Poltergeist: The Legacy

Connections

William Sloan, Head Precept of the Legacy House located in London, dialed the San Francisco House's number and waited impatiently for someone to pick up. "C'mon, Derek. Answer the bloody phone."

After the sixth ring he was greeted with a slightly breathless, "Luna Foundation. Nick Boyle speaking. How may I help you?"

"Nick. This is Sloan. I need to talk to Derek. Put him on, will you?"

There was a slight hesitation, then Nick responded. "I... don't know where he is at the moment, Mr. Sloan. Can I take a message?"

Sloan frowned. Nick, as head of security, should have known where his precept was. "It's about a shipment he received a few days ago. I need a listing of the items, my inventory sheet seems to have walked off on me."

"I saw it earlier this morning. I can read it to you, if you want."

"All right."

"Hang on a sec." Nick put him on hold and Sloan waited impatiently.

Something niggled at the back of his mind. 'Something's wrong. But what?' A moment later, Nick picked the phone back up and proceeded to relate the list to him. "Thank you, Nick." He settled more comfortably into his seat. "How is everyone at the House."

Again there was a hesitation, then Nick sighed. "To be honest..." He trailed off and Sloan perked his ears. "Yes?"

"To be honest, I haven't seen anyone all day. The House was empty when I woke."

"Everyone?"

"Yeah. And it's not like the others to not mention where they're going to be."

Sloan frowned. "Have you tried their cell phones?"

"Oh, gee," came the sarcastic reply. "Why didn't I think of that?"

"No need to get your shorts all in a knot, Boyle. It was a legitimate question."

"I know," he huffed a frustrated breath. "Sorry. I'm just worried."

"Understood."

"Look. I'm going to try some of their other friends and contacts."

"Good idea. Call me back in half an hour. Let me know what you found."

"You got it." Nick hung up and Sloan tried to get some paperwork done, all the while silently willing the phone to ring with news of his friends. It rang once, but no one answered his inquires. Forty-five minutes passed and an annoyed Sloan dialed the San Francisco House.

"Hello?" The voice quavered a bit, but Sloan was too upset to notice. "Boyle? I thought you were calling back?"

"I couldn't."

Sloan blinked. "What do you mean, you couldn't?"

"I tried calling anyone who would know their whereabouts but couldn't connect. I even tried calling you back. Nothing. It was like I was completely cut off until you called."

"Sounds like a problem with the phone systems. Get off the island and try again."

There was a pause. "It doesn't seem like I'll be able to do that either. The 'copter is gone and so are the boats." There was a short laugh. "It appears I'm stuck here."

Sloan glanced at his watch and came to a decision. "I'll be there in twelve hours. Hang tight. If we're lucky, everyone will have returned before I get there."

"And if they are?"

Sloan shrugged. "I'll just tell Derek that I was checking up on him. He'll get over it." 'And if not, then the two of us can try to get to the bottom of this.'

"Thank you." Sloan almost had to strain his ears to hear it. "See you later, Mr. Boyle." Sloan hung up and readied himself for his trip.

Sloan had hired a helicopter to fly him to Angel Island once he reached San Francisco. As he passed over the docks he frowned slightly to note that the boats were in their usual places. 'Looks like everyone's back. It's not like Nick to panic so. I'll have to ask Derek to have a talk with him.'

The 'copter landed nearby the House's own helicopter. He stepped out, thanked the pilot, and made his way up to the large mansion. He was greeted at the door by the butler, Dominic. "Mr. Sloan. What a pleasant surprise. Dr. Rayne didn't mention your coming."

"It was a spur of the moment thing, Dominic. Where may I find Derek?"

"He's in the Control Room with the others. Shall I announce you?"

"No. I'll tell him I'm here myself." He strode confidently up the stairs and into the Control Room, pausing only slightly for the security system to positively identify him before walking through the hologram that hid the room from prying eyes. For a moment, he was able to watch the others unobserved as no one noted his arrival.

Derek was on the phone, practically shouting at the person on the other end. Alex Moraue and Dr. Rachel Corrigan were huddled around the computer, intently reading what was on-screen. Father Phillip Callahan was on the other line, his demeanor much calmer than his older mentor. Kat, Rachel's daughter, sat in a corner, watching the adults, an odd look on her face. She glanced up, spotting the older man at the door. Her face lit up. "Hi, Mr. Sloan." Everyone paused.

