by Karen Kaiser


Nick Boyle entered the gym but stopped just over the threshold. He watched Karen Roarke as she moved through a number of deadly forms of martial arts. Sweat glistened off her body as the gym's lights gleamed off the sword she was using in the exercise. Her face was still as her attention was focused inward. Her movements even though they were deadly were like a graceful dance. Her hair was tied back in a braid that made her look very young. The braid whipped through the air as she spun and leapt. Her sleekly muscled body never failed in completing any of the movements she made. The elegance of her movements brought a small pang of envy because her movements were so graceful and fluid. She finished with a silent salute to her invisible opponent and Nick supressed the urge to clap.

She pivoted smoothly on her heel to face him, she seemed unstartled by his presence. A flicker of pleasure crossed her eyes at the sight of Nick. He had a feeling that she'd known where he'd been in the room since he entered it. Her focus may of been totally on her exercises but she'd been aware of any change in her environment. She acknowledged him with a whisper of a smile that she allowed to cross her face. Alex Moreau just then entered the gym with a stranger. The man was between six two and six three in height and about a hundred and eighty in weight. He had brown hair and blue eyes and Nick guessed his age to be somewhere between thirty to thirty five. He took off his jacket to reveal a body of finely honed muscle without an inch of fat. One handed he reached behind him and drew out a sword.

"Roarke?!" Nick's voice was greatly concerned, "It's alright, whatever happens don't interfere." she ordered. "So what do you want me to do with the remains once this is over?" she asked. "Impudent brat! What makes you think the remains will be mine?" he asked. "Because gramps old men have a habit of slowing down." He growled and came at her swinging his sword at her neck. The sword passed by so close that she could actually feel the disturbance in the air as the sword barely missed her. Her body moved gracefully as her sword came up like an extension of her body. Roarke brought her sword up quickly but her opponent was ready and swatted away her sword. He came at her again and this time he got close enough to give her a hard hit in the side with his elbow. Roarke staggered as the wind was knocked out of her. She saw his boot come up as he spun and felt it strike slightly to the left of the center of her chest.

It was hard enough to knock the wind out of her and send her flying backwards off her feet, if he had hit her in the direct center of the chest he would of killed her. Roarke and the stranger took positions directly across from each other that separated them by a sword's length. He came at her again as his sword came down towards her torso. Karen matched his blow and watched as the sword's sparked. Roarke dropped slightly and moved in as she struck him in the face with the palm of her hand. His head snapped back as he struck the ground. He looked up at her with a wicked smile and wiped the blood from his face. His face held an eerie grin as he pounced on her. Roarke's sword slashed outward then around and down as she moved in. He flew at her glancing her sword away as he slammed into her.

Roarke felt herself falling and curled a bit to lessen the impact as she struck the floor. Roarke rolled and brought her foot up kicking him in the chest as she got back to her feet. He staggered back and she saw her next move before it happened. She flung herself at him as she aimed for his sword hand. He hit the floor as she disarmed him and brought her sword down against his throat. "Your life is forfeit!" he fell back laughing and his eyes still held mirth as he accepted her offered hand. Roarke helped him up but she didn't notice the knife he'd taken from his boot until he came at her with a savage cry. The impact knocked her to the ground and her sword flew from her hand as he brought the knife down against her throat. "Always remember that your opponent has two hands." he chided her. "You sorry...." she snarled, "Yea, Yea that's what they all say. Famous last words shorty."

Roarke laughed as he helped her up and the man headed towards the others as Derek entered the gym. Roarke raced up behind him and jumped on his back as she wrapped her arms around his throat. "Rogue." she whispered and then kissed him soundly on the cheek. "Rebel." he whispered back and flipped her over his shoulder and into his arms. He lowered her gently and then took her face in his hands. He kissed Karen gently but passionately, "Ahem!" Derek cleared his throat. The two broke quickly apart and Roarke blushed as a ghost of a grin appeared on her face. "Jake Mcqueen these are my colleagues, Derek Rayne, Nick Boyle and Alex Moreau." Jake took a hold of Karen's hand and squeezed it gently. "Jake's a friend of mine from the old days." she grinned mischievously at Jake. "I don't mean to be abrupt but can we talk?" Jake asked. "Sure I'll be right back." and she led him from the gym.

They strolled along as Karen waited for Jake to speak about whatever was bothering him. Jake cleared his throat, "Cade I hate to have to tell you this but I think you need to hear it. Malcolm Peterson is out, he's been released from jail due to insufficient evidence." Karen stopped suddenly and stared at Jake in shock, "Your joking right?!" she asked unable to believe what he was telling her. Jake shook his head, "How could they release something like that from his cage?!" she snarled angrily. He drew her into his arms and hugged her tightly. "I'm keeping track of him so you needn't worry. Besides he has no idea where you are." Jake released her and wrapped an arm around her waist, "Yep I guess the town wouldn't survive without you would it Marshal?" Jake laughed, "That's why I want to keep you around kiddo. Your a real riot and always keep me in stitches."

"Jake do you think that by being a .U.S. Marshal that your making a difference?" Karen asked. "What do they say in that song you like? 'I don't save one life to change the world but to show the world that it can't change me.'" Jake kissed her gently on the forehead before heading for his car. Karen watched until he was out of sight and then turned to find herself face to face with Malcolm Peterson. "Well witch you still know how to cast spells I see." Petersen sneered. "Petersen get out of here before I have you arrested!" she answered angrily. She started past him and he grabbed her arm stopping her in her tracks. Karen pulled away from him with a look of distaste on her face, "I won't be as easy as Horton. I won't stop until abominations like you are destroyed." He smiled maliciously at her before turning and walking away.

She raised her hand to strike and was startled by the faint traces of fire that glowed along her fingers. She forced herself to close her hand on the fire and banish it. Fear and shame flooded through Karen as she realized what she'd been about to do. She tried to ignore the growing heat in her hands as she headed back to the house. 'How could she have forgotten herself like that?! How could she have been so foolish to allow herself to fall back on that particular talent so easily?! It wasn't as if Petersen couldn't be dealt with in other ways. It was obvious that she had to be stricter about keeping to her oath.'

The next morning Roarke bounded down the stairs and smiled as she heard Nick and Alex arguing. Phillip as usual was playing referee for his two associates. Nick and Alex were an interesting pair. They were constantly fighting but if you tried to harm one the other would leap to their defense instinctively. She forgotten in her recent years of living alone how good it was to have other people around. Roarke felt a slight sadness at having to go home after the repairs on her apartment were finished. Maybe in some small way that electrical fire had done some good. She hadn't realized until she accepted Derek's offer how far she'd removed herself from the human race. She broke out of her reverie as she almost collided with Dominic. "Dominic?! You really know how to make a girl's heart beat wildly." she grinned at him.

"There is a gentleman waiting for you in the library Miss Roarke." answered Dominic. "A gentleman? I don't know any gentlemen." she answered him in a puzzled tone. Roarke flashed a reassuring smile at Dominic before heading for the library. When she entered the library she found herself face to face with a familiar face. Before her stood a man who was six foot four in height with blues eyes that looked at her from steel rimmed glasses. His curly brown hair spoke of a man who had just woken up. "I see that you still have that dead rat on your face." she quipped. "Have you no respect for a good beard?" he complained as he stroked his beard and looked at her in mock injury. "Show me a good beard and I'll respect." answered Karen. "Why is everyone picking on my beard?" he asked, "Well actually to be accurate I don't think what's on your face qualifies as a beard."

