"RETURN WITH A VENGEANCE"
The sorcerer took a deep breath and opened his eyes. He leaned forward and blew out the candles that made up part of his makeshift altar. After several hours of meditation, he now felt complete. In full control. The mortal, he surmised, should no longer prove to be a problem, when he attacks the witches again.
After another deep breath, Dako rose to his feet. He walked over to the window of his bedroom, and peered outside. It was almost midday. Time for him to go after the witches. He hesitated, recalling his encounter with the daemon the warlocks called, Belthazor. Dako had encountered daemons before - even killed a few. But he had never gone up against one as powerful as this Belthazor.
And there was another matter to consider. Namely the witch with the powerful baby. Unlike the situation with Belthazor, Dako had already formed a plan to deal with the witch. Namely, steal the child from the witch's womb. He had done it before. Using a spell, Dako had managed to transform the embryo from a powerful priestess to his own mistress. Unfortunately the latter, who became frightened by the idea of helping him raise the child, betrayed him by running off. Dako had eventually caught up with his mistress and took care of her - permanently. But he never learned the whereabouts of the child, until 'he' appeared thirty years later to kill him.
In the case of this Halliwell witch, Dako had no intention of transferring her child to another womb - including the one that belonged to that sharp-tongued warlock. Instead, he planned to simply wrench the baby from the witch's belly. Without another womb to nourish it, the child should simply die. A cruel smile curled the bokor's lips.
Feeling alert and sure of himself, Dako headed downstairs to meet with the warlocks. Only he could not find one sign of them. The house seemed to be empty. Where could they be?
A deep suspicion began to form in the bokor's mind. That the Crozats had known about Belthazor for quite some time. Perhaps they had even intended to steal the daemon's powers for themselves. Anger surged through Dako. If those warlocks had so much as decided to . . . He paused. If what he now believed to be true, Dako realized that he might not be able to exact revenge upon the warlocks. He had not seen them in several hours and there was the possibility that they might already have Belthazor's powers. It would be best, he decided, to simply bide his time, work with the warlocks, until he could find a way to steal the demon's powers and kill them all. Meanwhile, he had a few witches to kill.
* * * *
"Officer, put your gun down," Olivia coolly ordered the security guard. She then flashed the badge that hung around her neck. "I'm a police officer. Inspector McNeill. San Francisco Police. I need you to call for back-up."
Bruce McNeill saw the bewilderment that flashed in the guard's eyes. "I don't understand," he cried. "You're the police? But that's . . . that's Mrs. Maxwell over there. And Mr. Crozat."
Olivia sighed. "Yes, I know. Both of them tried to kill that man over there." She pointed at a groggy Cole. "Mrs. Maxwell's attorney. He had stumbled across a smuggling ring operating from this company." The guard failed to lower his gun, much to Bruce's consternation. Olivia added in a sharp tone, "Look Mr. Whatever-Your-Name-Is, do you really want to explain why you're holding a police officer at gunpoint?"
Finally, the security guard lowered his weapon. Much to Bruce's relief. Olivia strode toward him and began to explain what happened. Bruce turned to Cole and Cecile. "We really need to get this file out of here." He indicated the thick, brown accordion file in his hands. "Especially if the cops are on their way here."
"Leave it to me," Cole murmured in a tired voice. With a little effort, he waved one hand over the file and it disappeared. "Your father should have it, by now."
Cecile added in a low voice, "What about the urn?"
Before Bruce or Cole could respond, the guard's eyes spotted the object in question. "Is that one of the pieces you were talking about, Inspector?"
Olivia whirled around and eyed the urn with dismay. "Uh, yeah. I believe it might be the latest piece that was smuggled."
"And what about Mr. Turner?" The guard pointed at the still haggard Cole. "He don't look so hot. What happened to him?"
Olivia quickly replied, "He was drugged."
"Maybe I can help. I've been trained . . ."
Cole barked, interrupting the guard, "I'm fine! I just need . . . I need some rest. That's all." Bruce knew that would not happen. At least not right now. They still needed to track down Dako. And confront him.
"Oh." The guard turned to Olivia. "Then is there something . . .?"
