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Knights Templar

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Alexandra Moreau glanced around her in satisfaction, congratulating herself on the success of the evening. It wasn't every night that the Winston Rayne Hall of Antiquities hosted a charity benefit like this one. Everyone who was anyone in the world of academics and philanthropy was here, ostensibly to help raise money for the new Pediatrics ward at City hospital. All the members of her house were in attendance. Even Philip had made time away from his duties at his new parish to attend the event so that he could help support Alex's newest pet cause. But in reality, most were here to see the rare and lovely new additions to the museums collection. Especially the armor which had reportedly belonged to the first of the Grand Masters of the Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon, Hugues de Payens. She smiled at Nick Boyle, who was standing in the far corner watching the guests as they moved through the exhibit hall.

"Nick looks uncomfortable." A voice behind her commented. Dr. Rachel Corrigan appeared beside her friend, her teal green silk gown a contrast to Alex's black satin dress.

"Ever since that amulet was stolen from the house during the cocktail party a few months ago, he's been nervous about security." Alex looked around for their precept Derek, and then shrugged. "He'll get over it."

"I hope so." Rachel remarked, watching her fellow Legacy member as he scrutinized each new arrival. "He's beginning to make some people nervous."

"He's making ME nervous." Alex laughed.

Across the room, Nick watched carefully as new people wandered into the exhibit hall. He knew that Alex thought his caution was excessive, a reaction to the events which had begun with the loss of the medallion belonging to the Dark Priest killed by Nick's father... But he couldn't shake the feeling that something was about to happen, something he should be prepared for. "Damn it, you've been hanging around Derek too long" he thought to himself, "Next thing you know, you'll be seeing things, just like he does." A movement at the door shook him from his reverie. A man and a woman moved through the entrance into the hall, gliding with silent footsteps around the exhibit. Nick watched them closely, an uneasy feeling creeping up his spine.

Alex noticed the couple as they entered and stopped in mid conversation, entranced. A fragment of a Barbara Streisand song floated through her head, something about morning glory and midnight sun. Those lyrics described the people walking around the exhibit hall perfectly. The man was tall, well over six feet, with a tanned complexion and golden blond hair. He radiated the warmth of a sunny day, lighting all the rooms' dark corners with his presence. Even his white tuxedo seemed to give off a light all its own. The woman beside him was tall and slender and his opposite in coloring, having pale skin and long black hair. Yet there was a light about her too, the light of a full moon, not so hot as the sun yet radiant in its own way. Her long dark dress seemed to reflect hidden fires in its silky folds. They walked from exhibit to exhibit, her hand on his up-raised wrist, like a knight on procession with his lady. They stopped only when they came to the Templar exhibit.

"Well, so here it is my sister. What do you think?" Damien Phoenix asked, looking down at the woman at his side. Phoenix was not the name he was born with yet it suited him to be known by it now. Just as it suited him for the world to believe that the woman at his side was his blood sister.

"Interesting. But not what we came for. I doubt they have found it yet. Jacques de Molay was a careful man. He would have hidden the words in something more secure than an old set of armor." Marianne leaned forward, ostensibly to examine the exhibit more closely. In fact, she was more intrigued by the man in the corner who stood watching them intently. She had been through enough killing grounds to recognize the aura of a fellow soldier, just by the stance and the look in their eyes. That "thousand yard stare" that they all developed over time. "The Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon. It was a good concept. Pity they had to become so political."

"So rich you mean." Damien laughed softly.

"Wealth brings notice and not always the best type of notice. By the way, we appear to have an audience, my brother."

"So it would seem. What shall we do about it?" Damien looked over his shoulder and caught sight of Alex and Rachel watching them from a distance. "Perhaps we should introduce ourselves?"

"Damien, we are here only to look, not to socialize."

"Tactics, my dear. Always keep the enemies guessing."

"But they aren't the enemy, dearest." Marianne's sharp eyes caught sight of a figure entering the gallery and hissed angrily. "But he is." She pulled away from her escort's arm and walked boldly up to Nick, her hands clenched behind her back. "Are you in charge of security here?" she asked haughtily, noting the bulge of a shoulder holster barely concealed by his tuxedo coat.

"Who wants to know?" Nick asked warily, his eyes still on her male companion.

"My name is unimportant but you may call me Marianne. And you my friend are about to be robbed." she replied, nodding toward the newest arrival. "That one is here for the something in your exhibit. Beware, soldier, lest he breech your defenses."

Nick glanced speculatively at the man she indicated. "Seems harmless enough." He answered, looking back at her.

"Appearances can be deceiving." Damien walked up and took his sister by the hand. "Look again and use more than your eyes to see."

Nick looked again. The man did appear to have an inordinate interest in the security system around the Templar exhibit, leaning cautiously close to the large display case to examine its construction carefully. "Not very subtle, is he?"

"He does not need to be." Marianne replied, taking her brother's arm. "He is only a diversion, a pawn sacrificed in the larger game. It is the one who commands him you must be wary of."

"And just who might that be?" Derek asked, stepping into the exhibit room from the far gallery. He had watched the exchange between Nick and these strangers from the far doorway with interest, until he had noticed the man at the armor exhibit. He wasn't sure why he knew something was wrong, only that he did. His unease had mounted when he heard the woman's warning to Nick.

"That is a tale for a later date." Damien replied, gently tugging his sister towards the door.

"Wait a minute! Just who are you people?" Nick demanded. "Why were you so interested in the armor?"

"Later days, my friend. Later days." With that the two walked from the hall, leaving as silently as they had arrived.

Nick immediately raced out the door behind them and stopped, stunned. He could see the entire length of the adjoining hallway and beyond to the street. But their strange visitors were no where to be seen. They had vanished without a trace.