'Silent Night' by Alyssa

  It was early December. Although it shouldn't really happen, it was snowing in San Francisco. It had been falling for quite a while, causing havoc in the mainland streets. But on Angel Island, it created a scene of tranquillity. The rambling old mansion was decorated by the soft white powder, while the surrounding gardens and woods were blanketed in a cold silence.

However, inside the house, it was a different matter. The house rang with the sound of laughter and shouts as the Legacy members readied the house for Christmas. Kat and Nick, being the youngest, had been designated as house- decorators, but at the moment they were chasing each other round the library, squirting at one another with cans of brightly-coloured silly string.

'I'm gonna get you!' Kat sang out, spraying the can at Nick, who ducked under the table. 'Prepare to die, alien spawn!' Nick yelled back, taking a careful aim at the little girl. Derek sat at the table, sighing. He was trying to sort out some important paperwork for the museum, while at the same time talking to Rachel on his mobile phone. The psychiatrist was doing some Christmas shopping, and Derek had asked her to get some things while she was out. Unfortunately, Rachel had lost the list, and was phoning to find out what Derek had wanted. Derek was close to the end of his tether. Having Kat and Nick yelling around him didn't help either.

Derek stood up to go to his study, for some peace. Unfortunately, Kat and Nick both fired their cans at the same time. The shots would have gone over Derek's head, but he moved... and a deadly silence fell over the room. Derek slowly brushed the multi-coloured strings out of his eyes. Kat and Nick began to back towards the door, their faces paling, but trying to hide the grins that they knew would be their death warrant for sure. 'Y'know what Kat?' said Nick, 'I think we should be getting back to that tree now...' 'You're absolutely right' Kat answered, before the two quickly turned and ran. There was silence from the library a moment more, until a furious yell sounded through the house. 'Katherine! Nicholas!' But the culprits had already scarpered and Derek realised that he would have to wait until much later before they reappeared.

Alex looked in through the doorway, and broke into giggles when she saw the sight of her friend. 'Derek, what happened to you?' She laughed. Derek heaved a huge sigh. 'I just wanted some peace, and I get attacked by the next generation of Power Rangers. It isn't so bad about Kat, but I do wish Nick would grow up!' 'Oh,let him' Alex said. 'I mean, after continually being thrown into walls by demons all year, I think he needs a little break!' 'Maybe' said Derek. 'Its just that...' The phone began to ring, and Derek picked it up. 'Hello?' he said. 'Hey Derek' said a cheerful voice. 'Philip!' Derek broke into a big grin. 'How are you?' 'Great!' the priest answered. 'You?' 'Fine, apart from the silly string'. There was silence in the other end, then, '....What?' Derek laughed. 'Never mind. How can I help you?' 'Well ...' Philip said slowly, 'I was wondrin'...' 'Yes'. Derek cut in. 'We'd be delighted to have you over!' 'How did you know?' Philip sounded puzzled. 'Elementary, my dear Philip. Derek replied. 'When can we expect you?' 'Um tomorrow. Philip sounded embarrassed. 'I kinda already booked the flight...'. 'I knew you would have!' Derek said. 'I see you tomorrow'. 'Bye Derek'.

Derek hung up the phone as Alex wandered over from the doorway. 'What was that all about?' she asked. 'Philip will be here for Christmas.' Derek told her. 'Cool' Alex replied. 'The more the merrier'. 'Yes' replied Derek, thinking of two people he could do without!. 'Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go clean up...'

When Philip arrived the next day, Nick and Kat were waiting for him on the Angel Island dock. 'Philip!' Kat squealed, as she ran forward to hug the priest. He swept her up in his arms twirling her round. 'Kat! How are you?' 'Fine!' she replied. 'Hey, no hug for me?' Nick asked jokingly. Philip put Kat down, and pulled Nick into a big bear hug. 'How've you been? the priest asked. 'Fmmph' was the muffled reply. 'Oops, too hard'. Philip let go of Nick, who bent to pick up the priest's luggage. He grunted as he felt the heavy weight pull at his shoulders. 'Philip, we got a kitchen sink...' he grumbled. Philip swatted Nick atop his head. 'Quit grumbling! Honestly! You're an exSEAL, you should be used to this stuff. Kat took Philip's hand. 'C'mon! Everybody's waiting!' The trio began to walk up to the house, Philip eying the dark forest warily. 'That place always gives me the creeps...'. Nick laughed. 'Wimp!' Philip gave his friend a small smile, but he just couldn't shake the feeling that they were being watched. Kat felt it too, and held on to Philip just a little bit tighter. 'It's just the snow!' Nick rolled his eyes at the other two. 'Its just a bit creepy is all!' Nick carried on walking up to the house. Kat looked up at Philip. 'It is'nt the snow, is it?' 'Course it is' Philip tried to reassure her. They followed Nick, Philip glancing uneasily back towards the forest. Something was wrong, he could feel it.