"Unless it's an anemic one but you didn't come here because of that sad excuse for a beard." Karen replied. "Your right kiddo, although do I really need an excuse for visiting my favorite girl?" she smiled warmly at him and threw her arms around him. She had forgotten how good his hugs felt. She drew away when she heard someone clear his throat. "Should I be jealous?" joked Nick with a gleam of amusement in his eyes. "Yes completely." Karen quipped, "Doctor Harrison Blackwood I'd like you to meet Nick Boyle, Derek Rayne, Phillip Callahan and Alex Moreau. Guys I'd like for you to meet Harrison Blackwood my father." Derek raised an eyebrow before shaking Blackwood's hand but the others greeted him warmly. "Great I finally get to find out what kind of kid she was." Nick said with a wicked gleam in his eyes.

"If I recall she was stubborn and a streaker." Harrison held his hands up in front of him in mock surrender as she advanced on him. He grabbed her hands and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Don't worry .D.D. I won't tell him anything too embarrassing." he reassured her. ".D.D.?" asked Alex, "Droopy Drawers." Harrison answered and then coughed from the elbow that she jabbed in his ribs. "Droopy Drawers?!?!" laughed Nick, "Don't start Boyle or I'll really make you pay!" she chided. They excused themselves and Karen took Harrison on a tour of the grounds. As they strolled the grounds Karen became anxious but controlled it because she knew Harrison would speak when he was ready. "Paul's alive." was all he said but it was enough to cause her to stop dead in her tracks. Her heart beat a little faster at the possibility of it being true.

Over the years since his death she had almost convinced herself that it no longer hurt. Karen had always believed that he couldn't be dead because she would of felt it when he had died. "He was in one of the old headquarters, they had kept prisoners and Paul was one of them. He was one of the lucky ones to have survived the years alive and sane." Karen winced at that last part, she turned and winced again at the hope in his eyes. "Are you sure it's Paul?" she asked. She fought the sick feeling that hit her when she saw the light of hope in his eyes dim. She placed a hand comfortingly on his arm, "I know how much these people mean to you. Have you told them about your past? he asked. "The past is the past and it's best that it stay there." Karen answered. Harrison frowned but didn't argue with her, "I want to be there when they debrief Paul so that he'll have one friendly face there. In case you want to visit." he handed her a card. "I'll walk you back." she answered as she stuffed the card in her pocket.

Derek?" asked Phillip, Derek was standing by the window lost in his thoughts. It's nothing Phillip." he answered as he turned to join the others. Something about Roarke felt wrong since just after Mcqueen had left. He wondered what Mcqueen had said to make Roarke as tense as she was. "Nick and I are going to take Karen and head down to the warehouse to inventory the new shipment." said Alex. "Well when I finish my meeting at the church I'll join you." said Phillip. "Personally I'd rather play hooky with Phillip." quipped Nick. "If you had your way your whole life would be one big hooky." answered Alex with a mischievous gleam in her eye. Derek cleared his throat because he knew that if he didn't retain control Alex would egg Nick on. Once Alex and Nick started it would be difficult to get any work done.

They rapidly finished the business at hand and Derek dismissed the others with a promise from Alex to fill Karen in. Derek started to look through the house for Karen. He found her in the gym working out with the same graceful movements she had this morning but there seemed to be something else there too. Finally she came over and sat down next to him and he quietly watched as she packed up her sword. "You missed the morning meeting but Alex will fill you in." Roarke refused to meet his eyes and instead she looked at her hands which were clenched tightly in her lap. Derek placed a hand on Karen's hands and was surprised and how tense and cold her hands were. She snatched her hands away, "I'd better get going." Karen picked up her case and hurried out of the room as if the devil himself were after her.

When they arrived at the warehouse Karen quickly exited the car and headed for the warehouse. She desperately needed something to occupy her mind. She barely avoided colliding with an old woman who seemed as if she had been waiting for Karen. "Dragon daughter." she greeted Karen and Karen gasped. "Don't call me that!" she answered frantically. Karen hurried past her and into the warehouse but Alex smiled warmly at the old woman. "I'm sorry but my friend is a little preoccupied today." she explained. "She is frightened by her abilities. She made an error in judgment and now she fears using her abilities for fear of hurting another. One can only hope that the child of the dragon can overcome her fears in time." said the old woman. "Child of the dragon?" Alex asked, "One who is descended from the king who was, the king who is and the king who will be."

"Alex!" Alex turned to see Nick waiting at the door, she turned back to the old woman only to find her gone. She was puzzled by the woman's sudden disappearance, "Did you see where that old woman went Nick?" she asked. "What old woman?" he asked, "The one who...." she trailed off realizing that Nick seriously didn't know who she was talking about. She filled him in on the conversation, "The king who was?" Nick said puzzled. "That means King Arthur Pendragon of Briton or as he's more commonly known King Arthur of Camelot." Nick looked at her in surprise and then shrugged and pulled the door open. Alex entered the warehouse behind Nick but when she made a sharp sound that was abruptly cut off Nick whirled to see Alex struggling with a man. The man had an arm wrapped around Alex's throat and in his other hand he held a gun that was pressed up against the side of the struggling Alex's head.

Alex tried to free herself but her attacker only tightened his arm around her throat. Alex stood completely still when she noticed the slight shake of the head that Karen gave her. Alex felt her attacker stiffen as he noticed Karen's arrival as if he were afraid of her. As ancient powers began to surge through Karen she felt her body tingle. Faint traces of fire glowed along her fingers and the heat began to grow in her hands. The attacker kept glancing from her hands which were aching from Karen's attempt to control the fire to Nick and back again. Suddenly he threw Alex at Karen and Nick and took off. While Nick caught Alex Karen cast a spell that caused some boxes on an upper shelf to start falling towards the attacker. To Karen's horror Nick ran after the attacker and soon the crates were headed for Nick. "Nick!" she screamed and raced for him. Karen reached Nick and shoved him sending him sprawling just in time to see the crates falling at her. Something struck her in the back and everything went black.

Karen awoke confused as her surroundings refused to come into focus. When her vision cleared she saw an unmoving figure sprawled a few yards ahead of her. "Nick?!" she whispered, instinct warned her not to attempt to move as she became aware of a strange numbness in her body. She felt hands touch her back as Alex probed gently but firmly. She felt nothing as Alex gently turned her over onto her back. "Can you move?" she asked, Karen focused on moving her fingers and barely managed that. She felt a tingling sensation traveling through her fingers. "Try to move your legs." Karen focused on her legs but nothing happened. "I can't feel my legs." she answered quietly, "Nothing at all?" Alex asked in a voice that was shaky but in control. "No but don't worry about me just go check on Nick and see if he's okay."

Obviously from the look Karen received Alex thought that Karen's injuries were more severe. Strange but she should feel scared but she only felt serene as if everything were alright. Karen heard sirens stopping outside as Alex headed over to Nick. She returned a few minutes later as the paramedics entered the warehouse and set about tending to her and Nick. They worked efficiently and soon the paramedics moved her to the ambulance for the ride to the hospital. The next few hours all she saw were doctors and nurses and no one would tell her how Nick was. After a few failed attempts she felt it was safer to keep her mouth shut to avoid having something stuck in it.

Derek didn't like being the bearer of bad tidings but he knew that the others deserved to know how two people that they thought of as family were doing. He walked into the waiting room only to have four very worried faces turn towards him. "Nick's out of surgery and in recovery. The doctor says they won't know anything until he wakes up. Karen is fine except for...." he hesitated not wanting to be the one to pronounce the end of a promising Legacy career. "Derek?" Alex whispered and he could hear the concern in her voice. "Her spine has been severed." he answered matter of factly, Alex gasped in shock. "Surely there's something we can do?" Alex asked in a panicked voice. Rachel wrapped a comforting arm around Alex's shoulders. "With today's advancements in medicine she should be able to lead a productive life. When can we visit Derek?" asked Rachel. Derek was grateful for the distraction since he knew Alex would dwell on it if they let her.