"Good afternoon, Kat." Sloan greeted the young girl warmly, aware he was the focus of several shocked and worried gazes. "Derek. Where's Nick?"

The others exchanged looks. Derek hung up the phone abruptly and dragged a hand through his already dishelved hair. "We don't know."

"What do you mean you don't know?" He had a feeling of deja vu.

"He's missing."

Sloan took his coat off irritably and draped it over the back of a chair. "When did he disappear?"

"Sometime during the night before last."

"Impossible. I spoke to him myself no more than twelve hours ago."

That caused quite a stir. "What?" "Do you know where he is?" "Is he alright?" "What happened to him?"

Sloan put his hands up warding off the questions. "Enough." He waited a moment then continued. "I called yesterday trying to get hold of you, Derek. I got Nick instead. He said that he woke to find all of you missing. He was going to call a few people and get back to me. When he didn't contact me as agreed I called again. For some reason he couldn't make any out going calls and all means off the island were unsuccessful. I took the first flight over to find all of you here and Nick missing. Now," he looked Derek in the eye. "Tell me exactly what happened."

The others settled into chairs, understandably confused. Derek sighed. "The last anyone saw of Nick was around midnight two nights ago. Everyone had gone to bed. I was heading up myself. Nick claimed he wasn't tired, said he was going to get some work done before heading to bed. The next morning - he was nowhere to be found. His bed hadn't been slept in, nor had the downstairs couch. No messages, and his car was still out front."

Alex broke in. "We've tried contacting anyone who might know where he is, but no ones' heard from him."

Phillip's quiet voice reached him. "We've even checked the hospitals and morgues."

Sloan glanced sharply at the young priest but was reassured by the determination he read in his eyes. 'They haven't given up on him. Good.' Sloan's eyes narrowed in thought. "What was Nick working on that night?"

Rachel motioned towards the table. "Um... a box we received a few days ago. Nick was going to categorize it." She shifted through the box. "Funny. Seems the inventory statement is missing."

"Now isn't that a coincidence." Sloan stepped up to the table, his lips thinned in displeasure. "This is what I had called about." He rummaged through his briefcase, pulling a piece of paper. "Nick read the list off to me." He looked over the list, comparing it to what was on the table aware that the others had crowded near him doing the same. "Nothing appears to be missing." He frowned as Alex stepped back and began accessing the computer. "What are you doing?"

"I wonder..." She clicked on a screen and a video feed appeared. "Yes." She turned to explain. "Nick and I set up some cameras in here. We've got a record of what happened that night." She put the footage on the monitor.

They watched as Nick pulled each item out of the box, checked it off on the manifest and placed it carefully on the table. He pulled out the last item, a small box that held a gold medallion on a long chain. He removed the necklace from the box, examined the engravings, and checked it off on the manifest. He put it down, frowning slightly. He picked up a Legacy journal from off the shelf, flipped through it until he came to a page. He stared at it intently for a moment, tucked it under his arm along with the manifest, and turned to the phone.

"Look!" Kat drew everyone's attention back to the medallion, which had begun to glow a sickly red. It flashed once, then the color faded away.

"Rewind the tape." Derek's voice was strained. "To just before the medallion glowed."

Alex rewound then played the scene again. This time they saw that when the light cleared Nick was no longer there. "If he disappeared, how could Sloan talk to him?" The precept raked a hand through his hair.

"I don't know, but I hope he can do it again. And soon." The priest's face was pale.

"What is it Phillip?"

Silently, Phillip rewound the tape once more. At the moment of the flash, Phillip freeze-framed the film. He pointed at a portion of the scene that was lit by the glow. A chill fell upon them all as a horrific-looking visage glared out from the light at the young ex-SEAL.

The group spent the next few hours researching the medallion and its engravings. The same face they had seen in the light was repeated on the medallion. They took care not to handle it directly. "I think that is how it was activated before," Derek guessed.

Phillip shoved the book he was reading away rubbing at his eyes. "We're not gettin' anywhere. The marks on the medallion don't resemble any writings I've come across." He paused, his voice lowering, "And I've a feelin' Nick doesn't have the time for us to waste tryin' to figure it out."

"Then what do you expect we do, Phillip?" Derek barked.

