“Neighbors” [PG] – 8/11


Part 8

The manor’s doorbell rang constantly, luring Piper downstairs to the foyer. She reached the bottom of the staircase, strolled toward the front door and opened it. In the doorway stood a frantic Darryl Morris. “Hey Darryl,” she greeted. “What brings you here?” 

The police inspector brushed past Piper and into the house. “Where in the hell have you all been?” he demanded. “I’ve been trying to reach you all day!”

“Well, I’ve spent the better part of the day visiting my gynecologist and trying to book this new group for the club. Paige went to Sausalito to visit one of her Matthews cousins. And I believe Phoebe has been locked in her office all day, trying to catch up on the letters for her column. You know, now that I think about it, we’ve all been pretty . . .”

“Piper!” Darryl placed his hands on her shoulders. “Is everyone here, now?”

Seeing the consternation in Darryl’s eyes, Piper immediately sensed trouble. “What’s wrong? Has something happened?” she demanded. “Has another dead witch been found?” Before Darryl could answer, Piper called for her sisters. “Paige! Phoebe!”

A minute later, the other two Halliwells descended the staircase. “What’s wrong, Piper?” Phoebe demanded. “Has something happened?”

Darryl shook his head. “Not yet. But I have some news.” He paused to catch his breath. “Olivia McNeill has a lead on those warlocks you’ve been looking for.”

“She has?” Paige demanded. “What kind of lead?”

Piper and her sisters listened with rapt attention, as Darryl revealed Olivia’s discovery. It seemed the Crozat Coven owned a corporation called Malehex and one of its holdings was a San Francisco-based company called the Tower Bay Import/Export. “Did she give you an address?” Piper asked.

“Well yeah,” Darryl answered, “but she said . . .”

“Never mind that,” Phoebe interrupted. “What’s the address?”

Darryl sighed. “534 Bayshore Boulevard. But Olivia said . . .”

This time, Piper interrupted. “Let’s go. Paige can orb us there.”

“Wait a minute!” Darryl shouted. “Before you barge into there like John Wayne, I better tell you that Olivia said not to go.”

The sisters stared at the inspector, as if he had lost his mind. “Why would she say that?” Paige demanded.

Barely containing his patience, Darryl continued, “Look, Olivia said to lay low, until you get a call from her. She also said something about reconnoitering the place, before going after the warlocks. Maybe you should follow her advice.”

“We’d love to oblige,” Piper commented sarcastically, “but we can’t sit around and wait for Inspector McNeill to make plans, when there’s a chance that another witch might get killed. Phoebe. Paige.”

The three sisters linked hands. Before Paige could orb them out of the manor, Phoebe let out a gasp. Her eyes glazed over for a few seconds. Then she automatically released Paige’s hands.

“What is it?” the youngest Charmed One asked.

After a large gulp of air, Phoebe replied, “I just had a premonition. About us. We orbed into the middle of this warehouse and got caught into this trap set by warlocks. We couldn’t get out. Even without Piper’s combustion power. But they were able to kill us. With daggers. We were too weak to defend ourselves.”

Both Piper and Paige fell silent. Darryl added, “Now will you wait for Olivia’s call?”

Paige was the first to recover from Phoebe’s revelation. “I say we should leave now. Like Phoebe said, it’s better we go after those warlocks than take the chance of another witch getting killed.”

“What about my premonition?” Phoebe asked uneasily.

The oldest Halliwell responded, “Paige can orb us outside the warehouse. Phoebe?” The latter took hold of Paige’s other hand. And the Charmed Ones orbed out of the manor.

* * * *

Harry McNeill sat in the middle of his bedroom at the McNeill manor, deep in meditation. Just as his mind visualized himself stepping on that last stone toward the hut – his sacred place – a vision flashed before his eyes. A vision of the Charmed Ones being trapped inside a warehouse filled with warlocks. He let out a gasp and his eyes flew open.

Did he just . . .? Was that a premonition he had just witnessed? But it was impossible! Harry knew that he did not possess the power of premonition. Like his grandmother Elise, he was a telepath. He read and had the power to control the minds of others. So had he read someone else’s premonition?

The only person he knew that had such a power was the middle Charmed One – Phoebe Halliwell. And since that vision involved the Halliwells, Harry could only conclude that they might be in danger. Unless Phoebe’s premonition had convinced them to change plans.

Harry took a deep breath and closed his eyes. If only he could focus upon Phoebe’s thoughts again. Or those that belonged to the other Halliwells. After another few minutes of meditation, Harry made a psychic connection to another Halliwell. Piper. The sisters had just appeared outside the warehouse. Which meant there was a good chance they might be in danger, after all.

Fearful of any possible trouble, Harry called for his siblings’ former whitelighter. “Leo! Hey LEE-OO!” The whitelighter failed to appear. The twenty-five year-old heaved a frustrated sigh, reached for his telephone and dialed the number to his sister’s cell phone.

* * * *

“Are you sure?” Olivia demanded. She stood off to the side of an empty corridor, inside the police station.