Late that evening things had calmed down somewhat after Philip's arrival. Kat had gone to bed, and Rachel was taking a shower. The others sat together in the lounge, Philip and Alex playing a game of chess, Derek working out a new tune on the piano. Nick had disappeared upstairs a few minutes ago, and returned dressed in his grey running sweats. Derek called out to the young man as he passed by the doorway. 'Nick! Where are you going?' Nick paused, leaning on the door jamb. 'Let's see, I'm in my running gear...I'm off swimming!' Philip looked up. 'You shouldn't go out this late, it isn't safe. Nick looked at Philip, surprised, but a bit irritated. 'Philip, we're on an island, fer Christsakes!' Nick turned, and the others heard him walk to the front door. Derek looked at the other two. 'Do you feel it too?' he asked, anxiously, hoping that the feeling of foreboding he felt was just paranoia. They nodded. 'Something isn't right' Alex said, worriedly. 'Its like we're being watched'. 'Kat and I felt it earlier'. Philip put in. 'We felt like it was from the woods, but...' he stopped. 'But what?' Derek asked. Philip flushed. 'It's like it's grown. It's all around us'. Derek nodded in agreement. 'It's something about the snow. Something... wrong!'

Just then, Rachel appeared, wearing jeans and a teeshirt. She shivered in spite of the heat radiating from the log fire in the fireplace. 'Brr! Feels like someone just walked over my grave! Look, I got goosebumps!' She looked up at the others' solemn faces. 'Jeez, you guys look worse than the others!' Alex frowned.'What others?' 'On the mainland'. Rachel replied. 'Everyone there's really on edge. Must be the snow.'

Derek went to the window and looked outside. The world was covered in a soft blanket of white, which sparkled evilly as it reflected the moonlight of the crisp, clear night sky. Philip came up behind Derek. 'What are you looking for?' he asked. Derek continued to stare out of the window. 'I'm just looking for Nick'. He scanned the darkness, until he saw a small shape on the edge of the woods. 'There he is'. Derek sighed in relief. 'Yes' said Philip slowly. 'But who's that?' Derek followed Philip's gaze until he could see what his young friend was looking at. Derek breathed in sharply. 'My Got...'

Nick was jogging through the woods, warming up before his run. He was freezing, and the woods were starting to creep him out, but he was dammed if he was going to let the others know that. He moved quickly, careful not to trip on any debris that might belying just below the surface of the snow. His sneakers made soft crunching noises as they broke the perfect slopes of snow. Nick paused in his movement, leaning against a tree, rubbing at his face with his hands, trying to get some warmth into them.

Then Nick stood really still as he sensed someone near him. Nick whirled round, but all he could see were shadows. But he still felt like he was being watched. Nick peered into the dark. 'Philip' he called. 'Is that you?' No answer. 'Hey, come on!' Nick was feeling nervous. 'Stop kidding around, okay? You made your point, come on out!' The woods remained silent, but Nick still couldn't shake the feeling that someone was staring at him.

Nick heard faint shouts coming from the direction of the house, and he looked over, wondering what was going on. He saw Derek, Philip, Rachel and Alex standing at the front door. They were yelling and waving their arms, trying to catch his attention. Nick squinted, trying to make out what they were saying. Suddenly, he heard the quick crunch of snow in the dark as a huge shape rushed out of the shadows at him. Nick stared, transfixed, as the creature bore down on him, impossibly big, exuding more evil than he had ever felt in his life. He heard it give an unearthly shriek as it ran by him, striking him a glancing blow that sent him spinning into the nearest tree. The last thing Nick heard before he blacked out was the screams of his friends, almost drowned by the creature's howl that rang out across the cold night air.

The group at the house watched in horror as the thing rushed Nick, then disappeared. They ran forward to where Nick lay in the snow, motionless. Philip fell to his knees beside his friend, turning him over. Rachel stared wildly into the woods.

'Where is it?!' she yelled. 'Where did it go?!' As if in answer, a chilling howl filled the air, rising in volume, then fading away. Rachel and Alex clutched at each other, their faces paling. 'Get inside!' Derek yelled at them. 'Quickly!' Philip carefully scooped up Nick into his arms, and the group hurried back to the house. Derek slammed the heavy door shut, and bolted all the locks. He looked round frantically, searching for a safe place. 'Come on' he ordered, leading the others to the control room. They followed, hearts pounding as the creature's howl once again rang out, joined by several other cries that rose together in a horrific symphony.