Everything had been done that could be and now all they could do was wait. Karen hated waiting especially if it involved the future of someone she loved like a part of herself. She had ignored the pain and slid into the wheel chair after finding out where Nick was and had wheeled herself to his room. Now as she sat by his bed she held his hand tightly, "Nick I'm so sorry! It's all my fault that your here! I'll make him pay I promise!" she told him fiercely. She was so intent on Nick that she didn't notice Derek and Phillip's arrival. When she looked up her eyes met Derek's and she wheeled past him without a word. Derek followed her into a waiting room and he headed towards her, "I want to be alone!" Karen said refusing to look at him. He wanted to hold her in his arms and tell her that everything was going to be okay but he couldn't.

"Why didn't you tell me?!" he asked her, "Why there isn't anything you could do." Karen answered. She wasn't surprised that Derek knew about Peterson because she had a feeling that he had checked up on Jake due to her attitude change. "I could of protect you!" he answered angrily. "Protect me?!" she laughed bitterly, he grabbed her roughly and shook her. "It's my duty to protect you!" he snarled. "Just like your father?!" she spat at him and knew her words had struck him hard. "When will you admit that you can't protect everyone?! Your father's death wasn't your fault! You were only a child! Stop trying to make up for something that you believe to be your failure in not stopping your father's death!" Derek sat down heavily on a bench as if she had physically struck him. "You can't just throw away your life!" Derek hated it that his voice trembled.

When she didn't answer Derek stood and then whirled and struck the wall with his fist. Karen cried out and reached for him but he pulled away. She'd forgotten that under that deceptively charming facade lived a very frightening man. Maybe she'd find a way one day to tell him how sorry she really was for what she was about to do. Karen took a deep breath, "There's no easy way to tell you this but I'm leaving the Legacy." she told him in a choked voice. "You can't leave! With Nick hospitalized I need you more then ever." he exclaimed. "I can't." she answered quietly, "You mean you won't! There has to be a reason?!" he pleaded with her. "There is but it's personal." she answered, Derek turned and left the room before he found himself doing something he'd regret later and he was sure that he'd definitely regret something after this. "He's right little one." said a soft musical voice and Karen's body tensed. Standing beside her was a beautiful auburn haired woman. Her long robe rustled as she came to stand in front of Karen and smiled warmly at her. She placed a hand under Karen's chin and brought her head up until their eyes met. A shudder passed through Karen like a warm shiver. She blinked rapidly as if to hold back tears that were threatening to fall. "Little one I hope those are tears of joy at my arrival for there is no need of any other kind." She stroked Karen's cheek tenderly, "Ancient one I have no idea what I'm doing and I never did! I almost killed Nick and I...." The woman held up a finger silencing her, "You follow your heart and that is all you need to know. Your friend Nicholas will be fine because it was meant to be."

"He will need your help though to heal the right way not just physically but mentally and emotionally. I sent you to the Legacy to be their guardian and protector because I knew you would do the job well." the woman answered. "Real well! Nick almost ended up like...." she trailed off as a look of pain came into her eyes. "The mortal knew the dangers when he joined the Legacy but like the others his path has led him where it has and there's no changing that. For a mortal little one you have a very large heart and you use it well but you don't allow it to overcome you. You don't intrude where it isn't needed or wanted because of your heart. Your a perfect balance of heart, mind, body and soul, I could ask no more of one of my children." she answered. "This child has failed you!" Karen cried out, "No little one you haven't failed me at all."

"Rayne and his people are gifted and have a very important future ahead of them. You are a part of that future now even more so since you've sacrificed your whole self to them." Karen looked up at her shocked. "No little one I'm not jealous. In fact I'm happy that after all this time you were able to give of yourself again. It means that you have healed child and for that your willing to risk the pain for the happiness received in exchange. Stay with your family little one where you belong and if it makes any difference I approve of Connor Doyle for he has an important future too my child." Karen smiled, "Just once I'd like to be able to get something pass you." Karen replied. The woman laughed a laugh that sounded like tinkling bells. "Little one you were always good for me. Your my favorite child because you have gifts even you couldn't begin to imagine."

"Daria and Mara will only be a call away if you need them." A soft glow began to form between the ancient's hands and lightly dance along their surface. The room around her became charged with a peculiar energy as lights darted off the walls in dazzling flashes. The energy started at her fingertips and quickly moved up her arms, Karen felt it spread throughout her body until it suffused her entire body. Slowly the energy and lights faded away leaving only a small pulsing of energy that came from a medallion in the woman's hands. "Come to me little one." Karen walked to her and knelt in front of her. The woman placed the chain around Karen's neck. "This will protect you from the worst of it and I'm glad to be able to return it to it's rightful owner my child." Karen rose and sat back down in her wheelchair, "Don't forget little one to watch Rayne closely." Karen nodded.

Alex headed to the waiting room where Derek had left Karen. She was determined to knock some sense into Karen. As she swung around the corner she saw three woman leaving the waiting room in question. The one in the front was a classic beauty with long auburn hair and behind her there were two other women. The one on the left had long black hair and brown eyes while the one on the right had blonde hair that was almost silver and pale blue eyes so pale they were almost colorless. Other then their beauty there was nothing remarkable about the three women in front of Alex. Nothing except that they wore long white robes with dark hooded cloaks and of course the bright white light that surrounded them. Alex shook her head hard to clear it and when she looked again she only saw three normal looking women in normal clothing.

The strong pure white light that had infused their bodies was gone. As the women reached her the one in front stopped. "Be easy with her shamar sistal for her spirit is weary and troubled." Alex met her eyes and was surprised to find for such a young looking woman her eyes spoke of a very old soul. Alex felt the fear and anger rush out of her and be replaced with a serenity she had never felt before. Alex blinked and looked around to find herself standing alone in the hallway. Confused Alex continued into the waiting room, she had every intention of asking Karen who those women were. Before she could say anything though Karen smiled at Alex and stood and walked to her. As she reached Alex Karen grabbed her before she fell. Karen helped Alex to a chair and helped her sit down. "How?!" she asked stunned, "I'm not sure." Karen answered.

It wasn't exactly a lie after all even though she'd used healing spells before she hadn't really been paying attention to the spell that had healed her. "I've got to tell the others!" Alex squeaked, she got up and raced out of the room before Karen could stop her. Karen made her way to Nick's room and found Phillip asleep in the chair next to Nick's bed. Karen placed her hands on either side of Nick's head and her hands began to glow. The monitor that had been recording abnormal brain wave activity now recorded normal activity. As she reached for his body she tensed at a noise, "I'm sorry but he must do that on his own." said Daria as she took a hold of Karen's wrist. Karen turned to face the woman whose long black hair was bound on top of her head but a few stray strands escaped.

Her dark brown eyes twinkled with amusement, "Besides the pain will build character for him." Karen smiled, "Daria your a naughty girl but I guess with his serious injuries healed I can let the others go." she replied. "Atta girl Karen, you have to remember we can't interfere with their lives. They have free will even if it means the will to die." said Daria. As they heard Phillip awakening on the other side of the bed Karen wasn't surprised to see Daria had disappeared. "Karen?" Phillip asked in a confused voice as Alex and Derek burst into the room followed by Rachel and Kristian. Luckily Nick chose that moment to awaken and saved her for now from having to try and explain everything.

Karen's eyes snapped open at a sound in the darkness and a movement in the dark caught her attention. She turned towards the window to see a dark silhouette standing there. The features in the darkness were indistinguishable but there was no doubt in her mind who it was. Terror began to claw at Karen and she began to shake violently. She reached frantically for the bedside lamp. As the lights came on they momentarily blinded her and she blinked rapidly to adjust her eyes. Karen forced herself to face the apparition that stood at the window. He stood there silently and his face was covered in blood as he stared at her with a sadness in his eyes. Her chest squeezed as if it were in a vise and Karen forced her eyes to remain locked on the person before her. She tired to scrabble backwards on the bed but her body didn't seem to want to obey her.

