's my Cardinal! Did he say why he was here?" Philip walked with Duncan towards the study. The others followed, also puzzled.
"No, he only said he needed to see you urgently." Duncan led them to the door and retired.
As the group entered the study, they were greeted with an unexpected sight. Kat was sitting in Cardinal Aranna's arms laughing at something the man had just said. The Cardinal was not dressed in his red uniform of the church, but in blue jeans and a tan shirt. The tall black man's eyes sparkled merrily at the girl he was entertaining. Kat noticed them first.
"Mommy!" She cried and scrambled out of his arms.
"Hello, Philip!" The Cardinal stood up, still smiling.
"Yer grace." Philip took the extended hand and shook it.
"Robert, please. I am being extremely unofficial today." The Cardinal admonished. "Hello Nick, nice to see you again. How's the arm?"
Nick also shook hands, "Doing fine!" He looked over at Derek. "I have some work to do , if you'll excuse me."
"Of course. Hope to see you again soon." Robert turned to Derek. "Is everything alright, Derek?"
"Everything is fine, we just have some work to do." The precept answered.
"Is it alright if I speak to you in private, Philip? There is something I need to discuss with you." He smiled at his young friend.
"Of course, we can go up to the library. I need to find a book, but we can talk there." Philip led the older man out of the room, ignoring Derek and Alex's curious looks.
Philip led his Cardinal up the stairs in silence, wondering what would bring the man here. He didn't have long to wait.
"I was worried about you, my son." The Cardinal began, following Philip up the stairs.
"I'm fine." Philip curiously looked at his superior.
"You weren't when you left the Church a few days ago. Luke was cussing out Bishop Douglas for hours after you left!" The Cardinal chuckled at Phillips startled expression.
"I hope to have an answer for you about that incident one day." Philip whispered and turned to find the book he was looking for. He didn't want the Cardinal to see he was ashamed of his conduct on the tape. He found the book easily, right where he had left it. Before he could climb the ladder to retrieve it, the Cardinal grabbed his arm.
"Philip, I came here to apologize to you." The Cardinals eyes were full of sadness. "I never should have agreed to your suspension. It was wrong."
"It wasn't your decision, the committee head made the ruling." Philip was startled. What else could this man have done? Once a ruling came down, everyone had to obey it.
"It doesn't matter, I failed you. I know your motives had to be good for what we saw, but I was just so startled!" Robert broke off, shaking his head. "And when you said nothing in your defense, I didn't know what to make of it. I realized later you looked like you had never even seen that before. Do you remember it at all?"
"No, I remember right after it , but it was all a blur before and during." Philip found himself wanting to comfort his distressed friend. He was filled with the overwhelming need to confess to the Cardinal all about the Council and what he remembered.
"I know there are some things you can't tell me. I know they are important things. I seem to be able to see things about people, shades of things to come. I see darkness about you and I don't like it." Robert let go of Phillips arm and turned away.
"You have the sight !" Philip startled exclamation turned the Cardinal back around to face him.
"Is that what it's called? I just seem to know some things." Cardinal Aranna suddenly knew there was indeed something about these people that was good and right.
Philip climbed up the ladder and grabbed the book, quickly returning to the ground. He sighed , remembering the last time he had looked at this book. He had ended up at the bottom of the stairs, and not by his choice.
"Anubis?" The Cardinal read the title over his shoulder. "I t looks very old"
"It is." Philip nodded. "It was written when Napoleon was alive."
"I'm not even going to ask, Philip." The Cardinal smiled at him. "I know you are busy, but I had to see if you were alright. I'll take my leave of you, my son. When you wish to talk,I will be here."
"I will see you before the board of inquiry meeting, hopefully will have some answers for you." Philip walked him to the door.
"The answers needed are not for me, but for you. Remember that. I know you are a good man, no matter what, I will see to it that the board of inquiry does too." With that the Cardinal turned to walk out the door, waving off Phillips thanks.
Philip opened the book scanning for the reference he was looking for and walked to the control room to meet the others. He struggled to push the Cardinal's visit to the back of his mind. He would need all his concentration to find translate and implement what he knew to be the way to destroy the icon and it's power.