Inside the control room, Philip carefully laid Nick down on the carpeted floor, while Derek rushed to the computer monitors, activating the security camera feeds. The screens flickered to life, showing dark, snowy landscape. Derek flipped a few switches, and the cameras panned inwards, moving closer to the house. Derek began searching for the creatures, scared at what he might find, but curious too. The others crowded round Nick, trying to help him.Suddenly, Rachel gave an anguished cry. 'Kat!' she got up from her position on the floor, and began to run wards the door. Alex caught hold of her and held her back. 'Rachel! You can't go out there! The creatures may come!'. Alex, too, was deeply worried about Kat, but at the same time, she knew that Rachel wouldn't be able to hold off the creatures if they came. Alex looked over to Philip desperately. 'I have to get Kat!' Rachel shrieked. Philip got up and stood in front of her. He took her shoulders in his hands and spoke calmly. 'Rachel, you must help Nick. I'll go and get Kat.' 'Rachel nodded, and Alex slowly led her back to where Nick lay, still unconscious. Philip took one last look at his friends, took a deep breach, and stepped through the hologram.

The house was completely silent. There was no sound from anywhere, even the howls from outside had ceased. Philip crept along the hallway cautiously, making his way to the stairs to the third floor, where the bedrooms were located. He ran up the stairs to Kat's room and burst in, flicking on the light. Kat was sitting up in bed, clutching her doll.

'I heard the noises' she told Philip, fearfully. 'What were they?' 'I'm not sure, honey.' Philip told her, rushing to Kat's wardrobe. He pulled out jeans and a sweater, then walked over to Kat, and picked her up. 'C'mon, sweetie, we have to get out of here.'

They hurried out the room, making for the stairs. 'Hold it!' Philip whispered, making a U-turn. He went into Nick's room, and set Kat down on the bed. Then he grabbed Nick's sports bag, and stood in front of Nick's gun drawer. He tried to pull it open, but it wouldn't budge. Philip tugged again and again, finally kicking at the set in anger. 'Dammit!' At this kick, Philip heard a lock snap, and the drawer popped open as the set rocked slowly from the blow. 'Oh.' said Philip 'That's how you do it.' 'Why didn't you use the key?' Kat asked, pointing at the small metal object taped to the drawer. 'Um...' Philip was at a loss for words. 'Hey, Kat, do you want to hold the bag open for me?' Kat obliged, and Philip gingerly emptied the contents of the drawer into the holdall. Then he shoved the clothes he had grabbed for Kat in as well, and flung the bundle over his shoulder. Philip picked up Kat again, and the two left the room.

Halfway down the stairs, Philip and Kat paused as the howling started up again, accompanied by loud bangs. They heard the splintering of wood, and realised that the creatures were breaking down the front door. Philip's blood ran cold as he realised what a vulnerable position he and Kat were in. If those creatures came in now.... Philip ran, Kat bouncing painfully on his hip. The little girl clung tightly to his neck, nearly choking him, but Philip had no time to slow down and tell her.

The final crash of the door came as Philip and Kat reached the library doors. They were about to enter when the doors slammed shut, pushed by an invisible force. Kat screamed, and Philip began pounding on the door, rattling the knob, but to no avail. The door wouldn't budge. Philip heard the click of nails on the hard wood floor of the hall, and a low, guttural growl. Philip remained still, listening. He could only hear one creature inside. Maybe if he ran, they could make it upstairs...

Both Philip and Kat screamed as the creature leapt up onto the landing in front of them. The thing was huge, an undulating black mass of thick fur and shadow. Eyes red as sunset glowed from its head, heavily taloned claws raking at the floor. It exuded almost impossible amounts of power and evil as it towered over the two humans, one giant claw raised to strike.

Suddenly, a white blur shot out at the creature, causing it to topple on its side. The thing and the new arrival battled, but the white thing was so small, any attempts by the larger animal to hurt it only succeeded in hurting itself. They rolled together, emitting loud animal screams. The door behind Kat and Philip popped open, giving them an escape route. They paused, unsure if they should stay and help their saviour. For a brief moment, the fight in front of them paused, and they saw that the white creature was a cat. It gazed over at them, its eyes locking with Philips. 'Go!' Philip heard the words spoken in his mind before the fight resumed once more. Philip ran, still holding Kat, and dashed through the hologram. Once inside the room behind, he set Kat down, who immediately ran into Rachel's arms. Philip sank to the floor, trembling.

'What happened?' Derek asked. 'We saw the creature come in.' Alex chimed in. 'How did you get away?' 'The cat attacked it, drew it away from us.' Philip explained. Derek looked puzzled. 'We have a cat....?'