Karen finally felt herself inching along the bed and she tumbled onto the floor but she failed to notice the bruises she had gained. She scooted backwards along the floor until her back struck the wall. As he came slowly towards her she tried to scream but no sound came out. Karen felt his hand stroke her cheek gently as he smiled warmly at her. She was shocked by the warm hand she felt on her cheek since he'd been dead for years. She met his eyes and noticed that the blood was gone and instead Matthew was glowing with a soft white light. He vanished and Karen felt a shot of fear rush through her. She sat up in bed soaked in sweat and trying to control her breathing. She hadn't dreamt of Matthew in years, not since....not that she'd ever forgotten what she'd done to him. The door burst open and she saw Derek standing at the threshold of her room.

"Are you okay?" he asked her breathlessly, he was still dressed and she had no doubt that he had yet to go to bed. "I'm fine." Karen answered but she wanted to tell him what she really was which was absolutely and totally confused. Obviously Derek hadn't believed her because he came over and sat down on the bed next to her and took her in his arms. He gently stroked the hair out of her face and smiled gently down at her, "It's alright. Just go back to sleep and I'll stay with you until then." said Derek. "Where are the others?" she asked as she laid back in bed. "Phillip is at the hospital with Nick, Rachel is at home and Alex and Kristian went to San Francisco for some research and decided to spend the night. They should be back by tomorrow."

He laid down on the bed next to her and she strangely found his body next to hers comforting. She was very used to sleeping alone since she'd done all her life but at this moment it was nice to have him next to her. Karen rested her head on Derek's chest and listened to the beating of his heart which was always the most comforting thing since all babies heard it in their mother's womb as the only thing they heard regularly. She yawned and Derek smiled at how it made her appear as if she were younger then Rachel's daughter Kat. He gently stroked her face and she snuggled against him as she struggled to stay awake but her eyes conspired against her and she soon fell into a deep sleep. Derek suddenly pulled back his hand as he realized what he was doing and why. He had feelings for Karen! That's why it was so hard for him when she had mumbled another man's name at him in her sleep back at the motel.

Derek gently lowered her onto to the bed, careful not to awaken her. When Karen had screamed Derek had only known he had to get to her no matter what. Not since Laura had he felt this way. It seemed almost funny that both woman were the mother of his children, in Laura's case it was his first born Lucas. Lucas now was buried next to his mother in the local graveyard next to his grandfather and Derek's father Winston Rayne. Christian, Ayla and Daniel were in Los Angeles at their maternal grandparents. Michael and Margaret had arrived a week earlier insisting that the children had a right to know their family. Derek and Karen had agreed to allow them to take the children back to Los Angeles for a month. Karen had spoken to Chris and Ayla on the phone only this morning assuring them she was alright.

Karen always spoke with a neutral tone as if she were afraid of committing herself to any emotion but when she had been talking to the children there was such love and warmth in her voice that Derek had felt it coming from her in waves. 'This is no good!' thought Derek, 'She's involved with Connor Doyle who she met at Saint Thomas Hospital and I have to put aside what I feel.' he admonished himself. Something that Karen had said to him when they had first met fluttered through his mind. 'Ever the boy scout aren't you?' she had said to him with a wry smile on her face as if he reminded her of someone else and she was patiently dealing with the pair of idiots that was her lot in life. She was warm, funny, intelligent and extremely beautiful and so the only honorable thing he could do was back away. Derek pulled the covers up and left the room before he did something he regretted.

Karen stood by the window with an untouched drink in her hand. "Will miracles never cease?" asked Phillip as he entered the room. Karen smiled at the boyish grin that was plastered across his face. "Why is it that I have a feeling that you know more then your saying?" he asked. "Because you have a very good imagination?" she quipped and she saw the look of mischief that came into his eyes. "I'd be careful if I were you because I can imagine alot." Phillip warned her playfully. "Father is there something that you might need to confess?" she asked teasingly. "You be surprised at what I could confess." quipped Phillip. "Don't bother with that look young man! I explained everything to you this morning." she chided. "Well I have to get back to work." Phillip placed a quick kiss on her forehead before leaving. Karen knew that this was Phillip's way of saying that he wasn't going to push for an answer.

A few minutes later Nick entered the library, "Aren't you supposed to resting young man?!" Karen scolded him. Nick waved away her helping hand as he sat gingerly in a chair. He had been released from the hospital but any movement was done with a great deal of caution. Nick settled into the chair stiffly, "Stop fussing mom I'm just fine." he joked. "Good then I don't feel so bad about this." Karen said as she rummaged through her duffel bag. She pulled out a gun and pointed it at Nick, "Hey! Wait!" he struggled to get up as she pulled the trigger. Nick bellowed as a stream of freezing cold water hit him square in the face. He wiped the water from his face in time to catch the water pistol that she tossed at him. "Now it's a fair fight." said Karen as she squirted him again, "Your as bad as Alex!" Nick complained.

Karen ducked as he fired back, "Hey knock it off you two!" Alex yelled as she entered the library. Karen and Nick glanced at each other before turning back to face Alex again. They both fired their water pistols at the same time, Alex screeched as she picked up a pillow and started swatting at them. "What's going on here?!" roared Derek, they all snapped to attention. "Nothing?!" squeaked Alex and then began to giggle uncontrollably. Soon both Karen and Alex were helpless with the giggles and Nick had a look that said he wanted nothing to do with either of them. Karen abruptly stopped laughing as she noticed the man standing behind Derek. He stood at least six foot one with dark brown hair that held a touch of gray that hadn't been there before and warm dark brown eyes. He stood as start as a ramrod and there was a distinctive military air to him.

"I knew if I followed the signs of a riot I'd find you shamar mayate." Karen answered him in a language that none of the others understood. Alex noticed a spark of amusement in his eyes before he answered in the same language. "You haven't forgotten the old ways Little Fawn." the man replied. "I'd never forget you Ironhorse, that's not possible. Shall we walk old one" Karen answered playfully. Alex saw a smile creep onto Ironhorse's face. Karen came up to him and to Alex it seemed as if she ached to hug him but something held her back. "I'll be back in a little while Derek." she said almost absentmindedly. "I hear you had a little problem with your accommodations." Ironhorse smiled wryly at her. It made Alex realize how really handsome the man was but despite all of the military discipline there was something vulnerable about him.

Ironhorse place a comfortable arm around Karen's waist as if it were the most familiar thing in the world. Karen wrapped an arm possessively around his waist as they headed out of the library. "I've got to start hanging out with that girl more often! How is it that she always manages to get the really cute guys and I get you Nick?" Alex asked mischievously. Nick grinned and squirted her with his water pistol, Alex screamed and dive for Karen's abandoned water pistol before returning fire. Derek was about to discipline them but then he stopped and shook his head before leaving.

They strolled along in companionable silence for a while, "I missed this." Ironhorse said as he rubbed the small of her back. "I have too." she answered and then hugged him tightly to her as if afraid to let go. When she finally pulled back there were tears in her eyes. "I wasn't sure at first because I was used to seeing you and it being someone else. When you arrive though I could feel that it was the real you." Karen said quietly. "I understand but I am the real thing I assure you of that." he answered. She leaned her head onto his shoulder as she had done a thousand times before. "Karen I'm sorry for the years I've missed. If I had them to do over...." he trailed off. "You'd do them exactly the same except for being held prisoner. I know you Paul and I also know you have a compulsion to help people."

"Let's make the best of the time we have. If anybody should apologize it should be me. I not only hurt Harry when he told me you were alive by doubting him. I felt that you were alive but I didn't bother to go looking for you." Karen's voice cracked. "I don't blame you." he smiled and kissed her gently on the cheek. "Your my shamar mayate, my spirit mate and I'll never doubt that you wanted anything but the best for me no matter what. I want you to be safe too, you know that your in danger" said Paul Ironhorse with a hard edge to his voice. She nodded, "Petersen, Mcqueen was here to warn me about him already. I should of shot him and made sure I didn't miss this time!" she answered angrily. "Hush it's alright." he answered soothingly as he stroked her hair gently. "I have to get back I think the shrink wants to do some ink blots."