* * *
Jade was frightened, what were they going to do to her. That fear was replaced with a greater one, what were they going to do to her friends! The Council hated that the Legacy had defeated them. They did not know of the Legacy's existence yet, but she knew it was only a matter of time before they found out about it. She just prayed it was not through her.
They had left her alone to plot something, and she couldn't tell what it was. She tensed as the door to her cell opened. Ready to fight them again, she was surprised when just Brian entered the room.
"Hello, sis." He said to her, his expression neutral.
"What do you want?" she spat at him.
"They say you are being difficult. Now your friends from the Luna Foundation are going to suffer for your stupidity." He leered. Obviously he enjoyed teasing her.
"You are a toad, Brian! The Council will never get them again." Jade hoped in her heart she was right.
"Hah!" He smiled triumphantly. "They will try to rescue you, I know this and so do you! Especially after we let you contact Dr. Rayne and give him clues to this location."
Jade was horrified. They knew! She had to warn them not to come here. If they got cought because of her, she knew they would be killed, and it would be all her fault.
"Too late sister dear." He turned to leave. "They are coming very shortly for you. And thanks to you, we will have our revenge on them."
Jade wept as he closed the door behind him. Knowing in her heart that she was lost for the first time. Destiny was rearing it's ugly head, she had been a fool to think she could escape becoming one of these people. All that mattered now was getting Derek to not come here. Reaching out with her mind, she was startled to find herself blocked. The Council was exerting it's will, they would not let her spoil their plans this time! Jade tried every way she could think of to go around or break through their walls. She failed. Finally she gave up. She would have to find another way. If there was one.
* * *
Derek and Alex were looking up all the clue from his contacts with Jade. Surprisingly, it amounted to quite a shrinking of the search area. There were only five major areas that fit the bill. Derek knew the building was old, he had heard sounds of the ocean and boat traffic too. It would have to be some kind of abandoned building that would't draw attention to itself. Alex printed up the five locations and handed them out just as Philip walked into the control room, reading the book he held and muttering in French.
"Anything in there we might use to locate the icon?" Derek asked as he got to them.
"Only that the area has to be three miles from any church of light, it can't take the constant good will contained in such a structure.", Philip said off handedly, still looking for the incantations he sought.
"Alex, see if there are any churches near those locations." Derek leaned over her shoulder.
Alex inputted the data as Nick looked up from his work on the tapes. Nick had been carefully taking apart the cracked and broken cases and feeding the reels of the tape onto another case. It was meticulous work and was going slowly.
"Bingo!" Alex smiled. "Three of the locations have a church too close. Now we have only two to chose from."
"Good work Alex. Which two are they?" Derek rifled through the sheets.
Philip looked up from th book and concentrated on the information in Dereks hand.
"The warehouse on pier 53, and the abandoned apartment building on Riverfront Dr." Alex pointed them out with her hand.
"In the book it says the icon is rather large. They would need a ceiling over eight feet to contain it." Philip spoke up.
"It is the pier." Derek whispered.
"Why do you say that?" Nick asked. Finishing up on the reel.
"it feels right" was all Derek said.
Alex and Nick looked at one another and shrugged. Derek's feeling were often more right that any other method of guessing. Philip was reading more from the book and hadn't heard a word of the last exchange.
"Found it." He finally said, in the following silence.
"Found what?" Nick crossed the room to stand by him
"The way to destroy the icon." Philip read further, not liking what he saw.
"Why don't you look happy about that?" Alex became concerned.
Philip didn't answer.
Derek read the incantation and explanation over Philip's shoulder. It would require a priest to break the icon's power. The light of the priest's soul was needed to extinguish the power of the icon. There was no mention of the priest living or dying at he end, however. Derek did not like this one bit.
"Let's go." Derek was impatient to get to the site,Jade would have very little time left. Philip sensed Dereks thoughts and nodded. It was time to go do battle with evil, this time they would have to win or lose everything. The Council needed to be utterly destroyed or it would soon become like a cancer and threaten the very existence of the Legacy.
They boarded the ferry and, in silence, prepared for war.
After they boarded the ferry, Derek pulled Philip aside. He had not had time to discuss the fears he had for his friends safety, and he needed to know if Philip knew any more than he had read.