Any further conversation was stopped by a groan from the other side of the room. They looked over to where Nick was rolling on to his side, rubbing his head. 'Not again....' he mumbled. Alex walked over, and squatted down in front of him.

'Well, at least it wasn't a wall again.' she offered, helpfully. 'Oh, ha ha.' Nick said, sarcastically. 'People only say 'ha ha' when they can't think of a witty response' Alex told him. Nick was quiet a moment. 'Oh...ha ha.' Alex helped Nick to stand. He swayed slightly, and Alex steered him to a chair. Nick flopped into it gratefully. 'Be careful' Rachel told him. 'You've got concussion again, maybe internal bruising. You really should consider a safer job, like a demolitions expert.' Nick ignored her, then looked over at Philip, who was still sitting on the floor. 'What happened to you?' he asked. 'The things are in the house' Philip told him. 'Kat and I were attacked'. Nick's eyes widened. 'Are you okay?' 'Fine' replied Philip. 'We were saved by a cat that no one knew we had.' As if on cue, the white cat strolled through the hologram. It wandered over to Nick, sprang onto his knee, gave him a quick lick on the tip of his nose, then began to groom itself. Nick tickled behind the cat's ears, and it began to purr. 'Evening, Bozo' Nick said to the cat. The feline flicked its tail, and continued its grooming. The others stared. 'Well, someone knows about the cat,' said Philip. Derek looked cross. 'Do you mind explaining Nick?' he asked. 'This is Bozo.' Nick told him. 'Undead, eats mice...' 'Undead?' Rachel said, incredulously. Nick sighed. 'How else do you think it got through the hologram?' he asked. Derek looked at him, resigned. 'I'm not even going to ask' he said. Just then, Alex gave a small gasp. 'Look!' she cried, pointing.

Through the hologram, they could all see several of the creatures in the library. The legacy members remained quiet and still, hardly breathing, as the creatures made their way through the library, searching. Finally, with a collective howl, they left, making off down the hallway. Alex breathed a sigh of relief. 'Thank God.' she said. 'We have to get out of here.' Derek said, 'I don't know what those things are, but they're evil, and if we stay here, we're as good as dead'. 'But how do we get out?' Philip questioned. 'We step outside this room, they'll get us for sure.'

Just then, Nick let out a small groan, and slumped forward in his chair. Startled, the cat leapt off his knee and sat at his feet, looking up at him. Rachel rushed to Nick's side. 'What's wrong?' she asked, worriedly. Nick shook his head, trying to clear it. 'I feel dizzy.' he mumbled. 'I wanna throw up.' Rachel quickly checked him over. 'That bang on your head must have been worse than I thought.' she said. 'We have to get you out of here.' 'There's no way!' Alex said, exasperated. Nick looked up sharply, then wished he hadn't as fresh pain exploded in his head. He ignored it, what he had to say was more important. 'There is a way' he told them. He dug into his pocket, and brought out a ring. Derek gasped when he saw the design on it, an ornate 'L'. The ring of a precept.

Derek's shocked reaction turned to fury. 'Where did you get that?' he demanded angrily. 'When you were on trial, and that guy exploded when you exposed him.' Nick said 'I found his ring in one of the corners of the room. The rings pretty funky, I mean it does all kinds of neat stuff.' 'And just how is that meant to help us?' Alex asked. 'Well,' said Nick. 'There's this secret room in the basement....' Derek groaned, 'You found that?' 'It isn't that difficult, Derek.' Nick replied. Rachel looked incredulous. 'I don't believe it! Thats another thing you've kept from us, Derek!' 'It doesn't really matter.' Derek sighed. 'It's a dead end, anyway.' Philip winced. 'Nice choice of words, Derek.' Nick looked exasperated. 'Would I have mentioned it if we couldn't get out?' 'But we can't' Derek told him. 'There's a tunnel.' 'There is?' 'Yup.' 'I didn't know that...' 'I didn't think so....' 'Well, now that's cleared up...' said Alex, sarcastically. 'Look,' continued Nick, 'The tunnel leads down to the dock. We can take a boat to the mainland, contact Sloan, and figure out just what the hell is going on here.' The others glanced about nervously, unsure of whether to follow Nick's plan or not. Then Kat spoke up. 'If the cat got through the hologram, could those things, too?' That was the deciding factor. The adults each grabbed and loaded one of the guns, and with Derek leading, and Nick covering the rear, they moved through the hologram, and out into the hostile world that had once been their home.