"Guess it's to make sure I haven't lost too many of my marbles." he laughed. "I'm sorry." said Karen, "No you saved my sanity! I was in a hole with no human contact except three times a day when my food came through a slot. I talked to you as if you were really there and that small bit of insanity allowed me to be here today." Karen didn't know how to answer him. "I just imagined how you would of answered. When I had nightmares I'd hear your voice in my ear just like when Sarah died." Pain flickered across Paul's eyes at his mention of Sarah Cole. "Well here's your car, knock those shrinks dead for me." Paul smiled warmly and hugged her tightly as if he were afraid to let her go. Then he released her and got into the car, "See you when they release me?" he asked. "I'll have a big party for you." she answered. She watched as the young soldier who had accompanied him started the car and drove away. Karen was about to turn and head back in when she noticed a man down the rode who turned and looked directly at her, no doubt sent by Petersen.

She waited until two in the morning before sneaking out of the house and heading for the woods. She had been so intent on not being noticed by Petersen's men that she hadn't noticed Phillip. Phillip had been unable to sleep and had went out for a walk when he noticed Karen sneaking out of the house. She kept to the shadows as she made her way to the woods. Phillip followed her as he made his way across ground that didn't seem to bother Karen at all. He watched as she stopped in a glen and made motions in front of her. She murmured words that Phillip could barely make out and that sounded vaguely like Gaelic. A mist began to fill the glen and in the mist a doorway of light appeared. She stepped through the door and was gone. Phillip raced through the door before it could close but before he could get his bearings something struck him hard in the stomach.

Phillip bent over as he grabbed his stomach and felt a breeze as whatever had hit him headed in for another strike. "No!" the breeze stopped but Phillip wasn't struck by anything. He looked up to see a young woman holding a staff a mere centimeters above his head. The voice said something in the ancient tongue he'd heard Karen speak in earlier. The staff came away from him but was held at the girl's side like a soldier held a weapon at parade rest. Phillip looked up to see Karen but not the one he'd seen go through the doorway. That one had worn blue jeans, a T-shirt and scruffy sneakers and this one wore a white dress that fit her snugly. Her sneakers were now boots and she wore a hooded cloak about her shoulders. She reached a hand out and helped him up, "Phillip you shouldn't of followed me." she chided him.

"What is this place?" as he looked around at his surroundings that appeared to be an ancient castle. "Phillip come with me." Phillip noticed she wore bracelets that looked like shackles without the chains. He followed her through the corridors before she stopped at a door. She entered the room drawing Phillip in behind her, "Phillip have a seat." she motioned to a chair and waited for him to sit. "This place is a place that mankind isn't ready for yet." said Karen. "I can keep a secret." replied Phillip, "I know that's why I'm sorry I have to do this." She kissed Phillip gently on the lips and he slumped forward in her arms. She moved him over to the bed and laid him on it gently as she took care not to jostle him before removing his shoes and drawing the blanket up about him. "Sleep tight little brother and when you awaken you'll be in your own bed with no memory of this." she kissed Phillip on the forehead before leaving the room.

When she entered the room a number of the women stopped talking and looked up at her. They returned to their conversations a minute later except for two of them. Karen joined Daria and Mara, "Is he taken care of?" Mara asked. "He's sleeping peacefully and I'll be taking him back with me so don't panic. Maybe we could just tell...." she began, "No! You know we've given our words and as amazon sorceress we keep our word." scolded Mara. "Don't worry I'll abide by the oath I made to the sisterhood and the ancient one." Karen frowned at Mara's refusal to change. "For the ancient one's sake Mara one would think that your still in Atlantis!" Daria exclaimed. "Look at Karen and tell me what good has ever come from leaving Atlantis?!" asked Mara. "Hey!" Karen cried out at the implied insult. "My apologies sister but your life hasn't been easy. Mayhaps if the goddess had gifted some of your ancestors with brains they would of stayed in Atlantis right where they belonged." said Mara. "What does it say about your ancestors that your here Mara?" Daria asked as a mischievous grin spread across her face. "I won't dignify that with an answer you lower class nagetot." Mara answered and then left. "That's what you get for raising someone in Atlantis and not exposing her to the outside world. It's a good thing that she has a good heart because I'm seriously worried about her mind." quipped Daria. Karen tried not to laugh but once she started to giggle it was her undoing and she burst out laughing. Daria started to laugh with her and after a moment they regained control of themselves. "Rest easy my dear sister, perhaps one day your sweet priest and his friends will learn of us." Daria rose and laid a comforting hand on Karen's shoulder before leaving. "Revered one?" Karen looked up to see a young girl of no more then fifteen years old. "Yes child?" she asked, Karen smiled to herself as she remembered being this eager young thing herself so many years ago. "Revered one why do you favor these humans such as the one in your quarters?" The girl looked so scared that Karen couldn't help but feel pity for the girl but she wasn't surprised that the news of Phillip's presence had spread. "Have a seat young one. What do they call you?" she asked. "My parents named me Rafella revered one." the girl answered. "Stop calling me revered one it makes me feel as if I should be growing mold or something. Why do I favor the humans? Simple I am one."

"Why do I favor the members of the San Francisco Legacy house? To ensure our futures we must go on without fear and mistrust but with hope. We have to celebrate the differences between us as well as the similarities. We must face the future with open hearts and minds because in the end it'll be the future that judges us. Dust to dust we are and to dust we will return but what then? Do we simply vanish? Our souls, our experiences, everything that we are and everything that defines who we are just gone? Do we leave something of ourselves behind, a small legacy? Words and actions that the future will judge us by? The truth is that our words and actions will shape the lives of millions. Life, death, it's not the literal dictate that matters. It's the view of existence, the philosophy of life that lies behind them."

"I believe that a reverence for all forms of life is a wonderful thing for a person to possess. These people have proven their reverence for life. They proved each time they didn't just kill for the killing but only as a last resort. I can only hope I believe in something as strongly as these people do. My father once told me that a person has two jobs in their lives. One that they're good at, one that they enjoy and when the two are one that person is truly blessed. When you finished your training as I did you'll be sent out into the world. It's a big scary world but it can also be very exciting. Don't miss trying something new because of fear because you miss out on so much that way. You can't die without regrets but please try to do it with as few as possible. I have to return to the outside world because it's heading towards dawn. I don't want the others to miss Phillip and I." Karen laid a reassuring hand on the girl's shoulder and give it a gentle squeeze before leaving.

As she headed for the room where she had left Phillip Karen got sidetracked when she heard a familiar voice. Karen stopped at the threshold of the room and watched as Edrel trained another student. Edrel gestured and the candles in front of him went out. He turned to the boy next to him, "Now light just one of them." he told the boy. "But I don't have a match." the boy said puzzled as to how he was supposed to light the candle. "Match?!" bellowed Edrel, "We don't use mortal means!" he chided the boy. "Take a good look at the candles and focus on them before closing your eyes. Reach out with your mind and touch the center candle." ordered Edrel. The boy closed his eyes and Karen stifled a giggle at the look on his face. Shock rippled through her though as she recognized the child as her son Thomas.

Karen found herself slumping down into a nearby chair. "Clear your mind of all but the image of the candle. Concentrate of the image, see the flame, feel the heat, smell the wick burning and make it real." A flame flared into existence on the wick of the center candle. Thomas opened his eyes and a look of pure bliss crossed his face. "Show me more!" Thomas exclaimed, "There is much you have yet to learn of your birthright and what you are capable of because of your blood. Such things were closed to you in the other realm but they need not remain that way. Now try to light the remainder of the candles." Edrel told Thomas. Thomas screech of pain brought Karen from her reverie and she saw that his arm was on fire. With a wave of her hand she banished the fire and healed any injuries he might of incurred.