"Philip....if the light of a priests soul is needed to destroy the icon.....does the book hold a clue to what it will do to you should you try this? When a force of light and dark collide like this....." Derek looked away and added softly "I fear for you, my friend."
Philip's own uncertainty rose even higher, nut he refused to let it show. "I don't know Derek. I guess we will just have to see when it is over."
Derek nodded thoughtfully and withdrew, leaving Philip with his own fears and a book full of incantations to sort through.
Alex noticed the dark scowl on Derek's face when he returned from speaking with Philip. She too was concerned for her friends, this was bound to get ugly, and fast. Nick had gone off with Rachel to see if the Captain could tell them anything about the abandoned warehouse. He was an older man who lived and worked this area all his life. if anyone could tell them about it , it was he.
In 15 minutes they would be on shore and the pier was only a little ways down the bay. Alex feared that Jade was already lost. She hoped she was wrong, but she had a bad feeling Jade had succumbed to the icon,or would shortly.
Nick returned with Rachel and hailed Derek. They had hit pay dirt,Captain Tom not only knew the warehouse, but knew who had owned it previously. He knew the inside well. Nick and Rachel outlined the floor plan to them, as even Philip took his head out of his book to listen.
* * *
Jade heard the Council as they approached her quarters,It was time and she knew it. She stood and calmly surveyed their faces as the entered. Brian was the last to come into the room.
"We will give you a choice, Kara." Tha chairman of the Council spoke. "You can join with the new power or we will torture each one of your friends very slowly until they are dead. If you agree, we will let them go."
"How can I trust you?" Jade spat angrily, "Everything you ever told me was a lie!"
"Believe me little one, I will promise you your friends will suffer the most agonizing pain imaginable unless you agree. You know what we are capable of." He smiled maliciously. His tone promised exactly what he said.
"You enjoy torturing people, don't you. I know what you did to Father Callaghan last time. You are sick!" Jade started to tremble. How could she let that happen to them again. She knew that if she could prevent their deaths,she would. Even if it cost her immortal soul to do it.
The council members sensed her switch in attitude and smiled triumphantly. She would become one with them and then she would be theirs to control. Then Rayne and his colleagues would suffer. They had won!
* * *
The five legacy members crept up to the warehouse from the darkened back alley. None were surprised to see Darrell waiting for them in a shadowy doorway. What did surprise them was the savage expression he wore.
"I knew you would show up here." The gang leader smiled grimly.
"What's wrong?" Nick frowned, knowing the answer was likely to be bad news.
"One of my boys was following Jade, tha Council returned him to us this afternoon........in pieces." Darrell's expression was neutral, but all could tell he was furious.
"I'm sorry for your loss." Derek put a hand on the younger man's shoulder. Although he did not know him well, Derek knew he had helped Philip and the others many times and was grateful. This did not deserve to happen to them.
"I just want Jade out of there, and their hides nailed to the wall." Darrell was glancing out over the water as he spoke. "We had better hide soon, another patrol is coming ."
"How often do they come?" Nick slipped into his military training, checking all lines of sight and possible hiding spaces.
As the two talked, Alex and Rachel cornered Philip. The two women knew he was an important part of what was to come, and wanted to make sure he was ready. Alex had a surprise for him.
"Philip, I have something for you. " Alex handed him a small wrapped package.
"Wha' is it?" Philip gently takes the proffered object. Unwrapping it, he sees his cross, it had been sodered carefully back together. His hands shook. He had thought it lost forever. The cross had been a gift from his brother upon his ordination and Philip had never taken it off since that day. He still remembered the savage laugh of his abductor as it was ripped from his neck and broken. Then the chloroform had taken him, he never knew it had been found. Unaccountably, he felt more sure of their success than ever before. He was ready to face whatever waited inside.
"Nick fixed it when you were talking to the Cardinal, we found it at Rachels." Alex smiled gently.
"I thought I had lost it." Philip whispered. He put it over his head and settled the cross on his chest. "Thank you Alex."
"Your welcome, but Nick was the one who fixed it." Alex smiled at the calmer appearance of her friend. Rachel noticed the change in his behavior too and was a little less concerned for him.
"Don' worry, I will thank him too." Philip actually grinned mischievously and the two ladies laughed softly.