The group paused at the top of the stairs, listening for any sounds from the creatures. They heard the sound of creaking floorboards above them, but nothing from below. Nick left Philip guarding the rear, and crept up to Derek. 'Let me go first.' he whispered to the older man. 'Then I can open up the door for everyone.' Derek nodded, and let Nick take the lead. As Nick moved past Derek, his arm brushed the precept's hand. At the touch, a vision struck Derek. He saw, in sharp flashes, himself and Philip, at the entrance to a tunnel. They were clinging to Nick's hands and arms, trying to stop him being dragged away, he saw Nick's hand slip from his own, heard screams and howls... The vision ended, leaving Derek gasping and reeling. Nick looked at him in concern. 'What's wrong?' he whispered. 'Nothing.' Derek replied quickly. 'Come on, we must hurry.' Nick shrugged, and carried on leading them down the stairs. From behind Derek, Alex quietly whispered, 'What did you see?'. But Derek could not answer her. How could he say that he'd just had a vision of Nick's death?

At the entrance to the secret room, just opposite from the one that Derek had kept the sepulchres in for so many years, the Legacy Members were beginning to think that they just might get away. Using the ring to open the door, Nick let the others into the room, just as a howl sounded out from behind them. Nick and Philip, the only ones not inside, whirled to see three of the creatures behind them, staring at them hungrily. As the creatures prepared to pounce, Nick shoved Philip into the small room, then dashed in himself, and began to close the stone opening. One of the creatures jammed a huge paw into the space, preventing Nick from closing it completely. He held on to the stone with all his strength, preventing the creature from opening it further, but unable to close it. 'Derek!' he yelled. 'There's a groove in the far corner! Put your ring in, it works just like the outer door!' Derek felt along the dark stone, finally finding the small indent. He shoved his ring in and turned it. Along the wall, an opening popped open, slightly smaller than a regular doorway. Derek shoved the girls in, handing them a flashlight he'd brought from the control room. Then he entered himself, before turning back. Philip stood in the middle of the room, unsure whether the help Nick or follow the others.

'Philip!' Nick grunted, sweat trickling down his face from the effort of keeping the creature out. 'Get going!' Philip ran into the tunnel opening, then stopped by Derek. 'Nick, c'mon!' Philip yelled 'You can make it!' Nick glanced over to them, gauging the distance. Finally, with a loud cry, he let go of the stone, and sprinted for the opening. He just reached it when he felt his sweatshirt hood yanked back. Nick crashed to the floor on his back, and stared up out of dazed eyes at the creature looking above him.

The creature struck down with its paw, as Nick quickly rolled away. He got up and again reached the entrance to the tunnel. Derek and Philip reached out, grabbing hold of his hands and arms so they could pull Nick into the tunnel. Suddenly, Nick screamed, and the two men could feel a force opposing their efforts. The creature had a hold on Nick again, it's claws hooked into his legs and abdomen, its jaws clamped around his ankle. Philip and Derek could only just keep their grip on their friend against the tremendous strength of the creature. Alex grabbed at the gun she had shoved into the waistband of her trousers, aiming it at the creature. She tried to pull the trigger, but the gun jammed, useless.

Quickly, the creature snapped it's head from side to side, pulling Nick further and further away from Derek and Philip's grip. With a final toss of its great head, Nick was torn from their grasp. Derek felt Nick's hand slip from his, just as it had done in his vision. As Nick was pulled away, he twisted, and slammed his hand against a small button set in the floor. The tunnel opening swung shut, to the dismay of the others. They could only close their eyes as they heard screams and howls from the other side of the rock. Kat and Alex began to cry. Rachel stared straight ahead, trembling wildly. Derek and Philip could do nothing to comfort them or themselves. Derek felt something in his hand, and he opened his palm. Lying there was Nick's SEAL ring. He closed his eyes as grief overwhelmed him, but he had to be strong. Derek began to guide the others down the tunnel, and they followed numbly, disappearing into the darkness.

In the basement, Nick was past pain, past caring. He could feel the creatures tearing at him, knew he should try to get away, but he had no strength left. His limbs felt like lead, and a coldness was creeping up on him. The cold, hardness of death. Nick looked up through half-closed eyes, and saw a light coming near him. Nick felt his soul leave his body and float to the light. Now he was in a tunnel of blue smoke, lit by the welcoming glow at the end. Nick floated towards it, towards the place where he would feel no pain. He found himself in the middle of a forest. It was night, and the stars above shone brightly, reflected in the lake that Nick knelt beside. Nick stared dreamily into the water. He knew he should be worried, but all his cares had slipped away. He heard a soft football behind him, and he turned to see Christina standing there. Nick felt pretty honoured. Usually, only Kat and Derek could see her. But if Christina was here...