"I don't know." The Irishman glared back at the older man.

Kat, who had been playing quietly in a corner, cocked her head at the adults then locked gazes with Sloan. "Why doesn't Mr. Sloan call Nick again?"

The resulting silence was almost deafening. Sloan gave a wry smile and murmured, "From the mouths of babes." He was glad that someone was thinking clearly. He picked up the phone and dialed the House's number, grateful there were two lines, and placed it on speakerphone.

*Ring.* ... *Ring* ... "C'mon, Nick. Pick up." ... *Ring* ... *Ring* Everyone cast nervous glances at one another. *Ring* ... *Ri...*

The line connected when the receiver was picked up, but all that was heard was a thump and a clatter as if the mouthpiece had fallen to the floor.

"Nick? Nick, are you there?" The wait was long enough for everyone in the room to get extremely nervous.

A moment later, "Sloan? Man, where are you? Thought you'd be here hours ago." Nick's voice was low, almost whispered. Sloan could detect panic in the young man's voice and was instantly on guard. "I found the others, Nick."

He heard an exhalation of relief. "Where?"

Sloan stared at Derek. "At the House."

"Wha...?" There was a strange noise in the background and Nick cursed softly. "Don't hang up. I'll be right back." The phone was dropped before Sloan could respond and they could hear Nick's footsteps move rapidly away.

The noise sounded again, deep and raspy. Rachel looked up with alarm. "Was that a growl?"

Almost a minute passed before they heard a loud crash as something heavy fell and smashed. A pain-filled shout was heard as well as the sounds of a struggle. Two gunshots fired, accompanied by an unearthly howl. Then, silence.

They stared helplessly at one another. Derek started shouting into the phone. "Nick? Nick! Answer me, please! Nick!"

Slow minutes passed and their worry increased exponentially before they heard a fumbling at the phone. "S-sloan?" Nick's voice was a mere whisper.

Sloan leaned forward, his brow creased in consternation, an emotion that was shared by all in the room. "Nick, are you all right?"

"I think ... I broke ... a rib." The answer was punctuated by pain-filled gasps.

Derek broke in again. "Nick? What happened?"

There was a pause, then a sound that could have been a chuckle. "Glad ... to hear from you, Derek. ... Do me a favor," a small moan, "... will you?"

"Anything, Nick."

"Get me out of here!"

"Where are you?"

Nick cleared his throat. A slight wheezing could be heard after each intake of breath "I thought I was on ... the island. ... But I'm not." A pause. "It looks like the House ... only now the outside ... is gone."

The others exchanged glances. Sloan wondered if Nick's injuries had impaired his judgement.. "What do you mean gone, Nick?"

"I mean as in ... not there anymore." The response was tinged with frustration. "It's like everything's been swallowed ... by a dense fog. ... Nothin's out there."

"Okay. In the House, where exactly are you?"

"Hallway phone."

Alex raced out of the room. Sloan tried to keep Nick's attention from wandering. "What attacked you, Nick?"

"I'd like to say a really big ... really ugly dog, ... but I'd be lying." They could hear the wry grin that was most likely plastered across the young ex-SEAL's face.

'Keep it up, kid,' Sloan thought in satisfaction. 'Don't let the situation get to you.'

Alex returned, a perplexed look on her face. "He's not there. At least not physically."

"What do you mean, not physically?" Sloan asked.

"I sensed his presence, but it's like he's both here and someplace far away."

"Then how'd he get to where he is?" Rachel asked, her arms wrapped around her daughter, though Sloan couldn't tell if it was more for Kat's benefit or her own.

"Mustav been the medallion." Phillip spoke for the first time, his face drawn in concern for his younger brother.

"S'what I thought," Nick replied. ... "All this weird stuff ... occurred after I examined it. ... Don't know where it is now."

"Ya dinna find it in the Control Room?"

Nick's speech was less strained. "Can't get into the Control Room. ... Power's out. ... So's backup. ... Damn thing's stuck on solid wall." There was a grunt and the sounds of Nick shifting positions. "Not that the thing'll let me ... anywhere near it."

"How do you mean?" Derek asked.

"There's only one of them. ... Or, at least, ... I've only seen one at any time. ... I've shot the damn thing three times ... and the body just disappears. ... Another shows up later." Nick paused. "The way I figure, ... it's getting rid of possible hiding places."