She rushed over to Thomas and knelt in front of him as she took him into her arms. "Hush now it's alright." she soothed and then gently put him away from her and wiped his face. "I know it was frightening but it's better you learn now rather then regret it later. Close your eyes and think of someone you'd really like to see." Karen took his hand in both of hers and turned it palm up. "Do you feel the energy? Let the emotion guide you." slowly a image began to form in the palm of Thomas hand. "Open your eyes." Karen told him and she smiled at his gasp of delight. "She's very pretty, who is she?" asked Karen. "She's my mother or at least what I think she looks like because I never knew her." She winced at the sadness she saw in his eyes but she knew it was for the best. Karen made her excuses and headed out of the room before she did something stupid.

As she was leaving the room she jumped, "Daria! would you please stop that?!" she ordered as Daria appeared in front of her. "It's amazing what a mother's love can do isn't it?" Daria asked as she watched Thomas. "Very funny Daria, you know that he's better off with the family he has then he is with me." Karen retorted. "Thomas is your son! He needs his mother, his real mother!" Daria scolded her. "He's better off with Tanith. She's the only mother he's ever had.' she answered. "Correction she's the only mother he remembers. You weren't responsible and until you can forgive yourself that boy will never know his real mother. Maybe you can't accept the blessing of forgiveness because you need your pain to do what you do but that little boy hasn't seen his mother since he was a year old and that's truly a crime!" Daria said angrily and then stalked off down the corridor.

"Look at her past of favoring these humans over her own kind." complained Caros. "I know this child's past, she was taken from her parents at birth. Her adoptive parents were murdered when she was only a year old. Then she was taken in by a man who would of loved her the way she should have been but the human's laws took her from him. They thrust an innocent four year old into the worst nightmare a child could ever face. That of abusive caretakers who cared nothing for the blessing of a child. She received more from the streets and her wits then she ever did from them. I helped her where I could but even that wasn't enough. When Connor Macleod found her at the age of seventeen her life was on a downward spiral that threatened to destroy her. Macleod reunited her with the man who had taken her in.

Doctor Harrison Blackwood was never forgotten by the terrified four year old who was ripped from his arms. Her life has been nothing but strife, pain and sorrow and yet she goes on." said the ancient one. "Despite her human upbringing." Caros responded snidely and the ancient one didn't fail to notice how he stressed the word human. "Despite your distaste for humans even you must agree Caros that she is one of the best." the ancient one replied. "I admit nothing." sneered Caros, "I have worked for centuries to bring together the greatest legends in history into the same bloodline to create this child. Her blood harkens back to Arthur of Briton and Robin of Locksley among others. She or one of her descendants will one day be the savior of us all Caros." the ancient scolded him. "Mara and Daria you can come out now." the ancient one called out. Both women came into the room with a guilty look on their faces.

Karen returned to the room where she left Phillip and sat down on the bed next to him. She brushed some hair gently off his face, "If Dara and the others would just realized that the members of the San Francisco legacy house are my children now." She released a spell and Phillip's body vanished from the bed. 'Why did everything have to be so gray? Why couldn't the situation be black and white for once?' she thought to herself. When Connor Macleod had found her he saved her from ending up dead much too young. He had given her a reason to continue what she felt was a wretched existence. The only thing Karen could be glad of was that she didn't succeed in her attempt to kill herself when she was eight. She would of never met Connor or any of the other people that she held dear to her heart know if she'd died then.

The next morning Karen came down the Legacy house stairs to see Nick and Phillip having breakfast. Nick played with a cup of coffee and the empty plate next to him attested to his healthy appetite. Phillip on the other hand was still eating and from the look of it he was attempting to outdo Nick. "Another late riser." Nick ribbed Karen mischievously. "Must be your company Nick, there's just something about you that makes people prefer being unconsciousness." Phillip nearly choked on his food and tried valiantly to stifle his laughter. "Well if that's the way you feel about it I'm leaving." as Nick went by her he swatted her rear end. "Nick Boyle!!" she shook a fist at him in a playful threat. "Are you okay?" Karen asked as she noticed Phillip staring at her. "Yes I've never felt better in my life."

"I can't explain why I'm eating for an army but for some reason I have a healthy appetite this morning." Phillip smiled at her sheepishly. "Healthy? I guess you could call it that." she grinned at him. "I'd better get to work." Karen excused herself and headed for the control room. She entered the control with a hope that if she learned more about Petersen she could end this threat quickly. She answered her email as she procrastinated because she was worried about facing anything that would bring her closer to stopping Petersen. If she had gauged him correctly the only way she could stop him was by killing him. Karen wasn't a big fan of that plan. She grinned as she read her mail, the foursome had struck again and left their unique brand. Mary Alice the Texan had a good Christian name but some, actually most of her posts would make a sailor blush. Patti her cyber twin in Washington was almost as bad.

Mary .W. and Vikki were a little tamer but all four knew how to get her laughing when she felt bad. Funny but they reminded her of Alex at times, especially Mary Alice on a good day. Finally she knew she couldn't delay any longer and called up a database she knew that Alex would die to get her hands on. What the Legacy database lacked the Watcher's database made up for. What the Watcher's lacked the Legacy made up for so she was covered on both ends. She entered her requests for the files of James Horton and Malcolm Petersen as well as any known associates. She came across some property addresses owned by Petersen and decided she'd check them out tonight. Karen knew she had to take care of Petersen before he hurt anybody else that she cared about. Petersen was the kind who wouldn't give up until one of them was dead.

Karen slid quietly and went over to her overnight case opening a false bottom. She drew out an outfit and dressed quickly in the tight fitting black garment. She braided her hair and then rolled the braid into a knot on top of her head and secured it. She then slid a couple of daggers from the compartment and slid one into her boot. The other one went into the sheath attached to the inside of her shirt. She finished getting ready with an air of someone who had done these actions so often before that they were second nature to her. She checked the hall and when she was sure that it was clear she slipped quietly from the house. Roarke was so intent on avoiding Petersen's man that she didn't see the two shadows that detached themselves from the house and followed her into San Francisco. She hadn't been to the warehouse in years but she felt as if she could find her way to it blindfolded.

She arrived at the warehouse and took the padlock in her hand weighing it. She tapped the center of the lock and it popped open, she slid the lock soundlessly out of the latch. She slid quietly into the warehouse and looked around in hopes of finding something that supported the feeling that had brought her here. There was someone in the shadows waiting for her. Roarke had a feeling she knew who it was, "Hello?" she called out. A petite red head with green eyes stepped into the light from the shadows. Roarke ran towards her but then she stopped herself a few yards short. 'This isn't Lynn' her mind rebelled, the redhead in front of her was the spitting image of Lynn Carlyle. "Cade I'm glad you came." she stepped towards Roarke but stopped when Roarke took a step back. "Cade? It's me Lynn remember?"

Roarke stared into the pale green eyes as they seemed to probe into her very soul. She couldn't look away and she knew that was bad news but she couldn't remember why. It felt as if her eyes had formed a direct connection to Roarke's soul. Struggling to keep her tone light and breezy, "Lynn your looking better then the last time I saw you." her voice sounded strange to her. She laid a hand on Roarke's chest and Karen felt a cold descend throughout her body. Roarke had to grab onto her to steady herself as a better part of her strength evaporated. She felt her defenses crumbling as one last voice remained at what remained of her mind protested. She murmured, confused and disoriented as her thoughts were mired in a haze that had enveloped her mind. A momentary spark of alarm flickered weakly amid the haze, 'No!' her mind protested but her lips refused to speak the word.