'Am I dead?' Nick asked. Christina nodded. Nick's face fell, 'Oh.' he said. Then he frowned. 'Aren't I meant to see everyone I know? This place feels a bit lonely.' Then a thought struck him. 'This is heaven, isn't it?' Christina spoke, in that strange sing-song way. 'This could be heaven or hell. Only time will tell.' 'Oh great.' Nick muttered. Christina knelt down next to him, and spoke again. 'We need your help, we need your aid. In this place you cannot stay.' 'I can't stay....Christina, what do you mean?' Nick was worried. Christina looked up sharply as a breeze rustled the trees around them. She spoke fearfully. 'It comes, it comes!' 'What...?' Nick fell silent as the beautiful forest around them began to horribly transform. The flowers withered and died, their petals turning into dust, that fell to the grass, which was rapidly drying and retreating into cracked earth. The trees shrivelled as if burned, most disintegrating into heaps of charcoal. The lake evaporated, its vapour rising to join the storm clouds scurrying across the sky. The breeze had become almost a gale, whipping Nick's hair painfully into his eyes. Nick gasped at what he saw beyond where the forest had been. Angelic beings, lying slaughtered on the ground, as if felled in some battle. Screams rent the air, the sound of death and suffering. Nick heard a low, dry chuckle behind him, and he turned to see a large pair of baleful eyes staring at him from the stormclouds. The eyes were full of menace and evil. Nick felt Christina grab his arm, and he turned to her. 'This second battle must be fought on Earth! The Legacy must break the demon's curse!' she yelled over the howling wind. Nick felt himself slip from her grasp as the wind tugged at him, blowing him away through the air. 'Christina!' he shrieked. Then Nick felt himself slam into the ground, and he fell into blackness.

The remaining Legacy Members had finally gotten a speedboat to work, and had reached the mainland. The sight that greeted them both shocked and chilled them. People wandered aimlessly about the darkened, snow-covered streets. In the shadows, creatures like the ones that had attacked them on Angel Island, moved in menacing silence. New, different creatures, each more horrific than the last, crouched in the darkness, occasionally bending to tear at the flesh of one of the many dead that littered the streets, their blood turning the snow a deep crimson. Philip picked Kat up, and the little girl buried her face in his shoulder. She didn't want to see any of this, but she could still hear the sounds; the cries and screams of tormented souls, the roaring of fires that blazed through the city. The Legacy could hear the sound of clashing steel, as if a great battle was going on, just out of sight. Derek saw a callbox, and headed for it. He lifted the receiver and placed it to his ear. Then he shook his head, and replaced it. 'Dead.' he told them. 'I suspect all the phones are that way.' 'So now what do we do?' Alex asked. 'We must find shelter'. Derek replied. 'Then we can figure out, just what the hell is going on here.'

Nick was cold. No, his back was cold. His front felt hot, as if he'd fallen asleep near a room heater. Nick opened his eyes to find himself lying in the snow on a street in San Francisco. The house a few feet away was burning and Nick quickly scrambled up, away from the flames. Nick looked around, and was greeted by the same sights as the others. Then he remembered. He was dead. He lifted his fingers to his neck, and, to his amazement, found a strong pulse. Nick looked down at his body, remembering how the creatures had torn at him in a frenzy. But he was whole, only small scars showing where the damage had been. As Nick looked, even those disappeared, vanishing in small sparks of blue light. Nick didn't understand any of this, but he knew that didn't matter. What did matter was finding Derek and the others, quickly, before it was too late.

Philip, scouting ahead for the others, had found shelter in a small apartment above one of the shops on Pier 39. The place was deserted, the door opens if the occupants had left in a hurry. Philip went back to where he had left the others in a shop doorway.

'C'mon' he said. 'I found someplace.' The others began to follow, cold and tired and confused. The pier was deserted apart from themselves, and it had begun to snow again. Soft, white flakes fell silently to the ground, tangling in the Legacy's clothes and hair. Philip screwed up his eyes and looked at the sky. The snowflakes seemed innocent, yet evil, falling from a grey sky that obscured the comforting glow of the moon. Philip frowned as he caught movement in the shadows on the walkway above them. The young priest stopped walking, starting up at where he had seen the shifting in the darkness. As he looked, a break in the clouds let some moonlight shine down on the area. Philip stiffened as he caught sight of an insectile creature, several feet taller than himself, looking down at the humans out of two stalked eyes. Philip quickly crossed himself, and swore vehemently. 'Oh, shit!' The others looked at him in amazement, never having heard him swear before. 'We have to get out of here! Now!' Philip told them, barely keeping the panic out of his voice. They began to hurry back to the pier entrance, but they found their way blocked by a small group of creatures, looking at them hungrily. Some of these creatures were like those from the island, others like the insectoid that Philip had seen. The Legacy slowly backed away from the group, but more abominations appeared from the shadows behind them, cutting them off. They were trapped.