Harry’s voice replied, “Yeah, I’m sure. I think I might have read one of Phoebe Halliwell’s premonitions. That’s one of her powers, right?”

Olivia took a deep breath and mentally cursed the Halliwells. They had obviously decided not to heed Darryl’s message, after he told them about the warehouse. Unless . . . “Maybe we don’t have anything to worry about,” she said to Harry. “Maybe they decided to wait for me after Phoebe’s premonition.”

“I’m afraid not, Livy.” A pause followed, before Harry spoke up. “I managed to read the thoughts of another Halliwell. Piper, I think. They had decided to go to the warehouse, after all. Despite the premonition. And I can’t reach Leo.”

Another curse escaped Olivia’s mouth. Then she sighed. “Okay. Listen. Get ready to leave and pick a few vials of Mom’s vanquishing potions, while you’re at it. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

“A few . . . How?”

“Trust me, I’ll find a way,” Olivia quickly replied. “Just be ready.” She disconnected the line, before dialing a new number. One that belonged to Cole Turner’s penthouse.

After a few rings, Phoebe Halliwell’s ex-husband answered, “Hello?”

“Cole!” Olivia declared in breathless relief. “This is Olivia McNeill. I need your help. It’s about those warlocks that have been killing wit . . .” A second later, Cole appeared before her, looking concerned. “Well that was quick!”

Cole said in a curt voice, “You said something about warlocks. Where are they?”

“Actually, I know where they are. The problem is that Darryl told Phoebe and her sisters about the warlocks and there’s a good chance they might be in trouble. We need to pick up Harry, first.”

Cole took hold of Olivia’s hand. “Okay. Let’s go.” And the pair disappeared from the corridor.

* * * *

Less than two minutes later, Olivia, Cole and Harry reappeared in the parking lot of Tower Bay Imports/Exports. And the Charmed Ones were no where to be seen. “Where are they?” Olivia vented in frustration.

Harry closed his eyes for a few seconds. Then, “Inside. They’ve just been caught. I wonder just how powerful these warlocks are? I mean, they managed to capture the Charmed Ones?”

A grim Cole replied, “Why don’t we find out?” He strode toward the building. The two McNeills followed. Soon, all three found themselves peeking through one of the building’s low windows.

The trio glanced inside and saw the Charmed Ones trapped within a barely seen, dome-shaped force field. Piper Halliwell seemed to be making some kind of effort to break through the trap, using magic. But to no avail.

“It’s useless,” Phillip Crozat declared triumphantly. “You can’t break free. Not even with the Power of Three. We found an old spell that once belonged to the Seer – you remember her, don’t you? She had used it to create an inescapable cage. Mind you, our trap is not as powerful as hers – alone. But with the power of the coven, along with those belonging to three witches we’ve killed – it’s impregnable. And the trap is also designed to slowly drain all magic abilities of those inside. Even for someone as strong as the old Source.

Phoebe shot back, “It’s a shame you didn’t think of that, some years ago.”

Nodding, Crozat added, “You’re right about that. But with the Triad, the Seer alive and the Brotherhood of the Thorn breathing down our necks, we could have never created such a trap. Or attempt to grab control of the Source’s Realm. But thanks to you, both the Source and the Seer are gone for good. And the demonic world is in chaos . . .”

Olivia returned her attention back to Cole and Harry. “Okay,” she whispered, “does anyone have a plan?”

Both men stared at her in shock. “What are you talking about? Don’t you have a plan?” Cole demanded.

“Of course not! I had thought about coming up with something with the Charmed Ones. I can’t help it if they had decided to do a ‘Custer at Little Big Horn’ act.”

Cole grumbled, “All right! I get the picture.” Then he sighed. “I think . . . I think I might have a plan. Or at least a distraction. If I can . . .”

Harry interrupted with a muted cry. “Someone’s coming!”

Sure enough, a figure clad in black appeared from around the corner. Another Crozat, Olivia surmised. She hissed at Cole, “Get rid of him!”

“Like what? Kill him?”

Olivia shot back, “Well do something!”

The warlock finally caught sight of the trio. Before he could do anything, Cole turned him into an innate object. A pebble. Olivia sighed with relief and she, along with her two companions, returned their attention to the conversation inside.

A dagger appeared in Phillip Crozat’s hand. The same happened with the other warlocks inside the warehouse. They all moved toward the trapped Charmed Ones. “What’s that for?” an obviously disturbed Paige asked.

Phillip Crozat’s thin lips stretched into an evil grin. “To kill you, of course. And steal your powers.”

Piper asked, “How do you propose to do that with us inside this trap?”

“Don’t worry.” Crozat tossed his athame back and forth in his hands. “We won’t kill you now. In about a few minutes, you all should be weak enough for us to kill you without any problems.” He raised the knife, using telekinesis. The other warlocks followed his example. “We can be patient.”

Olivia turned to Cole. “I think it’s time to use your plan,” she whispered. “When do we attack?”

“When I kill a second warlock,” the half-daemon murmured.

Harry frowned. “A second?”

But Cole blurred out of view before an explanation could be given.