"How so?"

"I shot the first one outside, ... but not before it herded me indoors. ... That's when "outside" ceased to exist. ... I was locked out of ... the Control Room after killing the second one. ... I'm guessing the attic or basement is ... inaccessible after killing this third one."

"We've got to get to him before that creature does," Alex stated firmly.

"That'd be much appreciated," came the reply.

"If only we knew what we were dealing with we could have a chance of destroying it," Derek mentioned.

There was a pause as everyone tried to think. Nick broke the silence first. "I found a picture of the thing ... in one of the Legacy journals. ... An Emma Watson's. ... I was reading it before ... going to bed."

Alex frantically scanned the shelves for the volume. "It's not here."

Rachel spoke up. "Were you holding it after you touched the medallion, Nick?"

"Yeah. I was going to call Sara ... at the Egypt House about the engravings. ... She's good with them ... and I didn't want to wake Phillip. But, when I put the book down on the table ... got dizzy. Decided to call it a night. ... Never called her."

"It must have traveled over with you somehow. I'm also guessing that that's the reason we can now contact you. The telephone is our connection," Rachel theorized.

"Lot of good it does us now. ... Book's locked in the Control Room."

A sudden movement caught Sloan's eye. Kat had slipped out of her mother's embrace and had wandered over to the resting-place of the medallion. She had a far-away look on her face. 'She's having a Vision.' Sloan had seen the look numerous times upon Derek and Alex's faces, but never before on one so young. Before he could stop her, Kat reached out and touched the medallion. "NO!" All the adults turned at his shout and could only stare in shock as a red light emanated from the medallion and pulsed brightly. As their vision cleared, they saw that Kat had disappeared from the room.

"Katherine!" Rachel leapt to her feet, only to find herself restrained by the London House Precept. "No," Sloan explained. "We don't need anyone else going missing."

Rachel slumped in his arms. He passed her over to the priest but resolved to keep an eye on her himself.

In the background they could hear Nick, his voice growing more hoarse and strained the more frantic he became. "Sloan? What's going on? What's wrong with Kat?" A hoarse cough was heard and Nick's voice became more gravelly. "Sloan? Phillip? Answer me, for God's sake!"

Phillip took control and spoke hurriedly but reassuringly into the speakerphone. "Nick. Kat touched the medallion and disappeared. I think, I hope, she with you now."

There was a pause. Nick drew a shaky breath. "Was she in the Control Room?"

"Yes."

The phone was dropped and they heard Nick move rapidly away. Dimly, they could hear Nick shouting for Kat. A few moments passed, then a click on the phone line was heard. "Mom?"

The adults all heaved a huge sigh of relief. Rachel wiped the tears out of her eyes. "Katherine Corrigan! Whatever possessed you to do such a thing?"

"I had to, mom. It was the only way to help Nick."

Before Rachel could continue her tirade, Nick returned to the hall phone and broke in. "Kat, you okay?"

"Yes, Nick."

"Is there anything there?" His voice was intense and serious.

The adults waited with baited breath as the young girl checked her surroundings. "No. I'm okay." A shuffling of pages was heard. "I found the book, Nick."

"Okay. That entry I spoke of ... was near the end of ... the journal." He paused to regain his breath. "It's got a detailed drawing ... of the medallion." He waited a moment. "Find it?"

"Hang on." ... "Yes, I've got it."

"Read the entry to Derek, hon. ... Okay?" Nick sounded tired and his voice had started getting softer.

'Hang on, Nick,' Sloan willed his young friend. 'Hang on!'

Kat started reading the entry. "It says, 'April 9th - Three House members have disappeared since the package arrived. We have no idea as to their fates but I'm positive they're linked somehow to the medallion.'

"'April 10th - I actually witnessed a disappearance today. Michael was handling the medallion, put it down to consult a book, and he disappeared in a flash of red light. Both he and the book vanished without a trace. I should destroy the item, but how can I when it could prove to be the means of finding my missing friends?'

"'April 11th - I discovered how to read the medallion's engravings. It's Ancient Greek written in mirror image.'"

Phillip looked startled. "I dinna think of that."

Derek paced, arms crossed against his chest. "Does it say how she got the other Legacy members back?"

Kat was silent a moment, apparently reading ahead. "Yes. It says that the writing gave instructions on how to reseal the demon into the other reality and 'return those who had been taken to feed.' Yuck."