Nick had found a men's clothing store with its windows smashed in. He needed to replace his torn sweatsuit. Making his way over broken glass and torn clothing he found a pair of black jeans, white teeshirt and a beige heavy knit sweater. Further searching revealed a black leather jacket. Nick found the cash desk, and the little instrument for removing the clothes security tags. Then he quickly changed, before carrying on his way. Nick felt pretty hungry, so he made his way to Pier 39, where he knew there was a food store. As he neared the place, Nick could feel something was wrong. He could feel the presence of evil, almost overwhelming, and in the middle, something familiar. Nick broke into a run, the feeling getting stronger as he reached the pier, and stopped, horrified at what he saw.

The Legacy was surrounded by several creatures which were rapidly closing in on them . One insect-like creature reached out, and attempted to grab Kat from Rachel's arms. The two screamed as it wrapped long, thin arms around the child and began to drag her away. Philip tried to pull Kat back, but another creature attacked him, wrapping a long tentacle around his neck, lifting him up in the air. Philip began to choke, unable to breathe. Derek and Alex clung to each other, as a creature not unlike the ones from the island prepared to pounce at them, snarling. 'No!' shrieked Nick. At the sound of his voice, they all turned to look in his direction. Several of the smaller creatures scarpered into the shadows, but the larger ones remained. 'Let them go.' Nick commanded. The one holding Kat obeyed, and the little girl ran to Nick. He picked her up, comforting her, but his steely gaze remained on the creatures. They stared back, silent. Suddenly, Nick felt a pain in his hand, as if he had been stung. He swept his arm out, to clear the pain, and a spark of blue light shot from his fingertips, striking the creature that held Philip. It howled dropping the priest to the ground, and ran off. Philip gasped for air, and Rachel bent to help him. Nick felt the pain again, and he directed another bolt at the nearest creature, which yelped and ran off after the others. 'Who's next?' Nick spoke quietly. All at once, the creatures ran off into the night, yelping, leaving the Legacy alone. Nick let out a shaky breath and slumped to his knees. Kat clung tightly to his neck, and Nick kept hold of her needing something to keep a hold of his sanity in the madness which had erupted.

The others approached Nick cautiously. 'Nick?' Derek asked. The younger man looked up at him, staring through not- quite-seeing eyes. 'Kat, come here.' Rachel said quietly, beckoning to her daughter. Kat obeyed, leaving Nick kneeling alone in the snow. He closed his eyes, bowing his head. The pain in his hands had been replaced by a tingling, and even that was fading. His breath came deep and slow, he heart barely beating. Philip gave a nervous laugh. 'This can't be happening.' he said. 'This isn't real.' Without looking up, Nick held out his wrist to Philip. 'Feel it.' he said, quietly. 'I'm as real as you are.' Philip looked at Nick, unable to reach out and touch him. Instead, it was Kat who did. She felt Nick's pulse beneath her small fingers, felt the warmth radiate from him, and she knew. 'It is you!' Kat smiled. Nick looked up accusingly at the others. 'Well, at least someone believes me.' 'But you died!' Alex said. 'Those things.... we saw....we heard.' 'I don't know how to explain this,' Nick told them, 'But I'm back to help you. Something awful is happening, not just here, and we're the only ones who can stop it.' Nick lowered his head again as a wave of exhaustion hit him. He could feel the cold creeping up on him. Derek knelt beside him in the snow. 'Come on.' he said, kindly. 'Let's get inside, out of this damn snow.' Derek helped Nick to stand, and the group began walking, searching for a safe shelter.

Finding an open ground floor apartment in San Francisco centre, the Legacy went in, settling in the sparsely-furnished living room. Bare wooden floors and blank walls gave the room an empty feel, despite the threadbare sofabed and armchairs. Derek searched in the other rooms, and dragged in a small wooden table. Alex helped him, and she found several lamps to illuminate the dark room. Derek drew the ragged curtains across the windows, so as not to attract any unwanted visitors. Rachel and Alex curled up on the sofabed, Kat between them. Derek and Philip moved the armchairs in front of the girls, then seated themselves.

Nick felt a pang of loneliness as he watched them. Despite Kat and Derek's efforts, Nick had been pushed to the outside, no one sure what to do or say to him. Nick squeezed into a dark corner of the room, knees drawn up to his chin. His thoughts and memories were a confused jumble in his mind, fact and fiction blurring together. The strange lightening that he'd been able to produce had somehow sapped his strength, and he closed his eyes, wanting so much to go to sleep and wake up to find that this was all a dream, but he couldn't. There was no escape from this warped reality.