"O.K. guys, as soon as the next patrol goes by, we go in." Nick looked to Derek for confirmation. Derek nodded. It was time.
* * *
Jade walked slowly behind the Council, the ceremony had begun. She knew this was the only way to save her friends, but her heart was still heavy. Brian strode beside her, he was almost predatory in his protection of her. She wished she could see her friends one more time, for she knew she would never be the same after this day. As the procession made it way to the Icons chamber, she found herself praying for rescue.
* * *
Nick led the five Legacy members and Darrell and a few of his followers into the building. The rest of the gang had stayed behind to harass the Council's thugs and create a diversion. As soon as they had lit the abandoned car on fire, Nick hustled everybody into the building. The diversonworked spectacularly, drawing many people out of the warehouse and into the well laid traps outside.
"Stay low and stay quiet." Nick whispered to them as they entered the structure.
Captain Tom had given Nick the layout of the place. The building had been condemned for unsafe conditions, and nobody wanted to spend the money to repair the facility. The front was narrow corridored office cubicles, with the lag=rger two-story storage centers in back over the water.
It was a perfect place for a secret orginazation to hide. Now all they had to do was get the Council to lead them to Jade and destroy the Icon . They filed into the building, it looked and sounded deserted. The diversion must have worked better than they anticipated.
"Look sharp everybody." Nick whispered. "I'll take point, Darrell take up the rear, everybody else hang loose and keep eyes and ears peeled."
"Be careful, " Derek added, recognizing how lucky they were for not being pounced on the second they had gotten inside. "They know we are here now. They will be waiting."
Nick was on point, half way throughthe offices, when their luck ran out. At least a dozen members of the Councils security jumped out at them from several directions. Shots rang out and everybody hit the dirt. Nick screamed at everybody to stay down and defend themselves. As he pulled out his gun, he was grabbed from behind. He got off several shots anyway, wounding or killing many of the attackers before the gun was ripped from his hands and he was dragged through a door. Derek shouted his name and ran to help. Several of the nearest people did likewise. Soon the group was in another room and the door swung shut.
Nick used an Aikido throw to rid himself of his attacker. He hit another who had slugged on of the gang kids with an iron bar. Nick winced as the kid fell and didn't move. Nick was furious, they had been separated from the others. He took out his fury on the man rushing at him. With a roundhouse kick to the ribs, Nick felled the man. Then , to make sure he didn't get up, he kicked him again in the side. The thug groaned and lay there.
Glancing around, Nick noticed Derek rather handily delivering a left hook to the jaw of another, then throwing a tire iron at another to keep him at bay. The precept wore a serious expression and almost seemed to be enjoying himself. Nick knew that was far from the truth, but the frustration that had built up in his precept was finally finding an outlet. Nick grasped the arm of another attacker that was trying to hit him and twisted the arm up and away, breaking the mans wrist. As the man screamed, Nick kicked him, knocking him down a flight of stairs that was in the corner of the room. Nick heard him hit water.
Noticing that they were almost out of attackers, Nick stopped still for a moment to catch his breath. Of the seven in this group that had been forced into th room, only he , Derek and two gang members were left. The ambush had been successful. The two gang members finished off the last man, and they all gathered around the door. No amount of force opened it.
"We will have to find another way" Derek gasped , out of breath.
"Yeah." Nick looked around "But the question is, where do we go from here."
"We will have to find the Icon and hope the others meet us there " Derek regained his breath and motioned Nick to lead on. Silently , they left the room. Nick led them up a flight of stairs to the second story.
Philip lost sight of Derek and Nick as he was tackled from behind. The breath was knocked out of him as he hit the floor. Struggling to regain his feet and fight off his attacker, he kicked out with both legs. As his breathing started to even out, his foot connected and he was able to crawl away. Staggering to his feet he noticed he was almost alone in the corridor.
Alex was throwing an assailant into the nearest wall, while Darrell was pulling a man off of Rachel. Two more of the gang members were on the floor not moving as three more guarded them. Nick and the others were gone. Philip wondered how they could have lost sight of them so quickly when he noticed a door on the left side. Making sure he was clear he made his way over to it, while the fighting commenced around him.