Nick gave a short chuckle. "Yuck, indeed. How do we go home, kiddo?"

"It says: 'I held the medallion tightly. When the light came, I hung on for dear life. The medallion seemed to have a life of its own and surely didn't want to travel with me. Once I arrived at my destination, I was stunned to see the remains of two of my friends. They looked as if they had been ripped apart by some large animal.'" Kat paused and the adults bowed their heads in sadness. "'I had to place the medallion around the creature's neck. It wasn't easy. But once done, the creature burst into white flames, the room seemed to writhe about me and I returned home along with Michael and Julie. Unfortunately, the bodies of our two friends were never recovered.'"

Sloan asked, "Does it say what she did with the medallion?"

"Just that they were considering how to destroy it when it disappeared, Mr. Sloan."

Alex shifted impatiently from foot to foot. "We need to get the medallion to the other reality."

Before she could say anything more, Kat interrupted. "Don't touch it while in the Control Room."

"Why not, Kat?" her mom asked.

"Well, I can't get out of the room, it's locked. I don't think any of those things are gonna come in here. So you'll need to come over in another room if you're gonna help Nick."

Sloan pulled out a handkerchief and used it to gingerly pick up the medallion. "Let's go get Nick and Kat, shall we?" He strode out of the Control Room, followed closely by Phillip and Derek. Rachel and Alex started after them as well, but stopped when Sloan said, "We'll need someone to keep in contact with Kat and Nick. It'll be best if you two stay here by the phone."

Once outside the Control Room, Derek put a hand out. "I'll go. Let me have the medallion."

"No. As your superior, I'll go." He smiled at the stunned look on Derek's face. "I'll see if I can bring Phillip along with me." Derek opened his mouth to protest, Sloan cut him off. "If this doesn't work. I'll need you to either come after us or destroy the medallion before anyone else is caught in this demon's trap."

Sloan watched several emotions war in Derek's eyes before the man grudgingly agreed. "Take care of my people, William."

"Like they were my own." He turned to Phillip who had stopped to grab a medical kit. "Ready?"

"As ready as I'll ever be."

Sloan grasped Phillip's arm with his left and took hold of the medallion with his right. A moment later, the medallion was trying to wrench itself out of his grasp and Derek disappeared from view. Otherwise, it was a very smooth transition from one reality to the other. With one final jerk, which Sloan rode through, the medallion laid quietly in his hand. He dropped Phillip's arm. "I can see how Nick never noticed anything wrong. This place is an exact copy of the House."

Phillip knocked on the wall that normally let to the Control Room. "Kat? Can ye hear me?"

There was a muffled affirmative response. "Stay on the phone with yer mother, lass. We'll be takin' care of the rest."

"Be careful." Kat had apparently come up to the wall to speak to them.

"You, too."

Sloan motioned for Phillip to follow. "Let's get Nick. Then we'll worry about the demon."

They cautiously made their way down the staircase. On the first floor, passing the library, they saw the signs of a fierce struggle. A bookcase had fallen, crushing a table beneath it. Books lay stewn about the room. A few shell casings from a 9mm littered the floor near a pool of abnormally bright red blood. "Let's hurry." Turning a corner towards the hall phone, they were brought up short by the muzzle of a gun pointed out them. "It's us. Don't shoot."

The gun dropped with a ragged sigh. "Give a body some warning' next time, will ya?"

Sloan grabbed the phone while Phillip briefly examined Nick's wounds. "Derek? We made it. Haven't seen anything yet, no telling when that will change."

"Stay alert. I don't want to lose you, as well."

"We will." He set the phone down and got a good look at Nick's condition. The young man was always a bit on the short side, but now looked even smaller than usual. He huddled inward, one arm wrapped about his ribs, the other clutched around his gun. His eyes never ceased scanning the hallway. He had relaxed slightly at their arrival but was still tensed up. He flinched a bit at the priest's poking, but otherwise remained quietly on alert. A dark bruise was forming along his left jaw and a smear of blood was evidence of a split lip. He held himself gingerly, probably in deference to his ribs, and leaned with his weight on his right leg. "You okay?"

"Do you think injuries sustained in demonic attacks are covered by our insurance?"