Karen tried to look away from the mesmerizing gaze but she took a hold of Roarke's chin. A terrible weariness descended upon her as if every one of her muscles felt drained of energy. It took all her strength just to keep from collapsing backwards as her knees seemed to fold in on themselves. Despair overcame alarm and then sunk back into the numbed recesses of her mind. As suddenly as it had began it stopped and Roarke collapsed to the floor. "I have a better idea why don't you bring me Rayne and his team. I'm sure both Rayne and you will taste wonderful since you have so much to give. If your lucky I might even leave you to last." the creature masquerading as Lynn Carlyle said. "Let her go!" demanded Derek as he entered the warehouse with Nick. Derek stalked towards them and grabbed Karen away from the creature.

He flung her towards Nick as the creature grabbed his chin. She yanked his face towards her, "You'll be delicious." said the creature. "Go to hell!" he answered but she didn't seem to respond to his taunt. "I've waited a long time for you Rayne." she replied coolly. She grinned mercilessly at him and Derek tried to look away but she held his face in place with inhuman strength. He squeezed his eyes shut hoping that would spare him but a chill began to spread throughout his body anyway. The heat was leeched from his body and his legs began to buckle as his heart pounded in his chest. "No!" came an anguished voice and Derek opened his eyes in time to see Karen lunge for the creature. Nick grabbed her by the shoulder in hopes of restraining her. She shook him off and shouting a cry she came at the creature whose head snapped around to face her attacker.

The drain on Derek's body ceased for the moment and he wobbled unsteadily on his feet. Acting on instinct he tried to grab the creature but she knocked him aside with a wave of her hand. Stunned his head rang from the unexpected strength of the blow. He nearly toppled over as he fought to keep his balance. Derek threw his body forward as his vision began to blur as the creature fixed her gaze on Roarke's charging figure. Her cry became a strangled choke as she was halted in her tracks. Roarke convulsed as Derek staggered towards the creature. "Get her out of here!" Derek commanded as Nick struggled to reach Karen. She had no intentions of leaving Derek to the mercy of the creature and if either man thought differently they were crazy. Nick dragged her slowly but surely towards the door as she saw Derek go down before the creature.

"Derek!" she screamed and Nick momentarily lost his grip as shock rippled through him. Nick was a professional though and managed to grab her before she took another step. Nick picked her up and tossed her over his shoulder as he ran from the room. The creature bent over Derek and placed a hand on his chest. He felt his heart flutter in his chest and despite his stubborn determination an involuntary gasp escaped his lips. It's touch was like ice as it seeped through to his soul as it stripped away all that he was. Left in it's place was an acute loneliness that filled him. He fell to his knees as with a moan as an ache spread throughout him. Power shot through him and the moan became a scream but through the pain and despair he reached within himself and grasped the memories there despite for an identity.

A chill came upon him as all the warmth in his body rushed out of him and he knew he couldn't last much longer. 'I have to stay conscious long enough for them to escape.' he thought. Derek fumbled behind him to a panel and began to throw what switches he could hoping that they would do something to distract the creature. Moments after Nick and Karen cleared the building it exploded into flames. Nick felt himself being thrown forward by the blast and he heard Karen give a small squeak of pain as he landed on top of her. Tears streaked down her face and Nick saw anguish in her eyes that he knew mirrored his own. A chill went through him that started his body shivering and he couldn't stop it anymore then he could stop the tears that rolled down his cheeks. "No!" screamed Karen and Nick tried to keep her from running into the flames. She struggled with Nick for a few moments before slumping against him.

A short time later after a loud argument with the doctor's he was released. The doctor's wanted him to stay overnight and Nick didn't want to, Nick won. He checked on Karen's status before heading out to call the house with the news about Derek. Nick had just hung up the phone when someone bumped into him. He turned to see Derek and Nick grabbed a hold of him as Derek slumped as a nurse came to help him. They helped Derek into a cubicle before the nurse thrust at him a clipboard of papers and chased him out. Nick tried to reach the house but the others had already left so he sat down and filled out the hospital forms with Derek's information. He finished filling out the forms as another nurse came to retrieve them. Nick grabbed her arm, "How is he?" he asked, the concern evident in his voice.

"He's pretty banged up but I think he'll be okay." she squeezed his arm gently before returning to the cubicle with the paperwork. Daria handed the papers to a doctor before peeking back out at Nick Boyle. 'Be strong sir knight for your leader will need you.' she thought. "I'm beginning to see what Karen sees in these mortals. He's kinda of cute." she whispered and then she faded away with a mischievous grin on her face. The others arrived at the hospital and Nick filled them in on what had happened. They waited in the waiting room to hear any information about their friends. Alex was weeping quietly as Nick held her close. Rachel held a hollow eyed Kat and murmuring reassurances to her quietly. Phillip came in and wrapped a comforting arm around Alex. Nick was grateful for his presence because it freed him to pace.

'He needed her! She could feel it as she was overwhelmed by a feeling of urgency. She spoke his name before her eyes settled on the figure on the gurney. Karen started towards Derek not noticing when she stumbled. Karen reached out for the flame of his spirit with an urgency born of great need. A mental touch as gentle as her physical one caressed his spirit. She fanned the flame with her mind as she drew him into her arms and checked his pulse. She was worried by the way his head lolled against her chest. Karen had no choice but to do it. She gently laid his head down, "I summon the spirits of my ancestors to witness my oath. I offer my breath, blood, heart and life to this man. I declare my soul inseparable from his. I release him from his part of the vow since he is unable to speak for himself. I am you and you are me." she stilled herself and focused on the rhythm of her breathing and matched it to Derek's.

Karen felt the poison that had been in his blood begin to burn in hers. His breath became hers as everything else slowly matched hers. It would remain that way until he could survive on his own. Even then their souls would be forever intwined with each other. Karen felt a small stirring of his consciousness and released a spell that sent Derek into a gentle dreamless sleep as she worked to heal his spirit. She gave of her spirit to him in hopes of keeping his flickering spirit alive long enough for him to heal what he needed. When she knew that it was safe to leave him she teleported back to the warehouse. Karen looked around to see if she could find any clues that would lead her to Petersen and his demon. "Well, Well look what we have here." Karen spun to face him and saw Petersen sneering at her.

"You and I finish this here and now!" she snapped at him. "I thought you'd never ask." answered Petersen as his eyes glowed an eerie red color. Karen brought her hands down in front of her and a shimmering wall appeared between her and Petersen. She could sense the demon about him and she knew the wall would protect her. Petersen snarled and gestured, throwing a fireball at her. It burst against her shield and scattered along the edges before flickering out. "You can't hold out for ever witch!" he bellowed and began to make complex patterns in the air with his hands. "I don't need to hold out forever demon." Karen began to weave a dismissal spell. "Petersen called you to destroy me but like most amateurs he failed to bring up anything that I'd have to break a sweat over." she replied sarcastically.

"This human was a fool but for a time I was willing to go along with it to destroy you sorceress. Now I see this pathetic fool couldn't of defeated an ant let alone you witch." the demon hissed. "So you took him over." the demon nodded in response as a wicked grin spread across Petersen's face. Karen released the dismissal spell and the minute it hit the demon he knew he was in trouble. The demon let out an unearthly howl as the energy spread over Petersen's body encompassing him and the demon. When it was over all that was left was a scorch mark on the earth and Petersen laying catatonic on the ground. Karen teleported him into the nearest hospital's emergency room for medical attention because even he deserved a chance. Then she teleported back to the hospital and she knew the minute she arrived that it had been a mistake.

Derek was sitting up on the gurney looking at her with a look of shocked surprise. Before she could explain though a roll of thunder rumbled across the sky and lightning hit them. The next thing either of them knew they were in the great hall, "Where are we?!" Derek demanded. "Calm down Derek." Karen chided him, "I'll calm down when I find out where the hell I am!" Caros appeared in front of them both with a wicked smile. "Who the....?" Derek began but with a wave of Caos hand he went silent. "That wasn't very nice!" Karen scolded him. "Take this." he handed her a dagger which she accepted with a puzzled look. "You want me to kill him?" she asked not really able to believe it. "Now that he knows what you are he'll hunt you down and try to kill you. Save yourself the trouble in the future and kill him now.'