An uneasy silence descended on the room. The others glanced nervously at each other, deliberately avoiding looking at Nick. They wanted so much to believe that this was their friend, but part of them could not trust, could not believe, that the tired young man in the corner really was Nick. They had believed him dead, grieved for him, and then for Nick to show up out of nowhere, with his strange ability, was just to much. Finally Philip gave an exasperated sigh. 'We can't just sit here forever!' 'Yes,' said Alex. 'Just what the hell is going on?' 'Well, I for one haven't a clue'. Derek told them. He looked over to the corner, finally breaking the silence towards Nick. 'Nick?' he asked quietly. Nick opened his eyes, looking wearily at the precept. 'Tell us what happened to you.' Derek continued. 'We need to know.' Nick looked out at them from the darkness, a faraway look on his face. 'I remember the creatures.' he said slowly. 'I shut the door, so you'd be safe. Then it hurt, but only for a while. There was this tunnel, and I....I died.' Nick frowned, trying to remember. 'Christina was there. Something was wrong...the angels. The angels were dying. They were fighting.' Nick sounded confused. 'They aren't meant to fight. Christina...she said that the Legacy had to break a curse. Something about a second battle.' Nick looked away, not wanting to remember any more, not wanting to remember the dead beings he had seen; their cries for help that went unanswered. 'I healed myself.' Nick told them 'With the blue lightening, the one I used to help you.' Nick looked over at the others. They looked uneasy at his tale. Only Philip seemed to believe him, biting absently at his nails as he thought something over. 'Second battle...' he muttered trying to fit all the pieces into place. Then he stiffened as the puzzle caught in his mind. 'Oh, man.' he said, turning to Derek. 'The Second Battle! The one to be fought on Earth!' Everyone looked at him blankly, and Philip began a hasty explanation. 'Thousands of years ago, there was a battle in heaven. Some of the angels were angry that God had given men souls. There was an uprising in heaven, led by the Dark Lord. Eventually, good won out, and the Dark Lord was banished to hell. But he promised that one day, the war would begin again, only on Earth.' Philip looked around at the others. 'And it's started again. This is it.' 'This is crazy!' exclaimed Rachel. Philip glared at her fiercely. 'Do you have a better idea?' he demanded angrily. Rachel remained silent. 'Look,' said Alex hastily. 'Even if it is true, what can we do? There's hundreds of those creatures out there, Nick can't get rid of them all.' 'He doesn't have to.' Derek said, eyes glinting as a plan formed in his mind. 'If we can find the Dark Lord, and defeat him, then those creatures will disappear.' 'Are you sure about that?' Philip asked. 'No,' Derek admitted 'But we have to try'. 'Just one thing,' Rachel put in. 'How do we find this guy? I mean, he could be anywhere, maybe not even in San Francisco!' 'He's here' Nick said. 'I can sense him'. 'I didn't know you were psychic, Nick' Derek joked. Nick missed the humour. 'Its that blue power,' Nick told him. 'Somehow, I can sense anything bad. It's quite strong, I don't know if I can control it properly.' 'As long as it's enough to fight the Dark Lord.' Philip said. Then he looked worried. 'It will be enough, won't it?' No one could answer him. They fell silent once more, listening to the sounds outside; the howls of the creatures, the sounds of fighting, the shrieks of the humans. Presently, after becoming immune to the noises, the girls fell asleep, curled together for comfort. Philip got up, and fetched some blankets from another room. He draped the biggest over the small huddle on the sofabed, then handed one to Derek, who took it gratefully, wrapping it around him in protection from the bitter cold that was creeping in. There was one blanket left. Philip looked over at Nick, who was leaning against the wall, staring blankly into space. 'He won't know...' said a little voice in Philip's head. Philip looked down at the blanket, then back at Nick. The younger man closed his eyes, shivering slightly. Philip looked back at the comfortable chair he had left, then again at the figure huddled in the corner, and Philip's heart melted. Nick looked so vulnerable and childlike, so different to his usual tough exterior. Now, Nick looked like a small child, scared by the monsters under the bed, but knowing that he had to protect his siblings when it emerged. Philip crossed over to the corner, and sat down by Nick. He held out the blanket. 'Wanna share?' he asked. 'It's the last one.' Nick opened his eyes, and nodded gratefully. Philip drew the blanket around them, tucking it closed in front of them. They heard the snap of electricity, and the sound of power generators failing as the lights dimmed and vanished, leaving the room in darkness. Although Philip could no longer see his friend's face, he could feel the desperation emanating from him.

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