Sloan suppressed a smile. He was glad Nick was well enough to joke, but he needed all the facts if he was going to get them all out of here. "Injuries?"

Nick straightened automatically at the authoritative voice, swallowing a gasp at the movement. "Bruised jaw, claw marks on neck due to a lucky back hand. Cracked or broken ribs when said backhand slammed me into a book case. Swollen knee when said bookcase landed on it. And due to the graying vision I assume I have a concussion of some type." Nick paused to catch his breath. "Those are all the injuries I'm aware of."

Sloan nodded, impressed at Nick's thoroughness and to hide the wince at what Nick had gone through. "Status report."

"I've killed three creatures, or the same creature three times depending on your point of view. Low on ammo. No food, no water, and no electricity. Control Room's effectively sealed off, the 'outside' no longer exists, and these things are getting harder to beat."

Sloan stared into the younger man's eyes. Nick was merely stating facts, not reciting from a state of despair. 'Let's keep it that way.' "We brought the medallion." He held the item up and a look of disgust flashed across Nick's face.

They spent the next few minutes discussing various strategies for trapping the beast and placing the medallion about its neck. Though Sloan didn't like it, they determined that one of them would have to play bait to the monster. "I'll do it," Nick volunteered.

Phillip immediately protested. "No. I will."

Sloan had to agree with Phillip. "If things go wrong," he rationalized, "you're not in any condition to move swiftly, Nick. You're better use to us as back-up."

Nick looked about to argue when he froze suddenly, an odd look upon his face. "Looks like we don't have any more time to debate," he murmured. He motioned for the other two to remain quiet as he brought his weapon to bear. Sloan watched him move slowly down the corridor, his gait graceful in spite of his injuries, totally focused on something around the corner. It took several long moments before Sloan could sense what Nick had noticed: a low, almost subsonic rumble, a clicking of claws on hardwood floor, and a wet, humid, animal scent that caught at the back of the throat.

Nick motioned for them to join him. He cast his voice at a whisper. "Second floor. Corridor. Heading for the stairs."

They eased their way to the library. Sloan pointed to the center of the room. "Phillip, you stand there. There's enough room for maneuverability, but be careful." He pointed at the balcony. "I'll wait there and leap down on it from above with the medallion when it goes for Phillip." He pointed at the far corner. "Nick, you're there. Can you cover Phillip from there?"

"Yes, but..."

"Good. Let's get into position." Sloan moved over, but not before catching the slow shake of Nick's head and heard the murmured, "I hope this works."

Sloan swiftly climbed the stairs and positioned himself above Phillip. Nick clasped the priest's shoulder. "Be careful, brother. It's fast. Real fast. And stronger than it looks." He moved into position, hunkering down with some difficulty in order to use a bookcase for cover. Phillip crossed himself and stared at the door, waiting. The three men didn't have long to wait.

Growling echoed down the empty hall, growing louder as it got closer. The ticking of claws made a strange counterpoint to their pounding hearts. The creature appeared in the doorway, its flanks nearly brushing both sides of the frame. It came up to the hip and its mass was clearly not fat. Muscles bunched and rolled under a skin that was a dusty burnt orange color. Eyes blazed red in a skull that looked like a cross between a bull and a roitweiller smashed repeatedly with a truck. Short horns protruded from the top of the head and the being had a mouthful of pointed teeth. In shock, Sloan thought, 'It's stronger than it looks? Dear God, how had Nick managed to kill such a monstrosity, let alone three of them?'

The creature moved forward, seeming to flow rather than walk until it was well within striking distance of Phillip. Sloan took a tighter grip of the medallion and prepared to jump down when the creature stopped suddenly. It backed up a pace, its head swinging slowly from side to side. Sloan was frozen to the spot when the creature looked up at him. He could sense a kind of intelligence to the thing. 'It knows what I have.' With a contemptuous sounding snort, it turned away from the precept. It crouched low, staring intently at Phillip. Tail lashing whip-like, it prepared to pounce. With a howling bark, it leapt into the air. Phillip threw himself to one side, but needn't have bothered as the creature easily hurled itself over the stunned priest to disappear beneath the balcony.