Roarke thrust the dagger back at him, "He's helpless and can't hurt us!" she answered Caros angrily. "I could kill him but I thought you deserved a chance...." Caros began. "To what?! Commit murder?!" Roarke asked him in a stunned voice. "You can't murder a lesser lifeform." Roarke stepped back away from him in shock, "He's a human being who has the right to live and not be slaughtered like a rabid beast!" Karen replied as she attempted to control her temper. "Show me that you know your blood. There before you is the symbol of the life you knew. Throw off the shackles by striking down the ties that bind you to his realm. Kill him and be free to take up your heritage as should be your right!" demanded Caros. "No!" she shouted at him and turned towards Derek as Caros grabbed her arm.

"Enough of this foolishness...." he began, "If embracing my heritage means committing murder I'd rather be human!" she snarled at him. "And be used against me?" he asked sarcastically. "I don't want anything to do with you!" she answered as she struggled to free herself from Caros grip. "You can't change who you are." he told her, "Look just let us go home and we'll stay out of your way." she pleaded with him as she yanked her arm from his grip. "I think not." Caros called fire to his hands as Roarke looked fearfully at the growing fire for a second before flinging herself between Derek and Caros. She held up both hands with the palms out as a fireball headed towards her. It flickered out a few inches before it reached her. "You'll see them age and die as you enjoy the eternal moment of your own nature."

"Forget them for ultimately they mean nothing to those of our kind." One of Caros fire balls got through her shield part way and Karen took the brunt of the spell. She screamed and bent over as the fire struck her. She straightened and faced him white faced as e held out the dagger to her. "Come away little one." Karen shook her head in response as she couldn't be sure of her voice right now. With a contemptuous sneer on his face Caros called the fire and threw it at her. The fire writhed and clung to her as she crumpled to the floor. Karen's screams shuddered down into whimpers and soon into silence then the flames flickered and died. Caros had been so busy with Karen that he hadn't noticed that Derek was free from his spell. He picked up the dagger Caros had discarded as Caros gloated over his victory.

"Get away from her you bastard!" Derek demanded as he swung the dagger towards Caros. He stopped frozen by a wave of Caros hand, "Foolish mortal do you truly believe that you could stop me?" He struggled to free himself frm the spell as Caros leaned back over Karen. He brushed a strand of hair out of her face and Karen winced at the pain it caused. "Your blood has been diluted by centuries of human blood. I do however need you to bring down that old fool. Do you know that she actually believes that humanity may one day be mature enough to be our equals?" Caros asked in a disbelieving voice. Suddenly on either side of Caros Daria and Mara appeared and Daria grabbed Caros as Mara clicked shackles on his wrists. He sputtered with rage, "Release me immediately!" he demanded.

"I demand that you release me immediately!" Caros bellowed. "Oh shut up you fool." ordered the ancient one. She waved her hands and Derek stumbled forward released from Caros spell. "How stupid do you really think I am Caros? I've known for a long time what you've been up to. All your co-conspirators have taken into custody and they will be punished as shall you." With a wave of her hand Caros vanished, "Mr. Rayne I must apologize for Caros behavior." Derek looked up from where he had knelt to check on Karen. "What the hell is going on? Where are we?" he asked, "You my dear Mr. Rayne are in Atlantis. It went behind the veil centuries ago and you are behind that veil right now. What's happening? That's easy, your going home." she answered. "Your not going to get away with that easy of an answer." Derek said angrily.

"I agree! I'm not going anywhere until you tell me what Caros meant by the eternal moment of my nature. What was all that about my heritage and my blood?" Karen demanded. "When the universe was young little one there were two races. One was that of Atlantis and the other was that of the Eternal ones. I believe your kind Mr. Rayne refer to the Eternal ones as elves?" the ancient one said. "As in Kebbler?" Karen asked half jokingly. "That's humanity's version, the true Eternal ones....elves lived in cooperation with the ancient people's of Atlantis. They even interbreed with the people of Atlantis, you my child are descended not only from the royal house of Atlantis but also from the royal house of the Eternal ones." answered the ancient one. "I'm from two royal houses?" Karen asked and the awe was obvious in her voice.

"When Tarok the Eternals Ones crown prince met Sirah the crown princess of Atlantis they found the other halves of themselves. Each member of the royal family is stronger then anyone in magic so each child born to the couple was cherished dearly. When the first child of the united royal houses was born it was obvious that his magic would outstrip that of anyone who had come before. It was decided then that Tesal and his descendants would be watched carefully. You my dear child are one of Tesal's descendants." Karen stood shakily and Derek caught her as she stumbled. "What your telling me is that I'm not human?" she replied in a small scared voice. Derek had never heard her sound so vulnerable in all the time he'd know her. No my child your quite human because Tesal married a human as did his decedents."

"If you have any Eternal Ones blood left in you it is far outweighed by the human blood. You are majorily human little one." the ancient one consoled her. "How is it that....?" Derek began. "I sent her to protect you and your group Precept." she answered. Derek looked stunned, "She like Daria and Mara here are Guardians who were given a sacred job of protecting the gray angels like you and yours Precept." she answered. "We are the gray angels who neither take the right path of light or the left path of darkness. We take the gray middle path and protect those who live in the light from what lives in the darkness. We are gray because we have one foot in the dark and one foot in the light." quoted Karen in a monotone voice. "Now it is time that you return home Precept to continue our fight." the ancient one began speaking in a low monotone voice.

Karen was enveloped by a strange glowing aura and her image shimmered in the halo of light. The whirling iridescent light surrounded and caressed her as she saw nothing but sparkling shimmering lights. She called Derek's name in fear as a strange sensation tingled along her nerves. It felt as if a charge of electricity was building inside her body. All of her nerves vibrated with an intensity that she'd never felt before. The feeling shifted and settled in her hands, her fingers sparkled as if created from something other then flesh and blood. Without knowing what she was doing or why she turned her palm towards Derek. A beam of light shot out and radiated over Derek's body enclosing him with her in the energy field and she clutche tightly to him. Karen closed her eyes as the energy field bathed both of them and then she felt nothing.

The next thing Karen knew they were back in the hospital cubicle. Derek awoke and smiled up at her, "Hello partner." he said. "Hello handsome. It's about time you woke up sleepyhead." she teased. "That's me Rip Van Winkle. What happened? The last thing I remember was yelling at Nick to get you out of the warehouse." said Derek. "We thought you were killed in the explosion but some how you arrived at the hospital and bumped into Nick. Then the doctor's brought you in here." Karen answered. "What happened?" Derek said more to himself then to anyone else. "It'll come back sooner or later but for now I'll leave you to get some rest." Karen drew the blanket up about Derek and then kissed him on the cheek before leaving. She closed the door behind her before leaning against the hallway's wall.

'Maybe when you remember it'll be time for you to join us.' Karen thought to herself. "Maybe they will." Karen looked up and smile when she saw Daria. "What are you doing here? Someone might actually see you." she teased Daria. "I'd like an introduction to that Nick Boyle fella. He's kinda of cute and I'd love to learn what you see in these mortals." Karen started to walk away and then stopped to look back at Daria. "Well are you coming?" she asked. Daria held up a finger before waving her hand in front of her transforming her robe and cloak into a T-shirt and jeans. She motioned to Karen to lead the way, "I just hope I don't kill the poor boy." said Daria jokingly. "You'd be surprised. These mortals...." Karen took a deep breath. "They have a way of surprising and pleasing even Mara." Daria looked at her with a doubtful look and they both laughed before eading to join the others in the waiting room.