"I need you to call the police. And wait outside for their arrival," Olivia replied. She paused. "Have you called them yet?"
According to the guard, he had summoned the police right after hearing gunshots. Sure enough, the sound of police sirens wailed in the background. Bruce wondered how they would get out of this. Olivia said to the guard, "Don't you think you better go outside, Mr. uh . . .?"
"Vasquez. Yeah, I guess I better go." And the guard sprinted out of the office.
Bruce and the others heaved large sighs of relief. Olivia said to them, "Okay, we don't have much time. This is how it will go down. Cole has been suspicious about Suzanne's smuggling operation and decided to confront her about it. She and Junior, over here" she pointed at the dead male warlock, "tried to kill him. But we had arrived in time to stop them. Suzanne and I struggled for control of her gun. Bruce, you admit that you and young Crozat got into a fight, while he was trying to stab you."
"In other words, we were struggling for the knife," Bruce interjected.
Olivia nodded. "That's right. I'll also explain that I have been investigating VENDRUM in connection to Pablo Alvarez and Ben Mallard's murders."
"Pablo who?" Bruce asked with a frown.
"Bruce!" His younger sister regarded him with a glare. "Just tell them what I told you and play along." Olivia rushed over to the female warlock's body. "Oh and Bruce, you better put Whatshisname's prints on that knife you killed him with. I only hope we can get out of here, fast and warn the Halliwells that Dako is still on the loose."
While Olivia momentarily gripped the dead woman's Glock pistol, Bruce followed his sister's instructions. Just as brother and sister had finished their tasks, the office door burst open. In marched the security guard, with two uniformed cops in his wake. One of the cops stepped forward, his eyes taking in the sight before him. "Jesus! What the hell happened here?"
* * * *
"Thanks for the information," Phoebe said for the last time and disconnected the living room telephone. She turned to her sister and brother-in-law, who sat on the living room sofa. "That was the hospital. Looks like Paige will be released, tomorrow morning."
Piper heaved a relieved sigh. "Thank God. I guess it could have been a lot worse, for her. A lot worse."
"I guess that Darryl . . . I mean, Dako likes to play with his victims before killing them. He did the same with Harry McNeill." Phoebe paused, before she added, "I wonder why he didn't kill the Murillos, when they walked in?"
Leo added, "Just be happy that they didn't. Hopefully, this all should end pretty soon. Olivia told me that Cecile's boyfriend might be able to find the spell that will vanquish this Dako."
"I'd rather use a Power of Three spell, thank you very much," Piper murmured dryly.
Phoebe reminded her sister that with Paige in the hospital, they did not have the Power of Three. And their last encounter with Dako had proven that even the baby or Cole were not more powerful than the sorcerer.
"Well, maybe we should consider using both the baby's power and Cole's," Leo said. "Together."
The two sisters stared at Leo, as if he had lost his mind. Especially Phoebe. "Work with Cole? Are you serious?"
"Phoebe, you saw how he managed to knock Dako's spirit out of Darryl. With all of us working together, we might . . ."
However, Phoebe would have none of it. "Cole could have killed Darryl, Leo! In fact, he didn't even consider Darryl, when he deflected Dako's powers."
A frustrated sigh escaped from Leo's mouth. However, he did not say anything. It was Piper who finally spoke up. "I hate to say this, Pheebs, but Leo might be right. I didn't care what he nearly did to Darryl, either. But we might need Cole, after all. This . . . Dako is very dangerous. And very powerful. Plus, we still have the Crozats to worry about."
Tension filled the Halliwell living room. Phoebe realized that both Leo and Piper were right. But the idea of working with Cole, again . . . There were moments when she feared she would never be free of him. Somehow, he always managed to remain in her life . . . despite her efforts to move on. Phoebe even suspected her ex-husband of using Olivia McNeill to make her jealous. Deep down, she feared that he might be succeeding.
Phoebe sighed. She hated it when any of her sisters were right. "I guess you have a point," she said. "I'll call his office and see if he can come by, later." As she began to dial the number to Cole's office, a familiar figure materialized in the middle of the living room. It was Dako . . . in Darryl's body. "Oh my God!" Phoebe exclaimed.