Growing up in Ireland, Philip was used to seeing violence, but he never had the urge to enjoy it like others he knew when he was young. He hated it. Getting to the door, he tried to open it. It wouldn't budge. The sound of fighting ceased as the last Council security man was felled by a savage kick to the groin by Rachel. Gasping from their exertions, they joined the priest at the door. Nothing they did opened it. Philip knew if he was Derek, he would look for the Icon and hope to the others would meet him.
What do we do now?" Alex looked down th corridor.
"Well, I would say try to find the others would be a pretty good way to start." Rachel looked uncertain.
"We need to find the Icon." Philip spoke up. "Derek and Nick are probably going to do the same. But if we don't stop these people, we'll be in even greater trouble"
Knowing without a doubt that time was growing short, he started down the corridor, looking for the Icon. The others following behind him with Darrell bringing up the rear. Now there were onlyeleen when ther had been clost to thirty.
* * *
The Council was ready. Their new subject was about to freely give herself up to the power in the Icon and then they would be able to controll life and death themselves! All their enemies would fall before them, one at a time. The incantations were begining to have an effect on the Icon. As the chanting went on, it started to glow.
Resolutely, Jade stepped up to the Icon at the appropriate time in the ceremony and placed her hand on the base of it. A sudden light filled her being and she found herself face to face with Anubis.
"Why have you called me here to this place!" He thundered in rage.
"I have been asked to be given your power over the souls of man, the burden of life and death is to be mine.." Jade recited what she had been told to .
The figure paused and stepped closer. The jackelheaded god reguarded her with unwavering curiosity. He stretched his hand out to her and waited for her to take it. Trembling, she did so. When he next addressed her, his voice was gentle.
"You seek to save your friends by this deed. I will grant you some of my power, but beware, it is not what they or you want. You will be able to see who will live and who will die and where their allotted place inthe afterlife is. That is all I can give. What those people who seek to controll you want is not part of this." The god turned and led her to the edge of the light.
"Why do you do this?" Jade could not resist asking.
"To be remembered in some small way is to exist. I would rather this than go the way of the forgotten gods. Never to roam the planes of existance. Everything is real to those who believe, child. Remember that and I will live on." With that he let her go.
* * *
Philip and Alex were the first to hear the chanting. Darrell found the right corridor and they raced to the door before them. It had taken them only a few minutes to reach the large room near the back of the building. They had only met one other group of resistance, but Darrel and his boys took care of them without too much fuss. Most of them bore some mark or another from their scuffles, fortunately none were serious.
Opening the door in front of him,Philip found himself facing an eight foot likeness of Anubis, seemingly carved out of solid rock. The chanting stopped and Rachel gasped in horror as they watched Jade walk up and touch the icon. A blinding flash of light filled the room, and when it was gone, Jade lay on the floor.
In a cry of rage Darrell attacked the guards around the door and went for the Council. He had just seen Jade fall and he would be damned if he let those responsible get away with it. Seeing they were in danger of harm, the Council withdrew and waited for their newest member to awaken and do their bidding. Darrell went after them in his rage ,his men followed him. With a muffled curse, Alex went into the room too, Rachel right behind her.
Wasting no time,Philip strodeup to the icon and began reciting the words that would destroy the Icon's power forever, freeing Anubis from it's call. He could feel the evil surrounding the icon trying to push it's way into his soul. Philip had left the Legacy once before because he felt his soul was being chipped away one piece at a time by the evil he constantly had to face, this was a hundred times worse. The evil permeated the very air. Philip concentrated on his faith, pushing through the discomfort, knowing if he failed all would be lost. The whiteness of his aura flared and he was able to get to the icon, now he could destroy it.
A door from the upper level burst open and Nick came flying through. They had met with more resistance and had only just managed to squeek by. Nick had a cut lip and a shallow slice from a knife down his arm. Derek had a cut on his cheek and was holding onto his side.
Togather they saw Darrell and the other gang members finishing up the mop up on the Councils guards. Alex and Rachel were trying to keep out of the way and and at he smae time, keep an eye on Philip as he performed the ritual. Derek sighed when he saw they were all there and relatively well. He glanced at Nick and smiled when Alex knocked out a thug going after Philip.