Sloan's blood ran cold as a shot rang out. 'God, no!' "Nick!" He leaned over the railing, heedless of his precarious perch, to determine what was going on. Phillip had run towards the tables and seized a chair to use as a weapon. The creature was pawing at its face where Nick's first bullet had grazed by, taking most of an ear with it. The creatures howled. Sloan's skin crawled at the sound. A wild idea flashed in his mind and he acted upon it. "Nick! Catch!" Sloan tossed the medallion towards Nick, but the throw was despairingly short of its mark.

The creature's paw flared out and smashed into the bookcase beside Nick, felling it and effectively blocking any escape routes. Sloan dropped to the floor with a grunt, but not before Phillip abandoned his makeshift weapon to dive for the medallion.

Another shot drew Sloan's attention. Nick had wedged himself into the corner, presenting the smallest possible target. His last shot had caught the being along the neck. A horrible gurgling sound could be heard accompanying its breathing. With a snarl, it struck at Nick, knocking the gun away and laying open the young man's arm. The movement also caused the being's back leg to kick out, catching the medallion and sliding it further from itself and Phillip's current location.

Sloan scooped up the medallion and tossed it to Phillip who in turn recklessly leapt upon the creatures back. The priest desperately tried to wrap the chain about its neck before it killed Nick. Simultaneously, Nick reached into his jacket, pulled out a four-inch blade, and plunged it into the creature's eye as the being raked open his hip with its claws.

The creature convulsed violently, throwing Phillip to the floor. It's howls were deafening as the medallion flashed and the being burst into an intensely hot white flame. Nick's cries mingled with that of the creature. Sloan and Phillip immediately rushed at the beast and shouldered the burning mass off the wounded man, singeing hair and burning their hands and arms in the process. Sloan pulled Phillip out of the way, tumbling both of them to the floor as one of the creature's limbs shot out in a death convulsion.

With a last howl, the creature fell silent.

Sloan picked himself up, eyes never leaving the now-still form. He sidestepped to the discarded chair, picked it up, and poked the beast. No response. Phillip, in the meantime, had grabbed the first-aid kit and rushed to Nick's side. He was surprised to find Nick still conscious. "Is it dead?" the younger man's voice was reedy.

"Aye. 'Tis dead. Isn't it, Sloan?" Phillip asked absently as he scrambled for the bandages, appalled at the amount of blood his friend was losing.

Before Sloan could answer, all three felt a sudden sickening shift and the library was restored to its former pristine condition. The bookcases were upright, the books in place, no evidence of a fight for survival existed, save for their battered appearances.

At the same time, the creature disappeared, the medallion falling to the floor with a metallic chime. Sloan picked up Nick's fallen weapon, and with a brief glance of apology towards the young man, smashed the medallion with the butt of the gun. It took three solid blows before the gold disk shattered into four or five pieces. Phillip used his body to shield Nick's face as a burst of light and a heated blast of air emanated from it at its destruction.

Sloan rose to his feet. "Yes, it's dead." He joined Phillip beside Nick, exchanging concerned looks with the priest. "How you doing, son?"

"Looks worse than it is, sir."

"Glad to hear that, 'cause I have to tell you, you look like shit."

A short burst of laughter accompanied by a groan at the movement was his response.

William Sloan's Journal:

It appears that the demon, or whatever that creature was, has been taken care of. I have put out a warning to all the Houses, in the off chance that the medallion reappears.

Young Katherine Corrigan was reunited with her mother at the same time we returned to the "real world". It was she who directed the other adults to the Library, where Nick's injuries were initially taken care of before he was conducted to a hospital. I hope that her mother will allow her to remain close to the Legacy, I feel the young lady will be a great asset to our work as she gets older.

As for Nick, Mr. Boyle's injuries were more sever than we had at first anticipated. When the creature had slammed him up against the wall, it had shattered already broken ribs. Several shards were dangerously close to his heart. One had perforated his lung, collapsing it. We almost lost Nick, his heart stopped twice during surgery, and only the quick responses of the doctor and nurses had saved his life.

He remained in the hospital for several weeks before being released. I was concerned that this latest development, one that has brought him the closest to death since he began working with the Legacy, would have him reconsider his position with us. On the contrary, this has appeared to strengthen his resolve to fight the darkness. I have noticed, as have a few others, that once he was more mobile, he consistently placed himself where he would be able to see others. I don't blame him. I, myself, have found myself seeking out the company of my own staff much more than I had ever in the past. If they find it unusual, they at least have had the decency to have not brought it up.

THE END