"I do not think 'He' can save you," the sorcerer crowed. He shot a bolt of lightning at Phoebe. Who immediately levitated above the line of fire.
Leo cried, "Piper, the potion!" He tackled the sorcerer to the floor. Leo's actions gave Piper the opportunity to race to the kitchen for the power-stripping potion. Unfortunately for Leo, he was not able to maintain the advantage. Dako let out an enraged growl and flung the whitelighter off of him and to the other side of the living room. Leo slumped back, unconscious.
"Well, look who is left," Dako declared. His eyes now rested upon Phoebe. Fear formed a large lump in her throat, as he raised his hand to strike. At that moment, Cole, the McNeills and Cecile appeared in the room.
* * * *
Still slightly groggy from the potion that Suzanne Crozat had given him, Cole looked upon the scene inside the Halliwell living room with dismay. Piper was nowhere to be seen. Leo lay sprawled upon the floor, unconscious. And Dako seemed primed to attack a defenseless Phoebe.
Dako sent a bolt of lightning toward Cole's ex-wife. Olivia reacted first. She deflected the sorcerer's attack, using her telekinesis. Although she had managed to succeed in saving Phoebe, she was not strong enough to prevent herself from being injured. The lightning bolt touched Olivia's arm and she fell back on the floor, cradling her arm and crying in pain. Cecile rushed toward her.
Then Dako used his own telekinesis and sent everyone, including Cole, flying across the room. Cole finally snapped out of his stupor and did the same to Dako. The latter hit the side of the staircase with a sickening thud. After a moment's pause, Dako quickly rose to his feet and stared at Cole with gleaming hatred. He raised his hand to attack.
So did Bruce, who used his aero kinesis against the sorcerer. The witch's power had no effect. Dako merely deflected Bruce's power, sending the latter hard against the wall.
Piper rushed into the living room, carrying a small vial. A power-stripping potion, Cole surmised, as he struggled to stand up. She tossed the vial at Dako. Everyone waited breathlessly for it to take effect. Nothing happened. Dako's mouth curled with derision, as he focused his attention upon the oldest Halliwell. He extended his arm toward her direction and began to chant. Piper cried out in pain, as she gripped her slightly rounded belly.
"Piper!" Phoebe cried in anguish. "What is he . . .? He's harming the baby!"
Using his telekinesis, Cole flung the bokor away from Piper. She fell to her knees with a sigh. Then a small vase came from nowhere and struck Piper on the side of her head, leaving her on the floor, unconscious.
Cole barely heard Phoebe's cries. However, he did see Cecile reach inside her purse for something . . . and react with dismay. "What's . . . wrong?" he demanded.
"My potion!" the priestess cried. "I must have left it at the apartment!"
Back on his feet, Dako smiled dangerously. "You must be a mamba. Forgot something?" A massive energy ball began to form in his open palm. He stared pointedly at Cecile, Phoebe and a prone Olivia.
Mustering every ounce of strength that he possessed, Cole struggled to fight the drug in his system. Then he dematerialized. And re-materialized directly in front of the three women. Dako threw the energy ball in their direction. Cole grunted, as he used his telekinesis to redirect the ball right back at the bokor.
The energy ball struck Dako squarely in the chest with great force. He let out a cry, as his body slammed against the side of the staircase. Seconds later, the bokor's spirit burst out of Darryl Morris' body. "A vanquishing spell would be nice, right about now!" Cole shouted at Cecile.
The Vodoun priestess glared at Dako and began to chant, using the Benin dialect:
"In Legba's name, I open the gate;
In Nana-Buluku's name, I summon the twins;
In Liza's name will your spirit be judged;
And in Mawu's name I send you to darkness and
Back to Ghede, where you belong!"
A bright light filled the room, along with a strong wind. Then a vortex materialized before Dako's spirit. While Cecile repeated her chant, he cried out loud. His non-corporeal form finally shot through the center of the vortex, and it closed in an explosion of light. Cole, Phoebe and Cecile reeled backward.
Cole struggled to his feet with great difficulty. He glanced around the room. "Someone better wake up Leo," he commented. "This place is beginning to resemble a battlefield." The drug from the Crozats' potion finally overwhelmed him. And everything went black.
END OF CHAPTER 16