Of the Council, there was no sign. Derek sensed they were nearby, and motioned Nick to keep on his guard. The two gang member that had been with them hobbled into the room. Before Derek or Nick could intervene, Philip began the final ritual and touched the base of the icon.
What was happening was all in Philips mind. Mentally he was being attacked by the evil intentions of the Council to force Anubis to their will. The darkness of their souls clashed with Philips light almost painfully. Gamely he struggled to keep from being drowned in the darkness. He prayed that his strenght wouldn't give out.
It was clear to the young priest that the Council expected Jade to join them in their darkness. All their hopes rested on her aquiring the power from Anubis and once taken, doing their will. The evil tried to wormit's way into his soul as well. His prayers to God increased. He needed to make sure this would never happen again. Philip was under tremendous strain to keep from being overcome. His light and faith sustained him, and with a final push, he broke the circle. The Council's power was broken. Jade was free and she began to come to.
Philip dropped the Anubis book , and continued to stand there by the statue. Nick and Derek began to get concerned, when, with a mighty snapping sound, the Icon began to split apart.
In his concentration, Philip didn't notice the world fade away to be replaced by a room of light. As he ended his incantation, he noticed Anubis standing to his right, looking at him.
"You come to destroy me?" The Jackal headed Egyptian god spoke.
"No." Philip said calmly, closing the book. "I have come t' free you. You will no longer be bound to do others bidding."
Anubis nodded to the priest and calmly turned away and fadded into nothing.
Philip staggered as he came back to himself. He barely heard Alex shout a warning when he felt the room shake and the floor buckled underneath him. The icon had split in two and fallen off the pedestal and gone right through the floor. Philip ran to Jade and picked her up. Praying there was enough time, he headed for the others. Before he could get there, the floor gave way beneath him and spilled the two into the water below.
Derek watched in growing concern as Philip simply stood there touchng the icon. The ritual had been finished, but nothing seemed to be happening.
"Derek,lets get down there." Nick preceeded his precept down a set of stairs in the corner, he too was keeping his eyes on the priest.
Suddenly, the statue split in two with an audible cracking sound. Philip's eyes fluttered a little and his arm fell to his side.
"Philip! The Icon! Look out!" Alex screamed out a warning.
Nick watched in horror as the two halves toppled from their pedestal and fell to the floor. Philip looked dazedly around as the icon hit the floor around him and crashed right through it . Nick was running towards him, when Philip picked up Jadde and ran for them. He was almost safe when the old flooring gave way and the two dropped from Nicks sight.
"No!" Rachel cried hurring to the edge.
"Rachel, stay back!" Derek pulled her away from the edge, afraid she would fall as well.
Nick ignored everyone and ditched his shoes and dropped into the water below. He was glad he went feet first, because no sooner had his head gone under the surface, than his feet hit something hard and unyielding. The force of the impact jarred Nick but he ignored it and began his search. Almost immediately he felt a grasping arm brush his. Using his diver rescue training, Nick pulled the victim up to the surface.
Alex peered down into the hole in the floor. She could see nothing but rippling water after Nick had jumped in. There was no sign of the two people who had dropped through moments before.Suddenly Nick erupted to the surface, peering into the darkness, Alex was relieved to see he was carrying someone in a rescue hold. It was Jade.
"Nick!" Derek yelled. "Over here."
Nick swam the sputtering woman over to their outstretched hands and lifter her to them. With a heave, Darrell and Derek pulled her to safety. Not wasting time, Nick dove back into the murky water to look for Philip. They had gone in togather so he had to be close by.
Rachel checked the soaked girl over. Other than a few scrapes and cuts, she appeared to be in good health. Darrell stripped out of his shirt and offered it to Jade.
"Keep yourself warm." He smiled at her.
With a faint smile of her own, she peeled the wet shift off and wrapped herself in the much to large shirt. Darrell then took her from Rachel and wrapped her in his arms. Alex smiled at this briefly and then returned her attention to the waters below. Nick had been under longer this time and she was begining to get concerned. Derek also wore a anxious look that defied his calm demeanor. It was taking too long!
Nick was almost out of breath, he was remembering his rescue training, don't become a victim trying to rescue someone else. Save yourself, then the other. In his heart, Nick knew he was running out of time. Then, impossibly, he felt a brush of cloth. Grabbing what he could, he jetted for the surface.
Rachel exclaimed in surprised joy when Nick shot to the surface, he was ,again, carrying something his arms. Wearily, Nick swam over to the others and tried to lift Philip up. Dereks outstretched hands grabbed Philips shirt, and he and Alex hauled him up. Rachel immediately set the semi-conscious man on his side as he began coughing up water. Derek then helped a sopping Nick up and everyone breathed a little easier.
Nick sat next to a still coughing Philip. He gave the priest a playful punch on the shoulder and grinned. Philip, regaining his composure, sat up with the help of Rachel.
"I can't believe you once did that on purpose, NIck." Philip coughed.
"Well, it was part of the SEAL training. You have to get the bends, and you have to drown." Nick smiled mischeviously. "Guess your half a SEAL now, huh?"
"I'll pass on the other half if you don' mind." Came the ferverent answer.
Nick laughed and gave his friend another playful shove. Looking around, Nick realized it was over. This time the Council had lost everything, people now knew their faces and he would hunt them down to their last man. As if sensing his thoughts, Derek nodded at him, they would not get away this time!
* * *
They were not the only ones interested inthe fast disapearing Council. Anubis followed them to their cars and when they were all inside, set them on fire. The decendents of his imprisoners would pay dearly for their transgressions. He only left one alive. It was a favor to his new friend in the living world. While he could not erase how this young man was raised, he did give him a healthy respect for the darkness within, a darkness that was to be avoided or he too would follow the fate of the others. His tasks done, Anubis returned to his afterworld in peace.
* * *
It was a weary procession that made it's way back to the Legacy house. Darrell and his crew had long since gone home, the members of his gang that died would be buried the next day. Philip had given every last one Last Rites before he had agreed to go back to the Island.
Duncan met them at the door. "Welcome back." He said ushering the weray and somewhat damp figures into the house.
"Is everything alright here" Derek asked the servant as he followed them to the study.
"Everything is fine. There was , however, a call for Father Callaghan about an hour ago. It was from the Church." With that Duncan left them to get refreshment.
Philip walked over to the phone and dialed the church. Derek finally could give into this curiosty and questioned Jade about her experience with the Icon. So absorbed were they in her tale, they didn't notice Philip leave the room.
"....and then he just left ." Jade concluded.
As she finished, Alex noticed that Philip was not there. Before she could say anything he appeared in the doorway, clothed in his formal uniform.
"Trouble at the church?" Derek asked getting to his feet.
"Apparently my missing mass yesterday upset a few people and Bishop Douglass didn't smooth things over very well. Luke wanted me t' come t' a meeting with th' Parrish and th' comittee. It starts in little over an hour." Phillip rubbed his eyes, Lord he was tired!
Rachel noticed Philip was in no shape to attend a potentially draining meeting. She shot an appeal to Derek who nodded.
"Do you want someone to go with you?" The precept asked, deliberately keeping his tone light.
Philip sighed and shook his head. "It's been a long day, you all get some rest, I'll go and handle this."
"Hey, you got a few minutes, I have the tape ready to re-case." Nick stood and walked towards the controll room. Philip followed him after a shrug.
Pausing to collect a case, Nick switched on the filter program, the scene from the tape was scratchy but it was intact. It showed the whole scene from when Nick provided his diversion to Philip taking action , all the way to the conclusion. Startled, Philip found himself smiling at the end with Nick. His comment had been rather funny!
"Here you go. This should help." Nick loked anxiously at his friend. "Can you handle this?"
"I think so, Nick." Philip sighed deeply and walked towards the door.
"Wait up!" Nick called, getting up and following him. "I'll drive you. I need some fresh air anyway."
Philip didn't protest. He just sighed and shook his head. All the way to theSt. Bart's Philip didn't say a word. Just before they pulled up to the parking lot, Nick stopped the car.
"What's wrong?" Philip asked.
"There were two tapes, Philip. One you saw last meeting and the one I gave you. Either Bishop Douglass edited the first tape, or he was given the two and chose to only show the one." Nick glanced over at the thoughtful look on his friends face.
"Or, he could have viewed the one first and just forgot the second in his haste." Philip finally said.
NIck nodded and continued the rest of the way. He parked in the almost full lot and got out . Philip didn't object when Nick followed him inside. The two men heard the commotion and shouting coming from the main church. Quietly Philip slipped into the room and waited. Nick grinned and was just as quiet.
The comittee were in chairs by the altar with Bishop Diuglass and Cardinal Aranna. Father Quinlan and Father Andrews were seated in the front row of the pews. An enraged voice lifted over the sea of voices.
"This is stupid!" the voice thundered. Everybody quieted. "All who really know Father Callaghan, realizes he is not capable of such a wonton act of voilence that you describe!"
Philip was startled to realize his defender was George Drake. Philip couldn't recall the manever having a civil word for him. Philip had always been unfailingly polite to the man, but this was unexpected. Before things got out of hand , Philip decided to speak up.
"Actually." He started, the room grew still as everybody turned to face him. "It turns out I might be."
Philip walked down the aisle towards the comittee. He held the tape in his hands. Whispers swirled around him as his words sunk in.
"I have come into posession of a tape, one that shows more than the previous one did." Philip held it out. "Since I am assuming you showed the first one, I would appreciate it if you would view this one as well."
Cardinal Aranna searched the young priests face and finally took the tape from him. The comittee members quietly decided to aquiesce to his request, and voted to show the tape. One stood and placed the tape in the machine and hit 'play'. As the scene unfolded, the congergation saw the attack on Alex, her rape imminent, and his intervention. His rather unsteady, but effective defense of her spoke volumes. What this tape showed was that he was not in full controll of himself. At the end of the scene, when Philipheard himself utter "Who did this then" on the tape, he laughed along with the rest. The Comittee members got up and got togather to discuss the new information.
Philip had removed himself from the fore during the tapes playing, Nick had come to stand next to him, lending moral support.
The wait seemed to take forever. Was the tape going to be enough? Or would they take it the other way and make it permanent. Philip was begining to get even more anxious when they stopped talking and resumed their seats. After a few moments of quick conference, the chairman of the comittee held his hand up for silence. All murmurring stopped. Philip held his breath.
"After veiwing this tape, we will recend our suspension of Father Callaghan immediately." The crowd erupted in cheers. "HOWEVER........he will have to explain himself to us at a later time , where we will review this in more detail. This matter is now closed."
Philip let out the breath he was holding, and looked over at a smiling Nick. Before he could thank his friend, Philip was decended upon by the parishoners and Cardinal Aranna. Bishop Douglas gave a sour look and exited the church without another word.
"Welcome back, my son." Robert's eyes sparkled. "I had rather hoped you wouldn't miss tonite." The Cardinal shook his head and steped aside for the others to come up.
"Almost did. I had to help a friend." Philip shook his hand smiling. Thinking of Jade safe and sound at the Legacy. She was safe now, thats all that mattered
As the night wound to a close, and the parishoners left, Philip walked Nick back to his office accompanied by the Cardinal and Father Quinlan.
"You know Nick," Philip began. "I will have to say where the tape came from."
"Yeah,well I guess I had better get a lawyer then." Nick retorted.
"Well you did 'break and enter' to get it!" Philip smiled at his sour expression.
"I never broke!" Nick looked indignant, "I just entered!"
Laughing, Philip walked into his office, feeling likehe again belonged here. Although the situation was not all resolved, he knew he could weather the storm.
"Why are we here?" Nick asked, "I thought you were coming back with me?"
"I never did thank you for fixing my cross." Philip explained as he pulled out his last bottle of Irish whiskey that he had been given by his sister-in-law for the previous Christmas.
"Is that...." Nick began, remembering the last time Philip had a bottle of that stuff.
"It is," Philip grinned and took out some glasses and passed them around. "The best whiskey to come out of any country!"
Cardinal Aranna took his with a laugh. "A toast!"
Everyone raised their glasses.
"To the return of Father Callaghan to his parrish!" Luke spoke up first.
The toast was echoed by everyone but Philip who blushed faintly before drinking his down. The four men talked and sipped the whiskey until, one by one they went to bed. Nick fell asleep on the couch of the office, Philip in the chair. In the morning both men were embarrassed to be woken up by a very amused Sister Margaret.